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Internet Censorship in Utah Schools & Libraries 407

One of my old partners in crime, Michael Sims, contacted me with the latest report from By analyzing their web logs, Censorware found that they were blocking access to such offensive materials as The Bible, and The Declaration of Independence, and the US Constitution, using the unaptly named SmartFilter software. Check out the Salt Lake Tribune for more information.
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Internet Censorship in Utah Schools & Libraries

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Thirteen-year-olds should not be allowed to use school resources to look at porn.

    Why not? Sexual intercourse is normal human behavior. It's a part of life -- heck, with the teenage pregancy rates being what they are, a lot of 13 year olds don't have to look at porn since they're already having sex.

    All these problems about who decides what kids should or shouldn't be allowed to do in a public school arise because the kids are in public school to start with. THIS is the wrong that needs to be corrected; stop forcing kids to be second-class citizens and stop shipping them off to re-education camps every day for their dose of government brainwashing.

    You're not really afraid of kids seeing porn; you're afraid too many of them will wake up, realize they're slaves, and download plans for Molotov cocktails, zip guns, and formulas for plastique, and start to blow their Nazi prison guards -- excuse me, I mean teachers -- away and escape from the gulags you want them to suffer and be broken in.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I had family involved in the Loudoun County Case: one of the librarians fighting the local bible-thumpers was a family member.

    Never trust any institution that imposes any form of censorship. Censorship in itself is a crime: when you deny to someone all information that is present, you commit a crime against another person. You may not mean to, you may do it because you love them, you may do it to protect them. But it is still a crime.

    The concept of religion trying to censor subject matter isn't new, and stuff like this always tends to float to the surface. That's why we have institutions like the ACLU.

    Religion isn't censoring stuff that will 'warp' children. Its censoring to children subject matter it finds questionable. The fact that the save-the-children arguement enters the picture is just amazingly good luck for them.

    Children also have judgement, gossip, and time on their hands. If a child wants to find porn on the net... well, they will find it. Its just a fact, and the technology to stop them won't exist while porn is one of the most profitable online activities.

    It wouldn't surprise me to find out that one of these characters running the company that provided this software donates large sums of money to the local place of worship, or perhaps vice-versa.
    The government does not have the right to censor speech or ideas. And neither does anyone else.
  • But that's typical of reporting in general.

    For example:

    Based on the report's allegations of over-broad nature of the UEN's filtering

    Please define "over-broad". Do I get to decide for myself what "over-broad" is, or do I just have to take the Censorware Project's word for it?

    What percentage of the time did the filtering software block legitimate sites? Without having read the report myself, my impression is the Censorware Project is probably just as fanatical as those it's complaining about.

    Often students and researchers are victimized

    More inflammatory language. "Victimized?" Sheesh! So if I can't access one site with the Bible on it, I'll just go to another. That hardly makes me a victim of anything.

    For those who savor absurdity

    Again, hardly objective language here. I hope this was supposed to be an opinion piece.

    SmartFilter ... blocked access to a site containing the Bible and sites promoting the right of free speech

    And what else did those sites contain? Maybe it wasn't the Bible, but the online script of Debbie Does Dallas which got the site blocked.

    "When the Declaration of Independence is banned from the citizens of Saudi Arabia. . . we call it culturally backward," the report concludes. "When it's banned from our own public libraries by our own government, then what do we call it?"

    While "banning the Declaration of Independence" makes for good headlines, is that really what happened? Is it really impossible to access the Declaration of Independence from any site on the Internet, or was only one specfic site blocked? And for what reason?

    Look, I'm not arguing in favor of filtering software. I'm just not willing to make a judgment based on the selective information provided to me in this article.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    In response to the entire "Offensive Materials" thread, I have some things to say. First of all, the so-called "separation" clause of the Constitution was intended to avoid a situation where government dictates what a religious organization should believe; or establish a state religion (note: Christianity was polluted so severely as to not be Christianity anymore when it was made the state religion of Rome!)

    However, we have very cleverly found a way to turn this into a weapon to use against religion altogether. Anytime someone expresses some religious thought, everyone cries "separation of church and state!" If some legislation is proposed and is found to have a basis in religion, people squeal like a stuck pig! People are using the "separation" clause, intended to protect religion from government, to outlaw and bully religion!

    Now, most people take the "separation" clause to mean that government cannot dictate moral right and wrong. That's silly enough since *every* law represents the government's view of right and wrong. But let's not stop there. They also end up believing that *society* shouldn't dictate right and wrong. We have a real problem here since the statement that "society should not dictate right and wrong" is a statement of right and wrong! In this situation, the absence of absolutes is an absolute!

    Another somewhat humorous example. Atheists emphatically affirm that there is no a God. They do not say that there *might* not be a God (that would be an agnostic). Most atheists will also say that there is no absolute truth. But, their statement that there is no God is a statement of absolute truth!

    I'll wind up this incredibly long and boring tirade by making a final point. *All* societies have established absolutes. Whether they are explicit (murder, robbery, speeding, and so on are all against the law) or implicit (it is wrong to teach children a religious view). If our absolutes are not based on a religion, they will be based on something else. BUT, we *will* have them. We will never get away from absolutes.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Don't forget:

    Peacefire []. They're into the anti-censorware, too, but the catch is that it's primarily run and operated by the people directly involved: high-school aged kids. ((And really intelligent and dedicated ones, not script kiddies and IRC weenies.)

    Check it out. Lots of good stuff there.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The Bible's relevance to U.S. history is minimal.

    Sheesh! Is this what passes for history these days?

    Regardless of your personal feelings about the Bible, the fact is it played a fundamental role -- both directly and indirectly -- in the shaping of our country.

    The very concept of individualism, so fundamental to our government and our society, originates with Martin Luther's insistence on the right of private interpretation of Scripture. All of Western jurisprudence has its source in the law code of Justinian, which derives from the Bible. Perhaps you've heard the words, "we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights...". Which religion teaches a Creator God?

    The Pilgrims, and many of our early immigrants, were fleeing religious persecutions in Europe, fighting for their rights to read and interpret the Bible. Our public school system has its origins in the Sunday schools of New York state. Both the abolition and civil rights movements were led by Christians, motivated by their religious beliefs.

    The list goes on. Regardless of whether this is a "Christian nation", regardless of whether any or all of the Founding Fathers were Christians, regardless of whether you're personally offended by the idea, the Bible and Christianity were of fundamental importance in shaping our nation.
  • Everyone repeat after me: only the government can censor. If your parents, or your preacher, or Time-Warner, or anyone else wants to restrict your access to published material, that's just fine. And your opposition to such a restriction is just fine too. May the better argument win.

    Now dust off your Bill of Rights. Find the first amendment. (It's toward the beginning.) Notice the first five words? CONGRESS SHALL MAKE NO LAW. Now that's as plain as plain can be, and because the Founding Fathers didn't reserve regulation of the press to the Feds, anyone else should be free to to do so. The anti-Federalists were finally able to pervert the 14th to their cause, but that's a story for another day.

    IOW, stick with the moral outrage; the legal pronouncements merely expose your ignorance.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Sexually explicit material is psychologically harmful to young children.

    Rubbish. In fact, the federal government has spent lots of money looking for proof of that, and has never found any.

    Look how the rape crime rates have risen since the 1950's.

    Correlation is not causation.

    it is completely reasonable to prevent children from seeing this material.

    No, it is completely sensible to perform psychological screening on all children, and put to sleep any that are such sociopaths that looking at a picture of a vulva will turn them into rapists later in life.

  • by Pug ( 21 )
    I can't remember anything in Exodus about killing all gays (there's one to kill all witches, though, which either refers to wiccans or sorcerers...either way it's bizarre and makes one doubt that the Bible was written by anyone divine, but I digress). However, in the first chapter of Romans, Paul of Tarsus (aka, the Lunatic) says that all gay people deserve death.
  • Ask yourself something: what kind of job did you do raising your child? If you do a good job, teach them right from wrong, respect for women, themselves, and faith in God, what do you have to worry about?

    If, on the other hand, you did a piss poor job raising you child, and at age 13 they're going against everything "good", you've got bigger problems on your hands than the internet.

    Take a look at how your kids were raised. Do the job well, they won't go looking for porn, nazism, etc. And if they stumble across it, they'll know it's wrong, move on, and not be shocked/amazed/tempted-to-do-something-dumb by it.
    Honestly, if parents would raise their kids half as well as they wish the governemnt would do it for them, the world would be much better off.


  • In today's US, you can be guaranteed everything pisses at least one person off. So, in the spirit of political correctness, all must be banned.

    I'd say, shut down the Internet, yeah! That'll solve it. And libraries, where do they get off having books that any kid can read, that's ridiculous. The constitution? It was made during the time of slavery, the writers had slaves, so it's all demonspawn. Yeah. The bible? Who pays any attention to that any more, come on. With all it's, "Thou shall not murder," and stuff. How can they expect us to go through life without murdering at least a handful of people! It's my constitutional right!

    (For those readers with no sense, this was sarcastic, not literal.)
  • I know Netscape has some SDK to customize many parts of the browser. Where I work, they have the whole Properties->Advanced->Proxies section greyed out so you can't edit it. That's one alternative, until someone figures out you can download Netscape off their ftp and install a new version over the protected. I don't know if Netscape has a SDK to customize the Linux version...
  • Let's face it, there is no way to avoid lawsuits today. Everyone is offended by something, and being offended is our nations top priority to avoid. There is more sensitivity put into avoiding this than the family of a car accident victim on the news. My brother was killed in December, and the local news just had to be there at 6am showing every detail of it, live. That's how his wife found out. Trust me, it's not a way you'll want to learn about something like this. But don't get me started on the media. :)

    Hell, my old university put in some wheelchair accessible entrances to one of the buildings a few years back. They were sued because they put the ramps on the side of the building, not the front main entrance. They were obviously shunning handicaps into using a different entrance. What else could it possibly be?? Well, until you went in that entrance, and found right near that door is where the elevator is. They did it for what they thought would be the convenience of handicap people, the building was long, and they'd have to roll a long distance to get to the elevator if they used the main, middle entrace. And yet, they were sued. I left before it was finally settled though, so don't know what the outcome was.
  • It's only at the K-12 schools - The U's network connection goes through UEN but is not filtered.

    They block port 80 to all hosts except their censoring proxy and an internal server that has proxy configuration files for people's web browsers.
  • nor shall any be compelled to frequent or maintain any religious institution
    The U.S. Constitution

    No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever
    Thomas Jefferson, principle author of the U.S. Constitution

    I think I am not the one in need of a hint.

  • The complete text of Article VI, Section 3 (note that it's article six of the main document, not the Bill of Rights):

    The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States, and of the several States, shall be bound by oath or affirmation to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

    I don't think the federal government was the only target of that concept, or they wouldn't have specifically mentioned the States twice. As for state and local governments requiring religious tests for office, you are right. I would point out however that those tests are frequently struck down as being unconstitutional (as they should be).

    Although I realize that to a degree this comes down to opinion and interpretation, I don't necessarily agree that we interpret the First Amendment more broadly that the Founding Fathers did. I think, rather, that we interpret it more broadly (as a nation and government) than we have in the past, but still not as broadly as those who wrote it meant us to.

  • Just because something is done in the name of God doesn't mean that it is Gods will. There is a big difference.

    This is an excellent point that doesn't get made often enough. However, one of the major problems of organized religion is that it encourages men to believe that they know God's will, and then impose it on everyone else.

    I believe with every inch of my heart that my "religion is right"

    And there is nothing inherently wrong with that. It's when it causes you or anyone else to believe that there is no possibility that you're wrong, and then to act on that belief, that the trouble begins.

  • Then I would say that you and I are using different words to say the same thing. ;) As for who is right, we all are. As long as we realize that we're only right insofar as it applies to ourselves.
  • Your mind is pretty powerful, or you (we) would not even be capable of contemplating such things.

    And the important question, as I see it, is not whether or not there is universal truth. It is whether you or I, as human beings, can ever be 100% sure we know it. Not believe it, know it. And I would submit that if the answer to that question were yes, then there would only be one religion, not the thousands that we currently have.

  • Actually, I have no problem with anything you said. If these are your beliefs, more power to you. The problem is, I can find someone who believes just the opposite. He will be just as sure that he knows the one truth.

    Still not a real problem. The problem comes in when someone with that type of belief system decides it makes them infallible, and therefore they have the right to impose those beliefs on everyone else. Believing as you do is not a problem for me; if you try to legislate your beliefs, that is. That's why when this country was founded (for economic reasons, not religious ones, BTW) it was decided that government should not interfere with religion and religion should not interfere with government. That way everyone can follow their heart in whatever direction it takes them.

    To answer a question you posed in another thread, no, I'm not bitter. However, history (especially, it seems, of this country) is often 'rewritten' on the fly to support various viewpoints; it's a pet peeve of mine. Don't even get me started on the whole "Marconi invented radio" fiasco. ;)

  • judges in the early 20th century decided to add a few things (like separation of church and state, for instance.)

    From the United States Constitution:

    Article VI, Section 3 -
    ...but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.
    Amendment I -
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

    Hardly a twentieth century notion. As for your other (just as wrong) points -

    As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion...
    - John Adams, while President of the United States

    All persons shall have full and free liberty of religious opinion; nor shall any be compelled to frequent or maintain any religious institution
    The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.
    Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites.
    - All quotes by Thomas Jefferson

    Joe Haldeman wrote in the forward to one of his books that people who learn their science from science fiction deserve what they get. I suppose the same can be said for those who learn their history in church.

  • The very concept of individualism, so fundamental to our government and our society, originates with Thomas Jefferson's belief that only a government founded on the rights of the individual can avoid degenerating into despotism.

    All of American jurisprudence has its source in the Constitution, which derives from many ideas, but primarily the belief that only when the rights of the individual take precedence over the rights of the government will that government survive.

    I have heard the words "we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights..."; has it ever occured to you to wonder why it doesn't say "our God"?

    The original settlers of this country (America) came here with the purpose of establishing a claim to this land for Queen Elizabeth, who was afraid Spain was going to claim it. The group usually referred to as pilgrims (the puritans) came later, were a small proportion of the immigrants, and by the time this country was formed no longer existed as a cohesive group.

    The movement to maintain slavery was also led by christians; and the abolitionists were motivated by their belief that one man cannot own another. Religion played a large part in this belief for many; for many it did not.

    The Bible and Christianity have had a large part in American history. Things like the Salem witch trials, for instance. They are frequently the motivating force behind attempts to establish the types of tyranny most immigrants to this country came here to escape.

  • State law in Utah allows marriage at 14 years old with parental consent (18 w/o). By far the lowest in the nation.

    "I am so hip I have difficulty seeing over my pelvis"
  • well, taking some of the standards you mentioned, the Bible would indeed be considered offensive.

    • violence - advocates stoning people to death, innocent first-born sons of non-christians are killed (the houses where blood is put on the doors to indicate a christian lives there are spared), destruction of several entire cities, and lots more
    • lewd - description of sexual activity, references to homosexuality may offend some, and a particularly odd commandment that nobody who has lost a certain "privy member" may enter the kingdom of heaven (Deuteronomy 23:1).
    • bigotry - lots of anti-other-religion bigotry, but that's to be expected. There's also several odd things in Deuteronomy 23 in addition to the one outlined above, which include not allowing midgets or people with certain handicaps into heaven.

    I'm sure there's lots more. I believe has a more complete listing, and there was some fairly offensive stuff in there. Certainly stuff most Christians would object to if it was in any other book their kids were being allowed to read.
  • Either that or the people writing the book(s) realized that stoning people was no longer as popular as when the Old Testament was written, so for this religion to catch on, they needed a warmer, fluffier, kinder, gentler version of the Bible (sort of the religious equivalent of "Compassionate Conservatism").
  • Why is it that computers and the internet are the only things ever deemed 'inappropriate for children.' If reading alt.atheism is deemed inappropriate for kids to read in a library, why are they still allowed to read ink-on-paper books about atheism? If sites with information about sex are deemed inappropriate to read on a computer, why can kids still check out books on sex and sexuality?
  • by Trepidity ( 597 )
    If we wanted to make this a Bible study we could also analyze the word thanatos vs the word hypnos and how they are translated.

    Well, I'm not great with ancient Greek, but I do speak modern Greek, and it would seem to me that, figuratively at least, they mean the same thing.

    thanatos means, literally, "death"
    hypnos means, literally, "sleep"

    Now, unless it is talking about actually putting somebody to sleep, hypnos is probably a euphamism for thanatos.

    Of course, I could be wrong.
  • Not to be picky, but why a black stain? My ancestors weren't the ones forcing religion down people's throats. On the contrary, how do you think African slaves were kept under control? (By promises of heaven after death, which kept them from rebelling).

