Liberal Party member Chris Abood on the internet blacklist

23 03 2009

From his recent Online Opinion piece:

So how does one get blacklisted?

Quite easily.

There are two ways to end up on the blacklist, either through direct channels or inadvertently. Currently, if I come across a website that I do not approve of either because I believe it is illegal or does not suit my ideological bent, I can make a complaint to the ACMA. In order to make a complaint, I must be an Australian resident or a company that carries on activities in Australia, provide the internet address and/or sufficient access details to enable ACMA to access the online content and provide reasons as to why I believe the online content is prohibited. The ACMA will then make a determination as to whether that site is added to the blacklist. It is not clear how the ACMA makes this determination. It has also been reported that other bodies such as filter software companies can also add websites to the blacklist. It is not clear how this is policed.

So how does one inadvertently end up on the list? Imagine that Big Buba from the Buba crime syndicate published a websites called FriendlyTours.com. However this is a front for an illegal website publishing unsavoury pictures. The site is found, a complaint made to ACMA and rightly added to the blacklist. A few weeks later, Big Buba closes down the site and moves to a new domain called BubaTours.com to try and keep ahead of the authorities. This site is also added to the blacklist and a few weeks later the site moves again and again.

Meanwhile, Jan who has been working for a large multi-national for 20 years is called into her manager’s office and told that she is being made redundant. With her large redundancy cheque, she decides to pursue her dream of running a tour business. She calls her business Friendly Tours and finds that the domain name is available. She registers the domain name and has a nice website built.

Jim, a dentist, decides to have a website built for his practice. His Internet Service Provider assigns his domain JimsDentistry.com to an IP address that was previously occupied by BubaTours.com. Both Jim and Jan are friends of mine. I offer to help them increase their Google rankings by linking to their sites through my website, my blog and my Facebook page.

A few weeks go by and Jim and Jan start getting emails from people saying they cannot access their websites. They don’t know why. They try to contact me for an explanation but cannot get hold of me. That is because I am in court being fined $11,000 a day for linking to a banned site. The people who emailed Jim and Jan are also in court facing jail terms of ten years for trying to access a site contained on the blacklist.

This blacklist is to form the backbone of the government’s mandatory filtering regime. The leaked list apparently contains 2,395 websites. The Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy wants to expand this to 10,000 websites. Will the ACMA be under pressure to find sites, any sites, to reach this number? The legitimacy of the blacklist will always be in question while owners of websites on the blacklist have no means of recourse especially if that site is legitimate.

Something I am curious about is whether this policy is unanimously supported or even popular among members of the ALP. If not, what are dissenting ALP members doing about it?





March in March

20 03 2009

I will be here in spirit:

WHAT

March in March is an upbeat event to give people an opportunity stand up, be heard, and hold the government accountable for their plans of forcing mandatory censorship on a very unwilling public.

With a mix of live entertainment of bands and DJs, speakers from all sides of the political spectrum and other special guests, the day will be topped off with the annual Canberran Skyfire Festival, just for us … okay, maybe not. [. . .]

WHERE

Parliament House side of Federation Mall, Canberra

WHEN

1:00 PM 21st of March, 2009

(Press conference at 11:00 AM)

WHY

The DLC have been organising rallies in capital cities for the past three months raising awareness as to the governments plans to censor the internet and the negative impact involved.

This is only the tip of the wedge of censorship being driven into our society by a vocal minority, as they say, the best time to defend your freedom is while you still have it.

While Senators change their minds daily, and the media report that the filter will go ahead, or won’t go ahead almost as regularly–the fact remains–this issue will not be put to bed unless Australians defend their democracy against the very ideology of censorship culture.

I’m not comfortable with the use of the sneer term “vocal minority.” For one thing, it misses the point: the clean feed is a bad thing regardless of whether it is advocated by a minority or a majority. But it also reeks of the kind of demagoguery that Conroy wields against those who oppose mandatory filtering: “If people equate freedom of speech with watching child pornography, then the Rudd-Labor Government is going to disagree.” (In other words, if you oppose the Government’s plan, you must love watching kiddie porn.) We are all minorities, insofar as we are all individuals, whose rights and interests (including freedom of speech) are supposed to be defended against majoritarian tyranny—that is what has hitherto defined us as a robust liberal democracy.

