Ren's post from the other day about Linden's recent proclamation, "Keeping Second Life Safe, Together," was both level-headed and observant. Personally, I find it hard not to be fighting mad. In the wake of a statement that I read as the promise of censorship (however empty a promise it may be), my blood begins to boil--not only as an active participant in the Second Life sex scene, but also as a sexuality researcher.
Second Life's strength--that is, what's made it so appealing for users, and therefore such a rich environment for social observation--is its freedom. This freedom creates a welcoming environment where fantasy can grow, where it can turn into community and eventually cultural practice. Where else but Second Life could we have such an extensive population of furries, or Goreans? While the real world may wag a finger of judgment at these sexual preferences, Second Life has always seemed to say, "To each his/her own." Until now, that is.
Whereas Ren focused on the larger issues of governance and majority rule that come up with "Keeping Second Life Safe, Together," I'd like to start out more simply and point to the dangerous ambiguities and/or overlooked issues in the proclamation itself.
Let's take it from the beginning. Among the activities that are "not acceptable," Daniel Linden lists, "real-life images, avatar portrayals, and other depiction of sexual or lewd acts involving or appearing to involve children or minors." Okay, obviously any actual child pornography circulating in Second Life (i.e. porn that involves real-life minors) is illegal and should be dealt with accordingly. But then there's the issue of whether virtual child porn (porn that involves only renderings of children) is even illegal in America. And then there's the even bigger issue of age play--where consenting adults pretend to be children.
Next we've got the clause about "sexual violence" and rape. Yet again, we're in confusing territory. There's consentual rape and violent sex in Second Life (think Gor, BDSM, etc.). Whether there's much non-consentual violence is still up for debate, though. Cyber rape does happen, but in Second Life it's pretty hard. Granted, there has been a lot of media buzz around the topic lately. But even in the most infamous cases, no one seems to be sure how the rapes took place.
Last, we've got the most frightening clause of all: "other broadly offensive content [is] never allowed or tolerated." What exactly do we define as offensive content? To whom is it offensive? For me, that reads like an open door for sexual censorship...
Of course, there's always the possibility that Linden Labs don't actually stand behind their proclamation, or intend to back it up--that is was all done to appease the raging press. Still, the real test will be how the Second Life communities themselves respond. Will BDSMers wield their whips in fear? Will Goreans start wearing normal clothes and dominating their slaves in private? Or will everything in Second Life stay the same? I'll be sure to report back once I know more...
Comments on Censoring Sexual Expression in Second Life:
It's astonishing, after so much discussion about the sickening presence of simulated child rape in Second Life, that someone can post such an apology for the practice under the strapline 'Censoring Sexual Expression in Second Life' and totally ignore all of the points made about why the practice of ageplay in SL is dangerous.
BonnieRuberg said "But then there's the issue of whether virtual child porn (porn that involves only renderings of children) is even illegal in America."
That's so not the issue! America is not the whole world. These type of pornographic renderings *are* illegal in a number of countries, including Germany, and real world police forces are investigating such activities, for good reason. The people who engage in such activities are highly likely to be paedophiles or paedophiles-in-training. Where law enforcement agencies can find evidence of crimes being committed they can take action against those criminals. That's good, it helps to protect children.
There is a precedent here from the earlier days of SL. It's long been the case that the Nazi swastika and Nazi imagery are not allowed within SL. Some people have become upset by that on 'free speech' grounds, because such imagery is not banned in the US and because the swastika is not an exclusively Nazi symbol (it's also used in a number of religions that pre-date Nazism and have nothing in common with that ideology). But the problem is that such imagery is banned in Germany and cannot be publicly displayed. Linden Labs has for some time now imposed tougher standards than US law requires in order to meet the needs of an international user base.
As for Goreans, the weekend-whippers and the BDSM crowd... don't worry. You'll still be able to beat yourselves senseless on your private islands and behind closed doors. I don't think you need to fear the sex police raiding properties any time soon. Might be an idea not to clank round public spaces with slaves in chains though. Which is nice, because it gives the rest of us a break from having to put up with that kind of nonsense.
Posted Jun 8, 2007 2:43:04 PM | link
First of all, thank you for having me in April with Professor Elizabeth Townsend Gard:)
Any activities in SL that may be perceived as crime in RL by some people always have a big question to be answered---jurisdiction. I am talking about worldwide, not just nationwide. The issue about the child pornography in SL that the German government raised is a good example. "The German legal system applies international jurisdiction, so that any act of child pornography will be prosecuted in Germany according to German law, even if the act was not committed on German territory (Article 6 StGB-'Acts abroad against objects of international legal protection.'" (source:www.answers.com)
Second Life residents are from all over the world. Realistically, how can we solve this dillemma? Can we--even?
Posted Jun 8, 2007 3:09:34 PM | link
I think it's wonderful that the Lindens have given you a chance to get up and thump your chest and feel indignant about Second Life, BonnieRuberg, and rush to appoint yourself as monitor of how sexual expression is faring in SL.
It's especially emotionally satisfying to thump your chest and feel self-righteous about your own posse in the sexually-explicit communities of BDSM, Gor, and ageplayers. It's especially energizing and even fun to get outraged on behalf of people you can identify with, and feel protective of. They just make more attractive victims for you, eh?
It's like the famous caption Jules Feiffer made on the cartoon about the ACLU: "We need better victims".
But I wonder where you were when the censoring involved not sexual expression, but political expression -- like my criticism of the FIC -- the privileged programming and designer class in SL. Or my pointed questioning of Cory Linden, my criticism of his giving a pass to libsecondlife, harbouring of griefers, and giving grid-crashers a pass under the guise of promoting open source free expression to reverse engineer. All of THIS expression -- political expression you were unconcerned about -- was either removed, or led to me being permabanned from the forums or blog.
