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Hitting The Wrong Target: Why A Well-Meaning Smut Ban Is A Bad Idea

By / 03.07.13

It was one thing when Iceland decided that banning the entire reason the Internet exists was something it was going to try. Now an entire continent is trying to pull this little stunt. The EU means well, here, and it comes from a good place. But they’re trying to solve the problem in exactly the wrong way.

The ban in question, contained in a proposal called Eliminating Gender Stereotypes In The EU, is essentially a problem of wording: The proposal calls to ban all forms of pornography in the media. Yes, in those words. You can read the whole thing here for yourself.

To be fair, the EU isn’t being politically correct here. It’s not a secret that organized crime networks are heavily involved in the sex trade, and the Internet is a major part of that. It’s not very hard to argue something needs to be done.

On the other hand, what the EU is proposing is:

A) Technologically impossible. What are they going to do? Ban proxy servers and try to enforce EU laws on US soil? Try to shut down Tor? Make VPNs illegal? This would be a profoundly empty gesture and ironically play right into the hands of organized crime types.

B) Full of unfortunate implications about human sexuality, male and female, straight and gay. Notice, for example, that the word “homosexuality” never comes up once, and the human rights concerns are just as prevalent in the gay part of the smut industry as they are in the straight part. That’s a huge problem, although in discussions on this topic far from limited to one EU study.

And C) A gross violation of the right to free speech. So basically, under this law, if a woman takes her shirt off in a movie, in theory it could be taken away from 500 million people.

Don’t get us wrong: There are enormous, and grave, civil and human rights problems the EU is facing surrounding Internet pornography.

The problem is their approach doesn’t actually solve the problem, just sweeps it under the rug, and that’s not good for anybody. How about, oh, I don’t know, trying to address the larger cultural problems that make this such an issue? That might do it!


TAGSBAD IDEASi see this ending in firepornographysmutthe euThe Internet

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