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Letters to the Editor

RE: Shannon Stephan’s column

Nov. 27

In Ms. Stephan’s article, she proposes that our government should actively police its citizens’ moral behavior through restrictions on the Internet.

She states that the framers of the Constitution did not trust the general public’s ability to elect the president. However, they also did not trust censorship, which is exactly what Stephan’s plan sounds like. All of the problems discussed are real and have solutions, none of which involve government restriction of the Internet.

First, if an adult wishes to purchase or watch legal pornography through the Internet, the government should not have the right to invade that citizen’s privacy and bar the action. The government’s job is not to legislate morality. Maybe the government should regulate what women can wear to make sure it is morally acceptable.

Illegal pornography, on the other hand, is a serious issue. Agencies such as the FBI are working hard to combat this epidemic. Simply look at the “Operation Candyman” sting of child pornography discussed Aug. 13, 2002, on CNN. This operation has led to the arrest of at least 100 pedophiles and continues to work with nations around the globe to battle this problem.

Second, the educational shortcuts provided by the Internet may be detrimental to a student’s education. However, plagiarism and Cliff’s Notes did exist before the Internet. Necessity is the mother of invention; even if you restrict the Internet, students will find a way to cheat. Universities should continue to combat these practices by severely punishing cheaters and using Internet databases, such as SafeAssignment, to detect cheating.

Third, the story of Megan Meier is tragic. The solution here seems to be more parental supervision. Parents need to start parenting and being actively involved in their children’s lives. This involves monitoring Internet usage and using parental controls. If parents have questions, they can go to

ProtectKids.org, which offers statistics and programs to make the Internet safer for their children.

Finally, I offer a caveat. Restricting the Internet is a slippery slope. What may start out as an initiative to benefit the greater good can amass into a Big Brother scenario. As a nation, we value our right to free speech as well as our privacy.

Stephan and I agree that the Internet can be dangerous in the wrong hands – we are simply looking at two different sets of hands.

Joey Pegram is a senior majoring in criminology and

international studies