The religious fanatics behind Tory plans to block porn


3:21 pm - May 5th 2012

by Unity    


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I’ve just been reading through Clare Perry’s ‘Independent Parliamentary Inquiry into Online Child Protection‘ which, of course, recommends the introduction of opt-in porn filters on internet connections in the UK.

Its fair to say that I’ve spotted one or two problems with the report that need to be flagged up.

Problem number 1 can be found in the title of the report and the use of the words ‘Independent’ and ‘Parliamentary Inquiry’.


‘Independent’, in this case, translates into the following branding on the back page of the report.

For the avoidance of all doubt, Safer Media’s charitable objects read as follows:

The protection of good mental and physical health, in particular of children and young people, by working in accordance with Christian values to minimise the availability of potentially harmful media content displaying violence, pornography and explicit sex, bad language and anti-social behaviour and the portrayal of drugs, and with a view to the reduction of crime by;

A) raising awareness and increasing understanding of the impact of harmful media content among policy makers, service providers and the public.
B) educating the public and providing guidance and support to enable parents and carers to better protect children and young people.
C) monitoring media content for compliance with established national guidelines and standards required by the law and seeking strengthening of these guidelines and standards as necessary in the light of academic research.
D) commissioning and conducting research and disseminating the useful results thereof.

You can make up your own mind as to how ‘independent’ that is.

As for ‘Parliamentary Inquiry’, this should really state ‘Ad-hoc group of MPs operating entirely outside any formal parliamentary structures and with no formal Parliamentary status’.

This ‘inquiry’ is apparently supported by more than sixty MPs and Peers with a ‘core team’ which made up the ‘inquiry panel’ the member’s of which are listed in the report as having been:

Claire Perry, Conservative (Chair)
Peter Aldous, Conservative
Harriett Baldwin, Conservative
Julian Brazier, Conservative
Annette Brooke, Liberal Democrat
Fiona Bruce, Conservative
David Burrowes, Conservative
Mark Garnier, Conservative
Helen Goodman, Labour
Baroness Howe, Cross Bencher
Andrea Leadsom, Conservative
Denis MacShane, Labour
Fiona Mactaggart, Labour
Mark Pawsey, Conservative
David Rutley, Conservative
Andrew Selous, Conservative
Jo Swinson, Liberal Democrat

More observant regulars might well note rather a surfeit of known god-botherers there. David Burrowes and Fiona Bruce were both directly involved in the recent ‘Clearing the Ground‘ report of the Christians in Parliament All Party Group.

They also masqueraded as an ‘independent parlismetary inquiry’ but which actually amounted to nothing more than extended whinge about non-existent persecution and teh gayerz being treated as equal citizens – that report was sponsored by the Evangelical Alliance.

As for being an inquiry, I can find nothing yet to indicate that an open call for submissions or evidence was ever issued.

However, the most striking thing about this report is exemplified by the following quotation from the text of one of its oral evidence sessions:

Claire Perry: Harriett did you have a..? I’m so sorry, Jacqui….

Jacqui Smith: The Sex Education Board told me that they thought there should be more sex education for younger people to deal with the impact of online pornography.

Harriett Baldwin: Thank you. Just very quickly really on the technology question because all of this is about online pornography and many teenagers these days will have access to the internet through their mobile phone. I just wondered if you have a view in terms of what likely patterns there are? Are we finding that more and more children have access to that through 3G technology?

During one of the sessions, the importance of sex education was raised – at some length – by Julia Bentley (FPA), Will Gardner (Childnet International) and by Jacqui Smith, and the brush off that Smith got at this point is pretty much illustrative of the ‘inquiry panel’s’ general attitude to the points raised about sex education throughout this sesssion.

What’s evn more worrying is the panel’s final recommendation:

8. Finally, the Government should consider the merits of a new regulatory structure for online content, with one regulator given a lead role in the oversight and monitoring of internet content and in improving the dissemination of existing internet safety education materials and resources such as ParentPort.

Lest we forget, Safe Media’s stating objectives don;t stop at just pornography…

to minimise the availability of potentially harmful media content displaying violence, pornography and explicit sex, bad language and anti-social behaviour and the portrayal of drugs

These bastards want to censor the internet outright.

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About the author
'Unity' is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He also blogs at Ministry of Truth.
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Reader comments


“These bastards want to censor the internet outright.”

Well of course they do – some of us spotted that a while back:

http://ronsrants.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/government-puritanism-is-just-a-front-for-state-control-and-censorship/

They’re calling for access to hardcore porn to be opt-in rather than opt-out, so as to reduce the shocking proportion of pre-teen kids who are exposed to such material. Hardly Stasi territory – if you’re over 18 want to look at dirty pictures, no-one’s removing your ability to do so.

Anyway, the “religious fanatics” thing is just stupid, unless you think all Christians are by definition religious fanatics. Plenty of non-Christian feminists back the campaign – are they “feminist fanatics”?

This particular group seems to conflate pornography & sex, while regarding sex education as a non issue.

Perhaps if these MPs had had better sex education they might be able to distinguish between hardcore, violent, degrading pornography (which often includes rape and sexual assault) and explicit consensual sex.

4. Dissident

disseminating useful research results??
i take it that means contradictory research results would be suppressed…

The author seems offended that Christians have the temerity to hold opinions on the matter. Why can’t they just shut up, eh?

These bastards want to censor the internet outright.

Gasp!

7. Kulvinder

Hardly Stasi territory

Thin edge of the wedge; if you want to stop your children watching ‘pornography’ on the internet by all means do what you think is necessary (put the computer in the living room/ install blockers etc).

Putting in place a statutory definition of what constitutes ‘pornography’ and hence should be blocked would be an unprecedented step. Until now the law has almost wholly dealt with obscenity/indecency – and the word ‘pornography’ only really applies to ‘extreme porn’. But under these proposals someone will have to sit in a room and constantly define what is and isn’t porn. This has massive implications, not only for sites that show people having sex, but sites that show nudity – would the sun newspaper constitute ‘porn’? what about risqué advertising?

Whats more is trying to ‘block’ sites that the law doesn’t regard as illegal (and which importantly the US with control of ICANN doesn’t regard as illegal) would descend into a pythonesque farce. You could easily bypass any ‘block’ with impunity – even the ‘block’ on piratebay has been bypassed.

But thats just the technical reasons. If you have moral objections to pornography based on religious identity (and its fairly obvious the majority of mps/peers who object appear to fall into that category) then run your household as you see fit but don’t impose your religious morality on everyone else.

An awful lot of internet blocking software developed by US companies seems to be developed with an explicitly sectarian Christian bias, Richard Dawkins once discovered his website was regarded by some of these software manufacturers as being equivalent to pornography, and Harry Potter, all were equally blocked to ‘protect the kiddies’.

But then scare tactics involving using fear for children is these fuckers stock in trade.

Besides, I’ve yet to meet a single adult who didn’t witness some hardcore porn images while growing up, even if it were just from a few rain damaged pages of grumble found torn in a hedge. So I’m not sure what the worry is. Or are we still pretending that Child’s Play 3 killed James Bulger?

There is ‘something’ you want to do.
Let’s say ‘Public Control.’
You create the threat of terrorism, maybe a bomb or two goes off..
You bring in all sorts of legislation that is intended to address the public ‘concern ‘ about the fear of terrorism and on the back of that you have achieved a considerable measure of control over the public.

Now all governments are absolutely, insanely desperate to control the Internet – it is the biggest threat to the establishment since the Peasants’ Revolt.

Maybe time to find a charismatic Wat Tyler?

Plenty of non-Christian feminists back the campaign – are they “feminist fanatics”?

There’s quite a number of radfems that are explicitly anti-trans too, and are confirmed tossers as a result, so not sure what you hoped to achieve with that whataboutery.

11. Kulvinder

Plenty of non-Christian feminists back the campaign – are they “feminist fanatics”?

FWIW; yes.

If you want to stop your children from watching something you find objectionable you take responsibility and do something to prevent them watching it.

You don’t ask the government to put in place a vastly expensive and idiotic mechanism that alleviates you from your parental responsibility.

jacques @2:

“They’re calling for access to hardcore porn to be opt-in rather than opt-out, so as to reduce the shocking proportion of pre-teen kids who are exposed to such material.”

Care to cite any valid, peer-reviewed research which says that this expsosure has happened/is happening on any scale? Or is this the DM school of investigative reporting you’re quoting?

“Hardly Stasi territory – if you’re over 18 want to look at dirty pictures, no-one’s removing your ability to do so.”

But having to opt in means that the information that you’ve opted in will have to be held somewhere by your ISP. And the State has – or shortly will have – the power to demand any information of your ISP which they (the State) deem ‘relevant’, and without any adequate oversight. Knowing what we know about the slapdash way in which State bodies handle the personal details of the citizen-consumer (and their ability selectively to leak it for their own ends – see the Gareth Williams case), no-one in their right mind would give such information to their ISP.

On top of which – as other commenters have said – this is the thin end of a very large wedge. Measures such as these can be sold to an easily-scared public just by the cry of, “Won’t no-one fink of der kiddies?!” All reasonable counter-arguments can then be presented as coming from people who are labelled as being “soft on child-abusers”, or some such soundbite, and the argument is thereby lost.

As others have said: the primary (perhaps the sole) responsibility for what children/early-teens access online rests with the parent(s)/guardian(s). Just because they may not choose to shoulder that responsibility is no valid reason for curtailing the freedoms of adults in this way.

vimothy @5:

“The author seems offended that Christians have the temerity to hold opinions on the matter. Why can’t they just shut up, eh?”

No, that’s not what Unity is offended by. What offends him (and me) is that a group of self-selecting blue-nosing busybodies with no sound evidence in their support are presenting themselves as what they are not; namely, a body which has the imprimatur of the House of Commons. Whereas in actual fact, they have no such authority. The pretense has been aided and abetted by slovenly media coverage which has – perhaps unintentionally – reinforced that false impression.

13. Step Left

Its the job of parents to use whatever tools are available if they want to control what their children can view online. This is no business of the State, and its a depressingly unshocking revelation that some uppity god botherers are well place behind this. Although, to be fair, there is plenty of nannying secular prudes who would want to ‘PROTECT THE CHILDREN’ in much the same nannying, censorous and prudish fashion

@TheJudge

Funny you should mention ‘no sound evidence’ as I’ve just posted a follow up looking in more detail at a couple of the citations given in that report.

http://www.ministryoftruth.me.uk/2012/05/05/are-11-years-olds-viewing-porn/

Needless to say, so interesting zombie statistics crop up including one that dates all the way back to the Reagan-era Meese Commission!!

“‘Ad-hoc group of MPs operating entirely outside any formal parliamentary structures and with no formal Parliamentary status’.”
sounds like the definition of “independent parliamentary inquiry” to me.
“a surfeit of known god-botherers” comprises two out of sixty – actually god-botherers are rather more than one-thirtieth of the UK population.
As a parent, I am supposed to telepathetically discover every time my son buys a new mobile ‘phone and then seize it and re-programme it to exclude any junk-mail from pornography sites?!? Just how many parents have that level of technological expertise (I should need to ask my elder son for help to do that!!), let alone the telepathy?
And it can only be through your personal use of internet pornography and intrusive CCTV systems pre-dating the invention of the internet that you can have ascertained the legitimacy of all these individuals.

Its not just that they hold opinions they dont want to look at porn thats fine. i dont like porn but there we go. However, to argue for a censoring organisation of the internet which presumabley would be inaccordance with their values? that is worrying. Where do you draw the line? After all is literature aggitateing for strikes or protests anti social? im sure some of the Evangalists would believe so. Are we talking about censoring that too?

Thanks for this article.

And sorry for this long comment, but I have a lot to say!

It’s worrying that we have a prime minister who seems to take a jump to the authoritarian right whenever he gets scared. I’m genuinely fearful that the censorious, intolerant and ignorant crusaders are going to make some real progress as a result of exploiting David Cameron’s weakness as a leader.

9. Barrie J said, “Maybe time to find a charismatic Wat Tyler?”

I think a counter-campaign may well be necessary. The technologically ignorant campaign to automatically censor the internet is a concerted, coordinated effort, an on-going campaign that will not stop.

I think such a counter-campaign would need to significantly address issues of child protection and safety, but do so properly, not as a matter of playing the ‘think of the children’ card. (The card’s already been played; it has to be answered.) This means campaigning to make sure parents and guardians do a proper job and take principle responsibility for keeping their children safe. It also means publicising the many options already available for parents and guardians to make use of in restricting and supervising their children’s access to the internet (such as OpenDNS).

A message I’d like to see is something like this: “If you’re letting your child roam the streets and alleyways of a huge city unsupervised and unrestricted, that’s serious child neglect. Who knows what harm your child may come to. If you’re letting your child roam the internet unsupervised and unrestricted, that’s serious child neglect. Who knows what harmful material your child may be exposed to, or what dangers your child may be lured to.”

But I believe it also means campaigning to deal properly with the problem of unsuitable material being made readily available to children. I agree that people shouldn’t be exposed to pornographic material without their consent (and I’m not aware of there being much of a problem with that, anyway). I agree that publishers and distributors of pornographic material shouldn’t be providing it to children. But the sort of automatic censorship, network-level filtering being demanded by the censorious crusaders obviously isn’t a reasonable or sensible solution.

The censorious crusaders are calling for something analogous to expecting bus and train companies to take responsibility for what’s available in shops and markets on the grounds that it’s those bus and train companies that take people to those shops and markets in the first place. It’s like complaining to the manufacturer of a radio about something objectionable that was broadcast by a radio station. It’s unbelievably stupid, but that’s the level of stupidity we’re dealing with. And David Cameron seems to be on the stupid side. He probably finds it easier.

Perhaps there should be some sort of policing of the publicly accessible parts of the internet, analogous to trading standards and market inspectors for shops and markets, and bobbies on the beat. But not the censorious default filtering being called for by the technologically ignorant, or anything else that would belong in an authoritarian dictatorship or police state.

I believe a concerted campaign may well be needed in order to counter the effects of the censorious crusaders. By including child protection and safety as a central part of it, the debate can be shifted from the false debate of whether or not you’re in favour of keeping children safe, to the real debate of whose job that is in the first place, and how best to actually deal with the problem of unsuitable material being made available to children.

(And just to avoid any misunderstanding: I’m not calling for porn to be banned. I believe in freedom of expression, etc. I believe those providing porn to others should avoid providing it to children, not that porn should be banned altogether.)

18. MarkAustin

Never, ever, install “internet blocking” programs. There are two reasons.

The first is because they’re crap. They simply don’t work. They block only a tiny fraction of what they claim and lead to a false sense of security amongst parents.

The second reason is that all to many are written by extreme right wing Republicans with an agenda. Not too many years ago one of these programs was found to be blocking mainstream Democratic party websites (and not on filters: hardwired in).

If you have children, educate them, monitor their usage, restrict their access. Don’t think there is an easy hands-free technical solution: there isn’t.

19. Dan Factor

I had an email conversation with Vivienne Pattison the director of Safer Media’s co group Mediawatch Uk regarding the Daily Mail’s block online porn campaign. She said she is delighted that the Mail is supporting the campaign.
I pointed out that much of the content of the Mail’s website might full foul of a block on net porn.

The Judge,

What offends him (and me) is that a group of self-selecting blue-nosing busybodies with no sound evidence in their support are presenting themselves as what they are not; namely, a body which has the imprimatur of the House of Commons. Whereas in actual fact, they have no such authority.

With respect, it sounds like what offends you and him is exactly this: Christians—those self-selecting blue-nosing busy bodies”—daring to have an opinion that doesn’t pay proper obeisance to our modern and all-conquering values of libertinism and license.

If these same Christians had come together and wrote a report stating that online pornography is a jolly good thing (or at least not bad), that universal access to it reflects our society’s highest principles of equal freedom and total autonomy of the individual (at least in theory), and that those puritanical freaks who feel the need to restrict their children’s perfect and holy choices in this matter are nevertheless free to do so (magnanimous pats on the back all round), I strongly suspect that neither you nor the ironically named “Unity”–here implicitly arguing that communities have no right to defend collective moral standards–would have raised a peep, horrible mean cynic that I am.

21. the a&e charge nurse

[16] unfortunately the censors work is never done – not only that, people are now sent to jail for making unpleasant remarks on the internet.

Incidentally, I read in the Times today that ‘more than 70% of men use porn’ and ‘97% of all searches for free porn’ were made by men – is the goal of this parliamentary group to make the randy teenagers wait longer before they can take their place amongst the the growing army of naughty adult surfers?

@15 John77

As a parent, I am supposed to telepathetically discover every time my son buys a new mobile ‘phone and then seize it and re-programme it to exclude any junk-mail from pornography sites?!?

How old is your son that he’s able to afford to throw down enough money for a smart phone whenever he feels like doing so?

This attempt to censor of the internet is also futile. Ask any child who uses a computer at school about how restrictive their access to the internet is. The *only* effective way is to maintain a “white list” of approved sites, and that will be horribly bureaucratic to maintain. If a “black list” is used, then presumably there would be an army of Mary Whitehouse types trawling the internet for porn so that they can be added to the “black list”. (Perhaps anyone can declare a website as porn – like spam reporting sites like spamcop or spamhaus. That raises the possibility of a DOS attack. Imagine if at the next election the Tories creates campaign website and enough people report it as porn, so that it is blocked?)

Other technology like image recognition are not effective, how would it tell the difference between a picture on a porn site and a “in the public interest” micro-bikini clad picture of a celeb on the Mail website? As we all know the former is filthy porn and the latter is good family material from a thoroughly upstanding and decent newspaper. Can you imagine Paul Dacre’s rage if the Mail website is declared “porn, opt-in”?

This seems to be a variation of LCs recurrent theme: Christians engage in democratic politics- shock!

“An awful lot of internet blocking software developed by US companies seems to be developed with an explicitly sectarian Christian bias, Richard Dawkins once discovered his website was regarded by some of these software manufacturers as being equivalent to pornography, and Harry Potter, all were equally blocked to ‘protect the kiddies’.”

“The second reason is that all to many are written by extreme right wing Republicans with an agenda. Not too many years ago one of these programs was found to be blocking mainstream Democratic party websites (and not on filters: hardwired in).

Surely, all the more reason to give this function to an independent and open regulator rather than privatising it. Remember that not all children have excellent parents, and not even all good parents are techno-savvy or clued up on the risks. Regulating the public sphere is a legitimate function of government, and the internet is increasingly an extension of the public sphere.

@ 16 Rae
Evangelists tend to support justified strikes. Also the denunciations of the oppressive rich by prophet Amos were particularly relevant to the Brown era.
Incidentally, I really recommend Amos to all serious visitors to LC (endorsed by Mahomet, Sunny): he combines analysis of the problem, forthright denunciation of evil, solutions and poetry.

@ Cylux
£50 a week of Disability Living Allowance – which is HIS money

27. margin4error

10% of Chinese people have un-censored internet access because they share the means to get around the government’s fire-walls. (The Chinese government dismisses this because it is only 10%, though that may prove rather short sighted if they want to prevent revolution by a young generation in the years ahead).

Block porn for kids’ phones in the UK and guess what – that ten percent in the UK will all be under-18 and they’ll still be watching their porn happily. Besides which, it ain’t hard to film their own stuff and share it anyway.

The idiotic thing here is of course that government kids itself that, like with drugs and prostitution, it can some how stop the public doing and having what it wants.

@ 24. Hannah

“Remember that not all children have excellent parents, and not even all good parents are techno-savvy or clued up on the risks.”

What’s being demanded isn’t a solution.

You can’t stop negligent parents being negligent by imposing the kind of filtering being demanded. And since such parents could easily opt out of the filtering (which the censorious wrongly call ‘opt-in’, in an Orwellian attempt to turn well established terms into their opposites), children of such negligent parents will still be at risk. It’s an excuse, not a genuine, credible reason, for such filtering. Please don’t try to exploit the serious issue of child neglect as an excuse for promoting censorship.

As for those good parents who are not “techno-savvy or clued up on the risks”, the solution is information and education, not the nanny state. If they really are the good parents they’re claimed to be, they will put in that bit of time and effort to get “clued up on the risks”, to find out what tools, etc, are available, and how to use them.

Filtering and the like are already available for those who want such things, and have been for years. I remember AOL, years ago, making a point of it in their advertisements on national television. If there really is as much a demand for it as some people say, the market’s already providing solutions.

As well as being would-be censors, the MPs also don’t understand the technology, if this exchange is anything to go by:

Helen Goodman: I’m sorry, maybe I’m particularly stupid, but I haven’t understood how I get this software or this kit or whatever it is, this filter thingy that you click or whatever without buying a new computer and I don’t want to spend a thousand pounds just to have a filter. I just haven’t understood what I do, and you’ve been talking to us and I’ve been in this room for half an hour.

Matt Lambert: You can download any number of parental control software for free…

Helen Goodman: But I don’t know how to download parental controls. I can send an email, I can click onto Windows but the minute you talk about downloading software, my brain goes bzzzz.

