Robert Marshall's "Internet Filters Should Be Used to Reduce Access to Internet Pornography" addresses the controversial issues of pornography and Internet censorship simultaneously. Pornography is controversial because of the often graphic nature of the material; and its effect on people, while examined in numerous studies, cannot always be tangibly qualified. Internet censorship enters an uncharted grey area because while free speech should be protected, the Internet is an unsupervised, unregulated Mecca for material normally excluded from protection. As Marshall attacks public libraries and schools as places that should filter pornography because of the harm he claims it can inflict on minors, he makes recommendations for courses of action.
[...] His flawed arguments and vague use of the word “pornography” might work against him when speaking to youth as pornography is not nearly as taboo as it once was. Guys joke in classes about Internet porn, and many mainstream publications depict half-naked women (and occasionally men), often times in erotic positions and/or clothing. It does not seem that young adults hold pornography and related, softer materials responsible for problems of sexual deviance the way older generations do. This could be due to a lack of education about the topic or lack of exposure to studies examining the relationship between sexual violence and pornography. [...]
[...] Controversy in the past surrounding so-called “banned books” has incited far too much furor over their legal authority to place in their hands the job of Internet censorship of pornography through the use of filters on public computers. Instead, Marshall could have better spent his time properly defining what he means by “pornography” than placing the responsibility of its censorship on others. Marshall is also guilty of failing to cite any major studies linking sexual deviance and pornography, and there are many, so there is little excuse for this mistake. [...]
[...] By not properly preparing the law for the problems of pornography and Internet censorship to being with, you cannot begin to legislate beyond that or even recommend statutes. Marshall, in order to effectively work on this issue, must not work on emotional appeals and fear tactics. He must instead provide clear information about both sides, and he must give his audience significant figures to back his claims about sexual deviance. He must not make assumptions about other arguments. Citing other legal examples is a helpful tool, as is pointing out the use of taxpayer money in the scheme of this argument. [...]
[...] Marshall's suggestion of adopting legal codes or at the very least statutes regarding Internet censorship does not take into account the global technology that makes doubt about success more powerful. Marshall makes an error when discussing what should and should not be allowed in a library. As the subtitle reads, “Libraries Are Meant to Inform.” Could not one argue that pornography is a way to learn about sex? He cites the Board of Education v. Pico case as an example giving libraries control over the materials they select, and I believe he makes a good point that magazines like Hustler and Playboy are not available in a library. [...]
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