Internet Porn Censorship, & Children

Apr 14th, 2008, in Opinion, by

Areocam on whether the state or parents have the right and responsibility to prevent children's access to pornography.

Recent legislation to block access to online porn and the government's announcement last week of a "National Action Plan on Anti-Pornography Families" brings Areocam to discuss parental, as opposed to state, responsibility.

The Issue of Censorship or "Think of the children!"

Little Adik sits in the warnet. He's nine or ten years old. He's playing Counter-Strike, editing his Friendster page and chatting with his friends. He's cheerful, flush with youth and innocence. His hand slips and he accidentally clicks an ad for a dating site. On the dating site, he finds ads for porn sites. He's heard about them from his friends but has never looked at them because he knows they're bad. This time, he looks and doesn't know what to think of the images he sees. It's an Outside Context Problem for Adik. He has nothing to relate this to, he's yet to go through puberty and has no reaction to this beyond curiosity.

The warnet manager sits behind his desk, playing solitaire and wishing he could be somewhere else. He doesn't give a damn what his customers look at. They could be terrorists planning an attack or children looking at porn - who cares? A wage of a million rupiah a month only ensures the manager keeps everything working and collects money from customers.

Given the above scenario, typical of warnets across the country and internet cafes around the world, who do we point the finger at? The child? No, children shouldn't be made to bear the responsibilities of the world. The warnet manager? No, he or she's doing a menial job for little money and has no right to police individuals beyond taking care of the workplace. So who's left? Who didn't we mention?

Parents.

You got it, parents. Not the government, not ISPs, not anyone, except parents. Do your children have a computer or a TV in their room or do you monitor all that your children watch and browse? Will you allow your 14 year old to see a movie rated for adults only? Do you know what your children are doing now?

This abrogation of responsibility extends to all facets of life, a sickness of a pampered generation who don't have the first idea of how to think for themselves.

Every time you allow another person to determine what you can or can't see, hear, touch, taste or smell, you lose a small piece of individuality, a small piece of yourself that is gone forever.

If violence sickens you, avoid violent words and images. If sexual acts cause you moral outrage, don't watch them. If so-called blasphemous words and pictures cause your faith to waver, stay away!

Most importantly, if you are concerned about the welfare of your children, can we ask you right now to educate your kids about the world, tell them of violence and sex and religious intolerance and ensure they are equipped to deal with whatever they may encounter when you let down your guard or cannot be there to protect them.

Having said that, don't ever tell me what information I can or can't access.


15 Comments on “Internet Porn Censorship, & Children”

  1. avatar Eric Eric says:

    At least, somebody saying something smart about this issue of censoring porn on the internet. I fully agree with you. But your view and intellectual stance don’t fit Indonesia as the people here is not educated enough and so easily manipulated by politicians or religious leaders. We’ll have to wait for the new generations to come to see if this could change for the better. But I doubt it as education is like a wreck in Indonesia.

  2. avatar GJ says:

    Yes, totally agree, the parents need to be the moral guardians for their children. They can not let the state take this responsibility. The state struggles here to deliver the basics in relation to health care and education with out the added focus of moral defender.

  3. avatar Lairedion says:

    Picture perfect observation, areocam. Nothing needs to be added.

  4. avatar Pena Budaya says:

    Perhaps nowadays people need to have parenthood license before raising children.
    just a thought, I was a kid once..

  5. avatar Maya says:

    I agree with the sentiment in the above commentary. Government censorship should not be allowed.

  6. avatar Rob says:

    Ultimately there needs to be some parental responsibility. However, I am not necessarily against the government being more pro-active in shutting down kiddie porn and sites where there is exploitation of vulnerable women (and men for that matter)…

    Every time you allow another person to determine what you can or can’t see, hear, touch, taste or smell, you lose a small piece of individuality, a small piece of yourself that is gone forever.

    If violence sickens you, avoid violent words and images. If sexual acts cause you moral outrage, don’t watch them. If so-called blasphemous words and pictures cause your faith to waver, stay away!

    Most importantly, if you are concerned about the welfare of your children, can we ask you right now to educate your kids about the world, tell them of violence and sex and religious intolerance and ensure they are equipped to deal with whatever they may encounter when you let down your guard or cannot be there to protect them.

    As a consenting adult I would agree with you that if there is material you do not want to view because it is violent or pornographic, then as an individual you should have teh right to choose! If you choose to look at it then you should not complain about what you’re looking at or reading if you exercised your free will to open it in the first place!

    My concern is one I noted earlier and if I was to apply your words in logical extension then your argument is one that can be used by purveyors of kiddie porn ‘if you don’t like it then don’t look at it!’ My argument would be that children need to be protected from this. “This” not being the ability to look at it but rather not becoming the sexualized objects in the pictures. Simply, these images are not OK and should not be available period. We’re not talking about happy family snappies of your new born babies first bath!

