Wednesday, January 21, 2009

No children's books? Let them read internet porn

On one hand, the government is doing its best, through the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, to remove books from the hands of children. After all, children might be hurt by books (never mind clothes, beds, chairs, etc.). On the other hand, the courts declare children can watch anything available on the internet, even porn. According to Fox "The government lost its final attempt Wednesday to revive a federal law intended to protect children from sexual material and other objectionable content on the Internet."

Huh? As Rena Jones stated on a private forum, "I'm sorry, but people are so mixed up these days. Protecting kids from lead is good. Making the law so it affects everything a child touches nearly illegal is bad. But now this?

"Sorry kids, but I'm gonna have to confiscate that classic copy of Winnie-The-Pooh. Why don't you go surf the Net for porn. Now, go on, have a good time."

Sorry -- some things just make me rage! Who are these people and who voted them into office?"

Good question, Rena. I wonder if anyone has a reasonable answer?

We must keep fighting stupid laws. Have you visited with your Congress members lately? Well, that's too long.

4RV Publishing won't add porn to the book list for children's books, we promise. Ish.

Another blog that has interesting and timely information: The Common Room.



Rena said...

It's stories like this that makes me scratch my head and say, "Huh?" It makes no sense. As parents we all want our children safe. I hope they can see through this mess and get it straightened out. The sad reality is that the internet has and will continue to damage our children in ways we never experienced ourselves. :(

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Yes, I've been hearing the children's authors & publishers discuss this new law for over a month now. Such a knee-jerk reaction! Do they not realize how many small businesses will go OUT of business because they can't get their products tested in time or afford to even do so? Not to mention that lead in a Harry Potter book is a ridiculous notion!

Now, don't even get me started on porn...

L. Diane Wolfe

Connie Arnold said...

I have been following the discussions about this subject here and on other blogs, and appreciate the links you've provided, Vivian. If enough of us provide our input on this law as it affects the publishing and sale of children's books, hopefully it will be clear that this just isn't right. Everything seems to have become crazy and mixed up in protecting our children!

Morgan Mandel said...

Sounds like these people are very mixed up on priorities.

Morgan Mandel

Holly Jahangiri said...

Children can't learn and compete in the world without having some risk in their lives. I'm all for protecting children - particularly my own, for whom I am responsible - from real and deadly risks.

Then again, I deliberately send my son to camp out into the wild with his Boy Scout troop, knowing there are indigenous animals (rattlesnakes, alligators, wildcats, coyotes, wild pigs, to name a few) that can hurt him. Does it give me pause? Yes. Do I think it's important for him to learn the skills and facts he'll learn doing it? Yes. And those things combine to urge me to go along, where I get to watch him grow and I get to learn some of these important things for myself.

Take a look at this.

While I don't particularly think the government should "protect" kids from uninvolved (as opposed to dangerously neglectful or abusive) parents, I do think it would go a long way towards obviating the perceived need for stupid laws.

I know if my kids are reading Internet porn, and if one should stumble across it inadvertently, we discuss it. I don't believe it's the government's job to police everything; that said, I'm 100% in favor of laws against pornography involving children and non-consensual participants, and I'm all in favor of laws that would prevent "porn spam" from assaulting me or my kids. To me, the litmus test is "choice." Did everyone involved - from the making to the viewing - choose to participate? It's not age, it's choice. As a parent, I should be influencing the choices my minor children make, and discussing them when they make a choice I disagree with.

Holly Jahangiri said...

On the topic of books (and any other handmade products), I'd be willing to see a warning label: "This product is untested and uncertified and may contain toxic chemicals. Use at your own risk."

People who actually believe books could contain deadly amounts of lead or phthalates probably aren't big on reading, anyway.

Vivian Zabel said...

Holly, I think you missed the point of my blog entry, that the government thinks porn is okay to have unlimited access for children but books aren't.

You may be correct for your family, and I'm glad. However, the fact still remains that the government sees danger where there is none and leaves porn accessible to children. Not all parents oversee what their children access on the Internet, and some bad stuff is out there, completely unregulated by the government.

Just seems a bit odd when comparing the two governmental actions.

Dawn Embers said...

(I know the focus is the lead discussion, but I can't help and respond to a few of the legal aspects here.)

I don't think that the courts believe children should be allowed to watch porn but not read children's books. I have studied court cases around the issue for several years now.

The Internet is problematic for government regulation and censorship. It is hard to restrict the Internet. Sure, they can make laws requiring web sites to put up warnings of adult content (press this button if over 18) or require a credit card (assuming kids can't get ahold of one). But there isn't much they can do beyond that. The Court has tried to find a balance with protection of minors with the over restrictions of adults freedoms.

Erotica (not known as porn in law cases) is allowed per the first amendment. Obscenity(based on the Miller Test) is not. However, it is also a state issue and many states don't prosecute on those anymore because their statutes are out of date and don't match up with the "floor" requirements set by the Supreme Court.

(to respond to other comment) Child pornography is not allowed, technically. It is against the law. Those involved are supposed to be 18+. However, they can dress them up, use make-up,(or animated/cg... people) to make them seem younger. It is called "kiddie porn" but no kids are supposed to be in them.

Vivian Zabel said...

Dawn, thanks for your input, but again I think the point of my blog entry is missed.

Holly Jahangiri said...

Did I miss your point?

It looks, to me, like the Supreme Court struck down an unconstitutional law that, like the CPSIA, purported to protect children but in fact violated the First Amendment. As with the CPSIA, the law put an unnecessary burden on content providers; the Supreme Court rightfully put the burden back on the parents - if you don't want your kids to have access to "objectionable content" then monitor what they're doing. Better yet, talk to your kids so they can make informed choices.

Both laws remove CHOICE from the consumer. They go beyond warnings to placing restrictive and expensive burdens on the wrong people - the burden should be on those offended to stay away. I don't believe in censorship of ideas, period. I do believe in preventing illegal ACTS (e.g. kiddie porn), but we shouldn't criminalize the exercise of one's First Amendment rights.

There are software applications that can prevent users from accessing selected sites, or that can notify you - even remotely - if your child is even trying to access an unapproved site.

So, it took the Supreme Court to knock that down - and it may take the Supreme Court to knock down the CPSIA. In both cases, the LAW was being overly protective of children. We have yet to see what the Supreme Court would say of the CPSIA, and unfortunately, I'm starting to think we may have to wait and see it go that far before we'll see any relief.

Holly Jahangiri said...

P.S. By the way, and this IS off-topic, if you run across kiddie porn on the Internet, call 1-800-BE-ALERT. I like those U.S. Customs folks - they're good people.

Vivian Zabel said...

Apparently I have to spell it out, the point I'm making at least: The government is inconsistent by saying they must protect children from non-dangerous things in one place but not another. That was the point. They may not have books to read, but they can watch and read anything they want on the Internet; whether the material be harmful or not isn't the point. At least not of this entry.

Dawn Embers said...

Sorry Viv. Part of what I was trying to say is I think internet porn and lead in products have a big difference. Products are easier to regulate, and it might make consumers feel safer after all the recalls that happened in the last several years from lead and kids toys.