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Clive Hamilton & I: Getting Personal about Sex, Lies, Hate & Censorship
November 26th, 2008 by Syd Walker

Dr Clive HamiltonA decade or so ago, I knew Clive Hamilton personally.

We met a few times through common involvement in environmental issues. He appeared to be a nice man with a good head for policy and commitment to progressive politics. When, in the mid 90s, he became Founder/Director of the Australia Institute, it seemed like an excellent initiative. Public interest think-tanks that develop new ideas and policy can play an important role in bringing about positive change. Australia has few such organizations. Overall, while I didn’t get to know Dr Hamilton well, I liked what I saw and supported the causes he made his own.

Protection of the environment is one policy area where I believe wise and effective regulation is merited – and more of it. Take global warming – an issue on which Dr Hamilton has worked hard throughout the last decade. I believe that the potential for human-induced global climate change is significant and poses unknown but alarming dangers to humanity’s future. Left to ‘the market’ alone, the necessary changes in human behaviour are unlikely to happen fast enough, if at all. Collective, political action is therefore needed, including stronger regulatory measures from governments. Personally, I’d like a global carbon tax, but that’s another discussion for another time…

I mention this to make it clear that my dispute with Clive Hamilton over Internet Censorship is not the quintessential stand-off between a sensible mainstream view and an “unthinking libertarian” who opposes regulation in almost every situation.

I may have ‘libertarian leanings’, but my concern is that regulation is applied only when circumstances demand – not on whim alone. Moreover, regulation must be appropriate. Sometimes (an example is prohibition of murder), regulation should be strict and rigorously enforced. In other cases I believe there’s a strong case for a hands-off approach. Unnecessary regulation is a nuisance; inappropriate regulation can be downright dangerous. It all depends on the specifics of the case.

Australia’s Dispute over Internet Censorship

In the run up to the last Federal election, just a few days before the poll, the ultimately victorious Australian Labor Party released a ‘Cyber-safety Policy’. Internet censorship via ISP-level ‘filtering’ was featured in the policy. The exact words were: “A Rudd Labor Government will require ISPs to offer a ‘clean feed’ internet service to all homes, schools and public internet points accessible by children, such as public libraries.”

Not surprisingly, few people noticed or discussed this policy at the time. There was plenty else going on… the Government was about to change.

Senator Stephen ConroyAfter Labor’s victory, Senator Stephen Conroy was appointed Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy. It’s a crucial portfolio, especially given the Rudd Government’s welcome acknowledgement of the importance of the Internet to Australia’s future.

One might expect that most of  Senator Conroy’s attention these days is dedicated to the thorny issue of the promised new continental broadband rollout. If not, it helps explain why this policy may be going nowhere fast.

A national broadband upgrade is one policy for which the Rudd Government most certainly does have a mandate. Many Australians – including business interests – are dissatisfied with our broadband speeds, which are often well below world best practice. Improving the network is a complex task and requires skillful Ministerial oversight.

Yet without having resolved the complex issue of the promised Broadband Rollout (it’s barely at Base One after a year in office) Conroy is increasingly becoming identified as the Minister for Compulsory Internet Censorship. Surely this is a distraction from his real job?

A month or two after the election, Senator Conroy suggested that the Government was going to bring in compulsory ISP-level Internet ’filtering’. That ‘clarification’ of the stated pre-election policy raised alarm bells in the community. Then he seemed to back down over compulsion. Now, in the last quarter of 2008, Conroy has made his intentions plain. He wants a compulsory ‘clean feed’ for everyone throughout the land. He wants it ASAP. And he wants to make an immediate start, by arranging trials with volunteer ISPs. These trials are due to begin by the end of 2008.

While there was some ambiguity in the wording of the ALP’s pre-election polices, I think its fair to say that “require ISPs to OFFER (a censored service)” has morphed into “require ISPs to OFFER ONLY (a censored service)”. That’s a fundamental shift.

