Martin Kettle that is:
Morality and the rule of law should apply on the internet as elsewhere in human conduct.
This is absolutely true.
What needs to be acknowledged, however, is that Sarkozy is right about the principle. The internet cannot exist in some undiscussable and untouchable dimension of human activity. It is a human creation. It affects human lives in all sorts of increasing ways. Morality and the rule of law should apply on the internet as elsewhere in human conduct. As such, it is an absolutely proper subject for governments to consider, though naturally with sensitivity.
And when placed in its larger context, that there should indeed therefore be regulation of the internet, it becomes fascist, near totalitarian. No, not in the rhetorical sense, but in the true sense.
That morality is something to be regulated by the government.
This is something that we\’ve just spent an entire century getting away from. We\’ve rather changed why adultery is immoral, from a crime against God\’s Order to a crime against the partner betrayed, but we do still regard it as immoral. But at the same time we\’ve moved it from being something the law, government, should concern itself with to a position that what adults do with their gonads, consensually, is no concern of the law.
The same with Teh Gayers, with tipping the velvet, divorce, illegitimacy, porn, speech, religious observance and so on.
Morality has been privatised.
The law still exists of course: but in these areas we are closer to the classical liberal nirvana than we were, for even when something distinctly illiberal is suggested, it is couched in the language of liberalism. Smoking should be banned for the harm it does others, not the consenting adult. Porn should be controlled for the kiddies. Booze for the costs to society. However much these are fig leaves to cover those old Puritan desires, that people shoujld be stopped from doing what I disapprove of.
To retreat from this, to argue that government should regulate morality simply because it\’s something that exists and therefore government must regulate it is truly fascist. Franco and Salazar regulated \”their\” populations in such a manner. Ceauscescu did so banning both contraception and abortion: shagging should produce children.
Now, it may or may not be true that aspects of the internet need regulation: that is indeed something worthy of discussion. But what isn\’t is the reason you give: that the government should be regulating morality. That\’s something we\’ve just escaped from, not something we should be embracing.
Don\’t forget, Mr. Kettle is the grotty little shit who claimed that a Cabinet Minister possibly attempting to pervert the course of justice was no biggie, something that it would be disproportionate to investigate.