And it comes down to this. In one of the world’s so-called robust liberal democracies, the Government equates free speech advocacy with pederasty. That is—and should be—nothing short of alarming.





Wikileaks, bitches

19 03 2009

WIKILEAKS WIKILEAKS WIKILEAKS WIKILEAKS WIKILEAKS WIKILEAKS WIKILEAKS WIKILEAKS WIKILEAKS WIKILEAKS WIKILEAKS WIKILEAKS

“The first rule of censorship is that you cannot talk about censorship.” (Wikileaks, March 16 2009)

Proudly brought to you by the Australian Federal Labor Government, stifling free speech since 2007.

(HT: Homosecular Gaytheist)

UPDATE from ABC News Online:

Internet filter blacklist leaked on web

The communication regulator’s blacklist of banned internet sites has apparently been leaked, prompting an internet advocacy group to accuse the Government of making it easy to access child pornography. Read the rest of this entry »





If it’s Tuesday, it must be schadenfreude

6 01 2009

. . . or perhaps just your garden-variety pwnage. Quadrant editor and right-wing culture-warrior Keith Windschuttle has Sokal on his face.

Via Larvatus Prodeo





Quote of the week: Malcolm Turnbull

8 11 2008

Liberal Party leader Malcolm Turnbull gave a speech to the Australian Christian Lobby, evidently peppered with enough “marriage and families” references to suggest that the post-Howard Libs are still not completely above pandering to the fundagelicals. But he does deserve kudos for maintaining a firm stance on abortion and gay rights. On the latter, this gem:

“If you think about it, if you discriminate … against a gay couple, between two men living together, do you really think that they’re going to say ‘oh well, that’s no good, we’ll go off and get married to a woman’?” he asked the audience. (ABC News Online)

Apparently they do. (See also: “Is it Just Another Lifestyle?“)





Appeal to tradition fail

27 10 2008

From ABC News Online:

The Federal Government and Opposition have both given the thumbs down to calls to change or abandon the Lord’s Prayer recited at the beginning of each day of federal Parliament. [. . .]

A spokeswoman for Mr Rudd said the Prime minister viewed the prayer as an important tradition that should not be broken. [. . .]

Australian Christian Lobby managing director Jim Wallace said Christianity had had a profound impact on shaping our laws, culture and democracy.

“It’s appropriate that we open parliaments with the Lord’s Prayer for its cultural and historic relevance,” he said. [. . .]

I have never yet heard a non-fallacious argument for the retention of this particular artefact of religious sectarianism in a constitutionally secular democracy, and as you can see, we are still waiting for one. Malcolm Turnbull claims that the opening prayer “is an important reminder of our shared humanity.” Whose shared humanity, Malcolm? Large numbers of humans don’t share your religious beliefs. Do they not count as human?

For the fundies, the issue is crystal-clear. The ACL’s Lyle Shelton opines: “we need to decide, do we appreciate the values of our society, (or) are we saying we want to reflect a different set of ethics in the way that we run our country?” Got it? Take God out of the parliament, and the result is fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes . . . The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria! And whatever one thinks of the merits of Jim Wallace’s bald assertion that Christianity (whose Christianity? Jim’s Christianity?) had a role to play in “shaping our laws, culture and democracy,” why does it follow that Parliament should open with a Christian prayer? What does one thing have to do with another?

In a liberal democracy, the legislature should open to all believers and non-believers. Opening parliament with a Christian prayer grants a Most Favoured Religion (TM) status to a particular religion, and there is no place for that in a liberal democracy. Nor do I really see a need for the “moment of quiet reflection” proposed by Bob Brown. MPs sitting in nervous silence while their colleagues mutter incantations to their sky-daddy is a waste of taxpayer’s money. Just get on with it. Parliament House is not a church.