There was no significant pre-election community debate about this issue. The Rudd Government has no clear mandate to introduce compulsory Internet censorship. If it does so, it’s going out on a limb, without the electorate’s prior endorsement and may well reap severe consequences at the next election. Proceed with mandatory Internet censorship, Mr Rudd, and you’ve lost my vote. I speak for myself, but there are plenty of others who feel the same way.

I do accept there are occasions when governments must act in the public interest, whether or not it has an explicit electoral mandate. That’s reality in a complex, fast-moving world. The economic crisis, for example, calls for unforeseen new initiatives. In emergencies, Governments may need to move fast.

Conroy's Internet Censorship Policy ExplainedBut where’s the emergency that calls for Internet censorship now?

To my knowledge, the Government has presented no spectacular new evidence to support the proposed change to mandatory censorship at the ISP level. On first glance, it seems the policy has been made on the run.

I suspect, but cannot prove, that the truth is even murkier and more unpleasant. I believe this is the resurrection of an agenda that suits particular powerful interest groups, both within and outside government. It is actually part of a global agenda.

These interest groups (which include elements within the mis-named ‘security services’) won’t argue their case openly and explicitly in public. To do so would damage their interests, by exposing their overweening and largely unregulated power and their desire to accumulate more of it. So they’ve pushed this policy onto Rudd – just like they tried to foist it earlier on the Federal Coalition (as well as on former ALP Leader Kim Beasley). They’ll use any window-dressing arguments that work to help get their way.  Who knows, they might even encourage suitable ‘experts’ to give the government a little assistance, so Internet censorship better survives public debate and Parliamentary scrutiny?

I may be wrong about this, but I fear not. Whereas he proposed filter makes no real technological sense as means to secure the Internet against pornography, it would work effectively as a way of controlling access to information. Specific speeches or articles could be tracked and every occurence blocked. This could be done automatically and very effectively on searchable text.

At the very least, I believe we should not reject out of hand the possibility of a hidden agenda behind the push to censor the Internet.

The Moral Panic

Foremost among the arguments that are used openly in favour of ‘mandatory filtering’ is the proposition that the Internet is a dangerous world, replete with smut and vice. No normal people want this! Children are unquestionably at risk! There’s an epidemic of pure filth! Therefore the Government must act now!

Stephen Conroy - A Failed Minister?That’s about the intellectual level at which Senator Conroy has been pitching the case for Internet censorship. I may, indeed, be doing him a favour. The rare occasions when he’s reluctantly fielded critical questions on the topic, he’s made a hash out of it.

Let’s hope he’s not so incompetent when he argues the Government’s corner in the high-stakes poker game over the much-vaunted new broadband infrastructure. If so, heaven help us. The Telco bosses will swallow him whole.

But Senator Conroy has been lucky. The mainstream media, while covering the story to some extent, has yet to get really stuck into the Minister over Internet censorship. (It’s possible that may change – and change soon. We’ll see.)

The relative calm in the mass media contrasts with an extraordinary grass roots uproar that has issued forth from ordinary Australians, connected mainly via the internet, who express in websites, blogs, comments and other ways their profound opposition to the Rudd Government’s attempt to impose mandatory Internet censorship.

There’s no shortage of articulate critics of the Government’s plans – if the media wants to interview them. Electronic Frontiers Australia is running a superb campaign. There doesn’t seem to be an equivalent articulate chorus from the pro-censorship lobby – rather belying the Government’s claim that it’s new policy is inresponse to public pressure.

On past performance, if Senator Conroy was forced to debate Internet censorship with articulate critics on anything resembling a level playing field, it would be like blood sport.

So when I heard Australia Talks – an ABC Radio National talkback show – was covering the topic, I wondered if Minister Conroy would debate, on air, with technologically-savvy, articulate critics.

I relished the prospect. But I was to be disappointed.

Clive Hamilton’s Key Role

At the beginning of the program, Australia Talks listeners were treated to some pre-recorded remarks from the Minister in a softball interview. Then Conroy vacated the scene entirely (perhaps he listened in?). The task of arguing the Government’s case was left to others – principally to Dr Clive Hamilton.

