Monday, May 24, 2010

Some Responses From Parliament

I've finally gotten some responses from Parliament to my letter (and email) that I sent a little while ago.
Dear Mr Monkey*

On behalf of Senator Adams, I thank you for your email.
It will be brought to her attention shortly.

Yours sincerely

Office of Senator Judith Adams
Deputy Opposition Whip in the Senate

Liberal Senator for Western Australia

Electorate Office

48 Ventnor Avenue, WEST PERTH WA 6005
PO Box 930, West Perth WA 6872
Ph: (08) 9481 0349 | Fax: (08) 9321 4876

Canberra Office
Suite SG-98, Parliament House, CANBERRA ACT 2600
Ph: (02) 6277 3646 | Fax: (02) 6277 5774
I suppose that's to be expected, but here's another one:
Dear Charles*

Thank you for your email. Given that you don’t want to receive what you describe as party political rhetoric, I am interested to know how you intend to use the information you gather from the politicians to whom you have written.

Also could you provide me with your contact details including an address.

With best wishes

Julie Bishop

The Hon Julie Bishop MP
Deputy Leader of the Opposition
Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs

Canberra: 02 6277 2102
Perth: 08 9388 0288
To this email, I replied:
Dear Ms Bishop,

First, thank you for responding to my email.

Second, my interest is a personal one. By that I mean, I don't work for any media organisations, I am acting on my own behalf.

These are questions I have never really heard answered or even asked of particular politicians, save perhaps the ones most caught in the public eye. I decided I (and indeed perhaps most Australians) didn't know enough about the people guiding the country, as people, and that it couldn't hurt to ask a few questions. Chalk it up to curiosity.

On that note, rereading the phrase "political party rhetoric" I realise it could have come across as cynical or even abrasive. This was not my intention at all. I merely meant that I am aware that due to time constraints and a concern over saying perhaps unsubstantiated statements or statements that may come across as contradictory to party lines (if there are any), many politicians answer with generic answers (like Senator Conroy's office sending me a pdf when I asked about the internet censorship issue). I was just expressing a hope that, time permitting, the answers I received would be as honest and natural as possible.

I hope that answers at least some of your concerns.

My contact details are:
Address: *
E-mail: *
Mobile: *

If you have any need of more details, please let me know.

Charles T. Monkey*
No response has been forthcoming from this second email to her. I wouldn't mind given that she's not my geographical representative, except that she's, you know, the Deputy Leader of Opposition in my country's government and if she could answer my first email, she could have answered the questions.

We'll see how things develop.


* Not necessarily the actual details.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Letters to Parliament

A little while ago, I wrote a letter to Parliament. By this, I mean this letter was sent to every member of the Australian House of Representatives, the Senate, at both State and Federal levels, as well as all the members of my local council.

The letter was as follows:
Dear Politician*,

As a citizen with an ongoing interest in Australian politics I write to ask a few questions to ascertain your views on a number of issues; which political direction you are coming from and what you are aiming for.

Unfortunately, the kind of information I'm looking for from members of parliament, in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, is seldom forthcoming or is couched in party political rhetoric that doesn't give an accurate indication of the actual views held.

While several of the questions I wish to ask deal with complex topics that could in fact be the sole subject of a thesis on their own, I do not wish to impose it upon you to go to that level of detail. Of course, I would be more than happy to receive such an answer.

My questions are as follows:

1. What motivated you to move into politics? What motivates you now?

2. Where do you see yourself in 4 years? Where do you see Australia in 4 years? More importantly, where do you wish Australia to be in 4 years?

3. What are you aiming for, as a politician, both for yourself and Australia, in the longer term? In answering this, I am particularly interested in any goals you have that may extend beyond your own career as a politician, or beyond your placement in a particular role in government.

4. If you could wish for one thing for Australia, what would it be? For example, a free public transport system running at such a capacity as to reduce traffic on roads by 70% of 2010 levels by 2040 or, for the coal industry to be wound down and replaced by the geothermal or solar power industries by 2015. (Bear in mind I've pulled these examples and dates out of the ether, as I write this).

I thank you in advance for taking the time to read and hopefully respond to my enquiry.

Yours faithfully,

Charles T. Monkey**
I've started getting a few responses back, so I thought I'd begin posting them up here once I collect them all together.

This should be interesting.


