Monday, November 28, 2011

Censorship and the Subconscious

For those of you who missed it, congress is currently attempting to pass an under-the-radar internet censorship bill. For some reason--completely unfathomable to me--this has gotten little or no media attention. How on earth something of this magnitude, something this far reaching can go relatively unnoticed, I don't know. But anyway.

I personally am against internet censorship. For those of you going, "hey, wait, but don't we want to keep our kids from running into porn?!" just hold your horses, please.

First of all, a vague name like "internet censorship" not "pornography censorship" gives me cause to worry. If they really only intend on censoring porn, not just "the internet" then why don't they say that? And if they intend on censoring more than just explicit sexual content, well I'm not in favor of signing that kind of bill.

Secondly, with a Republican majority currently in power, I'm a little nervous that the "internet censorship" laws will look like they do in conservative countries like Singapore , i.e. censoring "immoral" behaviors like homosexuality (see link for cited article at end). I am totally, utterly, and completely against that (unless of course it simply means censoring sexually explicit homosexual behaviors, but then why say homosexual if you mean all sexual behaviors).

My third point is most likely my most contentious point (since any religious or conservative readers I have may drop out before I finish this paragraph). Censorship for all things sexually explicit seems to me to be mostly a knee-jerk reaction to sexuality. But we need to think about a couple of things when considering internet censorship. First of all, why sex? Has anyone actually done studies to prove that exposure to sexual behavior causes more problems than, say, exposure to explicit violence or hatred or intolerance? It appears to me (and I may be wrong) that the push to protect our children from sex springs from this subconscious idea that sex is wrong or dirty or less good than "sexual innocence" and that somehow our children have been ruined, broken, or despoiled if they are exposed to sexuality at an "early" age.

Now, I'm not saying I think we should let five year old kids look at porn, because I do believe that it's not age-appropriate. Nor am I suggesting that we shouldn't care about what our kids are watching, doing, or being exposed to when they are still kids. But, on the other hand, let's be realistic; it's going to be almost impossible for the FCC or anyone else to completely block any and all explicit content. Some of it is still going to be there.

But what I am saying is that this archaic attitude that sexual knowledge or sexual experience makes one dirtier or less "clean" and "pure" than someone without it is a load of bullshit. Complete and utter bullshit. Sex is sex. Yeah, it's important and for many of us a confusing and divisive subject, but let's not give it more power than it has. Only in a universe where--true to the Christian belief--the ideal is to live "like Jesus" with nary a sexual thought or desire, only in that universe is sex truly bad or wicked.

And, let's also be honest about something; porn does not exist to trap innocent little kids into a lifetime of slavery to sex. That's not why it's there. Porn is there for us adults. More specifically, porn is there for the adults who want it to be there, and the only reason there aren't more of them actively protesting the censorship bill is because porn is heavily stigmatized in our culture (I'm not trying to say it should or shouldn't be, just that it is).

And, realistically, even in countries like Singapore the majority of college students surveyed said that they had been exposed to explicit sexual content (again, see link at end). If a conservative country with these kinds of strict censorship laws in place for years cannot keep its constituents from viewing censored content, then what is this legislation going to be able to achieve. Realistically speaking, probably not much.

I'll admit to having expressed an opinion more than once of wishing that there was some way to censor pornography, to make it less accessible on the internet. And I'll also admit to wishing that much of the hateful, intolerant, and bigoted attitudes that are often spewed across the internet could be reigned in somehow. But, honestly, a vague bill probably won't do much. And a bill that decides "it's better to err on the side of caution" when it comes to internet censorship probably isn't much better (see citation again; yep, same article still). I don't want to live in an over-censored society. Quite frankly, I'd rather live in one that was under-censored than one where the religious attempt to legislate the morality of the masses. No thank you.

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