When I was young, the thing I always hated the most was when adults tried to hide something from me. They would always say, "You're too young to understand." Usually this meant it was something they were too embarrassed to talk about, or else didn't understand too well themselves. Sometimes adults lied because they were doing something they knew was wrong. Sometimes they lied because they didn't have the time to explain it.
I'm writing this because I want to tell you what I wish somebody had told me when I was young.
First of all, you all know what the word "bullshit" means. It's a word that adults aren't supposed to use around young people, because some people think it's a "bad" word. Still, you hear it every day and you know what it means. Why we have to go on pretending that your young ears are too tender to hear words that everybody uses and everybody understands is, itself, an example of bullshit.
As I was saying, you know what bullshit means.
Bullshit is something spoken by a person that is obviously a lie, but you're supposed to pretend you agree with or believe.
The speaker of bullshit may realize that what they're saying is bullshit, or they may not. One thing about bullshit is that if you speak it too much, after a while you start to believe it yourself.
I'm not a parent, but this I know: every child is born curious and wants to know the truth about everything.
Punk rock is old news by now, but when I was 13 years old it was still fresh enough to freak out our teachers and parents. Punk was all about making art, music and fashion around things like nerve gas, genocide, toxic waste and bullets -- all the things our parents had been trying to hide from us. We loved it because it helped us honestly see the world as it was. It helped us see through the bullshit.
Looking back on it, the punk movement of the early 80's was all sort of quaintly theatrical compared to the actual horror that young people have to deal with today. The worst we had to worry about was World War III, which, it turns out, never came.
You realize that we don't live in a perfect world. The only way to make the world better is for individuals -- lots of us -- to get off our asses and do something to change it. Of course, some people get furious if you say that. They think we do live in a perfect world, and the only thing wrong with it is people trying to change things.
This current debate over censoring the Internet is supposedly all about protecting children. Protecting children from what, exactly? That's what this webpage is about. That's the question I'm asking over and over, because I'm still not sure what the answer is.
Do children need to be protected from pictures of sex? Really young children, who haven't hit puberty yet, don't understand adult sex and aren't all that interested in pictures of it. They just don't get it. I remember when I was 5 years old, my friends and I -- girls and boys alike --would often look at the magazines my older brother had hidden under the matress. Our interest wasn't sexual; we just thought it was hilarious to see grown-ups with no clothes on behaving like children.
When I hit puberty and started to understand what all the fuss was about, I looked into magazines like Penthouse and Playboy, not so much to get turned on by them (although that did happen sometimes) but just to get information about what was happening to me. (Still, there's nothing wrong with getting turned on if you're at the age to get turned on. I really wish somebody had told me that when I was 12. )
Young people today have a great opportunity in the Internet to answer their questions about everything, without the bullshit factor. This includes learning about their own sexuality. I can only envy you.
On the other hand, there is some truly grisly, terrible stuff out there on the Internet; pictures of some of the worst things people can think of to do to each other. The best that can be said about these things is that they're only pictures.
There are things no child, and no adult, should ever have to see. You shouldn't have to see your friends or family beaten or shot in front of you. Yet thousands of children have to watch this every day. You shouldn't have to see your mother starve to death, you shouldn't have to see soldiers burn down your house and rape your sister. For that matter, you shouldn't have to be beaten or raped or shot yourself. That's a basic human right. But, most of the world's people live with this every day, and that has to change. You and I are the ones who have to do that, and we have to make it up as we go, because it's never been done before.
Some people, like Rush Limbaugh, say that the horrible situation can never change. War, rape and murder will always exist and there's nothing we can do about it, so those of us who try to change it are just idiots. I've always thought that the people who hold this attitude aren't too much different from the people who actually get off on all the violence.
Basically, it's like this: there are some powerful people in this world doing some terrible things, and they don't want you to ask too many questions. There are people in this world who want to make you stop asking questions at a young age, so that you'll believe their bullshit for the rest of your adult life.
This whole Internet Decency Act is just another wave of bullshit, a way of covering our eyes and ignoring some of the terrible things going on around us. The one question that no adult seems to be able to answer is, why do some people enjoy causing other people pain? It's a question most adults haven't wanted to think about very much. It's time we all start thinking about it, and thinking about how we can get rid of this root evil once and for all -- not just the pictures of it.
Well, off the moral high-horse for now. Thanks for coming. I hope you find these pages useful and thought-provoking, even if you're over 18.
And remember (at the risk of sounding corny), life really can be good.