Fighting the CDA
December 11, 2001 10:53 AM   Subscribe

Fighting the CDA : The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom is working with one of nations most interesting erotic photographers to overturn the portion of the CDA that ties all internet obscenity to the most restrictive definition of the most restrictive community in the nation.
posted by soulhuntre (30 comments total)

Oh, great.


Sodom and Gomorrah.
posted by aaronshaf at 10:57 AM on December 11, 2001

I really wish the federal government would stop screwing with freedom of expression. Granted, naked fat women wearing ball-gags may not have been what the founding fathers were thinking of, but they did write the constituion which supposedly allows it.

I think that, if any, the restrictions should be made on the local level. Each person should decide on their own whether or not they want to see something. Thanks, uncle Ashcroft, but we don't really need your help.
posted by phalkin at 11:11 AM on December 11, 2001

most interesting erotic photographers

I like my pr0n a little, um, sexier than this :P

Doesn't mean she shouldn't be allowed to photograph all the ugly people with ball-gags she wants, provided they can give informed consent.
posted by UncleFes at 11:29 AM on December 11, 2001

Let's step away from the sex issue for a moment and discuss another type of website that is not only frequented by minors but often maintained by minors with access to a digital camera. Frequenters to memepool know the type of site of which I am speaking, but for the others, imagine a website entitled "Rate My Poop". (I won't bother linking to any such site.)

Is this content harmful to minors? I cannot imagine any community standard that would consider these images anything but offensive, yet these sites feature incredibly disgusting images that any regular child would otherwise view every day. In fact, I believe the vast bulk of community standards would consider these images even more offensive than hardcore porn and bestiality pictures. So, are the feds going to start throwing kids in prison for posting poop pictures online?

Or will Johnny-boy choose to enforce this law aribtrarily?
posted by mischief at 11:36 AM on December 11, 2001

aaronshaf: directly from your web site...

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Matthew 7:1-2
posted by benjh at 11:40 AM on December 11, 2001

incredibly disgusting images that any regular child would otherwise view every day

exactly. all one has to do is peer down between the legs into the toilet bowl. the problem isn't websites or digital cameras, it's excretion. my god, do you think john ashcroft squats on a 'toilet' and 'pinches a loaf' now and then? i daresay not! we must eliminate this foul malodorous unsanitary liberal practice! why even infants are soiling thier clothing! building codes actually require the inclusion of godless waste elimination sanctuaries! who will protect the children?
posted by quonsar at 11:48 AM on December 11, 2001

measure you use, it will be measured to you

all that measuring going on is rather suspicious to me.
posted by quonsar at 11:51 AM on December 11, 2001

> I think that, if any, the restrictions should be made on
> the local level.

The whole point of creating a global village and obliterating distance is that all of a sudden, everywhere is local. The community standards of Christopher Street won't fly on the net as a whole any more than the community standards of Tehran will, but it's a hoot watching each crowd bump into the other and get red in the face.
posted by jfuller at 12:07 PM on December 11, 2001

Yes, the world must cater to children . . . I mean, cater to extremely restrictive adults' choices for their children. Yeah, love how we have to dumb everything down, and make everything "safe" for children whose parents have problems with pictorial and textual descriptions of the human body and its functions.

I am all for free speech (and free art, "art," photography, pornography) on the internet. Completely free.

Let the parents parent themselves and their children, and not their communities.

I wish I were a parent, so that I could speak up on behalf of my children, who I would wish to be exposed to a wide, diverse, sometimes beautiful, sometimes ugly world, at a pace that I decide. I would quite happily sue the folks who want to damage my child by hindering his/her educational experiences through internet censorship.

If you have restrictive standards, then follow them. But it is quite arrogant to impose those standards on extra-familial others.
posted by yesster at 12:41 PM on December 11, 2001

but i want someone to tell me what i shouldn't see. i feel safer that way.
posted by tolkhan at 12:53 PM on December 11, 2001

Funny thing is the stuff that these freedom of speech arguments tend to be about is inevitably such absolute dross (the photos in this case being a prime example), that had it not been for the F.o.S. related fuss kicked up about them, they would have passed by virtually unnoticed. You ever hear of this "artiste" before? Me either.

