KANT'S IMPERATIVE

     A more serious application of Kant's Imperative is the recent
request by the New York Attorney General to remove various google
newsgroups from our servers named after child pornography.

     Otherwise known as usenet news, the newsgroup system, which existed
way before google was sucking its thumb, is a global unmoderated and
anonymous communication system built on the power of the internet.

     It is very much like the postal system, anyone can send anything
from anywhere without being tracked, only in this case a copy is kept
around for a while so anyone can read it who is interested.

     Anonymous unmoderated posting, anonymous unmoderated reading.

     Moderated means someone in the middle checks the posting for
political correctness before passing it on to readers.

     Anonymous means the source of the posting can not be tracked.

     ((Encrypted means only those the posting is directed to
can read it.

     Signed means unrepudiatable, its the opposite of anonymous.))

     You can post a political commentary today, and it will be all over
the world in 5 minutes, and no one can track you down or punish you for
stating your views about the local or not so local regime of thugs that
have been taking your children or family in the night.

     You can also post child pornography with impunity, but it ends up
in the hands of every police department and child protection agency on
the planet in those same 5 minutes.
 
     What criminal sends pictures of his crimes, the victim and the
crime scene to every cop and social protection agency on the planet 10
minutes after the crime?

     Yes, a lot of drooling psychopaths can also get the picture, if it
is posted to a newsgroup, but if it were your kid, which would you
prefer, to have everyone have the picture with some chance thereby of
finding your kid, or have no one have the picture and maybe never even
find out the abuse is happening or if your abducted kid is even alive.

     Fortunately most abused kids are not abducted kids, most of whom
are dead after 24 hours.

     Abused kids are not lost to society, they live at home, they eat
dinner with their parents, they go to school, they go to doctors, they
go to Church, boy Scouts, to camp just like every other kid.

     But interleaved in that normal life are times of abuse, either by
the parents themselves, or the Church priest, or the boy scout master,
or the camp counselor.

     The kid is not lost, we know where he is, he's right there saying
grace at dinner along with the rest of the millions of kids in the
world, but in this case he is also being abused.

     Kids are often threatened with horrific things happening to them or
their parents if they tell what is going on, its not the sex that ruins
them so much as the secrets.

     Once a kid can't tell his parents about something, just exactly
that amount of his relationship with them is ruined, until the secrets
come out.

     A relationship means to relate, which means to tell, a relationship
consists of many many little relatingnesses, and if a kid can't relate
something to a parent, that part of his relationship is dead.

     Relationships of any kind die mostly from accumulating and
undisclosed secrets on both sides.

     But once the abuse comes out in the open, the child can start the
healing process, as the secrets come off the case, and the offending
parties are exposed.

     You know if the cops simply took all that child porn they claim is
posted to the newsgroups, and made a compendium of the faces of all the
kids every week and made very grade school teacher look through them,
teachers would quickly recognize any kid in their classes that was being
abused and whose pictures were posted to the internet.

     Once the secret is out, the kid is no longer bound by promises to
protect as it isn't his fault his abuse was discovered, and he can't
argue against the picture anyhow.  The relief from this is enormous.

     This one action alone would drop the incidence of child abuse to
near zero in a few years.  Child abusers can not help but post and trade
images of their exploits, and every time they post them to usenet
newsgroups, they help a child be found and themselves be caught.

     The internet has helped cops free more children from the nightmare
of silence that surrounds their abuse and catch more child abusers in
the past 10 years than have been brought to justice in the entire
history of planet Earth before that.

     The internet has not increased the amount of child abuse actually
going on, but it has made it trivial to create endless digital
photographs and distribute them widely through the use of the internet
in general and usenet news in specific.

     Where before they had to have secret photo labs, and make many
copies at greate expense, and mail them to their cohorts, all of that
has changed.  Digital cameras can create endless numbers of pictures,
and the internet allows instantaneous dissemination and copying of those
images all over the world in a few minutes for no cost.

     It's not even the same ball game any more for the abusers.

     But its also not the same ball game for the police and child
protection agencies who before had an impossible job, and now have a
fighting chance.

     Wouldn't it be cool if every criminal posted pictures of his crimes
all over the world 5 minutes after committing the crime?  You know how
easy it is to make a mistake and leave something in the picture that
gives away where the scene happened that someone might recognize?

     You know if every PARENT simply perused the child abuse groups once
a week, they might be surprised at who is being abused...

     And now they want to shut it all down?

     It might seem to be a good idea, because pictures of abused
children are considered by some to be themselves, enticement to abuse
children pushing some over the edge of restraint into criminal action.

     This argument makes a lot of sense, as most of the child pictures
are of kids at that age when they are sexually the 'hottest' and most
attractive, meaning biologically ready for marriage in the months just
prior to having their first period.

     It's all down hill from there.

