Alongside an issue like prostitution, the debate over the legality of pornography and its production and use marches on silently. It seems as though most people do not care if someone watches porn or not. To many, however, the consumption of porn is a vice to be conquered. Some also feel that porn sets up unrealistic physical standards for both men and women. Truly, women are often portrayed in more than submissive positions. For many people, the act of partaking in pornography means submitting oneself to a spiraling, out-of-control addiction. For some people, watching fantasy rape means nothing, while others can be set off.

While I am personally opposed to pornography, I believe that people should have the right to uncensored internet usage. This is not an issue of porn, but of our civil liberties. As a citizen of America, one of the very few countries that preaches free speech and freedom of religion, it’s my belief that you should be able to do as you please—as long as you do not inhibit my liberties. Do Americans have to be worried about Uncle Sam taking away their porn? Maybe. Recently, Iceland is in the process of becoming the third country to make porn—possibly including sexually explicit magazine covers—illegal. While Iceland has fewer than 350,000 people, America and other larger industrialized countries have also been making strides toward policing internet activity. Similarly, there have been a few right-wing politicians and religious groups that think porn and other illicit activities should be outlawed for viewing in the United States. We should be worried and actively involved in ensuring our online freedom.

The definition of freedom is the ability to do what you want when you want and as often as you want to without someone hindering you—to a reasonable degree. Now, this comes with a certain responsibility that you do not inhibit another person’s freedom. Once you deny someone else’s established freedom, you are breaking the law. Freedom, being understood correctly,  must be used wisely and with logical constraint. Free speech defends my right to speak against porn, while also giving me the right to defend access to it. Even though I have strong feelings against a particular sin or vice, I will not force someone not to do it as long as it does not intrude on my rights.

Sometimes, people want a vice to be banned because they cannot police their own bodies. If your reason for government censorship of the internet is religious, there are ways to fix that don’t require government intervention. If you have a problem with pornography, religious institutions often offer a buddy system that can be used to help people monitor each other’s internet usage. This is used to deter the use of porn. No one is forcing you to use porn. Not being able to control yourself does not give you the right to ban others from partaking. During Prohibition, many people who supported banning alcohol either had an addiction or, as it was, were the wives of drunkards. We all know how that turned out.

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For many, including a majority of the citizens in Iceland, the main argument for blocking all pornography is that many children are stumbling upon pornographic websites. I respect this reasoning. A 10 year old has a hard time processing those images. Potentially, the younger you are, the worse the effects might be on you, or the worse the addiction might become. Rather than going through the government, parents should monitor and control what their children are doing online. Tablets seem to provide safer web browsing, as well as apps that are specific to school-related activities like Wikipedia, virtual pianos, and Google Translate. Personal responsibility includes being responsible for what happens to your children. Do not immediately blame the government for the ills that befall your child; As unfortunate as it may be,  bad circumstances are, more often than not, avoidable. Be more aware of what your children are doing online; safe websites do not have porn popups.

There really isn’t a productive way for a government to censor the internet. Issues such as what body of government would have the right to blocking the internet would arise. Who would have the password to alter which websites are permissible? The government does not provide internet service, and cannot restrict what happens online so long as it does not intrude on someone’s rights. Internet usage is never intrusive because the customer is the one seeking the websites. Look what happens when governments take control of internet content of any sort; it often leads to suppression of information, which is not becoming of a democracy.

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