    The above example is not about freedom of choice to view what you like and it is not about parental control of their kids. It is about what is “right” and what is “wrong”…

    Aerocam, if I was a parliamentarian I would be censoring certain images and sites from the internet where they were simply “wrong” and kiddie porn is one of them. I would be advocating for strict guidelines, which are already in place in many places, that require accurate record keeping of the ages of models and their consent to be photographed nude and in other sexually explicit ways. Yep, then it is a matter of choice. If you want to sit at home and download porn and choke the proverbial chicken then you should be allowed to do that and you should be allowed to throw your hard earned cash at that!

    So, yeah, it is about the children! It is about protecting them from being the objects in porn. Part of the legislation and other legislation in the pipeline that you so vehemently oppose on the grounds of free speech also seek to protect the children. It is an over-simplification of the issue to just say that it is parents responsibility to protect their children from online content. It is the government’s responsibility to ensure that this online content does not include the images of children!

    Have a good day!

  7. avatar areocam says:

    It’s not a logical extension to take what I was talking about and infer that I am somehow in favour of child pornography. All steps should be taken to prevent this kind of crime, just as all steps should be taken to eradicate drug trafficking and any other kind of criminal activity. This in NO WAY abrogates the responsibility of parents!.

    Perhaps it is thought that criminalising actions protects our children? Some of our children grow up to be drug dealers, murderers, thieves and child pornographers. These things are already illegal. Who then, was protected? This is not an argument for liberalising punishments, it’s an argument for parents to stop being so damned self-absorbed in the pursuit of wealth and power and to take some responsibility for their children.

    Should we bring children into the world and expect others to bear this responsibility? The government? Police? Religious organisations? Anyone but the parents, eh?

    Child porn is an abomination and every step should be taken to eradicate it but it’s already out there. So parents have a choice: educate or pluck their children’s eyes out.

    Education is the key to freedom, so instead of imposing draconian censorship regulations on the populace, why not impose education on them instead?

    Thanks for you comments.

  8. avatar Rob says:

    Oh but it is a logical extension for your argument! You are against kiddie porn and against censorship and then you went as far as it is a parents responsibility to educate their kids about kiddie porn rather than impose draconian censorship laws.

    So, are you saying that all we need is for parents to educate their kids about kiddie porn and then there will be no need for censorship at all? Nice argument!

    Yep, some of our kids grow up to be bad people and it is not always because they are poorly cared for or poorly educated. Your arguments over-simplify the problems faced! In any event who is going to perfect and run the “are you good enough to be a parent and bring a child into this world” quiz anyway? Is it the qovernment? Because if it is the government then does this run counter to your original argument where you said something along the lines of

    Every time you allow another person to determine what you can or can’t see, hear, touch, taste or smell, you lose a small piece of individuality, a small piece of yourself that is gone forever.

    this would probably include giving up the bit about whether or not you decide you can be a parent or whether you let the government and the courts make this determination for you…

    Nah, if porn is illegal in Indonesia then don’t the Indonesian government have a right to regulate it. After all if we are so concerned by Indonesian democracy then should we not let them be a democracy and regulate their affairs as they see fit? By all accounts the Indonesian elections in 2004 were overwhelmingly fair (some irregularities occurred) but overall the Carter Center was strongly positive! So this is government of, by, and for the people…and if the Indonesian people do not like what has happened then they can vote for a new government in 2009!

    The arguments about the warnet are interesting but ultimately if the warnet is not going to install software that prevents accidental clicks then perhaps warnets should be licensed premises like a bar or a club. Unless of course your suggestion is that parents should be sitting in the warnet with their kids…Perhaps if little Adik is playing Counter Strike at the warnet maybe that is because his parents don’t let him play at home. Maybe little Adik told mummy that he was going to big Kakak’s house but in reality buggered off to the warnet.

    I just guess we will have to agree to disagree on this one, at least, as it relates to having your cake and eating it too!

  9. avatar areocam says:

    Yes we all want to have our cake and eat it too. Heroin is illegal because it kills people and destroys families. Nicotine also causes suffering and pain but it’s legal, although tightly controlled. Kids see advertising for tobacco daily and succumb to peer pressure to try it. We teach our kids all drugs are bad, or we should. After all, parents can’t be with a child 24 hours a day, so we get back to my original point, that parents should educate their children. Only then will they be able to choose wisely.

    Is the internet so awash with kiddie porn? Does it fill inboxes? Is it so prevalent that we have to start blocking sites in case this happens? No, we have Interpol and various state and federal agencies tracking and prosecuting child pornographers and various other criminals. Do wee need one more freedom eroded in the name of “protection”? If you say that my argument is a logical step away from allowing child porn, then I say your position is a logical step away from a totalitarian nightmare where there is such a thing as a “thoughtcrime”. Sound familiar?

