Refutation Essay, Research Paper
Most Internet users are enjoying their freedom of speech on the Net, which is supposed to be protected by the First Amendment of the United States. However there are many organizations who are trying to strip americans of their rights. Their main argument is that of pornographic access to childrin via the web. Only a very small portion of the Net contains offensive material, most people do not use the Net for pornography. Caragata from Maclean’s magazine observes that, “it is pornography that stirs the most controversy.? But while there is no doubt that pornography is popular, it amounts to a trickle compared with everything else available on the Net” (Caragata 51). The Net is mostly being used for communication and information exchange, and only a tiny portion of the Net contains pornography and other offensive material.
It must be understood that censoring the Net is technically impossible. According to Allison and Baxter, “in principle, it is impossible to monitor all material being transmitted on the Internet. Considering the difficulties with international boundaries, a licensing system faces many obvious practical hurdles” (Allison and Baxter 6). As described by Allison and Baxter, “Any good Computer Science graduate can create a completely secure encryption system for concealment purposes. The material can even be disguised, for example hidden ‘inside’ a perfectly innocuous picture” (Allison and Baxter 6). Therefore, if a person wants to publish offensive material, he/she can design a formula to change the material with respect to a key, and secretly tell other users what the key is. In this way, they can retrieve the same material and pass through the government censorship.
While people are concerned about Internet pornography, it should be recognized that pornography is sometimes legal; for example, pornography is legal in video and magazines. Therefore, it is inconsistent to ban the Internet equivalents. According to Rheingold, “Citizens should have the right to restrict the information-flow into their homes. They should be able to exclude from their home any subject matter that they do not want their children to see. But sooner or later, their children will be exposed to everything from which they have shielded them , and then they will have left to deal with these shocking sights and sound in the moral fiber they helped them cultivate” (Rheingold n.p.). The Internet is definitely not the only medium for teenagers to find inappropriate material. Even if the Net does not have any, teenagers could also be exposed to indecorous material in many other places. For example, Allison and Baxter say that, “most authors using electronic media do not produce material that is any ‘worse’ than that available from news agents, video shops, or mail-order sources” (Allison and Baxter 8). On that account, if the purpose of censoring is to prevent minors from being exposed to indecorous material, not only the Net has to be censored. Censoring the Net will only eliminate one single medium for minors to find irrelevant material. Government censorship is not the solution to the problem, and alternative measures that have same effects as censorship can be practiced.
There are many alternative measures to government censorship which would prevent misuse of the Net and would have the same effects as censorship. According to Hentoff, “there are ways to protect children without the Act’s intervention: blockage of certain areas, passwords, parental supervision. And adults–under protection of the First Amendment–can remain protected from government thought control. However, if the censorship bill is passed, the First Amendment may effectively be excluded from cyberspace” (Hentoff 1).
It is very important for parents to provide moral guidance for their children, and parents should have this responsibility. Moral guidance is the foremost long-term solution to the problem. Rheingold believes that, “this technological shock (pornography on the Net) to Americans’ moral codes means that in the future, Americans are going to have to teach their children well. The only protection that has a chance of working is to give their sons and daughters moral grounding and some common sense” (Rheingold n.p.). In America, minors can be exposed to sexual material in many media. Providing children with moral guidance is the foremost solution to the problem.