wAug 7, 2007

Condoning starving to death, but damn it we're moral

So, there's been lots of wankery over at LiveJournal because of the staff permanently banning some people from their site because of Harry Potter fanart they drew. The art in question depicts fictional minors engaging in sexual acts.

I won't say whether or not I support such things, although I will point out that we're talking about 17-year-old minors (OF FICTIONAL CHARACTERS DRAWN WITH PRISMACOLOR MARKERS), and not 8-year-olds.

Regardless. Today, LiveJournal posted this response about how they must punish users who violate their terms of service, which includes, "content that is unlawful, harmful, abusive, obscene, hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable."

One user comments with an excellent point: If LiveJournal is so keen on banning everyone who violates their terms of service when it is reported, then why do they not ban the many extremely disturbing pro-anorexia communities that are on LiveJournal? These are communities in which members encourage one another to not eat, and to lose weight when they are already underweight. Among other things, LiveJournal's response included:
We fully recognize that anorexia is harmful and that these communities are dedicated to maintaining a lifestyle that has the potential to cause harm.

Suspending pro-anorexia communities will not make anyone suffering from the disorder become healthy again.

Anorexia has only "the potential" to cause harm? Even if one suffering from it doesn't kill themselves, I can't think of a way in which a person would suffer from it and not experience emotional and mental trauma.

As for the latter point, while it's true that suspending communities that are pro-anorexia will not make anyone healthy again, the point also stands that suspending users on LiveJournal who draw fanart that happens to be erotic will not stop instances of child molestation from occurring. Pornography is not illegal. Maybe some people are unhappy about it, but that's the way it is. And, as Avenue Q will tell you, some people feel that the Internet is for porn! It is certainly easy to find on the Internet. I just don't understand how the staff at LiveJournal and Six Apart can build straw dummies so as to uphold one part of their Terms of Service, and expect the rest of us not to notice how much they utterly fail at enforcing their rules where it matters - where the violation of their terms of service produces real, tangible harm. I mean, if I'm anorexic and I find this community of people just like me, who tell me that my illness is okay, who in fact encourage me to harm myself, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the community is harmful.

Really, while it is fascinating to watch the users of an Internet website and its maintainers struggle over what is and is not okay to be placed on the website, it does leave me feeling a bit hopeless for the realm of Internet law as a whole.

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scribbled mystickeeper at 10:02 PM

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