People who like to take photos of tied-up fat ladies should be writing John Ashcroft thank you letters, without his legislation they'd have an even smaller audience to pitch their $2000 prints to.
posted by daragh at 1:11 PM on December 11, 2001

I can turn on the television in the United States any hour of the day and almost *guarantee* that I can find one act of murder being broadcast, unrestricted, to all viewers.

Very few people are murderers and murder is illegal.

Sex, on the other hand-- something in which one may legally participate, and judging from the existence of children in almost all communities in the world, many people *do*, cannot be broadcast.

That is pretty weird.
posted by squinky at 1:20 PM on December 11, 2001

> I wish I were a parent, so that I could speak up on
> behalf of my children, who I would wish to be exposed to
> a wide, diverse, sometimes beautiful, sometimes ugly
> world, at a pace that I decide.

I'm so very pleased to see those last six words of yours; everything us fascist repressors could possibly want is contained in them.
posted by jfuller at 2:10 PM on December 11, 2001

jfuller, I don't understand your comment. If you didn't notice, I am for extreme liberalization of internet content. What I was saying in the quotation you used is that, were I a parent, I would be offended by the efforts of some restrictive people to keep my children from access that I would want them to have.

It is not unreasonable for a parent to control the pace of exposure to the world for their children. In fact, that's what most of us liberalizers want: we want the parents to parent, so society doesn't have to. A fascist repressor would want to have the government set the pace.
posted by yesster at 2:40 PM on December 11, 2001

jfuller, I don't understand your comment.

He's saying that he wants a tool that will allow him, as a parent, to determine the pace at which his child is exposed to the full frontal assault of the internet goodie bag while at the same time allowing him unfettered access AND allowing his children to to use those portions of the internet which are suitable for children and will promote their learning of how the technology works.

I don't think he's saying that CDA is great (it's certainly not); what we want is a decent alternative. Sure, we as parents could shut the damn thing off - but that would also stunt the kid's learning of the technology itself. We want to parent - but society is parenting for us from the opposite end of the spectrum as you imagine. There is room for both sides - extreme liberalization of content with tools that allow parents to control the flow of that content at the individual user level. That should be the goal of internet regulatory efforts.

Each child reaches the level of maturity suitable for full internet usage at different times. I'm certain there are cases where a 13-year-old would be mature enough to have unrestricted, unmonitored internet access - and there are certainly cases where 30-year-olds are not mature enough (we had to fire a guy). What jfuller - and I - want is the discretion to determine for ourselves and our kids that point, and the gradations leading up to that point - and as long as government is going to get into the act (which they most certainly have and will), they should create tools that allow both sides the access they need and want.
posted by UncleFes at 3:07 PM on December 11, 2001


> If you didn't notice, I am for extreme liberalization of
> internet content. What I was saying in the quotation you
> used is that, were I a parent, I would be offended by the
> efforts of some restrictive people to keep my children
> from access that I would want them to have.

fuller reads your " a pace that I decide" tagline and suggests that he understands what you're saying better than you do yourself--better than you will understand until you in fact have those children and it stops being theoretical for you.

When that day comes, and you actually try to have some slight control over the pace (your well-chosen word) with which your babies are exposed to naked fat ladies in ball gags, and similar stuff, you'll discover that you have no ability to set any pace. You'll go,"Hey! Where are the brakes on this thing!" But there are no brakes for you to use.

You'll be very distressed about this. You'll become angry. You'll cry out "There need to be some tools I can use to control the pace! Where are the tools?" But answer comes there none (at least if outfits like the above-linked NCSF gets to build its ideal world.)

Well, I'm there ahead of you. And you needn't talk to me about "monitoring your child's internet usage." There's no balance of force there. Just me, standing against the economic/technical might of the world's slop-ola production cartel? Heh, I don't think so. No, indeed, I want tools to make me a foe the slop-ola interests will fear.