Clive HamiltonThe Government’s censorship proposals have an articulate spokesperson in Clive Hamilton.

He speaks reasonably and in a calm voice. Unencumbered with links to any religious denomination, he’s a secular humanist who’s argued in the past for a more ethical way of life. Dr Hamilton is someone any member of a decent Australian ‘working family’ could respect, whether religious or not.

A few years ago, Clive Hamilton and the Australia Institute first entered the internet censorship debate with some widely reported papers and media releases.

I corresponded with him at that time. I was keen to seek clarification of his position and also wanted to convey my deep concerns about the censorship proposal he was advocating. We had a brief exchange of emails, but neither of us were persuaded by the other’s arguments. Dialogue fizzled out.

It was during that exchange that I first heard the very persuasive case that Dr Hamilton uses again and again in this debate. He used it on Australia Talks last week.

The argument was re-iterated in Clive Hamilton’s recent article, which begins as follows (emphases added): “What’s so special about the internet? All but the most unthinking libertarians accept censorship laws that limit sexual content in film, television, radio, books and magazines. Yet the hysterical response from the internet industry and libertarian commentators to the Government’s proposal to require ISPs to filter heavy-duty porn shows how the internet has become fetishised.”

A friend of mine, who doesn’t use the Internet but has children who do, listened to Clive say something similar during the recent Australia Talks discussion. He found it a very persuasive argument and repeated it back to me afterwards.  Superficially, it is persuasive. What’s the big deal if we already censor other similar media?

But as I said in my correspondence at the time, I believe the argument is based on a false analogy. Dangerously false.

Hamilton’s Fallacy

To say why, I’ll give another analogy that I think is more appropriate.

But first, a word of caution. The Internet – and the World Wide Web which rests upon it and provides a user-friendly interface – are truly without precedent. There is no exact parallel in history and we should be cautious of all analogies. None of them really work – and the simple truth is that we must work out for ourselves the most appropriate social, cultural and legal ‘response’ to this new technology, conscious of the novelty of the situation. The past is only a guide. Analogies are useful only to a point.

Even so, were I to draw an analogy for the Web, I’d be more inclined to compare it to the postal service. In my correspondence with Dr Hamilton years ago, I may have used email as a comparison.

To my way of thinking, censoring the World Wide Web is more like censoring a public mail service. That’s because – unlike radio, TV, newspapers etc – the web is not a broadcast medium. Not in the main. It’s a narrowcast medium, in which different users choose their own material from a vast range.

Developing the mail analogy, the Web is more akin to millions of pigeon holes. Each user chooses which pigeon holes to open and explore. The range of possibilities is vast. He/she may visit – or – or something else again, millions of times over.

When I turn on my TV or enter a newsagent, I know that what I’ll find is similar to what Dr Hamilton – or anyone else in Australia – will also experience. I get much the same mass media fodder as Clive, I imagine.

THe World Trade Center Imploding on 9-11But when I turn to the Internet, I go where I choose. I have no idea where Clive goes. That’s up to him. We may be using the same general ‘medium’ – but we’re likely to inhabit very distinct, essentially private universes when we use it. That’s very different from the situation when we both turn on the TV. In that case, in separate houses in separate States thousands of kilometres apart, we have a limited choice and  most of the programs are identical.

I know certain ‘standards’ are maintained in these public and broadcast media. Taken as a whole, the information industry and mass media deliver a shared portrayal of reality to millions of Australians.

Personally, I’m concerned about the level of effective censorship this conformism entails. Some rather important topics, such as the real truth about 9-11 and some of the events that took place during World War Two, are never subjected to genuine, open, balanced scrutiny in the western mass media or within the mainstream publishing industry. There is blatant bias in favour of some perspectives and against others. Clive, I guess, isn’t bothered by this phenomenon. He may well support it. I am bothered. I wonder why Clive’s not bothered – but that’s his business, I guess?

