The Hamilton Spectator
Thursday, February 26, 1998
(Letter to the Editor)

Pornography has no place on the Internet

RE: `Software solution may not help Burlington library'

This letter is in response to the article in The Hamilton Spectator presenting views of why Burlington should choose not to censor its library internet services.

It is interesting that reporter David Akin included an example of how CleanNet computers can be thwarted, which has since been rectified. Yet an article explaining the positive aspects of CleanNet has not yet been included in your paper.

I feel the reason for this one-sided coverage is opposing views on the issue of censorship.

This has always been, and will continue to be, a deeply divisive point that has little middle ground. International Internet Alliance has anticipated this reaction so it also offers The Rocket which is an internet service provider without filters.

By offering both CleanNet and The Rocket, IIA allows the customer to choose. A new CleanNet client agrees to partner with IIA in helping to monitor the content of the internet. This partnership ensures that special interest groups cannot take advantage of CleanNet policies. Since it is a choice to subscribe to CleanNet, censorship is chosen, not imposed.

Censorship is an issue which has no easy answers. Many fear that it is a slippery slope which will progress beyond filtering sites which contain hard-core pornography to sites supporting art and literature. This fear is both ridiculous and reactionary. There is a vast difference between the two which will not be confused.

Another argument that is being used is that the libraries are providing access to the internet for those who are unable to do so on their own. This is a very important service, since the internet should not be limited to only those who can afford it. Yet blocking access to pornographic sites is not depriving these individuals.

Pornography is not intelligent, useful, or necessary. In fact, it is just the opposite. Besides being addictive and damaging for the user, it also destroys equality for women (and children) in our society.

Catherine McKinnon, a pornography theorist, explains how many are concerned with protecting the rights of invdividual who create pornography because it is their "right" in our democratic society.

I used to feel this way. However, McKinnon explains how pornography limits the equality of half the population by continuously presenting women and their bodies as sexual objects. the effect of hate material on ethnic groups is the same.

What is most ironic about this is that it seems like the most depraved material is also the most strongly defended. How can material like this be necessary and useful for anyone?

How does its existence improve and educate us? And if we agree that is has no value, why do we fight to protect it?

Cheryl Elliott, Stony Creek

Copyright © 1998 by The Hamilton Spectator. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.