Miles Coverdale (manos74) wrote,
Miles Coverdale

Dear fandom at large:


You don't know me. I'm not active in fandom, really. I am an outsider. So I hope you'll listen to what I have to say. This might be hard, not only because of my outsider's perspective, but because it's something you probably won't agree with, again.

Here's how I see it: 6Apart is not the problem.

No, really, it's not.

The problem is that 6Apart is running very, very scared. And the reason they're running scared is that there are a lot of people out there who are in a big Victorian-style moral panic about juvenile sexuality and pedophilia. And more to the point, a lot of these people are the ones who make laws. Laws like "this, this, and this is okay to show on the Internet; that, that, and that will get you sent to prison for life."

I think a lot of people in fandom don't seem to realize this.

Like it or not, in the current social climate, just an accusation of pedophilia--just one person pointing at a website and screeching "This is a haven for online predators!"--is about equivalent to a guilty verdict in a trial. And 6Apart--as well as a lot of people who run social networking sites, I'm wagering--is constantly having to look over their shoulder for that possibility. Because if just one user breaks the law, the entire site could get shut down forever.

And that is why 6Apart is shutting down journals that have even a whiff of not-quite-legal about them. That is why they're deleting with extreme prejudice, without investigation, and without much in the way of explanation.

Is it unfair? Hell yeah, it's unfair. But see it from their point of view--the choice they're seeing is running the risk deleting users who aren't actually guilty, versus running a greater risk of getting called in front of a federal grand jury for child pornography charges.

If you dislike that--and Lord knows I do--then the answer isn't to go haring off on a cat-macro-filled temper tantrum against 6Apart. The answer, instead, is to get people outside of fandom to stop thinking that the Internet is full of evil baby-fuckers just lurking to corrupt the precious innocence of America's children. And unfortunately, that isn't likely to happen until we can have a society-wide discussion about juvenile sexuality without going off into either prurience or hysteria. We need, in short, to calm the hell down as a country.

So, if anyone has any suggestions about how to bring that about, I'd love to hear them.
Tags: fandom, politics, serious business
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