Monday, April 25, 2011

It's For The Children!

I find myself increasingly irritated with the argument and slogan "It's for the children!" This is one of those catch-all phrases that can be used to do just about anything. Who's going to argue with you? It's for the children! Hell, even if they DO argue with you, they look bad doing it. All manner of rights can be violated via "It's for the children!" Naysayers are, inevitably, scrutinized and demonized.
Ultimately, you just can't argue with it. If they want to tap your neighborhood phones, they'll say it's because there's a suspected pedophile in the area. Who's going to complain? Who's going to put themselves out there and say "While I understand the danger, I disagree with the method." No one is! They'd be labeled a pedophile by the public in a heartbeat. 
A relatively well-known service, for the Internet at least, Tor was under fire at one point because it promotes "Anonymity on the Internet." While anonymity is all fine and good, the good folks of the left-wing (and perhaps some right-wingers who wore casts that day) raised a ruckus about child pornography and other ill-begotten materials. They claimed that Tor was being used, or could be used, for the trafficking of child pornography and other obscene (and illegal) 'products'.
While I completely agree, child porn is a grave injustice, I do disagree with the proposed solution. You see, these intelligent people felt that Tor should be 'tracked' for illegal materials. Anonymity, they say, is all well and good until someone is doing something funny. When funny business is happening, they say, we have a duty to relinquish our right to privacy (a dwindling right on it's own), a moral obligation even. 
Well, that's just ridiculous. Sure it seems OK now, giving up a bit of our privacy on the web to catch these criminals. Unfortunately, Power is like water and it must be lain on a flat, transparent surface, upheld and checked by the people and itself. The more we let those in power tip the scales, the more we tilt this giant pool, the harder it becomes to reverse. Power becomes heavily weighted once it's let loose, and like water, the people find it increasingly difficult to slow it down. 
In this analogy, giving up our rights to privacy in the name of a very small number of criminals is akin to tipping the pool about half an inch to the left. Not a big deal, right? Sure, if we tip the pool half an inch to the right, reclaiming our rights after the fact. Unfortunately, it's generally legislated by then and it's illegal to tip the pool back. What's worse, six months to a year from now they'll be coercing us to tip it another inch.
Suddenly, not only do we have to deal with a really heavy frame being off-balance, but all the water is on one side, and we're all getting wet. 
A great man once said "Those who sacrifice freedom for safety deserve neither" (Thomas Jefferson). This is no less true in the case of child pornography and our rights. Is child pornography right, or even 'not that bad'? No, it's a grievous crime against innocence and purity. Should we submit to random searches of our computers, persons, location and personal affects to root out potential culprits? Absolutely not!
Why won't it help, you ask? Child pornography is illegal on the grounds of child abuse, of course. We would ultimately be putting forth trillions of dollars and millions of man hours (if not billions) for these things. What's worse? Child abuse and molestation occurs mainly from family and friends. 
Unfortunately, we can't license people to be parents, with tests and psychological profiling required before creating life. I believe a good walk through your local Walmart will show just how needed it is, too. 

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