Infoblurb: why blocking violent Internet porn won’t work; explained via the metaphor of a large pipe spewing M&Ms into your living room

When governments talk about banning violent porn from the Internet, they make it sound like they can block the violent porn (however that is defined) while leaving the rest of the Internet untouched. Whether or not you think that’s a good idea, it’s impossible.

Imagine that there is a giant pipe that leads from the M&Ms factory directly to your living room, continually spewing out M&Ms into a great big colourful pile on the carpet. Sounds great right? There’s just one problem: you don’t want any red M&Ms. You want all the other colours: yellow, orange, green, brown; just not red. You think to yourself “I’ll just pick the red ones out”, but it’s impossible: there are a LOT of M&Ms, with more coming down the pipe all the time.

So when someone tells you they want to ban red M&Ms, what they really mean is that they want to make it illegal for the M&M-pipe operators to let any red ones through. This forces the M&M-pipe operators to slow the flood of M&Ms down to a more managable trickle. Then they hire some people to frantically pick out the red ones as fast as they can. Inevitably there will be some errors, with orange and brown M&Ms particularly likely to be accidentally removed since they look a little like red ones.

Since the M&M-pipe operator has to do the extra work of picking out red candies, they raise their rates, so you find yourself paying more money for a greatly reduced flow of chocolatey goodness. And you have to live with the knowledge that strangers have picked through your M&Ms.

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