In our DOPA update today, we did miss one notable politician who is not afraid to play off of the Mark Foley page scandal to take hits on social networking sites. It's this years best known Indie pol, Joe Lieberman, who recently said....
If there were ever a time to put people ahead of politics, this is it. We are talking about an outrageous breach of the public trust. We are talking about the health and safety of children who are directly under Congress’s care. And not least of all, we are talking about every 21st Century parent’s worst nightmare – that their child will become the victim of an Internet predator.
This is a real and dangerous threat, as parents here in Connecticut well know. You’ve probably seen the headlines. . . the 27-year-old man in Chaplin who was arrested for an alleged sexual assault committed against a 13-year-old girl from Hebron, whom he had met on the web site called MySpace. . . . and the arrest of two men who used MySpace to lure and assault two girls from Fairfield County, just 11- and 14-years-old.
Those two examples, along with the Foley case, represent just the tip of an iceberg of indecent activity spurred on by the Internet.
Sen. Lieberman wants to protect kids. So do I. So does everybody else I know. But how we go about protecting them is important because, in a diverse culture like ours, different families will have different values and tolerance levels when it comes to speech and media content. Sen. Lieberman clearly has his values. My wife and I have our own, and I have a feeling they are quite different than the Senator's. And I bet yours are different, too. And that's OK. In fact, it's a wonderful part of our pluralistic society.
I agree with Sen. Lieberman when he says in his address that "information is power." Unlike him, however, I am far more wary of giving government too much power over information. I do, however, wholeheartedly agree with him that empowering parents (and kids!) with more information, education and tools to make choices in line with their values and preferences is an unambiguously good thing. Because at the end of the day I would hope we could all agree that Uncle Sam makes a lousy surrogate parent for a diverse nation of diverse families with diverse values.