July 27, 2003

I took my midterm exam for Expository Prose last night. It was an interesting exam, but I'm not sure how well I did. The test was basically a thesis paper using two writings we were asked to be familiar with before the exam. One of the writings we were asked to use was "The Internet: A Clear and Present Danger" by Cathleen A. Cleaver. Apparently, there are a lot of links to this famous speech on the Internet, but at the moment I can't find one that links to the entire driveling text. Reading this piece of supposedly professional writing had my neck hairs so raised that I found it difficult to focus on the writing at hand. My head was clouded with hate as I attempted to control my thoughts and restrict them to the task at hand. I'm fairly certain that while writing about her text that I did not stay on subject, and I may have suffered a grade or two for it.
What incensed me so much about the prattling Cleaver's commentary was how it shifted back and forth between commentary on pornography and child pornography. Even after reading the text a few times, it was difficult to establish when she was speaking about which. It was slightly apparent that she almost equated the two during her writing of the commentary, and that infuriated me to no end. Her essay even brings up that all-too-familiar comment of "With a few clicks of the mouse, anyone, any child, canget graphic and often violent sexual images--the kind of stuff it used to be difficult to find without exceptional effort and some significant personal risk." Doesn't Cathleen realize that The Internet is just another bad neighborhood? When you bring many societies together, it is going to culminate in a community that has a very diverse set of decency standards, and you're going to need to learn to deal with that.
The Internet is not the demon here, any more than outlawing guns will stop people from killing each other. The Internet is merely an effective tool for its purposes. Its purposes are indeed broad, and include both legal and illegal activity. Dealing with it will be just as effective as dealing with it without the automated tools made available by the Internet itself. There is no added requirement for additional legislation, more government and more red tape, just to deal with problems that have been around for centuries. Bestiality wasn't invented in 1960 by some geek with the first ARPA node. Rape certainly has been around on this earth longer than known written history. Just because we like to pretend that the society we live in is moral, religious, or upstanding in some way, does not give us the right to take away the rights of others for their own protection.
If I want to protect my children from bad neighborhoods, I do not allow them to play there, at least not alone. When personal responsibility is "illogical and ineffective" (her words!), there is something wrong with the parents. It is certainly NOT the responsibility of government to restrict the rights of many just to protect the few who have misunderstood the Internet to be a safe place to let your children peruse for hours at a time without supervision.
Sorry, I know I'm ranting. I've much more to say, but I have other things to do. I hope that all of this anger didn't show through on my midterm. If it did, I hope I was more structured and applied it to the question at hand properly....sigh.

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