FEBRUARY 17, 1997

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Computer police not a good idea

computer police Regarding the recent letter from Raymond Rhodes about censoring the Internet: Hey Ray, can I have the job? It will take a lot of effort, but I think we can control the flow of dangerous and nasty information that sneaks into the computer. I know what is good for us. Besides, freedom is too messy and it's easier to rationalize correctness.
   I can tell from your letter that you don't want bare butts and breasts to parade before the eyes of our innocents. But there is a lot more yucky stuff to be dealt with than common skin. I would like to propose a list of really bad things that need to be removed from both computers and book shelves.
  1. No more information about Adolf Hitler. We don't want our kids to become Nazis.
  2. No more about George Washington and Tom Jefferson, because they owned slaves and that's an unpleasant issue.
  3. No pictures or art from those drug-and-alcohol-crazed impressionist painters. Modern art--need I say more?
  4. No gun and knife digests, because we know what terrorists do with weapons.
  5. No more sweaty blues music. All those failed love affairs.
  6. No more about pop/rock fads, celebrities, and 15-minutes-of-fame oddballs. Spiked hair, tattoos, and body piercing. Oh, boy.
  7. No dictionaries, because children will look up disgusting words when we aren't looking.
  8. No more books like Brave New World, 1984, or Fahrenheit 451. Such ideas!
  9. No catalogs showing people in their underwear.
  10. No more about modern "French" clothes fashions. We also need to get rid of the word "French," because it has something to do with a nasty kiss.
  11. We also must get rid of stuff about Democrats, Republicans, Catholics, Jews, Protestants, racial groups, short people, and people who work at night in highrise buildings. I don't think it's necessary to explain the subversive nature of "these" people.
  12. Come to think of it, maybe we should eliminate all references to history, science fiction, art, poetry, and lawyers.
   What is safe for the Internet? The weather, gardening, sports (how about those Sonics), dieting, cute TV commercials, chat groups on Star Trek, and locating Tickle Me Elmo. Let's keep it at a low-risk level and be safe.
   After rereading my list, I think that the only hope for "right thinking" folks is to realize that ALL information and ALL pictures are potentially dangerous. The options are to live in a bunker and to deny personal freedoms to all of us or to be tolerant and accept different points of view. It takes effort to live in a free society. The dynamics of change and the new, while at times unsettling, are the very things that helped create the quality of life we all enjoy.
   Relax, Ray. Maybe having computer police isn't such a good idea.

Bill Stankus, Woodinville