Monday, April 26, 2010

Wow what hypocrisy

The SMH on Satuday carried an editorial (second part) titled Conroy tilts at a web windmill. It was better than most because it didn't misrepresent the intended scope of the web page blocking regime.

What it did do was open a new, novel reason for why the internet is different. In responding to Conroy's oft stated question of why Refused Classification content on the internet should be treated differently to other media the author offered;

He asks: what's so special about the internet? The answer is: nothing. But Conroy compares the internet with means of publishing - books, films - and assumes it should be subject to the same classification controls as they are. In fact it should be compared with free means of communication - speech, telephones, newspapers - which it more closely resembles, and in which governments intervene less because intervention is less likely to be effective.

This is either a more nuanced version of "why bother it won't be effective" or is really trying to argue the proposition that content published on a web page is really more like a conversation. Unfortunately, the author fails on the latter by asserting that newspapers are in there with speech and telephones rather than books and films. I have news for them - they would be committing an offence were they to attempt to publish refused classification material (indeed I suspect they would commit an offence were they to publish material that would be classified as R18+ or M18+). The fact is that newspapers, like television, run their own classification exercise rather than submitting it to the censor.

And that ultimately is all that is proposed for the internet. Not all sites will be rated by the "censor", only those referred. Just as the SMH would be referred if it published an instruction on euthanasia in its pages.

So ultimately the editorial rests on the assertion that it will not work. They cleverly then extend this to the "thin end of the wedge" argument that because it hasn't worked there will be pressure to extend it.

But here is another logical slip. The extension they argue will be needed will be to other ways of distributing the content. But the extension they fear will be the extension to more political content. How can it be that we should fear the extension to other content if the justification is that it failed in the first place.

If the SMH wants to join a campaign for free speech let them campaign against any RC list. But save us from this kind of second rate thoughts


  1. Yay authoritarianism!

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