Ximenes 1 Should the Internet Be Censored?" No bones about it, the Internet needs to be censored". At least according to Gerry Morgan, president of an Internet contents provider and a parent, he among other non-denominational Christian parents claims that they have found "the only realistic answer to the Internet porn-crisis". They " ve created a program where all Web sites are pre-screened, avoiding any material that can be harmful to kids (Watson). They say that the Internet has to be censored because it has material, especially pornography, which can and will be offensive to others. But not everybody agrees with that.
The censorship of the Internet is still a very controversial issue, and people all over the world debate whether or not this is a case against free speech. While Morgan states that by censoring the Internet we " ll be protecting ourselves and our children, Mr. Jeffrey Pollock, a Republican from Oregon who used to think the same, recently changed his mind when he found out that his own site had been blocked by an Internet filter. After the incident, Mr. Pollock expressed that "To mandate the federal government to legislate morality, I find abhorrent" (Schwartz). The disagreement on this issue continues and every person has a different opinion on what would be a satisfying solution to it. Even though I agree that it is not any parent's desire for his / her children to have access to pornography or other potentially offensive material on the Internet, it is not worth jeopardizing our right to free speech in the name of morality. The truth is we cannot protect our children from all the violence or pornography available in today's world just as our parents could not protect us.
Ximenes 2 The interest and curiosity that children and adolescents have on what we, as a society, may rule as immoral did not begin with the Internet. Similarly, the government's attempts in determining the public's thoughts also began before the Internet. In fact, governments around the world had been trying to control the people's minds for a long time and some of them are still trying to do so by filtering information. There is a report from the comprehensive survey of print and electronic news media that shows that nearly two-thirds of countries restrict press freedom, that would be about eighty percent of the world's population (Society). By doing so those countries are having the same attitude that Hitler had when he burned books.
Unfortunately for them they are now facing a much bigger enemy, indeed according to Leonard Sussman, the coordinator of the 22nd annual press freedom survey, "the Internet is the most formidable challenge to the censor" (Society). We may consider pornography harmful and think that it should be banned from the Internet. To achieve such large-scale censorship, it would have to be done in the whole world since the Internet is a global method of communication and anyone is able to access material on international sites. The problem with this strategy is that the issue of censoring the Internet goes far beyond pornography; in fact in some countries it also includes political issues. What in the U.S. is seen as free speech or part of what make us have a critic sense about what is better for our country, in China can be seen as a crime. In fact in March of 2001 a high-school teacher was sentenced to two years in prison for saying "Down with the communist party!" online in that country (Liu).
Ximenes 3 Furthermore, it is important for us to be exposed to a variety of concepts and ideas in order to develop our own sense of morality. It is impossible for us to have a critic sense if we don't know all the aspects of the issue in question. If you have a concept that is based on one-sided information you don't have a strong argument. It's the same with a child, if he / she is not given the right to unedited information how is he / she going to develop a strong personality? How is a child going to be able to make his / her own choices if they are not given the right to explore a variety of possibilities? This is not to say that it is good for children to have access to pornography or any sexual material at any certain age, but as said before it would be impossible to make this kind of material absolutely unavailable online without losing other information indispensable to our freedom.
According to Mr. Morgan the Internet needs to be "broken down and censored" (Watson). He and others blame the Internet for the fact that children are having more access to pornography than ever before. I agree that with the Internet it has been easier to find anything you want, even pornography, but should we blame the program or who is accessing it? The only way by which we can protect our children, not only from pornography but also from other issues such as drugs or alcohol, is by talking to them without taboos, by instructing them and showing them the possible consequences of their choices. According to David Sawyer, a former mayor, the parent guidance "is more loving, more educational, and a hundred times more effective than regulatory control". Ximenes 4 There are also ways in which government or other agencies may provide Internet control without censorship.
For example, it may be necessary to implement laws which require of all Internet servers that provide pornography to have their sites' names clearly stating the content of the material about to be seen. This would at least prevent children from accessing such sites accidentally. By doing that the government would be helping the parents who don't want their kids to see that kind of material, but would not be interfering on the right to free speech that the Constitution assure us to have. In summary, censoring the Internet falls into the controversial category of censoring free speech. Therefore, it is a violation of the Constitution to apply censorship to such a commonly used source of information.
Instead of banning material from the Internet we should make sure that we have clearly stated information. Perhaps government intervention may be necessary to assure that Internet servers comply with regulations. However, parental guidance and control still remain the most reliable ways of protection against misuse of the cyberspace..