The systematic restraints on curiosity about sex maintain sexual ignorance, and where people are ignorant, they are manipulable.
- SAMOIS, Coming To Power
The official secrets act protects officials, not secrets.
- Yes, Prime Minister

Protecting the Government from the Internet

The Child On-line Protection Act (COPA) is the United States government's latest attempt to get control over the internet. It imposes heavy fines and jail time on anyone who makes sexual material available on the web, where children can see it.

Many people assume that the purpose of COPA is to protect children from the internet. In fact, the purpose of COPA is to protect the government from the internet. The government derives much of its power by dividing people against each other. The internet threatens this power, because it connects people to each other.

COPA is nominally targeted at commercial pornographic web sites. However, the law is carefully written to avoid interfering with these sites. Under COPA, pornographic sites will be able to conduct business as usual. The actual effect of COPA will be to shut down all non-commercial, non-pornographic web sites that have anything to say about sex or sexuality.

The focus on sex is not accidental. Historically, there were many divisions by which the government could polarize people: racial, religious, ethnic, class. Today, this is mostly unacceptable. Today, there is only one large minority that can be demonized in public: homosexuals.

The internet provides information; information leads to understanding; and understanding does not lead to fear and hatred. If enough children learn that homosexuals are people, not demons, then the government will no longer be able to polarize people by sexual orientation. This makes the internet a real threat to government power, and it is part of the reason that the government continues to attack it.


Notes

Inverted Pyramid
This page follows the inverted pyramid style. I'm putting the tip up now, because if I wait until I've written the base, it may never get posted.

Steven W. McDougall / resume / swmcd@world.std.com / 1999 May 09