835 Censorship: an official authorised to examine printed matter, films, news, etc., before public release, and to suppress any parts on the grounds of obscenity, a threat to security, etc. (Dictionary, MS Encarta) Censorship is the removal of material from public viewing or the ability to withhold any material from being released. Using this definition, this issue of pornography seems to be in the grey area of the censorship debate. On the one side there are the people who want to protect their children from pornography and violence, and on the other people state that the Internet is the only medium which still openly accepts freedom of speech. Censorship is always wrong, no matter how unpleasant the material being considered. The Internet is a complex, living organism inhabited by people from all nations, ages, cultures, political and religious backgrounds. Despite international differences, languages and other barriers, the Internet has spread to every nook and cranny on the planet. Today the Internet is a forum for free discussion and a provider of information for all of those who wish to use it. Because of this freedom present in the „web‟ minorities are afraid of this medium, and accuse it as being a villain, and wish to regulate it. Thus, the Internet is currently under fire because it is being blamed for the irresponsible people who use it for the wrong reasons. Web sites which contain pornographic material are the ones which we fear the most for our innocent children, however, censorship should never be used as the „easy way out‟ as it has been so often used before by governments. Pornography is the explicit, sexual images that we wish to protect our children from, but there are other ways. It is estimated that sexually explicit sites are the only sites on the Web making money, even though there is so much competition. Using this information we can assume that the majority of the people on the Internet want and use this pornography at their own leisure and are not at all offended by it in the slightest. Further research has shown that in Australia 70% of (the) people want X-rated material readily available. There is a market out there for such material and if the Internet is censored, many successful businesses will become „unacceptable‟ to the rules and guidelines set by the censors, but if we want it, it should be allowed to be accessible. The fact that people want the pornography still doesn‟t stop the Internet from being under fire from concerned parents and politicians. What matters are the people‟s rights. The freedom to read, and censorship fails to address issues of privacy and the freedom to use such services. The Internet is anonymous which makes it better for consumers as their reputations don‟t suffer. However, minorities would suggest that because of this anonymity on the Internet, ages can't be monitored, which makes it hard to determine if illegal activities are taking place. It is worth mentioning that all sex sites on the Internet require proof of age by the use of credit cards. The sex sites are interested in money, rather than the manipulation of young minds. The problem with this is that children can easily slip their parents credit cards out of their wallets and lie about his/her age and can gain access to the site. The sites don't have any method of proving that they are or aren‟t over 18, but parents can then choose to use programs developed for these reasons. The sites do try to eliminate young eyes from viewing these sites, but they can only do so much. Also, there are the people who think that pornography violates a moral standard and see it as „dehumanising‟ women, and some go as far as to say that “pornography is the undiluted essence of antifemale propaganda” (Susan Brownmiller). This doesn‟t explain the hundreds of titled magazines, most of which are today readily available to our
children thanks to the unrestricted rating on all magazines except those in plastic covers. So what‟s the difference between buying a magazine, or paying $20 a month for membership to a licensed pornography site? The truth is that pornography is not available for every eye, especially free pictures. The majority of the time it is just companies who are on the Internet providing people with a service and making money out of the industry. The question is can we trust parents to take the appropriate action to ensure that their children won't stumble upon pornographic material? Everyone has the right to freedom and expression, and the idea of limiting the freedom of speech, writing and the press has been the root of so much evil in the world‟s history. We are all sexual beings under the sun, please, give the paying citizens a break! Parents need to stand in to protect their children rather than eliminating it completely depriving the rest of the world of the material. Censorship is never the answer to our problems.