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Erotica, Obscenity, and Access Control

By Kyrrin in Op-Ed
Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 11:25:00 AM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)

If you ask ten different people about the purpose of the Internet, you'll likely get ten different answers: research, communication, news, commerce, etcetera. Sure, the Internet is a great tool for all of these. If you listen to the pundits, you'll even be exposed to the thought that the Internet is changing the very way we lead our lives, breaking down geographic and political boundaries on a daily basis.

If you ask just about anyone -- particularly network administrators -- what the most common use of the Internet is, the answer you'll get is probably: porn.

However, if you go looking for sex stories -- not pictures, not commercial sites -- these days, 90% of the pages you find will have some sort of access restriction mechanism, of varying ridiculousness.

For the purposes of this article, I'm not talking about commercial image galleries, or indeed any site that makes its money in purveying, shall we say, adult entertainment. There's a whole industry around that sort of thing, and those sites have their own culture and their own rules. I'm referring to the hobbyist sites, the ones run by people who are normal internet users who just happen to enjoy writing erotica.

Most of my experience with looking for these sites has been in the RPG and anime slash/yaoi subgenre. There are three common methods of access restriction that these pages use:
  1. "If you're under 18, leave. Otherwise, go right ahead and come in."
  2. "Read my whole warning and then when you click on the enter link at the bottom, you'll get a page that laughs at you for ignoring the warning, where it clearly told you to click on the third letter 'e' in the fifth word from the bottom of the page!"
  3. "If you want the adult stuff, email me a photocopy of your driver's license with your date of birth clearly shown, and I'll give you the password."
Now, out of those, #1 is fairly inoffensive; it forces the reader to waste time clicking an extra link, but the total hassle is negligible. #2 is irritating; there's always that sense from the webmaster of "ha ha ha, I'm smarter than you are!" that makes me want to reach through the monitor and smack someone. #3 is the worst; I refuse to play along, not only because it's a hassle for me, but because I value my privacy.

I've written a great deal of erotica myself, and recently my writing group decided to collect all of our adult work and put it in one place. As the Alpha HTML Geek of the group, I was called upon to design the page, and when I did, I had to stop and make a decision. Did I want to employ any of those methods? And that got me thinking about the history of smut on the internet, or at least as long as I've been looking for it.

I've been on the internet since around 1993 or so; I know, around k5, that probably doesn't make me that much of an old-timer. Of course, one of the first usenet groups I hit was alt.sex.stories, back before any newsgroup with "sex" in the name was unusable. It was simple: there were all sorts of stories, plainly available. Some of them sucked. Some of them were completely gratuitous. Some of them were wonderful. Like any amount of writing, online or no, 90% of it was crud.

The one thing that I realize now, though, looking back, was how available it all was. Most authors just stuck a disclaimer on the top of their work, basically saying, "If you're under the legal age in your jurisdiction, don't read this. You Have Been Warned." Or, as the best warning I have ever seen reads, "The next page contains links to sexually oriented material. If you're a minor or an adult who gets offended easily, click cancel. However, if you're a) an adult who doesn't get offended easily, b) an adult who wants to be offended, or c) a minor and you're going to click OK no matter what I put in this script, click OK."

Now, I recognize that between then and now, things have changed a lot. In 1993, the general internet audience was highly academic; it was tough to get an account unless you were attached to a university or a major corporation that was involved in the internet, and in order to be either of those two things, you tended to be over 18. Since then, we've experienced the www.theinternetisnowahouseholdname.com years, the Communications Decency Act, the Child Online Protection Act, and a myriad other ways of proving that it just ain't the same internet anymore. Getting an internet account is now as easy as calling up AOL and giving your credit card number -- or calling up Netzero and watching a few ads.

And parents, just as they did with TV, toss their kids in front of the computer to use as a surrogate babysitter, and then get mad when their children find things that are 'inappropriate'. And because of that, legal adults lose their right to constitutionally protected speech.

Miller vs. California, a Supreme Court case decided in 1973, established what is commonly known as the "three-pronged" test for obscenity:
(a) whether "the average person, applying contemporary community standards" would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest;
(b) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law; and
(c) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

Miller clearly establishes that a work must meet all three of these criteria to be considered "obscene" and therefore not given the constitutional protection that other speech deserves. However, Miller was decided in 1973, long before anyone ever dreamed of what the world would look like in 2001. Previously, "community standards" could and did drastically vary from community to community; something that was acceptable in New York City's Times Square would never, for example, play in the midwest. Now, of course, someone from New York City can upload that content, and Joe Sixpack from Peoria can download it. Whose community standards should apply?

The question only grows more complicated when one takes into account the fact that the Internet is a global network, and users in other countries will be subject to their own, more- or less-restrictive standards. How can the United States have the arrogance to decide 'obscenity' for a reader in Toronto, or Amsterdam, or Tokyo? Particularly when those locations are struggling with their own definitions of obscenity and community standards, as applied to the arts.

There is another argument to be presented here, and that is the thought that the Internet, as a whole, is its own community and has the corresponding community standards against which to apply the Miller test. Though United States legislative bodies would hardly agree, the Internet has its own definite culture -- one that, if not precisely built on pornography and erotica, at least willingly embraces it.

The thought of the Internet as some kind of non-corporeal, non-realspace location is one well-beloved of cyberpunk authors; it has seen incarnation in hundreds of science-fiction novels. And though the analogy to a physical location breaks down as quickly as nearly any analogy involving the Internet compared to the "real world", there is a grain of truth to it; a community, after all, is defined by its members, and content on the Internet is produced by those very same members who would be the "community" in the "community standards" test.

Where do we stand now? Citizens of the United States are left with a mishmash of state laws and bitterly debated federal legislation. Obscenity on the Internet is a sort of grey wasteland, where no one wants to make the first move for fear of setting off a volley of suit and countersuit. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation fight the good fight every day.

Looking at the strict definitions given by Miller, it's clear that most erotic stories do not fall under the category of "obscenity". However, as soon as people upload those stories to a web page somewhere and make that URL publically available, there is a sudden and huge wave of either a). shame, or b). the desire to cover one's ass in the case of legal action. This results in the desire to limit availability to work using one of the methods described above.

Do these methods actually work, though? I know that when I was sixteen and confronted with alt.sex.stories, I didn't bother with little details like the fact that I was underage. None of the three methods above actually stop anyone underage from reading anything they want. #1 depends on the reader's honesty; #2 just takes an extra moment to read. #3 is easily defeated with Photoshop, or by taking a parent's ID and submitting it as one's own. The only true way to verify age is to have the individual seeking verification appear in person, presenting a governmentally issued I.D. with verifiable age.

