(2) Tue 4 Jul 95 14:40 By: Robin Murray-o'hair To: All Re: Re: Cyberporn and the Religioni

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(2) Tue 4 Jul 95 14:40 By: Robin Murray-o'hair To: All Re: Re: Cyberporn and the Religionists St: ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ @EID:0a22 1ee47500 @MSGID: 1:382/1006 2FF98B36,D9.0002 @PID: GenMsg 4.24 [0002] @Date: 04 Jul 95 18:40:54 UTC * Original Message Posted via THEIST_WATCH * Date: 03 Jul 95 17:47:46 * From: Robin Murray-o'hair @ 1:382/1006 * To: All * Forwarded by: Christopher Baker @ 1:374/14 * Message text was not edited! @MSGID: 1:382/1006.0 8841FDC3 @TID: WILDMAIL!/WC v4.11 94-0279 "CYBERPORN": LATEST TARGET FOR RELIGIONISTS? The Religious-Conservative Crusade Against High-Tech Porn is Really An Old Agenda With Silicon Makeup. by Conrad F. Goeringer "Cyberporn," computer generated or transmitted images of "pornographic" acts, has become the latest bete noir of religious conservatives, some liberals governmentalists, cops, and politicians who know a good thing when they see it. Although the audience for such materials is still relatively small considering the membership in various on- line services, advocates who insist on government action paint the image of millions of vulnerable children exploring a cyberspace infested with smut, sexually violent and explicit materials. And as with attempts to censor or regulate printed or video materials which are "pornographic," the latest strategy this time directed against "cyberporn" involves appeals to fears of child abduction or the spread of child pornography. Indeed, the Christian Coalition's recent "Contract With the American Family" called for "Enactment of legislation to protect children from being exposed to pornography on the Internet" and insisted that "Possession of child pornography should be a crime." This week's edition of TIME MAGAZINE includes a cover and lead article devoted to "Cyberporn." Along with abortion, prayer in schools, and crime, "pornography" is again a hot issue, thanks to the Internet and the growing use of personal computers. TIME quotes from a report due for public release this week from researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, titled "Marketing Pornography on the Information Superhighway." Sexually explicit materials are "out there" in cyberspace, and there are numerous news groups (such as alt. sex.stories or alt.sex.bondage) devoted to various aspects of sexuality. And there are BBSs or Bulletin Board Systems which sign-up customers and make available graphic files which are transmitted and downloaded with a computer and modem. None of this, however, involves issues that don't already apply to the printed medium of "adult" books, magazines, or newsletters. The same pictures which can be found in sexually explicit magazines at an adult bookstore, can be found on BBSs. Civil libertarians note that trying to censor on-line materials is really comparable to banning books, videos, and magazines at a local porn shop. What's the difference? There is also little or no good evidence to suggest that the overwhelming number of people taking advantage of computers and BBSs to access adult material are being coerced to do so against their will. Pornographers are not "pushing" their wares as with books and the slick magazines, you have to WANT to purchase them, which is one reason why adult entertainment, even "cyberporn," is so profitable. By raising the specter of child pornography, "kiddie porn," and even scenarios where children and youngsters are "abducted" by Info Highway kidnappers, the religious conservatives (and even some of their liberal allies) have managed to stampede some of the public and much of Congress into a rampage. Conservative groups such as the Family Research Council insist that the on-line world is populated by child molesters who, according to TIME, "represent a clear and present danger." But according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, although there have been about a dozen "fairly high-profile cases," kids who are not on-line (the overwhelming percentage) are at risk in everyday situations. Critics note that the pervasive fear of organized high-tech pedophiles luring and abducting kids over the Internet smacks of the late '80s hysteria about non-existent Satanic cults and organized rings of ritual child abusers. The greatest molestation threats still originate in the home, and of the 800,000 children reported as missing each year in the U.S., most are lost and soon located, or victims of abduction by non- custodial parents or relatives. Exon To The Rescue Unfortunately, level heads and clear thinking did not prevail in the case of the Communications Decency Act, a creation of Senator James Exon. Though it was termed "a frontal assault on the First Amendment," passage of the legislation was a prime objective for religious conservatives. It was attached to a larger telecommunications act and passed the Senate 84-16. The bill essentially places all computer networks and on-line services under the jurisdiction of the Federal Communications Commission. The Internet, and the rest of the Information Super Highway, is not treated as traditional print media, thus eradicating numerous First Amendment barriers. That specter of government oversight is too much even for House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who last week said that the Exon legislation was "a clear violation of free speech, and it's a violation of the right of adults to communicate with each other." The Senate bill moves to the House for debate this month. Meanwhile, two representatives are drafting an anti- Exon amendment "that would bar federal regulation on the Internet and help parents find ways to block material they found objectionable," according to TIME. State Power, Religious Dogma For civil libertarians, the current hysteria over "cyberporn" is just another example of a problem blown out of proportion for political purposes, where the solution is more governmental and religious power. They note that computer-savvy youngsters will roam the Internet looking for pornographic images in much the same fashion that they have purchased or circulated adult magazines. While giving the government more power over communications, the Exon legislation also ignores deeper social dimensions about human sexuality on or off line. As a society we have a schizoid view of sex, one that frequently sends mixed messages to youngsters. We advertise "swimsuit" issues of magazines or have popular programs such as "Baywatch," but become hysterical about nudity and sex in its more obvious forms. The religious placebos of chastity and resistance to temptation are either ineffective, or they can result later in life in psychological and marital disfunction. In a culture where youngsters are not only exposed to sex on a daily basis but are having sexual relations at an earlier age than ten or twenty years ago, religious programs such as "True Love Waits" that preach restraint until marriage are unrealistic. They are designed more for the adults promoting them than for the youngsters at whom they are aimed. Modern culture seems destined to suffer periodic waves of "issue hysteria" which captivate the public imagination, and soon dissipate. Some compare the fear of "cyberporn" to earlier concerns about pit bulls, gangs, satanic cults, product tampering, fluoridated water, and microwaved food. Others insist that "cyberporn" is an issue being exploited by religious conservatives and political elites in yet another effort to chip away at the First Amendment. In either case, smut on the Internet makes good copy for politicized preachers and vote-hungry legislators. --30-- ----------------------------------------------------------- THEISTWATCH An educational service provided by American Atheists, P O Box 140195, Austin, TX 78714-0195, Telephone (512) 458-1244, FAX: (512) 467-9525, BBS: (512) 302-0223, Fidonet 1:382/1006. For information on American Atheists, e-mail: info@atheist.org. * WCE 2.0/2394 * One man's religion is another man's belly laugh. -- WILDMAIL!/WC v4.11 @ Origin: American Atheists Online (512) 302-0223 (1:382/1006.0) *PATH: 382/1006 29 91 92 3615/50 374/1 98 14 --- GenMsg [0002] (cbak.rights@opus.global.org) * Origin: Rights On!-A_THEIST Echo Mod/Host-Titusville_FL_USA (1:374/14) SEEN-BY: 102/2 138 742 835 851 890 943 270/101 280/1 10 25 29 31 108 161 333 SEEN-BY: 280/378 385 396/1 @PATH: 374/14 98 1 3615/50 396/1 280/1 102/2 835 943

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