When government desires to wrest power from its citizenry in this day, all it must do is construct the flimsiest scenario in the name of protecting the children. Who, after all, would be against preserving the innocence and physical welfare of a child? Not even the basest of humanity would ever allow themselves to appear openly as less than solicitous of a child's well-being--so intense has the worship of children become in this society. "The children! We must save the children!" they cry. These arguments have become such extreme hot-button items in the American psyche that even the most vocal proponents of personal liberty fall strangely silent when the magical incantation of child welfare is invoked.
The Communications Decency Act (CDA), a nearly 200 page document signed into law February 1st of this year by President Clinton, uses this premise as its sole supporting argument. In its severest application it becomes a felony, punishable by up to six years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine to introduce into the Worldwide Web or the Internet any material accessible to minors that is considered "indecent". The fact that a three judge panel in a Philadelphia Federal Court has put a restraining order on its implementation is of little consequence. At issue are the methods currently being used by our government to create public acceptance of restrictive and oppressive legislation. Children have become little more than pawns in the hands of American legislators for the purpose of oppressing the people with laws that would never have had a prayer of support were it not for the mindless, emotional appeal for the protection of children. When a government appeals to emotions rather than reason it indicates a considerable contempt for the intellect of the governed.
It has been a long-standing tradition of government that its laws are always enacted and interpreted for its purposes alone. They virtually never serve to benefit any but the aims of the lawmakers themselves which is nearly always increased control. Think and recall, if you can, when the last time a law was passed that actually made your life noticeably better.
The noted cultural anthropologist Ruth Benedict once stated that "society is personality writ large." Could we possibly amend that to read "society is character writ large"? Upon further consideration of cause and effect, the really disturbing issue being discussed here is the truism that people always have the government they deserve. Perhaps those in power are, in fact, justified in their contempt of the reasoning ability of the general populace.
The CDA on face value does not appear alarming. Do we not, of course, desire to keep the minds of our children unpolluted from "indecent" material? However, as in all governmental purposes designed eventually to introduce sweeping controls over its people, the Devil is in the LACK of details. The CDA, as in much other governing legislation, makes its definitions so broadly inclusive as to be interpreted as virtually anything THEY do not like.
THEY did not like the religion of those at the Mount Carmel compound of the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas. Despite, to this day, no credible evidence of their possession of illegal weapons and only the very thinnest evidence that there was any danger to the children within, the government decided to use the tactic of "suspected child abuse" to end the siege. This is the current and most powerful public relations trump-card the government possesses for effectively gaining public acceptance of actions that would be resoundingly condemned were it not for that grandly effective diversionary. Apparently the U. S. Attorney General did not consider incinerating children as included within their broad-form definition of child abuse. Ask anyone how many people were killed, altogether, in Waco and few can say. Ask them how many children perished and most can give, if not an exact number, at least a closely rough estimate.
Also, as in the case of the Freemen standoff in Montana, the primary public relations argument for the manner in which it was resolved was "the children" and their safety.
If there had not been a daycare center in the Oklahoma City Federal Building, the crime would not have registered in the minds of most Americans as being nearly as heinous.
Children must certainly be protected. That is not the issue. The issue is the politicians' increasing use of them as a human shield to cover their real intent--which has absolutely nothing to do with child welfare. What it has to do with is control--and control is effectively obtained when imaginary threats to our most cherished idols are disturbingly thrust upon our consciousness, followed by an equally imaginary but apparently viable solution.
Because the politicians have developed such a consummate skill for creating these fictitious crises so they can then present themselves as the only saviour from those crises, one must wonder where the fire really is from which they claim so much smoke is arising. The Internet and Worldwide Web, they would have us believe, is fast becoming a swamp of indecent material, even to the lowest of evil content: child pornography. The reality of it is, however, that as with any segment of society, anything considered indecent must be sought after. It is highly unlikely that children would ever accidentally have indecent material just appear on their screen. There are also child pornography laws already in place so that this low form of pornography is likely not even found on the Internet. For a child to be successful in searching for such material, let alone stumble across it accidentally, is stretching probability to the point of pure fantasy.
Computer networking is the most unique form of mass communication in human history. Intrinsic to its nature is its difficulty of control--a concept that terrifies government. This terror arises from the possibility that anyone of whom they consider their mindless constituency can now potentially learn what is really going on in their government.
"As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths." Isaiah 3:12
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