Many methods for limiting access to internet material for minors have been proposed, from content-blocking programs commonly known as "censorware", to the creation of a "porn ghetto" TLD, .xxx. However, these methods have their flaws as well. To fully dissect them would be out of the scope of this article; others have done that before, and in greater detail.

I will say, however, that Peacefire, in its webmaster's Why We Do This essay, makes the point, "Blocking software reinforces two of society's most illogical "values": (1) material that violates conventional "decency" standards is immoral, and (2) discriminating against people under 18 is not a civil liberties violation." Taken together, these two points result in a world where filtering software is logical and necessary -- and, of course, a world where filtering software doesn't work in the least.

No one has ever developed an algorithm that can implement the criteria put forth by Miller; perhaps no one ever will. Requiring "adult" sites to move to an .xxx domain name is equally impractical; who decides what rates an .xxx? For some sites, like www.whitehouse.com and www.goatse.cx -- don't visit these while at work, of course -- the answer is simple. For the sites that fall into the grey area, such as the alt.sex.stories text repository, it's far less clear-cut. Webmasters of the latter often resort to self-censorship, whether out of ethics or pragmatism it is uncertain.

I struggled with this impulse myself when I began making my erotica available on the web. I'm an idealist; I agree with the thought that age does not equal maturity, that you do not gain, suddenly and on your eighteenth birthday, the maturity to be able to view "pornographic" material without being horribly traumatized by it. However, that is not my first concern. My first concern, as a writer, is getting a willing audience to read my work.

I am not a hypocrite; I believe just as firmly in the right of any reader not to be accosted with text or pictures that he or she might not want to see. This means, to me, clearly and explicitly labeling content before a reader clicks on a hyperlink: "this story contains explicit descriptions of men having sex with other men", for example, or "this story contains explicit and graphic descriptions of sexual violence and non-consensual sexual activity". Anything beyond this labeling, however, strikes me as gratuitous.

The fact that the methods above are ineffective at best at their purported purpose -- preventing people who are not "supposed" to view information from actually viewing that information -- is, to me, enough argument against their use. All these methods accomplish is the irritation and frustration of my target audience: the people who are of legal age to read my work, who want to read my work, and who may be prevented from doing so by whatever access control device I choose, hypothetically, to use. I know that I as a reader will only put up with so much from a webmaster; I don't expect my readers to be any more patient than I.

I finally decided, for our erotica site, that I wasn't going to mess with things. I put together a page of quasi-legalese that won't hold water for more than two seconds, involving the DMCA and hyperlinks as access control devices. It's ludicrous, but then again, I think that the whole debate is ludicrous. I'm not ashamed of what I think, and I'm not ashamed of what I write. And if a parent should happen to email me, offended that his or her child has been able to read something they "shouldn't", my response will be simple and to the point: the Internet is not a babysitter. Don't use it as such.


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


I read smut when I was underage:
o No; that's sick 2%
o No; I respected the law 0%
o I'm underage now, and I don't read smut 0%
o I'm underage now, and I do read smut 8%
o Every chance I got 66%
o I still have the hair on my palms! 21%

Votes: 225
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o leave
o come in
o www.theint ernetisnowahouseholdname.com
o definition s of obscenity
o state laws
o bitterly debated
o federal legislation
o American Civil Liberties Union
o Electronic Frontier Foundation
o Peacefire
o Why We Do This
o www.whiteh ouse.com
o www.goatse .cx
o alt.sex.st ories text repository
o Also by Kyrrin

Display: Sort:
Erotica, Obscenity, and Access Control | 55 comments (48 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
Kyrrin == streetlawyer? (1.00 / 10) (#9)
by marlowe on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 10:06:23 AM EST

Or is it merely a very close approximation?

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
Thanks for the visual (none / 0) (#39)
by error 404 on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 01:44:37 PM EST

Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]
Obvious question and a rant (4.58 / 12) (#10)
by hardburn on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 10:22:10 AM EST

Miller begs the question "What is obscene to the average person?" Are we to go out and do a statisticly valid poll every time someone wants to publish something. Thats not just everytime something is mildly obscene, mind you. Everytime you want to publish anything, for surely everything is offensive to someone.

(For instance, I bet their's an english major out there right now who got really mad that I used the wrong form of "their" in this sentence. Censor it! (haha, sentance fragments, too! (not to mention ugly nested parantheitcal remarks)))

I there is little censorship I condone. Of the censorship I do condone (spam, spam, go away, come again another day!), it is usualy for (IMHO) good, sound reasons (spam sucks bandwidth, wastes my time filtering my inbox, etc.).

Recently on the Freenet development list, a new guy was advocating a permanent file proposal. The Freenet developers get such a proposal every few months from some happless newbie. They generaly follow an idea of "mark a file as permanet", "continous reinsertions", "continous requests", etc., all of which we've long since rejected because it breaks one of our other goals (see http://freenet.netunify.com/36 if you're interested in the exact details). Most such newbies are told to read up on something else to show why their proposal won't work and then they shut up.

This particular newbie wouldn't stop even long after we showed him why it won't work. He demands that Freenet have permanet files, and he keeps up with it. He starts spamming the list with his demands and crys fowl anytime anyone tried to ban him from the list (once he said we should rename the project to "stupidmoroncocksuckernet", to which someone promptly replied to by naming their new client "stupidmoroncocksucker").

I don't think any of the admins actualy banned him from the list (although he surely got in a lot of people's killfiles), although he finaly did shut up. Oskar Sandberg (one of the cheif developers of Freenet), put it oh so well:

I am taking this as a personal invitation to exercise my freedom of speech by singing Britney Spears in your bedroom at 4 AM. Who's with me?

Me! I'll come!

That said, I feel that, while you should not censor something, you should have the option to not veiw it if you choose. Not the government. Not some big corperation. Not a mass of overly paranoid parents. You and only you. You should also have the right to advocate to others to not view it, but not force them to do so.

There is one thing that makes some pornographers as bad as censorware: Directing traffic to their site through backdoor means, such as using slight misspellings of popular sites (yaho.com?). This means if I should be a poor spuller (which I am), I may be at high risk of viewing something I don't want to see. If you want people to view your smut, do it on a real domain, please. I don't want to see it.