I think the mixture of cluelessness and authoritarianism precludes the possiblity of anything good coming out of this.

30. margin4error

Phil

are you suggesting ignorant people are not suitable law-makers?

hmm…

@ 28 Simon
You sound like an example of the attitude that Dickens at al condemned among self-made Victorians – “everyone could do the same if they tried”. Perhaps, if I spent several hours a week being coached by my elder son instead of working to support my family, I could keep up-to-date with the ever-changing internet technology to protect my younger son. Sadly I need to work and many parents have even less technical ability than I.

the onus seems to have been put very much on the side of the childless, or parents with children who have a degree of personal responsibility to ‘do something about this’.

I see no reason why parents have been given this getout clause to cover up fro the fact that many of them are incredibly ignorant when it comes to the internet, and I see no reason why the rest of the country should have to adapt to their lack of competence. If you want to buy a computer for your child, don’t just let them wander upstairs and leave them to it, allowing them free reign of an infinite resource, which includes this ‘undesirable’ content, if you wish to be considered a responsible parent.

If we’re going to do this, it should be opt out for the very simple reason that it may make parents *think* a bit about it, instead of acting like helpless victims in all of this.

@ 30 margin4error
“are you suggesting ignorant people are not suitable law-makers?”
That is a whole new topic. Ignorance of the theory of multi-dimensional vector spaces does not necessarily make one unsuitable to make laws about the treatment of farm and domestic animals but ignorance of Archimedes theorem would make one unsuitable to amend regulations on the Plimsoll Line.

@26 That’s not quite the answer to the question I asked. Though I find it entertaining that you think it’s fine to let him toddle about with that sort of money without bothering to keep track of it, while demanding the government censor the entire internet so you don’t have to have any sort of parental responsibility. Go you.

@ 32 Duncan
Are you aware that children have access to computers, including internet access, at school, in public libraries, in internet cafes?
For you to slag off “incredibly ignorant parents” is a bit rich.
I didn’t join this thread to defend the independent parliamentary inquiry’s views, just to point out that they *were* an independent parliamentary inquiry that (horrors!) did not, because they were independent, agree with Unity’s opinion. A few of them are Conservative MPs (I don’t know if any of them are Tory) but AFAIK none of them are religious fanatics (Cameron’s filtration process blocked any identifiable religious fanatics from standing as Conservatives in 2010). People like you are making me wonder if they might have a point.

@ 35 John77

I’m reasonably sure that schools and public libraries would have the competence to put in place the appropriate filters, and that internet cafes, as open areas, on top of the fact that they’re commercial enterprises who would rather not get shut down for being virtual red light districts, the likelihood of children using those machines to access porn is relatively low.

“For you to slag off “incredibly ignorant parents” is a bit rich.”

Well, as a parent who has basically admitted that they have ‘better things to do’, I can understand why you would take offence to my tone 😉 Believe me though, it’s not rocket science.

“People like you are making me wonder if they might have a point.”

Great comeback! Once again though, I understand why you’d be defensive to my point. It’s just a shame that it’s come to this, instead of parents speaking out for themselves, and being proactive about this issue.

37. Chaise Guevara

@ 15 John77

“As a parent, I am supposed to telepathetically discover every time my son buys a new mobile ‘phone and then seize it and re-programme it to exclude any junk-mail from pornography sites?!? Just how many parents have that level of technological expertise (I should need to ask my elder son for help to do that!!), let alone the telepathy?”

If it helps, it’ll be something like Settings > Safety/Accessibility/Security > Parental Controls.

Obviously you don’t have total control over your child’s life, but *parents never have*. Short of a terrifying level of surveillance, parents don’t know if their teenage kids are trying fags or booze, passing dirty magazines around, or indeed having sex themselves. The possibility that they’re accessing porn on their mobiles seems like a bit of a drop in the ocean – and far less worrying, if it is happening, than booze, fags or actual sex.

If a parent lacks the financial control and/or technical knowhow to filter their child’s browsing, surely the most sensible solution is to sit them down and have a chat about acceptable behaviour, as you would with any other vice?

38. Waterloo Sunset

@15 John77

As a parent, I am supposed to telepathetically discover every time my son buys a new mobile ‘phone and then seize it and re-programme it to exclude any junk-mail from pornography sites?!?

I hate to break the news to you, but this proposed clause won’t actually help you at all in the first place.

There is no way to stop spam. If there was, do you not think a lot of ISPs would have implemented it already? The best you can do is to move the bulk of it into a spam filter. And that risks “false positives”, so you need to be able to check that folder if you’re missing an expected email.

So that’s the question of your son involuntarily being exposed to pornographic spam answered.

If he actively wants to access porn however, from the information you’ve given, I’ll say that he almost certainly is doing so and this wouldn’t change that. Bypassing blocks is not in anyway a complicated process. (So, actually, I disagree with people suggesting that filters are going to help the situation. If you just stick one on your computer and forget about it it’s not going to work).

Just how many parents have that level of technological expertise (I should need to ask my elder son for help to do that!!), let alone the telepathy?

You don’t need the technological expertise to reprogram a phone. All you need is to monitor your son’s internet usage. That’s not a question of expertise at all. It’s about as difficult as learning how to count to ten.

However, when you don’t know when your kid buys a new phone, there’s very little you can do, beyond monitoring how visible his web presence is. I say that not to have a go at you; it’s a simple statement of fact.

You’re very open about the fact you know little about this subject. Fair enough. But believe those of us who do when we tell you that this proposal is useless. In fact, it’s worse than useless, because if it goes through it will falsely make parents like you believe that they don’t have to worry any more. That really isn’t the case.

Of course, if you really have protecting children as your main objective, I can tell you something that would be effective. Change the law so you can charge any parent whose child accesses pornography with distributing indecent images to minors. For myself, I think that would be OTT. But it’s the only state action that would actually make a dent in this.

@ Cylux
No it’s not exactly the answer to the question you asked – it’s the answer to the question you should have asked – “how can he afford it?” In response may I ask when you stopped beating your wife?
Since I have never asked anyone to censor the entire internet when pointing out that is not possible for an average parent to censor what his/her child accesses outside the home, your comment raises questions about either (i) your sincerity or (ii) your ability to read.
The “evil” right-wingers who believe in property rights do not steal their children’s money and though we may lecture them on the undesirability of spending it on junk food or replacing cameras and ‘phones stolen from them, we cannot stop them without destroying the way we attempt to equip them to live without us after we die (and one response to nagging is to eat junk in food in the street before he gets home). Of course statists will view parents as unnecessary since the state will look after everyone for ever, but isn’t the OP saying the state should NOT do this?
Do you seriously think that we should employ two or three Social Workers to track him every minute of the day to see how he spends £50 a week of DLA? Social workers are underpaid, but that would cost nearer £1000 a week.

40. the a&e charge nurse

[35] research sponsored by a christian group hell bent on pushing a censorship agenda can hardly be considered ‘independent’ – it’s a bit like taking drug research from a company that stands to profit from that drug at face value?

Oldies, particularly christian oldies, wagging their fingers at randy teenagers is not an ideal basis for public policy – the viral nature of the net virtually guarantees that such an approach will be about as effective as King Canute.

Look on the bright side – if teens are busy navigating t’web they may have slightly less time for drugs?

@39

No it’s not exactly the answer to the question you asked – it’s the answer to the question you should have asked – “how can he afford it?”

Nice dodge, but a responsible parent would (assuming that the money is not currently needed right now to pay for care and day to day things which is implied in you letting your son have it to squander) set up an account for the bulk of the money to accumulate into, perhaps one that matures after 3 years, which their child is then given access too when they hit 16 or 18. It’s certainly what my mother would have done for me. Kids, being kids, don’t know shit, and what’s desperately important for an 11 year old child will probably be in the bin by the time they’re 13. Of course this does assume that your son is currently below age 16, which is why I asked the question I did. I mean, if your son is 19, then what he looks at on the internet no longer is your concern or responsibility.

The “evil” right-wingers who believe in property rights do not steal their children’s money

The “evil” right-wingers would take serious issue with you calling DLA his money. Indeed they might regard your having claimed the DLA in the first place as theft. So that line of argument is a non-starter.

You might think that preventing children from accessing pornography is self-evidently a good thing.

Well, it isn’t. (Such a view is considered dreadfully gauche and puritanical by the more enlightened amongst us). And anyway, even if it is, it’s not possible. So just get over yourself, okay?

@ 31. John77

Have you even bothered to look into it, at all?

When I signed up for BT Infinity, they sent me a welcome pack. It includes a booklet, “Your BT guide to online security”. It has 28 pages, including the covers. Page 5 looks relevant: “Protecting your family – with BT Family Protection”. It tells me I can download it from http://www.bt.com/familyprotection. I’m not actually going to download it and install it, but the booklet and website look like they have clear, step-by-step instructions. And this is from only a very few minutes having a quick look with my own ISP as an example. It was that easy.

No, you’re not going to have to spend several hours a week on this. What you’ve offered is a lazy, ignorant excuse for not even bothering to look into it. The time you’ve spent commenting here could have been spent on your ISP’s website finding out what, if anything, they offer. And if they offer nothing, and you’re not happy with that, you can always switch to an ISP that does offer what you want.

Oh, but it’s oh so much easier to spend that time having a whinge on the web instead, isn’t it?

Admit it, porn doesn’t harm anyone and if you want to censor it you’re one of the bad guys.

@ 36 Duncan
“I’m reasonably sure that schools and public libraries would have the competence to put in place the appropriate filters”
Well, I am not – No 1 son couldn’t get a paid job in the post-GCSE summer because at 15 he was too young so he spent that summer sorting out their website for a local authority’s voluntary services. If a 15-year-old could improve their systems your assertion is comparable to my claiming that I could beat Usain Bolt or Vitaly Klitschsko.
You expect internet cafes to demand proof of age and then selectively apply filters to machines accessed by those who don’t produce it! On one occasion, when I was 37, I was accused of being 17 because I was wearing scout shorts. Oh, I am “being defensive” when I point out realities of which you are pretending to be unaware? No, I am saying that if I followed feminist theory and gave up work totally to supervise the internet access of one of my two children I could still not guarantee that he would not be pestered by a internet porn site (I have relied on my elder son to do this for himself).
@ 37 Chaise
Yes, of course: my wife did the “sit them down and chat” because she is better at it than me; occasionally I sat in and made sensible comments. It may sound like a complete cop-out but, as they are better at it than I, I allowed my wife and elder son to sort out the LAN because when I carefully followed Virgin Media’s instructions we got messages for next door (I have now switched to BT). No 1 son actually showed me the standard filter, at the same time as explaining why it didn’t work properly, and applied a slightly better one to his younger brother’s computer but not to the whole network because some early filters blocked feminist blogs that complained about porn, which annoyed my wife.
@ 38 Waterloo Sunset
“You don’t need the technological expertise to reprogram a phone. All you need is to monitor your son’s internet usage. That’s not a question of expertise at all. It’s about as difficult as learning how to count to ten.” Yeah! Pull the other one! You either need the ‘phone or to know all his internet aliases. I am not as stupid as you think. And you DO need some “technological expertise to reprogram a phone” Secondly – how do you monitor your son’s internet usage in advance? How many times do I have to say that “Doctor Who” is fiction?

@ 41 Cylux
With regard to your insults based on ignorance.
Until he was 16, the DLA was paid into an account where I was the nominee and he was the beneficial owner. Some of that has been invested but since then he has opened a new bank account so he, and not I, has access to it.
You may rail (as occasionally I do) at his choice on how he spends it but you have no right to do so: if anyone has a right to do so, it is his elder brother

@ 43 Simon
Are you a moron?
Firstly I have not signed up to BT Infinity, as you seem to assume with NIL evidence.
Secondly, as my son would explain, the Internet changes daily (hourly if you want to be fussy)
Thirdly my ISP does not cover my younger son’s internet access via college (school is now past but was relevant to the debate) ‘phone, library or internet cafe
I did not spend a lot of time looking into it just as I did not pilot my plane to Vienna or Moscow, nor the dodgy planes taking me onwards – I consulted a trustworthy expert (sorting out websites at 15, website designer at 19, MMath at 21, with intermediate periods doing IT and statistical analysis for an FSA-registered research boutique). You allege that I am lazy because I was working more than 70 hours a week?
How many hours a week do *you* work, and how many weeks a year?

@45 John

“Well, I am not – No 1 son couldn’t get a paid job in the post-GCSE summer because at 15 he was too young so he spent that summer sorting out their website for a local authority’s voluntary services. If a 15-year-old could improve their systems your assertion is comparable to my claiming that I could beat Usain Bolt or Vitaly Klitschsko….
…You expect internet cafes to demand proof of age and then selectively apply filters to machines accessed by those who don’t produce it!.”

The point still stands that people do not view porn in full view of the rest of the general public, in an open space. and if they did, they’d be shot down in seconds. It simply does not happen!

” Oh, I am “being defensive” when I point out realities of which you are pretending to be unaware? No, I am saying that if I followed feminist theory and gave up work totally to supervise the internet access of one of my two children I could still not guarantee that he would not be pestered by a internet porn site (I have relied on my elder son to do this for himself).”

People aren’t ‘pestered’ by porn sites. they have to actively seek them out. One doesn’t go to google, and is immediately redirected to porn, and if they *are*, they have serious issues with their computer, likely riddled with viruses.

As this is likely the crux of the problem, then I would say that it’s time for any parent that knows their child is searching out porn to have a good long chat with them about the differences between pornography and normal sexual relations, if they believe that they don’t truly understand the difference between fantasy and reality. And this kind of responsibility is far more valuable than any amount of government legislation, especially that which is targeting exactly the wrong group of people.

@ vimothy and chris
This is tangential to the debate but some porn sites encourage teenage males to view teenage females as sex objects, thereby suggesting sexual activity does not require consent. I think this is wrong.

50. Waterloo Sunset

@ 45

You either need the ‘phone or to know all his internet aliases.

Absolutely you’re going to need the phone to monitor how it’s being used. You’re choosing to give him the freedom to have a new phone without you knowing about it. Which is fine. I can understand that. But it means that you can’t stop him using the Internet to access porn if he wants to. If you had the phone, you wouldn’t need his internet aliases. Just keylogger software. (You can also get software to check what personal information he’s putting out there, if that’s a concern. You wouldn’t need access to his phone for that).

. I am not as stupid as you think.

Calm down. I haven’t called you stupid. Seriously, if I wanted to insult you, I wouldn’t do it by implication. I’ve merely suggested you don’t know much about the technical issues underlying this. That’s not an insult. There’s loads I don’t know about. Opera. Bob-sledding. Dubstep. It’s not really arguable either, if your older son has to do most computer stuff for you.

You don’t have to learn about computers if you don’t want to. But please accept that a) that is a choice on your part and b) that doesn’t make you Joan of fucking Arc. It’s your passive-aggressive martyrdom that I’m finding annoying, not your lack of technical knowledge.

And you DO need some “technological expertise to reprogram a phone”

You’ve misunderstood me. I’m saying you don’t need to reprogram a phone at all to monitor his internet usage. You’re entirely right, that would require a lot of technical knowledge. You’re talking about phone hacking, which frankly is way above my level of understanding.

Secondly – how do you monitor your son’s internet usage in advance? How many times do I have to say that “Doctor Who” is fiction?

Where did I claim you could monitor internet usage in advance? You obviously can’t, the whole point of monitoring it is to know what he’s up to online and to act as a deterrent. But you may choose not to, which is entirely up to you.

But, throughout your entire rant, what you haven’t addressed, at all, is the proposal at hand. Do you accept what people have told you about it being ineffective as a measure? Especially if:

No 1 son couldn’t get a paid job in the post-GCSE summer because at 15 he was too young so he spent that summer sorting out their website for a local authority’s voluntary services.

Yeah. So you know, he’s definitely got the knowledge to bypass site blocking.

Surely the problem with the opt-in model is that the purveyors would have little incentive to work around an opt-out (after all you are talking about someone who has decided they don’t want to hear from you) whereas on the opt-in model the providers will assume that those not opted in are a pool containing a large number of potential customers. Common sense would suggest the opt-in model makes children less safe, not more.

@46

Until he was 16,

So your son is over the legal age of consent and could very well be engaging in the acts you do not wish for him to see online? That adds quite an interesting dimension to “As a parent, I am supposed to telepathetically discover every time my son buys a new mobile ‘phone and then seize it and re-programme it to exclude any junk-mail from pornography sites?!?”

I suspect you be trolling pal. Especially given what I’ve just remembered about purchasing a new mobile phone. Care to guess?

Shaftesbury and Wilberforce used the full force of the State to stamp out abuses of the poor at home and slavery abroad, both of which are now well on the way back in this secularised age. Victorian Nonconformists used the Liberal Party to fight against opium dens and the compelling of people to work seven-day weeks, both of which have now returned in full. Temperance Methodists built the Labour Party in order to counteract brutal capitalism precisely so as to prevent a Marxist revolution, whereas the coherence of the former with the cultural aspects of the latter now reigns supreme. Can’t be having any of that religious interference, can we?

According to government statistics only 30% of UK households have children, so why should the remaining 70% be censored? No-one can stop Chinese hackers, South American spam, African fraudsters or Russian botnets, is there any realisitc chance of blocking porn? What is porn? Try to find two countries with the same legal definition.

Always funny to see the SO CALLED SMALL GOVT FAKE LIBERTARIANS demand lots of govt to stop things they don’t approve of.

John 77 tory troll of immense stupidity wrote this……

” As a parent, I am supposed to telepathetically discover every time my son buys a new mobile ‘phone and then seize it and re-programme it to exclude any junk-mail from pornography sites?!”

So instead you want the govt to parent your son instead. And are quite happy if that infringes on my freedom. Conservative libertarians are ALL FAKE. They bang on and on about small govt, but they are liars.

The global elites don’t like freedom for the masses, and they want to own and control the internet. They own the capital, the media, and the politicians. They will not stop until they turn the internet into nothing but a giant shopping Mall for corporations.

@ Duncan
I do not seek porn sights, but I am occasionally pestered by them
You have committed a terminological inexactitude
To repeat myself, I am NOT promoting the views of the independent parliamentary inquiry – I started by pointing out that Unity’s description of them demonstrated that they actually were a independent parliamentary inquiry.
My wife and I have discussed everything that we thought was relevant with our children but that does not and cannot, despite your alternative-universe theories, protect our younger son from being pestered by porn on ‘phones that he buys to replace ones stolen from him.

Unity @14:

Yes, I read that piece before I saw the variation on it here. I warmly recommend it to all, if only because it has more swearing on it 😉

vimothy @20:

“If these same Christians had come together and wrote a report stating that online pornography is a jolly good thing…”

…my eyebrows would have levitated so far that they would have become a danger to air navigation. Will never, can never happen; it is generally religionists – of whatever stripe – who have genuinely unhealthy attitudes to sexuality.

Hannah @24:

“Surely, all the more reason to give this function to an independent and open regulator rather than privatising it.”

No, you still have the same two key questions that you have when censorship of whatever kind is involved:

a) who gets to do it? and
b) how do you get them to stop?

I find it difficult to believe – based on past experience – that appointees to such a body would not have some sort of axe to grind. How can you have appointees who are ‘independent’ when you know that the people in charge of making the apppointments are most certainly not?

Waterloo Sunset @38:

“Of course, if you really have protecting children as your main objective, I can tell you something that would be effective. Change the law so you can charge any parent whose child accesses pornography with distributing indecent images to minors.”

I know you were being satirical here, but please don’t give them ideas! Even the possession of a couple of pictures of someone who may be under 16 is enough to destroy someone’s life nowadays.

@55 Sally: “Always funny to see the SO CALLED SMALL GOVT FAKE LIBERTARIANS demand lots of govt to stop things they don’t approve of.”

Absolutely. We need the Granny State to protect us from porn but not from the bankers.

Sally @55:

“The global elites don’t like freedom for the masses, and they want to own and control the internet. They own the capital, the media, and the politicians. They will not stop until they turn the internet into nothing but a giant shopping Mall for corporations.”

This may be closer to the truth than is comfortable.

John77 @56:

“I do not seek porn sights…”

How do you feel about porn sounds?

“…but I am occasionally pestered by them”

How? Explain, pliz.

“I started by pointing out that Unity’s description of them demonstrated that they actually were a independent parliamentary inquiry.”

And Unity started by pointing out that they are not a ‘parliamentary enquiry’, which title would strongly imply that they had parliamentary authority for compiling their report; they are merely group of people in Parliament who have brought forth this travesty to push an agenda of censorship (and ineffective censorship at that, at least from the point of view of what they claim they want to achieve) without having any formal backing of Parliament.

@ Waterloo Sunset
Notice the “No 1”
And I have throughout been instancing No 2
No 1 son could get round any computer/internet blocks that we, his parents, set up. We aren’t worried about him
You seem to imagine that I have constant access to my younger son’s ‘phone and know immediately if he buys a new one.
I am wasting my time arguing about this
Some of your comments seem reasonable, but only in explaining why your previous comment was made in ignorance of the facts.
Incidentally, because I regard computers as a burden, No 1 son tended to regard me as a Luddite until I mentioned, in a completely different discussion, that when I was 18, I was occasionally writing machine code

Sally is always of immense stupidity – it is how she justifies a salary ten times my own

@ The Judge
Do you have an email address?