* Their name and title obviously went there.
** May not have been the name I actually signed with.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Potential Darwin Award Winner

Jim Rawlinson is a surfer. This is not the reason I propose keeping an eye on him as a potential winner of the Darwin awards*.

Jim was surfing, as surfers typically do, when a shark that was trying to catch turtles accidentally bit into Jim's board. This knocked Jim off balance, causing him to, according to Jim, fall onto the shark's back, where he remained for 5 to 10 seconds before sliding off.

Let us assume that what Jim is saying is accurate and not a fabrication, stranger things have happened. The reason I want Jim to be noted as a potential Darwin award is after his close encounter with the shark, he claims to have continued surfing for another 45 minutes before getting out of the water.

I must confess, the story makes him sound, I believe the term is, "bad-ass" and I expect the tale to be related around many campfires, perhaps with grandchildren sitting on one knee, enthralled at this legendary exploit.

On the other hand, had Jim been again accidentally attacked by perhaps even the same shark, I imagine the doctor would have no choice but to fill out 'Cause of injury' on related hospital forms as 'Stupidity'.


* For those who don't know, the Darwin Awards are explained here.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Because Poaching Isn't Enough

Apparently the fact that elephants are endangered due to poaching isn't enough for some people, they feel the need to poison them as well.

At this stage the investigation isn't complete, and I hope to be able to find any follow-up articles to see if they can indeed confirm the poison hypothesis.

I'm sad to say that the idea that someone would poison an elephant for no understandable reason isn't as far-fetched as I would like. What I'd like to see is for further investigation to show that it was not poison, after all, which killed the elephant, but something more mundane, though no less tragic, like a heart attack. At least then I could continue to think better of my fellow apes.


[Image courtesy of ]

Friday, May 14, 2010

Gay Dogs Not Welcome?

A blind man with a guide dog was refused entry to a restaurant because a waiter thought his partner, Chris Lawrence, said she wanted to bring a gay dog into a restaurant.

The way the article phrases the situation, it comes across as if bringing any other dog into the restaurant would have been fine, but a gay dog? Not on.
"The staff genuinely believed that Nudge was an ordinary pet dog which had been desexed to become a gay dog," the statement said.
If that were the case, that would surely be the most ridiculous example of homophobia anyone had ever seen. I'm going to give the staff at the restaurant the benefit of the doubt and assume that the article is merely clarifying what the waiter thought he had heard and that the dog's sexuality had nothing to do with the issue, only whether or not it was a guide dog.

I think this is a nice example of a lack of critical thinking.

A guide dog is typically easy to spot: they wear special harnesses, to allow the blind person they are guiding to easily sense what the dog is doing. The dog is typically a Labrador, which is fairly distinctive. The final clue is that the owner is blind.

Granted, there are different degrees of blindness and not all blind people wear sunglasses and carry white canes, but the combination of Labrador and person whose eyes don't seem to focus on what is in front of them should set off enough mental alarms to start anyone thinking.

On top of the visual clues, we also have what the waiter heard. A diner telling a waiter they would like to bring their gay dog into the restaurant is not, I don't think, an every day request. Surely it would make the waiter curious enough to wonder to themselves; along the lines of "Why has this patron mentioned that their dog is gay? How can a desexed dog be gay? Perhaps I have misheard. I will ask for clarification about the situation."

It seems no such thought process occurred.

The manager of the restaurant also told the blind man and his partner that the dog could not be brought inside without permission from the police. I'm not sure where this rule could possibly have come from. After all, the restaurant displays a "guide dogs welcome" sign.

I'm surprised that at this point that the couple hadn't left to try their luck at a more reasonable restaurant, but they persevered enough for the manager to say that the chef was allergic to dogs, so the dog wouldn't be able to enter the premises. Unless the chef was going to come out to pat the dog in the dining area, rather than stay in the kitchen, or the waiter was planning on bringing the dog into the kitchen, I can't see how this is more of an issue than if a dog were to pass by the front of the restaurant.

Hopefully this sort of miscommunication between people and misinterpretation of the law needn't occur in future. Perhaps if Ms Lawrence had pointed at the "guide dogs welcome" sign as she explained the situation a second time, the waiter would have understood. In this case he would have either allowed the dog inside, showing that it had been an innocent misunderstanding.