  • And how do you propose enforcing this edict? All a country has to do is buy a server and declare it as its (the country's) territory (they already do this with embassies).

  • Actually, pr0n merchants would pay Niue $$ for a safe haven :P.

  • Posted by FascDot Killed My Previous Use:

    it may be goodtasteware...
  • Posted by Windigo The Feral (NYAR!):

    In my own way, I rather hope there is no such thing as the Second Coming...

    ...because I am quite convinced at this point that were Jesus actually to come back, the modern-day verstions of Pharisees (aka the Religious Reich) and the guvmint would find Yet Another way to off the poor guy for the crime of telling people to be nice to each other every once in awhile, and 2000 years from now we'd all be wearing little golden M-16s or electric chairs around our necks. :P

    My two pence on that, anyways...

  • Posted by Drogue:

    I agree that it would be difficult to trust an organization that censors others outside of itself. However, an organization may be within its innate rights if it censors itself. for example, a voluntary organization like a church denomination could censor itself. I am a pastor, and I can assure you that it would cross the bounds of morality if, in a church school for example, which presents itself as having certain moral standards, pornographic materials were permitted.

    However, we should remember that information in general should not be censored. The Protestant reformation brought us what was basically an "open-sourcing" of religion. Instead of being controlled by a closed-heirarchy of leaders, the Bible was brought into the open and all people could make their belief-choices based on their own interpretation of a Biblically-consistent worldview as they saw it.

    The trouble with censoring such things as "hate speech" is that someone out there is defining hate-speech and there is no guarantee (nor likelihood!) that what he defines as hate-speech is wrong. I can look at Bible prophecy and with a knowledge of history clearly identify the beast of Revelation 13:1-10 as the Roman Catholic Church. But if you call that hate speech and censor it out, does that mean it is not true?
  • Posted by Drogue:

    BTW, almost all of the original Protestant reformers were originally within the Roman Catholic Church (RCC). They were cast out in ex-communication, or left on their own to follow out the meaning of the new world-view they had chosen. They started something fresh and new. Thus, it cannot be strictly said that the RCC attempts to suppress them were attempts at internal censorship.

    In matters of moral authority a Biblically compromised church leadership has undermined itself and has no basis for valid self-censorship. (OK. Covered my bases now).
  • Posted by Ominous the Foreboding:

    For the record, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) does NOT promote Polygamy or Pedophilia. AFAIK, pedophilia has NEVER been promoted by the Church, while polygamy has not been practiced or promoted by the Church in about 100 years.

    As far as why the site was blocked in the first place, I can find a great many references in the Book of Mormon (as well as in the Bible, for that matter) that refer to "asses", "pissing against a wall", etc., all of which could be the subject of an automated censorship sweep.

    Combine this with stories of, for example, a man "spilling his seed on the ground" (and, no, we're not talkin' pumpkin seeds here), and you get a great deal of potentially-offensive material.

    Read either book (or both, if you have time), and you'll see a lot more examples.
  • Posted by T_X_N:

    a pal of mine said
    "Protect the easily affended....Ban Everything"
  • You mention that abolitionists backed up their position with the bible (which is true), but fail to mention that pro-slavery people did too.

    Then as now, people use religion to convince them that their political views are right. This is both good and bad at the same time. Religion is a political tool, face it. At least the writers of the constitution were trying to do something to change that (they weren't very successful, though).

    Just as religion can currupt politics, politics can corrupt religion. Those guys knew that. They'd seen enough of it in Europe and they wanted no part of it. The first amendment was as much to protect religion as it was to protect politics.

    My point? You don't have to be an atheist to want separation of church and state. It's in the best interests of the religious as well to keep them apart. They don't have separation of church and state in most of Europe and the atheism rate there is much higher. Why? Government mandated religion tends to make more people dislike religion.

    Keep 'em separate. Its in the best interests of both theists like you and atheists like me.

    Now, as far as this censorship goes, I'm just as much against censoring the bible as a Christian would be. After all, reading the bible yourself is a good way to scare you into becoming an atheist. That propagandistic trash is one scary manifesto.

    The real problem in this case was not deliberate censorship, but the laziness to assume that a piece of pattern-recognition software could accurately filter info about certain topics. It doesn't work that well. Think "AOL" and "TOS". Doctors talking about breast cancer are not being pronographic, yet dumb censorship software can't tell the difference between that and, "Naked breasts R' us!" - type sites.

  • >if people are reading explicit textual content, such as alt.abuse.sexual.recovery or information about STDs, they can just use a small font size.

    Not everyone has 20/20 vision...

  • by TedC ( 967 )
    That being said, bible IS one of the most offensive books I have ever read (yes, I read all of it).

    Who parted the Red Sea?

    a) Moses
    b) Aaron
    c) Cecil B. DeMills
    d) Kansas City

  • by TedC ( 967 )
    or the commandment to kill all gays?

    I never heard about that one.

    There are large sections of the old testement that I have never read, so unless someone put it in a movie I might not know about it. :-)

    Need more examples, or are we done with quizzing?

    That will due for now. :-)


    BTW, I can't help thinking that I got more out of what I did read than you did.

  • by TedC ( 967 )
    something like 'and if a man lies with another man as if he were a woman, it is an abomination', and somewhere nearby it recounts how such 'abominations' should be stoned.

    I remember that now that you mention it.

    Why -- because you only remember the 'nice' parts, and ignore the atrocities that god commands?.. or is it because you think that believing that horrible book makes you have gotten more out of it'..

    Hebrews 4


  • It's a perfectly logical reply to someone who wants to make illogical decisions for other peoples' children. You have no right to tell another person, adult or child, what he or she has the "right" to view. Since when do you issue peoples' rights? If you have that power, so do I, and by my power, I revoke your right to life, and order you dead by tomorrow by your own hand. Do you still feel so empowered?
  • A lot of the Old Testament is really at odds with the New Testament values I associate with Christianity (love, forgiveness, humility, etc.). Perhaps there has been a serious problem with translations. I just can't accept that God would want innocent children to be put to death.

    Many people seem to be a lot more forgiving than God is in this way. I never could figure out all the seeming contradictions in the Bible. I've had people try to explain, but it usually comes down to "He knows what's best. You don't because you're not him." So again, it's all faith and no proof of any kind whatsoever. You either believe what you've been taught or you don't. Given the human tendency to cheat, and deceive for their own benefit, it's really tough to take anything someone teaches you at face value without any kind of proof. They may be sincere, but how do you know that someone wasn't lying a long time ago and it's still with us like one of those net chain letters that never seem to go away?

  • by Danse ( 1026 )

    She's full of err.. it. I doubt they review more than a tiny percentage of the sites. Even with a bunch of full-time websurfing grunts, they couldn't do it because content constantly changes.

  • Don't believe me, ask a psychologist, a responsible one will agree with me.

    Did this line make sense to anyone??

    Basically it says, "Don't believe me. Ask anyone who agrees with me." Hmm.. nice. By your reasoning I could say that censorship is good, but don't believe me. Ask anyone. If they are sane and reasonably intelligent, they will agree with me. There. I totally countered your arguments.

    Seriously though, I'm not actually disagreeing with everything you said, I just think you didn't make a very good argument there at the end. I do think that there is a limit to when children should have unfettered access to the net. Probably sometime around 5th or 6th grade would be best. Anytime before that, they should either be supervised by a parent or closely supervised by a teacher. Even at the 5th or 6th grade levels, they should probably have teacher supervision if they are accessing the net from school. The rest is up to the parents.

  • Watch it, this is a techie/junkie site. Not the grounds of a holy war.
  • We studied Mathew 13 in Sunday school this week. The whole church is studying the New Testament this year in Sunday School. We studied the Old Testament last year. It is a four year cycle that has been used since the beginning of the Sunday School and organized meetings in the Church. And even before that Joseph Smith preached out of the Bible constantly.

    Over half of the Quad is the Bible.

    In short yes.
  • I've been trying to get GospelLink to work with Wine so I can download scriptures and other works to my Palm Pilot. So far it looks promising, at least the demo works well. But I'm not through fixing the incomplete installation InstalShield does under Wine to actually use GospelLink. And even then there is no guarantee that the serial port will work to establish the link.

    GospeLink is good becuase I have the Palm Pro and can only download pieces at a time, and it would be useful to download recent conference talks too.

