Free Speech Online Essay, Research Paper
It s a cold December morning and the men are all settled in the room arguing their own cases. They knew they were on the edge of greatness, but they didn t know just how great an impact what they were doing would have on the world. Sadly, they would also never get to see its true consequences in their lifetimes. Still, they trudged on through the tedious task of drafting up a Bill of Rights that would promise certain freedoms to all men within this new country that they had founded. All men within these United States. On December 15, 1791, the articles were completed. Little did any of them fathom to what extents these 10 basic laws would have to pertain to daily life. Computers, Cars, and even the light bulb were in the distant future. So, it was left up to our courts to decide how exactly these rights should be bent to accommodate modern life. But sometimes they go to far. For, Freedom of Speech means just that, Freedom of Speech. Be that on paper, in person, or on the internet which is the most recent area under fire.Congress recently had before them a form called the Decency Act. As surmised from Nathaniel Chan s website, it was said to supposedly support all the good things about the internet, and make all the bad things illegal or at least heavily monitored. I was one of the firm believers that such an act was a serious invasion of our freedom of speech. And, to describe this and defend this, I need to first fill you in on both sides of the argument.The internet is a certainly magical place. There is such a wealth of information and accessibility on the net that you can find out nearly anything you wish. You can find recipes, buy things, save money, talk to people, mail your representatives, take college classes, learn new things, and even sell items. People find love on the internet and people can truly be themselves on the internet. Kids play games with players in Japan, Australia, and England. Professors can share their lesson plans with professors throughout the world, in hopes of improving them. Scientists can ban together to make a better cure, a better service, or a better product. And most remarkable of all, is you can do all that from the comfort of your home with no gas to burn or money to spend. So, of course this media is alluring to anyone! But there is more to the internet, much much more. This is a place for people to share their feelings, thoughts, and ideas. Be these ideas good or bad. And this is what has raised many eyebrows over the past few years, ever since the internet became popular in mainstream America. As it can be inferred from Bruce Sterling s Book, The Hacker Crackdown, it seems the government is not too thrilled about this whole idea of finding people who share your interests. They see it as a place for terrorists to unite, for then to find fuel to add to their fire and even perhaps launch an attack. They see a vision of young kids all getting together and reading the popular Anarchist s Cookbook and making bombs to take to their schools and homes. Yes, they see all the bad the internet has to offer.More of these bad things include pornography, profanity, demoralization, and (as I mentioned before) terrorism. And, this Decency Act that was placed before Congress was aimed to correct all that. To keep such things out of the hands of kids, and likewise solve all the world s problems! Yeah, right! As about anything that goes through Congress, it s either too strict, or useless. This Act was too strict, and it received much criticism that eventually resulted in its death. It was aimed at restricting all things that could even remotely be harmful from the eyes of minors. You see, it is my firm opinion that The Decency Act in essence wanted to strip the internet down to solely a just the facts network of boring media. To the people who proposed the Act, this was the only sure fire way to win this war. However, they didn t do their homework.
As with any proposal to censor the internet, there is one major problem. The internet is world wide. If one country is to impose restrictions on its citizens, then that country is sure to fall behind, and have poor internet morale. Evidence of this takes place currently in China where only certain webpages can be accessed, and even those are heavily censored by the government. Thus, it has resulted in the Chinese to be falling behind on internet standards. Webpages aren t as flashy, people are less opinionated, and cultural diversity is minimal. The next problem with enforcing restrictions on the net is the fact of having the staff to actually look at every Webpage. There are countless millions of different pages out there, and currently we don t have the staff nor technology to monitor them all. Worse yet, these pages can change from minute to minute. Some even change seconds at a time. So, how is a country to monitor all that? Yes, they can do as China does, and make all webpages pass through a government server before going to the web, but this
limits updates to days at a time, and slows down the correctness of their info. What happens today might find it on a webpage there in two or three days from now. Now that you know all the boring details, it s time to get down to the real heart of the matter. Does the net need to be restricted? I, personally, say no. There is some evidence that it might help certain cases, but there are other ways to correct those problems. One example is pornography available to minors. Well, there is software out there that will not allow kids to view any material even that might relate to that, but parents just need to be educated as to how to use it. And even if you don t, what ever happened to parents watching what their kids do? Just don t let them alone behind the computer, if you re suspicious that they might be looking at stuff you wish them not to. Just monitor what they do view. I love the internet, and many people feel the same way. One such acclaimed Silicon Valley millionaire was quoted on the popular Slashdot website as saying, I found my niche on the net. I was finally accepted for who I was, not for what I looked like. I love it!. You see, on the Internet, at first, you never really knew who you were talking to. And better yet, we didn t care! We just want to talk, share ideas, opinions, and thoughts. Talk about everything from cars, to computers, to love. And not have the worry of being humiliated. It opened a door for a true freedom of expression that we never had before. It s a wonderful feeling that makes a segregated section of society feel accepted. And why would anyone want to take that away?
Although the Decency Act was done away with, others like it will come up in time. And each time it s up to organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation to raise awareness of such items, before Congress tries to sneak it on us. And, each time more and more people in the world will be first hearing about it, and take sides in the argument. However, I just hope that we don t simply listen to the bad, and not listen to the good as well. To censor the internet would be foolish, for it is just beginning to show us what it can really become, offer, and do. I, personally, am excited about seeing what comes in the future. How about you?