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Have the decency to let indecency law die this time

Submitted by on Thursday, 22 January 2009 One Comment
I am not in favor of children reading "Playboy" online.

I once threw a fit, in fact, when Dad left 4-year-old Big Guy alone with YouTube for only a few seconds. It was long enough for him to click away from "The Circle of Life" and onto "Kovu the Pimp," which featured a cartoon lion spouting language and attitude I'd rather a preschooler not hear.

Was it the government's fault my child found the raunchy "Lion King" takeoff online? No, it was ours, and it was a mistake that hasn't been repeated.

Could the government even attempt to shield him from smutty Kovu without trampling on the rights of those old enough to view it?

No.

The U.S. Supreme Court apparently agreed Wednesday, rejecting without even a hearing the latest attempt to regulate explicit material online without.

"Latest" is a loose term in this case. The Children Online Protection Act passed in 1998 but was never implemented because it immediately became tied up in court challenges.

It was an attempt to replace the Communications Decency Act. The Supreme Court rejected that law in 1997, a year after it passed.

That's right, folks. Congress has been trying to regulate the World Wide Web for 13 years. The U.S. Justice Department has spend just as long defending variations of a law that will never stand constitutional muster.

And what do you want to bet that someone's already drafting a new version. That person could well be my first SWAT honoree.

Even if you're willing to overlook the First Amendment issues - which I'm not - it boggles the mind that anyone thinks he can harness the entire Internet. Or, at least, it would if our pals across the pond weren't trying to enlist America's help in doing exactly that.

But there's no law any official can write that's going to stop our friends in Estonia from launching a Dora Does Dallas site. And there's no filtering technology that's going to stop our children from finding it during an innocent search, though recent generations of software have improved dramatically.

Any parent who wants to find the best way to keep their children away from online indecency need only to look in the mirror.

Don't let your child surf unsupervised. Use parental controls, because as imperfect as they are at blocking innocuous material at times, they're at least a starting point.

But most of all, be involved in what  your child's doing. Don't count on the government to keep them safe online, because there never will be a way to do that.

Thirteen years down the road, Congress should just quit trying.

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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One Comment »

  • Chuck said:

    As a parent and grandparent I agree. It is a parent’s, not the government’s, responsibility to monitor their children’s media content, be it internet, television, printed or anything else. If you have chidren, be a parent, get involved!