45. John77: “(I have now switched to BT).”

47. John77: “@ 43 Simon
Are you a moron?
Firstly I have not signed up to BT Infinity, as you seem to assume with NIL evidence.”

Infinity or not, BT is BT. Anyway, I only chose my own ISP, BT, as an example. I thought this was obvious?

I think your main problem, John77, is your own attitude. You seem determined to find this stuff hard, determined to find problems, and determined to misunderstand what other people are saying.

@ 52 Cylux
So you believe that teenagers should view pornography that is is illegal to be viewed by adults?

65. TorygraphShill

BBBB-BUT ISLAM

NOW OFF TO READ THE TORYGRAPH (hope this word keeps annoying idiotic righties, might die of high blood pressure)

66. So Much For Subtlety

It is nice to see so many people out in defence of internet freedom.

But I wonder. So far the police have relied on searching people’s hard drives for evidence of child pornography. This is not exactly a great solution. Do people here think the government should not try to block child porn if they become aware of it? Do ISPs have any responsibility if they knowingly allow their networks to be used to download this sort of material?

How about Holocaust denial? A non-European has already been arrested in Britain for extradition to Germany for Holocaust denial committed in another hemisphere. Should this be a crime? How about racist material in general? Because we have seen a young man go to jail for making comments on the internet that are now illegal. Twitter have any legal obligation to stop that?

John77 @62:

Several. Why would you wish to know?

SMFS @66:

I don’t think it’s a question of whether the State should try to block child porn (and it’s not child porn which is the subject of this thread – I do think it’s something of a separate issue); it’s a question of whether any such block has a cat’s chance in hell of working. All available evidence suggests that it hasn’t.

As regards Holocaust denial, etc., I tend to cleave to the view that, unless any such comments or material actually and clearly incite others to genuine criminal acts, then the State should butt out of it, and it should be a contractual matter between the individual(s) producing them and the owners of the site/forum upon which they are displayed, and/or the hosting company for possible breach of their terms and conditions.

No-one has the right to be defended by statute from being offended, especially as it seems in practice to mean that whether something constitutes a criminal offence or not is determined by the views of the ‘victim’ rather than by any objective criterion. That’s why the jailing of Liam Stacey, the length of sentences for the ‘Facebook Rioters’, and the conviction of Paul Chambers are deeply worrying.

Sally @ 55:

“Always funny to see the SO CALLED SMALL GOVT FAKE LIBERTARIANS demand lots of govt to stop things they don’t approve of.”

Are any of the people involved in this report libertarians? Not every right-winger is a libertarian, you know. (Or is that idea too nuanced for you?)

Anyway, if we’re going to start making sweeping generalisations about people we disagree with, I think it’s funny to see so many big government lefties all in favour of the State getting itself involved in children’s upringing (by promoting healthy eating campaigns, detailing what and how they should be taught, putting cigarettes in shops in places where the children can’t see them, etc.), until that involvement makes it slightly harder to access porn, in which case it’s suddenly an evil Stalinesque assault on our liberties. I think we know where *their* real priorities lie… :p

The Judge @ 57:

“it is generally religionists – of whatever stripe – who have genuinely unhealthy attitudes to sexuality.”

In my experience, that’s a myth; or, at any rate, the number of “religionists” I’ve met who seemed to have unhealthy attitudes to sexuality was far smaller than one would imagine going by what atheists say. YMMV, but always worrying about other people worrying about sex doesn’t really seem like a healthy attitude to me.

@ The Judge
I asked because I am repeatedly pestered through email with, inter alia, links to porn.

sorry, wife logged in. Reference to spam emails, The Judge.

Then the spam filter on your e-mail service isn’t very good, or any you yourself (or your clever son!) have installed isn’t working too well. It isn’t hard (sorry, that’s what the spam’s about, isn’t it? 🙂 )

@ 72 The Judge
There are three spam filters, one installed by Microsoft on my hotmail account, one by Yahoo on my BT ISP and one by my elder son on his email. I gather the latter is good although I do not look at his emails unless he asks me to, however Yahoo and hotmail erratically jump on genuine messages so I have to go into my spam fiilters to check out the contents.

@64

So you believe that teenagers should view pornography that is is illegal to be viewed by adults?

The concern is that they might ‘accidentally’ view legal pornography, and I’m interested in your use of the word ‘should’ in that sentence, as though I seek to compel teens to view porn. It’s actually pretty hard to stumble onto hardcore grumble sites by accident, and if your teens are typing “cum guzling sluts” into google, actively looking for porn, then I would suggest that action closer to home would be much more appropriate than an opt in system.

@ 63 Simon
“Infinity or not, BT is BT. ”
Well BT may still be BT but it didn’t give me a 28 page booklet (or even a 1-page one) so assuming that it did does not demonstrate that you should be given automatic entry to MENSA.
“I think your main problem, John77, is your own attitude. You seem determined to find this stuff hard, determined to find problems” came after I posted “Incidentally, because I regard computers as a burden, No 1 son tended to regard me as a Luddite until I mentioned, in a completely different discussion, that when I was 18, I was occasionally writing machine code”
Are there any of your comments that I have not shown to be nonsense?
As someone said (incorrectly in another context) “I have better things to do”

SMFS…

Child Porn is already filtered at the network level by UK ISPs, have you not heard of BT’s Cleanfeed system?

However, Cleanfeed is possible only because there is relatively little by way of child porn that’s openly accessible via websites that can be easily blocked, Most child porn distribution takes place via dark nets, private IRC channels and private torrent networks, none of which can be readily blocked without using illegal packet inspection systems.

Holocaust denial shouldn’t be illegal and while Frederick Toben was arrested after Germany issued a European Arrest Warrant, he wasn’t extradited from the UK and was afforded due process throughout.

As for racism, not that shouldn’t generally be illegal.

As for the Twitter case, it strikes me that its not quite so straightforward as many people seem to think.

The Public Order Act predates the internet and so what Parliament had in mind at the time was incidents of direct racial abuse or harassment, i.e. confrontations in public, poison pen letters, etc. These offence have a personal element in as much as the alarm or distress that the victim experiences when an offence is committed stems not only from the nature of the abuse but also from the fact that the abuse is directed toward them personally.

Much of media reporting focussed on the comments made about Fabrice Muamba, which were stupid by not unlawful because they were made directly to him.

Where the guy who got prosecuted crossed the line was when he began to personally abuse people who’d challenged him over his comments by tweeting his abusive comments directly into their timeline. The question therefore is whether that is sufficiently personal to cause the kind of alarm or distress necessary for it to be an offence, and to me that’s a very questionable point and one that we’ll only be able to bottom out if an when a case arises that makes its way right the way up to the Supreme Court.

Ultimately it hinges on the question of how personal is a tweet and that’s not an easy one to resolve at all, and its only when a case like this gets to the top of judicial food chain that we’ll start to get any real clarity on this issue.

77. Chaise Guevara

@ 69 P Ve M

“In my experience, that’s a myth; or, at any rate, the number of “religionists” I’ve met who seemed to have unhealthy attitudes to sexuality was far smaller than one would imagine going by what atheists say.”

Possibly the latter. A lot of religious material is worryingly anti-sex, and there a lot of vocal (and probably not representative) religious groups who seem to see almost all forms of sex as evil, or at least a form of transgression. But I’ve never seen data on this, you might be right about it being an overblown stereotype.

“YMMV, but always worrying about other people worrying about sex doesn’t really seem like a healthy attitude to me.”

This, on the other hand, seems a tad smartarsey. It’s healthy to worry about other people worrying about sex if those people are trying to affect national policy, or inflicting their hangups on people who can’t defend against them. Or if you just care about the person in question and want them to stop feeling guilty every time they get laid. Plenty of good reasons there.

78. Chaise Guevara

Well said, Cylux.

@ 74 Cylux
Your continual attempts to change the subject under discussion – well, what does it say?

Belatedly @ 59 The Judge
Have you read the word “independent”
That means there weren’t appointed by the government or anyone else.
So to say that they aren’t an independent parliamentary inquiry because they weren’t appointed by someone is ridiculous.
I don’t think their proposals will work, but if I banned everyone with whom I disagreed David Cameron would be digging carrots in Oxfordshire and Barosso would be begging on the streets of Brussels

Unity, you say:
“David Burrowes and Fiona Bruce were both directly involved in the recent ‘Clearing the Ground‘ report of the Christians in Parliament All Party Group.

They also masqueraded as an ‘independent parlismetary inquiry’ but which actually amounted to nothing more than extended whinge about non-existent persecution and teh gayerz being treated as equal citizens”

The report actually said that Christians are not persecuted in the UK. And there was nothing in there about wanting gay people to be reduced to second class citizens. Though there were concerns that, when different strands of equalities legislation came into conflict, religious equality was usually the one to lose out.

Still, it’s nice to know that Liberal Conspiracy regular contributors are keeping up the tradition of taking any excuse to have an anti-Christianity rant, whether their facts are right or not.

Chaise @ 77:

“This, on the other hand, seems a tad smartarsey. It’s healthy to worry about other people worrying about sex if those people are trying to affect national policy, or inflicting their hangups on people who can’t defend against them. Or if you just care about the person in question and want them to stop feeling guilty every time they get laid. Plenty of good reasons there.”

Hey, I never said that nobody should ever criticise or worry about other people’s attitudes to sex; but I do think that the no-sex people and the religionistas-hate-sex brigade are both mirror images of each other, in that both take a real problem (some people are too casual about having sex; some people try to inflict their sexual hangups on others), exaggerate it, and bang on about it to an unjustifiable degree.

83. So Much For Subtlety

76. Unity

Child Porn is already filtered at the network level by UK ISPs, have you not heard of BT’s Cleanfeed system?

So we are already doing it now. That kind of puts a lid on claims we couldn’t do it with other porn sites if we wanted to.

However, Cleanfeed is possible only because there is relatively little by way of child porn that’s openly accessible via websites that can be easily blocked, Most child porn distribution takes place via dark nets, private IRC channels and private torrent networks, none of which can be readily blocked without using illegal packet inspection systems.

Wouldn’t that make it easier to do? I doubt we can be 100% effective, but if we wanted to, we could make free porn a hell of a lot harder to find. After all, we know what the main sites are.

As for racism, not that shouldn’t generally be illegal.

Sorry I don’t quite understand what you mean. It shouldn’t be illegal? It is.

Much of media reporting focussed on the comments made about Fabrice Muamba, which were stupid by not unlawful because they were made directly to him.

Is there a “not” missing in that sentence?

Where the guy who got prosecuted crossed the line was when he began to personally abuse people who’d challenged him over his comments by tweeting his abusive comments directly into their timeline. The question therefore is whether that is sufficiently personal to cause the kind of alarm or distress necessary for it to be an offence, and to me that’s a very questionable point and one that we’ll only be able to bottom out if an when a case arises that makes its way right the way up to the Supreme Court.

I don’t see what the question is. It is not a public order offense as it is virtually impossible for any violence to arise out of a twitter comment. The guy should have been banned by Twitter – as should most of the people provoking him. That would have been the sensible response from a sensible country. But we are not one of those any more.

The tory troll does not do irony. They invade this site every day telling us how the state is bad and people must stand on their own 2 feet and blah blah blah. We all all know the drill. But you only have to bring in ‘social issues’ and the small govt troll becomes a full on socialist.

Increasingly the global elite have decided that the internet MUST be controlled. They don’t want the anti global elite political sites to be able to function. They thought they had controlled the media by creating a corporate news model that is always relying on said corporations to fund it through advertisers. And people like Rupert Murdoch to make sure that a giant corporate filter is used to censor. Lets be clear the internet in its current form only got going because the elites did not understand the model that was being created. Even Bill Gates was slow to cotton on.

So now they need to control it. And so they dig up their usual favourites, child porn. After all, who is going to in favor of child porn? It is about establishing a concept that govt should censor the internet. Once that is established in the minds of they sheeple, it becomes easy for other things to be banned.

And this idea that people should sign up for porn, and that information is then stored by ISP’s who will have to hand that information over to govt. What could go wrong? Uppity left wing politician doing quite well , lets leak that information to dear old Rupert Murdoch who will make sure the public know that said politician is a sex maniac.

Once again the elites like the China model where capital is free but the people have no power.

85. the a&e charge nurse

[66] “How about Holocaust denial? A non-European has already been arrested in Britain for extradition to Germany for Holocaust denial committed in another hemisphere. Should this be a crime?” – no, absolutely not – and while we are on the subject, the jailing of David Irving, in Austria was a scandal.

[81] you might think of comments on this thread as ‘anti-christian’ – perhaps you’re right, atheists become twitchy when religious groups use their big book to promote, or even impose a particular world view.

If there is no god (as we believe) then any act claimed in his or her name becomes rather nonsensical – in short we must agree to disagree, or, as the old saying goes, you go to your church, and we’ll go to …… well, wherever atheists go to?

Judging by the continuing flow of news reports about the practices of the Catholic church in Britain, Ireland and many other countries on both sides of the Atlantic, children need at least as much protection from the Catholic priesthood as from porn. For illuminating reasons, our governing politicians are failing to apply the necessary measures.

@79 That’s some mighty tough talk from someone who outed himself as a sockpuppet up @70+71. Plus my opinion has not changed since @8, despite your attempt to ask loaded questions twice now in this thread.

“many teenagers these days will have access to the internet”… Are you insane? “Teenagers” have been looking at, and sharing pornography since the beginning of time… if you believe you need to protect “teenagers” from pornography then you are totally out of touch with reality.

89. Kulvinder

The difference between child pornography and adult pornography is the former is illegal (and once again: importantly its illegal in the US) so theres widespread consensus on it being defined and banned; you’re dealing with a subject matter that as unity says is mainly in the darknet and not on the web.

Even then there are problems as the rules regarding what is and isn’t child pornography are far more stringent in the UK than the US; so having a picture of a naked child from a naturist site on your computer would be an offence in the UK but not the US.

The reason the police need to examine hard-drives in order to prosecute is that there can be numerous computers owned by several individuals attached to one IP address; so unless you have the actual computer its impossible to know who committed the offence (this is made vastly more difficult if not impossible over an open wifi network).

Porn blockers won’t work because the subject matter isn’t considered illegal; and its virtually impossible that legislation will be brought in place to make it illegal as the recent fisting trial has demonstrated the public prefers to leave consenting adults to do their own thing.

And even if (to make the argument complete) ‘porn’ (however you define that) was made illegal in the UK it wouldn’t be illegal in the US as its protected by first amendment rights – that would mean any blockers would be very very easily circumvented.

Those who know about such things tell me that John Cleland’s Fanny Hill – A woman of pleasure, is accessible on the internet in PDF format. It was originally published in 1748. It’s still in print and available in most good bookshops.

Just in case he’s too modest to do it, Unity has published a follow-up to his original piece:

here

@ Cylux. 87 : “outed yourself as a sockpuppet”?

Sockpuppet= the same person posting under different names.

*looks down at self* – nope, I can say with confidence that I’m definitely not John77. I’m his wife. Unless you take a very literal interpretation of “one flesh”. Sometimes we share a computer, not uncommon. He’s not very techie and posted whilst the system here had me logged in. Simple. Sometimes I post here too. I suppose that’s allowed?

FWIW, neither John77 nor myself think these proposals will work in the way intended, any more than parents can do it by remote control (just because attempts to filter exist, Unity et. al., doesn’t make them effective). Sites of many stripes will find a way round these things if there’s money to be made. It’s grandstanding to reassure the worried, timid and embarrassed.

Education (not confined to schools), cultural questioning of the misogynist values promoted by the majority of commercial porn and free and frank discussion of the issues between parents and children is the only way; there are no short cuts. And despite your rather catty insinuations @74, that’s what we’ve done. BTW ‘our teens’ are not doing anything, as they haven’t been teens for a while. His reference was to teens in general.

What I’m not too clear about is whether adverts on the internet for porn books and DVDs should also be banned.

Somewhere in this I think the Pirate Party owes pretty much everyone a big “I told you so!”

In all seriousness, we’ve been watching the various attempts at this for a long time now, and every time we’ve known it’s been the religious ‘fanatics’ that are behind it.

Personally, I have known this would happen for some time. We exist in a state of secular persecution in this day, not religious persecution.

95. Trooper Thompson

Now I realise the strange mindset chez LC, I can see I’ve been missing the way to win you all over to old school liberalism. Whatever the subject may be, all I need to do is declare that religious ‘fanatics’ are on the other side. I look forward to trying this out.

96. the a&e charge nurse

[95] with libertarians the problem is not religious fanaticism, but rather MARKET fanaticism!

What’s new?

Quote: With the 15th century introduction of the printing press, Henry VII and the Roman Catholic Church effectively established the idea of book banning by enacting early licensing laws.
http://curiosity.discovery.com/question/book-banning-before-printing-press

@56

“To repeat myself, I am NOT promoting the views of the independent parliamentary inquiry – I started by pointing out that Unity’s description of them demonstrated that they actually were a independent parliamentary inquiry.”

I do think that the sponsorship by a Christian organisation rather undermines any claims of independence.Sure, semantically it probably *is* independent of parliament, but the conclusion of the report does seem curiously close to the points raised by way of Premier Christian Media’s on, ‘Safety net’ campaign.

99. Robin Levett

@vimothy:

It’s not the fact that the authors of the report have opinions that’s the problem; it’s the attempt to foist the opinions upon the rest of us.

@john77 #56;

ISTM that Unity’s point isn’t so much the “independent” – it’s the “parliamentary”. The fact that MPs are involved doesn’t make the enquiry “parliamentary”; and describing is as such gives it spurious authority.

100. CLIVIUSMAGNUS

If the issue is “is hardcore porn viewed on the INTERNET a danger to young people” regardless of your political or religious convictions. Does it have a detrimental effect on minors as does smoking, drugs, alcohol, junk food ,it’s addictive property etc and if so how can we / society protect them. Is the onus solely on the parent(s) or on the sate to provide a safe environment for the protection of minors. As a parent/grandparent and an ex IT professional I know that most teenagers have enough IT smarts to circumvent localised blocking policies. Many minors under the age of 13 have face book accounts because they lied when setting up their access so can we realistically expect ISP’s etc to police minors usage of their sites. If the issue is more about censorship versus civil liberties we must understand the dangers of unrestricted access (total freedom = total chaos) to some may say subversive material and the danger of a knee-jerk reaction by over regulation to an adults freedom of choice .To quote Margaret Thatcher

“The fascism of the left is as equally unacceptable as is the extremism of the right” .

We must take a “balanced view” guided by informed research on the effects of “hardcore porn” on minors and if deemed detrimental what practical options are available to control access by minors and at what level should access control be set and by whom parents or the state / ISP’s etc .We must remove bias (religious or political) and concentrate on the protection of minors, as usual there are no easy answers or quick fixes.

101. vimothy

Robin,

It’s not the fact that the authors of the report have opinions that’s the problem; it’s the attempt to foist the opinions upon the rest of us.

Liberals have spent the last fifty or sixty years foisting their opinions on the rest of us–with what results, &c.

And I mean, really–the whole purpose of contemporary politics is the foisting of opinions on recalcitrant populations. It’s the nub around which the apparatus of the modern state revolves.

You don’t mind that Christians exist, but you think they should do so without bothering anyone else, i.e. without being involved in politics.

Would this block “The Sun”?

vimothy: “Liberals have spent the last fifty or sixty years foisting their opinions on the rest of us–with what results, &c. ”

So far as censorship of literature is concerned, the important watershed was the acquittal in a jury trial of Penguin Books in 1960 for publishing DH Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover – with a Conservative government in power until autumn 1964 which could have reversed that trial verdict with legislation but didn’t.

Candidly, the prosecution at the trial made itself look laughably silly when Mervyn Griffith-Jones, the chief prosecutor, asked if Lady Chatterley’s Lover was the kind of book “you would wish your wife or servants to read”.

That acquittal opened the gates to publication of a steady flow of literature, porn books and magazines which would otherwise have been withheld for fear of prosecution. Thereafter, it became easy to buy pornographic classics like John Cleland’s Fanny Hill (1748) and Pauline Reage: The Story of O off the shelves in good bookstores – or downloaded from the internet in PDF format.

There seems to be a universal unwritten assumption in every comment above that viewing pornography is damaging to children and should be prevented by the state, their parents or whomsoever.

Does anyone have any empirical evidence for this?

Just asking.

Because, if there is evidence and I am correct that achieving such a prohibition is impossible, we might actually have something to worry about.

Pagar: “Does anyone have any empirical evidence for this?”

The classic contrary evidence is the long historic tradition of erotic art in Japan, which famously has a very low crime rate. Try this wikipedia entry for: Shunga
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shunga

I’m told that it is traditional in Japan to give books of erotic wood-cut art reproductions as wedding presents – and these books are amazingly explicit.

