Mar 15, 2013

Censorship wars; the Telegraph strikes back

The current government in Canberra has more than its fair share of losers and weirdo’s.  Probably the weirdest and most bizarre member though is the communications minister, Stephen Conroy whose obsession with to use his own words, “unfettered power” and his determination to bring the media to heel is the stuff of legends. 
Last September he stunned a group of US businessmen with the declaration: 
“I have unfettered legal power.” "If I say to everyone in this room ‘if you want to bid in our spectrum auction you’d better wear red underpants on your head’, I’ve got some news for you. You’ll be wearing them on your head.”
For some time he has been attempting to use his legislative power as a blunt instrument to intimidate the press with a ‘super regulator’ a fit and proper person test for media owners, and even talk of licensing journalists.  Finally, the Daily Telegraph has had enough with he following front page:
 Inside was an image of Conroy superimposed on Joe Stalin.
News Limited group editorial director Campbell Reid, defended the coverage stating, ” Do you seriously think that a reader of The Daily Telegraph thinks that we are accusing Senator Conroy of rounding up people? We're making a point about freedom of speech.”
Today The Telegraph doubled down on its effort with an ‘apology’: 
YESTERDAY we ran a picture of Federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy depicted as Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. 
It has since been pointed out that this was a grossly unfair and insulting comparison to make. And so we would just like to say: We're sorry, Joe. 
Yes, it is true that Stalin was a despicable and evil tyrant who was responsible for the death of many millions. 
However, at least he was upfront in his efforts to control the media instead of pretending he supported free speech and then suggesting that cheeky, satirical or provocative newspaper coverage might be against the law. We also note that, despite his well-documented crimes against humanity, Stalin at least managed to hold a government together for more than three years. 
Nonetheless, we pay tribute to our new Commissar Conroy and stand ready to write and publish whatever he instructs us to.
Conroy is in the process of spending an estimated $43 Billion on a national broadband network, and is seeking to regulate blogs that get 43 hits per day or more.  While there has been some speculation as to the logic of the number of hits being 43, it is possible that he picked the figure on the basis of one hit for every billion dollars spent on the NBN.

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