Web Porn for Everyone!

The execrable 1998 Child Online Protection Act, never enforced and long at issue in federal court, has been struck down. The law would have criminalized sites that allow kids to access material "harmful to minors." By what standards, you ask? Why, by "contemporary community standards." As Senior U.S. District Judge Lowell Reed writes in his opinion:

"Perhaps we do the minors of this country harm if First Amendment protections, which they will with age inherit fully, are chipped away in the name of their protection."

Elsewhere in Reason: Here's my take from November, and here is Jacob Sullum from way back in 2001.

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  • ||

    Senior U.S. District Judge Lowell Reed is my hero.

  • Guy Montag||

    Web Porn [sic] for Everyone!

    You mean everybody does not already have free web pr0n like me?

  • ||

    A person should automatically be suspicious of any legislation with either the words "child" or "protection" in its title.

    I haven't been paying attention to this issue lately and was amazed to learn that this legislative turd was still floating around the courts.

  • ||

    But this law is constitutional! I declared all such laws constitutional before I died! How dare this activist judge interfere in my decisions!

  • ||

    This, of course, has always lead me to wonder if the attempts to censor erotica are not really aimed at "the children," who they claim to protect but actually intended to curtail it's consumption by by adults to satisfy those who still embrace the priggish Victorian values that still infect our civilization.

  • ||

    ALL YOUR PORN IS BELONG TO US.

  • biologist||

    is it really a good idea to have Kerry Howley working HnR's porn beat? it seems to give certain people...well, ideas that they should keep to themselves, but just can't seem to.

  • ||

    ...Kerry Howley working HnR's porn beat...

    Heh, heh, heh...

  • ||

    biologist,
    Why should we keep our certain ideas to ourselves?

  • ||

    What makes you so sure he was taking to you, Warren?

  • Grotius||

    Well, finally I can say "it's for the children" and be happy about! ;)

  • ||

    Protecting the children. . .from the government. Excellent. And correct.

  • ||

    How come we're always having to protect miners, anyway?

  • ||

    Yeah, well, Lou Dobbs says................

  • ||

    While we are on the subject of web "research"

    Its getting very difficult to safely shave my palms due to my failing eyesight.

  • ||

    ". . . the priggish Victorian values that still infect our civilization."

    Hmm, I must have missed it.

  • ||

    The Internet is really really great,
    -- FOR PORN!

    I've got a fast connection so I don't have to wait,
    -- FOR PORN!

    There's always some new site,
    -- FOR PORN!

    I browse all day and night,
    -- FOR PORN!

    It's like I'm surfing at the speed of light,
    -- FOR PORN!

    The Internet is for porn,
    The Internet is for porn,
    Why you think the net was born?
    PORN, PORN, PORN!

  • ||

    THANK YOU. I've been saying the same damn thing for years: you can't "protect" the children by robbing them of rights they'll inherit once they become adults.

  • ||

    I don't think anyone is trying to rob children of their future rights. Don't they still have the right to an education? the right to housing? the right to work and join a union? the right to free medical care and a publicly financed retirement?

    Compared to these government-provided rights without which no one could live, the privilege of free interchange of ideas is a mere speck.

  • Zach||

    Don't you have a bridge to watch Hugh?

  • Duh!||

    You mean everybody does not already have free web pr0n like me?

    Anyone that still pays for pr0n is getting ripped off something vicious.

  • ||

    the priggish Victorian values that still infect our civilization.

    Yeah, wouldn't want anything to do with the values that drove slavery out of the civilized world, built the greatest democratic and trading nation on earth, and laid the foundation for liberty and democracy around the globe.

  • ||

    Great, now I'm gonna have "The Internet is for Porn" in my head all day.

  • Dan T.||

    While this sounds like the correct legal decision, I still tend to think that we allow basically unlimited access to pornography to both adults and children at our own peril.

    If nothing else, it's an interesting social experiment. Will we find in 20 years that the generations of people who attempted to at least stigmatize such material were onto something? Or will it turn out that it's good harmless fun after all?

  • ||

    Yeah, wouldn't want anything to do with the values that drove slavery out of the civilized world, built the greatest democratic and trading nation on earth, and laid the foundation for liberty and democracy around the globe.

    Didn't all those things happen pre-Victoria?

  • ||

    I still tend to think that we allow basically unlimited access to pornography to both adults and children at our own peril.

