In Internet's Way
University of Hull
April 16, 2010
ETHICS AND EVIL IN THE PUBLIC SPHERE: MEDIA, UNIVERSAL VALUES & GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT, pp. 93-115, Mark Fackler and Robert S. Fortner, eds., Hampton Press, 2010
The Internet contests boundaries to free expression and enlarges the scope of tolerance. More than half a billion people worldwide use the Internet. It is a wonderful, easy-to-use mechanism to advance knowledge and learning across the world, to bridge gaps (educational, national, religious, cultural), and to promote understanding.This essay outlines some questionable forms of expression that exploit the Internet and then analyzes two main problems: child pornography and hate speech, noting the differences between the United States and Europe in addressing these questionable forms of speech. The Internet as such is not the problem. The problem is that there are vile people who exploit the wonders of the Net, and our liberal commitment to freedom of expression, by inflicting harm on children and disliked minorities. Recognizing the potential harm involved, and that in those two cases - pedophilia and hate - speech might translate into real harm, the chapter calls for open debate as to how to address those two concerns, for international cooperation in the battle against pedophilia and hate mongering, and for taking responsibility. Pedophile websites should be shut down. Hate sites that target specific individuals, calling for their murder, should not be allowed to operate. Liberal democracy should protect its vulnerable citizens, first and foremost children and minorities.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 23
Keywords: Internet, Child Pornography, Pedophilia, Hate Speech
JEL Classification: Z00
Date posted: April 30, 2010
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