Internet Responsible For Sex

Pipe bombs. Truck bombs. Plane bombs. Body bombs. America has gone bomb crazy. Terrorists, both domestic and foreign lurk under every rock and behind every door. Militias are taking over small towns through campaigns of fear and violence, or so the government would have you believe. Bombings have increased somewhat, but the reporting of bombings has increased at a much higher rate. And every bit of coverage I’ve seen tries to tie some links to the Internet’s use in terrorist acts through its readily available information. Never mind that you can just as easily mail-order books, or even pay cash for them at a local bookseller, the Internet is apparently causing terrorism.

LA’s Fox News (by far the best news show I’ve ever seen for sensationalist journalism) usually has lead stories having something to do with sex or drugs. Past shows have included “Pornography In Your Back Yard”, “Terror At The GoGo Contest”, and “Southland Meth Labs: Children At Risk”. So it was no surprise to me when they started a story about prostitution in Orange County. What did surprise me was the way they tried to tie the Internet into the story. According to their crack (smoking) reporter, the Internet was being used to provide information on where and how to arrange hook-ups with hookers. Official cop reports stated “we don’t know if the Internet has resulted in higher prostitution rates. We haven’t gotten our computers on-line yet.” Nevertheless, the concerned and overweight reporter took us on a tour of whore.net, unbiasly cringing with feigned shock and disgust at the amount of smut available to consenting adults. The anchorpeople seemed very concerned as well.

Both examples show how the Internet is being targeted by various media forces as “something to be regulated.” These attacks on the Web are misguided at best and calculated at worst. By providing out of context, extreme example cases, these “reports” have the ability to sway not-yet-computer-savvy citizens towards the regulation of a medium they do not understand.

Consider this report. “There is a danger now stalking our homes. A device capable of linking our children to the direct corrupting influence of sex. A device that is a tool of harassment and threats for extremist groups and jilted lovers. This device is used in the arrangement of illegal acts such as drugs, murder, burglary, and organized crime. It is a weapon of terrorists as well. It’s overuse has resulted in the financial ruin of many innocent people, whose addiction and dependence on it are exploited by its creators. The name of this cursed implement of the devil is known by its users as `the telephone’.”

Anything, put in the right context, can be made to look bad. It’s pretty obvious that as the Internet increases in speed and bandwidth, it will begin to give television a run for its money. Whether the inclusion of Web hookup through cable systems will successfully blend with television programming is yet to be seen. And once it reaches cable, will it be put under deeper regulations? Many answers will become more apparent as things unfold, but in the mean time, keep an eye out for attacks and oversimplification of the different facets of the Internet. It would be a shame to lose it to those who do not understand.