The Internet must be free 2

The young today are immersed in a virtual world in which coarseness, nastiness, decadence, perversion, superficiality, egoism and nihilism are the norm.  They are instilled with moral relativism’s only guide, “If it feels good, do it,” and then their feelings are twisted in the worst possible way, through vile entertainment, so that what feels good is cultural poison.  The result is that we are breeding barbarians wholly incapable of sustaining a healthy constitutional republic.

According to Selwyn Duke in his latest editorial, this is the future the Internet is creating. It appears as if Duke misses the point of a free uncensored Internet completely, as well as falling into the very generation gap he cites in his own piece.

Let’s break Duke’s piece down point by point. He opens by discussing modern media’s remarkable ability to disseminate information and cause change, which he says is making ‘civilization very unstable.’ He says that in the past, the only way to rapidly change the human condition was through war. It may have been the fastest way, but it certainly wasn’t the only one or the most effective. He says that now the Internet has overtaken war as the fastest way to change society; in his eyes for the worse. He now reaches the crux of his argument with this point: the Internet is a channel for the instantaneous broadcast of lies and disinformation. Vapid hyperbole aside, this argument is false. Duke forgets that we have been improving our ability to spread ideas for hundreds of years. He forgets the printing press, an invention which enabled people to spread ideas and facilitated the Reformation, the Renaissance, and the Enlightenment. He forgets the entire history of the media.

But most of all, he forgets that the Internet can also broadcast truth at the same rate it can broadcast lies. What about the people Tweeting from Iran during the student uprising, a time in which the only way to describe the situation on the bloody streets of Tehran was through the very medium Duke claims is corrupting our youth? What about online news? And the role the Internet now plays in bringing down Obama while the mainstream ‘old media’ are trying to protect him? Duke is a blogger; it’s ironic how much he benefits from the very medium he accuses of ‘breeding barbarians.’

This flawed idea of civilizational destabilization continues with his next point that modern media-induced rapid change is widening the generation gap. And he’s right, it is. The spirit of the age is indeed changing, from one based on oppressive Christian values to free secular ones. Twenty years ago the idea of an atheist conservative would have been absurd. Just look at us now. And does new media affect consumers? Yes, it does, but I sincerely hope we as a race are mature enough to choose our entertainment for ourselves. That’s part of the beauty of the Internet: if I want porn, I can get porn. If I want news, I can get news. New media, and especially the Internet, have something for everyone. If you don’t like some of it, don’t view it. Nobody is forcing you to.

When someone from the far side of the generation gap writes an article against the freedom of the Internet, they almost invariably cite the anonymity-induced vitriol and profanity that appears in chat rooms, message boards, and comments sections. Duke follows this trend, in the article’s style of extreme exaggeration and worst-case scenario extrapolation: an uncensored Internet message board ‘destroys every wall of propriety that should exist among the family of man.’ He claims that our youth are becoming corrupted by these chat conversations and comments threads because they ‘normalize vice.’ Find me an example of someone truly ‘corrupted’ by the Internet. Some blame the Internet for their transgressions simply to shirk personal responsibility. I find the idea that a kid reading an angry blog comment or chat in an anonymous chat room – or even the word fuck – is going to be forever perverted quite comical.

The claim that the Internet will make perversions appear far more commonly is false as well. Duke is wrong, sexuality is determined at birth. A pervert will become a pervert regardless of whether or not he has access to the Internet (I use the word ‘pervert’ loosely here, as I’m sure that Duke considers anything other than sex between a married man and woman for the purpose of procreation perverted).

Duke has a fundamental misunderstanding of a free Internet. He only sees the smut, which to him must be removed. He overlooks the power of such an instantaneous and open medium of communication. One can find truth just as easily as one can find lies on the Internet. It is with freedom of speech and the spread of ideas that civilization progresses; the Internet provides both as no medium ever has before. It is imperative that it remain free.

– Matthew Slipper  June 25, 2010

Posted under Commentary, media by on Friday, June 25, 2010

Tagged with , , ,

This post has 2 comments.

Permalink
  • Frank

    To develop the art of critical thinking takes practice. The only way to practice is to be exposed to both the truth and the BS along with the methods for telling the difference. An unregulated internet provides all three.

  • Ralph

    When I first got on the Internet I was amazed. I could read anything from Karl Marx to Ayn Rand. There was news from the far left to the far right and everything in between. This freedom of information and comment is possible only because the Internet has yet to be “regulated” by government, religion and those claim to be guarding our morals.