Congressman Freaks Out About Second Life; Demands Ban In Schools

from the fear!-save-the-children!-be-afraid! dept

Just a few months after worrying about terrorists hiding in Second Life, now at least one Congressional representative is worried about how Second Life is corrupting your children. He's trying to drum up support to ban Second Life from schools and libraries, hyping up the fact that "bad stuff" happens in Second Life and, gosh, we wouldn't want kids to learn how to deal with bad stuff in an environment where they're protected from any physical harm. It'll be much better when they learn to deal with it out on the streets.

This is actually an attempt by Rep. Mark Kirk to reintroduce DOPA, the Deleting Online Predators Act. It was last introduced almost exactly two years ago (note the timing: right before Congressional election season...). Because very few politicians want to give an opening to challengers to their seats to put out an ad saying they voted against "protecting the children" last time around the law was quickly approved by the House by a massive 410 to 15 vote, at which point it moved on to the Senate to die (not having all Senators up for re-election at the same time has its benefits). Of the 15 dissenters to the original bill, Rep. John Dingell was the one who said what needed to be said (and which so few other Reps were willing to say):
"So now we are on the floor with a piece of legislation poorly thought out, with an abundance of surprises, which carries with it that curious smell of partisanship and panic, but which is not going to address the problems. This is a piece of legislation which is going to be notorious for its ineffectiveness and, of course, for its political benefits to some of the members hereabout."
Yes, the law would effectively ban a ton of internet sites from schools and libraries, including ones like LinkedIn, Slashdot and, based on its overly broad language. On top of all that, study after study after study has shown that social networks and virtual worlds (despite the FUD) are not "breeding grounds" for predators. And, of course, parents are finally coming to terms with this and are no longer freaking out about kids using these sites. So, explain why we need such unnecessary and overly broad legislation again? Oh right, it's election season...

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Rajio, May 7th, 2008 @ 12:32pm


    Do kids even WANT to play secondlife?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Haggie, May 7th, 2008 @ 12:36pm

    Dingell's quote could be applied to 99% of legislation...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2008 @ 12:55pm

    First of all NOBODY EVEN USES SECOND LIFE. You don't need to ban something they aren't using to begin with.

    Second of all, even companie like Sun Microsystems hold events in Second Life. That's hardly child molestation and porn for fuck's sake.

    People like this congressman guy need to be dropped over in Iraq so they can be dealt with.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Heywood Jablowme, May 7th, 2008 @ 1:23pm


    Nobody uses it, but even companies like Sun Microsystems hold events? So, which one is it? Either no one uses it, or lots of people use it for events.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Beefcake, May 7th, 2008 @ 1:29pm

    Bring Back OTA!!!!

    The Office of Technical Assessment. Some colossally ignorant members of the 104th pulled the plug on the funding in 1995. (Maybe at the behest of their campaign managers?)

    I'm surprised this doesn't get more mentions in here, with all the stories about lawmakers inability to keep up with the state of the art.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    haha, May 7th, 2008 @ 1:32pm


    Regarding: "gosh, we wouldn't want kids to learn how to deal with bad stuff in an environment where they're protected from any physical harm. It'll be much better when they learn to deal with it out on the streets. "

    I'm pretty sure there are some places in second life that a child or anyone for that matter would have access to. Fetish houses and whatnot. Im sure theres some pretty twisted stuff people enjoy doing "virtually".

    I don't think theres any particular benefit to them getting into sadomasochism via the net before...before what? They had to make that tough decision as a Dominatrix asks if he wants his 14year old but stepped on with stilettos?

    The main thing for me is not cries of morality but this:

    Schools and libraries are state and federal funded institutions of learning. Tax payer money, in other words. Would banning second life further that goal and make the taxpayer dollar go further? Would NOT banning it make it go further?

    If there is no impact to the education and no extra tax dollars spent, its a non-issue.

    And to forestall the "but what if they did watch porn" then theyd be watching porn and not learning - a hit on education parameter.

    If its part of a game room...well...sticky issue. Id suggest monitors that walk around and supervise or lock down the scary intarwebs for youngsters.

    Who the hell has enough time to play an mmo at about a waste of taxpayer money...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2008 @ 1:43pm

    schools yes, but libraries are for learning AND entertainment. i mean if your one of those nerds who enjoys reading that is........

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    haha, May 7th, 2008 @ 1:45pm


    Libraries are hard. I have no genius solution to them, sadly :/

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    megathought, May 7th, 2008 @ 1:52pm

    Re: Re:

    Nobody uses it because all the good sims are so overcrowded.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Charlie Potatoes, May 7th, 2008 @ 1:57pm


    Yogi said it best... nobody ever goes there any more.. it's too crowded.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    GHynson, May 7th, 2008 @ 2:11pm

    Schools With Up2Date Systems?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    GHynson, May 7th, 2008 @ 2:14pm

    Schools With Up2Date Systems?

    Since when did schools not have systems that weren't 10 years dated?
    I didn't know a Pentium 200mhz running NT 4.0 could even come close to running Second Life.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    derleider, May 7th, 2008 @ 2:25pm

    The thing is that schools and libraries are likely already free to block sites such as secondlife (or facebook or youtube or whatever) if they think that its distracting from the educational use of the computers.

    There is no need for a federal mandate. If school think its worth the trouble to block the site they will. If not they wont. Thye shouldnt be required to do it by the gov't.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    kurokun, May 7th, 2008 @ 4:26pm

    high school kid

    Well, I'm a senior in high school, so I can say this:

    A) I do not agree with this thing, but I think everyone could guess that...

