When the coalition government was elected I welcomed what I thought would be an end to Socialist/state interference in our private lives. I thought the so called “nanny state,” where a few privileged individuals could decide what I as an adult could view or even think were for a while at least banished. It seems I was wrong. The nasty, patronising, moralising, interfering busy bodies who stalk the Tory party like the ghost of “Miss Havisham,” bitter, revengeful and hateful of the suggestion that adults can or even should be treated as adults are back.
David Cameron is going to enforce a ban on accessing pornography in the privacy of your home by forcing all internet providers to apply “porn” filters unless an individual opts out and requests access to adult material. This is for me the especially frightening part of his proposal. By opting to view adult material you will automatically be placed on a list of people likely to view material that the government has banned. The consequences of this are immense. Who will have access to this information? Will the police in future, if you are stopped for a minor motoring offence for example, be able to check if you have opted into viewing pornography? Will they then automatically be able to seize your computer to check you have not accessed anything that the government has deemed unlawful? Also once this process of government banning and censorship starts where will it end? Will Britain in the future be like China where the government decides not only what images you can view but also what political or religious content you can see? These proposals by David Cameron are the beginning of a very slippery road that has the potential to erode very quickly civil liberties that we take for granted in an allegedly free society.
The justifications used by David Cameron for this assault on our liberty are at best debateable if not indefensible. Child pornography is already illegal and internet companies already have a zero tolerance approach to dealing with such images. The people who use these images will easily find ways around filters, indeed they already do. They operate in stealth among like minded individuals. Banning access to porn will not stop these people. The people who will suffer will be the many millions of adults who use pornography to satisfy their personal fantasies. The majority of sexual images on the internet are images created by individuals to share with other adults.
The manufactured moral panic over rape porn for example is exactly that, a moral panic to justify David Cameron’s wish to make all sexual images that are not legal to buy in a licenced sex shop illegal to view on the internet. What will then be legal is in reality a very limited range of sexual material. British citizens will once again be censored by our betters in regard to what we can or cannot view. These banned images are not just rape fantasy images but also images for example of “golden showers,” images of fisting and various BDSM activities which many people enjoy with other consenting adults. The people who make and who view and who enjoy these images are not criminals but British adults making a free choice to enjoy images and sexual behaviour that is consensual.
Similarly the moral panic over children accessing adult images is in reality an emotionalised politicising to create fear. These groups believe they have a duty, indeed responsibility to censor the sexual life of adults. Parents have children and it has always been assumed that as a parent you are responsible for your child. This means that it is the responsibility of parents, if they do not want their children to view certain images, to apply filters to block those images. What David Cameron is now saying is that the government will take responsibility away from parents for their children and that the state will do you’re parenting duties for you. The state will decide what is good for your children not you the parent.
This generated moral panic of course is just an excuse for the state to ignore evidence and instead assert an authoritarian hatred of personal liberty and its mistrust of its citizen’s sexual autonomy. The truth is that there is no credible academic evidence that proves that access to sexual images are responsible for acts of sexual violence or that such images are somehow changing how young adults behave sexually. What we have instead is the anecdotal evidence of anti sex pressure groups determined to impose their moral values on the people of Britain. The government too easily has given up on its libertarian credentials and succumbed to the worst moralist tendencies of its nasty party rump, and worst of all, for a government that prides itself on its free market credential, it has given in to the worst of socialist social engineering.
This shameful politicking by David Cameron brings shame on the government. I only hope the British public are not intimidated and I hope the majority opt for porn so that the government is sent a clear message that liberty matters.