Or he would have continued to bar the dog from entering despite knowing it was a guide dog, showing that he was just being an inconsiderate twit.*


* Excuse my french.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

More on Kick-Ass

Given that I wrote a post about people's reaction to the movie Kick-Ass, I thought I'd post here a link to a column by Emma Young where she also points out the bizarre nature of the public's focus.

I particularly like this bit:
The director, Matthew Vaughn, finds it bizarre that public furore has zeroed in on the girl's bad language more than her homicidal tendencies.“I was like, 'Does it not bother you that she killed about 53 people in this film?'” he told The New York Times. “I'm like, 'Would you rather your daughter swore, or became a masked vigilante killer?' They're going, 'Yeah, I don't know.'”
I can imagine a father teaching his daughter about life. "Sweetheart, you may kill anyone you like, in as gruesome a fashion as you like, but a lady never cusses."



Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Customer Ethics

Apparently young Australians have loose ethics. Shopping ethics that is, according to a 10-year study.

Let's have a look at this statement made in the article and see what's wrong with it:
The moral decay has been blamed on new technology, including the rise of self-service transactions, and the common perception that businesses are purely out to make as much money as they can.
Straight away, the phrase "the moral decay has been blamed on new technology" begs the question. Decay compared to what? Was there a previous study performed that they're not mentioning that is being used as a benchmark? Unless this previous study exists, there is no reason to assume that customer ethics have changed one iota.

Second, it's being blamed on technology. They are arguing that customers now have the means to more easily steal from businesses. Let us assume this is true, though you'd have to talk to experts in shop security to get any real data. That doesn't mean that customer attitudes have changed, it would only mean that they can now take actions based on those attitudes in a way they couldn't before.

Thirdly, they state that the 'decay in ethics' is due to the perception that businesses "are purely out to make as much money as they can." It makes sense that customers have this perception, because businesses are out to make as much money as they can.

Dr Neale, who was part of the 10-year study, says "Businesses cannot rely on their customers to always do the right thing." Interesting, I can also phrase that the other way. "Customers cannot rely on businesses to do the right thing." That is something everyone would agree with. After all, it's only when laws and regulations are put in place to prevent businesses from doing the wrong thing that they actually stop doing the wrong thing.

Even with regulations in place, it's no secret that businesses, particularly big businesses, make very lucrative profits on their sales. Enough to give CEOs bonuses of millions of dollars on top of their already enormous salaries. To my mind, and indeed to every other consumers', the fact that they can afford to throw around such large sums of money probably means that the price of the goods we buy is probably a little over what it actually costs to make, ship, store, package, advertise and sell them. Maybe.

It should therefore come as no surprise if some consumers didn't feel any remorse at saving themselves those few dollars by stealing from big business.

The assumptions made by the article go further than that. Let's assume that the article is right and that a third of customers are likely to try and get away with stealing items, or paying less, or failing to refund extra change. Perhaps it is simply a fact that a third of all people will behave similarly, whether they are consumers, or businesses, in any transaction.

Another flaw in the study is the fact that it was conducted using data from "3700 young consumers on five continents including Australia" over a period of ten years. I hate to break it to the researchers, but 10 years means that some of your subjects have probably changed demographic.

Since the study is being conducted over five continents, it means that, taking the average, we expect around 740 people from each continent. Given that Australia is the only country that is also a continent, that means that in the other countries the study was performed in, much fewer than 740 people would have been polled. Add to that the fact that Australia is likely to be the country involved in the study with the smallest population. That means the percentage of the population polled is so minute as to become statistically meaningless. Unless the study took into account cultural norms and values in each country, region, demographic and cultural group, the results are likely to be similarly devoid of any meaning or comparison value.

It's hard to see what the possible conclusion to the study could really be other than "some people steal stuff and they think it's ok". Which is hardly something we need to have proven in a study.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Burka in Europe

A woman in Italy has been fined for wearing a full burka in a public building, in this case, a post office. Last week, Belgium passed laws banning women (and presumably men) from wearing a full burka in public. In France, President Sarkozy is trying to institute a similar law.

Of course, as expected, Muslim leaders, even Catholic leaders and groups like Amnesty International, are protesting the laws, saying it is discrimination against Muslims, a violation of human rights, freedom of speech and so forth.

This is of course, ridiculous. The Belgian law makes it illegal to wear any clothing that prevents the user from being identified. This just happens to include niqabs and burkas, but it also includes motorbike helmets, masks, balaclavas, etc. The French laws banning children from wearing burkas is a law that bans any overt religious symbol, so that school remains a secular and religious free zone. This hardly looks like a case of picking on the Muslims.