Where were you when people were permabanned off the forums -- when in a sense all of us were permabanned as the forums were shut down; as the official blog was rolled out and people arbitrarily deleted; etc.
All of you eggheads who scorn Second Life were nowhere, invisible, not standing up for these principles, except Peter Ludlow.
Now all of a sudden you tune in, when it is fashionable, and when...nobody has been censored from this group.
Nothing happened yet.
Not a single BDSM content, group, or person has been banned or been removed. So crank up the indignation, crank up the victimology machine, but...there aren't any victims yet.
So far, the only casualties on this latest "sexual expression chill" problem in SL are...me being pilloried by Csven Concord in other threads right here on these boards, where false accusations were made against me implying that I failed to report the RL crime of pedophilia (um, no, I didn't call up the police to report the names of avatars who had deleted something in a game, when the Lindens also took no action and at that time tolerated simulated ageplay).
And so far there been no indignant response of the sort you're mustering now, when C. Sven was implying that I allow this activity on my SL property, by publishing a tendentious screenshot of a swingset with the caption "Prok's Kiddieland".
There's a classic case of someone intimidating what he claims is sexual expression (it's not); then dancing around and pretending he was doing something else, and linking the photo everywhere -- and yet you have nothing to say about this bullying and chilling tactic used on an SL blogger.
So far, if we are to look at real incidents involving Lindens being over-zealous about suppressing expression around this theme, it's on the other side of the aisle, a side you find less attractive and get less indignant about when their expression is suppressed -- those who are concerned about "ageplay" and have blogged about it.
In once incident I followed and publicized, Meta Linden -- in absolutely outrageous and unprecedented overreach -- told a third-party site blogger that she had to remove content from her site involving her discussion of "ageplayers". Appalling. I wrote about that here:
Hardly any bloggers or press (except Daniel Terdiman at CNET, tentatively) wrote about this very frightening development involving, for the first time, a Linden overreaching outside of the SL domain under their jurisdiction to third-party sites, and trying to remove their content and suppress speech.
Everybody was silent -- because the incident involved a Linden who is transgendered telling a blogger on her regular SL account that she didn't like her humorous coverage of drag queens worried about voice coming to SL, and when that failed to get removal, coming back to tell the blogger to remove another report about ageplay prostitute solicitations in SL -- this time on her Linden account in abuse of her powers. Everybody was silent when the transgendered avatar Prokofy told this story -- because it's a matter of principle.
That's just it -- you can't selectively be for free speech, and only show up when "your own" seem to be threatened but be happy if the ban-hammer is whacked on people you don't like.
If you care so much about free expression, BonnieRuberg, why didn't you show up in the other thread to protect me and my tenants from specious charges of "ageplay" just because my tenant had a swingset out (!). Hello? You were conspicuous by your absence there.
If you care so much about free expression, BonnieRuberg, why didn't you protest when Tony Walsh and Clickable Culture banned both me and Csven discussing this issue in his story about "Child Porn Panic" -- because I chose to methodically fight back, line-by-line, C. Sven Johnson's outrageous and false statements about me? Hello?
So far, there are no people banned from Second Life or disciplined under the TOS over BDSM. To be sure, there's a lot of histrionic posturing. But the Lindens have made it clear in all their discussions that they won't be prosecuting BDSM or Gor. They've also made it clear that everyone will have to answer to the RL authorities in their jurisdiction, and they can't rely on LL to take the rap for them and cover for them.
Are you opposed to people taking responsibility for their own actions in the jurisdictions where they live?
Are you saying that Linden Lab should create a Permanent Autonomous Zone free from RL legal encroachment where people can do WTF they wish without ever fearing any long arm of the law? Are you advocating that there should be such entirely unregulated zones on the Internet? Can you point to any successful existing examples?
I've written about Daniel Linden's Edict here:
There are many troubling aspects to it, not merely that sexual expression appears no longer to be safeguarded, but for setting up a system of police informers who are themselves to determine what they themselves find broadly offensive; LL is ducking requests to define what this will entail. They will sit back and wait for abuse reports.
Given this troublesome development, the danger of overreach, the abuse of the system by those seeking to settle scores, even extrajudicial actions like Meta Linden trying to silence bloggers, there's only one moral thing to do here: stop abuse reporting anything whatsoever, and handle offenses within one's own community, using the land tools like ban and mute.
Posted Jun 8, 2007 4:04:40 PM | link
As my name is once again being dragged into a thread by an oddly obsessed and potentially unhinged Catherine Fitzpatrick...
Prokofy Neva said: "All of you eggheads who scorn Second Life were nowhere, invisible, not standing up for these principles, except Peter Ludlow."
Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster for Peter Ludlow. Without him, Prokofy wouldn't have a decent platform from which to spit on everyone.
Prokofy Neva said: "So far, the only casualties on this latest "sexual expression chill" problem in SL are...me being pilloried by Csven Concord in other threads right here on these boards"
After the arguably obsessed Catherine Fitzpatrick dragged me onto yet another forum so she could cultivate the foam around her mouth.
Prokofy Neva said: "where false accusations were made against me implying that I failed to report the RL crime of pedophilia"
Only I didn't imply anything, Catherine. You stated it all on your blog. All I did was quote you.
Prokofy Neva said: "(um, no, I didn't call up the police to report the names of avatars who had deleted something [i.e. "real-life very graphic child pornography off their walls -- they were photographs imported from real life porn" ] in a game, when the Lindens also took no action and at that time tolerated simulated ageplay).