Censorware wouldn't be so bad if I could trust it. Which I can't. Let me rephrase that: I can trust it to invade my privacy and block ligitimate sites. Parents should have a way to control what their kids see, but they should also know exactly what they are not allowed to be seeing (goatse.cx gets through but not sites about breast cancer???). I'm not "fundemtaly opposed" to censorware, just opposed to it because of the "features" that aren't listed on the box.

while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }

Aww, nuts (3.00 / 1) (#11)
by hardburn on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 10:24:15 AM EST

Borked the HTML. Sorry to everyone for the italics in the last half of the post.

while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }

[ Parent ]
parens (2.33 / 3) (#14)
by wiredog on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 12:54:24 PM EST

ugly nested parantheitcal remarks

Goddam lisp programmers...

The idea of a global village is wrong, it's more like a gazillion pub bars.
[ Parent ]

Actualy . . . (none / 0) (#17)
by hardburn on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 03:03:47 PM EST

. . . I've never touched Lisp :)

while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }

[ Parent ]
Permanent files WOULD be a good thing. :) (2.00 / 1) (#18)
by arcade on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 03:25:37 PM EST

Recently on the Freenet development list, a new guy was advocating a permanent file proposal.

The lack of ability to store files permanently in freenet has bothered me a bit. I can't think of any reason why you can't hack your server, to pull files from to places. One "encrypted cache directory" - which is what Freenet mainly consists of - but also an "unencrypted publication directory" - where you put the files YOU want to be online.

The advantage of this, is that you can publish a site on Freenet, and you personally can make sure that at least _one_ node has that data permanently.

I've read through the URL you referred to, but the above mentioned "idea" isn't anywhere to be seen on it.

Has it been mentioned at all?

[ Parent ]
Gone over and killed (4.00 / 1) (#25)
by hardburn on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 06:46:29 PM EST

This is essentialy like "marking certain files as permanent". Firstly, you must have plausable deniability for your node. You may not see what is on your node. If you can, Freenet has failed in it's goal (except for brute forceing your node store with certain keys; long and difficult at best). Your idea would require us to break that.

"But", you may say, "it would only be used by people who don't need the extra protection". No, it's still no good, because They will then pass laws requireing everyone to so mark their files, thus defeating the underlying purpase of Freenet.

Secondly, it's not just the data itself we're worried about. We must also remember the referances to that data. Without it, requests will not be routed to where the data is, so the data might as well not be there at all.

Freenet is a very complex system. Every design decision is poked, prodded, and chewed on very carefuly before it's implemented. Kludging permanent files over it is not going to work.

Really, it's not a matter of how useful permanet files would be, and indeed, we wish we could have it. However, no immediately obvious way of doing it while keeping within the goals of Freenet has presented itself, and there is some doubt as to if it's even possible. It doesn't matter, though, since there will allways be other ways of getting permanent files (like, oh, HTTP for instance).

while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }

[ Parent ]
OT: Freenet concerns (none / 0) (#27)
by roystgnr on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 11:53:04 PM EST

My apologies for the thread rapidly diverging from topic, but this is something I've never had explained to my satisfaction, yet not something I've felt it to be worthwhile posting FAQs to the Freenet mailing lists about.

Firstly, you must have plausable deniability for your node. You may not see what is on your node.

Why? What if I don't want plausible deniability for my files, on my node, understanding that that is the price I have to pay to mark certain files as permanent? It doesn't take away from plausible deniability for you, for files you host or insert.

They will then pass laws requireing everyone to so mark their files, thus defeating the underlying purpase of Freenet.

And how would such a law be enforced? If someone finds an unmarked file on Freenet, then by definition the authorities can't find the person who failed to mark that file and so they have nobody to prosecute.

I think "they" would be just as likely to pass laws making Freenet type servers illegal entirely.

Secondly, it's not just the data itself we're worried about. We must also remember the referances to that data. Without it, requests will not be routed to where the data is, so the data might as well not be there at all.

This is what I don't understand. I thought that if a Freenet node was asked for a key that it didn't know how to find, it would route that request to each of it's adjoining nodes in turn. Otherwise, what happens when I connect up a new Freenet node, and my roommate connects a node to me? Do "references" to every file on Freenet get downloaded to my computer once I connect? Does my computer deny any file request from my roommate?

[ Parent ]

OT: Not good enough (none / 0) (#41)
by hardburn on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 03:49:19 PM EST

Yes, banning Freenet altogether would be more likely unless Freenet gives some sort of usefullness ("substantial non-infringing use", in American IP terms). Thats basicly what my involvement in the project is (I'm working on getting Apt-get to work over Freenet, a special DNS server, etc.).

Still, plausable deniability is an all-or-nothing affair. We're not so much worried about being able to remotely figure out if a certain file is marked as permanent or not as if it's done properly (assuming there is a proper way to do it), there will be no way to distinguish between a file marked for permanet storage or not. However, it would be very easy to figure out if your node was physicly comprimised.

Freenet is really built for people in oppressive countries (and no, Western nations aren't quite there yet). In such cases, think of what a few "random hard drive searches" would do to dissidents running Freenet in those countries when they weren't "properly" marking their files as permanent.

while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }

[ Parent ]
internet as babysitter (4.28 / 7) (#12)
by alprazolam on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 11:00:37 AM EST

Unfortunately Kyrrin, you (and I) are in the minority here. Taking moral stands against the internet (and anything else) is going to be politically successful for quite some time. Besides people want the internet to be a babysitter. They want what's easy and convenient for themselves, usually without regards to what's good for the community, country, etc. I don't think the average person thinks too much about freedom and expression. To me all you can do is fight the good fight and get people to care one person at a time.

Back in my day.... (4.45 / 11) (#13)
by Karmakaze on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 11:37:20 AM EST

3. "If you want the adult stuff, email me a photocopy of your driver's license with your date of birth clearly shown, and I'll give you the password."
Excuse me while I slip into old fogey mode.

The whole "send me a photocopy of your ID" isn't as new as you think it is. I was on a few adult BBSs in the 1980's who used that method of validation.

I was underage at the time, although I do not recall how I got past the barrier. I suspect it had something to do with socially engineering the sysop via voice validation - the same way girls don't tend to get carded as often going into clubs.

The whole smut-BBS (and smut newsgroup) phase I went through is why I don't take the "we mustn't offend the eyes of the poor innocent children" contingent very seriously. I did get into some fairly nasty stuff by mainstream standards [no, I'm not going into detail - it's nobodys business what my personal perversions are]. I wasn't scarred - I wasn't traumatized. And eventually, I figured out what was interesting to me, (and what wasn't) and went on with my life.

