It was a big week for CP80, the anti-pornography group led by Ralph Yarro. The Utah legislature unanimously passed, and Governor Huntsman signed, a non-binding resolution calling on the U.S. government to do something about Internet pornography. The resolution calls on the federal government to “take action to help stop children and employees from accessing Internet pornography.” Mr. Yarro called it a “shot heard ’round the world.”
Slashdot.org picked up the story yesterday — meaning the issue is now in the tech mainstream — but coverage wasn’t positive. Most Slashdot readers carry both an ultra-liberal interpretation of free speech and a disdain for SCO for its junk law suits against IBM, making a story about Ralph Yarro a double negative. (Ralph Yarro is the chairman of the SCO group.)
Like his Slashdot ideologues, Utah ex-senatorial candidate Pete Ashdown criticized CP80 as technologically difficult, expensive, and an inappropriate intrusion by government — three hard-to-believe arguments coming from a techie and left-leaning Democrat. I’ve met Pete and heard him speak several times, and while I believe he’s a family man and a loyal Utahn, I think he’s missing the point here.
Pornography costs business its dollars and our society its morality. An unbridled interpretation of free speech is no excuse, the difficulty of the task is no excuse, and concern about the “image of Utah” is no excuse. Sure, there are technical details to work out, but let’s start somewhere. Even if CP80 isn’t the solution, there’s definitely a problem to solve and Ralph Yarro’s effort is commendable.