Kids know better than the censors

Graph of knowledge versus danger, showing the censors assuming knowledge increases danger, whereas kids know knowledge decreases danger.

I haven’t visited Indexed in ages, but this image from last month says it all, eh?

The censors would treat us all like children. They imagine we’re unable to make our own decisions That unless “They” make the decisions for us — secretly and unaccountably — then we will succumb to the danger.

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  1. Colin Campbell’s avatar

    I am often surprised where my 8 year old ends up on the intertubes. I am willing to take that risk. He is clever. That is not to say we do not monitor and discuss with him. What is a little sad is the degree of censorship in the school environment. Talk about stifling creativity.

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  2. yewenyi’s avatar

    I would ask, do you want to block stuff because:

    1. it is in your better political interest to do so?
    2. it is in your better commercial interest do so?
    3. it is in your better religious interest to do so?

    These are the wrong reasons to block stuff. Some people make a living by saying, “Trust me, I know better and I will protect you from your nightmares.” It’s quite common really. It comes in many guises of suppression and repression.

    I remember the saying, “Trust me, I’m a doctor!” People roll about laughing. But can you also say, “Trust me, I’m a police man?” Or “Trust me, I’m a censor?” You should be equally aware. I’d doubt you’d say, “Trust me, I’m a politician”. Yet the others are doing what they say.

    Create a system like this and it is open to abuse. I have a book here in my house. It was a banned book. It is called The Age of Consent and is by that unsavoury character Norman Lindsay. Maybe I have been harmed by this book.

    So you need an independent arbitrator, you always need one, and the lines are never clear. So then you need an open process so it can be scrutinised and check with appropriate balances. People who say the law-makers should be above the law are the scariest sort. The law-makers and implementers are the ones who should be subject to the most scrutiny by the general populace. Otherwise you end up with corruption and other unsavoury practices as power leads to many things.

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  3. Stilgherrian’s avatar

    @Colin Campbell: You’ve hit the nail on the head. You don’t dump your kids into the street and expect “the street” to automatically ensure they never encounter anything “inappropriate”. So why do some people imagine you should or even can do it online?

    Stephen Fry got it right in an interview for the BBC:

    The internet is a city and, like any great cit,… there are also slums and there are red light districts and there are really sleazy areas where you wouldn’t want your children wandering alone.

    And you say, “But how do I know which shops are selling good gear in the city and how do I know which are bad? How do I know which streets are safe and how do I know which aren’t?” Well you find out.

    What you don’t need is a huge authority or a series of identity cards and police escorts to take you round the city because you can’t be trusted to do it yourself or for your children to do it.

    And I think people must understand that about the internet — it is a new city, it’s a virtual city and there will be parts of it of course that they dislike, but you don’t pull down London because it’s got a red light district.

    Of course the pro-censorship folks are often the kind of people who reckon there should be no red light district at all. As a friend reminded me the other day, so often their zealotry is driven by their own guilt — but that’s another essay for another day.

    @yewenyi: Of course, with a secret blacklist of “unwanted” material, the government is precisely saying, “Trust me, I’m a politician”.

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