See also: Matt’s Notepad.





“Just look at the bloodlines”

12 10 2008

Times have changed. Time was when an Ann Coulter could spout off a line like “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity,” or muse dreamily about what might have been if Timothy McVeigh had bombed the New York Times, and it would barely have raised more than a guffaw among the right-wing chattering classes. It certainly wouldn’t have harmed Bush’s re-election prospects.

In 2008, the ritual brainfarting that ensues each time a drooling authoritarian follower decides to open its mouth is embarrassing the Republican presidential team. Said team, of course, executed the initial shooting of itself in the foot with its desperate attempts to link Obama to terrorism. As this footage of a McCain rally in Ohio demonstrates (and where you’ll hear the “bloodlines” soundbite), where authoritarian leaders lead, authoritarian followers follow, with consequences by turns outrageous, racist and stupid:

There’s even more in this NBC report, in which political analyst Richard Wolffe advises the Republican team to take a leaf out of the Australian conservatives’ playbook and engage in dogwhistle politics rather than foghorn politics which, he suggests, will turn off the swing voters and independents.

As you can see, much has changed since 2004. The fallout from the Obama=terrorist smear campaign now has McCain and Palin at loggerheads.

HT to OK WASSUP and Evolutionary Middleman.





The whingeous right redux

9 10 2008

Coalition senators are conducting an inquiry into the refusal of evil leftist academics in Australian universities to pander to the cherished opinions of persecuted Young Liberal students.

Several academics will appear before a Senate inquiry into Australian academic freedom in Sydney today.

NSW Greens MP Dr John Kaye says the inquiry was set up by Coalition Senators at the request of the Young Liberal movement.

“It’s looking for Australian academics and teachers who are, in the words of the Young Liberals, trying to impose their ideological, political or cultural prejudices on students,” he said.

Dr Kaye advises those academics facing this kangaroo court to tell the inquisitors (in so many words) to go fuck themselves. As well they should. A mature and robust education system cannot be founded on an affirmative-action programme for ideas.

Sadly, it seems the youth wing of the Liberal Party and its fellow-travellers in Parliament are still besotted with the neo/theo-con movement of the United States, which uses Orwellian-titled “Academic Freedom” bills to legislate and lawyer its cherished beliefs onto university and high school syllabi. Purveyors of both the young-earth and intelligent-design strains of creationism have long used the “teachers trying to impose their ideological, political or cultural prejudices on students” meme to attempt to force educators to pander to their worldviews. In Australia, the high-water-mark of this brand of high-RWA anti-intellectualism and anti-rationalism was reached when the Howard Government Education minister Julie Bishop asserted in October 2006 that “Some of the themes emerging in school curriculum (sic) are straight from Chairman Mao” . . . typical of the Howard Government’s schtick of demonising teachers (presumably on the basis that the teaching profession in Australia is highly unionised, and whose members—I am guessing—are generally not likely to support the Coalition).

I hope, then, that Australian politics (including the mainstream Liberal Party) have grown up a little since then, and this inquiry represents the feeble, plaintive bleatings of a whiny vestigial minority. We don’t want to go down the American road.





Only a lobotomised nation could have sanctioned this with a smile on its face

25 09 2008

If you want a vivid demonstration of the abject sociopathy of authoritarian-follower morality, in which the harm principle is trumped by self-righteousness and aggression towards outgroups, look no further than the immigration detention regime presided over by the recently-deposed Howard Government. The People’s Inquiry into Detention, the product of documentary evidence, 200 testimonies at 10 public hearings, as well as 200 written submissions, “heard heart-breaking evidence of the unnecessary cruelty inflicted by the Howard government on people seeking asylum in Australia. It places the stories of detention on the public record from the perspective of those most affected by the policies and practices” (ABC News Online). The inquiry documents the deaths at sea of more than 360 asylum seekers between 2000 and 2001, the placement into desert prisons—often for years on end—of those waiting for their refugee claims to be processed, and the savage conditions within those detention centres.

