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Why we do this

(Members of Peacefire are generally united against blocking software, but the following is just a personal note from the webmaster listing his specifics reasons, and should not be taken to represent anyone else's point of view.)

I had cool parents. We didn't have the Internet in our house, but they didn't forbid me from reading anything or watching anything on TV if I got my homework done. They certainly didn't do any of the really nauseating things that some parents do, like forbid me from learning about evolution in school, or from associating with friends of other religions. But what pisses me off is that if my parents had done any of those things, most of my adult "friends" would have just said, "Well, they're your parents, so it's none of our business," and would have stood back and watched me get steered down a path of close-minded idiocy that could have lasted the rest of my life.

The only thing that might have kept me from going down that path, would have been the support of adults who respected my rights even while I was a minor -- maybe by helping me borrow a copy of a book I wanted to read, or telling me about other world religions. Not that I would have really needed an adult's help to do these things, but I would have appreciated knowing an adult who respected my right to do them. Every little bit of respect helps to preserve your sanity, when you live in a world where virtually all of the rules governing people under 18 are a monumental insult to the intelligence of the average teenager. Now that I'm an adult, my rights are better protected, but the least I can do is to do what I hope somebody would have done for me if I'd been in that situation. That is why this site exists.

In fact, I don't think that all books and Web sites are appropriate for everyone all the time -- if I had a friend that was extremely depressed, and they were on the verge of reading something that might depress them even further to the point of suicide, I would try to keep them from reading it. If they weren't very depressed, or the book they were about to read wasn't very depressing, then it's more of a gray area -- like most things in life. Or, if I had a closeted gay friend in a strict religious family who desperately needed to be brought out of depression, I don't know if I'd be the right person to talk to him or find something for him to read, but I could try. What I would not do in either case would be to cop out and say, "Well, he's over 18 so I can't even try to stop him," or, "He's under 18 and his parents don't want him to read this, so it's none of my business."

I think it's immoral to care nothing about a situation because people tell you it's "none of your business" -- what does that mean anyway, that you should only care about things that affect you personally? If you think you can help somebody by doing something, you always have the right to try.

Polls say that 40% of American citizens do not believe in evolution. That's embarrassing, yes, but not really for those 40%, who were mostly raised to believe in creationism -- because it's hard to reject what you're raised to believe, if you have limited access to other points of view. And you can hardly blame their parents, either, since they're just believing what they were raised to believe, too. I think it's most embarrassing for the other 60% of the population, who do believe in evolution but don't want to help the next generation of kids whose parents won't let them read about it. If you're glad that you had the opportunity to grow up with access to the information that you needed to become a bright, critically thinking person, then remember the people who aren't so lucky. It doesn't have to be that way for them -- if enough people begin to support intellectual development as a fundamental human right, a right that people under 18 are entitled to as well.

- Bennett