28 July 2006

Dopey DOPA

This story about US legislation that will require schools to block MySpace and other social networking sites might not seem to have much to do with this blog. But the Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) is symptomatic of a far-wider problem.

The story is basically old, ignorant politicians that are taking the opportunity to grandstand by supporting legislation full of high-sound principles - "protecting the children" and other such tosh - that in fact is highly pernicious.

Of course, banning access to social networking sites from schools will not "protect the children": on the contrary, it will expose them all the more. The children will simply access these sites from home, or friends' homes, where they will probably be completely unsupervised. At school, by contrast, they could be taught how to recognise trouble, and how to deal with it - educated, in other words.

The knee-jerk reaction to ban any novel technology that can be used for nefarious purposes is also symptomatic of politicians' lack of understanding and fear of the new - call it the Tubular Syndrome. DOPA is clearly block-headed, but it's not, alas, a unique example of political block-headedness.

No comments: