The survey found that 35 percent of Americans do not use broadband at home, including 22 percent of adults who do not use the Internet at all. Of that 35 percent, 36 percent say it is too expensive, while 19 percent do not see the Internet as relevant to their lives. Another 22 percent lack what the FCC calls ''digital literacy'' skills. They fall into a category that includes people who are not comfortable with computers or who are scared of ''bad things'' on the Internet ["FCC Survey Shows Need to Teach Broadband Basics," AP via New York Times, 2010.02.23].
Lack of digital literacy? Scared of "bad things" on the Internet? Sounds like the South Dakota Legislature.
Also sounds like my local newspaper publisher, who not only can't work hyperlinks but also likes to manufacture false social crises:
But we still understand the problem of malicious, harmful writing on blogs or Facebook, Twitter and many other online venues. Worse yet, the intensity and meanness seems to be ratcheting up a level, making the likelihood of real damage even greater [Jon Hunter, "We Shouldn't Have to Try to Legislate Online Civility," Madison Daily Leader, 2010.02.23].
I agree that the Internet is filled with boorish speech, but "ratcheting up"? Where does hunter find any evidence that the Web is ruder today than it was in past years? Sounds like classic mainstream media sensationalism, trying to ratchet up fears of an escalating crisis where there is no evidence of escalation.
I do agree with Hunter's main point we shouldn't try legislating online speech with ill-conceived policies like the Blog Control Acts which were defeated in committee Monday. The proper path to helping people make better use of online speech is through education and natural cultural evolution.