Internet Censorship and other Attacks on Free Expression
This week, I will be airing an interview I did with Jerry Barnett, author of Porn Panic. We started a discussion on the current political situation in the UK with their new laws that restrict access to pornographic material on the internet, you know, censorship.
Similar to California’s Prop 60, the move towards blocking pornographic material in the UK is disguised as an attempt to protect children from internet pornography, but Jerry presents a compelling case that this is really a palatable way to cloak what the true intentions are … to censor the internet. (Prop 60 was presented as bettering the porn industry for the sake of workers’ health, but was really an attempt to drive the industry out of California by making it too cost prohibitive to continue.)
Jerry lays out some of the problems with the legislation, such as the broad definition of “pornography”, cost for websites to comply, and privacy issues that could arise when all of this age verification information is stored on servers. It is estimated that this censorship system (let’s call it what it is) will block over 4 million sites to UK web surfers.
Pornography is a form of expression (sexual and sexuality expression). It is a revolutionary art form (from its earliest day).
While the UK anti-porn law is the backdrop of this episode, it is really about freedom of speech. It is about restricting speech and expression on the internet, as well as university campuses. And we do talk at some length about the history of restricted speech on campuses.
The following quote comes from an article posted by The Wall Street Journal (Higher Education’s Deeper Sickness, November 13, 2017). It goes to the core of what Jerry and I discussed. Silencing speech and expression will have dire consequences and gives rise to McCarthyism, mob-rule and is, by its very nature, anti-intellectual.
Well-balanced opposing views act as a corrective for each other: The weaker arguments of one side are pounced on and picked off by the other. Both remain consequently healthier and more intellectually viable. But intellectual dominance promotes stupidity. As one side becomes numerically stronger, its discipline weakens. The greater the imbalance between the two sides, the more incoherent and irrational the majority will become.
Join me at 7:30 PM Eastern on Wednesday, November 15. While this is a pre-recorded interview, I will be streaming it live. I will also be available for chat.
- Sex & Censorship Website
- Porn Panic! – The book
- Jerry Barnett on Twitter
- YouTube Channel
- Article about Milo and Berkley mentioned in the interview
Jerry Barnett has been a political activist since first attending anti-racism protests as a teenager in the late-70s. He began working as a software engineer and technical consultant in the mid-80s, and for a decade worked for a number of leading technology brands. When, in the mid-1990s, the world wide web changed the face of computing, he saw an opportunity to set up a web software business.
Seemingly inevitably, he began to work for the online adult entertainment industry, which represented the largest and most profitable online business at the time. His customers included well-known industry names such as Private and Playboy TV. He later set up his own pay-per-view service, Strictly Broadband – in its day, this became Britain’s “Netflix of pornography”. The online adult industry peaked in 2007 and went into steep decline following the arrival of the free content model.
As a participant in adult entertainment, Jerry saw first-hand how the British censorship state, aided by morality campaigners, was trying to regain control of a medium that reduced their power, influence and financial gain. The UK is the most censored society in Europe, but censorship laws designed for a world of cinema, TV and video no longer worked in the digital age, and vested interests were determined to seize back their power.
He became chairman of the Adult Industry Trade Association (AITA), and a member of the Policy Council of US-based industry body, IFFOR (the International Foundation for Online Responsibility).
After closing his business in 2012, he founded the Sex & Censorship campaign, with the aims of countering misinformation about sexual expression in the media, opposing the drive towards more state censorship and defending sexual freedom. He believes that the dangerous drive towards censorship is really not about porn: that just makes for a convenient excuse.
He regularly makes media appearances, participates in university debates, and speaks publicly.
Subscribe to Stereo-Typed on your favourite podcast app.
Like what you see or hear? Please consider joining my Sugar Daddy Collective and help me bring more interesting topics your way on a weekly basis.