And so here I am – stood on the precipice of making myself vastly unpopular. Here goes anyway…

I am absolutely, totally and utterly against the banning of porn.

As in, I am livid  that such a thing is being proposed. To avoid my inevitably terrible paraphrasing, here is the point that Husband made on the issue, pasted from his facebook wall:

What really bothers me about this debacle is that the discussion is now centered around feasibility and enforcement, when the very premise is dubious at best. 

So Cameron believes “online pornography is corroding childhood”. This could only ever apply if they are allowed access to it, and censorship is not a solution for bad/lazy parenting. Many ISPs already offer an opt-in option for filtering such content, and there are plenty of other FREE filtering solutions out there for the ones who can be bothered to look for them. This move seems to be aimed at those who can’t be bothered – and as such, it only serves to perpetuate the problem.

I for one don’t want, expect or trust the Government to parent my child(ren). That is my responsibility, and if I need help, I will ask for it – I will, however, not ask someone else to do it for me. But as usual, you can always count on Cameron to deflect attention away from the real issues and try to spin a “vote winner” at the same time…

I feel that hiding the truth from children is far more damaging than acknowledging the fact that the world isn’t perfect. A better idea – in my opinion – would be to try and prepare them for it as best we can. I would like to see open discussion about porn – highlighting the differences between loving, respectful sex and what is portrayed in the sex industry. A better use of the money this ridiculous venture will cost would be to educate teachers and parents on how to deal with such conversations as they arise. Let’s give our children some credit – explain to them that porn is out there but that it isn’t real life. Explain that certain things are and aren’t appropriate and that situations with which they’re uncomfortable need to be talked about. Hiding porn away creates shame, and shame leads to secrets  – why, when charities like the NSPCC are advocating open discussion – is the government looking at adding more layers of  secrets and shame to something which should be talked about.

And people are talking about it – or the ban at least. As far back as September 2012, the Daily Mail called a petition to instigate an opt-in  on porn, a “crusade to protect children”.

Only… what’s that down the right hand side of the article? Half naked ladies! If newspapers were actually worried about porn and erotica being a danger to children then page  3 would be a thing of the past and pictures like the one in question wouldn’t be present. The hypocrisy of the thing is blinding. Yes, some porn is degrading to women, but so is the idea that we’re only worth the brand of clothes we can  afford.  Since sexualised advertising, hideous ‘articles’ and idiotic stereotypes  are everywhere – rather than confined to a computer screen – I would rather they were tackled first.

dailyfail

Because that’s the thing – I can’t possibly know what my child is looking at when she’s out and about, but I can tell what she’s looking at when she’s at home. I can keep the computer she uses in family space and open discussions with her about what she finds online. I would never – with a filter up or not – think to let a child, or young teenager take an internet capable device into their bedroom where I can’t see what they’re doing. That goes for phones and games consoles as well. In the end, I think this ban is creating complacency. “The government has stopped porn being available on my computer so I don’t need to look at what my child is doing.” The type of filters being used look to be easy to circumvent – The Pirate Bay on  BT connections, anyone? – and there’s no reason that tech-savvy children won’t be able to do that with this proposed ban.

There are a myriad of other issues involved here too – if the government can ban porn (presumably because people are too embaressed to stand up and say, “Oi! No! I was watching that!”) then what comes next? Do they ban sites which talk about the porn block in an uncomplimentary fashion? Then any site which talks about the government in a less than favourable light? It sounds extreme, but it’s something to consider. Then, there are the somewhat fuzzy lines between what is art/acceptable nudity and what is porn/erotica. Will images of Greek statues be banned? Or breastfeeding mothers (see recent ‘nurse in’ against facebook)? But those are topics for another day. This particular rant was simply to discuss the flawed logic in introducing such measures to ‘protect’ our children. And when the whole reason for bringing in this ridiculous law is so tenuous, shouldn’t we be diverting our attention to something that matters…?

https://submissions.epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/51746 — A petition against the block.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2196623/Call-arms-110-000-sign-petition-porn-Demand-tough-online-controls-heard-MP-tells-parents.html —  A Daily Fail article about a petition calling for the block in the first place.

http://paulbernal.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/10-questions-about-camerons-new-porn-blocking/ — Excellent post which deals more with the technical side of things.

http://www.netmums.com/coffeehouse/general-coffeehouse-chat-514/news-current-affairs-topical-discussion-12/962865-automatic-block-internet-porn.html — discussions about the topic on a  popular parenting forum. Be warned – some answers will make you want to slap people across the face with a wet kipper, regardless of which side of the fence you’re sat on. One of the  really thought-provoking arguments is from Julie P (791) – “I have 2 teenage boys, 1 of whom is very tech savvy – in many ways, more so than me and his dad. I do not have and never intend to have, any filtering software, because I know how flawed it is and how easy it is to circumvent. However, what I do do, is talk to my children about the stuff that is on the internet, and we discuss the issues around it. We have talked about porn and the risks associated with it. I have always found that to be a far more effective method of handling the whole issue.

I have no problem with the opt in system. The problem is clear, that most people haven’t got the faintest idea what it is, and I am sorry, but this post is a perfect example of the lack of understanding.” (The post she was referring to: “I have 3 young daughters and to be honest I don’t want them seeing that on the internet. Its all over rated. Everything is sex this sex that. Its a load of rubbish.”)

I also urge you to watch: The Simpsons Marge vs.  Itchy and Scratchy and Adventure Time’s Business Time – the first deals with how one form of censorship can lead to another, whilst the second involves protecting the populous by imprisoning them… go figure.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6eFNRKEROw — finally, this being the case, if the government actually follow through on this proposal then their effort at increasing connection speeds across the country will have been for nothing ;).