In other words, you "failed to report the RL crime of pedophilia."
Thanks. Saves me from posting another link (or a zip file) to your blog entry.
Prokofy Neva said: "And so far there been no indignant response of the sort you're mustering now, when C. Sven was implying that I allow this activity on my SL property, by publishing a tendentious screenshot of a swingset with the caption "Prok's Kiddieland"."
Did Prokofy own the land? Yes
Was there a playground on that land? Yes
Does Prokofy have tenants who engage in other activities she despises? Yes
BDSM isn't about having "a fantasy"; it's about enacing the crimes of violence, coercion, slavery, torture, cruel and unusual punishment in a simulated virtual world. - Prokofy Neva / Catherine Fitzpatrick comment on SL Herald
Does Prokofy turn a blind eye and service them in spite of her so-called principles? Yes
If she allows one "evil" activity on her land is it reasonable to assume she allows another? Yes
Is it against the ToS to take a screenshot? No
Is it against the ToS to post chat logs/images/etc on external sites? No
Were individuals named? No
Were accusations made? No
Is Prokofy foaming at the mouth because I told her tenant he should consider another rental service? Probably
Should the SL BDSM community take their business elsewhere? Yes. Besides, Prok looks to me like a greedy hypocrite when she takes these social positions while at the same time taking the money from people whose activities she despises and who almost certainly use her land to engage in those same activities.
Prokofy Neva said: "this bullying and chilling tactic used on an SL blogger."
Considering you and they are claiming to be submitting abuse reports to Linden Lab and I'm not, who exactly is the bully here? especially considering you've used the same tactic against me in our other spats; once getting your knickers in a knot over the fact I was allowing other people to use my parcel as a temporary sandbox and then getting them soiled over a large wooden prim encasing some simple coding projects on which I was occasionally working (simple devices you discovered after being a busy-body and inspecting my land and which you're now theorizing are something sinister and invasive).
Prokofy Neva said: "the other thread to protect me and my tenants from specious charges of "ageplay" just because my tenant had a swingset out (!)."
Please provide a quote where any "charges of ageplay" were made.
Prokofy Neva said: "why didn't you protest when Tony Walsh and Clickable Culture banned both me and Csven discussing this issue in his story about "Child Porn Panic" -- because I chose to methodically fight back, line-by-line, C. Sven Johnson's outrageous and false statements about me?
I'm gonna guess it's because like me, she's sick of your half-truths, outright lies, bullying tactics, foul mouth, and disgusting demeanor.
Am I right? Close? Or maybe she doesn't give you the attention you so desperately desire.
Prokofy Neva said: "But the Lindens have made it clear in all their discussions that they won't be prosecuting BDSM or Gor."
From what I've read, what they've made clear is that they'll do whatever it takes to stay in business. And if the BDSM and Gor community need to be wiped out, they'll do it.
Prokofy Neva said: "Are you opposed to people taking responsibility for their own actions in the jurisdictions where they live?
Like reporting a real life crime to the proper authorities?
Prokofy Neva said: "who are themselves to determine what they themselves find broadly offensive; LL is ducking requests to define what this will entail. They will sit back and wait for abuse reports.
Like the one's Catherine submits on a regular basis. Truly stupid stuff complaining about images that do nothing more than document on a third party site what is completely allowable under the ToS? Nice use of Linden employee time, huh?
Now excuse me while I put the Terra Nova link next to my Second Life Herald link. They're both beginning to fall into the same category.
Posted Jun 8, 2007 8:27:19 PM | link
Having read a chunk of both the last postings, I can see why Clickable Culture would ban you two. Methodical line by line refutation of points, as in the last two examples, may make the writers feel good, but it doesn’t do anything positive for this reader. It quickly becomes just clutter. “Free speech” doesn’t mean its appropriate to argue loudly and continuously with each other at every possible opportunity. You both have relevant things to say, please say them briefly and without the personal point scoring.
If this blog had an easy “ignore” option, I wouldn’t find it so intrusive. Is there one I am missing?
Posted Jun 8, 2007 9:43:23 PM | link
I've already suggested - in my first response on the other thread - that we both be banned. Endorsements welcome.
Posted Jun 8, 2007 9:59:16 PM | link
No doubt we all agree child sex abuse is bad. What gets debatable is the policies we implement to reduce it. Since its a bit late once the abuse occurs, these are often pre-emptive. In a complex world, these pre-emptive policies have some cost though. The effects are not one-sided. Because child abuse combined with sexuality is such an emotive subject, a balanced debate on policies can get overwhelmed with extreme positions.
An example that springs to my mind is teacher - child contact. In many school districts now, physical contact between teachers and even young children is pretty much forbidden. I have long time teacher friends who feel this imposes a considerable strain on "high touch" children, and is not healthy for them. So a policy that is reducing harm to children in one dimension may be causing harm in another.
I'm generally in favor of diversity in human behavior, when it does no harm to others. And I see VWs as a good platform for encouraging that diversity. Seems to me some of the positions here are going well beyond “we must protect our children” and on to “you must accept my standards”. The latter position, if applied to all VWs, would seriously diminish them.
Posted Jun 8, 2007 10:09:33 PM | link
Bonnie said Second Life has always seemed to say, "To each his/her own." Until now, that is.
That is, of course, a complete illusion -- one that I'm surprised anyone still maintains. Linden Labs is very clear that you do not own your data and that they can and will do whatever they want with it (various PR and statements from their executives notwithstanding).
What exactly do we define as offensive content? To whom is it offensive? For me, that reads like an open door for sexual censorship...
