Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Ill Effects, The Third Person, and SOPA

To quickly summarize, "Ill Effects" covers the idea that television censorship does "not exist in an ideological vacuum and generally tend[s] to spring from deeply felt beliefs about how society should - and shouldn't - be organised and regulated" (Barker and Petley 4). In other words, censorship can be thought of as potentially dangerous because all one has to do "is to say that they are 'protecting society' or 'concerned for the young' " (Barker and Petley 8) in order to justify even larger ideological goals, such as certain religious or moral principles.

The popularity of the Newson Report might be thought of in relation to the Third Person Effect. Worries center on children as the "other" who are affected in adverse ways, as opposed to adults who are presumably reading the report and/or believe what it says because experts and older people somehow "know better" than youth and will not be as vulnerable as they are. Of course, as the authors of "Ill Effects" state, what is important is to look at how children really use the media, instead of simply defending a "conception" of childhood.

To elaborate on the idea of censorship, I'd like to bring up the example of the Stop Online Piracy Act, which was a bill introduced in late 2011 that was meant to protect copyrights on intellectual property. While it did not pass, it generated a large amount of backlash from major sites like Wikipedia and Tumblr, who had Internet blackouts to protest it.

Internet blackouts?
The reason was simple: while SOPA was meant to address the issue of intellectual property, it also threatened to filter over into the terrain of freedom of speech, as the bill proposed blocking access to entire sites if there was so much as one infringing or illegal link, image, or file on a page. Censorship of media / violent media can also be thought of in such a way: while it proposes protecting the children (an arguable Third-Person effect that should be explored within itself), it often also filters over into the terrain of larger moral or religious agendas.

When it comes to policies and decision-making, it is always helpful to ask - who is really being helped or hurt? And what are the larger effects or interests behind proposed changes that go past what is simply put on the page?

1 comment:

  1. Sophia, this is actually an excellent set-up for the Lessig reading and his concerns over the changing nature of Internet control. Your example also links to the Kirby, and though Kirby was rather skeptical about Wikipedia's worth as a research tool, your point suggests that part of the site's worth is its broad impact and the ability of its parent organization (the Wikimedia Foundation) to protest against SOPA-like legislation.