So kids have been forbidden to see smut for ages, and have found ways to get around it for ages. It's nothing to panic over.


Pre-internet childhood (4.00 / 3) (#19)
by iGrrrl on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 03:42:22 PM EST

In the days before the 'net, we got our smut from the parental stash. No, I don't mean they handed us skin shots with our oatmeal, but that we filched it from them. There was Penthouse magazine, Playboy magazine, the hardbound copy of _Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure_ by one Fanny Hill, not to mention the higher-brow stuff like _Moll Flanders_. Kids, particularly boys, but also girls, could get dirty stories and pictures of naked women. Perhaps the variety and volume available did not compare to what can be found on the web, but smut could be had by those of "tender years."

Before the magazines there were naughty "French Postcards" (condoms, when illegal, were called "French Letters"). My stepfather, who was over seventy, told me about the unadvertised shows that happened later at night when the travelling carnival was in town. These sometimes involved women and equines, and the boys would find ways to peep under the tent. They did not seem to grow up the worse for wear.

I don't mind the access restriction number 1, and I agree with the idea of content warnings. If nothing else, it keeps one from reading a mushy Mulder/Scully when one was looking for a wild Xena/7 of 9 crossover...

You cannot have a reasonable conversation with someone who regards other people as toys to be played with. localroger
remove apostrophe for email.
[ Parent ]

Case by case (3.40 / 5) (#15)
by Woundweavr on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 02:17:29 PM EST

The only way to censor porn/erotica/weirdness online with any semblance of fairness would be to take each on a case by case level. The least effort acceptable would be to look at each case at the site level, but true fairness would require the individual item level.

Now consider the amount of this type of material or material that is questionable or material that someone somewhere will find obscene. It'd be like going through the library of Congress and reviewing each work. Any time one was censored, another edition will appear.

Sweeping bans would not only be injust but also IMO unconstitutional under US law. Some nude pictures are definitely not obscene, whether it be art, medically informational or just fun. Some stories would be considered obscene by most. The sheer size of the material makes censoring it impossible.

Censorware companys claim that people review each webpage, which is clearly impossible. Censorware may even keep out alot of erotica and porn. However it also keeps out political sites (<a href="http://www.aclu.org>example), medical sites, non-obscene erotica and critics of its products.

The only way that is going to work is self determination of what you want to see. If you don't like it, don't go there. If you don't want your kids going there, either don't let them online or teach them so that they won't be harmed much by it.

Poll Problem... as usual. :-) (3.20 / 5) (#16)
by Crashnbur on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 02:27:57 PM EST

How in the world could someone leave off the choice for "Occasionally" or "Yes, but sparingly." ... I would guess that the majority of us fit best with that answer, and it's not even available! Ugh! Otherwise... excellent article. I +1'd it.


I'm curious about the genres? (3.50 / 4) (#20)
by Keslin on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 03:56:58 PM EST

I'm curious, what is involved in the "anime slash/yaoi subgenre"? I'm (obviously) a fairly experienced consumer and producer of visually-oriented adult content, but I don't get into the written erotica much. The names of the genres you mention seem interesting.

Just curious...

-Keslin, the naked nerd girl.

Genre definitions (4.00 / 1) (#21)
by Karmakaze on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 04:07:30 PM EST

"Yaoi" is basically the term that is applied to "slash" in anime fanfiction (just as "hentai" is used for "smut").

"Slash" is the term used in fan fiction to refer to same sex pairings.
It refers to the classification (or warning) codes authors place on their stories. Major characters are abbreviated by first initial (a generic male or female is lower case 'm' or 'f') and, if there's going to be mushy (or erotic) stuff, the notes let you know who was involved. So, for example, "K/S" would refer to a Kirk/Spock pairing.

Did that answer the question?

[ Parent ]

Thanks (none / 0) (#22)
by Keslin on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 04:47:48 PM EST

Yes, thanks, very interesting. I have heard a little about erotic fan fiction like that, where people wrote erotic stories about characters from film and television. I didn't realize that the subgenre names got that specific though. The name 'slash' seems kind of violent, I thought it might have something to do with 'snuff' stories.

Kirk and Spock, though, that's just too cool. Are there any threesome stories with the three nerds from The Lone Gunmen getting down yet? I want to see that story, definitely.

-Keslin, the naked nerd girl.

[ Parent ]

Slashing the Lone Gunmen (none / 0) (#23)
by Karmakaze on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 05:21:15 PM EST

Hah, you only thought you were kidding...
A quick Google search, popped up a few pages. Browse away.

[ Parent ]
Nasty (none / 0) (#35)
by JonesBoy on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 09:33:39 AM EST

Thats just nasty.

Speeding never killed anyone. Stopping did.
[ Parent ]
"Bad speech" vs. "Good speech" (3.33 / 3) (#24)
by strlen on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 06:42:17 PM EST

I don't really relate to the whole argument of protecting the good speech, and not protecting the bad speech. Sure, speech may hurt, speech may offend, speech may upset. But how do you defend "offend", "hurt", "upset". And who? That is what may be twisted.

As for actual damage that results from an article, a better idea is using civil courts to get coverage for a specific act, provided that it can be proven that a specific text causes damaged in a way other then just stating an offensive opinion -- fighting the cause won't help in this case, because the cause may lead to different outcomes. For instance, if you send me to goatse.cx and I puke on my shoes, I can sue the goatse.cx person for damaging my shoes, for the price of my shoes. But someone else may as well enjoy the sight, or get a good laugh from it. Thus, it's much better to deal with specific cases of damages, rather then the potential damage.

Freedom of speech is essential. That, and other freedoms like protection from torture, freedom of religion are universal, and absolute. Hiding behind the wall of "it offends me" or "it's against my cultural tradition" is not an excuse. It's like choking someone to death if you don't like their breath. And whether you're left-liberal, libertarian, socialist-anarchist, etc.. there's no reason not to support. Speech is your #1 protection from authoritarianism. Fuck censorship now.

[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
Sex newsgroups still available (3.33 / 3) (#26)
by Delirium on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 10:13:21 PM EST

I'm confused by your apparent contrast between the "early days of the internet," when alt.sex.stories was freely available, to today, where you seem to imply that similar services are no longer available with access restrictions. A quick search through the soc.sexuality.* newsgroups on groups.google.com seems to turn up quite a few dedicated to erotic stories, and none of these employ any sort of access control mechanisms.

