Why yes, I guess it is.

Debra Hyde just posted this essay in which she makes the point that the Culture War is back on, and sex blogs are in it whether we like it or not.

And I realized that she’s right. In fact, Debra reminded me that I had said as much the other day in email, to a gentleman who asked for a link. I had to refuse him, regretfully, because his site was all broken. Clicking any of his links took me to some sort of nasty ActiveX or JavaScript pop-up box with an “I Agree” button. There was some sort of waiver or disclaimer in eight parts, all about promising to be an adult and that I live somewhere where it’s legal to look at dirty pictures.

I didn’t click, and I didn’t link. I just won’t go there. You may have noticed that ErosBlog rarely links to a warning page, even a simple html one. If I can’t link to the content, I usually won’t link at all. But I hadn’t thought much about why. Partly it’s because warning pages are, from a technical standpoint, cruft – a useless excrescence that interferes with the natural linkage from one web resource to another.

But mostly, it’s political. When my correspondent wrote back he explained that he only wanted to protect surfers and webmasters. He mentioned that some surfers live where they could go to jail for surfing to a dirty picture. He mentioned that some people work for companies where a dirty picture on their screens can get them fired. He spoke of laws against letting minors see dirty pictures. He mentioned avoiding the possibility of his own arrest when traveling to repressive foreign lands. And last but not least, he mentioned Ashcroft and his rumored new team of crusading anti-porn prosecutors. Finally, he inquired what my proposal was for dealing with all these risks, if I didn’t like his solution.

This is an excerpt from my lengthy rant response:

It’s getting to the point where even the Saudi princes can’t forbid all access to the internet, because it’s economically essential. By keeping adult material in locked ghettos at the fringes of the web, we make their repression easier — not something I wish to encourage or cooperate with.

Most of the folks who share your concerns use a simple entry page, with appropriate warnings, and links deeper into their sites. This demonstrates your good faith to any prosecutor, while allowing hardcases like me to link directly to the “meat” of your site and ignore the warning page.

If that doesn’t seem secure enough for you, I don’t know what I can say. Each of us decides which battles are worth fighting. I’ve decided this one is worth fighting, and I take what opportunities I can to encourage other people to fight it with me. You might have good reasons why you can’t take what I see as a very small risk, and that’s your business. But when your web resources won’t load in my browser, I’m not going to link to ’em.

Meanwhile, I’ll carrying on linking to the folks whose sites are visible, and who are (given the nature of the sites I link to) helping me fight the culture war I’m trying to help fight.

Thanks, Debra, for reminding me of having written that.