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Oz gets the government it elected and gets it good and hard
Posted by: McQ on Thursday, January 03, 2008

That's a real bad paraphrase of a HL Mencken quote that is actually "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard."

However it fits in the case of this story where the newly elected Labor government in Australia has decided its job is to decide what is or isn't proper on the internet:
Under the plan, Internet service providers would provide feeds filtered free of pornography and other inappropriate material to houses and schools.

Conroy has rejected criticism that the move will debase the freedom of the world wide web and represents a step towards the kind of Internet censorship in place in China where sites are regularly blocked and cyberdissidents arrested.

"Labor makes no apologies to those that argue that any regulation of the Internet is like going down the Chinese road," he told national radio on Monday.

"If people equate freedom of speech with watching child pornography, then the Rudd Labor government is going to disagree."
Now of course many people, when they see the word "pornography", are all for whatever it takes to "protect" them from the possibility of accidentally viewing a naked couple doing what comes naturally. And it is at that point it becomes exceedingly difficult for a libertarian of any stripe to get the point across that regardless of what you might think of pornography per se, giving government the power to monitor and restrict content and information flow is tantamount to giving it the same authority as, well, China.

If government decides it has the power and right to restrict content that includes 'pornography', however it chooses to define that, what might it include in it's definition of "other inappropriate material?" Perhaps something like opposition political speech, for instance?

I've often wondered why is it, when a new government comes to power, that many times among the first things it chooses to do is to use its power to further restrict its citizens?

I have no answer to that except it seems to be the nature of the beast. I also have no answer to why so many choose to put up with it except that freedom is harder than "being taken care of" and most have come to prefer the latter.

That brings us to a final Mencken quote which I have come to believe is pretty darn true, especially these days - "All government, of course, is against liberty."

And that seems more true each and every day.
 
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Its not clear from the article that if these "filtered feeds" are optional or not. Changes the discussion some depending on that point.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
It doesn’t take government to do optional. Ma and Pa Digger can go out and buy their own software to do that.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Sure, but why parent your own children when the village will do it for you? There is an opt-out available, but the filter is default.
 
Written By: Laura
URL: http://pursuingholiness.com
"Feeds to houses and schools"... intersting - if you are in a government building you’ll be able to get porn - oh no wait they already have a filter...

If the ISP is blocking the feed to your house it isn’t optional - I don’t get to select which internet feed my system will get - I get connected to a set of nameservers and if my ISP eliminates my access to many of those name servers and adds some filtering to their servers that blocks my access to certain IP addresses there is nothing optional here - this isn’t a filter on your computer this is a firewall by your ISP that blocks your access to portions of the web...
Of course the interesting part is the ISPs might not complain that much since from their viewpoint it will reduce the amount of network traffic on their network.... not only that but an ISP could quickly add some logic to cut the speed of non-local content and blame it on the new content filters and oops did we cut your access to NBC our partner network ABC had the same content but without that objectionable item....

This is bad, hope the Aussie courts knock it down...
 
Written By: BIllS
URL: http://bills-opinions.blogspot.com
"If people equate freedom of speech with watching child pornography..."

Nice of him to sneak the qualifier "child" in there, moving it from a censorship issue to a particularly odious criminal one. But the censorship will be done For The Children™ of course. Thin edge of the wedge in Oz.
 
Written By: Uncle Pinky
URL: http://
"I’ve often wondered why is it, when a new government comes to power, that many times among the first things it chooses to do is to use its power to further restrict its citizens?

I have no answer to that except it seems to be the nature of the beast."

You are correct, it is the nature of the beast. Bastiat sums it up well in ’The Law’:
"Men naturally rebel against the injustice of which they are victims. Thus, when plunder is organized by law for the profit of those who make the law, all the plundered classes try somehow to enter—by peaceful or revolutionary means—into the making of laws. According to their degree of enlightenment, these plundered classes may propose one of two entirely different purposes when they attempt to attain political power: Either they may wish to stop lawful plunder, or they may wish to share in it.

Woe to the nation when this latter purpose prevails among the mass victims of lawful plunder when they, in turn, seize the power to make laws!"
 
Written By: tkc
URL: http://
"Conroy said Internet users would be able to access uncensored material by opting out of the service"

The default option is, evidently, to block access. It takes an affirmative action to have uncensored internet access. Interesting indicator of the attitude of Labor, when their preference is to deny freedom.


 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Nice of him to sneak the qualifier "child" in there, moving it from a censorship issue to a particularly odious criminal one. But the censorship will be done For The Children™ of course. Thin edge of the wedge in Oz.
I noticed that...

The best response would be "But I don’t want child porn. I want girl-on-girl-on-girl-on-horse..."

I’d pay money to see THAT reply on the news...
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
It’s simple, really: people who go into the policy making areas of government do it to exercise power. There are two ways to exercise power: repression, or creation of dependency (through provision of services). Guess which is cheaper and faster.

 
Written By: Jeff Medcalf
URL: http://www.caerdroia.org/blog

 
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