"We" do no define offensive content within Second Life: Linden Labs does. That's not censorship, it's business and community management that is entirely within the company's purview. Linden has no responsibility to provide an "uncensored" environment if it does not see doing so to be in its best interest -- either commercially or ethically. I'm surprised that anyone would think otherwise even for a moment.
What is saddest to me is the virtual certainty that Linden Labs has long known about and profited from content including depictions of sexual behavior involving child avatars, and has only now, when there's a public outcry, made statements against such activity. We can only hope that Linden Labs will live up to its new-found sense of community ethics, and will not continue to turn a blind eye toward "unacceptable" -- some would say reprehensible -- content and behavior.
Posted Jun 8, 2007 11:57:36 PM | link
Having read a chunk of both the last postings, I can see why Clickable Culture would ban you two. Methodical line by line refutation of points, as in the last two examples, may make the writers feel good, but it doesn’t do anything positive for this reader.
Um, I haven't made any line-by-line methodical refutation of Csven here, as it's been done already thoroughly on my blog. I think most people can see he's ranting.
I did wish to respond to the OP, however, as methodically as possible, and I think so far, there isn't any generic prohibition on line-by-line retutations -- but what I've posted here isn't line-by-line anyway.
Posted Jun 9, 2007 12:14:19 AM | link
Re: "There's consentual rape and violent sex in Second Life (think Gor, BDSM, etc.)"
Let's be clear and not make generalizations - not ALL Gorean Communities practice "sexual slavery, consentual rape and violent sex" in the sense that it is suggested here, and to present it as such minimizes the complex Dom/sub relationships (that are not all sexual) that have developed between many consenting adults in Gorean SL. Similarly, not all Furry communities are about "yiffing" and bestiality.
People need to be aware of the rules of 'play', role play & behaviour when they venture into sims. Many of the Gorean and Furry sims have notecards that outline rules and expectations of visitors (and some will have visitor tags so that you can shop in markets and explore the community and so forth) - and people can make their informed choice of whether to stay or go.
To police SL in the way that LL is suggesting is ridiculous and undermines the intent of 'user created content' - let's just shut down the red light districts all over the 'real' world as well. Sounds like Jerry Falwell has been doing some consulting work here....
Posted Jun 9, 2007 12:27:18 AM | link
>To police SL in the way that LL is suggesting is ridiculous and undermines the intent of 'user created content'
LL isn't going to be doing any policing. They made a policy, and invited residents to police it.
So there's an easy thing to do here: don't abuse report. And encourages others to do the same.
Posted Jun 9, 2007 1:20:32 AM | link
It's interesting (and speaks volumes) that folks have to lump simulated sex acts with children into a category that includes all acts in which "consenting adults pretend to be children" in order to make a tenable argument that such acts should somehow be protected.
It acknowledges (or, at the very least, implies) that simulated sex acts with children are so far past any line as to be defensible on its own. That is doesn't even approach the edge of any slope, slippery or otherwise.
Posted Jun 9, 2007 12:58:09 PM | link
What I hear is an argument between selective libertarian views (which ironically seem to be espoused by many of the same folks who are reactionary anti-capitalists, at least within SL) and pragmatic views.
Even if you are not a pedophile you should be at least able to see how the vast majority of everyday folks might mistake you as one if you find enjoyment dressing up in the costume of a pedophile. Even taking it a step further, perhaps it is the failure of the 99.998% of the population whose ignorance prevents them from grasping the redeeming qualities in "age play". So, apply your libertarianism fairly and take responsibility for your own actions -- perception explains a large portion of reality, like it or not.
As for the usual fanboi fanatic threats of libel this and libel that, two suggestions: (1) look up "libel" and a history of such in the US court system; (2) go watch a couple civil jury cases, then think real hard "are these 12 people much like me and my fanbois friends, or are they the type who might 'mistake' ageplay for obscenity and/or pedophilia?"
Posted Jun 9, 2007 6:51:19 PM | link
randolfe said: fanatic threats of libel this and libel
I missed the "fanatic threats". Could you point those out, please? Thank you.
Posted Jun 9, 2007 7:24:29 PM | link
@randolfe: I love me some capitalism. But I don't think that a vigorous defense of the 1st Amendment constitutes (pun... hah) libertarianism. I'm very particular about which liberties I apply my -isms to, and vice versa.
Recognizing the rights of others to engage in types of speech and written communications that I find objectionable is part-and-parcel of all kinds of -isms. Lefties (in the US) want to protect all kinds of sexy free speech. Righties don't, unless they translate huge cash donations to politicians as a type of free speech. Lefties want everyone to have a right to say everything, except for people who want to talk conservatively about abridging speech rights. Righties want freedom of religious speech, often in places where it would interfere with others' rights (say, public school).
Many folks are, I admit, often confused on this issue. I am not. If your speech isn't criminal (slander, threats, etc.), it should be protected. Period. We have the right to say stupid things, crazy things, dangerous things. Why? Because the most stupid, dangerous and crazy thing you can do is start cracking down on free speech.
Posted Jun 9, 2007 10:56:52 PM | link
I'm actually quite "libertarian", in the more objectiv"ist" sense. I generally agree with you.
I am merely talking about practical versus idealistic. Practically, you do not have unabridged freedom of speech. Tests are applied to those freedoms all the time. You cannot cause harm to others directly by action of your speech, and in some cases not even indirectly so. This is where things like "ageplay" are easily argued to cross the line. Sure, there is a whole passel of science, psychology, and stuff that apply. But (un)fortunately, our civil system only weighs such objectivity so far. In the end it is largely a jury of peers that determine judgmental outcomes. I simply mean to point out that such juries will consistently and predictably find "ageplay" and similarly unsettling and disturbing speech not worthy such lofty protections. Of course, higher courts may always reverse such rulings; but I'm not going to hold my breath on that.
