[Prev| Next| Index] 2/14/96, meledy@jagunet.com, Baltimore,MD / Evanston,IL / N.Caldwell NJ

A Few Thoughts on Liberty and License

By Elizabeth Boskey, meledy@jagunet.com.

A few months ago I became involved in a discussion about the concept of liberty versus license - whether just because an activity is not illegal one has a right to perform it. In my mind, it comes down to the issue of taking responsibility for one's actions, and I firmly believe that one can not behave responsibly without adequate information. Therefore, in my mind, any attempt to limit information is an attempt to encourage irresponsibility, and discourage moral action. You can not legislate morality, but you can give people the information they need to develop it.

I am frightened about the possible consequences of the CDA, and I will provide several examples of my reasons. I have chosen to discuss sexuality related issues, because they are at the forefront of this controversy.

For much of my undergraduate career I volunteered as an HIV/AIDS peer educator on campus, and consequently spent much of my time providing my fellow students with information on safer sex practices. We didn't have a very large audience, and when we did it was generally an informed one, a fact which unfortunately does not generally reflect the campus community. Unsafe sex, unprotected sex, is rampant in the college communities in this country, because students simply do not see themselves as being at risk. People are frequently embarrassed to talk about these things, and a lot of them turn to the internet as an alternate, safe, source of information. By denying people the right to talk about sexual issues on the internet, you may be denying some of them the option of choosing to act to reduce the risk to their lives.

There are other ways that the internet can save lives. Homosexual teenagers are at a very high risk for suicide in this country, because of lack of support, and a consequent frequent lack of self esteem. The internet can provide a community for these youth, to show them that they are not alone, that they are not sick, and that there is nothing wrong with them. In one two year period I came close to losing 4 friends to attempted suicide, all of them were gay, many of them had self esteem issues relating to the fact that for much of their lives they had had noone to turn to who would support them. I know many gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered youth who have been helped by the g/l/b/t community on the internet. Who is the government to deny them their safe haven, and their chance to grow into healthy happy adults.

There is information I don't agree with on the WWW, and information that I find blatantly offensive, but I don't propose to limit it, instead I would rather see it published, and poked and prodded at until it's questionable logic crumbles into dust. This is the only way to challenge an edifice of position, to attack it with ideas, and let the revelation of its own inadequacies lead to its destruction. Censorship is dangerous, and I would fight it with my freedom. Liberty is something worth fighting for.

My name is Elizabeth Boskey. I am twenty two years old, and I am frightened for the future.

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