I’ve posted before a link to a video clip of a TV programme in Japan showing a large audience of excited teen girls watching a live sex show with evident glee. Were anything like that to go out on TV in Britain, I’m sure many anti-porn activists would need to be hospitalised with apoplectic fits.

106. vimothy

It is self-evident that allowing children to watch pornography is damaging. It’s damaging to collective moral beliefs about sex. Indeed, the whole purpose behind the drive to legalise and legitimise pornography generally was to damage these beliefs.

Japan is a different culture and naturally has different standards. You cannot simply import these standards arbitrarily and expect to get the same outcomes. That’s nonsensical.

You presumably want to ensure that children are not exposed to pornography?

What measures are you curently proposing to make this a reality?

@ Vimothy

It is self-evident that allowing children to watch pornography is damaging.

Really??? I take it that means you have no evidence, then?

It’s damaging to collective moral beliefs about sex.

What collective moral beliefs?

Morality is a matter for the individual, not the collective.

The assumption must be that you refer to your own moral beliefs to justify your enthusiasm for prohibition.

109. Robin Levett

@vimothy #101:

Liberals have spent the last fifty or sixty years foisting their opinions on the rest of us–with what results, &c.

No. You really need to learn the difference between rejecting and imposing opinions. Until the end of the Chatterley ban, people were forced not to read the book – that is imposing an opinion. After it, people were permitted – but not forced – to read it. That is not imposing an opinion, but rejecting the imposition of an opinion.

You sound rather like the Christians in the States that consider that they are persecuted for their beliefs simply because they are prevented from persecuting others; or those in this country who don’t understand that it is not religious discrimination to prevent someone discriminating against others for religious reasons.

#106:

It is self-evident that allowing children to watch pornography is damaging.

Is it? Then the evidence for the damage done will be crystal clear and incontrovertible. Children have been viewing “pornography” (dependent upon your definition of that word, of course) for centuries. Got some of that crystal clear and incontrovertible evidence?

It’s damaging to collective moral beliefs about sex.

Is it? How so? Or do you mean that it’s damaging to the attempt by you and others to impose your own moral beliefs about sex on others?

Indeed, the whole purpose behind the drive to legalise and legitimise pornography generally was to damage these beliefs.

Evidence? Or is this also “self-evident”?

“Japan is a different culture and naturally has different standards. You cannot simply import these standards arbitrarily and expect to get the same outcomes. That’s nonsensical.”

Why is it “nonsensical”? We were asked for evidence showing that sight of pornography is harmful. When I produce evidence from another country showing that it manifestly isn’t harmful, you say: But that is another culture. So what? Is no contrary evidence admissible?

There is at least as robust a case for banning violent video games and movies (Clockwork Orange, anyone? which Kubrik withdrew from general circulation for many years) as for banning porn – one being the recent example coming from the Breivik trial in Norway.

I can’t understand this fixation with banning porn with no parallel concern about emulation of violent behaviour from playing violent video games. The only rational explanation is that for some, violence is acceptable but sex isn’t. How sad.

111. vimothy

Pagar,

What evidence do you have that 2+2=4? Then why do you believe that it is true?

All communities have their own understandings of what it is to live the good life and how the good in life should be expressed. Beliefs, rules, judgements, institutions: these things constituent an important part of the fabric of social life. If a community is to exist as a particular thing then it must be able to protect and maintain its particular character. If it cannot do so then it cannot be expected to continue as a going concern.

As I wrote, the destruction of a particular community was the goal of radical liberal post-war reforms and the consequences (its destruction; and hence, alienation, atomisation, social disintegration, etc, etc) can hardly come as a great surprise.

Bob @ 110:

Japan isn’t just the UK with one thing changed. If you take a particular aspect of a country’s culture and transplant it to a different cultural and social milieu, there’s no reason to assume that it will have the same effect in its new environment.

“What evidence do you have that 2+2=4? Then why do you believe that it is true?”

Come off it. “2+2=4” is ultimately true by definition because two beans and two beans is what we mean by four beans.

Claims that sight of pornographical material is harmful is a supposedly empirical hypothesis where we can look for supporting or conflicting evidence.

Quite why teen girls in Japan are understandably immune to the harmful effects of exposure to porn while teen girls in Britain aren’t is evidently one of life’s eternal mysteries.

Bob @ 110:

“I can’t understand this fixation with banning porn with no parallel concern about emulation of violent behaviour from playing violent video games.”

Firstly, I would think that people are more likely to want to imitate porn films than they are to imitate violent TV shows.

Secondly, go back and read the OP again:

“Lest we forget, Safe Media’s stating objectives don;t stop at just pornography…

to minimise the availability of potentially harmful media content displaying violence, pornography and explicit sex, bad language and anti-social behaviour and the portrayal of drugs”

Robin @ 109:

“No. You really need to learn the difference between rejecting and imposing opinions. Until the end of the Chatterley ban, people were forced not to read the book – that is imposing an opinion. After it, people were permitted – but not forced – to read it. That is not imposing an opinion, but rejecting the imposition of an opinion.”

Erm, is that supposed to be a rebuttal of his point? The left has done more over the last 60 years than just unban a book.

115. vimothy

Robin,

Generally, you seem like one of the sharpest commenters here at LC, so I’m a bit puzzled to see you rely on such an uncharacteristically weak argument.

Liberalism is a particular world-view with ideas about how the social world should be ordered, just like Islam or Christianity. That you find these ideas more conducive does not mean that they are more limited in scope or in implication.

That said, it’s obviously important to liberalism to get its claims at neutrality accepted in an uncritical manner. This is because liberalism purports to solve the question of how religious, political and moral disputes can be resolved in a moderate fashion. If all viewpoints are equally valid, then the dispute never arises. Individuals are the only entities that can be said to exist, and each individual is a perfect island of autonomy and sovereignty.

That’s the theory, but in practice of course disputes do arise. People aren’t happy to simply live as rational utility maximisers selecting preferences inside a purely technocratically ordered system. Particular groups and communities precede the liberal ideology that rules them arbitrary and extinct, and aren’t given to simply rolling over and dying in an obliging manner. Decisions and judgements are unavoidable in the final analysis and are made on that basis. Liberalism is a radically new mode of being from a historical point of view and so the necessity of radical social change becomes obvious.

Consequently the demands of liberalism are necessarily peremptory and substantive. The public must be re-educated. Support is compulsory and can be found more or less across the board amongst our ruling class. Public life in general is restricted to its adherents. Public opinion is actively managed. Society itself has been radically restructured across every available dimension and the populace re-engineered.

It’s simply disingenuous to claim that liberalism is a passive and limited programme that by coincidence and the natural tendency of humanity towards equal freedom, inclusiveness and diversity has resulted in the destruction of traditional societies throughout the developed world and the establishment of the current liberal international order.

Liberalism is a particular take on the world and the social order. It has a particular character and a particular history. It came from somewhere and is heading somewhere. This is what life has always been about. Why should the last 50 years be any different?

116. vimothy

Bob B,

Firstly, you assume, for no good reason that I can fathom, that harm can be measured simply in terms of sexual violence.

Secondly, even if we grant that it can, since you do not (and cannot) observe potential outcomes in practice, you fail to measure the actual effect of unlimited access to pornography on Japanese society. (Let me underline this point, which should be obvious to any social-scientist: you cannot compare Japan-with-free-access-to-pornography to Japan-without; thus you cannot measure the variable’s causal effect).

@105 BobB

“The classic contrary evidence is the long historic tradition of erotic art in Japan, which famously has a very low crime rate. Try this wikipedia entry for: Shunga
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shunga

I’m not entirely sure that a country that has women only passenger cars in the underground to prevent groping, and has the camera click on phones on intentionally at all times(http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2008/07/pervert-alert-j/) is a good model for us to be following.

Re: the argument of whether hardcore pornography affects children, I’m sure that there isn’t likely empirical evidence of the fact, but there’s certainly anecdotal evidence that expectations of sexual intercourse are somewhat, ‘different’ to the reality, but really, i’m no child psychologist, so these are only assumptions. ON the other hand, i’m pretty sure that virtually everyone else who’s posted their own opinion that there *is* no reason to worry isn’t a child psychologist *either*, and are doing the same. 🙂

“Erm, is that supposed to be a rebuttal of his point? The left has done more over the last 60 years than just unban a book.”

Come off it. A Conservative government was in place at the time of the acquital in 1960 of Penguin Books in a jury trial for publishing DH Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover. That government, in power until the autumn of 1964, could have passed legislation to reverse the verdict but chose not to. Other classic pornographic books, such as Clelands’s Fanny Hill, were published shortly after, as well as a continuing stream of low-brow mags and books.

I’ve posted before a list of the liberalising, iconoclastic new wave drama and literature – eg Look Back in Anger, Waiting for Godot, Hurry On Down, Lucky Jim, The Outsider, Eating People Is Wrong, Room At The Top and the rest – to show that almost all of it was published while a Conservative government was in power and before Labour was elected to government in the autumn of 1964.

If need be, I can retrieve the files. It is simply untrue to claim that stream or drama and literature was the result of some leftist plot to subvert youth.

This news was from during the time of 1970-74 Conservative government:

“One of Manifold’s most famous stories was the revelation in 1972 that the then head of the [Metropolitan Police] Flying Squad, Commander Kenneth Drury, had been on holiday with a pornographer. The story ballooned and led to revelations of corruption in the police force. Ninety officers were suspended and 13 were convicted of offences.”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/8144039

119. vimothy

The TL;DR version of @115:

Communities want to maintain common standards, because that’s how they maintain themselves as distinct and particular entities. Liberals say “no: communities don’t exist as such; therefore they can’t be allowed to defend their common moral standards”. Common moral standards are invalid under liberalism. At least, that’s the spin—it’s not very coherent spin for obvious reasons, but it’s what it says on the box.

But everyone didn’t wake up one morning and suddenly realise that they had been liberals all along, let’s throw off all the fetters that bind us (to one another) and get on with the real business of consumerism and hedonism. Liberals, for a variety of reasons, some obscure and some not, took power and then imposed liberalism from the top down, in the process of which, they destroyed a great many particular communities.

vimothy @106:

“It is self-evident that allowing children to watch pornography is damaging.”

Self-evident to whom? [Citation needed].

“It’s damaging to collective moral beliefs about sex.”

Presumably these are the ‘collective moral beliefs’ enjoined upon us in previous, enlightened ages, by;

a) aristocrats who were busily engaged in raping the maids throughout,
b) politicians who had more mistresses than a large girls’ school, and
c) our very pure and devout priesthoods.

Bob B @110:

“I can’t understand this fixation with banning porn with no parallel concern about emulation of violent behaviour from playing violent video games. The only rational explanation is that for some, violence is acceptable but sex isn’t.”

Half a century ago, Lenny Bruce raised the same conundrum in one of his routines; he made the comparison between porn movies and Hitchcock’s “Psycho”. He couldn’t understand why, when it came to what teenagers were permitted to watch, it was – as he put it – “Murder, yes, but shtupping no!”

Social authoritarians – such as (but not restricted to) the very public Christians who magi-mixed this report out of their own prejudices and highly selective ‘research’ – are the most sex-obsessed people on earth.

“Liberals, for a variety of reasons, some obscure and some not, took power and then imposed liberalism from the top down, in the process of which, they destroyed a great many particular communities.”

The historical evidence just does not support that claim. As mentioned, the new wave iconoclastic drama and literature was almost all produced or published during Conservative governments and Britain has altogether had more Conservative government than Labour government since WW2. As the Police news linked @118 shows, members of the Metropolitan Police Flying Squad were in cahoots with publishers of low-grade porn mags.

@ Vimothy

Common moral standards are invalid under liberalism.

What you seem to want to do is identify “common moral standards” that fit with your own prejudices (or, I’m betting, religious beliefs) then impose those standards on others by way of prohibition- in this case the prohibition of children viewing pornography.

Now I accept that children may be considered to need protection from potential harm and it is the duty of their parents or guardians to provide this. But you are suggesting it is the duty of the state to provide this protection by censoring the internet, a view that seems to me highly dangerous in terms of personal freedoms.

But let’s leave that aside.

When I ask you for the evidence of harm on which your opinion is based you can give me none other than to assert that your view of the matter is self-evidently true.

I repeat, where is the evidence?

(And I’m going to need a lot more than vague references to the breakdown of “collective moral beliefs about sex” and “the fabric of social life”).

The Grimm brothers played an important role in collecting fok/fairy tales from the oral tradition and editing them into more acceptable content for Victorian tastes. Sexual references (of which there were many) disappeared, however. as other commentors have noted, violence, infantacide, cannibalism and the occult were considered acceptable themes for young children.

It seems that Freddy Krueger rules OK.

@pagar

“Morality is a matter for the individual, not the collective.”

Really?

Opposition to murder, rape and human tafficking are just three of the behaviours that require a collective morality.

@Al Shaw:

If you need a collective to tell you murder and rape is wrong, there’s little hope for you.

126. vimothy

Bob B,

A Conservative government was in place at the time of the acquital in 1960 of Penguin Books in a jury trial for publishing DH Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

The modern Conservative Party is a long way from de Bonald or de Maistre. Everyone of influence is a liberal, so why should they be any different? Since they want to be of influence too it seems reasonable to expect that they should not. Lo and behold, they are not.

One of the reasons that the left has carried all before it for a half century or more is that it colonised the political process and the bureaucratic class. You certainly can’t vote for a traditional conservative party–they don’t exist.

127. Chaise Guevara

@ 119 vimothy

“Communities want to maintain common standards, because that’s how they maintain themselves as distinct and particular entities. Liberals say “no: communities don’t exist as such; therefore they can’t be allowed to defend their common moral standards”.”

What does this mean? What communities, and how many of their members want to maintain common standards? In what way are liberals preventing this, or seeking to prevent it?

As it stands, what you’ve said is unintelligible. It sounds like word salad used to create a slightly paranoid rant against people you hate. If I read your post taking your word as gospel, it still wouldn’t tell me a single thing about reality.

128. Chaise Guevara

@ 110 Bob B

“I can’t understand this fixation with banning porn with no parallel concern about emulation of violent behaviour from playing violent video games.”

In fairness, the people who want to ban porn are probably, in large part, the exact same people who get hot under the collar about GTA and throw around stupid terms like “killographic” and “murder simulator” in relation to gaming. After all, the two causes are fed by the same personality traits:

1) Being prepared to back causes without supporting evidence.
2) A controlling nature.
3) An inability to care about the negative effects of banning entertainment that they don’t personally indulge in, because it won’t affect them, so why worry?

129. vimothy

Bob B & The Judge,

Self-evident to whom? [Citation needed].

Come off it. “2+2=4? is ultimately true by definition because two beans and two beans is what we mean by four beans.

You both seem to be having a hard time with this. I’m not sure why.

I’m distinguishing between different types of knowledge; not all knowledge has an empirical basis—for example, reasoning is also a source of knowledge.

If a policy overturns collective standards, then it’s clear that it does harm to them. Since collective standards are part of the essence of particular collectives, it’s clear that it does harm to them.

This is what I meant when I wrote,

“It is self-evident that allowing children to watch pornography is damaging. It’s damaging to collective moral beliefs about sex.

Opposition to murder, rape and human tafficking are just three of the behaviours that require a collective morality.

No.

These things are legitimately matters for a collective legal system not because they are “immoral”, but because they involve coercion, the imposition of one’s will by compulsion.

Which is kind of what we are discussing……

131. vimothy

The Judge,

Presumably these are the ‘collective moral beliefs’ enjoined upon us in previous, enlightened ages, by;
a) aristocrats who were busily engaged in raping the maids throughout,
b) politicians who had more mistresses than a large girls’ school, and
c) our very pure and devout priesthoods.

I’m don’t know what you mean to prove with such an argument.

In the first place, just because people fail to uphold common standards at all times and in all places, it does not follow that these standards are invalid. That is plainly quite silly on its face. It would mean, e.g., that liberalism has to be chucked out because not everyone with a role of social responsibility is perfectly anti-racist and gender-blind.

Secondly, it gets the actual dynamic exactly backwards. It has been our elites who foisted liberalism on us. Ordinary decent people have a natural and common sense understanding of the Good and if left to their own devices orientate themselves towards it. That’s why there is such a remarkable stability to important social institutions across history and cultures, why liberalism is so novel as a historical phenomenon and why it requires such an extensive architecture of state control.

@vimothy:
Whose collective moral beliefs about sex? Not mine. I’m also curious as to which way you think exactly it is damaging, because I suspect most of the reasons you’ll spout are more to do with deeper psychological traits rather than traits of the pornography itself.

@vimothy:
I think his point was that generally those defining and ‘enforcing’ standards are the first to disobey them.

Furthermore, you defeat your own argument. If people naturally gravitate to ‘good’ from their own common sense, why legislate it? If people will naturally seek to protect their children from pornography, why legislate that they must do? If they do not, then it’s not compatible with their sense of ‘good’ and their rights are being infringed (or, depending on how you see it, the child’s rights) by legislating for enforced blocks.

135. Robin Levett

@P ve M #114:

Erm, is that supposed to be a rebuttal of his point? The left has done more over the last 60 years than just unban a book.

Yes and no. Given that the topic of this thread is about the modern equivalent of banning books, it is precisely what liberalism has done – relevantly – over the last 60 years. The example (note that word) of Lady Chatterley’s Lover is apposite; liberalism and conservatism are not two sides of the same coin.

In this context, conservatism says “Thou shalt not”; but liberalism does not say “Thou shalt”. It is possible to live a conservative life in a liberal society – because liberalism imposes constraints on behaviour and opinion only for the protection of others in the society, seeing that as the best protection for both the individuals and the continued existence of the society; but not to live a liberal life in a conservative society – a conservative society imposes constraints on behaviour and even expression of opinion because it sees change, or even a force for change, as by definition dangerous and wrong.

136. vimothy

Chaise,

Just because you don’t understand something doesn’t mean that it is meaningless. But since you don’t understand it, why worry about it? Surely there are better ways to spend your time.

Harley Faggetter,

@132,

The community that existed in this country, that doesn’t exist anymore. And where do you think you think you got your beliefs in the first? Up on the mountain during your years of solitude and reflection?

@133

In which case it is an argument against liberalism as much as traditional values, hence no argument at all.

@134

People are prevented from living as they have always lived. That’s what the liberal social order is all about. So there is a massive thumb on the scales.

137. Robin Levett

@vimothy #115 and 119;

A quick initial response;

Firstly, at what point did the blessed Baroness, Margaret, become the patron saint of liberalism?

You might care to consider my reply to P Ve M; but the point generally is that this:

If a policy overturns collective standards, then it’s clear that it does harm to them. Since collective standards are part of the essence of particular collectives, it’s clear that it does harm to them.

simply cannot be correct. Firstly, if those standards are indeed “collective” in the true sense – shared by all – then a policy to “overturn” them will simply not be developed. Or are you suggesting that liberals actually don’t want what you say they have been pursing for 50-60 years?

Secondly, a decision that I cannot be forced to comply with standards that you seek to impose on me does no harm to the standards; it does harm your attempt to rule my life, but that isn’t quite the same thing.

Thirdly, you may want to define what you mean by a “collective”; if you believe that British society either is or ever has been homogeneous with regard to moral standards – indeed with regard to pretty much any proposition – then I have a bridge to sell you.

Finally in this reply – 50 years? I think you mean at least 800 years and counting…

The community that existed in this country, that doesn’t exist anymore.

So you wish to destroy the current community in order to resurrect the old one?

Robin @ 135:

Vimothy’s original point was that the left has imposed its vision of society on the country, therefore implying that it’s just Christians doing the imposing is disingenuous. Given the nature of the argument, examples of the left imposing its vision don’t have to be related to banning books; any examples will do.

140. Robin Levett

@vimothy #136:

People are prevented from living as they have always lived. That’s what the liberal social order is all about. So there is a massive thumb on the scales.

…but I couldn’t let this go by.

Let’s get down to brass tacks; in what way have you been prevented by liberalism from living as your forebears always lived?

@vimothy: I’m sure the Picts, Woads, Celts, and Gaels (and their predecessors) are all touched by your concern for their community. I, however, would rather live with and fix what we have in the present. I certainly don’t think the ‘christian community’ is the best placed to make that judgement.
As for my ‘beliefs’, what do you refer to? I have no religious beliefs, so it can’t be that. As for my societal or ‘moral’ beliefs, it’s come from experience. Just being alive and in society I’ve learned what is deemed socially acceptable and I’ve made a value judgement on whether that fits with my ‘moral belief’. Given that I’m not in prison as I type this I dare say it’s worked out just grand so far.

What people are being prevented from living as they’ve always lived? No-one’s stopping you from censoring pornography in your own damn house, if you actually care enough about it to go to the effort of doing it. That’s not an excuse to force it on anyone else.

142. vimothy

It is certainly not true that liberalism imposes no constraints on the individual, although this is a frequent claim of its proponents.

Is the state bigger or smaller now than it has been in the past? Are there more or less laws? To ask is to answer.

