Saturday, August 01, 2015

Bizarre Britain (not a good thing)

What's wrong with Britain these days? London is becoming a ghost town - a mausoleum for wealthy ghosts that is - and will soon declare independence as the city state of Richistan. One columnist even expresses amazement that Hoxton is hot. Perhaps I should explain. In other parts of the city buildings attack people like they want to ban humans from the capital altogether and to top it all of you have David Cameron in 10 Downing Street. He came close to gambling away Scotland and the even the European Union got involved, blackmailing the Scots with visions of a bleak future.

Fox news blurrs breast of Picasso painting sold for $179 million dollar
Blurred Lines, approved by ISIS (I assume)

Last May American broadcaster Fox News blurred women's breasts in an abstract painting by Picasso. Still it sold for a record fetching $179.4 million. Censorship gone mad, many thought and the hashtag #FreeTheNipple was born. Luckily for the most part the USA is slowly moving in the right direction. This June the Supreme Court ruled that state-level bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, legalizing gay marriages. Anti-gay legislation efforts at state level however continue.

Perhaps it is the changing face of London that makes David Cameron blurts out one useless proposal after another, but it feels as if Britain is moving backwards. Extreme porn was banned last year, including the apparently shocking act of showing a woman's orgasm. A few days ago The Guardian wrote how Cameron warns pornography websites to restrict access by children or face closure.

"It followed a Childline poll that found nearly one in 10 12-13-year-olds were worried they were addicted to pornography and 18% had seen shocking or upsetting images."

By itself polls don't mean much, it is how you frame the questions. Pollster are aware clients look for validation of their opinions and if they don't deliver, they'll loose the business.

For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone. It's often meant we have stood neutral between different values. And that's helped foster a narrative of extremism and grievance. This Government will conclusively turn the page on this failed approach.
Happy days are gone. Obey the law and still go to jail.

There is evil and then there is evil
As for the outcome: never mind that children see far worse things on the Six O'Clock News. Decapitations by ISIS, people burned alive in an oil drum or young girls abducted in what is basically a civil war in Nigeria. An incredible 219 of them still haven't been brought home. You can explain sex to your kids - don't forget to mention how everyone exploits sex for everything - but there is no way in the world to make them understand how kids just like them, in other countries are kidnapped and the world doesn't care enough to bring them back home to their families once their story ends up at the junkyard of digital activism. If anything keeps kids awake at night it is not the sex stuff they bump into on the internet but the inhumane things that are impossible to understand.

A few years ago the UK introduced porn blocking at an ISP level, a feature that turned out to be overzealous and "under appreciated". Technically it is hard to effectively block porn just for children. Not only are people rightly concerned for their privacy - of course I don't watch on-line porn, nobody does, I just write about it - there is also the risk of mission creep. If censorship works well with porn the government can decide it wants to block other stuff as well.

There are several proposed solutions, but it all highly complicated. A clearing house - you are now good to go sir, enjoy your porn - will take the fun out of it. It is like a post-it on the fridge: marital sex Saturday 11pm. Even if such a solution is technically feasible, it will attract hackers from all over the world. Just ask the Americans: Chinese hackers have gotten into the computers of the Office of Personnel Management. The OPM conducts security clearances for the US government and in those files is everything  you don't want the world to know about: health reports, money issues, medical history and sexual preferences. And now the Chinese government has access to 22 million of those records. And just remember those are the files on people who work with confidential stuff like FBI agents and military personnel in charge of launching nuclear missiles. Cameron believes Britain can do better by having the industry voluntarily sort it out.

Leave it to the parents
Parents decide what is appropriate for their kids, not the government. Its role is to enable parents to do so by making sure there are tools available, but conveniently the government leaves that to the industry. Some claim the government doesn't understand the internet, but they do. If the proposed solution fails - and it will - they blame the industry. In the meantime politicians can boast how they acted and prevented kids from a faith worse than death. They should spend their time on making sure kids have access to affordable, good quality education and make sure there are jobs available after  they graduate. After all that is what they are getting paid for. Some decent sexual education in secondary school would be nice too.

leashes: now available in innocent-looking child backpacks
I know what you're thinking...

Prime Minister Cameron is selling an illusion to parents. There are no instant solutions that can protect kids, ever. Pretending there are, only puts those kids at risk. Some parents find it hard to talk to their kids about sex, but they should. They also have to make sure their kids never ever hesitate to ask them anything, especially when it comes to whatever they see on the internet, no matter what. And until their kids reach a certain age, put the computer in the living room.

If you ignore a problem, it doesn't go away. That is something only desperate spin doctors believe in. A country with cameras on every street shows how its government relies more on technology than common sense. At best those cameras help catch the perpetrator after the fact, rather than allowing women to go out safely at night.

There is no way any politician can object to rules intended to keeping children safe, so regulations will follow: no access to on-line porn for anyone under eighteen in a country where the age of consent is sixteen.

Male with hands tied behinds his back bringing woman to orgasm
Fun for two. Soon to be outlawed in Britain.

Let me make a prediction: in thirteen years time, in 2028, Lady Chatterly's Lover will be censored once again in the United Kingdom. After all who wants upper-class women to mingle with working-class men. Or did I miss the point somehow?

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