As there are only so many hours in the day and only so many worthy causes one can put time into, I haven’t spent much time campaigning to push back the boundaries of mainstream censorship in Australia (in bookshops. Newsagents, on TV etc). Correspondence with Philip Adams a few years ago gave me a taste of the condescending evasiveness one is likely to encounter. If Late Night Live won’t cover an issue as important as 9-11 in a balanced way, I think it’s a serious problem – and I support more balanced and accurate mass media coverage. But rightly or wrongly, I haven’t put a lot of energy into this myself.

The Web as Information Liberation

One reason why – the main reason – is the access I have to a free Internet.

Pressor Faurisson Beaten by Zionist Thugs in 1993Thanks to the Internet, I don’t need to wait until hell freezes over at the ABC or at News Ltd.

Instead, I can look inside many, many ‘pigeon holes’ to which I’d otherwise have no easy access.

Let’s take an example. If I learn that an elderly Professor of Literature in France has been repeatedly beaten up and arrested – and only recently had his home raided by police – I don’t have to put up with the minimal reporting or non-reporting of distorted reporting of this man and his plight in Australia’s mainstream media. I can check out the source material myself. I can read directly what he has written. In this way, I can get a better appreciation of what all the fuss is about – and form MY OWN view.

What’s more, millions more Australians have discovered the same thing. Of course, each of us looks into different topics – from aeronautics to algebra, bees to beetroot, Cairo to Chinese cooking.

The ability to research independently, using the internet, enabled me to run a website in the run up to the Iraq War in 2002/3. Among other things, it argued that:

  1. the invasion of Iraq was justified by blatant lies
  2. claims of Iraqi WMD’s rested on highly suspect (fabricated) ‘evidence’
  3. invading Iraq (and Afghanistan) was both illegal and immoral
  4. the occupation of Iraq would end up being a major disaster for Iraq and the aggressors
  5. the Iraq invasion – and the entire, bogus ‘War on Terror’ – was primarily orchestrated by Zionist (pro-Israel) interests

Half a dozen years later, only the last of these propositions remains contentious (although evidence in support has accumulated and gone mainstream).

Yet at the time, all these propositions were heresy in Australia’s public discourse.

During the run-up to the invasion, Australia’s newspapers and mainstream electronic media overwhelmingly parroted the official legend about Iraqi WMDs and an ‘imminent threat’. Of course the ‘War for Oil’ line spouted by the ‘official’ peace movement was reported too. But there was broad consensus that Iraq was a rogue State with WMDs. The notion that a real rogue State with genuine WMDs was, in reality, setting up another nation for its own sectarian gain, was never discussed by  our mainstream media.

Coffins of US soldiers killed in the illegal Iraq WarSo – how did I figure out a reasonably accurate take on Iraq and related issues while the mainstream media in Australia and most of the bums on seats in Parliament couldn’t or wouldn’t? Was I using Superior intelligence? Magic?

A bit of both, actually. Instead of only reading and listening to conformist media, I spent a lot of time reading intelligent analysis via the (magical!) Internet – trying to figure out the reality beneath the surface.

I was motivated to do this. I am passionately anti-war and have been throughout my adult life. I was appalled at the drift into yet another wholly unnecessary and evil war, based on absurd fabrications. I couldn’t leave the subject alone. (Incidentally, I ran my website from a shed in a paddock. At the time I didn’t even have broadband!)

Glancing through his website, I observe that Clive Hamilton has left these topics well alone. I can find remarkably little on that website critical of Australia’s swelling military budget, the so-called ‘War on Terror’ and the mass destruction of western civil liberties that’s been underway for several years. Perhaps I haven’t found the right pages?

Now, no single person or organization can work on every issue. Focus is essential. Who am I to criticize the choices Clive has made in his activism? I accept that no one has a monopoly of wisdom! I certainly don’t.

Australia’s New Memory Hole

But here’s the big difference in our respective positions.

I have no interest in restricting Clive Hamilton’s freedom to review whatever material he chooses.

