letter to the editor, 1998

I found an old letter to the editor that I wrote in 1998 to Boston U’s Daily Free Press in response to some awful opinion piece about how the Internet was terrible. I can’t find any trace of the piece I was responding to, but I know they ran it on January 23, 1998. They also published my response, but I can’t find any trace of that either. The gist of his opinion was that the Internet was “out of control” and needs to be regulated before things just get out of hand. Hilarious, right? Funny how much things have changed since those simple times. Ohwait.

So, for your amusement:

I’m upset that Paul Croce seems to not care much for the freedoms that the constitution of our country grants us. In particular, I am upset that he would be so insistent in trying to limit the power of a tool as powerful and radical as the Internet. In a time where communication and learning are reaching new heights, I find it disappointing that someone would concentrate so wholly on a few perceived failings, which have been propagated further by a sensationalistic media and an apprehensive public.

“The Internet is out of control,” Mr. Croce firmly states in his article. Perhaps he would also agree that the printing press is responsible for far too much learning and free thinking, that radio and television are disseminating far too much information to the public, or that Rock n’ Roll and gangsta rap are responsible for the recent increases in youth violence. I’m sure Mr. Croce would no doubt consider them all to be completely “out of control.” News broadcasts are full of reports about child pornography and hit men via e-mail, sure. But, you know what? Hit-men and child pornography existed long before the Internet did, and back then, they had to actually use a phone. Perhaps we should ban them from the telephone system as well - but then they would no doubt start communicating in person. Quarantines and larynx-removal, maybe? As for Croce’s comment that the pros of the Internet consist wholly of spouses meeting over the `Net, well, I don’t think I have to say anything there.

He goes on to mention how he doesn’t need the Internet, because he has libraries and museums. That’s wonderful, Paul, but the Internet is a tool, and, believe it or not, museums and libraries use it too. It’s not a substitute for libraries and museums; it’s a complement. I would agree that the Internet is over-hyped in many ways, but there’s no getting around the fact that it is one of the most revolutionary and powerful tools since the printing press itself.

Now, I’d like to congratulate Mr. Croce on presenting his case quite clearly for the most part, but I was a little hazy on one sequence of statements towards the end. He ends a paragraph saying that “Big Brother is here and there’s no escape.” Okay, well, it’s a little paranoid maybe, but consistent. He then begins the next paragraph, “If restrictions on Internet content are not made soon, more people will be needlessly hurt for the simple reason of allowing others to impersonate the Jetsons.” Now, I can be quite in honest in saying that I have never heard a more blatant contradiction stated in total seriousness in my entire life. I’m not sure if Croce is aware of this, but “restrictions on Internet content” are something that “Big Brother” would do. If he kept up at all with congressional happenings, he would know that there have indeed been attempts to regulate Internet content, which fortunately we’re all shot down before they could become law.

I shudder to think what might happen if someone like Paul Croce ever managed to present this sort of argument in a clear and concise manner, and that he should ever be able to impose his views on the rest of this country or the world. I can only hope and expect, though, that if he keeps thinking the way he does, he will indeed become “just a speed bump on the information superhighway.”

What’s that the kids these days say? Oh yeah … PWN3D!!

I sure could have used an editor, though: “in a time where”? Obviously I wasn’t an English major.