Expression of religion can hardly be used as a reason to allow anyone to wear clothing like the burka in public. If religion offers such a carte blanche, then perhaps we should see what reaction people would have to someone claiming their religion mandated that they carry a machete at all times. (Sikhs, for example, are obliged to carry a Kirpan, or small sword). Clearly other considerations are more important than mere religious expression.

Claiming freedom of speech has been violated by stopping women from wearing the burka is misguided, at best. I cannot help but imagine slavers during the 1700s demanding that their slaves be able to freely express their status of servitude by wearing their chains, or Jews in Nazi Germany demanding to be allowed to wear the yellow star. For the sake of simplicity, let us assume that these women do want to wear the burka. That doesn't change the fact that they shouldn't be allowed to wear it in public, particularly in places like post offices, shops, banks and other sensitive areas.

Someone in a burka can't be identified. They could be anyone, they could have anything under their clothing. You can't even properly read the expressions on their face. In short, they are cut off from normal social interaction. Of course, this is the whole point of the garment and it's why women don't wear the burkas in their homes, or in all female company. If anything, this should tell us that the burka is the antithesis of free expression*.

Our society is built on, by definition, social interaction and communication. In fact, it is believed humans evolved the whites of their eyes** because of the advantage it gave them communicating with visual cues. Scientists are even studying the hypothesis that part of the reason humans have become hairless is so that other humans can more easily read their emotions. Add to this the fact that a large portion of communication is through non-verbal cues, then it's no surprise that people are made deeply uncomfortable by someone they can't read.

A person masked and anonymous, who could be carrying any sort of device under formless clothing, will and should always be seen as a potential threat. This is why anyone wearing a motorbike helmet into a bank will be asked to take it off or be escorted out by security. It is not something concocted up to suppress Muslims.

Asking everyone else in society to ignore this threat to themselves in the name of human rights, freedom of speech, religion and multiculturalism, is to step on their rights as members of society.


* Or an avant-garde, post-post-modern ironic piece using lack of expression as a form of expression. I don't think this is the case.
** Not on purpose.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Time Travel Isn't New

Stephen Hawking, as part of his latest set of lectures, mentioned that time travel is possible, but only travelling forward. Again, the media has grabbed onto this as if it was new. Understanding Einstein's theory of relativity is high school physics. The faster you go, the more time slows down for you relative to everyone else.

The classic text book example given was typically one twin getting into a spaceship, rocketing away from earth at near light speed before returning again at the same speeds and finding his twin to now be older than him (or in more extreme cases, his twin dead and the planet overrun by apes*).

For some reason, it actually makes me angry that newspaper journalists can be so far behind on basic science. Either that, or they think that their readers are. If they are correct, then our education system has a lot to answer for.


* Of the non-human variety.

[Image copyright Espion |]

Friday, May 7, 2010

Aliens Might be Dangerous

Stephen Hawking has mentioned that aliens, if we find them, may be dangerous. The news has latched onto this as if what he said wasn't obvious to anyone with any passing knowledge of social contact of any sort.

Hawking rightly warns us of the lessons learnt in history time and time again when a more powerful civilation encounters a less powerful one. The results, to date, have rarely been pleasant for the lesser* civilisation.

Some people may say that advanced civilisations must surely be beyond such violent behaviour as would be demonstrated by an annihilation or enslavement of the human race. I rather think perhaps the Aztecs might have thought the same before their civilisation was reduced to a shadow of its former self by the conquerors they initially mistook for gods.

There is no guarantee of what any other alien life we find would be like. We don't know what they would look like, what environments they would live in, how advanced they would be, how they would communicate, what their motivation would be if they contacted us at all or or indeed whether we would ever be able to meet in the first place.

I would suggest that anyone with an overly optimistic view of what other alien civilisations must be like, if they exist at all, should read or watch a little more science fiction.

Start off with Alien.


* Lesser only in terms of the ability to defend itself.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ultrasound Before Abortion

A few days ago, the Oklahoma state government passed a law requiring women to get ultrasounds before being able to have abortions and which allows doctors to withhold test results that show any defects.

There are many things wrong with this, beginning with the basics.

The first is that getting women to have an ultrasound before having an abortion is a blatant attempt to use emotional blackmail to guilt women into continuing the pregnancy to term.

