Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Michael Atkinson, and smells emanating from the sewer of South Australian politics ...

With things quiet on loon pond, we were thinking of digging up Tony Abbott's virginity routine, never mind the smell, just so we could use this quote from As You Like It:

Most mischievous foul sin, in chiding sin:
For thou thyself hast been a libertine,
As sensual as the brutish sting itself;
And all th' embossed sores and headed evils.
That thou with liscense of free foot hast caught,
Wouldst thou disgorge into the general world.

And then who should blow in to town but our old mate, South Australia's Attorney General Michael Atkinson.

And no we're not referring to his guest appearance in Laura Parker's Gaming classification bound in ignorance, as she pleads for the Atkinson-inspired stupidity of no R18+ rating for Australian games and gamers to be overturned by caring Australians.

Well good luck with that, but really so long as Atkinson sits in his throne, and the federal government dithers, the powers of darkness will reign supreme.

Instead, we're vastly titillated by the uproar in South Australia over laws which came into force on January 6th, but really only seem to have caught the media eye in the last few days:

The new law, which came into force on January 6, requires internet bloggers, and anyone making a comment on next month's state election, to publish their real name and postcode when commenting on the poll.

The law will affect anyone posting a comment on an election story on The Advertiser's AdelaideNow website, as well as other news sites such as The Punch, the ABC's The Drum and Fairfax newspapers' National Times site.

It also appears to apply to election comment made on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

The law, which was pushed through last year as part of a raft of amendments to the Electoral Act and supported by the Liberal Party, also requires media organisations to keep a person's real name and full address on file for six months, and they face fines of $5000 if they do not hand over this information to the Electoral Commissioner. (here under the header Labor gags internet debate).

Well it makes Mark Day's talk about how you can trust Stephen Conroy regarding his grand internet filter seem like chaff blowing in the wind.

As a result, The Advertiser - which once used to be a fine old Liberal club taking orders from North Terrace, and is now a Murdoch minion rag since The News abandoned North Terrace to become, in disguise, the tabloid 'Tiser - is shocked, and apoplectic as well as apocalyptic.

The changes to the law were overseen by Attorney-General Michael Atkinson and passed through Parliament with a pace akin to the night when MPs rapidly voted themselves the right to have cars paid for by South Australian taxpayers.

Every major media outlet in Australia carries some form of political blog.

Then there are the growing number of opinions to be found in places such as Facebook and MySpace.

It's hard to imagine South Australia's Electoral Commissioner will prowl the internet day after day during the election campaign policing such a ridiculous law.

Realistically and logically, there is no need. All blogs and comments published on AdelaideNow are moderated. Broadcasters monitor and moderate what is broadcast.

All also abide by extensive laws that prevent the publication or broadcast of defamatory and other illegal material.

But stupid is as stupid does, and Atkinson is perhaps the most expert censor in Australia, right up there with the Chinese government:

The legislation also further enforces South Australia's reputation as a place where secrecy flourishes. It is instructive that similar laws were also enacted in China last year, a country which has yet to embrace free speech.

Well of course the natural thing would be to vote for the other side, but as noted by the 'Tiser, Isobel Redmond and the Liberal Party supported the changes to the law.

And it being South Australian politics, along with the secrecy, naturally there has to be the whiff of paranoia:

Mr Atkinson also said he expected The Advertiser to target him for sponsoring the law. "I am also certain that Advertiser Newspapers and News Limited will punish me personally, viciously for being the attorney-general responsible for this law," he said.

"You will publish false stories about me, invent things about me to punish me."

No, you goose, they don't have to invent things about you. Just reporting what you do is a sufficient indictment. You see, you're personally responsible for a stupid new law, and that's more than enough. And we haven't even got on to the question of R18+ for gamers! Or your incredibly stupid law requiring R rated videos to have special denuded slicks if they're to sit in the general area of video stores, as opposed to residing amongst adult porno flicks at the back of the shop. While M+ dvd covers can still show all kinds of mayhem!

In short, no one could invent false stories as rich as the true stories about such a fine feathered goose.

The Advertiser's editor, Melvin Mansell, said: "Clearly this is censorship being implemented by a government facing an election.

"The effect of that is that many South Australians are going to be robbed of their right of freedom of speech during this election campaign.

"The sad part is that this widespread suppression is supported by the Opposition.

"Neither of these parties are representing the people for whom they have been elected to govern."