    Alas, needless to say, that is one app that I am anxiously awaiting a port to Linux. But I'll probably have a long time to wait on that.
  • Yeah thats Ammon, like Alma:26 I think (I don't have it in front of me.) And sure enough its Ammon against about 30 warriors. And he only kills one. I remember in primary (Elementary Scoool Age Sunday School) reinacting the scene where they bring all the collected arms to the Lamanite king showing him that this stranger (Ammon) isn't your average person.

    No urinating on walls or urinating at all that I can find. J Golden Kimball was famous for telling people in stake conference they were dumb as asses, going to hell, worth less than maneur (and yes that is the word he used) etc... But you have to get the one-man play about him to really appreciate it.
  • I always get too caught up in the post to completely relay my thoughts.
    ^~~^~^^~~^~^~^~^^~^^~^~^~~^^^~^^~~^~~~^ ~~^~
  • Whether or not it is a myth is something everyone must find out for themselves. That is the point to free speach, you hear something and then find out for yourself. But if someone thinking they know it all restricts it from being said then...

    1) the origional statement is never validated beyond the person who says it,

    2) useful truth isn't get communicated for others to gain from.

    The Bible has many martyrs who died under such censorship. William Tinsdale was jailed and executed for the crime of publishing an English translation of the latin Bible without the ecclesiastical consent.

    But it is out there, and people have found useful truth in it so it continues to flourish. One can't dispute that.

  • I think we've all figured out it is poor software/administrators thats to blame, not a religion.

    Second, I don't know any legislation even in Utah that was initiated or proposed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, do you? You find any quotes from any General Authority that says "Hey, we need a law that will stop people from ."

    Even so, thats the fun of laws isn't it? You always have the agency to keep or break the Laws. No legislation is going to keep you from learning from your own mistakes. Nothing is really stoping you from driving down the wrong side of the freeway now is there? You have the agency to do that.

    Mark Twain once said (roughly) "a man who picks up a cat by the tail will learn a lesson that he will never forget." Making a law about it simply helps out cats and saves people from getting there arms scratched up.

  • What does the UofU have to do with anything? I expected the "my college is the center of the universe" attitude from a BYU alumnus.

    I have attended neither. But although I never attended Utah State, I think (at least that is what the girl told me) I can now call myself an Aggie. (Wohoo!)
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  • You seem to understand a lot about life. It is true that there is pain, death, hell (some of my break ups have come close to that.) Are you complaining that God didn't create a place where everyone is happy all the time?

    He did, and you've been there. Like Adam chose to leave the Garden of Eden (yes it was a concious choice to leave) you also chose to leave.

    Why chose to leave?

    In a simple way, so that you could actually experience life. If you in your time machine went back to Adam and had a little interview (music...)

    You: Adam you aren't wearing anything are you Cold?

    Adam: I've never been Cold here.

    You: Are you warm then?

    Adam: I've never been Warm here.

    You: Do you have any idea of what Temperature is?

    Adam: I know its there but I've never experienced it.

    You: Yes you have, you are experiencing it now!

    Adam: How would I know?


    Boy Meept would be proud of that one.

    As a child I never experience romantic Love, and in a way they are incapable of it. I have now, and although I would like to get rid of the painful times I can't, becuase without them i wouldn't have had the happy times. Without them I wouldn't have experienced Romantic Love. Given the option I would (in and a way did) make the same decision Adam made. He didn't make a mistake and neither did you.

    Now that I find myself having made that choice, I can see that I can still affect that choice. I can stay indoors and lead a sheltered life and never experience Love life or temperature for that matter. that is a choice of what I want to do and be.

    I can chose to not believe in God (shudder) and never want to do anything with God again, ascribing so many evil intentions as to make my last Girlfriend look like a saint in comparison. I am chosing by doing so to not have a God.

    Shure its going to be hell for a while realizing I did something stupid. But that is what I decided right? And God wouldn't make a choice for you. its like deciding your Ford Pinto is good enough for you, why make the effort to get any better and pass up a chance to command the Enterprise.

    God is merciful, kind and just, and often misjudged by the very people he is trying to help out. God did create us to be happy, but we have to know sadness to know happiness. In the end he only wants us to have what we want (and i mean in a much bigger sence than this short existance.)

    There is my Religion for the day. I like your observations, they are pretty keen and astute. I hope I was able to be of help.

  • Biblios interpreted means Library (like Bibliography). The Bible is a collection of stories, sermons, letters and books.
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  • Personaly, think God created the Universe out if industry, not as an escape from eunnui (as Sherlock Holmes put it.)

  • *sigh*

    Not on Slashdot.

    If you want to, tell me how Joseph Smith knew they used such things as Concrete, hardened Copper, highways, metal plates for writing, knew about the geographic upheavals in central america Circa 30ad, as well as understood intricacies of four dead languages and Hebrew as a 21 year old back woods farmer in upper state New York, using more new words than than Shakespeare came up with in all his works

    He displays uncanny knowledge of the mideastern Bedoin lifestyle, language intrecacies and tools.

    Sure he quotes the Book of Isaiah a lot, but from four different translations, two of which were very rare outside of the holy land and one of which wasn't even found at that time.

    Just remove the spam shield, and email me. I'm not out to prove the Book of Mormon, but it sure isn't discreditable.
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  • Already known. Thanks.
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  • I can understand when someone takes it on faith that they are right, But when your own logic works against you... (I wouldn't have quoted Gallileo with miserable logic like you used.)

    - nobody has ever proven God
    - nobody has ever proven God not to exist (proving the non existence of something is impossible)

    Doesn't your suplimental statement to the second statement contradict your first statement? I think Gallileo would be honored you quoted him, but ashamed at the leaps of logic used in the same post.

    Besides as the proof of that statement goes, you can't prove there is not a God becuase you would have to be a God to do it. I don't think you can apply a vampire or unicorn in that logic. A God can disprove vampires, but he cannot disprove his own existance.

    And should I take it on your word whatever my argument was doesn't apply to unfortunate loss of life at an early age? What argument doesn't apply?

    How about when you say if you were all powerful you would do things better than that? What would you do differently?

    I know three year olds who think they could do better than their parents becuase if they had they would be smarter and and . My are evil becuase they do not do that and

    Was that the kind of Logic that Gallileo (who believed in God) used to prove that a perfectly workable model of the solar system can have the Sun at the center?

    You seem to be backing youself into a corner. Care to continue?
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  • >>Lets Rephrase the Quote

    >Why not it only changes the meaning completely

    Um, no. But then you may have a point, you just don't make it.

    >If your god existed, I would despise it. As it is, I simply have no respect for christians.

    A simple catch here, God does exist so where does that leave you?

    >Further, if your make-believe daddy existed, since he'd be omnipotent, he could make people who could learn anything he wanted them to learn without suffering.

    Your reasoning is shoddy at best, it looks like you are saying you would do things differently as a god. Would you? Is there a way to learn without suffering when learning is the repository of experience? In other words if you create a Universe, and define learning as a growth from experience (ouch hot stove, I guess I've learned my lesson) you could only achieve what you are talking about by changing the meaning of learning. But then it really isn't learning is it.

    > the only possible reason for pain is as an end unto itself

    I don't think he said that the reason for pain is to experience pain. I looked his post up and down and couldn't see it.

    It is true that without pain you can't experience pain, (duh) and if you can't experience pain you can't experience anything else. How boring would climbing a mountain be if it was no more effort than an escolator ride? There would be no sence of achievement and the feeling of self worth that comes from it. There would be no joy of overcoming, nothing.

    In every post you always skip over that. You haven't answered or even challenged the fact that you need to know pain to know joy. You just complain that there is pain to begin with. I guess you find it funner to play in the kindergarten logic that perfection means everything works out best for you no matter what you do.

    You admit you can't disprove God's existance, yet you believe logic dispells it. Doesn't that seem contradictory to you?

    But then again thats why you are an AC.
  • Ahh yes the Vampires. You missed the point, my AC friend. The amazing thing is that God Cannot disprove himself, therefore it is impossible to disprove God. And you would have to be a God to know everything in the universe simultaneously to create the exhaustive proof of God's inexistence. Since a Vampire isn't ascribed omniscience, he falls out of the loop of the disprovables (at least by that logic.)

    You suppose that is an argument to say there must be a God, but that is not so. If you can't prove something you are accepting it on faith. That means that believing there is no God is the approach of never ending faith (it can't ever be proven), whereas God can be proven. That to me makes it, at least, the logical approach. But doens't prove existance.

    I thought you missed my argument. When you say "your argument [is] that life is made to learn pain and success," you miss one difference. My argument is actually that you chose a life so that you could learn pain and success. God created a place where that can happen and you chose to go there (here). Becuase it doesn't happen for everyone is irrelavant to your case, and the argument.

