Category: Ethics

I’ve just written an article for called ‘Is it right to see One Direction in concert?’

The aim was to help youth think about how they use their time and money.

It would be great to share it  with any teenagers you might know (or just ‘Like’ it on Facebook), as you help them think through these big issues.

It was only a matter of time before the secular media began to affirm what Christians have been saying for years (if not decades) that pornography is harmful. In her incisive and challenging article in today’s SMH, Adele Horin mounts the case for concern in the ever-rising popularity of Internet porn.

Listing case study after case study, and compounding the evidence with a barrage of statistics, Horin demonstrates the effect of porn on marriage and relationships. At its best, the viewing of explicit material leads men to choose the internet instead of intimacy. At its worst, the attendant secrecy breeds distrust, and marriage failure.

Sexuality is a beautiful gift from God, for enjoyment and procreation in marriage. The sooner people wake up to this fact, the sooner marriages will be stronger, and God will be glorified.

Today it is reported that EMI has decided to drop the DRM (digital rights management) of songs on iTunes. In other words, songs by EMI will soon be downloadable from the Apple iTunes Store without any copy protection.

It is true that this will be popular for consumers. I, for one, hate being locked into one format for my downloadable songs. I worry that by buying a U2 song from iTunes that I’ll never be able to play my full collection of music on Windows Media Player, should I decide to churn players. I also worry that the resolution is too low on the downloadable songs, and would instead prefer a CD. This new move from EMI solves both problems, as the new downloads will be at double the current quality.

However, is the move to remove protection based on an optimistic view of society? Does it assume that people are generally good? Does it presume that people will not illegally copy music and give it to others? The problem for the record companies is that CDs already are unprotected, and this practice already goes on everywhere in brazen disobedience to the law. So, my guess is that this move recognises that people will continue to copy music no matter what ‘protection’ they provide. So, rather than try and restrict people from breaking the law, they will need to try a different approach.

Some copying of music is legitimate, for example, for personal backups of the media. Removing this restriction will mean the honest people will gain freedoms. Yet, it will also mean that the already rife practice of illegally distributing material will continue, since the bad guys will always work out a way to copy things.

I think it’s a very clever move from Steve Jobs from Apple, and also from EMI. It rewards honest customers, provides an incentive to buy from iTunes (the higher resolution) and gives up trying to restrict the lawbreakers. It is a mixture of a retrieval ethic (seeking the most loving outcome within the environment of an evil world) and clever marketing.

I’ve got to confess that I didnt’t really get very excited about the Earth Hour that turned off the power across Sydney last Saturday night. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m keen to see our world preserved from the impending sauna we face unless we stop our CO2 omissions and other factors leading to global warming. But, I’m not really sure that the stunt on Saturday night will make a difference.

Part of the reason behind my Gen X scepticism is that I expect that many of the participants in this event will probably make few, if any, changes to the way they live and work. People, generally, have grown too accustomed to their creature comforts. We want our air conditioning, the ‘stand by’ on the photocopier, and every other energy-hungry perk we can utilise. We’re happy to wear the t-shirt, but will we really sacrifice our pleasures?

Now I might really sound like a child of the ‘greed-is-good’ 80s, but I think that the only way we will really stop people wasting electricity is if there is a financial incentive. We need to charge businesses and individuals more for power, and probably sign onto a form of carbon credit system. Obviously we will need to protect the poor through means-tested discounted electricity, but if we made power more expensive then perhaps people might naturally start to buy solar hot water heating, and choose to live in houses with eaves and thick walls instead of paper-thin houses that require huge air conditioners.

Earth Hour had some use. It provided education and awareness. But without ongoing financial ‘encouragement’, I suspect most of the citizens of our self-centred world will continue to suck the energy from the grid, whether or not they bought an ‘Earth Hour’ t-shirt.

As a youth minister and a parent I continue to be disappointed and distressed at the ease of access to pornography available through the Internet (See SMH article ‘Porn, peer pressure corrupting young: MP.’)

Before the World Wide Web, the only way a teenager could view pornography was to steal a men’s magazine from a newsagency. Today, they view the equivalent of hard-core restricted material from the privacy of their own bedroom computer.

My ISP blocks SPAM and scans emails for viruses, but still does not offer server-based content filtering software. We are told by the vocal minority that this filtering technology is a restriction of our freedom of speech and a form of clandestine censorship. Others tell us that to run such software is resource-heavy, placing strain on the servers leading to reductions in performance.

Yet, if we viewed this pornography problem as the social horror it really is, then we would invest the resources and research needed into implementing such a system that protects our children from this distorted view of sexuality. Adults could choose ‘opt out’ of content-filtering censorship, but it is ludicrous to think that the current practice gives our children unfettered access to pornography by default.

It is our responsibility to protect the children from the corrupting harm of pornography. If we can put a man on the moon in 1969, then we can stop our kids downloading porn in 2007.