Well as it involves the intertubes, already kind souls have offered up solutions to the 'Tiser:

John Quiggin, a long-time blogger and Research Fellow in Economics and Political Science at the University of Queensland, doubted whether the laws were enforceable.

"They can pass as draconian law as they like, but without the capacity to impose their own internet censorship it's going to be a dead lemon," he said.

"Anyone who wants to can set up an anonymous blog.

"It will be totally ineffectual with someone who sets up a Wordpress blog post in the US under a false name and publish whatever they want."

Well if there was ever an invitation for croweaters to set up blogs, and turn into Alexander Popes and rail against their political masters, together with a quick guide on how to do it, there it is. Along with an argument for anonymity, as the power brokers stalk and harass the powerless, not satisfied with the already substantial protections provided by law (try defaming someone on the internet by way of a blog, and see how much anonymity will protect the scribbler, try bunging on a do in the comments section of the moderated MSM and see how long your comment lasts).

But perhaps the best bit was this:

Attorney-General Michael Atkinson denied that the new law was an attack on free speech.

"The AdelaideNow website is not just a sewer of criminal defamation, it is a sewer of identity theft and fraud," Mr Atkinson said.

"There is no impinging on freedom of speech, people are free to say what they wish as themselves, not as somebody else."

Oh brave new world of sewers. Yes, begone all you pen named authors, begone George Eliot, we want all your names, so we can compile a little list. Say what you like just so long as we can compile our list. You see, we can talk of sewers, in an exaggerated foul mouthed potty way, but if you try the same thing, we want your names ... tracked and detailed and carved in digital granite ... and on the record for a good six months!

So we can keep track of all the denizens of the sewer, and make sure in time they're punished for being on our little list. The freedom to conform to this ruling is absolute!

But who will stop Michelle Chantelois from turning up at events at which Premier Mike Rann is due to appear? (Chantelois sparks poll hysteria).

Never mind, blame the intertubes.

And who will discover the identities of people and organisations who donated millions of dollars to the major political parties in SA? ($2.7m political donations 'secret'). Never mind, blame those anonymous scribblers on the intertubes.

Time for a bit more Shakespeare?

. . . Let me see where in
My tongue hath wrong'd him: if it do him right.
Then he hath wrong'd himself; if he be free,
Why then my taxing like a wild-goose flies,
Unclaim'd of any man.

Well I think it's jolly unsporting to denigrate wild geese by comparing them to Michael Atkinson. A goose so fully and perfectly formed deserves to be plucked at the next state election.

Oops, have they served the writs yet, are we in breach of crow eater law?

Is the world undone, and spiralling down into a sewer? Or is the sewer, the canker at the core, in the festering mind of the South Australian Attorney General?

Perhaps another dash of Shakespeare and then we're done:

. . . I must have liberty
Withal, as large a charter as the wind.
To blow on whom I please; for so fools have;
And they that are most galled with my folly.
They must laugh. . . .

He that a fool doth very wisely hit
Doth very foolishly, although, he smart,
Not seem senseless of the bob: if not
The wise man's folly is anatomiz'd
Even by the squad'ring glances of the fool.

That pompous owl loving prat Mike Rann has the perfect foil in Michael Atkinson. What an unhappy pair of secretive, furtive, paranoid, stifling censors they make. And yet Atkinson holds the key to the lock that prevents an R18+ rating for gamers.

And people think Conroy will play a tidy game in relation to his grand filter.

The delusional paranoids will always have it over the desultory.

But the funniest thing of all? Amongst the three hundred plus comments, and rising, on the 'Tiser site, some splendid posts from crow eaters applauding Atkinson and his law, and suggesting those who don't like it leave South Australia ... with the comments made anonymously.

Well the law will catch up with the likes of this mob quick stix ... and just because you're lick spittle lackeys of the government is no excuse for not conforming to the new law, starting now, just to show how you're in tune with its exemplary spirit. Yes, that includes you, Michael B of Torrensville.


(Below: a screen grab of The Advertiser's splash - links to the story as above. We just liked the splendid poignant vision of Colonel Light and his vision stifled by duct tape. Oh that this should come to pass in the land of Don Dunstan and his valiant fight against secret police files).


  1. It heartens me to find I am not alone in my hysteria on this issue. Hands up everyone who wants Atkinson out. There, I feel better now. Put Labor last.

  2. you are not alone my friend,i get a similar feeling when i contemplate conroy and his cunning plan, with his laughable "trust me i'm a politician" act.


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