On the other hand, he is vigorously promoting a Government-run system of censorship; if implemented, it will mean that at any time I may be unable to find some of the ‘pigeon holes’ I’d like to look inside.

The White House Basement Memory Hole Under George W. BushI won’t be notified that the pigeon holes have been blocked. I may never learn about them at all. Over time – if the government is serious about ‘cleansing’ Australia’s Internet ‘feed’ – there will be tens or hundreds of thousands of blocked up pigeon holes. I’ll have to go to great lengths to find them. Indeed, quite conceivably the very act of trying to find them may become an illegal act in due course.

Who’s to say that some of those pigeon holes may not be the ones that may help me obtain a more accurate take on reality than the Government, News Corp or the ABC – in the event of YET ANOTHER atrocious, illegal and immoral war?

Will the Government guarantee that? Will Clive?

I’ll re-iterate this key difference between Clive Hamilton’s position and mine.

Clive Hamilton wants to restrict what’s available to me via the Internet. I don’t want to restrict his access. Our positions are asymmetrical.

Clive claims to be protecting ‘victims’, but from where I sit, the scheme he supports will create millions of victims.

I’m one of them.

The Special Case of ‘Hate’

During the discussion on Australia Talks, Dr Hamilton said he doesn’t want political censorship on the Internet. He claims that he doesn’t believe the government’s ‘mandatory filetering’ is intended for that purpose. The censorship push is only about very nasty porn.

I have some skepticism about this. It’s partly the language he used. As I recall, Hamilton said he’d ‘even’ support freedom to view ‘hate sites’. His tone of voice clearly implied he considered such things odious – yet he stressed that that’s how tolerant he is – and how little we have to worry. Why – he’d even support access to hate sites!

But what is a ‘hate site’? The fact he uses the term suggests that Clive thinks he already knows. I make no such claim. In fact, I’ve come to reject the notion that it’s sensible to define or use the term. I think expressions like ‘hate speech’, ‘hate sites’ and ‘hate crime’ are sneaky absurdities, introduced into the language to do violence to our civil liberties. I believe they are routinely used to protect relatively privileged interests from scrutiny. The main beneficiary has been the Zionist Lobby.

Clive is entitled to a different perspective on this, of course. But here again there’s a huge underlying difference. He sees no problem, apparently, in categorizing speech and websites into two categories, ‘hate speech’ and ‘non hate speech’. The implication is that there’s an accepted consensus about what the terms mean. At the moment, he’s saying he doesn’t support censoring ‘hate speech’. But of course, with a ‘filtering’ system in place, it will be a very easy add-on for any Government. Overseas experience suggests it will happen.

In the case of websites critical of the ‘official’ narrative of World War Two, if they disappear from Australia’s web, the public will face a double whammy.

First, we’d have to notice they are missing (it would be as though books have been removed from the shelves of a library and catalogue entries deleted. How do we know what was there originally?) Next, we’d have to campaign against the ban on any given site.

Such a campaign itself may well be defined as ‘hate speech’ and criminalized – which would probably include blocking web coverage of the debate. In Finland, a country that mysteriously chose to implement internet filtering, one of the sites on the (leaked) banned list was a site opposing Internet censorship. In Turkey, where Internet censorship was also introduced recently, Index on Censorship reports “there are more people working on censoring the Internet than developing it”.

Kafka and Orwell would appreciate these tales.

Getting Personal

At this stage in a rather long article, I’ll stop writing in the third person and address Dr Hamilton directly.

I’m going to get personal.

I trust, Clive, that I’ve given some indication about why I’m so concerned about the Internet Censorship issue?

You are advocating a system that entails people I don’t know – and have no reason to trust – systematically blocking off pigeon hole entrances in the gigantic, evolving global library known as the World Wide Web. You’re out to restrict my access. By contrast, I’m not trying to do any such thing to you.

Why are YOU trying to restrict my freedom – and that of other Australians – in such a way?

I’ll go further. How dare you!