It was told of people being forced to steal food to feed their children, of assaults on both adults and children, of physical and mental health care so inadequate that many former detainees now have serious, permanent disabilities. A lack of accountability created a culture of violence and self-harm within detention. Protests were routinely met with armed force. The inquiry was told of people eating glass and gravel and pouring boiling water on themselves, and presented with images of self-harm too graphic to publish.

A boy who spent three years in detention said:

The worst thing, I will never forget it, was people cutting themselves. It was horrible. I remember one time a person was harming himself up a tree and his children was crying under the tree. His wife was crying and yelling under the tree. His blood was dropping from the tree.

Once released from detention, many refugees told the inquiry their experiences had irrevocably changed them. Many were unable to forget the violent images they had been exposed to in detention and suffered ongoing mental health problems. Others told how the uncertainty of their temporary visa status compounded their anxiety.

Christian organisations, including the Brotherhood of St Laurence and UnitingJustice Australia, were among those in the front lines fightng to bring an end to the cruelty; other Christians, including many of those in the then-Liberal/National government, were among its most vocal supporters.

But none of this is really news for those who have been interested enough to follow Australia’s mistreatment of asylum seekers. The evil leftist ABC, SBS and Fairfax press—latte-sipping dibber-dobbers that they are—have been documenting such tales at a steady rate since Tampa. The aspirationals lapped it up, hailing as a national virtue the kicking in the guts of the downtrodden, and voted for Howard in increasing numbers. You can still see the vestiges of this crowd in the comments section of the already-cited ABC article, propounding the same “they were asking for it” apologetics they’ve been pushing throughout this decade-long debate.





Australian PM proves God’s existence

29 08 2008

From National Nine News:

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says the ordered nature of the cosmos convinces him of the existence of God.

Mr Rudd, a regularly practising Anglican, was on Friday asked on Fairfax Radio in Brisbane to give his single biggest argument in favour of the existence of God.

“As you know I’m a believer and I’ve never pretended not to be and I respect those who have no religious belief – it’s a free country,” Mr Rudd said.

“For me, it’s ultimately the order of the cosmos or what I describe as the creation.

You can’t simply have, in my own judgment, creation simply being a random event because it is so inherently ordered, and the fact that the natural environment is being ordered where it can properly coexist over time. [Emphasis added]

“If you were simply reducing that to mathematically probabilities I’ve got to say it probably wouldn’t have happened.

“So I think there is an intelligent mind at work.”

Mr Rudd said in his entire political life he had never been asked in a media interview to prove the existence of God.

“You … have a world first,” Mr Rudd said.

Rudd’s position towards non-believers is a refreshing reminder that Australia is still not as deep in the mire of religious lunacy as the US, and he deserves kudos for being vocal about it. He also deserves praise, I think, for at least attempting to justify his theism in a public forum, rather than the “Look at me I haz teh jeezus” rubbish we would usually expect from god-soaked politicians.

And to be fair, the wording I chose for the title of this post was more a blatant grab for your attention than anything else. His argument for theism—a reiteration of the cosmological argument from design—is his argument, the reason (or one reason) he personally is a theist. Still, it must be said—as you can see from the section in boldface—it is an argument which suffers from a circularity so obvious that you could float a Collins-class sub through it. How can “creation be a random event”? By using the term “creation” he’s assuming precisely that which he is seeking to establish: that the universe had a “creator.” (The physicist and skeptic Victor Stenger’s response to the appeal to improbability is worth noting also: “If we properly compute, based on our actual knowledge rather than speculation, the probability for the universe’s existing with human life, the result is unity! We have only one datum, our universe, and it has human life.”) I don’t know if it bodes well that someone of Rudd’s intelligence can make such a basic error of reasoning, but then he can’t be a clear thinker on every topic.

But this is a man whose faith is central to his political philosophy, or so he tells us. And what he’s given us here is a very mediocre and pat defence of his faith.








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