I can’t wait to read the new Google searches

Who knew America could offer such overwhelming concern for our culture? Consider:

The Internet’s key oversight agency agreed Tuesday to a one-month delay in approving a new “.xxx” domain name after the U.S. government cited “unprecedented” opposition to a virtual red-light district.

Michael D. Gallagher, assistant secretary for communications and information at the Commerce Department, had stopped short of urging its rejection, but he called on the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers [ICANN] to “ensure the best interests of the Internet community as a whole are fully considered.”

The department received nearly 6,000 letters and e-mails expressing concerns about the impact of pornography on families and children and objecting to setting aside a domain suffix for it, he said.

Wow, 6,000 letters from 300 million Americans. That’s a lot. It’s good to know so many (probably) one group cares so much. And wants the rest of us to understand so little.

Oppose porn? Fine, oppose it. But answer this simple question: why would porn sites convert to ‘.xxx’? That would allow the porn filters to block them with one simple edit to the filter. Ah, but the 6,000 concerned Americans know this, I would think. Perhaps not.

“Pornographers will be given even more opportunities to flood our homes, libraries and society with pornography through the .xxx domain. The .xxx domain will increase, not decrease, porn on the internet,” [Family Research Council] said.

This is a blatant scare tactic. Hide the women and children, the porn is taking over. Except, as I’ve just stated, internet filters exist. Add ‘.xxx’ to the filter criteria and, although the porn has increased, the user’s exposure has not. This isn’t about families being exposed to more porn. If that were the case, the Family Research Council would have no opinion. Instead, it’s about access to porn by willing adults. The FRC essentially spelled this out in its press release.

“Selling hard core pornography on the internet is a violation of federal obscenity law so the Bush Administration is right to oppose the ‘.XXX’ domain. The Bush Administration should not, in any way, be seen to facilitate the porn industry which has been a plague on our society since the establishment of the internet. The ‘.XXX’ domain proposal is an effort to pander to the porn industry and offers nothing but false hope to an American public which wants illegal pornographers prosecuted, not rewarded.

“The ‘.XXX’ domain was never intended to force the porn industry to leave the ‘.com’ domain, which has been a cash cow for pornographers. Indeed, any law attempting to force pornographers to relocate to ‘.XXX’ would be constitutionally suspect and not likely to be effective. Instead, if the ‘.XXX’ domain were established pornographers would keep their lucrative ‘.com’ commercial sites and expand to even more sites on ‘.XXX,’ thus becoming even more of a menace to society. Pornography violates the dignity of the women and men involved, destroys marital bonds, and pollutes the minds of child and adult consumers.

“The Family Research Council supports Attorney General Gonzales’ major new prosecution initiative against the porn industry, announced in May. We are confident of his determination and of his ultimate success. The pornographers, instead of expanding their presence on the internet, would be well advised to get out of business all together right now before they are called to court to answer for their crimes.”

A few quick observations.

— I have no idea if selling hardcore pornography is illegal, but the claim seems dubious, at best. I suspect it has more to do with what the pornography depicts.

— The American public wants “illegal” pornographers prosecuted. What about the legal pornographers? And I suppose those 6,000 letters constitute the American public. And the billions of dollars spent on pornography are clearly stolen from customers.

— Why bother to (unconstitutionally) force pornographers to switch from ‘.com’ if their businesses are illegal? Wouldn’t it make more sense to shut them down and prosecute them? Or is that also constitutionally suspect?

— Who’s to say porn violates the dignity of the women and men involved? I tend to agree, but I acknowledge that as opinion, not fact. If you make a statement like that, prove it.

— If the pornographers are committing crimes right now, how will getting out of the business prevent them from being “called to court to answer for their crimes”? If I embezzle money, but stop before being caught, am I no longer eligible for prosecution?

Technology is robust enough to block the overwhelming majority of porn from Generic Internet User’s computer. Install a firewall and anti-spyware software and, with minimum diligence, porn will not sneak up and expose itself to Generic Internet User. It really is that simple. If Generic Internet User is an ignorant Ludditte, learning how to protect his computer is the solution.

But groups like Family Research Council aren’t interested in that. Without pretending that the threat is scary, overwhelming, and pervasive, they wouldn’t gain sufficient political clout to pursue their true objective of Puritan nanny-statism. Instead of working to show porn consumers how it’s a detriment to a happy, productive life, groups like the FRC seek governmental control over the actions of all. We can have any freedom we want, as long as no one is against it.

Is the idea of freedom and personal responsibility really as dead as it seems?