As I was struggling home this evening on the Northern Line (apparently someone got sick at Kentish Town, but fortunately it was only a short delay), I noticed all the London Evening Standard headlines around me said:
BAN SUICIDE WEBSITES AFTER THE TRAGEDY OF TALLULAH
My first thought was “ah, the next phase in our government’s campaign to control what we can read and say on the Internet”, but fortunately, upon actually reading the article at their website (linkage), it turns out this is yet another one of those headlines that seems like a strong totalitarian opinion that “no-one could argue with”, but which conceals a fairly reasonable article. To wit: removing material glorifying suicide, or bullying people into do it, is one thing, but people should certainly be allowed to discuss the issue and seek help.
However, how exactly does one “remove” material on the Internet that isn’t hosted in one’s country? Unfortunately, increasingly the government du jour (which I say because Zanu-Liebore — sorry, “New Labour” — were pressing ahead with similar plans when they were unceremoniously booted out in 2010) want to do this by imposing mandatory web filtering on us all. When it’s not “every Internet connection should be censored for adult material, unless the owner specifically asks for it not to be” (and how will that affect CRB checks, I wonder, as well as ISPs’ prices?), it’s “we want to censor this obviously offensive material that no right-thinking citizen could possibly want to see” (such as “extremist material” — but only by Muslims, not US Christian movements that claim “God hates fags”, I note).
And frankly, I doubt their motives in this case, and believe they’re exploiting public sympathy in order to implement measures that won’t stop future tragedies (remember the demands for an anti-paedophile button on Facebook, the same as the one which was already on MSN Messenger and didn’t save that poor girl?), but will enable them to tighten the metaphorical noose around all our necks. They criticise China for its “Great Firewall”, but you can bet this would only be the thin end of the wedge, and even if they don’t ban (for example) websites critical of the government, a future government absolutely would.
In all these cases, concerned citizens should be taking responsibility for their own affairs — educating their children to keep them safe instead of demanding the government “make Internet porn go away”, and seeking help from professionals to cope with suicidal feelings. I myself have been speaking to a free counselling service at work, so I won’t have to bore my Facebook friends with “depressing” posts (hi, Gabe, if you’re reading), and this means I won’t have to ask my family or friends for help they’re ill-equipped to give (especially when they have their own problems to cope with, often far worse than anything I can complain about).
Anyway, that’s all I have to say for this evening: although the weather today has been utterly, utterly miserable, and work has been vexing due to the annoyingly loud woman being annoyingly louder than usual (I really can’t stand people who laugh at their own jokes, as though they’re showing everyone else what to do), I’m keeping my chin up… we have a new, hopefully fully-working microwave in the house, so I can make popcorn tonight without worrying that it’s under- or overcooked! And before that, pizza — with fake Quorn bacon defrosted in same gadget and put on top (yes, I’m a vegetarian, but those of you who didn’t come here through a Google search knew that anyway and had forgiven me). Good night out there, whatever you are…