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the Dark Side of the Web

By the time you read this, the Communications Decency Act will have made the Net safe for kids, worrywart parents, and grandstanding politicians alike, by imposing the archaic obscenity laws drafted by Anthony Comstock at the turn of the century on the new frontier. In theory, the nation’s youth need to be saved from the sea of kiddie porn, homemade-bomb instructions, and whatever’s going on at alt.sex.bestiality.gerbil.ducttape. In practice, mostly what they’re being “saved” from is an endless array of Pamela Anderson-Lee and Anna Nicole Smith pictures. But with a little planning, you can still journey to the American heart of darkness with perfect ease.

Mark Van de Walle is a frequent contributor to Artforum.

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