The internet has been around since the 1970's, but certainly for most of us only since about 1990 when the WorldWideWeb quickly supplanted Gopher. I have been online since the last moments of Gopher and the first of the Web, and it has truly been a fantastic journey, a breathtaking revelation, and (even) an excellent lesson in human nature. If there is one point that the internet has made, it is that human beings are human. They have biological and personal urges and these express themselves quickly ... even on the internet.
Society through its various means of exerting controls over our appetites has been virtually (no pun intended) helpless as pornography and politics rapidly spread out across the cyberscape of the internet. Parents have been justifiably cautious (or horrified) about letting their children have unfettered access to the web because of the pornography ... and rightly so, for graphic displays of bestiality and subjugation of human beings for sexual purposes are all too available. But politics is a different matter. Politics is by definition public and argumentative and emotional, with emphasis on public and free.
I am incredibly proud of Google for standing up to the leaders of the People's Republic of China on this count. They have given a cold clear shot of courage and honor to our internet culture. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's unapologetic criticism of China is equally important, for it takes a baton and runs with it in areas that Sergei Brin and Larry Page cannot go. She rose in my estimation by hundreds of points, for coddling China has become an industry around the globe.
China is a giant, commercially, militarily, and politically. Its weight is felt wherever the Chinese government wants it felt. They are not altogether subtle about it either. The Chinese response to Clinton was predictable and clearly a very sore point within the ruling clique there. But, they are on the wrong side of history on this one. Confusing politics with pornography may seem like an apt analogy to people who cannot abide criticism, but as dirty as politics gets sometimes, it is not pornography and, instead, it is exactly the sort of thing that human beings need to understand.
China is not a communist country in any Marxian definition of the term. Their "flirtation" with capitalism to jump over the historic impediments to progress has long since become a way of life. China is a command economy with much of the means of production (or elements thereof) in government hands ... but not in the public trust or a commons! China is simply a dictatorship, a frightening and frightened dictatorship at the same time. It is no wonder that the leadership is afraid of criticism and variant political ideas. No dictatorship can long stand when freedom of speech and conscience are wide-spread.
Google and Clinton have made and then turned an important corner in the maturation of our global civilization. Both are to be commended, and as always is the case, every man and woman on the planet must see that they have an obligation to let China's people know that they are welcome into the community of humanity ... and that China's leaders are not.