Wednesday, August 26th, 2009...1:11 am
The Times Wants to Censor Internet Slander
In today’s Times, Maureen Dowd worries about internet slander and the ability of people to hurt one another with anonymous speech.
Seems to me there is a point at which an insult becomes detached from its victim. It’s the difference between saying somebody is a convicted felon and that they smell like fish. One of those statements is a lie, and the other is an insult. One of them can be damaging, and the other can only be damaging if the person hearing it (unless they’re an imbecile,) already feels the way you want them to feel about the victim. So, to just address the prior, I think the internet is pretty well understood to be a zone where you’ve got to question the voracity and intentions of all involved. Slander–even if it is truly slander–is weak here. Not much to worry about.
Dowd, whose very livelihood is being threatened as we speak by the internet (a point a columnist-reader should always keep in mind,) brings in a very inappropriate reference to Lori Drew’s taunting a little girl to the point where the child committed suicide to strengthen her case for government control of the internet. The vulnerability of children is a whole different can of worms than the vulnerability of Times columnists. As I asserted in my blog on Drew’s conviction, there should be a law inspired by this case, a federal felony against menacing a minor or encouraging a minor to act against his/her own interests–regardless of the internet.
But why won’t we ever see it? Because the US media empire is nothing but a rabid dog at the door of the innocence of every child in this country, panting at the PG-13 door to expose them to prurience and violence and insipid claptrap. Its sacred devil is censorship, though everything we see and hear is censored by what is the most compelling, the most impulsively assured of hooking one into consumer behavior. If we, instead, censored for what is the most educational, informative, thought-provoking, inspiring, and enlightening, yeah, we’d have less media consumption, but, don’t you see, that’s just FINE. Maybe we’d start learning how to be social again. The quality of media consumption should be worth our effort.
And we’d be raising kids who are much better protected, intelligent, and ready to handle all the garbage we’ve stacked up for them to deal with.