Judging from this law, "pro-lifers"* must believe these women somehow don't realise that the foetus, or even before that, the embryo, is a potential living human being and that the only reason they get an abortion is because no one has reminded them of this.

That is not the reason women have abortions. The decision to get an abortion, or not, is a complicated and emotional one, where a woman and hopefully her partner must consider whether or not they are willing or indeed capable or raising the child properly. Adding an emotional argument against abortion does not help what is already a difficult decision to make in as objective and realistic a manner as possible.

If, as certain "pro-lifers" seem to imagine, women were just having mid or final term abortions at the drop of a hat whenever they got pregnant, would these really be the kinds of women you would want raising a child anyway?

The second problem with this law is that doctors can withhold test results showing fetal defects. I find this disgusting. The whole point of testing is to see whether a foetus has any serious defects that would seriously impact on its and the parents' lives. I imagine "pro-lifers" hope that this will stop parents from choosing to abort a child if it does have defects, like down syndrome or cystic fibrosis.

That these "pro-lifers" have no qualms about destroying the lives of adult human beings by forcing them to care for and raise a child with such debilitating conditions, makes me feel ill and puts the lie to the name they give themselves. I value the life of even one fully conscious human being above the "life" of a clump of cells.

Of course, pro-lifers will always need to fall back on the argument of potential life. This argument is, of course, ridiculous. After all, if a fertilised egg is potential life, morally requiring a baby as a result, then so would every sperm be a potential life, left to waste without an egg. In this case, masturbation would be a crime. Furthermore, any woman who was not pregnant on a constant basis would be committing murder and when labs finally developed the ability to clone humans from any cell from our body, one wonders whether "pro-lifers" would demand we gear the entire wealth of our economies to a constant, ever growing, never ending production of such clones until the very weight of supporting this "industry" has crushed our quality of life to levels that are the stuff of post-apocalyptic nightmares.

The very idea of such a scenario is ridiculous, but it's the logical follow-through of the potential life argument.

A cluster of cells is not a human being. Until it has developed a brain and nerves, it cannot even feel pain. Its life, at the very least until it is born, is a thing of future potentials whilst the mother's life is an existing one.

When will "pro-lifers" stop calling just calling themselves "pro-lifers" and actually start thinking about all the lives they're trying to affect?


[Incidentally, Right-to-life groups in Australia have seen this Oklahoma law and started to make a push for similar laws here. Cause for concern.]

* I put "pro-lifers" in apostrophes because they only consider the potential future human being's life, but not the parent's or anyone else's for that matter.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Is Religion Abuse?

I've never quite realised this before, but it's been pointed out that the religious world-view, particularly the attitudes towards punishment and sense of self-worth, share a lot of symptoms with Battered Woman Syndrome.

1. The victim believes the violence was their fault.

We've seen this over and over again. Earthquakes, floods and natural disasters are always believed to be the fault of the victims, where God is punishing them either for their sins, or because they have turned a blind eye to other people's sins.

2. The victim has an inability to place the responsibility for the violence elsewhere.

Continuing on the first point, instead of knowing that often bad things like earthquakes just happen, or that they are caused by well known natural phenomena, they are seen as being a result of the victims' sins.

3. The victim fears for their life and the life of their children.

Fear of hell, fear of eternal torment, fear of sinning. The devout are afraid that either their actions will give God no choice but to punish them because He loves them.

4. The woman has an irrational belief that the abuser is omnipresent and omnipotent.

Obviously, most religions hold this belief about their deity. It makes sense that with bad things happening anywhere at any time (as they are random and subjective), anyone with a belief that these events were controlled by their god would believe that their god could see everything and do anything.

I like this video because it shows a new way to view religion. In particular, it gives insight into how the Abrahamic religions may have formed the way they have, becoming belief systems that trap the believers in self-reinforcing patterns of belief. It also reminds us that often, believers are also victims.

I hope that any believers who do watch this video will be given new insight, something to make them have another look at what they believe. Maybe they too will break free.


Too Much to Write, Too Little Time

Whenever I see an article I'd like to write a piece about, I save the link to it along with some key notes as a draft in on this blog. When I find the time, I then come back and finish off the post, then schedule it be displayed.

