Perverts in Parliament?

Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity, but don't rule out malice. - Heinlein's Razor (also attributed to Albert Einstein).

Practicality precludes addressing all of the issues surrounding Australia's proposed Internet filter. I'll therefore confine myself to one, somewhat disturbing, aspect.

I had doubts about the Internet filtering proposal that Labor took to the last election. It seemed to me that it would pander to parents who are not inclined to meet their responsibilities, thus imperilling their children. As the proposal has morphed and expanded, I've begun to worry that something deeply nasty is at work. Stupidity alone cannot explain it.

A child's best protection is a diligent parent. No filter is perfect. The presence of an unreliable filter will tend to lull parents into a false sense of security, leading to a reduction in that essential diligence. A reduction in parental diligence will increase the number of potential targets for predators who groom children online for abuse in the real world.

Filtering will not prevent child abuse. Traditional policing that catches abusers, pornographers and voyeurs stands a better chance. Resources dedicated to the filter will not be available for proven, effective policing.

The proposed filter will thus tend to increase paedophiles' opportunities, while reducing the probability that they'll be caught. Should we believe that those outcomes are “collateral damage”?

Many proponents of Internet filtering apparently believe they're doing God's work, oblivious that their behaviour is less “Hands of God” than “Pawns of Satan”. Even if we equate blind faith with stupidity, does it adequately explain the filter? Far darker forces are involved, I fear.

The filtering policy may be partially explained by shame reactions: reactions to feelings that those concerned know are not appropriate. One example can be found in intemperate behaviour over images by artist Bill Henson, which were subsequently classified PG. The PG classification indicates that the Classification Board considers that the images should not normally elicit prurience. In response to the art thus validated, some poor souls evidently felt inappropriate stirrings. Judging from the media, not all of the titillated are outside Parliament.

To the afflicted, filtering offers hope of deliverance from temptation. While resisting one form of gratification, they seek to impose upon the entire community a remedy for their own peculiarity. Is that not perversion itself?

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