In recent days Deborah Robinson, founder and editor of Australian Women Online, has been dragged back into the torrent of debate about the Government’s plan to introduce ISP filtering.
Unlike a number of others talking about this issue, Australian Women Online does not have a broader agenda. We are not part of the civil libertarian, freedom of speech, pro-porn or conspiracy theorist movements, nor are we part of an anti-porn lobby, “family-values” or religious group.
Our motivation in being part of the debate is simply to say that we believe that as the internet is a shared space, what goes on in this space needs to be negotiated.
The apparent unwillingness of some to rationally discuss, compromise and problem-solve over the use of this shared virtual world seems to us a sad reflection of the ever growing sense of individualist entitlement that’s becoming so prevalent in the “real” world.
Many will argue that it is about the “technical difficulties”, however when asked if they would support the concept if the “technical difficulties” could be resolved, more often than not it then turns into an issue of civil liberties. What becomes increasingly apparent is that many of the arguments raised are just smoke and mirrors designed to divert attention away from the fact that some are just upset that the free-for-all that has been the internet is coming to an end. The laws of the internet are simply catching up with the laws of the land.
Those who are seriously concerned about the issues have an absolute right to have a voice, but they’ll need to leave the doomsday tactics aside if they’re to be taken seriously . Mudslinging, hysteria and bullying are easy, especially with the shroud of anonymity the internet now so conveniently provides.
When we peel back the layers, “But I don’t want it!” appears to be the underlying catch cry and quite frankly it’s as predictable from this scaremongering minority as it is from a two year old presented with broccoli at dinner time. This way of communicating needs to remain as unproductive in the virtual world as it is in the real world.
Unfortunately, because they are just as noisy, it is easy to fall under the assumption that they are the voice of the majority. Let us not equate noise with reason. Instead we can measure the seriousness of an argument based on the productive action of those who can demonstrate enough insight and maturity to understand that no-one gets it all their own way, not in a shared space. Thank goodness there are a number of reasonable and well informed people out there and to those people who have participated rationally in the debate we say thank you.
It’s people such as these who need to be called into action, to come forward and constructively inform the debate and work with the government to ensure an outcome that is in the best interest of the community at large. The gambling industry managed to negotiate its place on the Australian internet landscape without hysteria. It remains to be seen whether or not the adult industry or its advocates are capable of doing the same.
Our position at Australian Women Online is as follows:
As part of that negotiation process and as regular users of the internet, we are happy to make it known that we are not opposed to the government’s plan to introduce ISP filtering to regulate the accessibility of pornographic content on the internet. The issue of whether or not pornography should be legal is another debate altogether and encompasses a much more complex array of issues than just ISP filtering. We are not part that broader debate.
UPDATE: 2 November 2008
We are not in a position to provide a forum for this debate on our website. We do not have the available manpower to handle the high volume of comments we could expect on this issue and it is for this reason we have closed the comments on this post.
It is not our role nor is it our responsibility, to address the concerns of every single individual who is opposed to ISP filtering. Those who are opposed to ISP filtering have sufficient representation and there are thousands of personal blogs, websites and forums on the Internet where you can share your opinions with like minded individuals. Please note we will not reply to any further individual correspondence on this issue.
Related pages on this website: Statement on ISP Filtering from Australian Women Online