A social and ethical essay task designed to provide students with a broader insight into both the Internet and computer ethics. Since the beginning of time, men and women have fantasized over naked bodies. Pornography has always been a part of life, and yet it has never been so readily available as it is now. Erotic stories, explicit pictures, XXX-rated films, and modern-day magazines are all part of the stimulus material known as pornography” or as it is legally put, “obscenity.” Is it ethically right for our children to be looking at this erotic material at such an early age? Do we have a twisted sense of morals if we support pornography? Or is it just a natural part of life that should be nurtured and encouraged? These questions and more are springing to people’s lips as we enter the technological age.
The age of the Internet has made pornography more readily available than ever before. It can be purchased in any form or media, whether through mail-order, secret places around the schoolyard, or at the local newsagent or video store. Unfortunately, I know children as young as ten years old who have unlimited access to pornography.
They have been exposed to it from an early age, and it has become an addiction, like smoking or drinking. Part of the problem is that censorship laws are not enforced. Some newsagents will sell pornography to a twelve-year-old (legal age of 18), but will not sell them a packet of cigarettes (legal age of 16 until June 1994). The obvious derivative from this statement is that fines and punishments for selling pornography to underage persons are not high enough. So, why don’t we raise them? The answer to this question can be found on the screen of every computer in the world.
The Internet, or as one person put it, The closest thing to true anarchy that has ever existed.” How can one censor the Internet when it is literally impossible? What is the use of placing fines for copying pornography when it is impossible to tell the age of the user? How can one trace the user when there are 25 billion members, and it is impossible to follow them all? How can we delete pornography when a new batch arrives every day, and it is impossible to stop it? Another point that makes censorship difficult is the fact that censorship laws have only recently been required.
In England, censorship laws have historically focused on heretical materials, but now the only offense that requires censorship is pornography. The US also seeks to impose strict censorship on all obscene material, but their first amendment prohibits laws that abridge the freedom of speech or press, making it difficult to enforce. While efforts are being made to censor pornography, a balance must be found between the censorship laws of all countries connected to the internet. Denmark, for example, has no censorship of pornography, and banning it from the internet would conflict with their laws. This raises the question of how to censor the internet without causing discrepancies between different countries. Some argue that it’s not worth the effort. It’s clear that there are significant challenges involved in censoring the internet.
The other side of the argument, presented by economists and pornography enthusiasts, is that we should not censor the Internet if it is not necessary. Many people believe that pornography is a harmless part of life. Artists argue that the naked body is a beautiful, graceful, and stylish subject. Authorities in Denmark claim that pornography is a valued part of their society, and psychologists suggest that pornography reduces the incidence of sexual abuse and rape.
Indeed, the human body is a natural part of life in all of its forms, so why do we regard the naked body as obscene? Is it not stated in the Bible that wisdom told us to wear clothes? And did it not also state that God did not want us to have wisdom? Can it not also be said that God did not want us to wear clothes and therefore encouraged pornography? This argument seems to demolish the religious fanatics who say that we will burn in hell for looking at obscene materials. After looking at both sides of the argument, it is obvious to see that some middle point must be reached between the two. Pornography on the internet cannot be totally banned, but it cannot be accessed by any user as our society’s ethics are against children looking at pornography.
A set of ethics or laws must be devised that will satisfy every country on the Internet. This can be achieved by a governing party such as the United Nations or a committee with representatives from each country. My evaluation of the argument and my recommendation is that pornography stored on the Internet should be placed in a password-protected area and only accessible with identification proving the user is over eighteen, such as a driver’s license number.
Pornography found on public bulletin boards must be deleted immediately. This is the responsibility of not only the governing committee but also the user. Files identified as pornography are to be traced, and any users under eighteen are to be fined accordingly. Viewers of pornography over eighteen are to remain strictly confidential, and no personal data is to be released unless required for national security, etc.
The above recommendations, if carried out on the Internet, would provide the world with a pornography-safe network that could be used by children and adults alike across the globe.
- The Electronic Encyclopedia, Grolier Electronic Publishing, Inc, 1990
- Times Magazine, James Button, December 13th, 1993
- Times Magazine, Philip Elmer-Dewitt, July 25th, 1994
- Pornography and Silence, Susan Griffin, 1981
- Literature, Obscenity and the Law, Felix Lewis, 1976
- The End of Obscenity, Charles Rembar, 1968
- Pornography, Obscenity and the Law, Lester Sobel, 1978