The Web’s REAL “Harmful Material”

Quentin Boyer
You hear a lot about the need to protect children from ‘harmful material’ on the Internet these days, with that term generally referring to online pornography. Even a casual perusal of the daily web-related news, though, is enough to make one realize that there are far worse things than porn out there on the web for your little bundle of joy to stumble upon.

Take this story from Reuters, for example.

“The Internet has become a key teaching tool for Islamist militants who are using it to educate recruits in cyber training camps, crime and security experts said on Wednesday,” the article begins.

Gabriel Weimann, an Israeli Internet security expert who teaches at the University of Haifa in Israel observed that “They teach people how to become terrorists on-line…. Al Qaeda has launched a practical Web site that shows how to use weapons, how to carry out a kidnapping, how to use fertilizer to make bombs.”

It occurs to me that the information that Islamist militant groups is posting online would be equally useful for terrorists that have a goal somewhat less audacious than bringing down The Great Satan — like, say, bringing the school cafeteria down on top of the heads of one’s schoolmates.

Don’t’ get me wrong – I’m not suggesting that Congress should stop its vain pursuit of sexually purifying the minds of America’s youth for the equally futile pursuit of trying to stop foreign terrorists from establishing the sharia-friendly equivalent of MySpace. I’m just thinking that when it comes to parents policing their offspring’s online meandering, they might want to worry a little less about Al Goldstein and a little more about Al Qaeda.