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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Stop Iceland from Banning Internet "Violent Pornography"

As recently reported on FetLife, the government of Iceland is considering a ban on online "violent pornography," in the name of protecting children from its putative harm, of course. You can read the UK Guardian article here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/feb/16/iceland-online-pornography.

And here's what I've written the Prime Minister of Iceland at postur@for.stjr.is:

Dear Minister:

I am greatly concerned by the news that you are considering a law to ban Internet "violent pornography" in the name of protecting children.

In the first place, contrary to your statements, there is no consensus among researchers about this alleged harm. Consider, for instance, this statement by US scholars: http://www.ncac.org/media/related/20011205~USA~Letter_to_AAP_Concerning_Media_Violence_Statements.cfm.

In the second place, this is unquestionably an issue of free expression. Efforts to "protect" children with computer algorithms have had notoriously imprecise results -- including, for instance, the censoring of any and all gay-positive material -- so the only way to implement such a law would be to use human screeners, guaranteeing that those screeners' biases would come into play. Even terms like "violent" or "hateful" are construed in very different ways by different people. What one woman may call misogynistic, another finds arousing.

Thirdly, this goes beyond the desire of lone individuals to view erotica on their computers. Many people network online on the basis of shared erotic interests, such as BDSM (bondage and discipline/dominance and submission/sadomasochism). I belong to one such network based in the US. I am appalled at the thought that Icelanders with similar interests would become unable to find one another if this proposed law went into effect.

With a view to protecting their civil rights, I am determined that if this legislation is adopted, I will not buy any products from Iceland.

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