Monday, February 01, 2010

Mark Day, Stephen Conroy, and it all seemed so simple in the days when you could whack an R sticker on a Penthouse ...

You can always rely on Mark Day to put the cart before the horse, and this surely has to be one of the best carthorse-isms he's managed in recent times, as he scribbles Internet 'villain' Conroy comes up with top spin:

... I would challenge those who object to Conroy's ban to instead make a case for access to online bestiality or child sex abuse. It simply can't be done without breaching the bounds of any civilised society.

Well I would challenge those who object to the Chinese government's filtering system to make a case for access to fey liberal western concerns and wretched Australian politicians blathering on about democracy and freedom and the right to this and that, without breaching the bounds of any civilised discourse in a suitably modulated society.

Or put it another way. I would challenge those who object to Conroy's ban to prove instead that they are not simply pedophiles and bestialists of the lowest common denominator, who should be given a good flogging and then locked away for life, though this of course must be done without breaching the bounds of any civilised society.

Better still, I would challenge those who object to Conroy's plan to explain exactly how they plan to use logic to justify their position, when of course pedophiles and bestialists simply use emotional outbursts to justify their position.

And then the eternally benighted Day has the cheek to preface his dragging of bestiality and child sex abuse into the fray with this:

I am perfectly familiar with the pure arguments against censorship in any form and I am forever wary of those who would tell us what we can't do in our lives ...

Uh huh. Well of course that kind of billy goat but lead in, is the perfect way to endorse Senator Conroy telling us what we can't do in our virtual lives on the intertubes.

No doubt Day is perfectly familiar with the pure argument that currently bestiality and child sex abuse and pornography with pedophilic intent are illegal in this country, and purveyors or practitioners can be prosecuted for criminal activity.

The argument, though it's tiring to keep repeating when confronted with gibberish, is not about making a case for accessing online bestiality or child sex abuse - though if you wanted a more interesting test case, it might be to consider BDSM activities which are frowned upon by some, though treasured enough by others to even make it into a soft core text like Alex Comfort's ancient Joy of Sex.

Instead it's that the filter, at ISP level, is an elephant gun tackling a horde of ants, or perhaps more precisely a hammer given the job of bashing an army of walnuts.

Inevitably innocent walnuts will fall under the hammer, as was established when the government originally revealed its abject incompetence by its blocking of a Queensland dentist's site because had allegedly been hijacked by the Russian mafia (as if the Russian mafia needed such a site for child pornography) or its use to block anti-abortion web sites or sites that 'counsel suicide'.

The eternally sanguine Day sees no problem, managing to trust the government in a way few Australians did when they rejected the notion that politicians should appoint the GG in a republic:

There has been no outcry in Australia about the existing bans on RC material. You can't buy it in newsagencies, or watch it on DVDs or see it in cinemas or on television, and no one objects. So why do people object to moves to put internet access on the same level as, say, newsagency access?

Which is as gross a misrepresentation as we've come across in recent days, since Day clearly demonstrates he has no understanding of the difference between BSA standards, RC material, and X18+ material. Let Bernard Keane take up that tale long ago in 2009 in Conroy confesses: web filtering will hit 'other content':

The BSA currently prohibits both Refused Classification material and X 18+ material, meaning content depicting actual sex is treated in a manner similar to criminal content such as child pornography. The BSA also bans R 18+ material (including simulated sex) if there is no age-based restriction. This clumsy regime means material that is available in your average newsagent, let alone the local adult shop, is banned online and will technically be blocked under the ALP censorship trial. The Australian Communications and Media Authority maintains a secret blacklist which it describes as “the worst of the worst” in terms of child pornography and other criminal material. It is this list that will be used in the trial, although it will extended beyond that to other filtering techniques such as key-word-based blocking. Given that the current regime also prohibits much of the petabytes of porn freely available on the internet, the idea of effectively filtering via a list is nonsensical.

Well it's been a long time since he scribbled those words, and nothing much has changed.

What happens, for example, if you object to YouTube running the foul language laden Aphex Twin Windowlicker video clip linked to a few days ago on this site? Do you try to ban the particular page, do you try to ban YouTube, do you try to second guess YouTube's own supervision of its site?

What happens when you tackle porn sites that say regulate themselves to conform to US law, which varies from the RC process here? Do you moderate those sites, or do you just ban them wholesale because it's easy? But what about websites that mix porn and politics in the style of a Larry Flynt? Do you ban the whole site, and let the politics go the way of the porn?

But the eternally positive Day sees no problem:

Some have said filtering will slow down the internet to a snail's pace, but testing last year showed this to be false. Others argue that the filters can be disabled, or innocent web pages can be wrongly proscribed, but these views are unlikely to materially affect the plan.

Never mind, the testing actually revealed very little about a fully implemented filter's potential impact on speed, but let's assume the NBN gives us so much speed we can piss a bit of it against the wall on the filter (not to mention download a life time supply of porn in bulk in a nanosecond).

The speed argument isn't the main game, nor is it the way the filters can be disabled - I think Day means to say anything Conroy institutes will be easily by-passable (and it's the pornographers who will blaze that trail if they need to). It's not even the way that of course innocent web pages will be wrongly proscribed, though at the same time it's not good enough to shrug shoulders and stay that this won't materially affect the plan.

