Yes Prime Minister is right again

Please please please don’t read this entry’s title as “Yes THE Prime Minister is right again” – I wouldn’t dream of such a hideous thought.

I learned a lot from the tv show “Yes Prime Minister”.  One of the most useful things it taught me was the logical fallacy of:

“All dogs have 4 legs.  My cat has 4 legs.  Therefore my cat is a dog.”

or in other terms:

“Something must be done. This is something.  Therefore we must do it.”

I have seen this happen so many times and it seems to be the inevitable result of a media led government.

And what’s the most influential newspaper?  Yes, sadly it’s the Mail.  They have a massive hypocrisy thing going on where they’ll berate some for their lascivious ways but somehow their own website, which is chock full of scantily clad “celebs” and more shockingly, celebs’ daughters, many under 18, looking “all grown up” in their scanties.

Back in the ’80’s it was “video nasties” – they successfully canvassed for the most draconian fillum censorship in the western world for that one – not only do fillums and videos have to be “classified” and/or censored but they even got a quango set up that censors and vets the bloody video box covers.  In recent years the classification board has gone searching for public input and the stuff we can see are allowed to see now is far stronger than the vast majority of stuff that got banned way back in the 80’s.  Oddly the serious violence statistics haven’t sky-rocketed.  Could that possibly be because, ooh I don’t know, we’re all adults and don’t need a nanny telling us what we are allowed to see?

Now it seems the baddy is the internet.  We must save the children.

OK so am I now backing the pornographers and the exploiters of women, children and whatever?  Not really no.  I am concerned that, once filters are set up it’s a short hop from “opt in” to “not allowed”.  It also won’t take much tinkering to add a few other search terms to the banned list – maybe “demonstration” or “riot” or “sit in” will be banned next after all we don’t want too many people getting involved in direct action – we know best and we’ll keep them ignorant.

In other areas of life the Mail is banging on about how too much government is bad for us – they want lower taxes and fewer public services as a case in point.  But somehow when it comes to parents being in charge they feel that we’re not up to the job and it needs government action to “help” us.

Frankly if someone’s giving their children unfettered access to the seedier side of the internet they should be done for child abuse or at least neglect.

Can anyone argue that it’s NOT the parent’s responsibility to keep their children safe?  (That’s assuming there’s any evidence that viewing “damaging” material is in any way materially damaging) .  Somehow we’re expected to keep them safe in every other way but not when they’re on the computer?  Really?  How pathetic some parents must be.

I propose a referendum:

Question: Do you adults wish to be treated like adults?  Yes or No?

How about the government start treating us like adults?  Chance would be a fine thing.

Further problems with the system occur – my mobile provider has an opt-in system in which they ban certain websites that are flagged by visitors to them or picked up via search algorithms.  One of these is a daily diary written by a comedian I like.  It’s entirely written IE no pictures – there’s no porn, there’s no threat to anyone BUT the language used isn’t suitable for use in a family newspaper – to read this site I would have to phone up my provider and ask them to unblock the “adult” filter – thus opening me up to the entire seedy side they’re stopping at their end.  Nice unintended consequence there.

Maybe this website would be blocked under the proposals because there’s an occasional category A swear word.

And depressingly nothing will change – there are many and varied ways to subvert filters – many developed by techies in places like Saudi Arabia and China (wow aren’t we doing well – copying the practices or those 2 places just as any good free democracy should) – some of which are now untappable and impossible to decrypt.  What next?  Ban all those systems?  It would stop political dissenters keeping their anonymity but that’s a small price to pay for “keeping our children (read “your children) safe”.

So I say again – “Something must be done.  This is something.  Therefore we must do it.”

Depressing to realise that “something” in this case is a clear nod to publicity (that no sane opposition wanting to be popular would oppose) is a vacuous nonsense that does nothing but push the dodgier users on to untraceable systems thus putting them further out of reach than they seem to be now.

Edit: A tory putting my case (or part of it) rather eloquently here

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