It seems like the current situation is exactly like the one you described, just with the newsgroups moved for spam-related reasons.

Early days vs. now (3.00 / 2) (#30)
by gromm on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 04:01:20 AM EST

I'm confused by your apparent contrast between the "early days of the internet," when alt.sex.stories was freely available

No, this is what he said:
Of course, one of the first usenet groups I hit was alt.sex.stories, back before any newsgroup with "sex" in the name was unusable.

By "unusable" he means "so clogged with spam noone bothers to use it anymore." Basically, starting in 1995 sleazy porn sites (and others - like Make Money FAST!!!!) all took notice to usenet and began blanket-spamming to alt.sex.* and oftentimes much further than that. Most of the lower traffic groups are now nothing *but* spam.
Deus ex frigerifero
[ Parent ]

How is soc.sexuality.* different? (3.00 / 1) (#32)
by Delirium on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 04:47:40 AM EST

Well, yes, but my point was that this is really an insignificant tangential point - the same sorts of things alt.sex.* did "back in the day" are now done in soc.sexuality.*, with moderated newsgroups to keep out the spam. Except for a name-change and the fact that legitimate posts take a bit longer to get through, I don't see any relevant differences.

[ Parent ]
I thought the article was more about CYA? (3.00 / 1) (#28)
by Lemonjelo on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 02:33:11 AM EST

Less about censure and more about rating the material voluntarily. I'd think it worthwhile to require a login, even for a free service. That way your readership has to agree to terms and such, and provide a valid email, and you're covered. Normally that slight inconvenience is once-and-done. Cookies and or their standard login will let the regular readers bypass the check in the future.

The admins can also submit the site to every filtering program or content rating system they can find. That would help those parents who wish their children not to see the stuff. Of course there's debate over what constitutes offensive material and whatnot, but the author seems (commendably) upfront about the material, understanding not everyone is going to want to read it.

If some are able to read it because they lied about their age or know more about the family computer than their parents - well at least if a best effort is made then you can still have a clean concious about it.

I have trouble understanding this. (5.00 / 5) (#29)
by gromm on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 03:53:06 AM EST

I always find it kind of strange how people are worried about letting hard-core pornography getting into the hands of kids under 18. I started reading Penthouse Variations when I was 6 years old! I had read my parent's copy of "The Joy of Sex" and "More Joy of Sex" from cover to cover (a few paragraphs at a time) before I was 10. Of course, I knew that I wasn't supposed to be reading such things, so it was done in secret, but I would have to say that both of these publications had a lot to do with my sexual development before and during my teenage years. I knew that masturbation was okay. I had a good idea about how to go about pleasing my girlfriends, and they definitely taught me about sexual ethics that have carried through to my adult life. About how sex is like food; what one person will believe to be a delicacy is what another person thinks is either disgusting or boring.

Without pornography and quasi-instructional books like these and others I have read over the years, I doubt I would have this view of things sexual. Heck, I would probably have the view most of my peers had, that sex was dirty and "oh my god, how could you *lick* that!" I can't honestly see how a well-balanced pornographic diet could be harmful. (unless it's all Hustler or something, but I never really liked that, even though it seems to be written for 10 year olds with all the potty humour) The fact of the matter is that children and teenagers are indeed interested in sex at one level or another. They should be encouraged to get as much information about sexuality as they want, especially considering the alternative resources they have: their peers, who are at least as inexperienced and incompetent as they are.

And yes, I counted myself in the poll as "every chance I got." ;)
Deus ex frigerifero
None of that was hardcore (5.00 / 1) (#34)
by retinaburn on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 08:48:31 AM EST

I think what parents are really afraid of is their children seeing 'hardcore porn'. Beastiality, Bondage, submissive, scat and the like. Looking at anything when your young modifies your view on the world. You had a positive example where what you read is considered normal in our society. But if you had instead read about 5 men beating and torturing a 12 yr old child perhaps your young mind would be effected in a less positive way.

When I have children I hope I can show them that nudity is not sex, and definitely not perverted. Hopefully I can right all the wrongs that I learned as a lad.

I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho

[ Parent ]
Heh. (none / 0) (#54)
by gromm on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 06:00:50 PM EST

I think what parents are really afraid of is their children seeing 'hardcore porn'. Beastiality, Bondage, submissive, scat and the like

I guess you've never read Variations. Especially during the early-mid 80's when I was young. Bestiality and scat, no. (which, IIRC, is illegal anyway, and rightly so) Bondage, peeing, enemas, S&M, group sex, gay sex, anal sex, men dressing up as women, women dressing up as men and having sex with men as if they were women; basically if it was legal for an adult to read about, it was in there. That's why it was called "Variations - erotica for liberated lovers."

Am I a pervert? Yes, in a round about way. I'm submissive, and I like a few other things listed above that I'm not going to give away. But I don't like everything listed above, and while Variations may have shown me the door, I chose *which* door to walk through. The porn I read as a kid gave me a wider choice in my sexuality besides "insert tab A in slot B if and only if circumstances X and Y were in effect." But no, I'm no danger to children; yes, I lead an otherwise normal life. Heck, all the kinky people I know seem to be much more perverted than I am, yet I would guess that most people in the "real world" would think I was sick or something, not that it's any of their business. Personally I don't find anything wrong with my own sexuality, as the morality I grew up with went along the lines of "if everyone involved in whatever sexual activity you're participating in is having a good time, then it's perfectly okay." Variations and The Joy of Sex taught me these things, and yes, Variations *is* hard core pornography.
Deus ex frigerifero
[ Parent ]

I remember... (none / 0) (#40)
by cr0sh on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 01:47:48 PM EST

One of the most erotic things I read as a kid actually came from a Redbook magazine at my dentist's office (!!). I was sitting there, with my parents, waiting to get a cleaning (I think I was probably around 10 years old), and I wanted to read something while I waited.

I picked up the Redbook, flipped through it, and came across a section where people told stories of thier most "exciting" moments. The one I remember most vividly was about a man who lustily "takes" his wife, cuts open the crotch of her pantyhose with a pair of scissors, and goes from there.

My parents never had a clue that such stuff was available, and right there in my dentists office. Needless to say the visit with the hygenist was a bit more pleasurable that day (though the picks STILL fucking suck)...

