A Chorus of Logical Discontent

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.

NB To follow up – current HREOC Discussion paper and Louis Brandeis’ famous judgment.

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.


Clive Hamilton responds ( http://is.gd/8Drp ) to Jon Seymour’s article on STotC ( http://is.gd/8xz8 ) #nocleanfeed


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”.

Mark Newton comments on the impact of filters on net speeds.

Somebody Think of the Children notes that Logipik, a php image filter, interprets pictures of Conroy as porn.

More comment on the unworkability and undesirability of Conroy’s net filters from internet security expert, James Turner.


Senator Nick Minchin encapsulates the current debate on net censorship (Fringe can’t believe she’s commending a Lib for principled common sense – are they returning to their ‘liberal’ origins?):

“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


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.


Even children’s welfare groups see the filter is deeply flawed.

@KevinRuddPM Tweetwatch Cockatoo

Our Kevvie’s recent incoming and associated twitbites make for fun reading … here’s some favs to date – the characteristic laconic, down-to-earth verging on shameless Aussie lingo is alive and twittering.

rogers: @KevinRuddPM Frosty handshake? Why didn’t you sock that arsehole in the guts…?

hortovanyi: @fang mate, I’m always well behaved on here .. the only person I’m not sure about is @KevinRuddPM

grodscorp: @KevinRuddPM Would’ve thought you wouldn’t need to do dishes at White House dinner, Kevvie.

ninjamoeba: I love @KevinRuddPM ‘s bio: “PM.” Surprisingly succinct.

After Kev’s first, very muted, ‘vpod’ offering:

jimbiosis: @KevinRuddPM Sir, “growing the cake” is a mixed metaphor.

owenhodda: What is this vpod @KevinRuddPM speaks of? I am not down with the cool kid lingo

jamesfehon: @KevinRuddPM you mean a vlog?

lenier: @KevinRuddPM Re: “vpod”. You may have developed a term where many already exist. Welcome to Web 2.0! You’re fitting right in.

chrissylvester: just watched @KevinRuddPM’s vpod about the G20 and wanted to let you know he wished we’d sent @TurnbullMalcolm instead – chrissylvester team

Several commentators express concern about correct twitgrammar:

calvinccc: @KevinRuddPM My first thought was: wow the PM’s twittering in the 3rd person

danupoyner: Shock! @KevinRuddPM has changed from 1st to 3rd person. I like to think that it is actually still Kevin, just talking in 3rd person 🙂

iusebiro: am pretty disappointed that @kevinruddpm isn’t even pretending that it’s my beloved KevOhSev tweeting 🙁

cinema_monster: do you think @KevinRuddPM is actually the one updating his twitter? i’m kind of getting the image of my dad trying to work the dvd remote…

Digs at Conroy’s profoundly idiotic attempts to censor the Australian internet:

alexrzem: @KevinRuddPM That’s nice that you recorded a message for us. But how do you know that in the future it wouldn’t be blocked by your Firewall?

SilkCharm: @KevinRuddPm Hi Kev, thanks for your video G20 email http://twurl.nl/hon8lp – Please enjoy our #nocleanfeed video http://twurl.nl/06dsl3 🙂

Other tweets are disappointed with Kev’s autistic twitter demeanour, particularly in comparison to the more experienced twitterer @TurnbullMalcolm:

Mediamum: Gee, @KevinRuddPM has over 2000 followers and hasn’t had a conversation with anyone yet! FAIL

perkler: @KevinRuddPM just emailed me to say he looked forward to ‘our continuing dialogue’. I didn’t know we were having one. I got the email tho

jedwhite: @TurnbullMalcolm Great to see your genuine engagement through twitter. Very positive contrast to @KevinRuddPM. Hope u r finding useful.

@KevinRuddPM is now Number 8 on the Aussietwit list, yet it seems some followers are dissillusioned.

a_lil_spaz: The novelty has worn off now. Defollowing @KevinRuddPM & others people of political note. Sick of big shots not using Twitter appropriately.

caitabee: @KevinRuddPM I just unfollowed you. Fuck yes.


We have liftoff! @KevinRuddPM is responding – and the cat is cool 🙂