TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Schools Prohibit Personal E-mail Sites

Re: Schools Prohibit Personal E-mail Sites

Fred Atkinson (
Tue, 14 Jun 2005 01:35:37 GMT

On 13 Jun 2005 12:07:36 -0700, wrote:

> Certainly some very trashy books have been and continue to be
> published and distributed. But I dare say it is harder for one to
> find such trashy books in normal channels than it is for one to find
> trashy stuff on the Internet. Finding paper copies of hardcore
> material requires some effort and some material may not be available
> to children; but that stuff is freely available on the Internet.

Is it really harder [to find trashy books]? Have you ever visited a
pornographic book store? If not, do you deny they are out there or
what kind of books are distributed? Have you ever seen 'The People
versus Larry Flynt'?

> My concern is that there is a lot of garbage masquerading as fact on
> the Internet. The controls that exist on other printed matter do not
> exist and the unscrupulous take advtg of that. (For instance, I
> learned long ago that many sites pulled up by a search engine are
> actually porn sites loaded with common key words to trigger a hit.)
> People have put up health-information sites and claimed to be a doctor
> when after some careful reading it proved to be garbage.

And there's a lot of stuff published by hate groups and other
extremists, too. Do we give up freedom of speech to keep this stuff
from being disseminated?

> Sure some of the Internet garbage is merely inconvenient, not harmful.
> Like when someone recommended a particular restaurant and I went to
> it, only to find it had been closed for several years. The poster who
> recommended it 'thought' he had been there very recently but then
> maybe it was a few years after all. This was an honest error and of
> no great harm.

If we shot everyone who was wrong about something, most of us would be
dead, wouldn't we?

> But I know there are some computer users out there who are quite
> malicious, and some of them will go to considerable trouble to post
> seriously misleading advice or information just to be an SOB or
> satisfy their own immaturity. They thrive on the anonymity of the
> Internet. Presently, there is no real check or balance on such web
> pages.

There are telephone users who are quite malicious (ask the telephone
company as they have to investigate obscene and/or harrassing callers
from time to time), their are licensed automobile drivers who are
quite malicious (I've nearly been hit by more than a few), there are
truck drivers who are quite malicious (and I drove eighteen wheelers
for just under a year and I know), there are police officers who are
quite malicious, and the list goes on and on. But for the most part,
the intentionally malicious ones are very much in the minority. And
I've had more than one police or security officer in trouble with his
superiors over completely inappropriate behavior that I observed.
That is because I determined it was inappropriate and I dealt with it
by contacting superiors. What if I hadn't been afforded the
opportunity to learn to be able to determine that it was indeed wrong?
The behavior they exhibited and inflicted upon others would have

I once wrote an article that was published (in Telecom Digest) about
how I had been confronted by someone who was only pretending to be a
police officer so he could cut in front of a long row of people in
line at the drive through. Because of the training I'd received in
the Citizen's Academy program (at the county police academy), it only
took me a moment or two to determine that he was a phony. I called
the county police and had them after him. The county police checked
him out (through the license tag number I provided them) and
determined that I was absolutely right, that he was not a police
officer. They were able to investigate him and deal with the matter
because I had learned to make a good call on something like that.

And it goes back to not believing everything you read or hear. Kids
have to learn to balance it sometime. Depriving them of that
information robs them of the chance to learn to decide for themselves.

When my mother taught English, she was called into the principal's
office one day and asked if 'The Scarlet Letter' was actually on her
approved reading list. She said that it was. The principal was
shocked. Then she asked him if he'd ever read 'The Scarlet Letter'.
His reply was that he had not. Hmm. And he believed that kids
shouldn't be reading it? Based upon having never read it himself?

And what about schools that took books like that off the library
shelves? What about Huckleberry Finn? Tom Sawyer? And the list goes
on and on? With Mark Twain's writing style as it was, it would be be
considered quite racist by today's standards. Do we censor it? Of
course not.

> There are some posters whom I feel know nothing (and probably more
> than a few who feel that way about me.)

And it is the reader's job to decide how they feel about who is
posting or writing and whether their views should be taken seriously.
It is not anyone else's perogative to decide for them. There isn't
anyone on Telecom Digest that I agree with one hundred per cent of the

Are we really protecting the kids when we deprive them of the
opportunity to learn to decide for themselves? Or are we going to
have to protect them from it all their lives? And if they don't
learn, who's going to protect *their* kids? And what about when we
pass on and leave them to their own judgement?

