Unquestionably, it's tempting to celebrate virtual worlds as emerging utopias, but such reverence only creates frustration and disappointment when real-life imperfections such as private "censorship" creep in. Unfortunately, utopias don't exist—not even virtual ones, and we cannot allow our romanticized visions to blind us to the real enemy. The enemy is not a vendor's private censorship of a customer, however irrational or short-sighted that may be. The real enemy is an emotional response to private censorship that trumps sound policy judgments.
Eric Goldman is an assistant professor of law at Marquette University Law School in Milwaukee, WI. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. His personal web site is www.ericgoldman.org. He presented a version of this essay at the Santa Clara Computer & High Technology Law Journal's Rules & Borders - Regulating Digital Environments symposium held February 11, 2005.