Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Regulate This!

I continue to be baffled by the mental processes of many of my fellow Americans. I can't accurately describe it as 'thinking' since it bears so little resemblance to what I recognize by that word.

According to a recent Rasmussen poll "49% believe that the federal government should regulate the Internet the same way it does radio and television, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national survey."

Ok, that's wrong, but it's a little vague and we can cut them some slack. But this:

"Americans also believe overwhelmingly — 73% yes to 13% no — that it should be a crime to harass someone on the Internet."

is far beyond the pale.

Harassment [i.e. here, written speech] should be a crime?

Whew, let's pause and take a deep breath, everybody. Some looney mom in Missouri sets up a fake account and says cruel things to some teen girl, who later commits suicide. And this is not just stupid and vicious on the woman's part, but a crime?

If that isn't the grossest, most absurd advocacy of the violation of free speech yet, I can't think of a better example.

The slow ones of the world may be hopeless, but let's point out a few obvious things for their benefit anyway.

a) When someone confronts you on the street and makes unpleasant remarks, you may or may not be able to avoid them. But surely it is possible to avoid reading things that bother you.

b) Actually, once you've grasped (a), no other letters are needed, but we'll offer two more anyway.

c) If someone forcibly held your eyelids open in front of the monitor, or read the words to you whether you liked it or not, you would not have a valid case against the author. The thuggish mugger, yes. The author of the comments, no.

d) You don't have to believe or care about anything that the looney writes. That person's pen does not have magic power over your free will or critical judgment.

As I said, all this is obvious. So, what in hell are those 73%, er, thinking? Clearly, they are 'thinking' that the politically correct, and therefore appropriate, action in the face of cruel comments is to put a stop to them — by any means necessary. After all, how important is a trivial thing like the right of free speech in the face of a few wounding words?

In the style of what is very likely a large percentage of that 73% — get over yourself. And soon. Because if you don't, by the time your children are your age, far harsher results will follow than some idiotic insults by a deranged mother. When the government decides what is or is not acceptable speech they will also dictate what is or is not acceptable behavior in every other area of your life.


VH said...

Sadly, the fallacy that government should be able to dictate morality and be able to curb the "wrong" type of speech is still popular with many citizens. They just don't see the conflict of interest.

Jeff Perren said...

What do you think can be said or done to make it clear? Frankly, I'm on weak ground when it comes to arguing for what is (to me) blazingly obvious.

It would be like making an argument to prove that hitting my head with a hammer hurts. Anything I would use as evidence (graphs of neural activity in pain receptors, force applied correlated with tissue damage, etc) would seem less obvious than the simple sensation.

The harm from restricting free speech isn't quite that obvious (oh, would that it were!), but it's up there.

Ellen said...

I would love to know how to open the eyes of Americans to this, but I don't know how - to me, it is also clear.

When I hear the words come out of someone's mouth "there ought to be a law", I cower.

When I hear someone say "Someone should do something about that!" I ask, "Who? Who should do something about that". "Them, that's who , the government, whoever".

We have turned from a government by the people and for the people into a nation of people who wants the government to do their thinking for them, to take from those who have more and give to those who don't - even when they haven't earned it.

It's a sad and scary thing - that I've seen Obama go after bloggers and get them shut down - and now watching him go after the NRA ads.

I agree with the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz - "what a world what a world"