> That's all well and good. There is certainly useful information to be
> found, and I hope I've contributed a bit of it from time to time. But
> there is no guarantee all posts include _all sides_ of an issue to
> begin with. Further, there is no guarantee that any one post is
> totally accurate.

There never is that guarantee at any time. In fact, it rarely

> I most certainly did not give any "slap in the face". I merely
> pointed out the fact that not all web pages may contain reliable
> authoritative information, and I stand by that statement. Yes,
> there's not guarantee that a healthcare book from the library is 100%
> authoritative, but at least a published book has an audit trail of
> reviews where as a web page does not.

You should think about how you were perceived, since he said that to

What you say about books having audit trails is not always true.
There are a number of books written with unsupported information.

When I was doing two-way radio work, I was frequently approached by
Citizen's Banders asking for help with their radio equipment. I
always declined, citing that I couldn't do it on company time (on the
advice of my immediate superiors).

Some of the things these CBers would tell me (and the other very
experienced radio technicians I worked with) were off this planet.
One told me that the trucker's antennas were for keeping you from
messing up your SWR while you have a 'huge metallic load' behind you.
Another told a coworker of mine that putting an audio amplifier
between your microphone and your radio caused more output power to the
radio because there was more input power to the audio.

I rarely tried to explain to them the error of their information
because about two thirds of the time they would tell you you didn't
know what you were talking about even though you were a licensed and
trained radio technician.

But, I'd never deprive them of their right to write about this,
ignorant as it is.

If the kids don't learn about radio theory, how could they learn to
tell that this information is wrong? These people obviously never
had. So depriving them of access to information about ham radio on
QSL Net (most of which is written by people who have been examined by
the FCC and found to have a reasonable understanding of radio theory)
is a 'good thing'? I don't think so.

> Discussing social issues are more of a matter of opinion so there's
> less of an issue of facts being right or wrong. Often people agree on
> a fact but disagree beyond that. For example: it is a fact that long
> distance rates went down after AT&T divested. I say that was merely a
> continuation of technical improvements that had been going on all
> along. But others disagree and say it was due to competition forcing
> prices down. Who is right?

So, no one should exercise an opinion because it *might* be wrong? Is
that what you are actually saying?

Regarding divestiture, I'd have to disagree with your position. Have
you ever studied economics and the principles thereof?

The telephone system never improved all that much over the years (at
least, to the perception of the end user) until the Bell companies had
to compete. Thus, competition played a big role in bringing prices
down. And the end user got a lot more say so about his/her telephone
service(s) and got what they wanted at prices they could afford. I
remember when an answering machine could only be provided and
installed by the phone company. The cost was enormous and there were
no other alternatives. Then came Carterphone, thank goodness. And
then came competition between carriers ... and the walls came a
tumbling down (with apologies to 'Joshua').

Because everyone was trying to provide something that the other
carriers didn't provide (to target their niche in the marketplace),
the technology began to develop and new things were offered. I often
doubt that we'd have ever seen the Internet if the industry hadn't
become competitive (or at least not for many more years to come).

> But I will note I've seen web sites who claimed that before divesture
> "the phone company offered any telephone set you wanted as long as it
> was black", which we all know is nonsense.

And it is for the reader to judge as it appears that you did in this
case (which is fine). But you haven't the right to decide for me
whether I should believe it is true or not or for you to censor it
because you don't agree with it. In this case, I happen to agree with
you. But then, I might not have on another issue or two.

> I've also seen newsgroups ruined because of one or two people
> constantly flood the group with nasty postings disagreeing and
> disrupting every discussion. I don't think the truth gets out in such
> cases. I think moderated groups -- with a reasonable moderation
> policy -- are better to get out the "truth", but then many complain of
> censorship. Is the person with the biggest bullhorn saying the truth?

No. War boards rarely do. But 'moderating' doesn't mean censorship.
It means governing behavior so that all points of view can be
presented in a non-hostile and constructive manner. A good moderator
regulates behavior more so than content.

And with that, I'll point out that I just paid Mr. Townson a big
complement. Thanks, Pat, for doing such an effective job of
moderating. Pat generally publishes even in the event he is in
complete disagreement with the user. He might attach opposing
comments from the editor's desk, but that's what it's all about.

He published yours even though he took issue with your position,
didn't he, Lisa?


[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Here is a question for the collected
readership: _If_ Bell had not gotten divested, and was still in
charge of most everything relating to telecommunications, what would
the internet be like today? Would it all be run by 'the telephone
company'? Would we be getting all our attachments and peripherals from
the telephone company? I suggest that might be the case. What do the
rest of you think? PAT]

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