Senate Prayer

offered by The Chaplain, Dr. Lloyd John Ogilvie on June 12, 1995

Almighty God, Lord of all life, we praise You for the advancements in computerized communications that we enjoy in our time. Sadly, however, there are those who are littering this information superhighway with obscene, indecent, and destructive pornography. Virtual but virtueless reality is projected in the most twisted, sick, misuse of sexuality. Violent people with sexual pathology are able to stalk and harass the innocent. Cyber solicitation of teenagers reveals the dark side of online victimization.

Lord, we are profoundly concerned about the impact of this on our children. We have learned from careful study how children can become addicted to pornography at an early age. Their understanding and appreciation of Your gift of sexuality can be denigrated and eventually debilitated. Pornography disallowed in print and the mail is now readily available to young children who learn how to use the computer.

Oh God, help us care for our children. Give us wisdom to create regulations that will protect the innocent. In times past, You have used the Senate to deal with problems of air and water pollution, and the misuse of our natural resources. Lord, give us courage to balance our reverence for freedom of speech with responsibility for what is said and depicted.

Now, guide the Senators as they consider ways of controlling the pollution of computer communications and how to preserve one of our greatest resources: the minds of our children and the future moral strength of our Nation. Amen.

Maybe it is time to return to Heather Has Two Mommies

Note: photos are copyrighted images from Philip Greenspun's nude collection.

MIT Center for Political Correctness, room NE43-414 / 545 Technology Square / Cambridge, MA 02139 USA / (617) 253-8574

Reader's Comments

relative to the issue of religion in America, see "Churches ad hoc" at

-- Herman Krieger, April 20, 1997
Perhaps there is an abundance of pornagrphy on the Internet...but at least it keeps a large portion of deviants staring at their screens instead of hanging around schoolyards trying to pick up our daughters....or our sons...

-- Clifford Lake, December 20, 1997
First thing first, Philip: I thoroughly enjoyed your wit in "Heather has two mommies". This politically correctness is going to my nerves too. I hardly believe that we are going to solve any problem by calling a cat a dog, and expect it to bark in return (maybe Alex has some input). So, I laughed a lot! But not nearly as much as when I heard for the first time what the Congress came up with to control "adult content" on the Internet. Don't take it personally, Philip, you have lots of humor, but let's face it, who can seriously compete against these people on "The Hill"? They're naturals, they don't even try!

For those of you who are wise and faithful enough to stick to "The Simpsons" instead of watching the 7 o'clock news, here is the idea: every "adult content" related web site should be renamed with a .xxx extension instead of the common .com or .net. Sounds like a good idea indeed. It makes rating and blocking very straightforward. Legally, it becomes very easy to sue a company/person that bypasses the law: if you publish "adult content", you must have a .xxx site. If you don't, you're busted! Very simple... or very simplistic?

This would effectively work if every single "adult content" web site had a top-level domain name registered in the US. It makes you wonder if these guys in DC have ever used Internet! How many web sites point to addresses like rather that to ""? How does the new proposal handles that situation, which probably accounts for more than 50% of the cases (I haven't verified that. Honestly, I have better things to do than surveying porn sites since I've left high school and an increased promiscuity with girls has made unnecessary to "take the matter in my own hands")? Should the provider's site as a whole be renamed with a .xxx extension because he is hosting one or two adult sites, sometimes without his knowledge? Aren't AOL users going to be sour when their e-mail addresses will look something like BTW, did you know that AOL scans its members' messages on chat lines (possibly e-mails, I don't know) for usage of obscene words. You will get a warning and eventually be expelled (this happened to a colleague of mine whose son was using some "colorful" language on AOL). Such a proactive decision at the ISP level makes more sense to me. What I see happening with this new law project is many truly pornographic web sites moving to less regarding foreign countries. They will become or where they will no longer be blocked by any of the software looking for a .xxx (NB: these are examples, I don't have anything against English or Japanese people. Just trying to be politically correct here). Updating a site in the US or in some remote location would not make a big difference for the publisher who can peacefully remain in the US anyway. That's what FTP is for. End result: a complete loss of control on the regulation, the proliferation and the accessibility of perverse content on the web.

Don't get me wrong here, I am not suggesting that the government is not right to try to protect kids from reaching porn sites. I am just saying they are doing it the wrong way, and I am still trying to understand the reason and purpose behind such a simplistic solution. I truly believe that kids should be protected from seeing such material, but I also believe it still is a parental responsibility to take care of that, not some cheap software's. Working with them every day taught me never to trust a computer. I don't think a responsible parent can just say: "I've installed protecting software on my PC, I did my best. It's not my fault if it doesn't work. What is the government doing?" First, I would not let my kids use Internet without an adult supervision until I judge they are old enough to be left alone. Then, instead of rating-based blocking software, I am more interested in a log file that shows what my kids have been doing on the Internet, including web sites visited, e-mails posted, chat lines used, etc... I can then decide if what they see and do matches my standards, not what some other guy thinks is right or wrong. The major downside of the current rating system is that it relies on a voluntary act from the publisher to rate his own site. I don't think the new idea changes anything. Whatever mean of control is setup, some people will gladly comply, and some will always find a way around if they can make a buck out of it. I think it would be money better spent to work on awareness campaigns directed towards the parents and the webhosting companies rather than acting at the kids browser level.

That is a pretty long article, but I feel much better now that I let it all go! If there was a stupidity rating, I wonder if we could still visit !

Now if anybody is interested in entering a debate about "what is adult content and who should decide?", my inbox is waiting for you, and I also have a lot to say.

-- Stephane --, July 29, 1998

Something that the Senate should have said, but GODS help them they never will; "Like all other activities your children are involved in, they are YOUR children, MONITOR YOUR CHILD'S ACTIVITIES!!!" However in this day of lawyers, lawsuits and finger pointing why should any parent take on the PERSONAL responsibility of their children's actives? If your child is smoking behind the house with his/her friends is it your job to stop this activity or is it better just passed off to the lawyer to file suit against the Big Tobacco companies because your child was harming themselves with their product? The correct answer is to stop your child from smoking. When he/she is an adult, they can make up their own mind on such issues.

The same would go with Internet content. Where is the dividing line between a child obtaining a copy of an adult magazine and a child accessing an adult website? Sex is in the face of our children everyday; it is up to us as parents to TAKE the responsibility for our children's actives and the instillment of MORAL and SOCIAL behavior. We are after all their first and last teachers.

-- Finious Bosco, April 21, 1999

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