Those of you who are old enough will remember this being banned:
Even some of those who wholeheartedly endorse the principle of freedom of speech tend to leave open the door to censorship, political correctness, and oppressive regulation by accepting the possibility of ‘responsible limitations’ to such freedom. “We must,” they say, “accept that some usages of free speech can cause offense, hurt, and anger etc. and we must therefore have some sort of rules in order to avoid this.” Of course the busybodies of the state agree emphatically.
Just what those ‘responsible limitations’ consist of remains rather nebulous, and any hundred people will probably come up with close to a hundred differing opinions as to the nature of just what restrictions should be considered responsible.
In any society there are restrictions of a voluntary nature, which relate to courtesy and manners consistent with the mores of that society. Essentially if you step outside the acceptable you are no longer welcome, its part of being considered acceptable to the group.
At this point there are no rights issues at stake as the relationships between members of society are voluntary, there is no compulsion, nobody is forced to join in, nor is anyone forced to accept that which is not acceptable. Most of us are capable of interacting in different social environments, for example I can be relatively couth and cultured in polite society or at home, however in the rough and tumble of the mining industry I tend to use different adjectives from a rougher form of the language.
After all Mark Twain pointed out that, "Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer."
Problems arise however when the state gets involved with deciding what is acceptable, in that it opens the door to prohibitive legislation urged by all sorts of groups. Interestingly the Federal government is currently pushing the idea of internet censorship which they maintain is aimed at putting an end to child porn. Protecting the little children is a highly favored catch-cry of the state closely followed by the poor, the elderly, the disadvantaged, and so on, - you get the picture.
Once legislation is enacted and the mechanism for enforcement is in place it is a simple matter to expand the areas into which such laws will intrude and in the main can be done at ministerial or executive level without any form of public debate. It is easy for the government to find all sorts of things to disapprove of and extend bans.
The manner of achieving this flies in the face of professional opinion:
The chief regulatory officer at iinet – the third largest ISP in the country – was quoted recently in The Sydney Morning Herald as saying that filtering the internet at the ISP level was unworkable and would "affect the performance of the network quite significantly".
"It's hard to understand . . . how people will make decisions at the network about what Mr and Mrs Average ought to see, and you're talking about a censoring service provided by the private sector," Dalby said.
"It's much more efficient to do the filtering at the customer's end where they've got control over what they do and don't want to filter out."
Some time ago an Op-Ed appeared on the subject by Greg Wildie in the Gympie Times, which deserved a great deal more exposure than could be expected from that medium, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. Here is an extract from it:
What is unwanted content anyway? Unwanted by whom? I track a number of web sites that many people would see as unwanted. There is no better way to know what the loonies are up to than to watch them at play. The mental gymnastics of the Ku Klux Klan are very enlightening. You might dislike the holocaust deniers, but not everything they say is either inaccurate or bad history.
Who will make the choices for the banned list? Will our over-religious prime minister balance his team with a few atheists, to ensure the offensively religious sites get the chop? Are Christian and Jewish hate sites going to be banned along with the Islamic media or will we be too lily livered to dump on all sides equally? Who will stand up for freedom of speech, freedom of political expression and a plain old fair go for all in this brave new world of Big Brother Kevin? Who will really suffer?……..
This is Dot about porn. We have grown up and no longer need our mummies to tell us not to watch the naughty movie. Long gone are the days when Peyton Place and Lady Chatterley's Lover were too scandalous to publish. This is purely about dictating what Australians are allowed to think and know. It is the information control that the previous government lacked the guts to attempt. Don't buy the opposition whining about this. If they had not already smelled like week old dead whale they would have had a go at it. Every government in the world has been wondering how far they can go since Google got into bed with the Chinese regime to suppress "unsuitable" content.
Now is the time for all of us to call upon our internet providers to respond to the government request to test this monstrosity with two words, the second of which is "off' and the first can be of their own choosing. If we do not fight this at the highest levels, we doom our selves to being lead by the nose like cattle. We have already been treated like children in regard to guns, fireworks, video games, pocket knives and pseudoephedrine. We are expected to believe that every problem can be solved by a government ban and that every ban is for our own good. Remember, we are not talking about bans on activities that hurt other people.
The eventual breaking of the press blackout on the Peter Spencer issue was essentially achieved by internet activists.
The only major media to touch it until the last few days were Allan Jones early in the piece followed by a rather shallow coverage in a five minute segment by A Current Affair which did little more than show him up there and really would have left the average viewer wondering just what the hell that was all about. There was some regional coverage including regional ABC presumably caused by the locals knowing of the situation so it couldn’t be ignored. The national media were solidly in the tank for Rudd and not a word got out.
The protest at parliament was the straw that broke the camels back, (organized on the web.) There was even an attempt by the NSW government to shut this down using transport inspectors to threaten the bus companies involved.
The fact is that as the old ‘reliable’ media slowly sinks into obscurity and irrelevance the internet is the wave of the future. The selection of Palin as VP choice in the US was the result of an internet campaign.
Had it not been for the net the press would be currently reporting the discovery of a body of a farmer who appeared to have committed suicide up a wind tower on his property owing to imminent foreclosure. The government would have wanted it that way and given the involvement of the Howard government in this matter I doubt that Abbot would lose any sleep over it.
There is little doubt in my mind that if Rudd gets the chance he will extend censorship to block sites that do not concur with his and his governments interests, in the public interest of course. The ‘public interest has a remarkable habit of mirroring the governments interest. All in the name of protecting the little children of course.