No Right Turn looks at Rudd’s plans to replace the existing Australian sedition laws
with new laws with worrisome wording:
There’s this bit:
“The new counter-terrorism laws – to be drafted in the first half of next year – will cover attacks that cause psychological as well as physical harm…”
This current internationally accepted definition of terrorism (as seen in e.g. New Zealand’s Terrorism Suppression Act) includes acts which are carried out for the purpose of “induc[ing] terror in a civilian population” – but it still requires that they cause death, injury, or serious destruction. So, in order to be “terrorism”, it has to involve killing people or blowing stuff up. Allowing psychological as well as physical harm runs the risk of substantially lowering that threshold, allowing the misclassification of other offences as “terrorism”, with all that that entails. Given that anti-terror laws are already overused, that would be a Very Bad Thing.
In view of the sinister scope creep which is becoming characteristic of the Rudd government, let’s consider what might fall under the new Act’s ambit – like the incessant terrifying media reports of recession / depression we’ve come to know and loathe and which proved a self-fulfilling prophecy over the past year or so. What about religious preaching that induces psychological terror in congregations through threats of eternal fire and brimstone for transgressions? then there’s Santa Claus – he knows when you’ve been good or bad, so be good for goodness sake!
More pertinently, what about when government attempts to manipulate its electors into accepting a nanny state by implying that those who don’t back net censorship are pedophiles?
The drift of the ALP to the right during Howard’s reign was palpable and now, nearly a year after the ALP winning the last federal election, Christian fundamentalism has inserted its cloying puritanical payload firmly into the Oz body politic. With the Family Fist joyously inserted into its nether regions, whilst ignoring the admonishments of savvy internet doctors and pleas of free speech advocates, the ALP Government is exposing Australia to the risk of serious infection by the sinister Victoriana bacillus. Minister for Broadband, Communication and the Digital Economy, Stephen Conroy, exhibiting the most florid symptoms of technological denial and prudery, is refusing to backtrack on his seriously flawed bleatings that other western democracies employ internet condoms similar to the pricked sheath he proposes. In fact, Conroy’s proposed internet censorship regime is shared only by such human rights champions as China, North Korea, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Conroy is avoiding the question of exactly what ‘unwanted material’ he’s hoping to block from dainty Australians’ minds, whilst attacking and attempting to gag learned critics of his plans. Is this the thin edge of a totalitarian wedge which Conroy, along with the sexually repressed, intolerant religious right, is pushing?
The Government needs the support of the Greens and Opposition to ram net censorship legislation through, so they are unlikely at present to succeed. However, Conroy is still signalling the commencement of censorship trials from December 24 and has called for expressions of interest from ISPs. Quite possibly the Government has another agenda – their attack on the internet, being pre-doomed to technological failure, may still prove a successful tactic in obtaining the support of Senators Xenophon and Fielding for other Government bills.
What to do? prevention of a nauseating epidemic of Victoriana is better and less costly than cure. There’s an online petition at Computer World worth signing. Folks can also contact Conroy direct here.