I'd really truly rather not use government and police power. Too often those are weapons that turn and cut the hand that wields them. If you don't want me to use government and police power, then give me something more effective. You can either do that, or else cover your ears and go "I'm not hearing this.!" If you do the latter, you can bet I'll be using the time to write my senators (on paper, which they read.)
posted by jfuller at 4:30 PM on December 11, 2001

If you want your children to have a wholesome, gosh-darnit clean childhood, pay someone to filter your world for you. Subscribe to a service that only lets you go to websites without fat ladies in bondage or without poop references. Don't filter everyone else's world, because to a parent like me (or perhaps Yesster), having a kid exposed to bland fare like Barney the dinosaur may be considered more damaging than any poop pictures could ever be.
posted by neuroshred at 5:58 PM on December 11, 2001

If you don't want me to use government and police power, then give me something more effective.

Here's a condom. It's what I wear so that I never become someone who believes that everything in the world should be acceptable to the delicate eyes my precious spawn. You chose to breed, and if you choose to raise your children in an environment that shields them from reality, then the difficulties involved with that decision are your problem, not mine.
posted by Optamystic at 7:43 PM on December 11, 2001

You chose to breed, and if you choose to raise your children in an environment that shields them from reality, then the difficulties involved with that decision are your problem, not mine.

Until our kids decide to start breaking into your garage and fucking your dog, hoss :)

jfuller is not talking about shielding his kids from "reality." He's talking about gauging when they are mature enough to inculcate certain aspects of reality - like fat chicks with ball gags - and allowing them access to that when they are ready.

But remember this too - your rights do not trump his rights either! You are no more special or worthy of concern or regard than he or his kid. Sure, he chose to have kids - and you chose not to. So what? That doesn't make his rights any more prevalent than yours - but it doesn't make yours any more prevalent either. And his "precious spawn" is just as worthy of the concerns of government and law enforcement as you are. And you, unlike him or her, are capable of defending yourself, physically and psychologically.

Some might find it hard to believe, but others have just as vivid, interesting and worthwhile lives as they do - no, it's true! People are not just set dressing in the ongoing saga of Me - they are humans with lives, dreams and yes, even rights. Just like you. Even kids.
posted by UncleFes at 8:45 PM on December 11, 2001

Interesting argument, Fes. Thing is, (according to my reading of his comment,) jfuller was threatening to bring the weight of law to bear against those who would publish things that he doesn't want his child to see. I was stating that the responsibility for determining what his kid sees is his and his alone. As neuroshred pointed out, there are many services specifically designed to do this.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

"No law" means just that. No Law. Congress has no business telling me what I can see, hear, write, or say, no matter how little Johnny may be affected by the material. In other words, while my rights do not trump his rights, when my rights are backed up by the Bill of Rights, we may just have a winner.

'Course, when little Johnny starts humping my doberman, then all bets are off...
posted by Optamystic at 9:30 PM on December 11, 2001

I didn't read his comments that way - to me, he was saying that the community idea of what constitutes smut was inapplicable to the geography-less internet, and that he agreed that it was his responsibility - and duty - to determine when and how his children are introduced to the seamier aspects of the net, and the world. I believe his point was that the overwhelmingly adult nature of a great deal of internet content, and the way it is interwoven throughout the whole of the net, precludes his ability to effectively guard his child from exposure to that content. When is a porn site, it'd difficult to tell what is proper and what might potentially be harmful. And yet at the same time, to deprive his children access to the net will stunt their sociotechnical development.

"No law" means just that. No Law.

Absolutely, but... :)

First, congress establishes laws abridging freedom of speech all the time, and they are routinely found unconstitutional. However, we have a rather interesting Supreme Court these days, so who knows what tomorrow brings, hmmm? And the SC has just as routinely allowed states and municpalities to abridge free speech, in the manner of, say, banning the sale of porn in a certain prospcribed region. Porn on the net lives such a full life precisely because of the inabilty for these sorts of geographically-based laws to affect it (a point jfuller made earlier).