    As far as your point, your reasoning still hangs on perfection meaning everything works out great for you no matter what you do. But yes, lions eat wildebeasts. Touching a hot stove burns your finger. Standing in the way of a fast bus smashes you body beyond its designed capacity to function. This doesn't disprove or even dispell God.

    And there have been many christians burned alive by other Christians. My favorite was William Tinsdale. But they seemed to believe in something worth dying for, they could have chosen to renounce there beliefs and lived but their values were beyond the pain and suffering they were causing in their lives.

    Wouldn't your logic (pain means imperfection) label that as simply absurd, a person following your logic would never do that. Yet they did, driven by values beyond personal suffering. That value to truth exists, and is a principle that drove Galileo, William Tinsdale, and Christ.

    Truth is out there, it can be gawked at, sworn at, imagined away, but it is still there. Killing the messenger of that truth doesn't even kill the truth. Arguing it away with Aristotolian logic doesn't change it (just ask Gallileo. (btw I'll look for some good Gallileo believing in God quotes later.) Truth needs to be found, becuase its there. And when everything is said and done, and the truth is discovered you may find it isn't so unfair after all.
  • But no answers to my questions.

    Maybe another day then.

    BTW, on the scholarly level you might want to check out

    Most of is third grade whinning. But some things have merit, and FARMS is pretty good about being straight forward and not apologistic to such critisisms.

    If you really think you have the understandable logical opinion go check them out.
  • To me the Book of Abraham has never been an embarasement.

    I've heard discussion about the Joseph Smith Papyrus, maybe that is what you are refering to. Like I said go to FARMS
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  • I've heard of a few people marrying 16 year olds way back in the 1800's, but then that was the times. In fact even in the early 1900's in places like Louisianna and East Texas it wasn't uncommon. When I lived there I remembered that it most women I met over 50 that grew up there was married at least once before 18. One in particular was married at 14.

    I'll guarantee that the site never promoted polygamy or pedophelia.

    And yeah there are still cases of abuse in the upper ranks. Its rumored even that one of the origional apostles sold out Christ himself.
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  • by rlk ( 1089 ) on Tuesday March 23, 1999 @06:15AM (#1966844)
    Why should children "simply not be allowed to view certain things"? Suppose, for example, that a high school student is writing a term paper on propaganda for a history class, and wishes to use contemporary neo-Nazi sites for examples?

    Saying that children categorically should not be exposed to certain things is neither effective nor desirable. They'll either find other sources for the same information, or find ways around the filters. It's much preferable for them to be exposed to this material under mature supervision than to see it in secrecy with their peers, who probably don't understand the harm at all (sometimes for good reasons, sometimes not), or who think that it's cool to kill people, and gee, isn't it neat that this web site advocates killing people and tells us how to go about it?

    Since it's contraband, it will not be possible to use this for educational purposes. It will not be possible to discuss Nazi propaganda and explain the harm caused by it, and point to examples on the net for classroom discussion. It will be that much harder to teach children how to think critically and thereby avoid the same mistakes in the future. Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it (Santayana), and children are better learners than adults.

    To address the issue of adult usage: libraries are not intended solely for purposes of scholarly research. Most libraries contain works of entertainment (novels and such). Certainly if one individual is tying up resources to the exclusion of other library patrons the library can enforce reasonable time, place, and manner regulations; libraries routinely restrict how many books one individual may have checked out at any one time, and impose fines for late return.

    Furthermore, even by the definition of scholarly research, individuals may not want others to know what they're accessing. It may be that someone wishes to research something unpopular and does not wish to be exposed to the opprobrium of the surrounding community (consider someone who wants to study the ACLU or Planned Parenthood in a conservative community -- or the NRA in certain other communities). It may be for other reasons of secrecy, such as a desire to be the first author of a given piece of research, for preservation of patent rights (as distasteful as that may be to many of us), a nondisclosure agreement that someone may believe he is in violation of if others can see what's on his screen, and so forth.

    So no, I cannot agree that censorship is good in certain circumstances. I'm Jewish, and for that reason I would want my children to have access at a relatively early age to hate sites, in order that I could teach them the dangers of hatred and how to recognize it.
  • >Recall that the Puritans left England because
    >they wouldn't follow the Church of England (and
    >the resulting persecution) but rather practice
    >the Catholic faith (I believe it was Catholic)

    err, no, and no.

    One of the Great Myths is that the pilgrims, who were puritans, came to the New World to gain religous freedom. Great spin, but . . .

    They were called puritans because they wanted to "Purify" the Church of England. They did take over the country for a while, under Cromwell, and executed the king. Among their more notable "accomplishments" was banning Christmas.

    Yes, I'm serious, they criminalized the observance of Christmas. They weren't Catholic, but thought there was too much Catholic influence left in the C of E. Which is what led to the smashing of statutes in churches, etc.

    Even so, after the Restoration, they were largely tolerated. They were left to themselves, with the only requirement being that they attend Mass at the C of E once a year.

    So they fled (Holland?), and it was from there that they crossed the Atlantic.

    But it wasn't about freedom of religion, or persecution. Rather, it was because they weren't allowed to impose puritanism on the rest of England.

    Having arrived in Massachusetts, they promptly set up a Theocracy, with club-wielding goons set out after anyone who didn't show up for church services, fines for dressing in a "papist" manner, and assorted similar freedoms.

    A few years ago, a researcher went over the old records, and found a birth within six months of a majority of their marriages . . .

    Using them as a mascot for religious freedom is like holding up Clinton as a model of chastity . . .

    /end{history lesson}
  • As a Mormon, I will agree that, yes, to an extent there are some people within the LDS church that there is some degree of paranoia with regards to sin and temptation -- especially when it involves children and teens. However, I'd bet this is the case within any religious organization. I do think that such censorship is a little out of hand, but I don't in any way advocate complete freedom of exposure. You quote Joseph Smith correctly, but I'd counter-argue that the spirit of the statement is that knowledge is required in order to differentiate between "good" and "evil." Free agency is inseparable from responsibility, and in some cases, agency should not be given because responsibility cannot be held (this doesn't just go for kids; I know adults like this too). Such mass censorship of certain internet sites is going a little far, though; the porn I can understand, the others I can't. They should at least clearly notify the customers of such a policy.
  • ...because I wonder who is doing the censoring. I can't help but remember Montag in Farenheit 451 (the guy burned books by day and read them by night, if you don't remember). Censorship seems like an immensely hypocritical job, telling others what they can or cannot know. I really wonder about those doing the censoring, whether they are so digusted by what they see that they quit, or are so disgusted that they are forced to ban certain material that they end up quitting.
  • Yeah. It proves young people are more mature.

    And more cocky.
  • by Nelson ( 1275 )
    That's not what it says. Reread it.
    I presume you're talking about verse 27 where it mentions homosexuality and then verse 32 where it mentions death. Reread it, it doesn't say all gay people deserve death. It says that all the godless people who are wicked and supress the truth deserve death (verse 18) and homosexuality was one of the characteristics of some of them.

    If we wanted to make this a Bible study we could also analyze the word thanatos vs the word hypnos and how they are translated..

  • by Nelson ( 1275 )
    Sleep, hypnos, is used in the New Testament to mean physical death. The commandment to kill somebody (if it existed) would literally say: "put them to sleep"

    Thanatos, death, refers to the soul. You can be alive and kicking but experience thanatos.

    The passage in question where some other poster suggested that Romans 1 commands that all homosexuals should be killed doesn't say what the poster thought. It says that wicked people who hide the truth (some of whom are homosexual) deserve spiritual death. It doesn't say to kill people and even if it did it isn't saying to go out and stone them or shoot them it is saying that whenthey are judged by God they won't make the cut into heaven. We're way off topic though.

  • I see several comments that basically all say, "Why should there be certain things that children should not be able to see?"

    Parents need the ability to shelter their children from material they do not feel their child is mature enough to handle. If I wanted to wait until my child was 12 before telling them about the birds and the bees, I'd rather them not find out misleading information from the Internet link in his/her school's library when he/she's 9 years old.

    So, which causes the greater harm? Sheltering ("censoring") just enough Internet material to keep most all parenting concerns to a minimum, or leaving the Internet links wide open to keep our children from the evils of any form of information censorship?