[ Parent ]

obscenity (4.60 / 5) (#31)
by kpeerless on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 04:27:33 AM EST

I find it passing strange that governments and churches find it acceptable for citizens to watch movies in which people shoot-stab-garrote-poison each other, but not people life afirmingly fucking each other. Why do we find sexual activity obscene? Think about it. A common harmless human activity that happens top be fun also is beyond the pale. I don't understand it. Feeding cats and dogs while human children starve... now that's obscene. CEOs paying themselves millions while people live on benches and grates qualifies as obscene. Judicial executions are right up there. But simple, happy lust? Gimme a break. I've been rooting around for almost fifty years now, and it hasn't hurt me a bit. Perhaps this is all powered by folks who don't like to do it, or do it badly, or can't. Yeah. Anybody who does it regularly and does it well certainly doesn't complain about others doing it, reading about it or looking at pictures of it being practiced by others. All these laws are proposed by people who are bad fucks. Gotta be. Pity them.

Nitpick: The world is not America (3.37 / 8) (#33)
by spiv on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 06:52:49 AM EST

And because of that, legal adults lose their right to constitutionally protected speech.
Except for those of us who don't live in America, and don't automatically think the whole world lives by the rules of its constitution.

I would have been more interested in the story if it had focused on the issues it raises from a nation-neutral context. Fair enough, legal issues are important, but they are very different from country to country (especially with regards to the internet and porn).

Okay, that's my "American-centric stories suck" rant for the month...


Passive but learning.... (4.66 / 6) (#36)
by Phoebe on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 10:56:42 AM EST

I will admit - when I was younger, I would hide one of my mom's nursing books in the bathroom to look at when no one was around. I looked at the male and female reproductive systems, and tried to read the paragraphs on sexuality.

But I never did anything about the desires or questions that I had regarding these issues. Sexuality is taboo in our home - you don't talk about it, it is something that if you *are* thinking about or doing something about (heaven forbid), you should feel ashamed. I never masturbated, I never looked at myself. In the shower I would wash "that place" in a hurry, afraid of what would happen if I took the time to learn about myself.

Now, at 19, I am incredibly passive and hesitant about my sexuality. I am getting better though with the help of my boyfriend, a wonderful man who has been incredibly patient with me. We have an incredible sex life, and I am becoming more forward as far as talking about my feelings, desires, and fantasies.

I honestly believe in the notion that sexuality should not be hidden. Funny since mine was pushed far back into the recesses of my mind and body. But I believe this all the same. Kids of any age will get ahold of pornographic and sexualy oriented material no matter what is posted in the warnings, required by bookstores, or hidden by parents or younger siblings.

I can see why the government wants to protect themselves from liability measures by "requiring" you to be 18 years or older to purchase or view this material. But if the parents are not willing to speak to the child about sexuality and the sexual nature of the world, there is very little chance that the child will go to a teacher or other adult. If they ask a friend, who is to protect the inquisitive one from false information?

Believe it or not, the content on the internet and in sexually oriented magazines can be the best tools to learn from. You see what to do, what not to do, ethics involved,you can learn anatomy, what goes where and when to say no.

Sure, at age 13 you may not need to know every position Kama Sutra has to offer, but you will know the"right" and "wrong" ways of pleasing yourself or your partner.

This post is a big step for me. A few months ago I would never have dared to write a public post on my views on sexuality. And I feel that there are far too many people in my same position, only they have not had the opportunity to grow out of their shells.

Sex is all around us, every day, everywhere we go. We can no longer be shielded from it, can no longer condone it as a "horrible, dirty thing". All we can do now is educate, and encourage the curious to get answers to their questions.

And what would be so wrong with that?

--I dream of a wolf, shrouded in the mist. Looking at me with Amber Eyes--
babysiters (none / 0) (#37)
by hany on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 11:26:59 AM EST

And what would be so wrong with that?

Problem is, that education requires some effort from parents.

Yes, state, church, other parents, ... can help but without parents themselves such education can be considered useless.

And as author of the article alredy states, there are parants (I think lots of them) which are lazy and/or incompetent to rise their own children thus using TV and/or internet as babysiters.

And when somethings goes wrong, those parents are unable to accept responsibility so they are throwing it at TV and/or Internet (or "bad friends", "society", "that nasty Schwarezeneger", ... you know that). And then they are seeking punishment for TV, internet, ...


[ Parent ]
True... (4.00 / 1) (#38)
by Phoebe on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 11:49:09 AM EST

I have seen the effects of children who have the TV or computer as a babysitter of sorts.

And yes, the parents often blame what is on the televesion or computer for the faults their child may have.

The "electronic babysitter" though, has both good and bad outcomes. Though it depends on the parents and the child both. If the child is plunked in front of the TV, they could be watching news, educational programs, intellectually stimulating debates. This would be a good thing, would it not? The child would become informed, educated, ans maybe just a bit too pale for modern society if he never leave the glow of the screen. :)

Same with the computer. If they search for sites that explain their questions on the world, people, sexuality, ect, then it can be a very good nanny to the child for the same reasons as I mentioned above for the TV.

But if the child watches cartoons that have no educational or intellectual meaning, if they surf the internet for pictures of Brittney Spears, then the bad image of the "electronic nanny" takes over. The child may know a lot about Brittney or the Power Rangers, but they know nothing about the world around them.

It is a double edged sword - it has the potential to be a great teacher, and the potential to atrophy the mind.

Scary as it is to say, I guess it all *does* depend on the parent or authority figure....

--I dream of a wolf, shrouded in the mist. Looking at me with Amber Eyes--
[ Parent ]
tv and the internet (3.00 / 1) (#53)
by ouroboros on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 11:43:45 AM EST

I think the most important point that you've made is simply that sex is not "dirty" and it is not "nasty" and it is not something to be ashamed of. This idea seems so prevelant in our culture (I mean America, but what I've seen - not that much, admittedly - of Europe hasn't been that much better) that I see it everywhere I look. It's in the very core of the language and it's rediculously prevelant on the babble box. I think this idea is very dangerous, and frightening. Sex is good fun, and although today's world necessitates care in choosing of partners, I think people should be having more sex, loving more. Perhaps this would do soemthing to curtail the surgance of violence we've seen lately. May I suggest the book Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein? This book is all about questioning the cultural taboos you were brought up with, and accepting life and love and sex as the beautiful things they are.

I wanted to tell a story from my life that is relevant. Until I was around 12 or 13, I spent my entire childhood watching television. That babble box was my childhood companion. I watched it when I woke up until I left for school, I watched it when I got home, I ate in front of it and I went to sleep with it on. I think that this was one of the main causes for my complete and total lack of physical fitness. I'm not fat or large by any stretch of the imagination, infact, I look fairly good, but I have no endurance. I'm always out of breath and always tired. This is something I WILL change about myself, but that change is so hard, so daunting, that it will take time.

