"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Moral Bankruptcy and Intellectual Repression

The unraveling of the Republican cover-up of the offenses committed by their House colleague and child predator, Mark Foley, will likely be remembered as the Chernobyl of the modern conservative movement. The exploits of Maf54 and the subsequent cover-up all occurred as these same right-wing ideologues were leading the charge to nullify the educational value of the Internet for school children across America. In China they just call it state-sponsored censorship: Foley, as sponsor and chief pedophile of the House Republicans, called their plan protective measures. Here is part of commentary by Larry Magid from back in August that succinctly makes the point that no one now will forget:
(AP / CBS)

(CBS) Last week the House of Representatives passed a well-meaning but ill-conceived piece of Internet safety legislation that could actually make the Internet a more dangerous place for children and teens.

The Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA), approved Wednesday by an overwhelming margin of 410 to 15, now moves on to the Senate. While it's easy to understand why Congress would approve a bill like this, it is ill-conceived because, rather than "deleting" online predators, it deletes the ability of schools and libraries to determine whether kids can constructively take advantage of social networking and other interactive services that are extremely popular among teens. Maybe the law should be called DOTA (the Deleting Online Teenagers Act)?

As a bit of background, I've been working on Internet safety issues since 1993 when I wrote "Child Safety on the Information Highway" for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. I'm on the board of that organization and I also run SafeKids.com and SafeTeens.com and am co-director of BlogSafety.com. BlogSafety is a not-for-profit project that derives funding from social networking sites, including those affected by this legislation.

The bill (H.R. 5319) amends the Communications Act of 1934 "to require recipients of universal service support for schools and libraries to protect minors from commercial social networking websites and chat rooms."

The legislation, said Tim Lordan, Executive Director of the Internet Education Foundation which advises U.S. lawmakers on technology, "lumps social networking sites and chat rooms with previously blocked sites that are obscene or contain child pornography, as if social networking was somehow the same as those horrendous sites."

The bill defines social networking sites as being "offered by a commercial entity; permits registered users to create an on-line profile that includes detailed personal information, permits registered users to create an on-line journal and share such a journal with other users; elicits highly-personalized information from users; and enables communication among users.
Of course, we now know what chief sponsor, Maf54 was doing during the breaks as this Bill was being considered. The rest of the Magin's piece is here.

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