    That decision must be made at the community level. Remember: These are *children* we're talking about. They are not legal adults and are not *guaranteed* access to non-educational information in public educational institutions. The decision on how much (or if) to censor in the public schools should be made by the local school boards (with the input or vote of the parents themselves). A balance between the education of the child and the proper degree of parenting must be found and respected, and this is always a local, community decision, *not* something that we as a national community should impose.
  • I'm sure you already knew this and were just trying to pick on the poster, but for those that don't: <stdio.h> is considered an HTML tag and Slashdot filters out HTML tags that aren't specifically allowed.


    #include <stdio.h>


  • So you'd have no trouble with me walking up to your 8-year-old son, telling him that cocaine was really just as as harmful as powdered sugar, and since it was extracted from plants, its just as good as green vegetables? All you do is snort it up your nose and you won't have to eat green beans tonight! Maybe I could give him a pamphlet with directions to the nearest crack dealer.

    Or what about hard pornography? You'd have no problem with me setting a stack of hard gay porn in front of your child's elementary school then?

    What about directions on building pipe bombs? I noticed your 9-year-old has a thing for chemistry sets. This would be a cool little experiment and a fun way to get back at friends and teachers!

    Do you honestly think that your child will be "too good" to partake in any of this? Do you really think you can prepare your child at age 9 for every possible bit of potentially misleading or desensitizing bit of imagery, sound and text that's out there and available? If you say yes, you desperately need to go take some parenting classes or counseling yourself.

    Whether or not YOU think any form of parental censorship is evil or not is NOT THE ISSUE. You are no better than the people you're trying to insult. Where they are trying to "impose" *their* censorship beliefs on others, you are trying to do the same on them.

    Parents are the ones that need as much control and flexibility in sheltering their child from material they do not feel their child is mature or responsible enough to handle. At home, this is easy to do, but once their kid is sent off to school, how can a parent be sure their wishes are being honored?

    Public school systems thus try to accomodate as many people as they can. At the *community* level, it's decided if material censorship is something they desire in their schools, and if so, at what degree. Obviously, no single policy is appropriate for the entire nation. Certain communities will want very strict controls, while others won't. A balance must be found and honored, but this balance is only appropriate for that community and no other.

    To censor or not to censor. You have no right dictating what other communities should and should not do and how they should interpret their local laws. It's up to the parents, the community and the schools to decide how to go about educating and parenting their children, not you.
  • If you think monitoring by parents is the solution, how do you propose parents monitor their children's browsing habits while they're at school?

    The school obviously doesn't, and even if they did, how could you be certain their monitoring habits were consistent with your goals as a parent? You can't. What can you do about it? Disallow your kid access to online resources while at school? Not a great solution.

    Children are *not* entitled to 100% unrestricted access to Internet materials while they're at school. The local communities decide if censorship in the classroom is something that's desired, and if so, how much to censor. They need to catch as much material as to appease the majority of the parents while still allowing the child access to as much educational material as possible.

    If you feel the policy your local school system is instituting is just plain evil, have your child make up a list of the sites he/she wasn't allowed to visit. Then, when he/she gets home, he/she can use your Internet link at home to browse each of those sites your school deemed questionable. Problem solved.
  • The truth about what, Santa Claus?

    A typical nine-year-old boy does NOT have the maturity or responsibility to handle information relating to the construction of pipe bombs. This has been demonstrated TIME and TIME again.

    However, a nine-year-old son of an explosives expert might just defy that and actually be mature/responsible enough to handle that type of information. In this case the parent might be justified in allowing him/her access to that information.

    Does this mean that we should allow ALL kids access to it? Of course not! It means we respect the parenting decisions of most of the children in our schools by keeping that knowledge out of the child's hands while they're at school.

    Once they get home, you're free to give them a list of URL's on how to construct explosives from household chemicals ALL YOU WANT.

    The only way you're going to be able to honor parents' wishes with regards to what their child can and cannot see is by finding a reasonable lowest common denominator and censoring content at that level. You can't please all parents, but you can please most and still maintain an educational atmosphere. This is precisely why the decision must be made at the smallest level possible. Ideally, the parents individually should be able to decide exactly how their child is educated and to what materials he/she is exposed to, but realistically, the smallest unit of responsibility ends up being the local school or school system, which is where the decision needs to stay.

    If you abhor censorship, there is absolutely nothing stopping you from getting a censor-free Internet connection at home and letting your child surf unsupervised all you want. Like it or not, you are in the minority in this respect.
  • Let's say parent A wants to shelter their child from objectionable materials. Parent B objects to all form of censorship and wants their child to have access to everything there is.

    If schools censor the content in their classrooms and libraries: Parent A is happy. Parent B can allow their child uncensored Internet access at home. Parent B is somewhat happy.

    If schools choose not to censor the content in their classrooms and libraries: Parent A can longer can choose to censor content available to their child. Parent A is unhappy. Parent B is happy.

    The practice of censoring objectionable content in schools gives *everyone* the chance to parent their child as they see fit. Denying schools the ability to censor objectionable material denies parents that choice.

    The degree of censorship should be determined by the parents and local community.
  • 1. name-calling/personal attack
    2. "probable" facts not backed up with any form of fact, url or statistic

    I think it would be hillarious to see what your children are like when they turned 18 and have watched nothing but PBS shows like Sesame Street and have never been to school.

    I am tempted to say they'd be little name-calling AC's who never back up their arguments with facts, but then I figure you've probably been to school yourself, so they'd probably turn out a whole lot worse.
  • Where they are trying to "impose" *their* censorship beliefs on others, you are trying to do the same on them.

    I am? How so, pray tell? There is a big difference between 'censorship' and 'lack of censorship'.

    Regardless of that difference, you are saying that parents and communities must not be allowed to respect a parent's wishes to shelter their child from material that their child is neither mature nor responsible enough to handle. By prohibiting public schools from being allowed to deny a child access to certain materials available online, you are effectively denying their parents the ability to make that decision.

    If, instead, you were to allow each community to set its own standards as far as censorship in public schools, parents can then be permitted to make that decision. If a parent wishes their child not to have access to information about building explosives, the school already prevents the child from having access to that material, so the parent is fine. If, on the other hand, a parent is anti-censorship to the point where they seem to *want* their child to have access to this type of destructive information, they can do this in the privacy of their own home.

    If you deny a community/school system the ability to shelter its children from objectionable material, you deny the parents the ability to raise their child as they desire. If, instead, you permit a community and school system to make the decision regarding censorship in the libraries and classrooms on a community-by-community basis, everyone wins. Parents can relax knowing their child won't be exposed to materials they don't want them exposed to, and anti-censorship parents like yourself can expose their children to all of the profane and dangerous content they want. They just can't get to it while they're at school (and not under your supervision).
  • Well, didn't George Washington part the waters of the Potomac?
  • Slavery is not "unBiblical". Slavery is considered a perfectly acceptable institution in the Bible.
  • Genocide, infanticide, incest, rape, scatology, and all kinds of depravity, much of it instigated by Yahweh the angry sky god. See rgan/vulgar.html

    for the gross parts. Pretty damn offensive if you ask me, though of course, I don't approve of censorship.
  • It's Exodus.

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but the Chosen People kept slaves of their own. When a new territory was conquered those who were not slaughtered were kept as slaves. It was a perfectly acceptable practice at the time. See rgan/atrocity.html

    for more biblical fun.
  • "In libraries, we don't need a policy of what can and cannot be viewed. This is censorship, pure and simple."

    Yes, but the U.S. has laws that REQUIRE censorship of some things to minors. The rule of law (however bad that law might be) is what U.S. citizens live under. If you have objections to the law, change the law-- don't attack the people who are trying to cornform.

    Now, in all fairness, the libraries might also be over-stepping their responsibilities. But lets be realistic, THERE ARE NO PERFECT FILTERS! I'm sorry that they have chosen one that is appearently so poor but no matter what filter they use, it will have false positives and let some junk through. Sorry, but for now this is a fact of life.

    "If you want to prevent your child from viewing anything you find objectionable, I suggest you hold your child's hand and restrict, TV, books, movies, school, as well as anything else found outside your home."

    Agreed. Parents need to do more of this.

    "I realize that might be much work..."

    That's an understatement. To put it more correctly, I would say something like, "I realize that this is impossible in many cases...". Look, parents need to do better, but society also has a resposibility here. Also long as society believes that things like pronography, tabacco, guns, etc... are harmful to children, there need to be controls on them. That's what the filtering software was, a control. (Maybe a bad one, but afniv hasn't pointed that out yet.)

    "By instituting a filter, you are instituting censorship. It is absolutely impossible to filter objectionable material without filtering non-objectinable material at the same time."