    This is why we have PARENTS.

  • Dan T.||

    This is why we have PARENTS.

    Of course - libertarian stock answer #14.

    Where folks get the idea that parents are super-people who are willing and able to monitor their children 100% of the time is another question, however.

  • ||

    Where folks get the idea that government can do a better job than parents of monitoring children 100% of the time is yet another question.

  • Dan T.||

    Where folks get the idea that government can do a better job than parents of monitoring children 100% of the time is yet another question.

    I don't think anybody does have this idea.

    Like I said, the long-term effects of basically unlimited access to pornographic images remains to be seen. That's all.

  • ||

    "Of course - libertarian stock answer #14."

    Cool, does that count as an argument? From now on, whenever someone says something I disagree with, I'll discredit it by pointing out that other people with similar beliefs have said the same thing. The world is round? Yeah right, that's the scientific community's stock answer.

  • ||

    Dan T,

    By that standard, we should ban the use of antibacterial soaps since children might be exposed to them and atrophy their immune systems. The long-term effects of consistent use of antibacterial soaps remain to be seen...

  • ||

    Who cares how the children of today turn out?

    The basic answer lies at the core of libertarian values: it doesn't matter, as long as they do no harm.

    Go ahead and become a pr0n-loving, web-addicted, lazy-ass, pot-bellied, sluefoot, french-fry toed, hairy-backed motherfucker. The moment you hurt, coerce, or threaten anyone you've crossed the line.

    And don't expect me to pay for rehab, to. Unless you ask. Nicely.

  • Dan T.||

    Dan T,

    By that standard, we should ban the use of antibacterial soaps since children might be exposed to them and atrophy their immune systems. The long-term effects of consistent use of antibacterial soaps remain to be seen...


    While I've not mentioned anything about "banning", I think the difference is that we have a long history of collectively holding the view that pornography is at least somewhat harmful. That doesn't necessarily make it true, of course, but it does mean that there's at least the possibility that previous generations have learned something that we may have to learn ourselves.

  • Dan T.||

    Who cares how the children of today turn out... it doesn't matter, as long as they do no harm.

    You're basically saying who cares how kids turn out as long as they turn out okay...

  • ||

    I don't think anybody does have this idea.

    Au contraire, I think there's a lot of people who have exactly this idea. Anyone who wants to substitute state control over what a kid sees on the intertubes for parental control, for example.


    Like I said, the long-term effects of basically unlimited access to pornographic images remains to be seen.

    I have the feeling that we have your experimental group for this right here at H & R.

  • Jennifer||

    wouldn't want anything to do with the values that drove slavery out of the civilized world, built the greatest democratic and trading nation on earth, and laid the foundation for liberty and democracy around the globe.

    What, you're saying this wouldn't have happened had the Victorians been less uptight about the benefits of a good fuck?

  • ||

    Where folks get the idea that parents are super-people who are willing and able to monitor their children 100% of the time is another question, however.

    I dunno, maybe you could do something like instill a proper respect for the opposite sex as individuals rather than fantasy objects?

    If you can't trust parents as a whole to raise their children I don't see how you can justify the existence of the human race.

  • ||

    "wouldn't want anything to do with the values that drove slavery out of the civilized world, built the greatest democratic and trading nation on earth, and laid the foundation for liberty and democracy around the globe."

    "What, you're saying this wouldn't have happened had the Victorians been less uptight about the benefits of a good fuck?"

    No, because they would've been wayyyy too busy ...

  • ||

    "What, you're saying this wouldn't have happened had the Victorians been less uptight about the benefits of a good fuck?"

    Eh. They were only uptight about the benefits of a good fuck while in polite company. No doubt the Victorian age was just like any other, boot-knocking-wise.

    The Victorian age just had a heavier varnish of puritanism than other, later ages.

  • LarryA||

    the priggish Victorian values that still infect our civilization.

    Yeah, wouldn't want anything to do with the values that drove slavery out of the civilized world, built the greatest democratic and trading nation on earth, and laid the foundation for liberty and democracy around the globe.

    Google: "Results 1 - 10 of about 1,120,000 for victorian+porn."

  • ||

    Any set of values that combines clapboards with shingles, that incorporates turrets into rooflines in residential neighborhoods, and that justifies the use of as many as four different paint colors on a single structure is just fine with me.

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