I am not pretending to speak as an unbiased analyst myself, either. I have a toddler. In the most unscientific, illogical, perhaps even irrational by some measures, but purely instinctual manner imaginable I find the entire notion of "ageplay" utterly disgusting. I would not myself treat any admitted "ageplayer" agreeably, and that would be whilst in the most liberal of moods.
Posted Jun 10, 2007 1:27:03 AM | link
I missed the "fanatic threats". Could you point those out, please? Thank you.
No. You can find them in myriad past threads. Or you can turn this into a great opportunity to learn the finer features of Google's custom search.
Posted Jun 10, 2007 1:29:05 AM | link
randolfe said: "No. You can find them in myriad past threads. Or you can turn this into a great opportunity to learn the finer features of Google's custom search."
("finer features of the Google's custom search"? hahaha! With wit like this, one wonders why randolfe isn't on Comedy Central!)
Let me ask this then: Where in this discussion are you finding anything related to "fanboi fanatic threats of libel" which compel you to offer up "two suggestions" to... someone?
And why does anyone need Google search if they're reading the recent, relevant threads and you're replying relevantly?
Help me out, randolfe. Undoubtedly you were saying something educated and important regarding this topic. I'd hate to miss it.
Posted Jun 10, 2007 7:32:55 AM | link
It's all really simple. SL is not a sovereign country with its own laws. It's not an open protocol. It's a game. A commercial game with an owner who operates it for profit.
And that owner is subject to law. Internet gambling is illegal in the United States, the home of Linden Lab. So gambling in Second Life is now banned by LL to comply with local law. Virtual child pornography, an inevitable byproduct of ageplay involving child avatars is illegal in Canada and much of western Europe, so sexual activity with child avatars is banned to comply with law. Depictions of extreme violence against women for sexual purposes is illegal in the UK and other places and therefore these have been banned by LL to comply with law.
It's a game. It's subject to the laws of the countries the game operator does business in. It's that simple. Nothing more, nothing less.
Posted Jun 10, 2007 8:44:47 AM | link
@Jeff Cole: The slippery slope I see here is that a policy aimed at reprehensible behavior can sideswipe a much larger class of behavior that some people think is OK. An example would be alerting photo processors to be on the lookout for child porn. Which can lead to a mother being arrested for taking a “cute and adorable” picture of her child in the bath.
The enthusiasts for censorship tend to think of the most obvious and hardcore cases of abuse when they propose action. If those could be easily and clearly targeted, there wouldn’t be a problem. In actual implementation, you soon get into territory where on person’s expression of affection is another person’s sex act. Where one person’s illustration of a child avatar is another person’s goth queen (see the first response to Bonnie's blog). That’s the slippery slope that makes me nervous.
Posted Jun 10, 2007 4:13:19 PM | link
:-) Kathy , how dare you burst their bubble ?!
You mean, Barbie is not a real princess and Paris Hilton farts while in elevator ?! You mean, we should be concerned for RL issues rather than for the virtual ones ?!
Posted Jun 10, 2007 4:27:01 PM | link
Well, if bad comes to worse, they can always create an adult-spin-off called Porn Life. I suggest they do that by simply renaming the current game.
Second Life resembles the early days of the internet - lots of hype, everyone needs to be on it for some reason, few actually use it and the only money being made is with exactly the content people complain the most about.
Posted Jun 10, 2007 11:56:45 PM | link
I'm still trying to understand how I, as a British Citizen, logged onto a server in the US, am being vetoed in my behaviour by a law from Germany, and not, to dig out the handy example, Saudi Arabia.
It's all very selective. Clearly a case of reaction, rather than action, and honestly, people would probably prefer a little more honesty and clarity, and a bit less doublethink from the Lab.
As far as people hitting each other in sex roleplay, well it's really just PvP, right? It just seems to really hit people's icky button when they figure out someone is probably wanking over it. Blood good. Spooge bad, but neither should be spilled in RL.
Posted Jun 11, 2007 5:29:14 AM | link
SL has been positioned as a platform for commercial activity by LL. They have wooed large, publicly traded companies. All of these companies are sensitive. Many of these companies are hyper-sensitive because they sell consumer products.
These same companies often self-report and self-enforce things like labor standards in their foreign suppliers. They often do so well in excess of local legal requirements. They do this not for regulatory reasons, but for marketing and public relations reasons.
All we're seeing now is that companies which sell sneakers and jeans don't like to share the mall real estate with "Virtual Child Molester Amusement Arcades". It doesn't even matter if those arcades involve legal pedophilia. All that matters is that consumers believe those arcades involve something they don't like, and that they might behave in a manner that punishes legitimate companies located in that mall.
There's a little irony in UK citizens decrying the unfairness of all this, being the UK is on the forefront of regulatory-requirements forcing "CSR" reporting. Such reporting mandates could be interpreted as requiring UK public companies to disclose and address the more unseemly aspects of SL if they actually use the SL platform in their commercial activities.
Posted Jun 11, 2007 10:20:08 AM | link
Hellinar: The slippery slope I see here is that a policy aimed at reprehensible behavior can sideswipe a much larger class of behavior that some people think is OK. An example would be alerting photo processors to be on the lookout for child porn. Which can lead to a mother being arrested for taking a “cute and adorable” picture of her child in the bath.But simulated sex acts with children don't implicate that slope. Certainly, there is not such a thing as a "cute and adorable" picture of a child involved in a sex act. The avatar on Bonnie's page looks nothing like a child to me. Even Bonnie admits it doesn't look like a child to her and that she used it because it "wearing child-like clothing" (and she even admits that the only child-like aspect of the dress is the name:Gretel).
