No free speech online in Australia? – blame the Christians!

In Slash.dot today there is an article which tells me that “Christian groups” in Australia are campaigning to get the government to filter all internet traffic there.  This puts in place the tools to censor the web in Australia.  Looking around, I find the Australian Christian Lobby seems to be the group in question.  They want to block internet porn.

I don’t know the background to this, and internet porn is certainly an evil.  But there are several questions that jump out at us.  Leaving aside whether the ACL represents anyone but itself, we might ask whether the Australian government is a pro-Christian one.  Because if not, then anti-porn is not the agenda.

As I understand it, the government currently trying to erect its own “Human Rights Commission”.  The very name will send a chill through anyone who has followed the evil bodies of that name in Canada.  This is about “banning hate”, which has becoming the code-word for censoring disagreement.  It wants to make it possible for favoured groups like gays and Moslems to drag into court people who they don’t like.  At least one Christian pastor has already been hauled into court after talking about Islam, without these new laws and bodies.  So this is not a government which favours Christianity, unless making legal harassment possible is a novel form of favour.

So why is it backing the ACL?  It looks a lot to me as if the ACL is a convenient patsy.  The government wants to end free speech in Australia.  As part of that, it wants mechanisms to censor the internet.  But since this is unpopular, it has to pretend that this is to “protect our kiddies”, and blame any negative effects on some group that it doesn’t actually like that much. 

This way they evade the blame for their censorship, while setting up the Christians to be blamed.  After all, when the censors block Christian sites, they can point to the ACL and say “well, you proposed it!”

All of us must oppose these measures to censor the web, whatever guise they appear in.  They are purely about removing freedom, whatever the pretext.

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