Action Alert!

censorship, anyone?

By Peter Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Aug 25, 2006

I don't like the idea of Big Brother looking over my shoulder to see what I'm doing. And in this day and age, governments all over the world (including the United States) have an increased interest in online snooping.

I don't mind the government digitally looking over the shoulders of online sexual predators. I just mind the government taking a look at what I’m doing (fishing without cause) on the chance that I might be one.

Here’s a better example:

I don’t want the government monitoring online usage to prevent people from becoming the victim of a hate crime. I’ve occasionally had a negative thing to say regarding the desire of militant gays and lesbians to destroy traditional marriage in society. Not to be a part of this traditional structure, but in fact to destroy it.

When my company (Trinity Communications) was doing web work for the Alliance for Marriage, we had trouble with content filtering software (such as that used by WatchGuard) blocking their online content. Why? Because the gay community had complained that the Alliance for Marriage was a “racist hate group”.

You can take a look at their web site: www.allianceformarriage.org. Does it look like a racist hate site to you? The only sin of this organization, if you can call it that, is to encourage the US Congress to pass the Federal Marriage Amendment. So they must be gay haters. The text of the Federal Marriage Amendment is, to some politicians, just as bad as saying “Boy, you get to the back of the bus.”

I wouldn’t want my children visiting racist web sites. I would have no problem with them going to the Alliance for Marriage site.

What if the government were doing the filtering instead of private entities?

In the post 9/11 era, where government snooping is becoming more prevalent, you have good reason to be nervous. In addition, some legislators would like the Internet to be restricted, censored, or monitored for the better protection of the citizenry. Over the years since the World Wide Web came into being (circa 1994), First Amendment rights have been challenged. There hasn’t been much (if any) success to date, but that could change in the future if we aren’t careful.

The problem is this:

The same politician who wants to restrict “hard core” pornography may find images of aborted babies equally dangerous. The same politician who wants to filter Neo Nazi propaganda might find pro traditional marriage propaganda equally offensive. The same politician who wants to prohibit pro militant Islamist groups from accepting donations might want to prevent such groups as Operation Rescue (or even American Life League) from accepting them.

Keep your eye on this issue! We need to fight private companies providing filtering services that would erroneously block access to pro-faith, pro-life, pro-family material – and we need to fight politicians who promote censorship on the Internet.

Child pornography may be first, but we may be next.

Peter Mirus is a business, marketing and technology consultant who serves as a guiding member of the Trinity Communications Board of Directors. He has served as director of design and/or application development for many key Catholic projects since 1993, assisting such organizations as EWTN, the Knights of Columbus, and the March for Life. A specialist in non-profit organizations, he continues to work regularly on the design mission of CatholicCulture.org.
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