    My argument was not one of extremes, it was an exhortation to self censorship and parental responsibility. There are always grey areas, interpretations and suchlike.

  10. avatar Rob says:

    Perhaps big brother needs to step in because as people we have failed miserably to self-censor or control ourselves…

    Heroin is illegal because it kills. Yes, if you abuse it and if you overdose on it! So does alcohol! We teach our kids not to abuse alcohol or tobacco and some grow up to abuse it! Therefore, the State has two options ban alcohol and tobacco or legalize heroin and other drugs!

    Your arguments on parental responsibility are a furphy (some might say scuttlebutt) because even where parents take an active interest in policing their children’s Internet use and in educating them about the evils that permeate our world, some kids just run off the rails.

    You never answered whether it is the State who should decide which individuals are fit to be parents and which individuals are not? Is this not a form of censorship in itself? Isn’t it just a short hop, skip, and a jump from forced sterilizations to ensure that individuals deemed unfit for parenthood never get the opportunity to be parents? Isn’t thsi just a short hop, skip, and a jump to designer babies and perhaps the creation of a super-class of humans that will lord it over the lesser models?

    On the totalitarian front perhaps you need to re-examine your own arguments on the rights of individuals to become parents. My arguments were restricted to the State being permitted to regulate and pass laws. That is why people elect governments, and if I am not mistaken Indonesia has a democratically elected government.

    Personally, I believe that if you want to look at porn and you are a consenting adult then you must be allowed to do that. I am though totalitarian in protecting children from trafficking and being the objects in kiddie porn. If you wanna traffick in children and kiddie porn then I am all for stiff sentences and jail time spent in the general prison population. Kiddie porn is not a thought crime and to suggest that it is highlights the absurdity of the argument.

    You need to read some of my other posts to see that I have already highlighted elsewhere that the Indonesian government is on a slippery slope that could lead to places that the New Order of the despot Soeharto could only dream about in terms of restrciting access to data and information! Totalitarian not by a long shot!

    Cheers + enjoy your weekend!

  11. avatar areocam says:

    Thank you for your thoughts, Rob. I look forward to hearing more of your opinions in future.

  12. avatar andrey says:

    My question is simple.. who decided kiddie porn is not OK?
    Who decided how old is old enough to be posing for porn?
    A tribe at the top of Kilimanjaro might decide that 7years old is old enough. Are you going to bomb them to rise this age limit so that it conforms with the law of Nevada?

    See? this is all relative.. you (those who whine) are all imposing your own (or your culture’s) definition of “OK” or “not OK” on other people/culture.

    If, for example western people decides their limit of “OK” ness is not broken unless the object is less than 13 years old.. good for them. But they should not expect us/Muslims to lower our standard to their level. The concencus among us is, ALL porn is wrong. So we ban them ALL.

    Ok, maybe there exist some indonesians who likes to see porn to be free.. well, there are also some westerners who likes kiddie porn, but that does not mean western government should listen to them, does it.

    I am using porn as an example.. but it’s the same for other subect also: freedom of expressoion (where to draw the line? obviously everyone agree there should be a limit on anything, but whose limit?)

  13. avatar Rob says:

    Andrey…

    You miss the point! I am not advocating bombing people to conform with some Westernized ideal. Your example presupposes that the tribe has access to the technology to photgraph, upload, and then disseminate the images of their children. The more likely scenario is that this tribe would be exploited by someone bringing in this technology getting the pictures they need and then leaving them with some blankets or other trinkets!

    If you read a little more closely you will find that some commentators actually agree with the idea that some regulation is necessary and that perhaps it is democratically eleceted governments that should have that right! Perhaps the issues relate to ideas of freedom of expression or freedom of thought. It is worth noting that these ideas are not limitless; there are restrictions.

    If you are arguing that kiddie porn is acceptable then I have to respectfully disagree. I would also add that any exploitation of a child is wrong as it removes that child’s right to be a child and enjoy their childhood. This is not the thread to get into how old A’isha may or may not have been at the date of consummation of the marriage. However, Islam considers puberty, as a rule of thumb, to be the time a girl enters into womenhood!

    There has been an interesting case recently decided in Yemen relating to this issue and you can read it here. Perhaps porn is a little like prostitution; no matter how hard you try to eradicate it, you never will while there is demand for the product — economics!

  14. avatar Chuck G. says:

    Dear aerocom,

    My initial question is…. do you have children? The reason is that after your response, I will tell you of my recent experience, asking for your response. This experience does involve one of my children, if you’re wondering.

  15. avatar iamwoman says:

    Chuck G,

    Areocam doesn’t have children.

    I think it’s interesting that he completely abandoned this discussion after you posted!

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