No, the really dire problem is that it won't work, and it won't stop workarounds, and a lot of energy will be wasted in a game where the Federal government seeks to implement a regime which even the Chinese government can't manage to implement in a totally effective bamboo curtain way.

As each fresh absurdity, contradiction, error or fuck up comes into view, the government will be plunged into crisis management, seeking to explain just how the filter - which is in its own way as comprehensive as anything attempted by the Chinese or Iranian governments - managed to malfunction.

There are those who see Conroy's attempts to bring the web into the classification net as the thin edge of the wedge. They suggest any powers employed for use against porn can also be applied to political comment.

I think that's nonsense because if Conroy (or any of his successors) were to try it, there would be immediate marching in the streets and he'd be drummed out of office. He's not so stupid, and neither is the Australian public.

Well Day might think it nonsense, but of course once a system is instituted, which Australian politician has never managed a little bit of incompetent abuse of said system? Does Day really think that the arcane censorship of the 'fifties was up there at the top of the issues which determined the popular vote. Sure when banning communism came up in a referendum, it got voted down, but who asked us to vote on censoring the intertubes with this kind of omnipresent filter? And if it fucks up, will the majority care, seeing as how innocents getting mangled in the system won't materially alter anything, and the only people who care are pedophiles and bestialists (you know, like D H Lawrence and James Joyce).

What is political comment? Does political comment cover gaming, gambling, right to die sites, seditious material sites, or sites banned because they provide copyright material? How about alleged terrorist sites, or academics seeking to research terrorism-related materials?

Well it's interesting to read Australian Government To Delay Internet Censorship Until After Next Election, because surely the government itself is aware that the application of the filter is going to turn into a bunfight and a circus, and so it's best not to disturb the possums during an election campaign.

And it's interesting to see that there's at least a little sanity in other parts of the ALP. Here's NSW Labor MP Penny Sharpe - that's right, knock me down with a feather, a NSW Labor MP:

I add my voice to the many that understand that the Federal Government's proposals to filter the Internet are:

a waste of time
a waste of money
a false promise to parents that will not stop kids being exposed to undesirable content online
a move towards censorship that a democratic and free nation like Australia should reject
The proposed Internet filter creates a diversion from tackling broader issues of how the online environment (which also includes mobile phones and games) is rapidly changing social norms, expectations and behaviour.

There are urgent issues that need to be addressed: protecting children from inappropriate material, protecting privacy, cyberstalking and bullying, how to protect citizens from identity theft to name just a few.

The solution to these issues is not a mandatory filter. The solutions include the far more difficult, time consuming and gradual process of:

education for all citizens, especially parents and kids,
greater policing and investigation
greater resourcing to support families and communities, and
continuous law reform in the areas of privacy and communications.
With the roll out of the national broadband network and laptop computers, Australia has a once in a generation opportunity to roll out mandatory education on how to use IT -grasping the opportunity to enthuse and skill our citizens, at the same time having the one to one conversations about cybersafety and privacy that will have the greatest impact.

As a

parent of young children who is engaged daily on issues of internet use
MP who takes an active interest in child protection laws, policies & practice, and,
legislator who is sometimes asked to consider proposals driven by a desire for short term silver bullets rather than cautious consideration of the evidence and the need to give due consideration to democratic rights and freedoms,

I urge the federal government to consider other options rather than this proposal
. (here).

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Funnily enough, Day spends the first half of his column cogitating on the hypocrisy of Conroy cheerfully joining in with Hillary Clinton's strident endorsement of net freedom and unfettered access to it.

Perhaps he could have cogitated on the way the United States is the source of much of the material Conroy will seek to ban. And cogitate on the imponderable stupidity of the Federal government thinking it can censor and filter the world. The data is startling, as you can check by visiting Jerry Ropelato's Top 10 Internet Pornography Statistics: (click to enlarge)

Ain't it grand to see that Australia, despite its low population and revenue base, is right up there, punching above its weight in the per capita column on porn.

Well King Canute himself would envy the challenge Conroy has set himself, but at least Day has managed to get the punters excited. A few of them even explain things VPN's and P2P and ways to beat the filter, but you can sense that Day's ears glaze over when he hears such chatter.

It's so much simpler to suggest that opponents of Conroy's filter need to make a case for accessing bestiality and child pornography online.

How about Day make the case for the way the government feels the need to turn the Australian government into a censorship regime up there with China, by invoking an impractical filter which will do nothing to stop bestiality and child pornography, but will instead allow the government to pretend three wise monkeys style, that we see and hear no evil.

He hasn't done so in his column, but he has managed to endorse Conroy while muttering glibly about how he trusts no one intent on censoring, as opposed to classifying, material ...

(Below: another cart horse image I liked. Please note the image is not in any way associated with or hints at or connotes bestiality or a good whipping).

1 comment:

  1. Just discovered your site, and am loving your cogent smack downs. (Just read the one on Paul Sheehan's drivel about Monckton and climate change. What an utter fuckwit.)

    Will be a regular visitor.



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