When pornography abandons its quality of existential solitude and moves out of the kitsch area of timeless, placeless fantasy and into the real world, then it loses its function of safety valve. It begins to comment on the real world.
ANGELA CARTER (1940-1992)
Welcome Back, Everyone!
Regular readers of my blog may be aware I recently wrote an article, in relation to the perils of child pornography – see the article here and how the media is still promoting total falsehoods as “facts”.
In the past few days, more “facts” are being touted about, and I wanted to just comment upon them, as it gauls me to see quality publications like the “i” newspaper and The Guardian continue to get things so totally and utterly wrong.
UK readers will have been aware that Stuart Hall – TV pundit and former IT’S A KNOCKOUT gameshow host – has recently been sentenced to 15 months in jail for 14 counts of sexual assault and sexual abuse against a range of girls and young women, that took place between 1967 and 1985. This comes just weeks after two other high-profile crimes of child-killing, namely Mark Bridger (see here ) and Stuart Hazell (see here ) for details of the respective cases.
Hall will do half of that sentence, and then probably be released after, but on a police tag of some kind, maybe even having to report daily or weekly to a local police station, as well as sign the UK’s Sex Offenders Register! The youngest victim, was a nine-year-old. Many have complained that the sentence was too lenient.
Even though Hall is now 84 years of age, the fact he initially denied any wrongdoing, and said that he would “fight the charges and regain my reputation” after he claimed he was going through a “living nightmare“, cannot take away from the crimes he committed. He also slated the accusations, labelling the accusers as “pernicious, callous, cruel and spurious“, which was a lie.
So his downfall, has been nothing more than his own undoing. Yet now that Hall is safely locked-away, albeit for a very short period of time (roughly amounting to two weeks for each offence), justice definitely does not appear to have been done. But worse is to come. Now the media, and our beloved (!) Government, are taking it upon themselves to go in all-guns-blazing against the Internet, in a fight to remove any- and every-thing that may be deemed “offensive”! This includes waging a war on Child Pornography, which I have no problem with them fighting to remove. Child Porn is the sickest, most repugnant aspect of real-life, and no one should want even the merest hint of it to be on the Internet.
But there is a problem… Anyone who knows anything about the Internet knows only too well, that as soon as something is put online, it remains online. You can never permanently eradicate files and data from the Internet. It’s not possible. The Internet has its own resource of making sure, nothing gets permanently removed or deleted. It’s called The Internet Archive Wayback Machine, and you can access it here. It’s free, and it will let you find and locate anything online, that may appear to have been deleted or removed. It’s essentially a Google-fied history search engine for any material that may ever have been online at some point in the history of the Internet – all 22-plus years of it. It’s aim is to make accessible, files and material that may no longer be online.
This may (and I want to stress that word may) include child pornography!
As I mentioned in my previous article, you can’t just go onto Google, or Bing, or Yahoo and type in “child porn images” and get links to such material. It is not that easy, despite what the popular press would love you to think. You only need to take one look at idiots like Amanda Platell (a Daily Mail “columnist”) who tried doing just that – see this link here to realise that not everything you think you see online is what it appears to be. (Platell claimed to have found a video featuring a minor being stalked and then forcibly attacked by an adult man, but it turned-out to be a simulated, faked sequence from a legal pornographic film. Nothing more, nothing less!)
In fact, the article backfired on both her and the Daily Mail – in a rather spectacular fashion!
First, it was proved that the act of a journalist looking for child porn, was illegal in the first place, as demonstrated by this Huffington Post article here . Platell is/was technically breaking the law, and even in her role as a “journalist”, she can’t just go hunting for that kind of material to prove a point, without informing the Home Office and usually the Metroplitan Police too – who also have to approve whether she has the legal right to attempt the search in the first place! As she didn’t get in touch with either body, she has opened herself and the Daily Mail to a very nasty lawsuit. Tut, tut, Amanda!
Thirdly, the Daily Mail – and to be fair, other papers too – are still claiming that the problem is all Google’s fault…
…Which it isn’t. (See my previous article on why.)
The Daily Mail seems adamant that it’s all the fault of the ISP’s (Internet Search Providers) who are to blame, for child porn even being accessible in the first place. Ergo, if they removed all of the links and files, there’d be no child porn. Ergo there would be no more sexual abuse of children. Ergo no more high-profile cases like that of Stuart Hall, Jimmy Savile, et al.
Unfortunately, as I mentioned back at the start of this article, the existence of online child porn is not that simple. You can’t just Google it. You can’t just eradicate all of it. You can’t just sanitise the entire Internet, and then naively assume that there’ll be no more heinous crimes and and no more predatory sex offenders. What you are thinking of there, is a simplistic solution to a very non-simplistic crime.
Just as eradicating all legal pornography will not stop children and teenagers from wanting to see sexual material to get turned-on with, so you can’t just remove it all and assume the world will be a better place.
Andreas Whittam Smith – ex President of the British Board Of Film Classification – wrote an article in the “i” newspaper on Wednesday 19th June. In it, he quoted Maria Miller, the British Government’s Culture Secretary, in which she said:
What has been agreed today, is a fundamental change in the way the industry will approach child abuse images and removing them from public view.
What has been agreed, is that ISP’s such as Google, Microsoft and Twitter (not an ISP, but what the heck!) agreed to donate £1 Million Pounds Sterling (around $1,545,000 US Dollars) to the Internet Watch Foundation (see here ) to aid them in removing child pornography and other “objectionable material” from the Internet.
