[AusNOG] More legislative interventions
kauer at biplane.com.au
Thu Apr 4 23:18:51 EST 2019
On Thu, 2019-04-04 at 09:36 +0000, Bevan Slattery wrote:
> The road to hell is paved with good intentions...
> There is much on the internet that is simply not fit for human
> consumption, and the state ought to have the power to remove it.
> Where the bill specifies abhorrent violent content, I think most sane
> people realise there is nothing to gain in allowing this content.
Not fit for human consumption? So only non-humans consume it? Let's get
in quick and dehumanise the opposition!
What a lot in such a small para! Anyone disagreeing is insane. A
variant of the "all right-thinking people agree..." argument, well
known, if completely lacking in intellectual rigour.
"The state ought to have the power to remove it" - except the state
doesn't have that power, cannot technically have that power and very
arguably should not have that power. I'll allow that "ought" at least
indicates opinion rather than a wild stab at fact.
Now to the core of it: "Abhorrent, violent content". Abhorrent to whom?
Well, all right-thinking people of course! The only problem is that one
person's abhorrent is another person's nice cup of tea. Who decides,
and where is the line that distinguishes "abhorrent, violent content"
from other content?
No handy-wavey stuff, please! Who, specifically, decides, and on what
specific basis do they decide? Does this plan involve a panel of
qualified people, with well-defined guidelines, processes for altering
those guidelines, sunset clauses, public access to decisions and the
reasons for them, accessible avenues of appeal without undue cost and
with reasonable timeframes, exemptions for things like public interest
and documentary value, provision for penalties paid out of the public
purse if a mistake is made...?
If the new powers have all those properties, then I am right behind
them. If not, then their supporters can place them where the sun does
It defeats me how anyone of even moderate intelligence can look at
the last hundred years of Western history and agree so timidly to
placing of ever more onerous anti-civilian power into the hands of
agencies that have proven themselves time and again to be unfit to
The link between hateful speech and hateful action is, however it may
look in the wake of an event like Christchurch, still a very indirect
and tenuous one. A thousand things and many years led to that hateful
act. Legally stifling any speech not directly and specifically leading
to injury is a very dangerous thing to do, and should be approached
with vastly more caution that our puerile and incompetent government
There are presumably plenty of people that "abhorrent, violent content"
will not harm. They may not have enjoyed it or supported it, but they
can't watch it now. It's been taken away from them, too. Are we *sure*
there was nothing to gain? How will we ever know?
Except that of course it hasn't been taken away really - it is still
out there and available. Just not easily to ordinary people. It is
*most* easily available to those who now share it secretly; those who
do watch it for pleasure and with hate in their hearts. Nice work, hey!
When asked, most people will say that they, personally, would of course
not be [harmed, radicalised, traumatised] by viewing [insert current
bogeyman here], but that there are others - weak, sad, awful or
vulnerable people - who [would, could, might] be terribly harmed and so
for the good of those people, said content should be [banned, burned,
Go on - try it on yourself. Ask yourself if you honestly feel that you,
personally, would have been harmed in any way (other than temporary
discomfort) by viewing this abhorrent, violent content. Try it with a
few other bogeymen! What about porn? Violent video games? Sexist
diatribes? Racist rants?
I will *bet* that you too, dear reader, do not feel you would suffer
lasting harm from any of those. That you feel you are strong enough,
stable enough, sure enough of yourself, to be safe. This is not to say
that you would seek such things out, just that if you were to view
them, you would not be damaged. And if you feel that way, you being (of
course!) a normal, ordinary, right-thinking person, then is it not
likely that other normal, ordinary, right-thinking people might also
feel the same way and correctly adjudge such content as being harmless
to *them*? Hmmm!
Get hate speech out in the open. That is in no way "normalising" it.
Use existing anti-discrimination and anti-hate laws against it. Use
free speech to attack it. Teach others, especially your children, to
recognise it. Call it out when you hear it. Make those who promote it
pariahs (censuring that piss-poor excuse for a politician, Fraser
Anning, was a great start). And if some band of nutjobs wants a
website, so what? It gathers them all in one nicely monitorable place
so that law enforcement can act when the next murderous thug says "I'm
gonna kill them all".
If government really wants to do something about hateful speech it
should firstly stop using it, and secondly work to support and
encourage the above activities. Saying "shut up" does nothing except
breed seething silence. Saying "you're wrong and here's why" at least
provides a path out of ignorance.
Stifling hateful speech just pushes it into the dark. Light it up.
 I genuinely do not understand how an intelligent person can support
curtailment of speech (or other civil liberties such as freedom of
assembly) without extraordinary protections in law. For me, such
support is very close to prima facie evidence of LACK of intelligence,
or at very least failure to use it.
 Canonical example: Shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theatre. Less
canonical example: Temporarily suppressing information about a current
court case or police investigation. Very current example: Explicit
encouragement to kill.
 Won't someone think of the children?!?
Karl Auer (kauer at biplane.com.au)
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