Second, there are no such things as rights without concomitant responsibilities. Yes, you and I and jfullers' kids are protected from having our personal speech regulated or abridged. However, do we not also have a responsiblity to each other (the social compact, after all, being one the foundations of our republic) to restrain ourselves when the exercise of our rights may damage others, or infringe on their rights? Does not my right to swing my fist end at the edge of your face?

What I think jfuller proposes (a LOT of words getting thrown in his mouth of late, sorry) is that Congress, laww enforcement or whoever should realize this, similarly realize the inherent problems with the current legislation, and look for solutions that allow for both the full exercise of yours and my rights, while allowing him the tools to determine how and when his child is exposed to more mature content.

A new Koan: When dobermans are humped, will only humpers have dobermans?
posted by UncleFes at 10:19 PM on December 11, 2001

A similar case involving the Child Online Protection Act is presented on the pages of the ACLU. I was underwhelmed by the amount of information presented on the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom's pages involving their case. In addition to including the briefs filed by both parties, the ACLU has also listed links to pages that are going to be used as evidence in their case, including salon articles and a painting from that famous pornographer Pierre Auguste Renoir.
posted by bragadocchio at 11:08 PM on December 11, 2001

Slightly tangentially, I wonder what the availability of 'everything' is actually doing to kids these days, for better or worse. I remember as a teenager in the 70's, stumbling on a contraband Playboy was a World Shattering Event, sexually speaking. The way that teenagers today think and feel about sex and porn and alla that must be so different to the way I do and did.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:20 AM on December 12, 2001

stavrosthewonderchicken: I was born in 1945--adolescence is different today!

"In its first look at individual surfing habits, Statistics Canada has found that young teens have integrated the Internet into the fabric of their everyday lives ... [T]he Statscan survey...found that 62 per cent of those who formed Internet friendships said they believed most people cannot be trusted. The survey also found that young Internet users, aged 15 to 17, had viewed disturbing material on-line: 60 per cent had seen a pornographic Web site, 24 per cent had comes across content that promoted hatred or violence, and 10 per cent had received a threatening or harassing e-mail."
posted by Carol Anne at 7:33 AM on December 12, 2001

I think jfuller's real point is that the First Amendment is fragile. If enough parents in this country decide that enough is enough, then the First Amendment is not going to be powerful enough to prevent legislation. That doesn't make it right, it's just a realistic assessment that if you try to push the majority too far, there is the danger of a backlash.

Theoretically, you should be free to call someone an idiot to his face all day long. In practice, you're eventually going to get punched in the face. That's not to say violence is ok. It just means, that, practically, there are limits to what people will put up with.

Therefore, if we value the First Amendment, we have to find ways for parents to feel like they have some kind of control over what their kids are exposed to or else very likely they will turn to repressive legislation to try to do what technology can't.
posted by straight at 12:57 PM on December 12, 2001

Parents must take responsibility for watching over children's Internet use.
posted by Carol Anne at 3:21 PM on December 12, 2001

Carol title amongst the dmoz list for the parental control/monitoring software is who tell us that Kids today are very smart and in most cases smarter than the parent. . In pointing these out, you're showing that there is a very real option to complete governmental regulation of the internet.

I do remember a friend asking me to remove some of this type of software from a computer once. She had inherited a computer that had filtering software on it, and couldn't turn it off. I found the proper method to circumnavigate, and even remove the software without using the program's passwords, on the web - from a teenaged hacker's website. We confirmed the method with a call to customer service. Maybe kids are smarter than parents these days.
posted by bragadocchio at 3:43 PM on December 12, 2001

The USA has the highest rate of child sexual abuse in the world. There are three reasons for this:

(a) the age at which the 'child/adult' distinction is made is among the oldest in the world;

(b) the range of sexual behaviors defined as abuse is among the broadest in the world;

(c) the best ways to ensure a child develops profound sexual problems are to deny access to factual information, and to associate sexuality with negativity and punishment in the child's mind.

posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:52 PM on December 12, 2001

Those are rather bold statements to make without backup. afaik, Latin America and Africa are typically seen as having the highest rates of child abuse, sexual and/or otherwise. [googlelink]
posted by UncleFes at 8:21 AM on December 13, 2001

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