Robin implies that the essence of liberalism is the removal of restrictions and the essence of conservatism is the imposition of restrictions. There is some truth to this.

Liberalism in an ideal sense aims to remove restrictions on the individual. That’s why common moral standards can’t be enforced, and ultimately have to go. They’re judgemental and arbitrary. Groups can’t materially affect outcomes, because that would be unfair and exclusive. Every individual’s choices are equally valid. Every individual gets to impose their own meanings on things.

But this creates some serious problems for the liberal way of doing things. One problem is that all these illiberal social structures and institutions already exist. So the state has to act to suppress them or render them irrelevant somehow. Another problem is that they arise naturally in the process of communal social life. So this work of the state can never end.

Another problem is that not all choices of the sovereign individual are mutually compatible. How can these incompatibilities be resolved? Well, one solution is that liberalism does impose common moral standards: ones that it finds conducive to the maintenance of liberal social order (for example, inclusiveness, diversity, tolerance, etc). Another is that it tries to limit or construct the personal choices of sovereign individuals such that they don’t matter to others. This is why liberal societies are all consumerist societies, and why consumerism and the liberal order are tied together in the popular imagination.

So the idea (and the ideal) of the neutral state, cutting away fetters without taking definite positions and producing a flat cultural plane on which autonomous individual consumption units can freely express their preferences does not correspond to the reality. Indeed, it cannot.

143. vimothy

Robin,

Let’s get down to brass tacks; in what way have you been prevented by liberalism from living as your forebears always lived?

Well, by why of reply I’ll simply ask if you agree that we live in a very different sort of society to the one we lived in a hundred years ago? If yes, do you agree that this is the result of intentional efforts to reform it?

@vimothy:
In fairness, we asked you specifically how you’ve been prevented by liberalism from living as your forebears did, not if society has changed or been ‘reformed’.

145. Reduced Salt

If vimothy doesn’t like liberalism/liberal society why doesn’t he vote for authoritarians/campaign for an authoritarian state/move to (say) N Korea?

Oh that’s right because he’s a classic bullshitter who likes to use the great stuff about liberal society (freedom of debate, freedom of speech, freedom (to an extent) to use the internet unfettered) to bitch and moan about liberalism itself like it’s the great satan.

Boring troll is boringg. And has no point whatsoever (despite pseudointellectual claims to the contrary – otherwise, Vimothy, prove me wrong – what do you want?)

Vimothy @ 142:

“But this creates some serious problems for the liberal way of doing things.”

One might also add that liberalism is ultimately self-defeating. You can only have a free society if people are willing to trust one another; otherwise, they end up fearing their neighbour more than they fear the government, and demand more regulations over people’s behaviour to stop their neighbours from hurting them. This trust only comes about if people feel that they have something in common with the people around them; but, if you remove ideas about communal identity and common moral standards and make everything a matter of individual choice, then people start to feel that they have less in common with others, so they stop trusting them, so they call on the government to step in and protect them.

This notion of imposing communal values on everyone in a community regardless of personal preferences seems to me remarkably like a recurring theme in the totalitarian ideologies.

One of the issues is about who or what exactly is to do the deciding about what “communal values” are to be imposed – the Fuhrer, the supreme Ayatollah, the dictatorship of the proletariat or the conclave of Cardinals? Another issue concerns the means by which compliance is to be ensured. After executions of dissidents began to attract too much bad publicity, the Soviet Union took to consigning dissidents to lunatic asylums. Iran still seems to be at the stage of executing those who don’t conform with the regimes moral prescriptions.

JS Mill set out the fundamental creed of liberal values in his essay On Liberty (1859):

“The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant.”

Any suggestion that DH Lawrence and John Cleland were part of some enduring leftist conspiracy to subvert youth with liberal values is laughable. Bertrand Russell on meeting Lawrence concluded that Lawrence was a natural fascist. As for Cleland, he was deeply in debt and believed that writing a popular pornographic novel was a sure way of making money fast.

148. vimothy

Harley,

A traditional way of life was destroyed. I didn’t ever really have access to it and it can’t easily be recovered.

In the same vein, you might argue that nothing prevents an aborigine from moving back into the Australian desert and pretending that the last few hundred years didn’t happen. It’s not an argument with much merit, though.

P Ve M,

I think that’s an astute observation. Liberals prefer to locate their loyalty at a global, universal level than at the local level. But the local level is where we all reside. People need to feel connected to those they’re closest to. If they don’t, then the result is going to be a lot of friction, a lot of government intervention to regulate those tensions and prevent friction from arising, or some combination of the two.

149. vimothy

This notion of imposing communal values on everyone in a community regardless of personal preferences seems to me remarkably like a recurring theme in the totalitarian ideologies.

That’s rather absurd. All societies that have ever existed impose common standards. That’s a significant part of what defines them. We do it. Are we then totalitarian? Of course not. It’s Jonah Goldberg-style argument, like saying that Hitler was a vegetarian and therefore, liberals are fascists.

Bob @ 147:

It is possible to have common values without imposing them with a totalitarian dictatorship (or at any rate, most pre-modern countries managed; indeed, I might point out that a lot of social friction in this country is caused ultimately by government attempts to change the nature of British society from above). The best things a government can do to encourage them is, I would suggest, to uphold traditional institutions (like the Monarchy, the constitution and the Church of England, for example) rather than tinkering around with them for the sake of being more “modern”; to encourage any immigrants to intergrate into mainstream society, rather than to keep themselves apart; and to steer a middle way between unfettered capitalism (which, being driven largely by profit, ultimately has little regard for tradition or common values) and big-government statism (because if people feel that they depend more on the government than on their neighbours, they’ll have less incentive to cultivate relationships with the people around them). Then just give it time; a set of common values will emerge sooner or later.

“JS Mill set out the fundamental creed of liberal values in his essay On Liberty (1859):

“The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant.””

J. S. Mill also said that a society cannot be liberal if its members distrust each other more than they distrust the government.

151. Churm Rincewind

@ 147 Bob B and others: There is a distinction to be drawn between censorship – “you may not access this content in any circumstances” – and certification – “you may only access this content in certain circumstances”. For example, the Imperial War Museum holds material of almost unbelieveable horror. It would, wouldn’t it? I do not believe this material should be withheld from all; but I do think access should be subject to various hurdles. One such device would be the “opt-in” provisions proposed by this report.

I really don’t have a problem with that, just as I’m grateful to the British Board of Film Censors for indicating (not enforcing) whether any given film might be alarming for young children or not.

152. Robin Levett

@vimothy #143:

Society has changed; societies do change. It’s in the nature of successful societies. Let’s repeat the question, though:

Let’s get down to brass tacks; in what way have you been prevented by liberalism from living as your forebears always lived?

P Ve M @150:

“The best things a government can do to encourage them is, I would suggest, to uphold traditional institutions (like the Monarchy, the constitution and the Church of England, for example)…”

Received and understood: you’re a feudalist. I think that vimothy is as well, as I suspect his lost Golden Age comprised mostly of old maids cycling to Evensong accompanied by the sound of the Squire throwing another peasant onto the fire.

154. Robin Levett

@P Ve M #139:

Vimothy’s original point was that the left has imposed its vision of society on the country, therefore implying that it’s just Christians doing the imposing is disingenuous.

And it’s this idea that removing restrictions is “imposing a vision” that I have trouble with. Please address the whole of my post, not just a part of it.

155. vimothy

Robin,

The society in which they lived has been abolished. It does’t exist any more.

What prevents you from living as a feudal knight? Nothing. Everything.

156. vimothy

Robin @137,

I attempted a response to your reply to P Ve M in my comment @142. To briefly restate it, I agree that there are essential differences between liberalism and conservatism; however, although liberalism claims to impose no restrictions on the individual, this is clearly not what occurs in practice. Furthermore, it overtly seeks to place restrictions on groups, and since man by nature is a social animal this has definite implications for liberal society. The claim to some kind of neutrality is therefore specious.

I don’t follow your argument re standards in para two. Collective standards have to be maintained; otherwise, they cease to be standards. Today, a common standard is anti-racism. Does this mean that there are no racists?

The argument that a society can have collective beliefs but that these beliefs can’t be defended is a strange one. How then are they to be maintained? Liberals defend liberal standards all the time. That’s what you’re doing here.

What I mean by a collective is some social structure that is bigger than the individual.

157. Just Visiting

This debate is blighted by the lack of reference to meaningful sources.

The elephant in the room is – does exposure to internet porn have any impact on children.

I googled and right there were a bunch of scholarly articles.

Here’s text from the Abstract of one – dated 2005 so by far up to date:

Concerns about a large group of young children exposing themselves to pornography on the Internet may be overstated. Those who report intentional exposure to pornography, irrespective of source, are significantly more likely to cross-sectionally report delinquent behavior and substance use in the previous year. Further, online seekers versus offline seekers are more likely to report clinical features associated with depression and lower levels of emotional bonding with their caregiver. Results of the current investigation raise important questions for further inquiry. Findings from these cross-sectional data provide justification for longitudinal studies aimed at parsing out temporal sequencing of psychosocial experiences.

158. Robin Levett

@vimothy #155:

The society in which they lived has been abolished. It does’t exist any more.

No. It has not been abolished – it has been superseded – overtaken by progress on many fronts.

What prevents you from living as a feudal knight? Nothing. Everything.

That’s an easy one to answer: Technological progress.

You still aren’t answering the question. What do you want to do today that your forebears did that the liberals have passed a law to prevent you from doing? How have you been restricted in your behaviour or opinions by restrictions imposed by liberalism?

159. Robin Levett

@Just Visiting #157:

Thanks for that – at least you’ve tried. But do note one phrase in that abstract, emphasised in my quote below:

Those who report intentional exposure to pornography, irrespective of source, are significantly more likely to cross-sectionally report delinquent behavior and substance use in the previous year.

What does that tell us?

160. Just Visiting

Or this Wiley book from 2009

Exposure to pornography is routine among children and young people, with a range of notable and often troubling effects. Particularly among younger children, exposure to pornography may be disturbing or upsetting.
Exposure to pornography helps to sustain young people’s adherence to sexist and unhealthy notions of sex and relationships.
And, especially among boys and young men who are frequent consumers of pornography, including of more violent materials, consumption intensifies attitudes supportive of sexual coercion and increases their likelihood of perpetrating assault.
While children and young people are sexual beings and deserve age-appropriate materials on sex and sexuality, pornography is a poor, and indeed dangerous, sex educator. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

For interest, try this CNN doc about “elderly porn” in Japan:
http://www.queerclick.com/archive/2008/07/meet_japans_oldest_porn_star.php

With longer life expectancy in Japan than in other affluent countries, the commerical market for elderly porn there is booming, reportedly more so than the more youthful market for porn.

The puritanical churches have little social presence in Japan to exercise a restraining influence on the scale of production. For all that, there is no evidence that the substantial porn industry there does harm and there appears to be little political pressure to stifle the flourishing industry and the employment it creates with increasing regulation.

Robin @ 158:

“No. It has not been abolished – it has been superseded – overtaken by progress on many fronts.”

Erm, being abolished and being superseded aren’t mutually exclusive, you know.

“You still aren’t answering the question. What do you want to do today that your forebears did that the liberals have passed a law to prevent you from doing? How have you been restricted in your behaviour or opinions by restrictions imposed by liberalism?”

People’s lives are restricted by more than just the law. Public opinion and the general structure of society also have an impact, as do other things.

Bob @ 161:

“For all that, there is no evidence that the substantial porn industry there does harm and there appears to be little political pressure to stifle the flourishing industry and the employment it creates with increasing regulation.”

Given that Japan =/= England + socially-acceptable porn, there’s no evidence that making porn more socially-acceptable will do no harm to English society.

163. Just Visiting

It does seem that a more indepth discussion would help us here – pulling up good sources to inform the debate where possible.

Here’s a 1999 (pre-internet-ish) one from US National Institute of Health

No excuses: televised pornography harms children.

All youngsters are at some risk from exposure to televised pornography, as described above. At particular risk for harm, however, are the most vulnerable children in our society–children in single-parent homes, children with mental and emotional disturbances, mentally challenged children, children who have been physically and/or sexually abused, and children in dysfunctional families. Youngsters for whom television serves as a babysitter or parental surrogate unfortunately are exposed to few competing influences to television viewing. In addition, parents in such homes are least likely to know what their children are viewing and to be able to pass on their own values about sex and sexual behavior. The main possible effects of televised pornography that must concern us as clinicians, educators, and parents are modeling and imitation of language heard and behaviors observed in televised pornography; negative interference with children’s normal sexual development; emotional reactions such as nightmares and feelings of anxiety, guilt, confusion, and/or shame; stimulation of premature sexual activity; development of unrealistic, misleading, and/or harmful attitudes toward sex and adult male-female relationships; and undermining of family values with resultant conflict between parents and children. Much more research is clearly needed on this topic. Because of the ethical and procedural problems surrounding research on children exposed to pornography, ideal research designs may never be possible. Nonetheless, we hope that this article will stimulate further discussion and work. To devise public policy that protects children from potentially harmful material while at the same time respecting the media’s First Amendment rights, such public discourse and responsible research are essential.

That article raises the question in my mind – would an opt-in help some of the most at-risk / deprived children ?

@P Ve M:
Which brings us back to the question of whether these biased Christian nutters (just to get my own bias out in the open here, because it’s relevant) are representative of society at large.

Legislating to protect a minority at the expense of the majority is both culturally dangerous and near to electoral suicide. The fact that this majority is usually silent on these matters is irrelevant.

@ Just Visiting

consumption intensifies attitudes supportive of sexual coercion and increases their likelihood of perpetrating assault.

Thanks for trying to engage with some evidence. However the facts do not support the “evidence” you have quoted.

“I find a significant negative effect of internet access on rape arrest rates among men ages 15-19 – a group for whom pornography was most restricted before the internet.”

http://www.law.stanford.edu/display/images/dynamic/events_media/Kendall%20cover%20+%20paper.pdf

@Just Visiting: Your argument has merit in the fringe cases, but to inconvenience the general population because of a failure to protect the vulnerable isn’t necessarily desirable.

It also falls back to the same issue that any ‘opt-in’ would have just as likely a chance of accidentally blocking access to help needed in those situations because it falls in the same category as blocked material. Furthermore, an adult in an abusing position probably won’t be as put off by ‘opt-ing in’ as people who simply enjoy pornography (or other blocked materials) as part of their normal private habits.

167. Just Visiting

Bob

Your whole Japanese analogy is flawed by the great differences of Japan.

Eg quick googling finds:

Japan’s gender inequality puts it to shame in world rankings
============================================
Japan has quite a way to go to narrow its gender gap and come closer to matching the disparities found between the sexes in other G7 countries, statistics show.

According to the 2009 United Nations Development Programme’s Gender Empowerment Measure, the world’s second largest economy ranks 57th out of 109 countries in political and economic participation for women, with female legislators, senior officials, and managers totaling only nine percent of its workforce.

The same statistics rank Germany 9th, Canada 12th, United Kingdom 15th, France 17th, the U.S. 18th and Italy 21st, while the top four spots are taken by Nordic countries.

The World Economic Forum’s 2009 Global Gender Gap Index, which also tracks gender inequality, shows that Japan ranks 101st out of 134 countries, far behind all its peers.

The situation in private corporations is also lackluster. The latest study by Japan’s Gender Equality Bureau of the Cabinet Office found that women accounted for only 4.1 percent of department managers in 2008. The number increased from 2.1 percent in 1999, but it still remains low.

@Just Visiting:
What does ‘gender inequality’ have to do with this? Further more, it is a simply statistical study and doesn’t go into any depth as to why such ‘gender inequality’ exists. I personally find it laughable that we judge ‘gender equality’ in economic terms, rather than in terms of quality of life or something that would promote the concept of ‘traditional families’ that conservatives continually harp on about.

169. vimothy

Robin,

How exactly does technological progress prevent you from living as a feudal knight? If anything it should make it easier.

As for answering the question, I’ve done it repeatedly. I don’t see how I can be any clearer. I want to live in a society organised around a different set of principles.

You say that traditional society has been “superseded”, as if it were a piece of redundant technology. In fact, the reorganisation of society along liberal lines took actual human agency and intentionality. People made decisions and acted on them. Things didn’t “just happen”. You remember: liberalism. It’s a broad-based social movement. I’m sure there’s a page on Wikipedia somewhere.

@160

While children and young people are sexual beings and deserve age-appropriate materials on sex and sexuality, pornography is a poor, and indeed dangerous, sex educator.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that exactly the point Jacqui Smith brought up, more sex education, only for it to be brushed under the carpet to talk about 3G smart-phones instead. (Which already operate an astonishingly shite opt-in system anyway.)

171. Reduced Salt

@vimothy

“I want to live in a society organised around a different set of principles.”

but what principles are you referring to? you’ve not made yourself clear at all on that point.

vimothy, do you want to live as a feudal knight?

As for answering the question, I’ve done it repeatedly. I don’t see how I can be any clearer. I want to live in a society organised around a different set of principles.

What principles?

You say that traditional society has been “superseded”, as if it were a piece of redundant technology. In fact, the reorganisation of society along liberal lines took actual human agency and intentionality. People made decisions and acted on them. Things didn’t “just happen”. You remember: liberalism. It’s a broad-based social movement. I’m sure there’s a page on Wikipedia somewhere.

What “traditional society” are you talking about? Ancient Egypt (a few thousand years)? Feudalism (a few centuries)? The Roaring Forties, the Fabulous Fifties, the Swinging Sixties (a few decades)?

vimothy ad nauseam:

That ‘traditional society’ you hanker after didn’t appear out of nowhere “by God’s almighty hand”, as it were. It was just as much a creation of human agency as anything which has superseded it. We just learned how to do things better, is all.

175. Robin Levett

@vimothy #169:

How exactly does technological progress prevent you from living as a feudal knight? If anything it should make it easier.

I don’t want to be offensive, but perhaps you should learn a little more about the history of this country from around the 10th century onwards first.

It’s true that the Black Death had something to do with the demise of feudalism in this country as well, but a system of organising an agrarian society based around land tenure was never going to survive technological advances that on the one hand deprived the the knight of his position as king of the battlefield and on the other sucked the peasants upon which feudalism depended into towns and cities as industrial labourers. Again, you can’t form a decent army out of three peasants and a load of combined harvesters.

I am wrong in one respect. You are as entitled to live your life as a feudal knight as was anyone else back in the day; although you will first have to decide exactly what form of feudalism you subscribe to – English feudalism was significantly different from French, certainly by the time of Agincourt. It’s just that you can’t force anyone else to go along with your charade.

176. Chaise Guevara

@ 136 vimothy

“Just because you don’t understand something doesn’t mean that it is meaningless. But since you don’t understand it, why worry about it? Surely there are better ways to spend your time.”

So I don’t understand what you say, because it’s incredibly vague. I do the reasonable thing, and request clarification. You refuse, preferring instead a bit of toothless snarking.

Conclusion: you’re talking bollocks. If you weren’t you’d be able to explain your position. Sadly, your position is simply “I HATEZ TEH LIBRULS GRR!” and everything used to “justify” that is word salad, which can’t be defended even by you when criticised.

How sad for you.

P Ve M: “Given that Japan =/= England + socially-acceptable porn, there’s no evidence that making porn more socially-acceptable will do no harm to English society.”

But what evidence is there that the easy availability in good bookstores of classic pornographic literature since the 1960 acquittal of Penguin Books for publishing Lady Chatterley’s Lover has done harm? Why aren’t we worried about the social consequences of the obsessive playing of violent video games – as has come out at the Breivik trial in Norway? Have you looked to see just how many video games focus on scenarios of violence, murder and destruction?

Btw I admit to finding it difficult to cope with arguments that start with the premise that the Japanese are different kinds of human beings to the rest of us, which is why they aren’t affected by exposure to pornographic experiences even as young teens. Could it be that the low historic influence of the Christian churches in Japan, with their promotion of guilt, is to blame?

Another really intriguing question is about why the currently fastest selling authors of recent porn literature are women by reports and not the usual suspects? Why aren’t men writing interesting porn like they used to?

178. Robin Levett

@vimothy #169:

You say that traditional society has been “superseded”, as if it were a piece of redundant technology. In fact, the reorganisation of society along liberal lines took actual human agency and intentionality. People made decisions and acted on them. Things didn’t “just happen”. You remember: liberalism.

Nope. Traditional society – eg your favourite, feudalism – was superseded by technological and social advances that had nothing to do with liberalism. Nobody got up one morning and said “Ah, feudalism – time to do away with it”. It was crowded out by a set of changes that together, one by one, made it impossible for feudalism to continue in the form it had once had.

All societies change, most often not as a result of deliberate human choices to change. That’s why I quibble with use of the word “abolition”

The pressures on society that have resulted in its re-organisation along more liberal lines have, over the centuries, not been a conscious liberal programme. Universal education is necessary in a technological society; universal public health measures (from the NHS to Thames Water to the Working Hours Directive etc) make sense in a society that invests education in workers to give them sufficient skills to contribute to society. But an educated workforce that lives longer and has leisure to consider issues is less likely simply to knuckle under and accept that “this is the way things are” (however things happen to be at the time). This is one of the ways in which reality does indeed have a pronounced liberal bias. You blame liberalism – I credit realism.

