I hate kids. I don’t agree with their lifestyle and think they’re directly responsible for The Rapid Decline of Society (TM) – by denying us the extinction we so desperately need – but I hate parents more. Parents are just people so self-obsessed they thought that, of course, the world wanted another version of them in the form of a diminutive, dribbling little shit-bag. Since I had no say in their decision to reproduce (I assure you, I would’ve been wholeheartedly against it), it irks me when the rest of the world is expected to kowtow to the fawning, spawn-worshipping will of parents.
Because the Universe and I have a mutually passive-aggressive relationship, along comes plans to filter the internet to block anything untoward from the innocent eyes of children. Though the original parliamentary inquest suggested tasking ISPs with providing optional filters, the plans being considered will block risque content by default and you must “opt-in” to be able to see it. So you’re “opting-in” to opt-out of a filter, a system that couldn’t be more arse-backwards if it’d just had surgery performed by Dr. Nick.
Claire Perry, the Tory MP who is leading the campaign, told BBC Radio 4, “The time is coming when the internet should not be treated any differently to any other form of media.” Politicians not understanding technology is nothing new, but you’ve got to worry when the people given the job of legislating for it fail to grasp the basic differences between television and the internet.
The internet is not a media, it’s a resource. Television has a finite capacity in what it can show, which has to be scrupulously selected for mass-consumption, whereas the Internet is (theoretically) infinite in both content and means of conveyance. Television content has been excruciatingly produced, packaged and edited for mass-appeal and broadcast in real-time. Content on the Internet is deposited, in whatever form, to be accessed when and if someone chooses. Whereas there is a watershed on TV, the internet is self-organised into specific search terms and URLs that transparently declare themselves unsuitable for minors.
Sure, it’s possible to inadvertently stumble upon porn with something as innocent as an unfortunately worded search term or an imprudent spam blocker. So encouraging ISPs to develop and provide sophisticated content blockers for parents to activate is laudable. Insisting that the rest of us be subject to the same filter is downright patronising, setting a precedent that the government should be able to censor something it dislikes and denying us the freedom to choose for ourselves.
Of course, the protection of children isn’t the only reason to curb what we’re allowed to see; the government also wants to protect us from ourselves. Back in August during the London Riots, Conservative MP Louise Mensch, a woman who looks and acts like a cross between Seven of Nine and Gargamel, censured Twitter (on Twitter) suggesting that social networks be required to shut down during a national crisis. Ostensibly, this is to prevent people creating false alarms for the Police and stop us weak-willed proles from hearing about and participating in acts of civil disobedience; after all, monkey tweet, monkey do. It’s not like 24-hour rolling news coverage and liveblogs ever indulges in rumour-mill sourced padding or anything.
Diversionary tactics to try and take control of the internet have tried and failed many times, and I have no doubt that this latest one will be chucked out quickly enough. Let parents regulate what their offspring see online, and give them all the help they need (emphasis on the word ‘need’). But let the rest of us see whatever depraved content we want and leave us out of it. I hate kids, I shouldn’t be expected to help parent them.