    True, but dont forget that this is censorship that is mandated by U.S. law. Without trying to stop kids from accessing porno they can be held liable when one does.

    "Don't forget, there are many non-objectionable site that use XXX. There will eventually be 10 web sites for the Super Bowls with XXX in it."


    "Also, how is one supposed to know if a filtered site is really not objectionable to whatever institution so that it can be brought to the IT manager's attention? That would preclude some unfiltered method of looking at web pages which would make filtering web pages useless."

    Very good point. I can quickly think of several possible solutions, but none are very realistic or will work very well.

    Anyway, my whole point is that you are you are attacking the wrong people. It isn't the people that put these filters into place that are the problems. (I'm sure that having these filters costs them a lot of money and time. Undoubtably, it would be easier for them not to have to filter.) The real problems are in the laws that force "censorship" of porno from kids. The real problems are in the parents who leave their children unsupervised in dangerous places like libraries and schools. The real problems are in the parents who sue libraries where little Suzy saw a XXX picture. The real problems are with society's values as a whole.
  • certain circumstances. Thirteen-year-olds should not be allowed to use school resources to look at porn. We can argue about how to best restrict access (adult supervision is probably the best way), but what is inarguable is that children should simply not be allowed to view certain things (porn, nazi-propaganda, heaven's gate style religious fanatics recruitment page).

    Adults using libraries is another issue. Personally, I would have the monitors be facing in such a way so that a number of people would be able to see what someone was looking at, so hopefully the shame factor would prevent library resources being used for less-than erudite purposes. Also, library resources are limited, and some people are trying to research papers and such, so there is every reason to discourage and even disallow web browsing for entertainment (this would include less objectionable content, too, not just porn and hate sites).

  • by burnsbert ( 3282 ) on Tuesday March 23, 1999 @01:34PM (#1966919) Homepage

    > And why should kids go to school?

    "To learn how to read, write, and do simple math. Hopefully, to learn a bit more than that. To be a useful member of society in the 20th century, you
    need to have at least these basic skills."

    Not American society. If your "at least" is reading, writing, and simple math, then you're in a world of hurt. "Readin' ritin' and cipherin'"
    is a skillset adequate for a steam-powered thresher-driver of the late nineteenth century.

    That's called the "straw man" argument, when you purposely misunderstand a person's view in order to rail against them. You knew that I made no such claim, inane sophistry notwithstanding.

    You (or another AC) asked me why children should go to school. I listed the most basic skills imaginable that children typically learn from school (Reading, Writing, Arithmatic). I never suggested that this was the limit of what children should learn. But no one without these skills can become a useful member of society.

    Now, my dear demagogue, how do you suggest children gain these skills if they don't attend school? Not enough parents stay home to make home schooling en masse a viable alternative. Do you suggest a means of education, or are you simply taking potshots for the fun of it?

  • by Lurking Grue ( 3963 ) on Tuesday March 23, 1999 @05:17AM (#1966942)
    I am using Smartfilter for a 30-day eval period. (Squid version.) Like other filter vendors they do not publish the list of filtered sites. But there are also other configuration files that allow you to exempt sites and workstations. In short, there's flexibility.

    With filtering in place, ACLU types bitch & moan about suppressed free speech. Without it, conservative types bitch & moan about subsidizing perverts.

    Smartfilter was intentionally purchased to filter "objectionable" sites. It enforces a policy. If a user unsuccessfully attempts to access a "non-objectionable" site then the user should notify the IT person in charge. That site can then be exempted.

    Smartfilter is not perfect. It is, however, flexible.
  • by jamiemccarthy ( 4847 ) on Tuesday March 23, 1999 @05:34AM (#1966950) Homepage Journal

    But there are also other configuration files that allow you to exempt sites and workstations. In short, there's flexibility.

    It is unfair to expect this to serve in place of the vendor's inability to construct a sane blocking list. School officials and librarians cannot hope to keep up with the huge list of wrongly blocked URLs for SmartFilter and other censorware products. Librarians are not supposed to monitor the thousands of sites being added to the web daily - that's supposed to be the software's job.

    In fact, as the report shows, certain blocks were overridden, such as Utah's own (one wonders why that was blocked in the first place). But the list of wrongly censored sites dwarfs any attempt to catch up.

    In short, this "flexibility" is a red herring.

    Jamie McCarthy

  • How are the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence offensive to people in the US?

    I'm confused.

  • I agree.

    Slashdot: Please censor all posts by burnsbert. I find them offensive. It has the words porn and nazi which I do not agree with. Therefore the rest of the post is useless discussion that no one should ever read, especially non-adults. Further more, based on the word "burns" in burnsbert's URL, the web site must promote arson. A past survey on Slashdot proved there are minors observing this site.

    "Man könnte froh sein, wenn die Luft so rein wäre wie das Bier"
    "We could be happy if the air was as pure as the beer"
  • Smartfilter was intentionally purchased to filter "objectionable" sites. It enforces a policy. If a user unsuccessfully attempts to access a "non-objectionable" site then the user should notify the IT person in charge. That site can then be exempted.

    In libraries, we don't need a policy of what can and cannot be viewed. This is censorship, pure and simple. If you want to prevent your child from viewing anything you find objectionable, I suggest you hold your child's hand and restrict, TV, books, movies, school, as well as anything else found outside your home. I realize that might be much work, but in this manner others can find what they are looking for, regardless how objectionable I or you might find it.

    By instituting a filter, you are instituting censorship. It is absolutely impossible to filter objectionable material without filtering non-objectinable material at the same time.

    Don't forget, there are many non-objectionable site that use XXX. There will eventually be 10 web sites for the Super Bowls with XXX in it.

    Also, how is one supposed to know if a filtered site is really not objectionable to whatever institution so that it can be brought to the IT manager's attention? That would preclude some unfiltered method of looking at web pages which would make filtering web pages useless.

    "Man könnte froh sein, wenn die Luft so rein wäre wie das Bier"
    "We could be happy if the air was as pure as the beer"
  • by jerodd ( 13818 ) on Tuesday March 23, 1999 @05:05AM (#1967001) Homepage
    But of course! It would be an absolutely TERRIBLE crime if a schoolchild used public resources to read religious materials. What would the parents think?

    Seriously, I was in a school a while ago that had censorship, and it was terrible. It blocked useful sites and let some really bad stuff through (a pudgy kid in the back was hogging the printer--I can't believe no one said anything).

    The only cure for this is to have adults monitoring their children when they use the Internet. Of course, that would require that a parent be involved in their child's life, and that really does take more effort than we'd like. The sad thing is that most parents don't realise how much worse the material on T.V. is. IMO (and IIRC there is research that confirms this) watching violence depicted in a moving picture is more harmful to a young child than seeing a still picture of a much worse seen. No-one wants to address these issues with the real solution, which is for parents to take care of their children. Everyone wants software and V-chips to do the parenting for them.

    Joshua (hi Orwell!)

  • by ethereal ( 13958 ) on Tuesday March 23, 1999 @08:22AM (#1967002) Journal

    First things first: I agree with you wholeheartedly that community resources like computing time in the library or in school shouldn't be wasted on browsing porn, etc. Of course, they shouldn't be wasted browsing the news, ESPN, or Slashdot either, unless that's an assignment or research project. It's a non-argument that schools and libraries exist to provide information, not entertainment, and when resources are limited, those with legitimate information needs should get preference over mere web browsers.

    ...but what is inarguable is that children should simply not be allowed to view certain things...

    However, I will certainly argue with that. Who decides these "certain things"? I certainly wouldn't be comfortable with your choices for what my kids should see, because I have no idea what your beliefs are - your religious convictions, your morals, even your taste in art. Can't have you deciding things for my kids.

    I'll go a step further and say that I may not even be a good person to decide which "certain things" we censor. Why, you ask? For all you know, I might be a militant flat-earther, a Luddite, or some other persuasion of thought that society generally sees as reactionary. Do you want me to decide that your kids shouldn't read about space travel, evolution, or medical information about the human body?

    Granted, none of my examples address the examples that you mentioned. Personally, I happen to agree with you that I wouldn't be crazy about my kids learning how to treat women from pornography, or learning about the rest of the world from a Nazi viewpoint. However, I don't see censorship at school as a solution. Why?