The Judge @ 174:

“That ‘traditional society’ you hanker after didn’t appear out of nowhere “by God’s almighty hand”, as it were. It was just as much a creation of human agency as anything which has superseded it.”

And? The fact that non-liberals have tried to create certain types of society doesn’t mean that liberals never have.

Bob @ 177:

“But what evidence is there that the easy availability in good bookstores of classic pornographic literature since the 1960 acquittal of Penguin Books for publishing Lady Chatterley’s Lover has done harm? Why aren’t we worried about the social consequences of the obsessive playing of violent video games – as has come out at the Breivik trial in Norway? Have you looked to see just how many video games focus on scenarios of violence, murder and destruction?”

Well, society seems to have a more casual attitude towards sex than ever before, which probably has something to do with the easier availability of porn. As for the playing of video games, I’ve already pointed this out, but just in case you missed it, you might want to scroll up to the OP:

“Lest we forget, Safe Media’s stating objectives don;t stop at just pornography…

to minimise the availability of potentially harmful media content displaying violence, pornography and explicit sex, bad language and anti-social behaviour and the portrayal of drugs”

“Btw I admit to finding it difficult to cope with arguments that start with the premise that the Japanese are different kinds of human beings to the rest of us, which is why they aren’t affected by exposure to pornographic experiences even as young teens.”

Not that they’re “different kinds of human beings”, just that they live in a different culture to us.

Robin @ 178:

“The pressures on society that have resulted in its re-organisation along more liberal lines have, over the centuries, not been a conscious liberal programme.”

So what, none of the societal changes over the last 100 years have been by people trying to make society more liberal?

Why aren’t we worried about the social consequences of the obsessive playing of violent video games – as has come out at the Breivik trial in Norway?

Some people are worried about the “social consequences of the obsessive playing of violent video games” – Keith Vaz raises an EDM every other week, it seems. Please don’t be like Vaz and misuse Breivik to support your criticism. Oh yes, the press got a wonderful story in April when they all printed the line, “Brevik trained for shooting attacks by playing Call of Duty”, but in my experience handling a gun is very different to using a keyboard and mouse or joypad.

So far as I know there are no longitudinal studies showing that playing violent videogames increases the risk of the player deciding to shoot someone in real life.

Like films, video games have age ratings on packaging and promotional materials. But they go further than films in that they have additional icons to outline the sort of content in the game that people might find objectionable, e.g. drug use or sexual references. Like films, if people don’t want to experience the objectionable content or their children experience it then they shouldn’t have it in their houses.

181. Robin Levett

@P Ve M #179:

“The pressures on society that have resulted in its re-organisation along more liberal lines have, over the centuries, not been a conscious liberal programme.”

So what, none of the societal changes over the last 100 years have been by people trying to make society more liberal?

I’m pretty sure that’s not what I said.

(Re-reads)

No, I’m sure that’s not what I said. What I did say, I believe, was:

Nope. Traditional society – eg your favourite, feudalism – was superseded by technological and social advances that had nothing to do with liberalism. Nobody got up one morning and said “Ah, feudalism – time to do away with it”. It was crowded out by a set of changes that together, one by one, made it impossible for feudalism to continue in the form it had once had.

All societies change, most often not as a result of deliberate human choices to change. That’s why I quibble with use of the word “abolition”

The pressures on society that have resulted in its re-organisation along more liberal lines have, over the centuries, not been a conscious liberal programme. Universal education is necessary in a technological society; universal public health measures (from the NHS to Thames Water to the Working Hours Directive etc) make sense in a society that invests education in workers to give them sufficient skills to contribute to society. But an educated workforce that lives longer and has leisure to consider issues is less likely simply to knuckle under and accept that “this is the way things are” (however things happen to be at the time). This is one of the ways in which reality does indeed have a pronounced liberal bias. You blame liberalism – I credit realism.

but maybe I’m imagining things.

182. Robin Levett

@P Ve M #179:

Well, society seems to have a more casual attitude towards sex than ever before, which probably has something to do with the easier availability of porn.

There are, it seems to me, three issues here. Firstly, do you have any evidence that society’s attitudes towards sex are more casual than ever before. The Victorian era, and what the Prince of Wales got up to, may suggest to the contrary.

Secondly, a chicken/egg problem; does the casual attitude case, or is it caused by, easier availability of porn.

Thirdly, you were asked about harm. Is “a more casual” attitude towards sex necessarily harmful, even if it exists and that isn’t just used instead of “less repressed”; because arguably a less-repressed attitude towards sex is positively beneficial.

183. Chaise Guevara

@ 180 ukliberty

“So far as I know there are no longitudinal studies showing that playing violent videogames increases the risk of the player deciding to shoot someone in real life.”

I looked into this a bit, and all the studies I found were methodologically incapable of demonstrating the connection. One showed that people convicted of violent crimes were more likely to enjoy violent games (so?), another that people playing violent game showed more brain activity associated with violence *at the time of playing and briefly afterwards* (no shit, Sherlock). Of course, all of them were used to support lurid and untrue headlines.

The argument that videogames cause violence seem to assume that a) they desensitise people to real-life violence, not videogame violence, and b) that this leads to increased violent behaviour. Neither of these are unreasonable, although they are both assumptions, but they tend not to be offered with evidence, and ignore the counter possibility that games provide catharsis that might prevent real-world violence.

Finally, people who like violent films but are scared of violence in games (or want to condemn the games without alienating the film-viewers) tend to claim that games are worse as the player is actively involved in the violence rather than passively watching it. This could be true, but ignores the escapist nature of films and the tendency for viewers to identify with or look up to popular characters. Also, they seem never to mention (or consider) that film violence generally looks like real life, or at least how we imagine real life, whereas videogame violence is obviously fake. I could just as presumptively claim this makes films worse than games.

Basically it’s the new rock and roll: draw up your skirts and try to ban things because you don’t understand them and that’s scary.

P Ve M: “Well, society seems to have a more casual attitude towards sex than ever before, which probably has something to do with the easier availability of porn.”

Alternatively, a less guilt-ridden and relaxed attitude towards sex could have spilt over into a more relaxed attitude towards porn. Very likely the advent of the contraceptive pill c. 1960 reduced inhibitions towards extra-marital sex. Those factors comprise just as plausible an explanation.

The acquittal in 1960 of Penguin Books for publishing Lady Chatterley came towards the end of a long stream of new wave, iconoclastic drama and literature. I once did a bit of research on the claim that permissiveness was due to some leftist conspiracy, orchestrated by Roy Jenkins as Home Secretary, according to Norman Tebbit, and found that almost all the notable new wave literature which challenged traditional values and prompted the liberalism of the 1960s and beyond was first published in the 1950s during Conservative governments, not the 1960s:

JD Salinger: Catcher in the Rye (1951), John Wain: Hurry on Down (1953), Kingsley Amis: Lucky Jim (1954), Pauline Réage: L’histoire d’O (1954), Françoise Sagan: Bonjour Tristesse (1954), Colin Wilson (Anthony Burgess?): The Outsider (1956), John Braine: Room at the Top (1957), Jack Kerouac: On the Road (1957), Malcolm Bradbury: Eating People is Wrong (1959), Keith Waterhouse: Billy Liar (1959) and the stage drama of Samuel Beckett: Waiting for Godot (1953), John Osborne: Look Back in Anger (1956) and The Entertainer (1957), and Shelagh Delaney: A Taste of Honey (1958).

Exceptions seem to be Albert Camus: The Outsider, which was first published in French (L’Etranger) in 1942 and Stan Barstow: A Kind of Loving (1960) as well as John Osborne’s play: Luther (1961) and Joe Orton’s plays in the 1960s: Entertaining Mr Sloane and Loot.

As a “scientific” hypothesis, there is not much to be said for the claim that porn in the 1960s led the charge to licentiousness. The Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660 at the invitation of Parliament also opened the flood gates to the verse of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, and the stream of Restoration comedies like Ford’s ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore. Very likely, the popular stories circulating about the many mistresses of Charles II could have fanned the literary fashions of those times and the disregard for family values.

Robin @ 181:

You said

“The pressures on society that have resulted in its re-organisation along more liberal lines have, over the centuries, not been a conscious liberal programme”

Whilst this is probably true of some things, there have been other reforms which were carried out by people who were deliberately trying to steer society in a more liberal direction — who, in other words, had a conscious liberal programme.

@ 182:

“There are, it seems to me, three issues here. Firstly, do you have any evidence that society’s attitudes towards sex are more casual than ever before. The Victorian era, and what the Prince of Wales got up to, may suggest to the contrary.”

People really need to get used to the idea that just because some members of a society don’t uphold certain standards, it doesn’t follow that those standards don’t exist at all. Modern society is quite anti-racist, and the actions of a few racists doesn’t change that fact.

“Secondly, a chicken/egg problem; does the casual attitude case, or is it caused by, easier availability of porn.”

Probably a bit of both, really. Yes, people with a casual attitude to sex are more likely to watch porn; but people’s attitudes are also influenced by those of society as a whole, so somebody who grows up in a society where depictions of sex are easily available for entertainment purposes is likely to think of sex as less “special” than somebody who doesn’t.

“Thirdly, you were asked about harm. Is “a more casual” attitude towards sex necessarily harmful, even if it exists and that isn’t just used instead of “less repressed”; because arguably a less-repressed attitude towards sex is positively beneficial.”

Well, I suppose it depends on how you view sex. If you view sex as fundamentally unimportant — just a way of satisfying a particular bodily desire — then no, a more casual attitude towards sex isn’t bad. If you think it is important, and therefore that casual sex is in some way wrong, then trivialising it is going to harm people by leading them to act immorally.

186. Chaise Guevara

@ 185 P Ve M

“If you think it is important, and therefore that casual sex is in some way wrong”

Hang on, “therefore” is doing a hell of a lot of work in that statement. Since when does “sex is important” = “casual sex is bad”? You seem to be setting up a false dichotomy that suggests anyone who’s ok with casual sex thinks that sex is unimportant. If so, I can disprove this idea by providing myself as an example that contradicts the claim.

While I’m at it, I’m not sure where you get the idea that something that is “just a way of satisfying a particular bodily desire” must be “fundamentally unimportant” either. Alleviating pain is a bodily desire and that’s pretty damn important.

With due apologies, of course, I should have included Alan Sillitoe’s novel of working class life in Nottingham: Saturday Night, Sunday Morning (1958) in my selection of seminal, new wave literature in the 1950s cited @184. That should settle the argument about whether porn led to casual sex or vice versa.

188. vimothy

Robin,

Nothing prevents you from spending your weekends dressed up in a suit of armour charging around fields pretending to be a knight. Indeed, it’s considerably easier to do so today than it ever has been–thanks largely to technological progress. None of this actually makes you a feudal knight, however, in much the same way that dressing up as a cowboy doesn’t actually make you a cowboy, or dressing up as an indian doesn’t actually make you an indian.

Those societies don’t exist any more. No one is preventing you from pretending otherwise, but you pretending otherwise is hardly sufficient to change that fact.

189. vimothy

Chaise,

What you actually wrote was that my comment was unintelligible, word salad, a paranoid rant against people I hate, and something that doesn’t tell you anything about the world.

How do you usually find that conversations go when you start them in this fashion?

Chaise @ 186:

I’ll be more specific, then — if you think that sex is important in the same way as these people do, i.e., that it’s for bringing people closer together and/or creating children as well as for pleasure. Any attempt to have sex solely in order to gain plasure is, according to this view, a perversion of its true purpose, and therefore wrong.

Put it this way: when we eat, there are several reasons for doing so: to gain nutrients, to avoid feeling hungry, to enjoy the taste of the food, and so on. But if you met somebody who tried to separate the enjoyment of the flavour from the other purposes — somebody who, for example, chewed on a piece of well-cooked steak, but instead of swallowing it spat it out again onto a separate plate — then you’d probably think that something had gone seriously wrong with his attitude towards food. Well, that’s what evil porn-banning religious fanatics think about casual sex: it tries to separate one purpose out from the others, and so represents a rather unhealthy attitude to sex as a whole. Worse, it impedes the fulfillment of the other purposes of sexual activity: if you get used to having lots of sex with little emotional attachment, it’s going to feel less special, and consequently not going to bring you as close to your partner as it otherwise would.

Robin Levett: “Firstly, do you have any evidence that society’s attitudes towards sex are more casual than ever before?”

Try this on Barbara Palmer, the First Duchess of Clevland:
http://scandalouswoman.blogspot.co.uk/2007/10/kings-whore-barbara-palmer-1st-duchess.html

192. Chaise Guevara

@ 189 vimothy

“What you actually wrote was that my comment was unintelligible, word salad, a paranoid rant against people I hate, and something that doesn’t tell you anything about the world.

How do you usually find that conversations go when you start them in this fashion?”

Fair enough. This site gets a lot of meaningless rants culminating in “and that’s why [group I hate] are bastards”, aimed at all sides of the argument, and to me it’s something of a red rag to a bull. That sort of thing is bad enough even when it isn’t used to condemn a whole political side in a wholesale fashion.

Your post sounded very much like one of those, hence my response, but it’s possible I was being unfair. If so, please accept my apologies and strike the second paragraph from my post, leaving us with:

“What does this mean? What communities, and how many of their members want to maintain common standards? In what way are liberals preventing this, or seeking to prevent it?”

Robin

And this celebration of selected poems by John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester (1647-80)
http://www.luminarium.org/eightlit/rochester/wilmotbib.htm

194. Chaise Guevara

@ 190 P Ve M

“I’ll be more specific, then — if you think that sex is important in the same way as these people do, i.e., that it’s for bringing people closer together and/or creating children as well as for pleasure. Any attempt to have sex solely in order to gain plasure is, according to this view, a perversion of its true purpose, and therefore wrong.”

Again, no. I think sex brings people closer together (in an emotional way, obviously) and you could probably get hold of evidence to this effect. And obviously it also creates children. That doesn’t lead me to randomly condemn casual sex, because that’s a huge leap made by people with an axe to grind.

That said, there’s a possible sticking point in the use of the word “for” in the above quote. I’m not sure you mean what it does (pleasure, procreation etc) or whether you’re implying that it was consciously designed “for” something. The use of the term “purpose” suggests the latter. If so, then it’s a complete assumption. And even if not, it’s special pleading, used by people with a rather nasty mindset: “I prefer Use A of sex, therefore I will seek to prevent people from doing Use B, and screw anyone whose enjoyment of life is diminished”. It’s pointlessly vile and malicious; not even selfish, as it doesn’t benefit the prohibiter, just hurts the prohibited.

[Not to say that any desire to ban porn is vile and malicious, just attempts to ban it based on an argument that comes down to “I don’t like it”.]

“Put it this way: when we eat, there are several reasons for doing so: to gain nutrients, to avoid feeling hungry, to enjoy the taste of the food, and so on. But if you met somebody who tried to separate the enjoyment of the flavour from the other purposes — somebody who, for example, chewed on a piece of well-cooked steak, but instead of swallowing it spat it out again onto a separate plate — then you’d probably think that something had gone seriously wrong with his attitude towards food.”

No, because a) chewing gum and b) while hardly common practice, I could recognise the logic behind wanting to get the taste while minimising the calorie intake. Weird isn’t the same as bad.

“Well, that’s what evil porn-banning religious fanatics think about casual sex: it tries to separate one purpose out from the others, and so represents a rather unhealthy attitude to sex as a whole.”

So they’ve got two problems. They’re confusing analogy with reality, and the analogy itself exposes them as small-minded and xenophobic.

To be honest, I don’t find it hard (I think) to get into the mindset of these people. I’m just warning against repeating their logic (which seems to rest on them being the arbiters of what makes something “important”) as if it was valid.

195. Chaise Guevara

@ P Ve M

Arguments that anything has a “true purpose” and that there is something wrong with using it for another purpose are normally arbitrary, illogical and stalking horses for another agenda – this is definitely such a case. All else being equal, nobody is harmed simply because something is used for a purpose other than its perceived “true purpose”. It’s basically a weird case of the naturalistic fallacy.

Sometimes a normally beneficial object becomes harmful when used for a different purpose (a walking-stick used as a club, for example), but that doesn’t mean there’s an inherent goodness to true purposes in general, or even that true purposes exist per se. After all, consider swords beaten into ploughshares. If someone has a problem with a purpose to which something is put, they should demonstrate that the purpose is harmful and wrong in itself.

196. vimothy

Chaise,

Apology accepted.

I originally wote,

“Communities want to maintain common standards, because that’s how they maintain themselves as distinct and particular entities. Liberals say “no: communities don’t exist as such; therefore they can’t be allowed to defend their common moral standards”.”

I am trying to understand liberalism (in the sense of the governing mode of the day) in very broad terms. What is it? What does it mean? What does it value? How does it operate?

Well, liberalism is a movement that aims to produce a universal, technocratically ordered society, from which no one is excluded and in which no one is allowed to dominate. The individual is sovereign and sacrosanct. (To be a bit more precise I might say that nothing transcends the individual).

This is why particular groups have trouble. If particular groups exist then they can only do so by excluding non-members, which is unfair and violates equal freedom, and by imposing obligations and restrictions on members, which violates the sovereignty of the individual.

If you doubt this, just reread the thread. Christians are denounced as interfering busy-bodies poking their noses into things that should not concern them. Liberal society is superior to traditional Christian society because individuals are free to be conservative Christians in the former but the reverse is not true. That is, the individual has greater freedom under liberalism. Many people conclude that liberalism is therefore superior on that basis and that’s all there is to it.

Chaise @ 194/195:

Well, obviously you have problems with the idea of sex being “for” something, because your world-view is (or seems to be, based on what you’ve written) fundamentally materialist and morally relativist. Theirs isn’t, so they don’t have such problems with the idea.

(Wow, two people starting from different assumptions and coming to different conclusions. Who’d have guessed?)

“So they’ve got two problems. They’re confusing analogy with reality, and the analogy itself exposes them as small-minded and xenophobic”

Wait, xenophobic? What?

“their logic (which seems to rest on them being the arbiters of what makes something “important”)”

What do you mean by this? That they think that they’re right, and everybody else is wrong? If so, and if you reject this sort of thinking, how do you ever make moral judgements?

Also, I note you never addressed the argument that having sex solely for pleasure interferes with fulfilling its other functions.

Also, I note you never addressed the argument that having sex solely for pleasure interferes with fulfilling its other functions.

Having sex for pleasure, or just masturbating regularly, reduces your chances of developing prostate cancer.

@P Ve M:
I’ll take a stab at this one…

Well, obviously you have problems with the idea of sex being “for” something, because your world-view is (or seems to be, based on what you’ve written) fundamentally materialist and morally relativist. Theirs isn’t, so they don’t have such problems with the idea.

Which takes us back to the argument of whether a minority interest should override the majority simply because it’s on an issue of morals.

Wait, xenophobic? What?

The fear of that which is alien. It doesn’t specifically relate to racism which I guess was your presumption, it can be anything considered significantly against the norm. It’s commonly used in sci-fi, funnily enough, to describe humans’ typical initial attitude towards aliens.

What do you mean by this? That they think that they’re right, and everybody else is wrong? If so, and if you reject this sort of thinking, how do you ever make moral judgements?

Does the fact they think they’re right and ‘screw the rest’ make them appropriate for pushing for legislation in an area they have obvious bias in, especially when they are doing so in a way that is not representative of the population’s views? It is especially worrying that they do not devote the time necessary to get truly independent scientific surveys conducted that aren’t tainted with the bias of pressure groups.

Also, I note you never addressed the argument that having sex solely for pleasure interferes with fulfilling its other functions.

It doesn’t. Having casual sex with multiple partners and fathering a child and developing a close relationship are not mutually exclusive and in most cases the experience should hopefully be pleasant. Modern western cultures have simply been told ‘that’s the way it is’ regardless of whether it’s true or not. Guess who’s most likely to have been behind that chesnut.

200. vimothy

It might be easier to see where traditional conservatives are coming from re natural law if we think of a different example to sex, since everyone has strong preconceptions about conservatives and sex. Let’s take the family instead. “Parents have a duty to raise their children.” That’s an ethical statement of natural law.

Now, in a rational sense it doesn’t necessarily make much sense to have parents raising children. The state might be able to do a much better job. It would certainly seem to have greater access to resources. Some parents might have more aptitude or inclination than others, so it’s not immediately obvious why all parents should bear the same obligation equally.

So what’s a rational, modern liberal type to do? Does the family have a particular structure and character, or can it be made to be and to mean whatever anyone wants?

@200 Eh? You arguing for the state to replace the family now? That would certainly justify the state playing ‘nanny’, though I was under the impression conservatives were opposed to such things.

@vimothy: Being neither liberal nor conservative this answer is probably of no use to you. My view is that those capable of raising their children without ‘harming’* them should be allowed to do so. There is no reason for them not to, as it’s instinctive and it helps children develop normally socially if they’re part of a ‘loving family’**.

