Guest post from Charlie of All Very Unaverage.
The Conservative MP Claire Perry, representing the good constituency of Devizes, Wiltshire, has suggested the introduction of a Great Porn Filter. This stalwart piece of software would patrol the borders of our great nation, letting in only the most virtuous, the most pure, the most clean of web traffic. With the filter in place Britain might rid itself of the terrible addicition to pornography that has brought it to its knees (so to speak) and which has led to all the problems that we now face: student debt, benefit cuts and snow over our noble runways. Without internet porn Britain would once again be a place that Mary Whitehouse could smile down upon from her heavenly doilie-enhanced throne. It would become, once again, a green and pleasant land.
I'm not going to go into why the "research" supporting Claire Paerry's little crusade is rubbish. Foxsoup did a far better job than I could. But I am going to tell you what the result would be.
The filter is an attempt to censor pornographic imagery from young sexual adults. These dirty, naughty images would enter the country at will, but it would be the task of your ISP to clamp their electronic fists around your home phone line and prevent your household from accessing them. If you did want access to Asian Hot Ass or Mighty Cocks of the Midwest then you would have to phone up your ISP and ask them to remove it.
You would have to beg for porn.
"Hello there, this is Denise, how can I help you?"
"Erm, hello. I'd, er.. like some [mumble] please."
"Some what, sir?"
"Some [mumble] ass."
"Could you say that just a bit louder, sir?" [puts call on speakerphone for entire call centre to hear]
"I JUST WANT SOME HOT ASIAN ASS, ALRIGHT? IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK? I JUST WANT SOME PORN! IT'S BEEN 16 HOURS SINCE MY LAST WANK!"
"Just adding that to your account, sir"
Honestly, I feel sorry for Claire Perry's husband. How much porn must he get through in a day that she has thought about bringing in a national ban on porn as the only way to stop him?
But there's a very deadly side to this, as there is to all right-wing authoritarian plans. Because, who defines porn? There is no National Porn Agency. There is no Inspectorate for Sexual Materials. As far as I can tell, the nearest authority we have for defining porn is The Daily Mail. That self-righteous rag is the only place drawing the line in the sand and saying "this is filth", often alongside a full-page reproduction of said filth.
For those of us who do not have the taste to read the right-wing press we have to rely on personal discretion. For me, porn is heavily literal. I get off on stories and poems - yes, that is pretentious - I need to imagine an erotic situation to get off on it. From what I can tell of fixing the computers of my friends their erotic tastes cover a range quite different to mine: from comics to pictures to films to, in one case, 'Allo 'Allo slash fiction.
There are even, y'know, some people who, ha ha ha, get off on pictures of the same sex. Heh heh...
I remember being a 15 year old boy (we'll come to that later). I remember how confusing sexuality was. I remember how fucking difficult it was in those pre-web days to get access to porn. We don't appreciate it now, but once it was hard to get porn. It wasn't just a case of sitting down with a laptop and opening your browser bookmarks. Oh no. In those days you had to go into a newsagent. And browse the top shelf. And pick up a magazine. And walk up to the counter. And turn bright red. And experience the leer of the owner as he put it in a discreet paper bag. And walk out, shamed.
Now imagine that if you're a gay teenager.
It isn't easy being gay in a straight world. As much as we like to think that we're all groovy with gays, that we've got some gay friends, it's still not easy to be an out non-straight adult. It's positively dangerous to be a queer teenager. Can you imagine how utterly terrifying it must be to access gay porn in meatspace when you're discovering that you're not normal, that what you are can get you beaten to death? If you're non-straight, you know how that feels. If you're straight then have a good fucking ponder about it.
But the availability of the internet in the late 90s changed this. Suddenly the world of same-sex genital tittilation was available from the comfort of your own teenage bedroom. You don't have to risk being mocked, or a beating. Or death. Now you could explore your sexuality, discover your tastes, all from the comfort of your masturbation throne.
Claire Perry doesn't want that. In her world, young people don't have a sexuality, or erotic tastes. They're good girls and boys, appropriately attracted to the opposite sex, waiting to marry before they can get any of that nasty, sticky behaviour over with. And certainly not one of those dirty fucking queers. I feel sorry for her children.
And it gets worse. Because, it's the start of the slippery slope. If we start blocking erotic materials "for the children" then what else gets caught up in that censoring dragnet? A lot of things, for certain - sexual health advice. Images of healthy bodies that a worried teen might need to look at ("is my penis meant to look like that?", "Are my breasts meant to be different sizes?"). Sexual health sites fall under the auspices of "porn" for a lot of current parental control software. This is because netnanny software is fundamentally stupid. It doesn't know WHY you or your child are trying to access a site, only that the Scunthorpe council homepage is pornographic (based on SUPER ADVANCE KEYWORD SEARCHING).
Oh, what about abortion advice? Why would nice children ever want to access that information? Better block it! It's not like teenagers are going to get pregnant!
And then there is another group. I give this one special mention, despite its rarity, because I belonged to that group. A group of kids who hated themselves, who were positively terrified of their own bodies, who are desperate to find out why their own flesh has betrayed them. Transgender teens.
Yes, they exist. I hated what I was for nearly all my teenage years., wanting to rip the skin from my body, sobbing myself to sleep at night because I couldn't understand what I was. But then came along the internet. Oh, the internet. It fucking saved me. It gave 18 year old me a view of the world that made me realise that I wasn't alone, that I could do something about the pain that made me want to die.
Claire Perry, and her evil piece of legislation, would take that lifeline away. Oh, maybe not conciously. I doubt she even knows that trans people exist, let alone that there are trans teenagers out there who rely on the internet for vital support. She wouldn't notice as the sites they use to gain crucial advice from are blocked, due to having never-quite-defined "adult materials", as support channels are closed down for "endangering youth". She wouldn't notice as sites all over the net are blocked for containing mention of sex, genitals, puberty and sexuality, when what they are doing is educating a badly unrepresented and unsupported section of society.
She wouldn't notice as another young person slits their wrists in utter desperation.
So fuck you, Claire Perry. Fuck you and your plan to block life-saving "pornography". Fuck you and your plan to block REAL pornography.
Just fucking fuck you.