This morning, I saw that James Farmers' Edublogs service is being banned in Australia. Censored. Blocked. Verboten. It irked me, and has been bugging me all day. Now, Brian just posted about it, and I realize I need to publicly demonstrate some form of outrage at this. It's not enough to quietly grumble, or to simply comment on James' blog post.
Censorship is inherently evil. The goal of censorship, by definition, is to prevent access to, or dissemination of information. Some might say it is a necessary evil, but I'd respond that it's a very slippery slope, and that it's far too easy to slide down past a point of no return.
Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free.
-- John F. Kennedy
Hearing about an educational system that imposes censorship on all of its students, teachers and staff (and yes, it is imposed, as the only internet access available in the schools is provided by The Man) scares the hell out of me. Schools are supposed to foster communication. Critical thinking. Rational thought and behaviour.
And yet it appears as though an entire school system - "powered" by the EduConnect filtering mechanism - has decided that Blogs Are Bad, and Should Be Banned. They didn't act against a specific blog. They're not preventing kiddie porn, or spam, or phishing (but this is what they'll say they are doing). They are blocking open communication. And that is nothing less than evil.
"Swimming pools can be dangerous for children. To protect them, one can install locks, put up fences, and deploy pool alarms. All these measures are helpful, but by far the most important thing that one can do for one's children is to teach them to swim."
-- National Research Council, Youth, Pornography, and the Internet
In the absolute best case scenario, this is simply a side effect of a lazy, outdated, authoritarian system trying to maintain the status quo. Instead of trying to educate people about information literacy, they decide it's easier to just block access to information Just In Case™. I'm hoping this is all there is to the story, and that a public outcry might actually affect some form of change.
But, in a worst case scenario, open communication is essentially being outlawed in favour of a government-mandated censorship and filtering system. That has no place in modern society, especially in institutions of learning.
Here's hoping things get opened up again. If they're blocking EduBlogs.org, there's no telling what else may be blocked.