Updates for Thursday, July 28th [2005]

Freedom & Responsibility


Dear Friends,

So it has come to my attention that a new tax is being discussed, and of course this interests me. On the issue, a woman, Senator Blanche Lincoln, is proposing a tax on the internet, my dear friends, of the disgusting and vile pornographies therein. I was taking a trip to Natalie's parent's home, and this issue happened to arise in a discussion with her father.

Me: So, I do spend now a lot of time on the internet, it is like a library at home. I was browsing the other day, and one of these pornographic ads bombarded my computer. It seemed as if there were hundreds of them. They nearly forced me to stop the machine and "reboot".

Natalie's Father: Well, they exploit the children, you see. 12-17 year olds are the fasting growing consumers of pornography on the internet, so says Family Safe Media. And quite coincidentally, they sell some software that they say tackles that problem.

Me: My knowledge of the internet is still limited, but after spending so much time at my computer, I see quite clearly that there are no good methods of curbing the illicit activity.

Natalie's Father: No method? Well, there is that tax they're going to put on it, that should put an end to it.

Me: A tax? What a preposterous idea.

Natalie's Father: Well, increased use of age verification software could prevent kids from viewing adult materials.

Me: Sir, it sincerely seems to me that you haven't been on the internet much. There is no such thing as effective age verification software. Requiring credit cards alone is the most effective method of age verification.

Natalie's Father: Well, parents keep getting credit cards for their kids.

Me: Why would a parent do something so oblivious? To give their children money without as much as a moment's notice of their expenditures… it is unthinkable for a concerned father or mother. This is more a problem of digital money and "credit cards" as much as it is poor parenting.

Natalie's Father: Well, I don't see how you can be against regulating pornography.

Me: I'm against the regulation of free expression, I believe it's already illegal to purvey pornography to people knowingly underage, and I don't see how this helps. It's just an excuse by people who have cultivated these interests to create a new tax... to punish the adult pornographers who abide by the laws with penalties. The pornographers of the worst breed, who ignore these laws and even sell the disgusting, vile child pornographies... these people will evade the tax. This tax encourages adult pornographers to evade the law, eventually and most likely moving their businesses into the international territory and keeping them out of sight of regulators, where they will only be more likely, not less, to support the illegal trades we concern ourselves so much with.

Natalie's Father: Now I see why you are pro-pornography, it's because you're not a good Christian like our family.

Me: I didn't say I was pro-pornography, and how many times do I have to explain my faiths before you understand them? Is it that my ideologies, surely hundreds of years old by now, are too complex for your modern stupidity?

Natalie's Father: So long as children are being exploited by pornographers I think our government should do more. Plus, the tax revenue could be helpful.

Me: I am pretty sure that taxes were not devised in this country to exploit man's vices and addictions. What is next, do we tax gambling? Do we tax alcohol?

Natalie's Father: Well, yeah. We do tax those things. Of course.

Me: ... oh.

Natalie's Father: Well, I don't know a lot about this interweb stuff, but I know full well that this rampant pornography, sex, violence, video games, reefer-smoking and jazz is rotting away good Christian American life.

It's disturbing to see that people consider these taxes and regulations more off preconceived notions and emotions than on any practical application and whether or not it lies in the spirit of the lawmaking. It's as if the people most interested in regulating the internet are those who know the least about it and are more concerned for their fears of the unknown than their own ignorance. I do believe pressure needs to be laid on these pornographers to ensure their content isn't openly available to children, but that pressure must be made to their responsibilities, for with the freedom of expression such pornography requires, comes the responsibility of our society to mitigate it. If society refuses the responsibilities it holds to these ends, it's government will surely snatch up those responsibilities... and, in due course, those respective freedoms. It is getting late, I must sign off.

your most obedt. humble servant.

- TH. Jefferson

Editor's Notes:

As someone who has actually had to employ filtration systems for my adult-content websites (don't worry, it's not porn, but it isn't for children... parents only - Perverted-Justice.com), I know full well that the credit card authorization is the best form of age verification (of course, that is if the site is paid... mine are not). The false promise of better filtration, especially made to elderly senators eager for community support, is a toxic mix. The problem with this is that law-abiding adult pornographers are not the problem. They already make sincere efforts to prevent underage people from viewing their content, and they have virulent stands against child pornography and exploitation. It's not the law-abiding pornographer you need to worry about... it's the one who already ignores the laws. The one with the offshore server who funnels the cash through illicit channels.

It's not wise to force law-abiding American citizens who deal in this occasionally filthy trade to be a criminal just to avoid a tax... because once this person is a criminal, chance are they'll embrace, not be afraid of, furthered illegal activities. This kind of legislation - with unintended, perverse consequences, and no real effective result - is dangerous for our society to pursue. In the end, it's just sad to see people who are for the most part completely ignorant about the internet being the people to push forward such indecent solutions to the problem.

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