Can you post whatever you want on the Net?
Simply put, no. Certainly not hate literature, cruelty to animals, or legally defamatory remarks. And as I have recently found out, not photographs either of casual family nudity, nor of skinny-dipping at the cottage, nude in the kitchen, nude in public (unless it’s a group demonstration, a remote wilderness area, or a woman/women going topless [in certain provinces of Canada]), or of nude theatre, of a legitimate nude beach, nor nude while driving or at a football game. Skin is out, for the most part. Ostensibly because the body in and of itself, is still “morally bad.”
But you can post apparently, people being decapitated, blown up, shot, burned alive, tortured, and in the process of drowning. You can also post your opinion about these events, and of politics, of religion, political figures, bad laws, healthcare issues, First Nations’ suicides and their living in squalor, sports heroes, aging, movie stars, education reform, unemployment, climate change, sexual harassment, the media, urbanization, food security, child abuse, travel, and science, and the arts. To name a few.
Internet neutrality means also that ISPs and owners have the responsibility of preserving ‘freedom of the press’ rights, while protecting the public interest. This translates roughly into preserving the moral status quo, or prevailing norms of “acceptable” behaviour. This makes media moguls decision-makers over what they see as society’s ‘sacred’ values. It also makes them harbingers of social change and freedom of expression, which with responsibility to preserve and protect – puts them in a contradictory role within society.
Net neutrality maintenance is a bit like a game of chess. There are winners and losers to the content-insertion process; that is, not only must internet post-ers and bloggers conform to the rules but also posting ingenuity can be rewarding or devastating. Site ‘police’ may approach you to select from their ‘ads’ or ‘offers’ at a discounted price. Your site may also be shut down, for an indefinite period until you clean up your game.
The morality of media postings in this cyberspace has tested the boundaries of current civil society, with some controls being proposed to more fully restrict internet violence and discrimination, while becoming more tolerant of prevailing social change directions, e.g., LBGT&Q acceptance, mere (non-sexual) nudity, abortion, social diversity. The traditional beliefs and institutions that underpin society are transforming as I write.
Witness the American political landscape today, for example. Conservative politicians are calling for more media controls, not more freedom of expression. The idea of a neutral “Net” has swung to the right in the US, but Canada appears to be able to keep its liberalism expanding towards more tolerance of new values and moral ‘market’ self-governance. Women are still able, like men, to walk topless down a public street in Ontario, Canada, or on a public beach, without fear of arrest. And you can write about it online, and other aspects of body acceptance if you can get away with it. Unfortunately, cyberspace is owned and controlled by American corporations who probably don’t want to rock the boat towards more tolerance of new views, benign as they may in essence be. Slow social change is their motto.
Glad however, to live in Canada.
Terry L. Hill, PhD
Sociologist, skeptic, and change agent.