Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Monday 8/03/2004The trouble with the Web is that it's full of filth. And filth cannot be allowed: it's particularly dangerous in the US, where a flash of a woman's chest has traumatised a nation previously so inured to the gratuitously corrupting that it allowed "Police Academy Six: City Under Siege" to be produced and distributed.

Monday 8/03/2004
The trouble with the Web is that it's full of filth. And filth cannot be allowed: it's particularly dangerous in the US, where a flash of a woman's chest has traumatised a nation previously so inured to the gratuitously corrupting that it allowed "Police Academy Six: City Under Siege" to be produced and distributed.

It takes more than the underside of Janet Jackson's boob to worry us Old World sophisticates, of course, which is why David Blunkett is teaming up with US deputy attorney general Jim Comey to clamp down on the most dangerous, pervasive and evil aspect of the Net, Which would be, er, necrophilia. 

Um. Now, there is no doubt that as disturbing and unpleasant perversions go, necrophilia probably counts as one of the worst. I don't know for sure: despite many happy years spent poking my nose into however many of the Net's dodgy corners as I've cared to visit, I've never found the urge to go looking for that sort of jolly. Neither have I stumbled across it by accident, been pointed to it by mischief making friends or had any sort of contact whatsoever with Stiffnet or whatever the webring for such sights is called. I don't even know what the nickname for the activity is -- and I have a certain perverse pride in keeping up to date with sexual slang.

I have only the sketchiest notion of what it's all about, and that's fine by me.

So why concentrate on this, Home Secretary Dave? Well, it turns out that one mad sex killer was subsequently shown to have visited such a site: ban the sites and mad sex killers will go away, is the logic. You may be able to see some flaws here: it's the same old censorship story all over again. I thought we'd finished with that one?

It couldn't be that our wise leaders are just itching to get the power to ban stuff in general, and they've chosen a starting point so obscure and so unarguably nasty that nobody can or will complain? After all, no warning story has ever started "First, they came for the necrophiliacs, and I said nothing…"

It might be an idea to concentrate on stuff that is genuinely disturbing people who really don't want it, like pornographic spam: not only does it upsetms of people, it is hindering net access for many of those who could most benefit from the Web.

When drastic cures are proposed for problems that don't really exist, it's always a good idea to ask why.