Lately, my problem is that I find articles and interesting events much faster than I can finish writing about them. At last count, I have over 40 entries to finish. That wouldn't necessarily be a major problem if it weren't for the fact that I don't want to give up on any of them, but it does make it harder to finish them in as timely a fashion as I'd like.

Perhaps soon, the world will become boring and I'll be able to catch up on writing about all the interesting things, but in the meantime, treat any posts relating to events from yester-week as wonderful windows into the near-past.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

How Protected Are You From ID-Theft?

I've mentioned before that being safe on the Internet requires proper caution. However, ID-Theft, which is a growing industry* takes place both on and off the web.

Whether they steal your wallet and get your credit cards, phish for your details online, sort through your mail or paper bin, there are a number of ways they can get enough details to steal your identity and possibly steal your money. That being said, there are a number of ways you can protect yourself from identity theft.

A good resource I've found, through Penny Sharpe (The Hon Penny Sharpe MLC) in the Labour Party is the Privacy Awareness Week site. Particularly, the self assessment ID-theft tool.

I scored 84% and learnt a few new things I could be doing to help protect my details. Though I was performing some of the following, a more complete list of tips is:
  1. Contact the card companies when your credit cards are stolen.
  2. Make sure your mail and e-mail are secure.
  3. Shred documents rather than throwing them away.
  4. Keep important documents locked away.
  5. Update security software on your PC.
  6. Only download legitimate software.
  7. Keep your computer physically secure.
  8. Be aware of who you give your details to online, especially credit card details.
  9. Have a PIN for your mobile phone.
  10. Monitor your mobile phone bill.
  11. Keep passwords secret, hard to guess and secure.
  12. Only give your driver license details if absolutely necessary.
  13. Check credit card bills regularly.
It all comes down to limiting unauthorised access to your personal details.

Hopefully you'll all benefit from this site as well.

Tip of the hat to Penny Sharpe.


* As much as crime can be considered to be an industry.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Have you seen this man?

To make a long story short, the latest South Park episode featured Muhammed, the prophet of Islam. And some muslims aren't happy about this.

Islam forbids the representation of Muhammed, for some reason. That's fine, but the bit that isn't fine is that they expect and demand that everyone else also respect their religious commandments to not represent Muhammed. They go so far as to threaten those who don't obey this command with death. In this case, it's the creators of South Park.

A lot of people have rallied in support of South Park creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker. I particularly liked the idea proposed by youtuber Gotthatfunk in his video, which I found through NonStampCollector.

The proposal was that everyone draw a stick figure and label it Muhammed. I can't get around to making a video, but I thought I'd offer my support.

Realising Muhammed might feel alone during his world media debut, I wondered, what would Jesus do? He would help Muhammed in his hour of need*. So here they are:


* The hippie, nice guy version of Jesus, anyway. The real Jesus might have had Muhammed killed, who knows.

Child Panic Button for Facebook

A British group has urged that a panic button be added for Facebook users to protect them from pedophiles and internet predators. The murder of a teenager was linked to the site and a serial rapist used the site to lure a girl to her death.

The idea that some sort of panic button is needed or would even help, is fundamentally misguided and flawed*. I don't even know how the originator of the idea would have thought of it and can only wonder why the fact that it simply won't do anything hasn't been pointed out.

The reason it won't work should be obvious. The crimes do not occur on the web.

It seems obvious to me, but apparently it is not obvious to others. If a man manages to lure and murder a boy or girl then that means that until the moment where they were physically trapped and killed, the victims did not understand that there was any danger. Since they never felt threatened, they would never have used a panic button, even had it been available.

Instead, had they been adequately taught about the fact that on the internet, anyone can pretend to be anybody else, they would have known that it's best to be cautious about people you haven't met in real life. Whether they would then have simply stopped chatting to these strangers, or whether they would never have started chatting to them in the first place or even whether they would simply have made sure they met with these strangers in a public place, with friends around and family who knew where they were and who they were with, they would not have been in the dangerous situation that led to their deaths.

What is needed here is not some magic button that will make pedophiles and rapists disappear. There is no such button and not only does any button pretending to be so not work, it also gives internet users, particularly children, the wrong attitude to internet safety. The only way to be safe on the internet is to be aware of the dangers and apply proper caution. Just as you would, or should be, appropriately cautious about meeting and trusting strangers in the real world, you must also apply proper caution and care when meeting and dealing with strangers on the internet.


* Though the word I want to use is "retarded".