About Me

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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019); AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021); and HOW WE BECAME POST-LIBERAL: THE RISE AND FALL OF TOLERATION (2024).

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Backdown on some censorship madness

SOUTH Australia's Attorney-General Michael Atkinson has made a "humiliating" backdown and announced he will repeal his law censoring internet comment on the state election.

After a furious reaction on AdelaideNow to The Advertiser's exclusive report on the new laws, Mr Atkinson released this statement at 10pm last night: "From the feedback we've received through AdelaideNow, the blogging generation believes that the law supported by all MPs and all political parties is unduly restrictive.

"I have listened. I will immediately after the election move to repeal the law retrospectively."

Mr Atkinson said the law would not be enforced for comments posted on AdelaideNow during the upcoming election campaign, even though it was technically applicable.

"It may be humiliating for me, but that's politics in a democracy and I'll take my lumps," he continued in the statement.

"This way, no one need fear now that they are being censored on the net or in blogs, whether they blog under their own name or anonymously.

"I call upon all the other political parties who supported this review to also review their position."

No the above is not a joke. To read on, go here.

At least the South Australian government had the decency to back down on this crazy law, which prohibits anonymous comments on the internet on election issues during an election period. Anyone making election-related comments has to reveal their name and address! What is especially troubling is that such a crazy and illiberal law had the support of all parties and all MPs until a public backlash led the government to back away from it.

What is more reassuring is that the government seems to have listened, showing that it can be worth standing up and shouting loudly in defence of our freedoms.


Rory_ said...

"When one gets public opinion wrong, as I did, one has to change one's mind."

Pity he can't seem to apply that idea to his dogmatic position on the R18+ rating for video games.

Eamon Knight said...

Pretty mealy-mouthed climbdown, that was. "Oh, I'm sorry -- I didn't know anyone actually wanted to keep that basic democratic right". IMNSHO, a more appropriate response would be along the lines of: "We're fucking stupid petty-minded autocrats to have tried a stunt like this. We'll now collectively resign in disgrace and let some honest folk stand for election".

John R. Vokey said...

Problem is, it will be: ``well, we backed down on your having freedom x, so, fair is fair, we can now freely remove freedom y. Really; we let you have x. So, you get to have your Crayolas in every colour Crayola delivers (heretofore just black), and we get to fuck over everything you (should) hold dear if you weren't such a fucking peasant.'' Yeah, that sounds about right.

Daniel said...


I came here to say just that. It seemed like such a ridiculous proposition from the start that I predicted this sort of back-down. It wouldn't surprise me if this were perhaps a tactical move to hand us one small victory.

Although I do question the strategic value of a move like that in trying to pass the various other bullshit the government is up to. I heard Atkinson being more reasonable than I'd heard before on JJJ's Hack this afternoon. Has he finally woken up to the groundswell of negative sentiment? Democracy at work maybe?