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Moral Panic

            "Protecting Our Children from Internet Smut: Moral Duty or Moral Panic?".
             Julia Wilkins" article Protecting our Children from Internet Smut: Moral Duty or Moral Panic? which appeared in the September/October issue of The Humanist is an argument for the idea that the media (epically magazines) fuels unnecessary mass hysteria over issues such as pornography on the internet. Wilkins feels that magazines such as Newsweek and Times have caused the public to worry about children being exposed to pornography via the internet based on incorrect statistics and false studies published by unreliable parties. In her article Wilkins discusses how these publications were taken seriously not only by the general public, but also by important government officials such as Senator Charles Grassley, former Senator James Exon and Senator dan Coats. .
             Grassley used an article from Time magazine called "On a Screen Near You: Cyberporn" to persuade the senate to pass the Protection of Children from Pornography Act of 1995, which made it "illegal for anyone to knowingly or recklessly transmit indecent material to minors." In 1996 Exon and Coats sponsored the Communications Decency Act, which made it illegal to transmit pornography over the Internet. Wilkins argues that both of these acts, while created to protect children, do nothing more than violate first amendment rights and cause undue worry. She feels that while pornography is present on the Internet, that it is not easily accessible to children since a credit card is required for access in most cases. She also points out that parents should be responsible for monitoring what their children are viewing on their computers and that the children being exposed to inappropriate material on the Internet are likely the ones who are going out looking for it. She further argues that these children will simply find it elsewhere if they cannot find it on the net.

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