Hellinar: In actual implementation, you soon get into territory where on person’s expression of affection is another person’s sex act.C'mon, every sex offender my prosecutor buddy prosecutes claims it was an "expression of affection." Please describe a reasonably appropriate expression of affection that might be confused as a sex act.
That you find it necessary to peg me an enthusiast for censorship underscores your weak argument.
Posted Jun 11, 2007 11:18:04 AM | link
If you care so much about free expression, BonnieRuberg, why didn't you protest when Tony Walsh and Clickable Culture banned both me and Csven discussing this issue in his story about "Child Porn Panic"
Because NOBODY CARES about your personal little spats with csven. Jesus Christ. You're only the center of the world in your own mind. Coming to that realization is a hallmark of social awareness, which you apparently have a weak grasp on.
Posted Jun 11, 2007 12:40:58 PM | link
PROK WINS ANOTHER THREAD
move along, nothing to see here
Posted Jun 11, 2007 1:19:26 PM | link
@Jeff: In some countries kissing is seen as too sexual and act to portray on screen. In others, hugging someone who is not your spouse can get you arrested. Some cultures consider nudity of itself to be sexual, and being nude with children would be reprehensible. Its not the direct sexual intercourse with small children that are the problem. Its the wide variation in acts that have sexual overtones, and the large variation on designating what is a "childlike" avatar, that cause problems.
Seems to me the whole thing may be pretty much moot if SL are making the client open source. That opens the possibility of client side substitution of avatars. So the standard client shows the an adult avatar, and the "ageplay friendly" version a child avatar. Couple that with client side animation, and in world reporting won't be very effective.
Posted Jun 11, 2007 5:28:19 PM | link
>If you care so much about free expression, BonnieRuberg, why didn't you protest when Tony Walsh and Clickable Culture banned both me and Csven discussing this issue in his story about "Child Porn Panic"
>Because NOBODY CARES about your personal little spats with csven. Jesus Christ. You're only the center of the world in your own mind. Coming to that realization is a hallmark of social awareness, which you apparently have a weak grasp on.
I mentioned quite a few other things, but you're someone with a burr under your saddle now, so there's probably little point in discussing it with you. .
So...Oh, ok, I see how it works...then if the Lindens happen to repress BonnieRuberg or her friends in Second Life for anything that might be extreme and "broadly offensive," if some Moral Majority type happens to abuse report her or her pals and the Lindens happen to swing the banhammer, why, I'll just figure that's a personal issue -- a spat. I'll figure that it's just her being the center of her own little world, and that she lacks social awareness.
Glad to get this guidance in these troubled times, Matt, thanks!
Posted Jun 11, 2007 6:55:21 PM | link
Oh yeah, it's a bad world we're living in , and the virtual ones are worse.And ?
Posted Jun 11, 2007 7:12:51 PM | link
@randolphe: Agree completely. If it makes more money for Linden to ban it, they will and should.
@Hellinar, who said: "Seems to me the whole thing may be pretty much moot if SL are making the client open source. That opens the possibility of client side substitution of avatars. So the standard client shows the an adult avatar, and the "ageplay friendly" version a child avatar. Couple that with client side animation, and in world reporting won't be very effective."
Holy crap. I hadn't thought of that yet. Client-side porn-action-fonts. Ruby-on-Rails-Gimps. So I'm standing around wearing my regular, bearded, fuddy-duddy old-guy avatar, chatting about sci-fi with what seems (to me) to be another old guy... and to that player, I'm actually a 14-year-old girl giving his 14-year-old girl, female avatar a tongue bath. And every time I type the word, "Asimov," one of them spanks the other.
That's just... wrongity wrong. Well, wrongity wronger than before. Indirect, non-consensual, virtual-virtual cybering. Thanks for blowing my mind. And it's only Monday...
Posted Jun 11, 2007 9:36:39 PM | link
LOL ! One can have all the fun and instruction right here at TN , why would i waste my time in SL anymore ! ROFL !
Posted Jun 11, 2007 11:18:21 PM | link
Hmm, I don't think I've ever made a claim anything was unfair, so I guess Randolfe must mean some other UK resident.
Of course, being born in a country with aggressively controlled (lack of) free speech laws immediately precludes anyone from the UK from having any opinion.
I don't like censorship. I understand Linden Lab have a business to run, and that it's their toy and they can make whatever rules they want. It might be a shame for a lot of people, and there's a debate to be had about freedom of expression, but there you go.
What I mostly object to, is them outright _lying_ to everyone about what their policy actually is and has been.
Seriously. Would it kill them to just say "I know we said anything goes in private, but right now we have to tighten it all up, so that's changed. Sorry, but that's the world we're in." Instead of a load of doublethink and duckspeak.
So the goreans would have a fire sale on sims, and someone else will buy them. At least there would be some honesty about it all.
Posted Jun 12, 2007 3:48:35 AM | link
Let me get this straight: Virtual PvP combat involving weapons, blood and death is fine even though that would be a felony pretty much anywhere in the real world, right?
So, it would seem that the solution to this sex "problem" is to simply require that any virtual sex act involves weapons, blood and death.
Posted Jun 12, 2007 6:15:51 AM | link
Have you any idea what the virtual world of IRC looked like about 10 years ago? Let me tell you as I did a paper on it at the time involving months of research and interaction with an interested publisher (Vision Entertainment), John Norman himself and the online proponents.