    • Because reading about Nazis or pornography on the Internet doesn't automatically make you a racist or a wife-beater. If my kids are that impressionable, then I've already been making mistakes as a parent for a long time. There's a big difference between finding out that something exists, and wholeheartedly espousing it as a way of life. Most of the porn I've run into on the Internet was more laughable than anything, and certainly hasn't altered the way I treat my wife, for example.
    • Because by the time someone is 13, like it or not they are going to have to deal with adult issues. If your kid gets to age 13 before he hears an off-color joke that puts down women or another race, then please let me know what school system you're in! Kids are blasted with the same flood of information and impressions as any of us, and you can't really shelter them once they head off for that first day of school. The only thing you can do as a parent is try to explain to them not just how to act but why to act that way, so that they can make their own decisions about porn, etc. Children have to be taught to have an open mind but at the same time be skeptical about what they hear.
    • Because I as a parent could be wrong in my views. For example, my grandparents held rather, um, conservative views on race and so on. However, their daughter turned out to be the most open-minded person I know, regardless of the way she was raised. If she hadn't been able to learn that there were other viewpoints, she might be a very different person today. Give people enough information and let them draw their own conclusions - the worst thing you can do to a person is to deny them access ideas that let them make their own decisions.
    • Because, believe it or not, we the community could all be wrong in what we think is right. There are plenty of crazy people out in the world, and 99% of their ideas are worthless. But there are also the brilliant people who can make the mental leap to the next level, and we don't want to ignore them just because they don't fit our conventions. People that can really change things if we cultivate an open mind: Jesus Christ, Galileo Galilei, Mahatma Gandhi, and so forth. All of these people offended the views of the majority at the time, and all of them went on to really shake things up. Now, I personally don't think that skinheads have the right perspective on the world, but I'm not willing to censor 99% of the crazy people and risk not hearing about the next revolutionary idea.
  • Living out here, I can tell you that, should the ACLU win the fight to un-censor the net, Utah schools will simply shut off all net access.

    The buzzwords out here, like pretty much anywhere else, are: don't endanger the children.

    Pornography is believed to endanger children out here. Should (hypothetically) censorship-free net access somehow be mandated, many parents will pull their children from school.

    Considering the funding that schools would lose, the schools will simply figure some other way to keep the kids from the internet.

    *************** Here follows my personal views, and Lest ye think otherwise, I've got a growing collection of magazines and videos that feature the undraped feminine form divine, and I'm all for porn.*******************

    All in all, it's probably much better in this situation to just let the schools throw a censoring program on. (Do you REALLY want 10yr olds looking at genital-mutilation or bestiality sites? I've seen some. They're not for kids.)

    The Mormons didn't come here voluntarily, and they've never forgotten it. Ever since the U.S. Army invaded Utah to put down the Mormon Rebellion (and lost), these people have hated the federal government.

    Just treat Utahns like a damaged section of the Internet, and ignore them.

    They ignore you.

    By the way, Rob must be having sig file problems. The following witticism isn't mine. (always preview)
  • You made a key comment...

    Everyone wants software and V-chips to do the parenting for them.

    I see increasing problems with the lack of responsibility parents are showing these days. With two income households becoming more the norm, parents have less time for their children so they are trying to burden the government, school districts and corporations to do the parenting for them.

    IMHO censorship is the absolute worst thing a child can experience. One day they will be in a situation that they were censored from before, and now they have no point of reference to base an education decision on.

    Parents need to sit down with their children while they're on the internet and learn with them (because you know the ones who know the least about it are the loudest advocators of bills like the CDA).

    They need to explain to their kids what it is to have safe sex and use a condom (face it, it's going to happen, so better for them to hear it from you).

    Make sure they have money to call a cab in case they "find" themselves at a party where they or their ride is too hammered to drive home. Hehehe...I "found" myself in quite a number of those situations :)

    And so on...

    Parents need to be parents, across the board, and the Internet is just one example. If they don't talk to their kids about what needs to be talked about, then they'll find out from their friends.

    Who would you trust more?
  • by Taral ( 16888 ) on Tuesday March 23, 1999 @08:11AM (#1967007) Homepage
    Unfortunately, censorship programs rarely work very well on things like pornography sites. There are only really two ways to catch things like that:

    1) Trying to second-guess the URLs the sites will use. It's already been shown just how badly this works. The filters _invariably_ manage to filter out something that isn't really offensive.

    2) Constantly updating site lists. This requires continuous maintenance, and therefore drives up the cost of the software (and our taxes, if the schools use it).

    Both of these things result in a cat-and-mouse game to a certain extent, as some providers alter their sites to get past the filters, and the filter makers try to keep up the filtering lists.

    To boot, who are these content providers to say what is offensive? Some religious parents may find the text of the bible offensive, and not want their children to read it...
  • by lee ( 17524 ) <lee@p[ ] ['yrz' in gap]> on Tuesday March 23, 1999 @07:20AM (#1967020) Homepage
    Libraries are not there to babysit anyone. Common sense or no, it is none of their business.
    Before I was able to afford my own computer and internet access after college, I paid a fee and used the local library's computers. Just because I could not, or would not, pay for my own access doesn't mean that they have a right suddenly to regulate all information i get there based on what they feel is in my best interest. Some ppl here seem to think that the library is for intellectual, erudite pursuits, but if you look at the collection of books in most local libraries you will find many books that are not very erudite. A good library has books which its patrons wish to read, not just what they should read. Why should the webpages available from library computers be any different?

    Personally, i do look up medical information on the web, AND IN LIBRARY BOOKS. I do not use it to substitute for a doctor. Before a surgery I looked up what the doctor said was the problem and was able to not only confirm what he had told me but also to understand how he had come to that conclusion. I felt much better about the surgery which did solve the problem.

    I did the same after another doctor visit and after reading several articles and not improving after a week, decided to get a second opinion. My doctor in that case got angry and refused even to recommend another for a second opinion. I am glad I saw someone else. Following the second doctor's advice, I quickly got better.

    It is not always possible to ask all of my questions to the doctor when I am there. I think of things later, or just want to find out more. There are a lot of sites with solid information on the web.

    Free Health Clinic's indeed! It is my body, my brain, and I will do as I please within the bounds of the law. The point of all of this is that the US Constitution as interpreted by the US Supreme Court says that libraries cannot censor adult access to the web!

    I bet you would not like my opinion on what people should not read any more than i like yours. That is one reason the US Constitution has a bill of rights.
  • As far as I can tell, those who engage in censorship (even parents, but that's a different story) are either cowards who fear the truth, or idiots who think that they can actually accomplish something useful by censorship (or more likely, they are both).

    I don't remember who said it, but I love the phrase: 'I hate everything you say, but I will fight for your right to say it'. I despise xianity and bible, I think they are total mind rot -- but I believe nobody has any business telling others what to look at, or not to look at. Since the library is a public facility, they should not censor content for anyone -- the only people who have business censoring content for kids, are their parents (and even then it's ethically questionable)

    That being said, bible IS one of the most offensive books I have ever read (yes, I read all of it).

  • by Mr T ( 21709 ) on Tuesday March 23, 1999 @07:17AM (#1967048) Homepage
    What if you had to log in at a school? Colleges require this. Then each month or something, the list of URLs visited by the student get's mailed to their parents, it could even be assembled into an easy access webpage type list on a disc. No censorship or anything of that sort, just tracking.

    Naturally, when your 16 year old daughter is visiting lot's of sites about birth control you're going to want to have a sit-down with her. The thing is, you should have that talk with her anyways.

  • This report was truly well researched and eye opening. As a fairly
    liberal person and a college student, I have always been opposed to
    censorship in any form. Censorship of the Internet seems to me to be
    the most insidious form of censorship possible since it limits the
    absolutely magical thing about the Internet, free flow of ideas without
    national borders or monetary exchange.

    I believe that your report will go a long way to reassure zealots that
    students in school are extremely restrained, even inhibited. Anyone who
    thinks about the matter for more than a few moments must realize that
    this would be the case, no student wants to be caught with sallacious
    materials on their screen.

    Truly the Internet has a great deal of lousy content and even some
    criminal content, but the potential for unfettered information gathering
    is unprecedented. I think that we should be far more worried about the
    corporate influence on the internet and students' viewing of banner ads
    than we should about the inadvertent or intentional viewing of

    Finally, should we force searches of backpacks for copies of The
    Anarchist's Cookbook or Playboy? Should we monitor notes passed in
    class for sexual content and innuendo? Or should we teach students
    about beauty, science, knowledge, and community, and trust them to push
    the back button when they stumble upon the slums of the Internet.

    Thank you for bringing this issue to the forefront, a perfect example of
    the immense positive potential of the Internet.

There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom. -- Robert Millikan, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1923