From jericho@netcom.com Mon Jul  3 01:14:02 1995
Date: Mon, 3 Jul 1995 01:14:02 -0700 (PDT)
From: Damien Sorder 
Subject: Re: 'No Place for Kids?'
To: letters@newsweek.com
Message-ID: 
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII


This letter is in response to your recent article titled 'No Place for Kids?'
and the 'smut' infesting the internet.

Overall, this article seemed to be thrown together based more on rumors, 
and word of mouth rather than fact.  Due to the lack of research on this 
piece, to any experienced net denizen, this article seemed more unfounded 
bias rather than an objective look at a potentially real problem.

In the first part of the article, you keep referring to 'the net' but 
refer back to AOL.  America Online is a very small part of the net, and 
if you ask any veteran to the net, you will find it is an unwelcomed 
addition as well.  Your description of unix as 'notoriously arcane 
computer language' is more than 'inaccurate' to say the least. Unix 
(there are several different versions) is a very powerful operating 
system that can provide power Windows (even Windows95) has never seen. 
Just because there is no mouse to point and click with, does not mean it 
is cryptic, inferior, or 'less' in any way.  Rather than insult the 
operating system, insult the users of the 'pretty icons' who take no time 
to learn what they are using.

Not only do they take no time to learn the system they own and use daily, 
they take no time to learn anything about the net.  Senator Exon is not 
wrong by any means.  Yes, pornographic material does exist on the net, 
and is available to anyone who seeks it out.  Your article seems to imply 
that removing this 'sleaze' from the net would be the answer.  The logic 
behind that statement is weak in more than one way.  First, the internet 
is not an American network.  Even if you could magically remove all porn 
from American sites, you still have to contend with foreign sites. 
Second, if you remove it from American sites, you would then have to 
monitor over 10,000 newsgroups, private email, every FTP site, as well as 
thousands of private machines with open telnet access.  I don't believe 
that is a feasible option, not even for all of our wonderful agencies 
that would love to be part of the intrusion into net life.

Your article goes on to portray that online sex, and problems with sexual 
harrassment are much more frequent than in the real world.  In today's 
times, this seems to be quite the opposite. According to the article, it 
seems that the writer is implying that kids run across this overly sexual 
content on a minute by minute basis.  The current set up of the net makes 
it essential that a person knowingly and actively seeks out porn or other 
undesirable material.  If you wish to find obscene gifs, you must 
actively FTP around to find them.  If you wish to read about sex, you 
must find the usenet groups, and read them.  If a parent is worried about 
the content of the net, then a single standing warning of 'The internet 
contains material which may be unsuitable to young kids'.  This would 
place responsibility on the parents, where it should lie, not with the 
other millions of users who have a fundamental and legitimate reason to 
be on the net.

Please explore the net before you too join Mr. Exon in banning drastic 
parts of the net.  Don't make it illegal to practice your first 
ammendment rights.  And finally, please don't print propaganda like this 
article without first obtaining facts, rather than unfounded rumors.

Thank You

Damien Sorder