The Gorean novels were written by a sci-fi author back in the 70's by John Norman. It sparked an online "lifestyle" where those engrossed in the subject where vehemently opposed to anyone slapping a BDS&M label upon them. They cited the books, where they read all 25+ novels as proof that physical 'punishment' was not for sexual stimulation whatsoever. Rather, these were 'masters', 'slaves' and 'free persons' adopting ideals from a series of novels that purported slavery was acceptable and contending this is how they lived in the real world. They went even further by trying to introduce the notion that slaves were a mindset that actually sought that condition in life and were only content when accepting their 'nature'.
Interestingly enough, when speaking privately with these purported RL 'slaves' or 'slave-wannabes', my research contends they were anything but submissives by nature. The men were anything but secure, confident rulers of society. The whole thing, as far as their principles were concerned, was nothing more then a farce and playtime fantasy they had yet to admit.
However, when you use the word Gorean or GOR, you are STILL referring to a lifestyle played out in the tales of written fiction, that took place on a world that did not find sexual pleasure in primitive-style discipline. Rather it was implemented for control where the strong led and the weak followed and had a caveman mentality. There was nothing even alluringly intellectual about it. It was raw discard for human life, period. How you equate that stuff on a level of free speech and sexuality is beyond me!
When even the author himself negates any basis found in today's BDS&M practices, how the inhabitants of Second Life construe Goreans akin to BDS&M is sheer ignorance of the author, his novels and the historical online phenomenon that arose from the tales, which is now, near extinct (read: Silk & Steel) as the groupies have since grown up. So should you!
Posted Jun 12, 2007 8:58:10 AM | link
>Let me get this straight: Virtual PvP combat involving weapons, blood and death is fine even though that would be a felony pretty much anywhere in the real world, right?
>So, it would seem that the solution to this sex "problem" is to simply require that any virtual sex act involves weapons, blood and death.
I've answered this issue here:
It's "fine" precisely because people don't have weapons, magic spells, and powers -- and the will to kill people so casually -- in real life. I personally don't think it's "fine" to keep promoting violence in this way, because I believe ultimately it does take a spirtual toll on people and does have consequences, but it's clear that the magic circle of games allowing murder in games is more of a firewall than the virtuality of virtual worlds enabling all kinds of cybersex, even extreme types.
The erosion of the prohibition that occurs with rationalizing and justifying operates differently in an act that doesn't require weapons, powers, etc.
Python, people argue constantly about these points you take for "facts" in Gor. It has many different versions and cybersexing based on BDSM techniques is definitely part of some versions of Gor in SL.
Gor is like a lot of things in life that are a backlash against the women's movement by both men and women, and a "re-evaluation of values". The women endlessly wave the "consent" flag to derail criticism. It's a cult.
One thing you point out bears thinking about -- these illiberal "lifestyles" and cults in SL all about suppressing freedom and subjecting free will -- and yet liberals who promote freedom and free will are endlessly asked to concede their "right to exist". Yet if we criticize them and try to roll them back from the public space when they encroach, they scream "intolerance". It's like the similar problems that obtain with communists and terrorists in any big social movement, they endlessly prey on liberal sensibilities, and if they come to power, have absoltuely no intention of preserving the values that led to the tolerance of them.
Posted Jun 12, 2007 10:31:52 AM | link
@Andy: That sounds a bit extreme, though I’m sure some jokers will delight in imposing all sorts of ludicrous avatars on other people. I was thinking more of consenting adults imposing their own private translation of the underlying reality. Which, come to think of it, is what many social groups do around matters of sexuality anyway.
I think local client substitution would be popular in SL for other reasons anyway. Intrusive billboards come immediately to mind. I kind of like the idea of client substitution. It’s a technical amplification of the fact that different people see the same scene quite differently.
Posted Jun 12, 2007 11:34:34 AM | link
The Lindens and some of their favourite developers among the residents constantly talk about the idea of air-brushing out scenes you don't like. So not merely reducing draw distance, but whiting out whatever your neighbour has on his next parcel -- and whiting out his avatar, even.
We're told that the devs in the Lab have only one ideological problem with this is that they want presence of avatars always to show somewhere as presence, apparently they think this is some bedrock principle.
But of course, people point out that the presence can show in general in the system *to them*, and show to that person and his friends, and be whited out for everyone else that dislikes them.
Already there is the ability to mute people, mute their objects, reject their objects, ban and eject them, etc. People love this, because they love controlling other human beings, they don't want to try to negotiate and get along with neighbours, they advocate extreme fuck-you hedonism as the credo of this world -- and that's why they need a "delete" button on their fellow man who interrupts their selfish experiment.
The Lindens are determined to create this capacity eventually so that they never have to hear about another land dispute or ugly signs or whatever, you can just white out the entire surroundings.
Then, next on the menu is replacing that blankness with a something -- a scene you do like, or even overlaying something on top of that avatar's presence whose manifestation you didn't like with something he didn't consent to.
The old Sims Online patch that would show any avatar naked whether they knew it or not was a crude version of this technical and social engineering dream.
But...what kind of world is it when everyone lives in a private Idaho, not even feeling a bump from someone nearby? Unable to see what they manifest? Able not only to obliterate them, but rewrite them anew?
You could no longer speak of any kind of shared reality whatsoever, that virtuality would mean the utter breakdown of the consensus of shared reality that "holds" more or less now in virtual worlds.
Those who will advocate this fractured fairy tale will be able to undermine any statement about any perception or feeling or meaning or reality by saying "I don't see that" or -- worse -- "I don't wish to see that". Empathy becomes finally destroyed then.
AND the game gods and virtual world coders who are left as the only ones who can "see the aggregate shared reality" become over-powerful, once again.