I feel that I had very good parents. My parents did not sit me down in front of that box as a baby-sitter. I chose to sit down in front of that box. My parents never tried to make my decisions for me, or interfere with my life. I knew that they thought I watched too much tv, and I now know that they were right, but they acknowledged that it was my decision to make, and they did not interfere. Even later in my life (I eventually did manage to break my television addiction), my parents did not interfere. When I started having sex (at 15), they did not interfere. When I bought a 24 line BBS and ran it into the ground, they did not interfere. I thank my parents for letting me make my mistakes and I've learned from them, and I am grateful. I pity all those children who grow up unable to make their own mistakes.

When I was 12 or 13, my mom gave me an old epson 286. This changed my life. I went to computer club in middle school and started to learn. This is pretty unimportant, but the point I wanted to make was that the internet is very different from television. Television takes to you, you just sit there and hear what they want you to hear, but the internet is a communications tool.

I plan to raise my children in a place without any television at all, but hopefully a good fast internet connection, which I will NOT filter at all. I will not teach my children that sex is dirty or bad or something to be ashamed of. If my children want to look at people having sex, I don't want them to have to go to the internet, as I want them to grow up with the realities of sex as something that is normal and natural and nice. I will not teach my children ignorance because of some stupid cultural fear. Welcome to world of questioning what you thought you knew... it never ends.

cheers, ouroboros
Terradot | Growing Awareness

[ Parent ]

A couple of things.. (none / 0) (#48)
by arcade on Wed Mar 28, 2001 at 03:39:53 AM EST

First of, congratulations for making progress. There are however a couple of things I react on in your posting.

I can see why the government wants to protect themselves from liability measures by "requiring" you to be 18 years or older to purchase or view this material.

Why? Why on earth should you have to be 18 to buy the material - when most people jumps to bed with another person before they have reached that age?

Is it suddenly WRONG to RTFM (Read The F*cking Manual , pun intended) in the case of sex?

I don't know what the statistics are in the US, I know that in norway most girls have sex at the age of 17.something, and most boys about half a year later. ("most" is here highly inaccurate, but I don't know the english term for "sum all elements, and divide by the number of elements. Not a native speaker, sorry about that. ;-))

The government has NO reason to try to protect itself, when people already have sex before they are allowed to buy pr0n.

But if the parents are not willing to speak to the child about sexuality and the sexual nature of the world, there is very little chance that the child will go to a teacher or other adult.

I'm pretty sure this will change with the evolvement of the internet, and the resistance against censorware. Kids will play around on IRC and chatrooms, and they'll talk. And learn.

If they ask a friend, who is to protect the inquisitive one from false information?

What is false information in this case? Different people enjoy different forms of sex. THere is no 'false information'. ;)

Sure, at age 13 you may not need to know every position Kama Sutra has to offer, but you will know the"right" and "wrong" ways of pleasing yourself or your partner.

What is a "wrong" way to please yourself / your partner? The obvious answer is "whatever your partner doesn't enjoy". That however, is not something you can say for certain about any partner, be your 13, 25 or 40. Different people like different sex. Some enjoy just plain and regular f*cking. Some like to mix in some oral sex with that. Some enjoy anal sex. Some enjoy to mix in some light bondage, some like it more heavy - and some people are into S/M.

It doesn't stop there, there are loads of different things people find sexually exciting. The point is _NONE_ of them are wrong, as long as both you and your partner(s) enjoy them.

[ Parent ]
packet of the day... (none / 0) (#49)
by axxeman on Wed Mar 28, 2001 at 08:59:25 AM EST

The word is "average".

The statistics jargon term is "mean".

Being or not being married isn't going to stop bestiality or incest. --- FlightTest
[ Parent ]

Clarifications (none / 0) (#50)
by Phoebe on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 07:20:21 AM EST

Why? Why on earth should you have to be 18 to buy the material - when most people jumps to bed with another person before they have reached that age?

I was not implying that I agree with the law. I think that you should be able to buy material of any nature whenever you wish, be you 18, 13, or 10. But I do understand why the government set the standard of being a certain age before doing or buying certain things. They need to have control over SOME things. They are, in their mind, trying to protect children from what they should not know anything about until adulthood. Petty and pointless, sure, but they need to feel they are protecting someone's mind from being "corrupt".

If they ask a friend, who is to protect the inquisitive one from false information? What is false information in this case? Different people enjoy different forms of sex. THere is no 'false information'. ;)

I was referring to the old wives' tales that if you jump up and down after sex, you won't get pregnant, that you cannot get pregnant if your partner pulls out fast enough, that saran wrap and a rubber band is a very effective form of birth control. THIS is the "false information" I was referring to.

I agree with you and what you had to say. But I just wanted to clarify some of my points and concerns to you.

And thank you for your support.

--I dream of a wolf, shrouded in the mist. Looking at me with Amber Eyes--
[ Parent ]
"Pulling out" (none / 0) (#55)
by SomeWoman on Fri Apr 06, 2001 at 03:33:46 PM EST

>you cannot get pregnant if your partner pulls out >fast enough

Interestingly enough, I went to a seminar on vaginal health in January where I learned that "pulling out" is a fairly decent method of birth control. What is generally thought to be semen that leaks out before ejaculation actually contains very little sperm. It is meant to prepare the urethra for the semen by getting rid of traces of urine which might kill the sperm. (maybe related to pH. I don't remember)

[ Parent ]
More info on pulling out (none / 0) (#56)
by krmt on Sun Apr 08, 2001 at 05:25:59 AM EST

I found this on planned parenthood: http://www.plannedparenthood.org/bc/bcfacts11.html

"I may not have morals, but I have standards."

[ Parent ]
An idea I once had... (none / 0) (#42)
by Miniluv on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 08:25:10 PM EST

Being something of an amatuer connoisseur of erotica and pornography I've often wondered how to take the heat off of the porn sites without stifling them.

The idea I came up with was enforced voluntary censorlist maintenance. In a nutshell this means requiring porn sites to register with a central authority as such, and making said registry available at either a nominal fee or gratis.