     The Supreme Court however has argued that the existence of virtual
child porn might actually be good for society because it 'fills the
need', thus keeping people who might other wise go over the line from
doing so.

     Virtual child porn (google it) is computer generated images that do
not use real children as models.

     Well if virtual child porn, which is 'virtually indistinguishable
from the real thing but doesn't use real children', can keep people from
abusing children, then so can the real thing.

     (The problem with the real thing then is not the people who look at
it, but the children who are used to make it.)
                    
     The same argument rages over violence on TV, which is a form of
virtual violence.  To some it causes violence, to others it fills the
need.  We leave the bottom line on that balance sheet to the experts.

     Problems remain with real child porn in that the child has not
given their consent or signed a release form to an image that is perhaps
degrading, humiliating and compromising, even if it was an ad for
marriage, and results in a permanent record that is almost impossible to
erase from the social networks for the rest of time.

     Childern are also considered to be under the age of consent in
these and almost all sexual matters anyhow, so consent is moot other
than to imply that if consent has not been given, other's should not be
looking at the images, even if they are publically available.

     The problem with newsgroups is that posters can post anything to
any newsgroup they wish, and by removing the one's marked 'garbage goes
here', they can and WILL start posting the garbage to groups like
my.cats.health where people definitely do not want to see it, and might
suffer a heart attack if they did.

     This would then make the whole communication medium dangerous to
peruse, because you would never know when you were going to run into
something seriously offensive while looking for a good place to buy your
bridal gown.

     Thus removing the newsgroups pandering to child porn in no way
stops the posting of child porn to other groups, thus defeating the
whole purpose of removing the groups anyhow, and also ruins the whole
whole communication medium for everyone.

     It's kind of like the war on spam, through all the efforts to stop
it technologically, who is winning?

     The ONLY solution to the newsgroup problem would be either to
remove all newsgroups completely, or make them all moderated, or make
all posters non anonymous.

     The internet was not built to be moderated or authenticated in that
way, just as public phones are not.  Child abusers have been using the
public phone system and modems to exchange their wares for years.  Total
anonymity and total non moderation.  Is it time we got rid of public
phones?

     And you know how much the government hates cash transactions, total
anonymity and total non moderation.

     And the public mail system, total anonymity and total non
moderation.

     Perhaps every picture you take with your cell phone should be
automatically sent to a clearing house to see if it meets present
political, social, moral or religious standards?

     They are working on that one, they just don't dare talk about it
yet...

     Does your cell phone company keep copies of all the pictures you
take?  They certainly have software now that can quickly find the images
with too much flesh tone...
 
     The point is that with any global anonymous and unmoderated
communication system, you either get rid of it entirely, or you use it
and accept as collateral damage that bad people will use it too.

     There is no middle ground, "only good people can use this free
system of communication to everyone".

     The above will be my defense statement when the good Attorney
General Andrew Cuomo throws me before a grand jury for refusing to
remove certain newsgroups because of their names, and thus "allowing
child porn to flow through our newsgroup servers."

     Since removing the newsgroups with panderous names won't stop the
flow at all and in fact will create a war where the flow will spread
where it is not wanted, my only alternative would be to remove
newsgroups completely as Time Warner, Sprint and AT&T have done.  Talk
about collateral damage.

     What is it, 89 million homes can no longer talk publically and
freely with safety and no censorship?

     Over my dead body.

     Which I am sure the good Attorney General can arrange.

     One of my more crass friends once said to me "Homer, as long as the
child porn is flowing, you KNOW the political commentary is safely
flowing too."

     And so, at least at lightlink, while people are getting their
political awareness enhanced, perhaps their awareness of child abuse
will be increased too.

     And the next time little Susie complains she is being abused by
some unreproachable so and so, rather than telling her she is lying, the
parent can go LOOK and see if it might be true.

     Don't, it's illegal to look at child porn even if it proves your
own kid is being abused.

     The problem is that the law is created by sovereign citizens for
the protection of the sovereign citizen.  Once the law says that a
sovereign citizen may not LOOK at something to determine if or what laws
should be made about it, who then will be making those laws?

     And if you can't even LOOK at something bad, because it is illegal
to do so, how will you get real on how bad it is, or that it even
exists?

     Thus we do not remove the newsgroups with salatious names, because
Kant's Imperative tells us that if every ISP did the same, the posters
would either create new groups to post to, or post to inappropriate
groups, thus destroying one of the finest most versatile politically
safe global anonymous unmoderated communication systems that has ever
existed.
 
     And in a different place and different time, some might consider it
wise to immediately terminate with prejudice anyone taking exception or
offense to the above paragraph.
 
     What would be the alternative?

     A controlled, moderated, trackable communication line where
only the politically correct were safe?

     Is that the world YOU want to live in?

     Homer