Everyone always begins this exercise thinking, oh, great, we'll just erase all those ugly sign billboards and annoying griefers, that's all, that's reasonable. It's like matt Mihaly and free speech, it's not trampling on a free discussion if you wish to silence someone you view as only "solving a personal spat" or "failing to realize they should be socialized" ("You're only the center of the world in your own mind. Coming to that realization is a hallmark of social awareness, which you apparently have a weak grasp on").
In this new dispensation, not only will everyone get to be the center of their own world, those that really are the center of the world will not be demonstrably such, and will be unable to exert their will or express their opinions, even. That will be fine for tekkies who wanted to turn on what Daniel Linden calls "symmetry nodraw" (he delights in it in his interview here: http://slcreativity.org/blog/?p=32#more-32)
But...it means that only one set of people get to determine what the social reality is that they will impose, to enable "seeing" only as they see it.
Posted Jun 12, 2007 2:14:16 PM | link
"Those who will advocate this fractured fairy tale will be able to undermine any statement about any perception or feeling or meaning or reality by saying "I don't see that" or -- worse -- "I don't wish to see that". Empathy becomes finally destroyed then."
One might argue empathy was destroyed the moment my neighbor erected something objectionable to his or her neighbors, without concern for the effects of their actions on others. However much the owners of objectionable, censored billboards might wish it, free speech guarantees only the right to speak, not the right to be heard.
Posted Jun 13, 2007 6:37:55 PM | link
Three men went to a hunt. On their route to jungle, one of them started to yell a song about a terrific tiger , because of his right to free speech. A terrific tiger appears and the second hunter ran , terrified, because of his right to defend his life; at an end , the tiger vanished back in jungle; the hunters headed back to their village , and on the route the third hunter ate the other two , because he was angry and hungry.
Don't ask me " ...and what that have to do with anything ?! " i don't know the answer. Just expressing my right to free speech. After reading my meaningless post, you have the right to decide that you don't actually wanna read it.
Posted Jun 14, 2007 10:57:19 AM | link
*sigh* Well, not that it matters after Prokofy and Csven managed yet another spectacular derail (hey, good job folks! How bout we spread the spat to every SL thread under the sun?), but the whole thing comes down to one issue in the books for me: How many filters are there?
When we're talking about a virtual fantasy, something completely separate from real life, the filters are all in place. Most people don't think of themselves as their WoW characters, or their toons on a MUCK - they're just a tool to play the game with. But start playing with Second Life, and the more work you put into making your character _you_, the more those filters start to drop. Eventually, there's a LOT of crossover, even in the most seasoned RP veteran.
Make no mistake about it: in SL, people tend to play themselves as they want to be. Idealistic, certainly...and quite problematic when you get into the realm of cybersex. See, when those filters drop, such as it is, and you start imagining -yourself- in that situation, it does weird things. With random, vanilla situations, okay, harmless fun. With ageplay, extreme BDSM (Gorean play, as it was mentioned above), and the like - it can be dangerous.
It's not censorship if there's an incredibly strong chance that situation A will lead directly to situation B. A person might never act upon their desires in real life, they may never look strange, but enough ageplay is likely to turn anyone into a pedophile - and that's what's inherently dangerous about the whole thing.
(ObUnrelated: Sedelyan here, giving a shout out to Hellinar from the ATITD folks.)
Posted Jun 15, 2007 3:56:12 AM | link
Dennis said: "Well, not that it matters after Prokofy and Csven managed yet another spectacular derail (hey, good job folks! How bout we spread the spat to every SL thread under the sun?)"
a) I didn't bring it here
b) I asked whoever moderates TN to temporarily ban us both
When my name gets dragged into debates as it was here, I reserve the right to respond. If that means derailing a thread, so be it.
Posted Jun 16, 2007 12:16:01 PM | link
>Personally, I find it hard not to be fighting mad. In the wake of a statement that I read as the promise of censorship (however empty a promise it may be), my blood begins to boil--not only as an active participant in the Second Life sex scene, but also as a sexuality researcher.
Here was the tone set by the OP. "Fighting mad". "Blood begins to boil". Very cranked up moral outrage. So it comes as no surprise that it *elicits an equal and opposite reaction* from anyone who sees it differently, and has a wider take on it.
That's what I mean about "setting the tone". If a writer/blogger wants to maintain order on his blog, he has to achieve it by taking care to set the tone himself or herself at the outset, and not hope to achieve it through the coercion of bans or word counts.
>Dennis said: "Well, not that it matters after Prokofy and Csven managed yet another spectacular derail (hey, good job folks! How bout we spread the spat to every SL thread under the sun?)"
>a) I didn't bring it here
>b) I asked whoever moderates TN to temporarily ban us both
Both of these posters turn what is a fundamental disagreement about virtuality and the use of improper debating tactics by one person in the debate into a matter of moral equivalency. That's highly troubling. Again, the OP can avoid a thread turning into a knock-down like this by *setting the tone* and also *intervening early*.
Posted Jun 21, 2007 9:21:06 AM | link
Where else but Second Life could we have such an extensive population of furries, or Goreans?
Haven't been to Furcadia yet, have you? *grin* (Granted, they have more Goreans, but I'm sure we still have the most furries.)
As for the censorship issue - I think it's more a question of "will they try really hard and fail" or "will they not even try very hard". I don't think a world the size of Second Life is really censorable without a stupendous amount of manpower.
I am a little curious about what the definition of "in public" and "in private" are, if you want to allow some images/behaviors/whatever in one but not the other. Given that every time I went to Second Life, I could pretty much go anywhere and everywhere at any time, walk through most walls, etc. I suppose there might be some places that restrict who can get in, but I never once ran into anything like that.
Posted Jun 26, 2007 4:38:04 AM | link