Now, I am all for removing truly objectionable material such as child pornography, from online. No one, not even the most ardent nor liberal of anti-censorship supporters, can possibly object to this, but a Million Pounds will do next-to-nothing. Child Porn is not easy to access. It is not easy to find. It is not sign-posted in obvious places. And the Internet does not solely consist of the pages that Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Opera can access, via web addresses. There is also the Usenet service, VPN – Virtual Private Networks, and many other ways to access material online, that don’t need or use a web address. Whilst they all form part of the Internet, they do not get indexed in the same way, and – for the vast majority of people – they don’t even know such places exist.
If you are in your 30’s or 40’s, then you will probably remember the old days, pre-the Internet, when we had dial-up modems, reaching such tremendous speeds as 14.4, 28.8, 33.6 and 56kbps. That’s right, a maximum of 56 kilobytes per second. (Just over half a megabyte!) You had to connect your modem to your telephone socket, and to your PC, dial a physical number, wait for it to connect, then log-in, usually using something like Compuserve or AOL software to do so, and paying £25-£40 UK Pounds Sterling each month for the luxury to do so. Downloading 100 e-mail messages, could take 20-30 minutes! Anyone using dial-up modems will tell you, it was not fun, and it certainly wasn’t fast. (Trust me on this, you youngsters don’t know how lucky you are, with Internet speeds these days!) And it tied up your phoneline at the same time.
But pre-Internet, people used BBS’s or Bulletin Board Services. These were essentially message boards, on thousands of subjects, and a place where like-minded people could chat, leave messages, and upload or download programmes and images. (Sound and video clips were a luxury!) It was all fairly anonymous, and it wasn’t easy to locate a lot of things.
And there was a dark-side to BBS’s: Alt.org servers. (See here for a short guide to them.) If you ventured into the Alt.org servers, you went there for a reason, and it was usually not for legal ones! Alt.org allowed people to post material of a sexual nature. Here you would find all manner of posts, pictures and files of a pornographic and illicit kind. This was also where computer hackers and phone phreaks would hang-out too, exchanging tools and techniques on how to obtain information about suspect techniques for operating above-the-law.
It was the then-equivalent of the underbelly of the Net. The adult playground. If you were an underground person, this was your digital paradise of perversion!
And it was here, where – if you knew someone who knew someone, who knew a friend of a friend – you might get invited if you were wanting hardcore material, of adults doing things to other adults, or of adults doing things to minors. This was where porn in all its form was passed around, and transferred. Whilst for most modern Internet users, BBS’s and Alt.org servers are rarely ever used, though they still exist. And these are the places wher some (though not all) paedophiles can frequent, and exchange or search out the material that satiates their needs. These places do form part of the Internet, but are not indexed and filed by places like Google and Yahoo, except in the vaguest of manners.
Essentially, Alt.org is a hideaway! And if that’s the case, then no amount of complaining from Maria Miller, nor the Daily Mail, is going to stop child sex abuse images and videos from being produced, from being uploaded, and from being passed around by paedophiles, to other paedophiles.
In some parts of the world, child sexual abuse is not seen as being quite the abhorrent crime that we, in the West, see it as. Again, without wanting to open myself up to a potential libel suit, there are countries where child sex trafficking and child sex tourism takes place – sometimes quite brazenly – for anyone who is willing to pay enough hard currency for the pleasure. And worse still, some country’s police and governments turn a blind eye, or facilitate, such odious acts. If you pay them to look the other way, they will do so! Thankfully, the Stop Child Trafficking charity is doing a lot of good work, to try and stop children from all over the globe being trafficked*, but like the IWF, it can only do so much.
As awful as it seems, the world is not the nice, pleasant, fluffy place we would love to convince ourselves (and our children) it is. Outside of your home, out there in the real world, there are many deeply unpleasant, sick and disturbed people. The same applies online. The Internet is great. It can be a force for good. But it can also be a force for misuse, for evil, for the peddling of offensive and unpleasant material.
Remember how in the film THE TERMINATOR (1984, James Cameron) and its stellar sequel TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY (1991, also James Cameron), the Resistance fought against the evil creators of Skynet – the all-powerful, all-knowing, computer that turned against humans, and decided to wage war on its inventors? That’s no longer fictional. Unfortunately, for us, we humans created the real-world equivalent, when we created the Internet.
We’ve created a place that we can no longer wholly control; that perpetuates and propagates itself; that learns; that mushrooms, embellishes, expands, enhances itself on a daily basis, minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, day-by-day! Each day, more and more material is uploaded, that gets passed around by millions upon millions of us, from one site to another, from country-to-country! We’ve created a virtual Pandora’s Box!
And now, we’re trying to control it, and to close it.
And we can’t!
In our own, ever-so-slightly fucked-up way, we’ve begun the process of our own demise! And we are determined to put that blame on one thing – the Internet. It’s the Internet’s fault that our children look at porn, when they’re only eight-years-old. It’s the Internet’s fault that monsters like Stuart Hazell, and Stuart Hall, and Mark Bridger and Jimmy Savile existed. It’s the Internet’s fault that would-be Jihadists can get training in how to be suicide bombers. It’s the Internet’s fault that guns kill people. What hope have we got, as a species, if we try and apportion blame on all of society’s ills, to something we created in the first place?!
And on that dour note, I will leave you all to contemplate things! Take care, out there, folks!
* = If you want more information on what the Stop Child Trafficking charity is doing, to help and aid children all over the globe who have been trafficked, please visit their website here. Thank You!