Tuesday, August 01, 2006

DOPA Versus MySpace

Over at Hit and Run, Julian Sanchez mentions the House having passed the Deleting Online Predators Act this past week.

According to Sanchez,

However much a symptom of moral panic this is, it's probably not a complete disaster in itself if kids can't log in to MySpace at school.

Well, yes and no. The problem with these sorts of laws is not the substance of the laws, but the fact that we have the federal government telling each individual school how to run itself in the first place. (As I previously blogged about here, in relation to school soft drink bans.)

If a local school board, or better yet, a local school, wants to filter out MySpace and other social networking sites, along with banning soft drinks and other sugary beverages, more power to them. But let the parents make these decisions for their kids. Filtering the internet access available to school kids may not be such a horrible idea- After all, kids should be learning, not fooling around at school. But parents and teachers should be the ones that make these policies, not some faceless Congressmen.

And Sanchez is right when he says the schools should be teaching internet safety in the first place. But of course, that would be common sense, and when do any laws like this ever make sense? Let's see, we have internet predators going after children- Well golly, we'll put a stop to that if we cut off access to these bad websites that these kids have from schools. Little Julie would have never gone and met Johnny Predator if she hadn't spent all those hours on MySpace while she was at school. Kids must be doing all this stuff at school, and not at home. Geniuses.

And as to the commenter who asks where Congress's authority comes from in passing this bill, that has a simple answer- Like any federal education law, it is attached to federal dollars earmarked for education.

Updated 8/2/06 @ 11:20 PM : To respond to my commenter, yes this is politics, and it's bad politics. Some parents and teachers complain, so we get a law that forces Congress's solutions upon all parents and teachers. Laws like these are typical of 'bad politics' because you have legislatures making laws to make it look like they're doing something about some perceived social problem. Whether we're talking about soda or MySpace, we're talking about policies that schools are well within their power to implement. So what do we need the federal government for? Thinking big (i.e. looking to bigger and bigger levels of government to solve problems) when it's not needed does nothing but take political authority and responsibility away from individuals, and forces larger numbers of people into 'solutions' they may not be interested in.


Blogger A Fan For All Seasons said...

You assume that faceless congressmen make these laws about MySpace and soda but isn't it very possible that these congressmen are acting on complaints from parents or teachers. I'm sure with the exposure of MySpace on the news, many parents complained to school boards or reprentatives. I highly doubt these faceless congressmen just wake up one day and say, "I'm going to propose a bill that will ban soda from schools." Once in office, most reps. worry about getting re-elected, and one way to do that is to pander to the people.

1:35 PM  
Blogger A Fan For All Seasons said...

A few quick thoughts...

- If a congressman proposing a bill or voting on a bill that citizens support or want is considered "bad politics", what is considered to be "good politics"?

- I've debated you on these so-called "nanny laws" before and you even stated that children need to be protected from themselves because they aren't capable of doing so. Therefore, laws like these should be a benefit to the children.

- Schools are supposed to teach and encourage healthy living. That is why students are required to take physical education and health classes and that is why schools offer healthy lunches. If schools allow children to purchase soft drinks, wouldn't they be damaging their lessons?

- Free Hat

3:06 AM  
Blogger QU 3L said...

Just a few responses:

- A bill which is not needed, but passed anyways, merely to appease some constituency is bad politics. It's pure political pandering. Good politics would be passing laws that need to be passed- solving problems that can't be solved anywhere else.

- My point here is not to debate the merit of these laws, but to discuss where these laws should come from in the first place. Why don't we let schools make these policies as they see fit- have parents and teachers have a direct responsibility over their children's lives.

- Schools are supposed to teach healthy living, but one could argue just what that means. Would you feel different if rather than soda or MySpace, we were talking about condom use and sex education? Do we really want one sex education policy for the entire country? Doesn't it make more sense to fight these fights at the local level, so what's being taught in schools actually reflects the values of the community? Obviously, you will have some of the same problems- parents having their children stuck with school policies they don't agree with. But when you leave it at the local level, people at least have the option of moving to another community, maybe one that has a more conservative sex education approach, or one that allows soda in high schools. With federal laws, we are all force fed the same program, whether we want it or not.

4:41 PM  

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