    B) My school fails so badly that most of us do have time to play mmo's

    C) My school corporation also recently renovated, and despite the lack of a good stem program (PLTW, anyone?), they upgraded every machine in every building to either P4's with 512 MB ram or Core 2 duo's with 512 ram, depending on the lab. If you're lucky and take cisco networking, you get to use fancy machines with almost a gig of ram...and if you're me, you get to use a brand-new machine with a 256MB ATI Radeon and 2 gigs of ram...and we get it because the school has no idea what cisco even is, so any expense is OK by them. Ah, the poor fools...

    Yes, I know it's not mine, but I didn't want it to sound weird.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    kurokun, May 7th, 2008 @ 4:29pm

    Re: high school kid

    Forgot to add, they have blocked youtube, metacafe, imeem, facebook, myspace, gleemax, all MMO based sites, and several others that I haven't tried. Barracuda Firewall and all. Of course, they don't know how to check the logs, either. Everything they block is either automatic or sent to the admin via email. Hell, they even had google blocked for about 20 minutes...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Colin LeMahieu, May 7th, 2008 @ 4:47pm

    Cultural issue

    This whole situation has risen from the assumption that children are especially damaged by seeing "certain things"; I reject that idea.

    Children are just as capable and susceptible to input as adults are. Parents need to be teaching their kids right, wrong, and how to deal with wrong. Children can't be put in a box until they're 18, sent to college and expected to have a good moral set with regards to the things they've been boxed from for 18 years.

    "But think about the children" arguments are guised "I don't want to take time to raise my children" arguments.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    barren waste, May 7th, 2008 @ 5:10pm

    Beautiful, poster 16

    I agree. It is high time that people stop attempting to force the government to raise thier children and do it themselves. With every child a different set of rules and regulations is needed. You boy is different from your girl and will need different rules. Your child prodigy is different from your more normally balanced child. Of course, some rules will remain the same, but many will not. If there were a federally enforced law for each rule your child needs, then those who don't fit within the norm, the gifted and the needful, will suffer. Not only that, but why should I raise my child to your standards. What if I disagree with the Bible, Koran, teachings of Budda? Why should I have to bow to your mores when this is supposed to be the land of the free. Fine, you don't want your children swearing, admirable. You have set a rule and mode of conduct that you expect your children to follow. I, however, don't want that rule applied to my children. I want them to learn the worth of words and the consequences of using them. Shit is just a word meaning fecal matter. Yet it is swearing and vile while poopoo, the same thing, is not. I don't care which word my child uses to describe fecal matter, I can see no wrong or right in the description of fecal matter. I can see wrong in you deciding what my family can and cannot say, though. It all comes down to judgement calls that should be made by the parents, not the government. These judgement calls have to be based on the devolopement of the child and all children develop at different rates. The government cannot make these judgement calls because they do not, cannot, know what stage your child is at. It is not only to much to ask them to know this, it is irresponsible and childish. If you don't want the responsibilities of being a parent, refrain from sexual contact.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Hoeppner, May 7th, 2008 @ 5:57pm

    Kids should NOT be in/on SecondLife anyways, and I'm willing to bet that very very few are.

    Obviously passed for other reasons.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Eric the Grey, May 7th, 2008 @ 10:06pm

    Next up, block Real Life

    Because of course, you know there are bad people out there on the streets, and in the malls, and like right outside your house.

    Think of the children people!!!!!!!1111oneoneone


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Lisa Westveld, May 8th, 2008 @ 3:51am

    About Second Life...

    Yep, been playing it for a while now. And this senator apparantly forgot that Second Life already has age restrictions for it's users. The main grid is only for people ages 18 and older. The teen grid (which is supposed to be free from the naughty bits) is for anyone ages 13 to 17. And Linden Labs is doing it's best to verify the ages of all SL members, although quite a few underage people tend to slip through, often with the support from their parents!

    The responsibility of keeping kids safe lies primarely with their parents. When parents fail to keep their kids safe and the kid gets harmed by this, there should be some way to punish those parents for their bad parenting skills. (E.g. by forcing them to follow parenting classes.) But don't blame others for the fact that you cannot keep your kid safe.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Ferin, May 8th, 2008 @ 4:56am


    Oh my god! The children might see poorly executed, low poly furry boinking! Won't somebody think of the children!?!?!

    What a tool.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2008 @ 5:53am

    Re: Re: Re:

    My brain hurts...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2008 @ 5:58am

    Re: ZOMG!

    I agree. It should at least be high-quality stuff. We need our kids to have higher standards.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    known coward, May 8th, 2008 @ 6:12am

    Isn't what is to be and not to be allowed in schools

    A local issue and not a federal one? feeb congressman

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    JustMatt, May 8th, 2008 @ 11:34am

    Clearing up a point from earlier

    Some companies do hold events in SL, but nobody attends.

    From what I remember about being a kid, I seriously doubt there is enough for our hyperstimulated youth to do in SL. It is mostly vast wastelands of emptyness punctuated by a couple of concerts for old folks.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    Tony, May 8th, 2008 @ 12:52pm

    Free advertising

    I can't help but wonder how much SL lobbyists have contributed to this Congressman. Given how pathetic SL has become, they need publicity like this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. identicon
    Darlene Cavalier, May 30th, 2008 @ 9:51am

    Re: Bring Back OTA!!!!

    Bingo--but let's bring back a fresh OTA that incorporates real citizen input. Sign my petition to jumpstart the conversation:


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. icon
    GodzillaJack (profile), Mar 12th, 2009 @ 9:59am


    i don't kno 'bout u but i'm gonna hide out in SL till i get passed this recession we r not in. rez rez rez
    did u ever see the Star Trek episode where they find Captain Pike and that Woman who was put back together by the ones who had kno idea what a human looked like. at least in SL i can still get around. Don't kill my buzz you stinkin politicians!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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