The Internet's Contextual Morality

A defendant in an obscenity law case is arguing that he hasn't violated "contemporary community standards" because google trends shows the community's sexual mores are not what they appear. William Saletan's thoughts:

Here's my advice to the courts: The Internet has fundamentally altered the meaning of community. The guy in Pensacola visits international Web sites and belongs to interstate online forums. He lives in multiple communities and follows different standards in each. Maybe he says things in forums that he'd never do in the flesh. Maybe he looks at pictures of things he'd never talk about in forums. Maybe he imagines things in his head that he'd never look for in pictures.

Respect these differences. Don't equate fake child pornography with the actual use of children. Don't condemn a judge for "unacceptable behavior" because somebody peeked into his family's file share and found a few dirty pictures. And don't judge a porn site operator by the open-air standards of his geographic community. That's not where he peddles his smut. He peddles it online, where the standards, as we now know from Google, are different.