Obviously where a parent is incapable of raising a child in such a way not to ‘harm’* them there should be a degree of state intervention.

*Where harm is defined on a mental, physical, and social level using scientfic data to define which stimuli are developmentally harmful to a child on those levels.

**Where a loving family is with one but preferably two parents of either gender, spending at least an equal amount of time per day caring for and interacting with the child as not (leaving aside time for sleep). Yes, that is my own definition of a loving family, others may have and are entitled to their own opinions on that. When it comes to legislating based on that, preference should go to those who can back their opinions up with (unbiased) facts.

203. Just Visiting

Harley Faggetter

> Obviously where a parent is incapable of raising a child in such a way not to ‘harm’* them there should be a degree of state intervention.

Aha, state intervention – maybe you’ve contributed to one of the parallel sub-threads in this thread – that a liberal society is on occasion brought forward by state intervention trumping the freedom of the individual.

Actually there is a curious mirror effect here.

Some Christians are being criticised in this post – for having a desire that everyone should have the best from life, and taking that desire so far as to advocate limiting some freedoms.

And the liberal left have a desire for a ‘good society’ for individuals – and will on occassion to achieve that limit the freedoms of some.

Hmm, maybe that’s one reason LC does hate Christians – they are just so close in motivation, but not identical!

@203 Er, you did catch Harley saying

Being neither liberal nor conservative this answer is probably of no use to you. My view is that…

before you rambled on about liberals and that ‘LC’ hates Christians, didn’t you?

There remains a fundamental problem here: on the one hand we have people with their vision they would like to impose on others, and on the other hand we have people who want to be free to make their own choices and inevitable mistakes. This was pointed out early on in the thread, I’m sure.

If you do not like casual sex do not have casual sex. If you do not like porn do not watch it. If you do not like violent films or videogames do not watch them or play them. If you do not want your children to watch objectionable films and play objectionable games in your house then take steps to prevent them from doing so. But your preferences do not grant you a right to impose on my freedom, even for my own good.

vimothy,

If you doubt this, just reread the thread. Christians are denounced as interfering busy-bodies poking their noses into things that should not concern them. Liberal society is superior to traditional Christian society because individuals are free to be conservative Christians in the former but the reverse is not true. That is, the individual has greater freedom under liberalism. Many people conclude that liberalism is therefore superior on that basis and that’s all there is to it.

I don’t understand your problem with this concept, unless you think all people must practice conservative Christianity or conform to Christian values, which implies less freedom, which = Bad.

I think it is pretty unfair to say all Christians are interfering busy-bodies; some just want to mind their own business, others would like some of your time to express their point of view and all that is fine. But the Christians referred to in the report want to impose their beliefs on everyone else: “porn is bad, the state should prohibit it”. They aren’t merely saying, “we think porn is bad”, they don’t merely want to persuade people not to watch it, they want to exercise power over everyone, interfere with our liberty, for our own good.

If you take it as an axiom that “the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others”, then you are going to see people who exercise power over others “for their own good” as bad’uns. If you think that actually it is fine to exercise power over others for their own good, then of course you will come into conflict with those that don’t.

Which society is superior? A society where we can be Christian or whatever so long as we don’t interfere with anyone else, or a society where you are compelled to be Christian / Christian values are imposed on you?

John Stuart Mill said there might be good reasons “remonstrating”, or “reasoning”, or “persuading”, or entreating. It’s just the compulsion bit, the exercise of power over someone else, that we have a problem with.

207. vimothy

ukliberty,

Perhaps I’m misunderstanding the nature of your comment. In the short excerpt you quote, I’m trying to give an example of a particular attitude which is characteristically liberal.

The point is not to start an argument about whether everyone thinks that Christians are interfering busy-bodies, but to describe some essential properties of liberalism in a way that made sense to Chaise. Liberals think that everyone should be equally free to satisfy their own desires and create their own meanings. If people propose policies that contradict this, liberals will oppose them; hence this thread.

You describe an “axiom that “the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others””. This is exactly what I mean when I refer to liberalism, and what I have criticised elsewhere on this thread.

Insisting that all members of a “community” – whatever that is – adopt and comply with community values is a totalitarian ethic. That insistence also begs the crucial questions as to what or who is to decide the community values as well as to what sanctions are to be applied to those who don’t comply?

The issues are ageless and explain why the Athenian community voted to require Socrates to drink hemlock and why the Nazis ran concentration camps.

209. vimothy

That’s simply absurd. If trying to enforce collective standards is totalitarian, then every society that has ever existed has been totalitarian–including contemporary liberal societies.

“That’s simply absurd. If trying to enforce collective standards is totalitarian, then every society that has ever existed has been totalitarian–including contemporary liberal societies.”

Not if JS Mill’s test is used as the benchmark – what matters is whether actions inflict harm on others.

Once we extent that notion of “harm” to include failure to comply with community values – as decided by what process or by whom? – then we are in the domain of totalitarian ideology. Do we really all have to like the same pictures, literature and music for fear that once any diversity is permitted it will destroy communities?

Harley @ 199:

“Does the fact they think they’re right and ‘screw the rest’ make them appropriate for pushing for legislation in an area they have obvious bias in, especially when they are doing so in a way that is not representative of the population’s views?”

What do you mean by “screw the rest”? If you mean “screw other people’s moral opinions, they’re wrong,” then that doesn’t really answer my question. If you mean it as a selfish “I’m fine, so screw the well-being of other people,” then I don’t see how trying to protect people from being damaged by porn is selfish. You might say it’s wrong because it’s infantilising, or because they’re mistaken about the damage porn causes, or whatever, but selfish? In fact, wouldn’t a selfish person be more likely to just say “Well, I won’t damage myself by watching porn, but I don’t care what other people do”?

Also, “an area they have an obvious bias in” — you mean like liberals have an obvious bias towards letting people watch porn if they want to? I presume, then, that you think we should all ignore most of what has been written on this thread?

“It doesn’t. Having casual sex with multiple partners and fathering a child and developing a close relationship are not mutually exclusive”

I note that “interferes with” seems to have morphed into “is mutually exclusive with” here. The idea that something you do only with people you love will seem no more special than something you do with lots of people seems, prima facie, an unlikely one.

“Modern western cultures have simply been told ‘that’s the way it is’ regardless of whether it’s true or not. Guess who’s most likely to have been behind that chesnut.”

Given that pretty much every society has viewed casual sex as inferior to chastity,* I suspect the answer is “human nature”.

* And yes, that even includes modern Western society, where girls who have lots of casual sex are likely to be called sluts, and societies with widespread prostitution, where prostitutes were generally looked down upon, largely because of the nature of their profession.

@ Various people:

First of all, the idea that rejecting liberalism somehow entails embracing totalitarianism is absurd. Liberalism as we know it really only got going with the Enlightenment; funnily enough, though, society had got on before that without descending into totalitarian dictatorship. In fact, the average pre-modern person probably had less interaction with the government than the average twenty-first century Westerner.

Secondly, why is it wrong to make it harder for children to access porn on the internet — for, let us not forget, this is not what is being proposed, not the outright banning of porn* — but not to make it harder for children to access alcohol or cigarettes or, indeed, physical DVDs with explicit sex scenes in them? Nobody thinks that this is an outrageous infringement on our civil liberties, so why is it bad to apply similar standards to internet materials?

* And yes, I know that “restricting access to porn” is likely to be difficult to achieve. But a lot of posters seem to assume that it’s wrong in principle, rather than just saying “Nice idea, but it’ll never work in practice”.

213. vimothy

Oh, so you merely mean to propose that every society ever–except contemporary liberal societies–has been totalitarian? That’s much more reasonable.

It’s also pretty obvious that your exemption of liberal societies is not coherent on its face. You write,

Once we extent that notion of “harm” to include failure to comply with community values – as decided by what process or by whom? – then we are in the domain of totalitarian ideology.

While ignoring the fact that this applies to us just as much as anyone else. Yes, Bob, there are always community values, even under advanced liberalism; they are imposed on the community by a subset of the community and defended as such. No, that does not mean that we live in a totalitarian state.

Do we really all have to like the same pictures, literature and music for fear that once any diversity is permitted it will destroy communities?

Another absurd statement. Of course we do not and no one has suggested that we do.

Your argument basically amounts to this: Anyone who isn’t a liberal is a Nazi, QED.

214. vimothy

Here’s an obvious example (given the OP) of a standard that is common to all societies including our own: standards of modesty and decency. All societies have their own particular standards that govern the acceptability of different modes of dress and public behavior surrounding sex and sexuality.

How would people react if you spent the train journey home from work with your pants round your ankles, masturbating? They would be shocked and appalled, and you would probably be removed and arrested at the earliest opportunity.

What mean fascists the people are!

“Your argument basically amounts to this: Anyone who isn’t a liberal is a Nazi, QED.”

No. I’m saying that if diversity of personal preferences is regarded as not permissable because that would be disruptive of community solidarity or cohesion then that is a totalitarian ethic.

Nazism and fascism weren’t the only totalitarian ideologies. Communism was another, hence all the official pressures to ensure popular approval of certain kinds of art, music, literature etc but not of “degenerate” art, music etc. Hence also the Nazi slogan: Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer

That is the logical conclusion of the argument that members of a community must subscribe to the same values because diversity of values and personal preferences is disruptive and leads to a breakdown of the trust that is crucial for maintaining a community.

Notice that London is the most affluent part of Britain and inner London the most affluent urban sub-region in Europe according to Eurostat statistics. This is rather curious since 40pc of London residents were born abroad, a factor that is hardly conducive of uniform personal preferences and values. Evidently, ethnic diversity is not incompatible with affluence.

Bob @ 215:

What about all the societies which have been neither liberal nor totalitarian, like, I don’t know, the vast majority of societies throughout history?

Also, your last paragraph seems to have little relevance. We’re talking about community cohesion, not affluence.

“Also, your last paragraph seems to have little relevance. We’re talking about community cohesion, not affluence.”

I naturally expect those whose subscribe to the totalitarian ethic requiring uniform values and personal preferences to dismiss any argument I put as irrelevant.

It is the common practice in at least some MSM to refer to the “liberal democracies”. I take that to mean countries with democratic forms of government which take JS Mill’s benchmark as the standard for personal liberty. Until the evolution of the liberal democracies, opportunity to reject accepted social norms often depended on personal affluence – hence the licentious behavior of Charles II and the Earl of Rochester. David Cameron is said to be directly descended from George IV who was survived by eight children, none of whom were legitimate. I’m not sure any royal observers knew how many mistresses Edward VII had.

The reference to London suggests that ethnic diversity is not incompatible with affluence even if it is not compatible with community cohesion.

Btw notice that innovation entails breaking with received widsom and conventions.

218. vimothy

Wait, what?

So now traditional conservatives are Communists because they believe in collective beliefs?

But somehow liberals aren’t because [mumble, mumble].

219. vimothy

Also, the rhetorical strategy of describing your opponents as “totalitarians”, and then, when they protest that this a-historical nonsense, saying, oh, well I knew you’d object—since you’re totalitarians, is childish in the extreme.

@P Ve M:

What do you mean by “screw the rest”? If you mean “screw other people’s moral opinions, they’re wrong,” then that doesn’t really answer my question. If you mean it as a selfish “I’m fine, so screw the well-being of other people,” then I don’t see how trying to protect people from being damaged by porn is selfish. You might say it’s wrong because it’s infantilising, or because they’re mistaken about the damage porn causes, or whatever, but selfish? In fact, wouldn’t a selfish person be more likely to just say “Well, I won’t damage myself by watching porn, but I don’t care what other people do”?

Making the assumption that porn is damaging, which hasn’t been significantly proven in anything other than publications with a vested interest in showing that porn is damaging.

Also, “an area they have an obvious bias in” — you mean like liberals have an obvious bias towards letting people watch porn if they want to? I presume, then, that you think we should all ignore most of what has been written on this thread?

Well, I’m not going to speak for liberals, but if something hasn’t been shown to be damaging I don’t see why people should be prevented from doing it. That’s somewhat self-evident I would have thought. If you persist in the belief that it’s damage, I refer you to the link in @14.

I note that “interferes with” seems to have morphed into “is mutually exclusive with” here. The idea that something you do only with people you love will seem no more special than something you do with lots of people seems, prima facie, an unlikely one.

Note I didn’t comment on its prevalence. However, there is nothing stopping you in particular from having sex with someone you are not intimately attracted to, but in most cases the feeling you get from that will be different to the feeling you get where attraction exists.

* And yes, that even includes modern Western society, where girls who have lots of casual sex are likely to be called sluts, and societies with widespread prostitution, where prostitutes were generally looked down upon, largely because of the nature of their profession.

Actually it’s a gender thing. Whilst promiscuous females are in many cases frowned upon in modern society, the same doesn’t necessarily apply to men.

P Ve M,

Given that pretty much every society has viewed casual sex as inferior to chastity,* I suspect the answer is “human nature”.

* And yes, that even includes modern Western society, where girls who have lots of casual sex are likely to be called sluts, and societies with widespread prostitution, where prostitutes were generally looked down upon, largely because of the nature of their profession.

But we don’t tend to look down on men who have lots of casual sex. I think this is more to do with misogyny, or maybe it’s not hatred of women but some weird thing about wanting them to remain pure until one has her in my bed – either way, it’s not casual sex in itself that’s a problem, because men are lauded for doing it.

I don’t suppose pointing out that on the political axis, where left is opposed by right, liberal is opposed by authoritarian will be any help to this discussion? Communism, was left and authoritarian, conservatism is right and authoritarian, libertarianism is right and liberal, etc. Plus let’s not confuse commonly held beliefs with collectivism, they ain’t the same thing by a long shot.

ukliberty: “But we don’t tend to look down on men who have lots of casual sex. ”

That probably accounted for much of the popular appeal of those unusually licentious monarchs Charles II and Edward VII

P Ve M,

First of all, the idea that rejecting liberalism somehow entails embracing totalitarianism is absurd. Liberalism as we know it really only got going with the Enlightenment; funnily enough, though, society had got on before that without descending into totalitarian dictatorship. In fact, the average pre-modern person probably had less interaction with the government than the average twenty-first century Westerner.

With central government, perhaps, but what about ‘local government’ such as vimothy’s feudal serfs? Mini dictatorships across the country.

Secondly, why is it wrong to make it harder for children to access porn on the internet — for, let us not forget, this is not what is being proposed, not the outright banning of porn* — but not to make it harder for children to access alcohol or cigarettes or, indeed, physical DVDs with explicit sex scenes in them? Nobody thinks that this is an outrageous infringement on our civil liberties, so why is it bad to apply similar standards to internet materials?

* And yes, I know that “restricting access to porn” is likely to be difficult to achieve. But a lot of posters seem to assume that it’s wrong in principle, rather than just saying “Nice idea, but it’ll never work in practice”.

I don’t think it’s wrong to restrict the freedom of children in such respects.

After the sentence from On Liberty that Bob B and I quoted, John Stuart Mill wrote, “It is, perhaps, hardly necessary to say that this doctrine is meant to apply only to human beings in the maturity of their faculties. We are not speaking of children, or of young persons below the age which the law may fix as that of manhood or womanhood. Those who are still in a state to require being taken care of by others, must be protected against their own actions as well as against external injury.”

It isn’t wrong to “make it harder for children to access porn on the Internet”. But that isn’t what is proposed! What is proposed is to make it harder for everyone.

If parents want to make it harder for children to access porn on the Internet why don’t they exercise their parental responsibilities?

Tanya Byron offered some good advice here; less about just “banning stuff”, more about supervising one’s children – I know, right? Looking after your children is so controversial.

This passage from her report is about videogames, but I think it’s generally applicable:

This is no different to how we think about managing risk for children in the offline world, where decreasing supervision and monitoring occurs with age as we judge our children to be increasing in their competence to identify and manage risks. So, when we teach our children to cross the road safely we do it in stages:
We hold their hand when they cross the road.
We teach them to think, look both ways and then cross.
When we see that they are starting to understand this we let them cross walking beside us, without holding on to them.
Eventually we let them do it alone, maybe watching from a distance at first, but then unsupervised.
And throughout this, the environment supports them with signs and expected behaviour from others in the community – the green man, zebra crossings, speed limits and other responsible adults.

We don’t ban roads, do we?

Later, on the Internet:

restricting children’s access to harmful and inappropriate material is not just a question of what industry can do to protect children (e.g. by developing better parental control software), but also of what parents can do to protect children (e.g. by setting up parental control software properly) and what children can do to protect themselves (e.g. by not giving out their contact details online).

It’s so frustrating hearing things like, ” I haven’t understood how I get this software or this kit or whatever it is, this filter thingy that you click or whatever… I don’t know how to download parental controls. I can send an email, I can click onto Windows but the minute you talk about downloading software, my brain goes bzzzz [and therefore we should firewall the whole country]”

Well, fucking learn – pardon my French, but you* aren’t fucking morons,you know? It’s like whingeing that you don’t know how to boil a fucking egg… put some effort in, it’s your child’s sanity that’s at stake (apparently). We should ban things because you’re lazy? .

* not you personally, P Ve M; the general you, the audience.

/rant.

225. Chaise Guevara

@ vimothy

“Christians are denounced as interfering busy-bodies poking their noses into things that should not concern them. Liberal society is superior to traditional Christian society because individuals are free to be conservative Christians in the former but the reverse is not true. That is, the individual has greater freedom under liberalism. Many people conclude that liberalism is therefore superior on that basis and that’s all there is to it.”

Well, I would agree that liberal society is superior to traditional Christian society. Is this a bad statement to make?

The first sentence of the above would be better rendered as “Christians are denounced as interfering busy-bodies IF THEY ARE poking their noses into things that should not concern them”. It’s the poking your nose in that makes you a busybody, not your religion. The religion might lead to the nose-pokery, but it’s untrue to say that all Christians are busybodies. Many have respect for the beliefs of others.

Is this interview on BBCTV part of a promotion by the coalition government to go for growth through appealing, well-paid employment opportunities in the media service industries to reduce dependence on banking and financial services so as to rebalance Britain’s economy?

Gemma Massey on life as a porn star
http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/13040300

I think we should be told.

227. Chaise Guevara

@ 196 P Ve M

“Well, obviously you have problems with the idea of sex being “for” something, because your world-view is (or seems to be, based on what you’ve written) fundamentally materialist and morally relativist. Theirs isn’t, so they don’t have such problems with the idea.”

Yeah, but burden of proof on the positive claim. You’d have to prove a) the existence of intelligent design and b) that the designer wanted sex to be for procreation rather than procreation AND pleasure. THEN you’d have to convince people that we had some moral duty to follow the designer’s wishes. I can’t think of a convincing argument for the latter, and it relies on two baseless assumptions.

The problem with holding up world-views as if they’re all equally valid is that some people base their beliefs on evidence and some people don’t.

“Wait, xenophobic? What?”

Having a problem with someone because he does something unusual but harmless = bigotry against the unfamiliar = xenophobia. If “xenophobic” isn’t the mot juste then morally it’s the same ballpark.

“What do you mean by this? That they think that they’re right, and everybody else is wrong? If so, and if you reject this sort of thinking, how do you ever make moral judgements?”

No. Obviously we all think we’re right in an argument. I mean that they think they get to determine what is *important*. That’s why I said it.

It’s not quite the same thing, because of the way it’s used in the argument. The speaker labels something as “important”. As the argument continues, this gets treated as if it’s an inherent characteristic of the thing in question, rather than the speaker’s opinion. So “A is better than B because A is more important” sounds, at first, like it’s drawing a serious distinction based on the real differences between A and B. However, if you follow the chain of reasoning down, it’s essentially the same as “A is better because I prefer it”.

I have no objection to people stating their beliefs. What I have a problem with is people dressing their beliefs up as factual statements using semantic slight-of-hand, as above.

“Also, I note you never addressed the argument that having sex solely for pleasure interferes with fulfilling its other functions.”

I must have missed it. Could you either repeat it or point me to it? Sorry, but it’s a very long thread.

vimothy,

Perhaps I’m misunderstanding the nature of your comment. In the short excerpt you quote, I’m trying to give an example of a particular attitude which is characteristically liberal.

The point is not to start an argument about whether everyone thinks that Christians are interfering busy-bodies, but to describe some essential properties of liberalism in a way that made sense to Chaise. Liberals think that everyone should be equally free to satisfy their own desires and create their own meanings. If people propose policies that contradict this, liberals will oppose them; hence this thread.

Yes, if Christians (or anyone else) tries to exercise power beyond JSM’s ‘benchmark’, they will be opposed, and rightly so (if that’s our axiom).

It’s fine for Christians to reason, to entreat, to persuade – it is not fine to compel.

You still don’t seem to agree with / understand / appreciate this distinction.

Yes, “Liberal society is superior to traditional Christian society because individuals are free to be conservative Christians in the former but the reverse is not true.”

Of course you will not agree with that if you are a conservative Christian, because you will believe you have a right- no, a duty or obligation, to compel.

