Clive Hamilton stirred an orchestra of disdain this week at Crikey with an amazing flakey rant, bragging about his fathering of Conroy’s proposed net censorship bastard. Such a polyphony of fallacious sour notes is peculiar from a Professor of Ethics with University maths training who regrets not studying philosophy, as Jon Seymour reveals in the foot of his superb dissection of Clive’s fuzzy thinking – and it shows.
Again in contrast, many of the comments following Clive’s disastrous diatribe, Colin Jacob from the EFA’s excellent article and Stilgherrian’s wittily scathing remonstrations, display cogent, honest reasoning.
For a very readable overview of the Australian net censorship issue, Raena Lea-Shannon’s piece “Conroy’s Web” is highly recommended. In the UK, Conroy is shamed as well, with the Guardian publishing a feature on Australia’s past and present antipodean obsessions with censorship.
And last but by no means least, Matthew Thompson over at ABC Unleashed makes the Fringe’s annoyance with the shallow populist prudery and technological blinkerdom of Rudd and team seem positively milquetoast.
Is debate between moral absolutism and moral relativism a red herring when the primary criticism of Conroy’s scheming is its technical unfeasibility? or should we watch carefully regardless, since as Oz moves toward a republic, tussles between cognitivists, noncognitivists and other philosophical camps will be germane to the formation (or not) of an Australian Bill of Rights.
Fear of serious injury cannot alone justify suppression of free speech and assembly. Men feared witches and burnt women. It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears. . . . Those who won our independence by revolution were not cowards. They did not fear political change. They did not exalt order at the cost of liberty. To courageous, self-reliant men, with confidence in the power of free and fearless reasoning applied through the processes of popular government, no danger flowing from speech can be deemed clear and present, unless the incidence of the evil apprehended is so imminent that it may befall before there is opportunity for full discussion. If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.
Glenn Milne weighs into the debate, examining some of the unintended consequences of existing net filters.
Jon Seymour has now rejoindered to Hamilton’s response to him, aptly pointing out the false dichotomy presented in Clive’s ‘argument’ and maintaining “unless Clive admits he made a mistake and that his dichotomy was actually false, the charge of intellectual dishonesty still stands”.
Somebody Think of the Children notes that Logipik, a php image filter, interprets pictures of Conroy as porn.
“The Opposition firmly believes that adult supervision, supported by optional user-end filters, effective law enforcement and education should be front and centre of any efforts to keep children safe online,” he said.
“In relation to criminal conduct online, our nation’s law enforcement bodies must be adequately resourced to monitor and investigate unlawful activity.
“There is no technical substitute for appropriate adult supervision when it comes to keeping our children safe online and most parents and teachers take that responsibility very seriously and any suggestions to the contrary are patronising and offensive,” Senator Minchin said.
“Labor’s plan to implement a mandatory Internet filter at ISP level has been roundly attacked with valid concerns raised about its likely effectiveness, the adverse impact it would have on Internet speeds and performance and also the precise nature of the content the Government plans to filter.
“The Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has further fuelled concerns with his talk of filtering not only illegal content, but also unwanted and inappropriate content. This policy proposal is also causing Australia embarrassment internationally, with comparisons to the world’s most repressive regimes,” Senator Minchin said.
“The Internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.” – John Gilmore
UPDATE 30 Nov
Chris Berg from the Institute of Public Affairs points out the obvious:
There is a certain element of Australian political culture that sees censorship and banning as the panacea to almost every social and policy question. But wowserism dressed up in concerned rhetoric about the sanctity of childhood is still wowserism.
UPDATE 1 Dec