My reasoning is multipronged, and probably could use some work, but here's the basic rundown:
1) It doesn't hurt porn sites to be listed in censorware programs. Many sites already voluntarily list with as many as they can, some to curry good favor with lawmakers, others for reasons more obscure.
2) There are public facilities where the viewing of pornography is conceivably inappropriate. Grade schools, certain areas of public libraries and the like. Effective censorware is not dangerous when implemented properly.
3) By building an open framework for access to the registry, and maintaining it in a vendor neutral fashion we encourage accuracy. Disputed sites would be openly reviewed by multiple members of a review panel drawn from as wide a background as possible. Simple majority voting would settle the issue, with a bias towards free speech rather than restriction when gray areas crop up.
4) Enforcing membership that costs webmasters nothing is not an onerous burden. Obviously it would only be good within a member jurisdiction, but that's a huge step towards removing the massive debate currently inflaming multiple national populations.
5) Penalties for non-membership would be monetary and paid into a general fund with public oversight aimed at defraying the costs of maintaining the registry.
6) Technology exists for efficient use of bandwidth through mirror sites and transmission only of list deltas rather than entire registry transmissions.

Yes, it's not a perfect solution. Yes, it involves limiting speech. Yes, it's a compromise between the absolute free speech argument and the censorship argument. Despite the fact that I do not agree with the ultimate sentiment put forth by the censorship folks, I do agree that providing such a tool for those who desire it's benefits is important.

I think this is a case where it's time the free speech folks bend like the willow before they're broken. If we bend in a well thought out manner we end up losing nothing. In fact, we stand to gain a useful dialogue with the "other side" of the argument through which more constructive compromises could be reached. They stand to gain access to the effective, limited censorware they continually claim to desire.

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'

Doesn't that just beg the question? (none / 0) (#43)
by elenchos on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 09:33:22 PM EST

"Porn sites" are supposed to register and the ones that don't get penalized. Well who says they are a porn site? What if I say my site is not porn? Does some American decide? Or some committe of Eruopeans? The Taliban? Even within a single country, there is little agreement about what is porn. Would each site have to go around to a thousand jurisdictions around the world and try to guess if they were supposed to register? And pay a fine in the jurisdictions where they guessed wrong? Sounds hopeless.

I think it would be better to just tell parents to watch their own kids.

And the idea of porn sites with the heat taken off them, and not stifiled at all, just takes away half the excitement for a lot of us. I like them with heat and stiflement.

[ Parent ]

The problem with that method (none / 0) (#44)
by Miniluv on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 09:41:15 PM EST

I agree, that is the ideal model. It's not going to happen however, and idealism for it's own sake is often very unsatisfying.

As to who would decide, it would be relatively easy to draft a set of guidelines. As much as it amuses me to point to this as an example of standards that "work", television has fairly clear guidelines on what may appear on FCC regulated channels. These are clear, concise and hard to uninentionally violate. In short, they work.

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]

Maybe... (none / 0) (#45)
by elenchos on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 09:57:13 PM EST

...I'll go read these FCC guideline and see how easy they are to apply. I would bet there is a lot that they don't offer any clear guidance on.

But what about jurisdiction? Say you somehow made this work correctly for the whole U.S. What would that accomplish? The entire rest of the world has their porn sites too, and so while some of the dumbest parents might be placated, the rest are going to figure out that you can view unregistered foreign sites all day long.

To say nothing of the countries that have standards more restrictive than the U.S.

I can see how this might call off the hounds for a short time, but sooner or later people are going to have to face up to the reality of the Internet. Delaying that is only going to cause a lot of injustice and confusion for the many, while giving a few the chance to make a quick buck by taking advantage of differences in jurisdictions.

Even if I can't get them to listen at the moment, I think I ought to be honest with people about this from the get go, so I can sneer and chuckle at them when they are someday forced to admit I'm right. Well, also, it is good, or whatever, to be an honest person, or so I'm told.

[ Parent ]

The future (none / 0) (#46)
by Miniluv on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 10:48:09 PM EST

Sadly, I think the future clearly holds some sort of censorship. I think the earlier we recognize it the greater the influence we can have on it.

You've raised some good points, ones I intend to do somethinking on and see if I can address them in a reasonable way within my proposed model. At first blush, I do believe it's possible. As long as everybody codifies things in a clear, coherent fashion it should be workable. And yes, that is asking a lot.

As far as the foreign sites go, I think that if we implement a reasonable censoring system, and make it available at virtually no cost (which is highly do-able) then the US might become the most attractive place to host, because we can lobby that many restrictions be loosened up in other ways. Can you imagine how many sites would love to not have to display warnings, who could advertise in far more blatant fashions, and who could avoid dealing with AVS services such as AdultCheck?

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]

Well, if you say so. (none / 0) (#47)
by elenchos on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 11:49:24 PM EST

It sounds difficult and expensive to me, and requires the cooperation of people who neither produce nor consume porn, nor care if others can or can't. Is there any reason why they should go along with all this?

I would expect instead that it will follow the path led by the criminalization of drugs and the rest of the sex trade: a lot of people do it, most wink at it, and a fanatical few waste their time trying to stamp it out. Another pointless war against ourselves.

But keep thinking about that theory. I think it is just too easy to circumvent something on that scale. It is like SDI, or a permanent end to contagious disease: there are a finite number of defenses, but an infinite number possible of attacks. The odds don't look good.

[ Parent ]

Poll (4.00 / 1) (#51)
by Denor on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 04:15:12 PM EST

I didn't read smut when I was underage for a simple reason:

It didn't occur to me that I had access to it.

Seriously; I've had internet access since about 17 years old, but it wasn't until I was around 18/19 that the thought occurred to me: "Hold on a second, I can get free porn with this thing!"

So yes, you're missing a poll option: "No, because I'm a dumbass" :)


The Supreme Court agrees (none / 0) (#52)
by NineNine on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 10:27:24 AM EST

The Supreme Court agrees. In fact, the reasons that you've stated, in effect, that any attempt to authenticate a user's actual age isn't going to be very effective, is exactly why they struck down the previous attempts by the US Congress to enable any anti-porn laws. The people trying to push it through (Unfortunately, I don't remember the exact name of the law, or when it was attempted) suggested that the holder of a credit card must be at least 18 years old, but the Supremem Court said that any kid could very easily grab a credit card and use that. They said that since there are really no really good methods of verifying age, and law requiring web sites to do so would be unconstitutional. So, I guess you're absolutely right here, and the Supreme Court agrees with you.

NineNine gives you FREE porn daily! No popups! No bullshit!
Erotica, Obscenity, and Access Control | 55 comments (48 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
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