|10 January 2000|
I don't envy people who have to fill a certain amount of space each day whether or not there's anything worth writing about. Newspapers can't abide empty spaces on their pages, so they pad articles and print things like "On this day in [some year], some crazy, kooky thing happened. Made you look!" in order to keep space from being wasted.
Some web sites give themselves this problem by creating holes on their own home page that they must always keep filled. CNN's ubiquitous little gray boxes on their home page provided this gem today:
AN APPLE A DAY keeps the doctor away. Or does it?
Join our discussions of key health issues.
Yeesh. Nice formula: pick a clichéd proverb, then say 'or does it?' Endless banal headlines, ripe for the picking. Or are they?
AOL and Time Warner are merging [CNNfn].
Great, more conflicts of interest for more media outlets, and thus more reasons to doubt the information they feed us. Like we needed more. [shudder]
Ah ha! While C-SPAN doesn't currently post full text transcripts of the debates, they do have searchable video versions of them at http://www.c-span.org/campaign2000/search/. (You'd think searchable video would also imply readily-accessible full-text transcripts, but you'd be wrong...)
If you do a search and get something back, they will at least post a relevant text excerpt from the video.
So, I tracked down Gary Bauer's dubious claims about porn sites from the December 5 debate that somehow never made it to the Fox transcript:
[joined in progress...]
Questioner: What was startling about her death was that her killer had kept a public diary on a Web site dedicated to her for two years, including details of how he planned to carry out this murder. After she was gunned down, the Web site host pulled the plug, but only after authorities brought their attention to it. My question is this: Has the time come to police the Internet for content, and whose responsibility is it?
Bauer: Well Karen, this is obviously a big question that the country is going to have to face as technology continues to grow and it becomes more and more difficult to deal with all the potential things that people can be exposed to. I disagree with those that suggest that somehow the Internet is sacrosanct. That it's a god that can't be touched. You probably know that there are not only the sort of horrible incidents that you just mentioned, but that the biggest growth of Internet sites are pornography sites, many of them child pornography sites. I don't think there's a parent in the country that's comfortable with allowing their child to be alone for long periods of time at that computer screen, given what they can access. So I think in a good and decent society, we'll find a reasonable way to balance our need for information and our constitutional rights with the need to also have a society that recognizes certain values.
Questioner: Is it the role of the Federal government to close off the Internet to these illegal activities, like the child pornography you mentioned?
Bauer: Well, let's hope that we begin to get some self-regulation that's better than what we saw in this example, but I think at some point, given that the Internet crosses the lines of government and the lines of the State, that the Federal Government will have to take a hard look at what things they can do. If I could return to another issue that we touched on a couple of times but I don't think we're grabbing, and that is our foreign policy. I know it's not directly related, but it does get back to values, Karen. The question on Taiwan, the question about Russia, etc. The question here is, are we going to have a "Reagan Foreign Policy," or are we going to have a policy driven by money and trade? I'm afraid that in the case of Governor Bush and others, they are buying into the idea that money and trade trump values. I would withdraw the Most Favored Nation status from China, I would not allow them into the World Trade Organization. Whether it's the Internet or foreign policy, our basic values have got to be at the center of what we do.
Right, then. Here's my question: where in Sam Hill does he get the idea that the 'biggest growth of Internet sites are pornography sites' [sic]? Does anybody have figures to support that, let alone the claim about child pornography? Or is it just a scare-tactic BS assertion that his audience won't have enough online experience to question? Because in my own admittedly-anecdotal experience, that certainly doesn't seem to be the case; I don't run across that many adult-entertainment sites compared to, say, e-commerce sites or personal home pages. Maybe he's looking in different places than I am.