This is a topic that has been addressed countless times on previous occasions. However, I believe the writers of such articles (with the exception of Psycho's article for Retro #1) in the past have always protested against censorship. But such articles have always lacked a sense of maturity, failing to see the severity and the consequences of their personal opinion. In contrast I wish to take a conflicting view to what I believe to be a majority in my age group and promote an extreme argument in full support of censorship and prohibition of offensive material.
The internet of late has become one of the primary sources of amusement among people of all ages and of all cultures, ranging from children using it for study purposes to businesses who use the system to publicise their companies. Unfortunately, as with all seemingly good things the internet has been the subject of exploitation.
Although the internet does have many legitimate uses it also has a more threatening side to it. In fact this sinister realm of the internet isn't even considered underground. It is no secret that the internet is full of illegal pornography and fetish pictures, most people realise this to be the internet's most reknown feature and is perhaps one of the reasons for its large following. Many people that I had always regarded as 'normal' have developed a taste for such sleaze and only a phone call away, all that they need to fulfil their weak willed, sexual desires, ranging from softcore porn to violent sadism is at hand. Even SCENE parties are beginning to play host to such perversion with a large majority of attendants being PC nerds, swapping obscene jpeg and gif files between themselves.
A few months ago I used a search engine to look up the key word 'party' (as in 'The Party 97'). About 60% of the results were in someway related to pornography, descriptions such as "Gang bang Party", "Incest" to name two of the less offending sentences. It would only need a youngster to search for an innocent motive such as this and curiosity would carry him the rest of the way, onto images and documentation that a child should not even hear of.
Until a couple of years ago I found myself a naive sort of person, unaware of the true reality around me. I had heard news items and read newspapers which reported acts of cruelty such as rape, murder and abuse, but I had never thought about it in depth. It wasn't until somebody I knew showed me a horde of pictures which he had downloaded from the internet that I realised just how sadistic some people are. Depictions of horrific and inhumane acts which continue to disturb me up until this day. I could see that torture and suffering had become a form of entertainment for many internet geeks, but I find this impossible to comprehend. This person had no right to subject me to this when I did not have a desire to see it. I therefore believe it is in the best interest of everyone to remove this sick material from their grasp. Those that find enjoyment from this wickedness have no right to an opinion, they are below average human capacity, lacking dignity and compassion. A lot of these people just don't realise the severity of their actions.
Last year I watched a television documentary which really opened my eyes to the overwhelming organisations that function over the internet. One such case involved the kidnapping of lost children from shopping malls. They were sexually abused, physically tortured and even killed on film. From this footage pictures and animations were captured and uploaded to the internet for the masses to see. To access such sites one must pay a subscription fee (usually by credit card so that these organisations cannot be traced) making such activity a rather profitable business scheme. From the money being made the organisations often involve themselves with drugs and weapons, increasing their power further in the underworld of organised crime. By simply subscribing to such web pages and ftp sites people are encouraging more cruelty and suffering, which in effect makes them guilty of manslaughter. For what? The sake of sexual entertainment?
Many countries have strict laws regarding explicit material, sexual or violent, and many people in England and America have been arrested for breaching such laws. In addition, the press take it upon themselves to publicise such events thus (deservedly) ruining that person's reputation and their livelyhood. Such perverts included bums, pop stars, scientists and most shocking of all priests and clergymen. This should serve as a great deterrent, but unfortunately it does not. With the Internet being a world wide system these laws cannot be enforced efficiently due to certain countries having more lenient laws relating to censorship. On the other hand it would be illegal for a Dutch person to bring cannabis or hardcore porn to England in physical form so why is the law not adjusted to cover electronic data? Unfortunately it is practically impossible to pursue the offenders. In the world of the internet there are no fingerprints or forensic evidence so such crimes continue undisturbed.
There are possible solutions, such as internet police and decoy webpages which log the users details. Sadly this will only apprehend a small percentage of those downloading the material and not necessarily eliminate the cause of the problem. The best solution would be for ISPs and similar companies to take full responsibility for their Web space, employing staff to constantly check their sites for felonious activity and report such cases to the law. Some would consider this an invasion of privacy, but the fact of the matter is that a lack of privacy is totally insignificant when compared to the problems of abused children, drugs and religious cults to name just a few of the deviant uses of the net. I personally would encourage the complete closure of the internet if it prevents just one of these crimes.
"Information wants to be free". A commonly used expression in the anti censorship debate. Many people believe that we have a right to see and to know everything we wish, that we should be given a choice. However, I just think that the youth of today are acting like spoilt brats. Some years ago rules were far stricter and parents enforced strong morals upon their children, but with the revolution of equal opportunity they want more and more freedom to do whatever they like, often at the expense of others. Another argument against censorship is that we all have an option, if we do not wish to see this material we do not have to. Unfortunately it doesn't work so idealistically, on many occasions I've visited friends who have loaded pictures (not as serious as the aforementioned) in front of me without telling me what to expect. It's only when the picture is on the screen I realised that I did not wish to see it. How many people have been DCC'd jpg's in good faith, not knowing what they are receiving, to find out later that they're indecent?
A large percentage of the population these days have become somewhat de-sensitised to suffering and find such matters quite humorous, but what if it was somebody you cared about? Maybe it offers the victims families consolation to know that someone is finding enjoyment from their suffering. Somehow I doubt it.