Talk & Vote
Friday, June 2, 1995 by Dave Winer.
It's time to seriously revisit the whole Communications Decency Act of 1995 thing. It's coming to a vote soon. If it passes, which I understand it might, and if it goes into law, and isn't shot down by the courts, then the politicians are setting the stage for the last half of the nineties being like the last half of the sixties.
Today's students and young adults have a different view of the world than we did when we were their age. Their legacy, their right, is to explore civilization with online communication as an integral part of their world. All aspects of human expression will flow thru this world. The world is not chaste. The net is a mirror of the world. It cannot be chaste either.
Bob Dole says we should watch the Lion King. Coool! I took a date to the Lion King last fall. We held hands while watching the movie. We cried when the cub's father died. We laughed, and found our inner children. And that night we had the most incredible sweet innocent childlike sex. So Bob, take your wife to see the movie, and have the courage to find your inner child. When you watch a beautiful movie about love and innocence, it can awaken your sexuality.
The Lion King was a sweet and beautiful movie.
I'm old enough and powerful enough that people in power sometimes assume that I've sold out. So I am, at times, exposed to the inner workings of a cynical system that's always trying to get re-elected, and never bothers to stand for anything that's really important. A system that doesn't care about human growth or evolution or healing. One that doesn't care whether kids are raised in a healthy environment, aware of the world around them, and ready to be part of that world when they leave their parent's house.
The Communications Decency Act is part of a good-cop-bad-cop sell. Exon is the bad cop. Leahy is the good cop. It's coordinated. Exon is the lightning rod, he gets votes back home in Nebraska for standing up for decency in the new frighteningly powerful world. He's tough on crime! The good cop, Leahy comes in. Offers something more reasonable. It passes. Clinton has something to boast about during the campaign.
Conservative states have important electoral votes. Many people who vote are driven by their fears. Their votes express their fears about life. They vote to keep other people from doing things they don't like to think about because it brings up their pain. Pain scares them.
Both Clinton and Dole are happy to represent these people.
I never thought my generation could get to this place! So thoroughly driven by their fears. Happily shutting down whole avenues of creative expression, for the cause of crippling their kids, and protecting their bottom lines. We don't understand the new world, so kill it! We'll grow old in peace with our fortunes intact. So what if the new generation is deprived of their right to explore and discover new things for human beings to say and do? So what if they reject us and our values? Let's force them to be as we want them to be.
There's one problem tho: it isn't going to work.
What comes around goes around. When we were young we marched on Washington, protesting a society that had a formula for our lives. We didn't want the white picket fences, the family values, the wars and old theories of our parent's generation. We rejected them, sometimes violently, and that rejection created things like the Generation Gap. Don't trust anyone over 30. I hope I die before I get old!
We cursed our parents for telling us that criticizing the president was sacriledge. Who can blame them? Their president was FDR. It was a world of holocausts, depressions and world wars. My generation grew up with the new reality of nuclear holocaust. Our parents didn't have any answers to our questions. We believed that the world would commit suicide before we'd have a chance to live. We really believed that! We may have been the first generation to realize at a such an early age that our parents couldn't protect us.
And our president was Nixon, not FDR. A man who taught us that we can't just question corrupt politicians, we have to despise them, then we have to depose them.
If you're over 30, find a smart person under 30 and ask what turns them on. Ask if they have anything they want to say to those of us who are over 30. And then listen, with your mind turned on. Try to understand this person. They are who you used to be. We can have fun with these people instead of being scared of them. But you have to listen, because while they are us, they are also different from us. Their world is different from ours. And the world they want to create will blow you away if you just listen.
If you're under 30, find a smart person over 30, and tell them what turns you on. If you think the online future is exciting, convey your excitement. You can vote, or will soon, so do it! Always be evaluating your positions, think for yourself. How do you want to shape the world? Tell the over-30 person how you're going to vote. A single voice actually has a lot of power. And remember to respect yourself! Your dreams are important, they are raw material of the world we all will live in someday. If the other people don't get that, it doesn't matter. You can still have dreams even if you can't convince every person that your dreams are important.
The takeaway message: Talk. Vote.
PS: An excellent article on sexuality on the net: This Is A Naked Lady, from the archives of Wired Magazine. A beautiful story. It's at http://www.hotwired.com/Lib/Wired/1.1/features/cybersex.html.
PPS: My vote: No censorship on the net. No studies needed. Save the taxpayer's money.
PPPS: I wonder if the politicians will ever let us vote via the Internet?
PPPPS: This is the 100th DaveNet piece! Cooooool.