Rant Of The Day THIS RANT 28/05/99

Rant Of The Day is where I get to mouth off about whatever I feel like for however long I like. Theoretically, I'll update my whinge/opinion piece every weekday; in practice, maybe not so often.

Are nude stick figures offensive?

Like many Australian Web developers at the moment, I'm a little concerned about the effect that new laws designed to censor the Net which are about to be passed in Australia will have on this site. For those of you not familiar with the saga, the Federal Government, in a move largely designed to try and suck up to conservative senator Brian Harradine, has ruled that ISPs must block access to any site deemed to be unclassifiable or X-rated by the ABA, and that R-rated sites must use some kind of password system to restrain access. ISPs who don't pull sites not conforming to these guidelines, or block access to them if they're overseas, face hefty fines. (If you want all the sorry details, check out -- warning, blatant plug for my day job coming up -- Harradine voted for the law and still didn't do what the government wanted, by the way.)

Leaving aside the blatant stupidity involved, and the fact that technologies to achieve what the law prescribes don't actually exist, the question I ask myself is: would Gusworld be banned? One of the oldest parts of the site is my university thesis, How To Do Things With Four-Letter Words, which, since it examines the meanings of the words 'shit', 'fuck' and 'cunt', is necessarily littered with profanities. However, it's also an award-winning piece of academic discourse, so they couldn't possibly ban that. Could they?

Then there's the Bruce Willis Quote Of The Week, which also has frequent references to the word 'fuck'. But that's just a small, long-running, mildly amusing joke. No-one could be offended enough by that to complain to the ABA, could they? Could they?

There's also the odd bit of raunchy sex in Eye Of The Tigress, and some occasional graphic violence in Mighty Morphin' Dannii Minogue. However, it's obvious that the biggest target would be Banging With Bubba, the world's first stick-figure porn site (although I have run into a couple of others since). Since the series' inception, Bubba has had sex with women, men, the odd Spice Girl and the occasional sheep in a variety of locations, ranging from an eskimo hut to a black-and-white disco.

However -- and this is the key point -- Bubba is a very badly drawn stick figure. He bears about as much resemblance to a real-life sexual act as a small pile of wheatgerm. His penis is four pixels wide and monotone. Five year old children could probably do a more accurate drawing. Nobody could seriously claim that such material required a password system, or had a tendency to corrupt, could they? Could they?

The law doesn't come into effect until the beginning of next year. With luck, by then everyone will have realised how stupid it is. I hope.

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