I’m going to address the other issues with filtering, as some have been complaining that equal time hasn’t been given to the other issues with these blocks.

So, leaving aside these idiots who think this proposal is a good waste of Parliament’s time (because unfortunately it’s now made it into the Queen’s Speech, so they’ll have to debate it) this plan is doomed to failure on several points:

-Scope: The only way to block all porn on the internet is to make very generic filters. As you can expect, this will hoover up a great many legitimate sites along the way (such as sex education sites, but also completely different sites). No ISP is going to spend the time to fine-grain block results, simply because there are millions of websites out there. This is the easiest solution for ISPs to remain complaint with the law.

-Impact: As we have now seen by Virgin Media’s block (due to court order) of The Pirate Bay, blocking websites is completely useless. Anyone who already knows of a site’s existence can use a proxy (Pirate Party UK hosts one for TPB for instance) to bypass these blocks. VPNs and Tor will also do this. The average technological competence of internet-connected children suggest they could make use of these with little problem.

-Opt-out: Because there is a provision to opt-out of filtering, ISPs have no commitment to the good maintenance of filtering as long as it fulfills any requirement by law. I’d expect ISPs would happily prominently display an opt-out checkbox on all new contracts and tell customers about it if they’re having issues with the filter. I doubt ISPs will even care particularly if anyone else in the household asked for the opt-out either.

-False-positives: as I mentioned earlier, the broad spectrum filter I expect would be needed would also block off large swathes of sites used on a normal basis by normal people. For instance, a small instance of pornographic material on Google+ might lead to the entire site being blocked to it’s UK users. This is obviously not ideal and leads on to my next point.

-Corporate Anger: If Google suddenly finds their sites are going to be filtered in this way, they’ll get pretty upset. Because the government has a history of bowing to large corporations, the likelihood is that exceptions will be added or if the volume of complaints is large enough, the law will be repealed.

-Chilling Effect: This isn’t a direct issue of the proposal, but a systemic one. By asking for network-layer filtering of this type to be part of law, these clowns will set a precedent. They will set a precedent for the government being able to dictate what content delivered through the internet is suitable. Politicians who want to limit the scope of freedom of speech will use the same “For the Children!” script to justify why trampling on our rights further is good for us.

I’m sorry, but I don’t think a drive towards tyranny for the sake of ‘our children’ sits right with me. I think children deserve the right to live in a free and open society, but that comes with risks associated to it that parents have a duty and a natural instinct to identify and tackle themselves. I have no issue with the government starting a programme to help parents who want to control internet usage in their household get the knowledge and tools they need, I don’t want this turned into an argument for blanket censorship.

230. vimothy

ukliberty,

Right–I think that distinction is problematic, for reasons that I’ve tried to go into on this thread. For example, it doesn’t make a lot of sense in theory, and it doesn’t work like that in practice. But part of the genius of liberalism is to get its claims at neutrality and rationality taken uncritically.

Precisely:

When communitarianism began developing, I foresaw the creation of effective totalitarianism. I recognized that the unofficial local organs of power are capable of at least as great abuses as are the official ones, and lacking the constitutional principles and accountability to the public that keep the official government from becoming despotic, they could, and would, perform greater abuses than the official democratic governments can under Constitutional law. And I recognized that those communities and organizations, lacking either the human rights and civil rights principles that these governments or the mechanisms of check and balance upon them, could, and would, do graver damage to people’s life, liberty and existence than the governments that they were seeking to supplant.
http://www.nowpublic.com/world/communitarian-totalitarianism

232. Chaise Guevara

@ vimothy

If you don’t mind me dipping my toe into your chat with UKL:

“Liberals think that everyone should be equally free to satisfy their own desires and create their own meanings.”

I’d broadly agree with the first bit, although obviously there are caveats (children shouldn’t be masters of their own destiny, you can’t swing your fist and hit my face, and so on). I’m having trouble with the second bit. What does it mean?

233. vimothy

Chaise,

For example, freedom to create your own moral framework or freedom to decide what institutions mean.

From a strictly liberal point of view, it seems that marriage, say, should mean whatever the people involved want it to mean. If it does not, then our equal freedom is being violated somehow, because this fixed meaning is arbitrary and imposed from above.

234. Chaise Guevara

@ 233 vimothy

“From a strictly liberal point of view, it seems that marriage, say, should mean whatever the people involved want it to mean. If it does not, then our equal freedom is being violated somehow, because this fixed meaning is arbitrary and imposed from above.”

Here’s the thing: I’m having trouble seeing this as separate to the idea that people should be able to satisfy their desires, unless you’re talking about meanings in people’s own heads (e.g. what pops into my head when I think the word “marriage”), which you couldn’t litigate for anyway. Debateably in the case of gay marriage, but that’s a *legal* term and obviously nobody thinks that everyone should decide how the law applies to them.

235. vimothy

Agreed–I think the two are closely connected in that the latter follows from a consistent application of the former. I just wanted to highlight it.

236. Chaise Guevara

@ 235 vimothy

OK, cool – I’ve seen people twist situational morality into an amoral philosophy of “anything goes” and use that as a straw man (usually) against liberals. Sometimes this takes the form of saying liberals allow you to define meanings however you wish, meaning that anything can be justified. In case you were setting that up, I was trying to head you off at the pass – needlessly, as it turns out!

vimothy,

Right–I think that distinction is problematic, for reasons that I’ve tried to go into on this thread. For example, it doesn’t make a lot of sense in theory, and it doesn’t work like that in practice. But part of the genius of liberalism is to get its claims at neutrality and rationality taken uncritically.

Maybe it doesn’t work in practice because there aren’t as many liberals as you imagine, just people who claim they are liberals (like people who claim they are Christian but breach Christian ‘rules’).

I don’t know why you think it doesn’t make sense in theory.

Bob @ 217:

“I naturally expect those whose subscribe to the totalitarian ethic requiring uniform values and personal preferences to dismiss any argument I put as irrelevant.”

I don’t dismiss any argument as irrelevant, just the ones which have nothing to do with the matter on hand.

UKL @ 224:

“With central government, perhaps, but what about ‘local government’ such as vimothy’s feudal serfs? Mini dictatorships across the country.”

Even with them, the actual degree to which their Lord regulated their day-to-day lives was quite low by modern standards.

“It isn’t wrong to “make it harder for children to access porn on the Internet”. But that isn’t what is proposed! What is proposed is to make it harder for everyone.”

Yes, by making you opt-in to being able to watch porn, rather than opt-out. That’s hardly a massive difficulty, and we already accept some policies which make it harder for adults to access certain things as well as children. I still sometimes get asked for ID when I buy alcohol, for example, so I have to remember to take my driving licence with me when I go to the pub. I don’t think that we ought to abolish ID checks for people buying booze, though.

“If parents want to make it harder for children to access porn on the Internet why don’t they exercise their parental responsibilities?”

I don’t think that government action and parental responsibility are incompatible. Most people would agree that it’s part of parental responsibility to stop their children from getting drunk, but that doesn’t mean we should abolish age restrictions in pubs.

Chaise @ 227:

“The problem with holding up world-views as if they’re all equally valid is that some people base their beliefs on evidence and some people don’t.”

Define “evidence”, please.

“No. Obviously we all think we’re right in an argument. I mean that they think they get to determine what is *important*. That’s why I said it.”

Again, though, doesn’t everybody do this? If you say “liberal societies are good because they’re freer”, aren’t you deciding that freedom is what’s important in a society?

“I must have missed it. Could you either repeat it or point me to it? Sorry, but it’s a very long thread.”

Put briefly, if you get used to having lots of sex with little emotional attachment, it’s going to feel less special, and consequently not going to bring you as close to your partner as it otherwise would.

UKL @ 237:

“Maybe it doesn’t work in practice because there aren’t as many liberals as you imagine, just people who claim they are liberals (like people who claim they are Christian but breach Christian ‘rules’).”

If there aren’t enough liberals to make it work, maybe we shouldn’t try to order our society along liberal lines?

240. Chaise Guevara

@ 238 P Ve M

“Define “evidence”, please.”

Anything that allows us to learn about reality.

“Again, though, doesn’t everybody do this? If you say “liberal societies are good because they’re freer”, aren’t you deciding that freedom is what’s important in a society?”

That’s not analogous. If you want it to be analogous then the definition of “free” would be the issue. And “free” has a meaning in that context that differs from “what I want”: it’s subjective but not circular. You could imagine someone arguing that liberal societies were worse because they were free, for example.

The other issue with importance in these arguments is that it seems to be treated as being ultimate. So if we agree that A is more important than B, that means that B should always be sacrificed if it threatens or diminishes A. Your child’s education is more important than your happiness, so you should give up on treats and spend 100% of your spare income on educational books.

“Put briefly, if you get used to having lots of sex with little emotional attachment, it’s going to feel less special, and consequently not going to bring you as close to your partner as it otherwise would.”

OK. First, you need evidence for that. But far more than that: so what? Even if I accept the premise, it’s not a complete argument against sex for pleasure.

And this still needs to be tied into “casual sex is immoral”, which is my main bone of contention assuming nobody starts make authoritarian policy proposals.

P Ve M, I didn’t suggest exercising one’s parental responsibilities is “incompatible” with government exercise of power. What I see is that government exercise of power is the last not the first resort, because some parents are apparently too lazy to educate themselves and supervise their children (I assume the parents aren’t as thick as pigshit).

Your analogy about buying booze…firstly (and pedantically) it is (or should be) an age check not an ID check; secondly you aren’t putting your name on ‘a little list’* before you can have access to it, in fact you show your driving licence, the barman or cashier just does a visual check; thirdly misuse of alcohol is demonstrably physically harmful.

You say this opt-in thing is “hardly a massive difficulty”, well OK, not for you perhaps but what about other people who think it is?

“Maybe it doesn’t work in practice because there aren’t as many liberals as you imagine, just people who claim they are liberals (like people who claim they are Christian but breach Christian ‘rules’).”

If there aren’t enough liberals to make it work, maybe we shouldn’t try to order our society along liberal lines?

Why? Does the number of people who agree with something mean that it must be right?

* yes, it’s a Mikado / Monty Python / Family Guy reference.

As some day it may happen that a victim must be found,
I’ve got a little list — I’ve got a little list
Of society offenders who might well be underground,
And who never would be missed — who never would be missed!

What I see is that government exercise of power is the lastfirst not the first last resort,”

243. vimothy

ukliberty,

A quick aside:

Why? Does the number of people who agree with something mean that it must be right?

What a turnaround! Only a moment ago you had trouble comprehending the idea that it might ever be acceptable to impose standards on others; now, you can’t see what could possibly be wrong with it.

Maybe it doesn’t work in practice because there aren’t as many liberals as you imagine… I don’t know why you think it doesn’t make sense in theory.

I’ve tried to explain my views on this elsewhere on the thread.

It doesn’t work in practice for the same reasons that it doesn’t work in theory. Even if everyone’s desires are equally valid, you still need to resolve conflicts arising from the actions of sovereign individuals. And people are not merely individuals and can’t be forced to be so—they’re also social animals and need to live in a manner that is conducive to their nature. Where liberalism ends up is a culture of atomised consumerism, and where we end up is alienated and cut off from ourselves, each other and our past.

vimothy,

ukliberty,

A quick aside:

Why? Does the number of people who agree with something mean that it must be right?

What a turnaround! Only a moment ago you had trouble comprehending the idea that it might ever be acceptable to impose standards on others; now, you can’t see what could possibly be wrong with it.

None of that is true. The “standard” I’m happy to “impose” is that axiom about the legitimate exercise of power. Yes, it’s an ‘imposition’ on a thug to stop him punching me.

The numbers game is just stupid; hypothetical and real-life counter-arguments are so obvious that it surprises me why anyone tries to play it.

Even if everyone’s desires are equally valid, you still need to resolve conflicts arising from the actions of sovereign individuals. And people are not merely individuals and can’t be forced to be so—they’re also social animals and need to live in a manner that is conducive to their nature.

But everyone’s desires aren’t equally valid (and do note that I haven’t claimed otherwise): your desire to impose your vision on everyone else, for example, is inferior to my vision that we people should be free from such impositions (imv, of course).

Where liberalism ends up is a culture of atomised consumerism, and where we end up is alienated and cut off from ourselves, each other and our past. where we end up is alienated and cut off from ourselves, each other and our past.

Not me.

You don’t have to practice ‘liberalism’. You are free to be a conservative Christian and practice conservative Christianity with other conservative Christians except where to do so would mean exercising power over other people in breach of my axiom.

I am concerned with maximisation of liberty. You are concerned with conservative Christian values. I am less free in your ideal society. You are free in mine. But you are unhappy with mine because you want everyone to conform to conservative Christian values.

245. vimothy

ukliberty,

Liberalism was not developed in a vacuum. It superseded something else. If the something that ir superseded was in fact more popular, then it seems hard to resolve with your claims of neutrality and non-interference.

Liberalism gets round this by making the same argument you make implicitly. Everyone’s choices are equally valid in principle, so whatever maximises the ability to make choices is the best system. Liberalism is that system, where society is rationally redesigned to maximise individual freedom.

Liberalism is superior because everyone is free to fulfil their own desires and nothing is forced on anyone else. Except liberalism, of course—but that’s okay. Liberalism really is the truth.

In order to make the whole thing work in practice liberalism needs to delegitimize particular groups and emphasise individual rights within a framework of equality, inclusiveness, and so on. You get to do what you want, but only if you respect the boundaries and don’t get in anyone’s way.

We are all, as Jim Kalb says, “free to be you and me, as long as the differences never matter”.

In extreme cases when differences do matter and there is no consensus to stick to JSM’s benchmark, we get to events such as the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in France in August 1572 or the Thirty Years War in Europe 1618-48. That is why there is much to be said for secularism – and for JSM’s benchmark.

It is widely remarked in the history books that the licentiousness following the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, at the invitation of Parliament, was in reaction to the puritanical repression when Cromwell was running the government of England.

vimothy,

Liberalism was not developed in a vacuum. It superseded something else. If the something that ir superseded was in fact more popular, then it seems hard to resolve with your claims of neutrality and non-interference.

I haven’t made claims of neutrality and non-interference. I don’t understand your point about popularity. I don’t think what liberalism superseded (as if there are discrete events instead of an ongoing development) was “more popular” rather than ‘just the way things were’ or ‘no-one knew any different’. Nor does the popularity of something make it right.

In what way is liberalism forced on you? You don’t have to be liberal. You can even set up a conservative Christian community if you like – look to the Amish for example. You may not be illiberal to the extent of forcing someone else to do something, but that’s the extent of it. I wouldn’t force you to have particular views or stop you from expressing your views. My interference with you would only extend to preventing you from interfering with me. But you cannot say the same, can you?

I don’t know what you mean by “delegitimise certain groups”.

I don’t disagree with the rest of your comment, your description sounds dandy; if only we lived in such a society.


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  14. Iain Lambert

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  15. Mike Woods

    Nice catch: @claire4devizes "independent" inquiry into online porn has some interesting sponsors: http://t.co/mJxqkqIZ

  16. Paul Connolley

    Claire Perry MP's 'independent parliamentary inquiry' into net porn was sponsored by Premier Christian Media http://t.co/KMzLM2xr

  17. Andrew Martin

    @AndrewSelousMP It saddens me to see you in a list of religious fanatics. Keep religion out of politics. http://t.co/L0LVodEQ via @libcon

  18. Glyn Moody

    The religious fanatics behind Tory plans to block porn – http://t.co/kAcCxBwT behold the British Taliban (v @ralpost) #censorship

  19. Craig McLeod

    The religious fanatics behind Tory plans to block porn – http://t.co/kAcCxBwT behold the British Taliban (v @ralpost) #censorship

  20. alan cocks

    The religious fanatics behind Tory plans to block porn – http://t.co/kAcCxBwT behold the British Taliban (v @ralpost) #censorship

  21. Robert Ryan

    The religious fanatics behind Tory plans to block porn – http://t.co/kAcCxBwT behold the British Taliban (v @ralpost) #censorship

  22. Asher Wolf

    The religious fanatics behind Tory plans to block porn – http://t.co/kAcCxBwT behold the British Taliban (v @ralpost) #censorship

  23. davidgerard

    The religious fanatics behind Tory plans to block porn – http://t.co/kAcCxBwT behold the British Taliban (v @ralpost) #censorship

  24. Gordon Sinclair

    ? @glynmoody: The religious fanatics behind Tory plans to block porn – http://t.co/TWzDvkOa behold the British Taliban (v @ralpost) #censors

  25. Saccaparami

    The religious fanatics behind Tory plans to block porn – http://t.co/kAcCxBwT behold the British Taliban (v @ralpost) #censorship

  26. Faine Blackadder

    The religious fanatics behind Tory plans to block porn – http://t.co/kAcCxBwT behold the British Taliban (v @ralpost) #censorship

  27. Kate Carruthers

    RT @glynmoody: The religious fanatics behind Tory plans 2 block porn http://t.co/ICwqhvCS behold the British Taliban (@ralpost) #censorship

  28. Mark Lawson

    The religious fanatics behind Tory plans to block porn – http://t.co/kAcCxBwT behold the British Taliban (v @ralpost) #censorship

  29. Kjetil Skjønberg

    The religious fanatics behind Tory plans to block porn – http://t.co/kAcCxBwT behold the British Taliban (v @ralpost) #censorship

  30. Martin L Poulter

    The religious fanatics behind Tory plans to block porn – http://t.co/kAcCxBwT behold the British Taliban (v @ralpost) #censorship

  31. wilkes boothe

    The religious fanatics behind Tory plans to block porn – http://t.co/kAcCxBwT behold the British Taliban (v @ralpost) #censorship

  32. Daniel Weichman

    The religious fanatics behind Tory plans to block porn – http://t.co/kAcCxBwT behold the British Taliban (v @ralpost) #censorship

  33. Gods & Monsters

    The religious fanatics behind Tory plans to block porn http://t.co/fiveFJKw and their wider agenda

  34. swaldman

    The religious fanatics behind Tory plans to block porn http://t.co/fiveFJKw and their wider agenda

  35. Peter Matthews

    The religious fanatics behind Tory plans to block porn http://t.co/fiveFJKw and their wider agenda

  36. Matteo Manferdini

    "Independent" gov report into porn block sponsored by Christian group intent on censoring violence & bad language too: http://t.co/ro0a1Ot8

  37. Aral Balkan

    "Independent" gov report into porn block sponsored by Christian group intent on censoring violence & bad language too: http://t.co/ro0a1Ot8

  38. Al Power

    "Independent" gov report into porn block sponsored by Christian group intent on censoring violence & bad language too: http://t.co/ro0a1Ot8

  39. Dan Brickley

    "Independent" gov report into porn block sponsored by Christian group intent on censoring violence & bad language too: http://t.co/ro0a1Ot8

  40. eileen

    "Independent" gov report into porn block sponsored by Christian group intent on censoring violence & bad language too: http://t.co/ro0a1Ot8

  41. Paul

    "Independent" gov report into porn block sponsored by Christian group intent on censoring violence & bad language too: http://t.co/ro0a1Ot8

  42. Ric Roberts

    "Independent" gov report into porn block sponsored by Christian group intent on censoring violence & bad language too: http://t.co/ro0a1Ot8

  43. Marko Dugonji?

    "Independent" gov report into porn block sponsored by Christian group intent on censoring violence & bad language too: http://t.co/ro0a1Ot8

  44. What You Can Get Away With (Nick Barlow's blog) » Blog Archive » Worth Reading 50: One L of a good time

    […] day after the count – Some interesting ideas to improve election turnout from Edinburgh Eye. The religious fanatics behind Tory plans to block porn – Unity at Liberal Conspiracy explains some of the flaws in the ‘independent’ […]

  45. Paul D'Ambra

    "Independent" gov report into porn block sponsored by Christian group intent on censoring violence & bad language too: http://t.co/ro0a1Ot8

  46. Tim Duckett

    "Independent" gov report into porn block sponsored by Christian group intent on censoring violence & bad language too: http://t.co/ro0a1Ot8

  47. Laurian Gridinoc

    "Independent" gov report into porn block sponsored by Christian group intent on censoring violence & bad language too: http://t.co/ro0a1Ot8

  48. Daley Chetwynd

    "Independent" gov report into porn block sponsored by Christian group intent on censoring violence & bad language too: http://t.co/ro0a1Ot8

  49. Mitch Pruitt

    "Independent" gov report into porn block sponsored by Christian group intent on censoring violence & bad language too: http://t.co/ro0a1Ot8

  50. A Green

    "Independent" gov report into porn block sponsored by Christian group intent on censoring violence & bad language too: http://t.co/ro0a1Ot8

  51. Stuart Northcott

    Claire Perry MP's 'independent parliamentary inquiry' into net porn was sponsored by Premier Christian Media http://t.co/KMzLM2xr

  52. Three reasons we should oppose attempts to block porn | Liberal Conspiracy

    […] Unity pointed out on this site last week, there is more than an element of Christian moralising […]





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