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August 22: The Day the Internet Will Die in Turkey?

Something interesting is happening here. The government has announced a new law that will come into effect on August 22 to filter the Internet. 

The Turkish government calls its new Internet controls Safe Use of the Internet. They are scheduled to take effect in August and will require all Internet users to choose from one of four filter profiles operated by their server provider.

The object of the filters is ostensibly to protect Turkey from terrorism and porn. (Studying the list of words to be banned is most enlightening. Our Code of Conduct prevents me from discussing them, but let’s just say that I wish my Turkish friends had told me about the number 31, rather than just letting me use it as if it were merely the number between 30 and 32. I’m sure they’ve been laughing themselves half to death.) 

The interesting thing is this: I’m seeing a kind of outrage about this proposal that’s different in kind and degree from the outrage I usually see in response to the latest outrageous proposal, whatever it was. I was always completely mystified by weary, resigned acceptance of the YouTube ban. I wrote about that here. 

But this proposal really seems to have been a step too far. I’m hearing people who have never before expressed the faintest interest in attending a protest say that they plan to attend one–if they can find one where the freaks with the Mao and the Stalin posters won’t be in attendance.

I’m seeing massive campaigns about it on Facebook and Twitter, some of them quite sophisticated, like this:

The hashtag #22agustos has been trending on Twitter, and the phrase ”August 22: The day the Internet will die” has been all over the Internet. internetin-olum-tarihi-22-agustos-2011_2011_802453-1.jpg

I’m not completely sure how to interpret this, but two hypotheses come to mind:

1) Ordinary Turkish citizens are finally developing the self-confidence to say, “Enough with the censorship. Enough.”

or:

2) You can mess with a lot of things, but not a man’s porn. 

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  1. Ajax von Kaiserpenguin
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: Our Code of Conduct prevents me from discussing them, but let’s just say that I wish my Turkish friends had told me about the number 31, rather than just letting me use it as if it were merely the number between 30 and 32. I’m sure they’ve been laughing themselves half to death.  

    Well, there goes that Baskin-Robbins franchise I was thinking about opening up in Istanbul . . .

    Then again, I’ve plenty of time between now and August to stock up on internet porn to sell on the black market.

  2. Claire Berlinski
    C
    Ajax Telamônios Well, there goes that Baskin-Robbins franchise I was thinking about opening up in Istanbul . . .

    Then again, I’ve plenty of time between now and August to stock up on internet porn to sell on the black market. · May 6 at 1:00am

    Well, see, this is why doing business abroad requires cultural knowledge. On both points, because trust me, trying to game the Turkish black market–on anything–is not a job to be left to naive Western entrepreneurs. 

  3. Mel Foil

    Claire, I don’t know why you stay in Turkey. I’m sure your Turkish friends love you, and your cats love you, but they can’t protect you from a Turkish government that obviously doesn’t love Western-style freedom of speech.

  4. Claire Berlinski
    C
    etoiledunord: Claire, I don’t know why you stay in Turkey. I’m sure your Turkish friends love you, and your cats love you, but they can’t protect you from a Turkish government that obviously doesn’t love Western-style freedom of speech. · May 6 at 2:44am

    Look again at this scene–impossible and illegal only a few years ago–and tell me it’s that simple. It isn’t. 

  5. John Marzan

    the turkish opposition should present themselves as the protector of the internets.

  6. Mel Foil

    Quick, before it’s banned:

    http://gloria.tv/?media=152975

    (from gloria.TV)

  7. Robert Lux

    “2) You can mess with a lot of things, but not a man’s porn.”

    While I can’t name a single country I’d like to live in where porn is illegal, since when should porn somehow be equated with freedom?  

    Put it this way- perhaps you might even agree to some extent- I see the whole Girls Gone Wild phenomenon (take it as a metaphor for porn’s penetration of the culture) as simply the mirror image of the enslavement of women in burkas, etc., under sharia.   

  8. Ioannis
    Robert Lux: “While I can’t name a single country I’d like to live in where porn is illegal”

    Well, precisely. Banning porn is either a pretext to ban more stuff and control what people can read, say and think or, even if one assumes the purest of intentions on behalf of the censors, it is probably the quintessential example of the proverbial “slippery slope”. This doesn’t mean that one has to approve, let alone view, porn on the Internet or subscribe to  the porn cable channels in order to come against banning it.

  9. Robert Lux
    Ioannis

     Robert Lux: “While I can’t name a single country I’d like to live in where porn is illegal”

     Well, precisely. Banning porn is either a pretext to ban more stuff and control what people can read, say and think or, even if one assumes the purest of intentions on behalf of the censors, it is probably the quintessential example of the proverbial “slippery slope”. This doesn’t mean that one has to approve, let alone view, porn on the Internet or subscribe to  the porn cable channels in order to come against banning it. · May 6 at 3:57am

    I want to agree with you — my heart is definitely there — but, at least with respect to the United States, we did used to have obscenity laws, no? But anyway, I agree with you, because the habits and disciplines have changed. Any change “from above,” in top-down fashion, would, as you say, invite tyranny. The Founders certainly did not have in mind a “Department of Virtue.”

    The catch is: our institutions were nonetheless designed to depend for their efficacy and longevity on a virtuous citizenry…

  10. AngloCon

    The “Girls Gone Wild” – or should that be “Feral”? – phenomenon is another regrettable result of dissonant alliances the left makes to undermine traditional notions of propriety. Feminists beat the drum for sexual liberation and the feminine (well, at least the more inebriated ones) liberate themselves shamelessly. 

    This Turkish step toward censorship itself isn’t  fundamentally discordant with left wing speech code policies. 

    And yet these examples are at odds. One of tearing down barriers and the other of setting them up. Both, I believe, are harmful. I also believe that most in a productive “liberal” democracy would agree. But for all their talk of consensus, the left is bent on destroying our ability to reach workable consensual codes necessary for a “virtuous citizenry.”

    I am not conservative because I aspire to limit freedom. I am conservative because freedom depends on it.

  11. Nyadnar17

    Its number two. Porn is the 800lb gorilla of the digital age. It drives the creation new communication technology and it determines what format our electronic media will be delivered in.  The censors in Turkey made a grave error when they decided to try to ban porn all at once rather then gradually make porn sites harder and harder to get to.

  12. Robert E. Lee

    Think oil is big business?  Take a look at the porn industry!  They’ve driving more technological advances than NASA.  God Bless ‘em!