I was contacted last month by an individual who I don’t know, by email, who found me through my blog. He is upset about information on the Internet which provides information to adults/people about how to groom a child so that they can be sexually molested. There are specific tactics that adults use to seduce a child into being sexually molested and some bloggers are sharing these with others on their blogs.
This person alerted me to quite a long list of blogs which are hosted by Blogger (Blogspot). In other words these people are not hosing their own site on their own equipment but they use free services of Blogger (or they may pay for premium services, I don’t know). This person who contacted me felt that Blogger (who is owned by Google) should not allow people to post content that is of such immoral content as well as borderline illegal content (the teaching of someone to commit a crime is not illegal, only doing the crime itself is illegal). This person told me that it is not against Blogger’s rules to post information about molesting children, even if the information is helping a person commit what actually is against the law (besides the fact it is unethical).
It seemed hard to believe, so I then checked Blogger’s rules and the only rule I saw was for commercial pornography sites that cannot post a blog on Blogger. Even pornography can be posted by individual people, so long as they are not running a business using the Blogger site as the host of the commercial venture. The rules specifically said that these rules were in place to protect the First Amendment and the right to free speech.
He asked that as an active blogger using Blogger/Blogspot.com, that I contact Blogger and ask them to reconsider their rules and to state my dissatisfaction with their policies.
I really had a hard time thinking about the ethics of this issue. I have been thinking about the ethical and moral issues as they relate to free speech and also to policies of companies that host websites and blogs. I was trying to sort out what is legal vs. ethical and what free speech has to do with rules versus laws. I also was trying to figure out how a balance can be struck between the right to free speech versus the allowance of information whose purpose is to physically harm other people, especially minor-aged children to whom the adults in our society must rely on for their protection. I was grappling with this issue not just as a parent of minor aged children who I don’t want sexually molested or seduced by adults but also as just a citizen of the United States of America.
What do you think? Take a minute to ponder it then, please, continue reading.
The person who contacted me gave me a list of blog URLs that have what the person considered to be offensive material. I did not know what to expect to see on those blogs. I looked at a few blogs. Frankly I got sick to my stomach, literally, and could not look at any more of them. I read them in order to “flag” them as in appropriate content as per Blogger’s rules. Although after reading the rules of what being “flagged” means, it doesn’t mean much, it doesn’t have much effect nor does it get the blog closed down or banned from being published or viewed.
What upset me most that I had not realized was that the writers of these blogs claim that in their opinion, sexual relations with INFANTS, young children, pre-pubescent children, and still minor aged peoples who have gone through puberty, although illegal in the USA, is considered right and good by those who practice it. Some of the bloggers said their mission was to expand public awareness of the presence of this type of relationship in an attempt to normalize it. Some said they hoped it would be accepted by more people and perhaps some day it would be legal and also not frowned upon by others. These bloggers also had special terms to identify themselves into categories by the age of the child they prefer to have sex with in addition to whether these men liked girls or boys. Some were adamant that all the sexual relations were consensual and that it is our ‘bad’ society which tries to deny the child the joy of such relations with adults. Can you see why I was sickened?
I am so upset about this topic that I have avoided blogging about it. I just was speechless, for quite some time.
I should also mention that some of those bloggers stated they were members or supporters of the North American Man Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) which is an organization which is legal to exist in the USA even though the actions they support are against the law. Did you know that the ACLU stood up for them in court with free legal services to fight for NAMBLAs right to exist as a non-profit organization? Ugh. This has been discussed many times by FoxNews talk show host and radio host, Bill O’Reilly (even if you don't like him or agree with his politics you may appreciate his attention to this matter of standing up to try to address the issue of child predators and child sexual abuse issues). Earlier this fall, Oprah discussed this as well on one of her shows about pedophiles and Internet predators of minors.
The reason I finally am writing about this today is that I just heard a news report on FoxNews about men outraged that YouTube.com is broadcasting free videos that teach people how to pick locks and how to do other burglary techniques. Some men who were interviewed were irate to a point of raising their voices. They want the videos taken down from the YouTube site. (On YouTube, anyone with Internet access can upload video footage that they recorded, for hosting on the YouTube site and for free viewing by anyone on the YouTube site.) Yesterday I blogged about videos on YouTube showing illegal activities of children physically beating up other children in bullying activities, some in the schoolyard.
So I am outraged that some men can be so upset that videos teaching how to pick a lock is so outrageous when also on the Internet on the hosted site, Blogger/Blogspot.com are sits that teach anyone how to groom, prepare, seduce minor-aged children into being sexually molested. Why are people not outraged about that?
Yes, the bloggers with the child molestation/child seduction information are using the written word on the Internet and the lock pickers are using video but is there really a big difference? The content is equally disturbing. One could argue that the video demonstration of the lock picking is more effective than a textual write-up of the same directions. But I will argue that a long textual discussion of how to seduce children or even writing of how some feel that having sex with children is good or right is more effective than a video showing it. In any event I think the fact that we are dealing with Internet communications of data, whether it is in words or in videos, is all the same issue.
So the question is should private companies who let people upload content, whether it be text based or video clip based, have rules for content? Note that Google owns both YouTube and Blogger. What would be wrong with some rules of ethics and morals? For example some companies do have rules such as some free statistics counter programs won’t let you use their program on your blog or website if your website contains certain offensive or pornographic materials. Some sites that host websites for free won’t allow pornographic content. So can we and should we have rules for allowing content to be posted on how to trick a child into being sexually molested? Should there be rules to not allow directions for training people to commit crimes like stealing?
Some may suggest that a Federal law is in order to ban this. I don’t think that would ever happen due to the First Amendment. However decency rules and codes of ethical conduct could very easily be put into effect for websites which allow individuals to upload content which is hosted on THEIR equipment. The issue of what is posted on a privately owned website is and can be different than what a corporation allows people to host on their site, especially if it is a free service to individuals offered by the company.
I don’t quite know what I am accomplishing by blogging about this tonight.
I guess I hope to raise awareness of this problem of free information on the Internet that helps people learn information to commit crimes. I am not as upset at the idea of teaching someone how to pick a lock. No, I don’t want to be robbed, nor do I want anyone else to be robbed. However I think the issue of allowing the publication of information to teach, instruct and to attempt to normalize something like child sexual molestation is a bigger problem and I wish that more of our society knew about the existence of this problem and that something could be done about it, from a moral and ethical standpoint. As members of a civilized society here in the United States of America we should not enable or provide free platforms for people who seek to commit sexual crimes against our nation’s children.
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free speech, First Amendment