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UK Culture Secretary Isn’t Against Free Speech, Honest

Andy Burnham, the face of the enemy

Okay, here it comes. UK Culture Secretary Andy Burnham wants to work with the Obama administration to apply “new standards of decency” to the Web.

Read this next paragraph carefully. For the full context, here’s the article.

“There is content that should just not be available to be viewed. That is my view. Absolutely categorical. This is not a campaign against free speech, far from it; it is simply there is a wider public interest at stake when it involves harm to other people. We have got to get better at defining where the public interest lies and being clear about it.”

How can you tell somebody is against free speech? Because they say that there should be stuff you shouldn’t get to see or say in the same breath that they claim they’re not attacking free speech.

Here’s the question, Mr. Burnham: who gets to decide what’s decent and what’s not? You? Let’s say we can trust you to only go after “indecent” stuff, whatever the hell that is. How about when you leave office and the opposite party takes hold? What if the opposite political party decides that your party’s online content is indecent and decides to take it down? Think it’s a crazy notion? Really, do you?

This needs to be a concern of all kinds of people, and not just the EFF. I hope somebody at the CBLDF is watching this–because they have to defend indecent stuff all the time. Just because something is “indecent” doesn’t mean it should not be available. And what happens next? It’s a small step to say that Alan Moore’s Lost Girls is indecent and shouldn’t be viewed online–and maybe Top Shelf and Amazon UK shouldn’t be able to sell it online either.

Think I’m reaching? Seriously, do you? If so, then you haven’t been paying attention.

Dear Citizens of the UK: Would you please get a grip on your people? I thought it was us Americans who were supposed to be the reactionary WTF-was-that-about people. But apparently that still hasn’t died down. We’ve got plenty of idiot censors in our own country, please–we don’t need to import any, thanks.

P.S. Don’t get me wrong–the idea of rating websites is fine by me. That enables parents to better lockdown on what their kids are doing so that the kids can then turn around and circumvent whatever software the parents are using. But it helps the parents feel good. If Needcoffee was to be rated, I would grade us a PG-13 on profanity easy. Even with ScottC on staff, I don’t think we rate an R. But regardless, our Terms of Service clearly state that we’re a website by adults and for adults. Even if we don’t have boobs all over your screen. And incidentally, any ads that try to put boobs on your screen I veto. I’d probably make more money if I didn’t, frankly, but that’s just not what we’re on about. So. Just for the record.