What About Porn?

Now to the phenomenon you claim is at the heart of the case for compulsory Internet censorship – pornography.

Mating NudibranchesFirst, I’m not persuaded by the claim that internet pornography is, in reality, a significant social crisis in contemporary Australia. There are undoubtedly many people looking at porn on the internet. But where are all the casualties? Where’s the solid research that demonstrates real and serious harm? Where the academic consensus that this is a serious problem?

Please bring forward your evidence. Let’s have it all debated, discussed and exposed to public scrutiny! How about an open Senate Inquiry into this specific topic – if there’s really enough basis for concern to merit the time of our busy politicians?

Second, what makes you think it’s remotely feasible to block the web’s pigeon holes so successfully that the Internet will be ‘safe’ (whatever that means) for the young and vulnerable? Even your fellow censorship advocates admit the proposed mandatory ‘filter’ will be very ‘leaky’. Isn’t there a risk of misleading parents, if the Government falsely pretends that the Internet has been rendered ‘safe’ via a leaky filter?

Third, what’s wrong with the current situation? For several years, Internet filters have been available, free of charge, to those Australians who want to install them on their family’s own computers. Why doesn’t that suffice? I know uptake has been low – but doesn’t that suggest most Australians don’t share your obsession with censoring the Internet? Why are you so concerned to make censorship compulsory for ALL Australians?

We probably differ over the definition and dangers of pornography, Clive.

Frogs MatingAs time goes by, you increasingly strike me as a bit of a prude.

I wonder if the censors will share your values? How many will the Government need to employ? (there are tens, hundreds of thousands of websites to review). What will the selection criteria be for a censor? Will prior experience be an advantage? How will the censors themselves be protected from the ‘damage’ you allege pornography causes? How to avoid recruiting people who just want to watch lots of porn (legally) in air-conditioned offices at the taxpayer’s expense? Or doesn’t it matter? The mind boggles at the practicalities of this crazy scheme.

Anyhow, here’s another question.

Who the hell are you to determine sexual morality for ALL Australians? Who is Senator Conroy, for that matter? Who are the porn-monitors? Who are ANY of you to perform that role?

Why do you seek to impose standards on me that I may well not share?

Do this for your children by all means – especially when they are little. But leave me out of your moral regime. I’ll make my own decisions, thanks. I don’t want you – or anyone else – telling me what to see and what not to see.

What I choose to view does you no direct harm. Please butt out of my private life!

If you experience more authoritarian urges, try re-reading John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty! Refresh your memory on the principles that underpin liberal democratic society.

I don’t intend to defend ‘child porn’ or any of the other very exotic phenomena that apparently strike you, Clive, as the gravest dangers of the moment. I’ll just point out that there are already laws in all jurisdictions against child abuse. If pictures of abuse are posted on the web, the criminals make it all the easier for law enforcement agencies to arrest them.

Let’s Talk About Hate

If obscenity is the issue, can we discuss real obscenity?

How about illegal wars, based on lies, wars in our own times, that this country participates in and/or supports?

These are wars in which innocent people – many, many people including many, many children – have been and continue to be killed, maimed, suffer poverty and disease, all as a direct consequence of armed assaults by Australia’s ‘allies’.

These appalling and entirely avoidable obscenities don’t seem to bother you much, Clive, judging by your website. Yet you’re shocked about pornography on home computers.

For what it’s worth, I think you have your priorities backwards. I think they are seriously screwed up.

Would you agree that if ‘hate speech’ has any meaning at all, it is ‘hate speech’ to promote illegal wars based on lies?

If not, why not?

If so, why aren’t you concerned about the proliferation of such ‘hate speech’ in the mainstream media, every time there’s another war in the offing in the middle east?

Deformed Iraqi Child from the time of the First Gulf War: A Likely Victim of Depleted UraniumWhy do you agonize publicly over the fate of children exposed to the ‘plague’ of porn on the Internet – but say little, as far as I can see, about children who are victims of depleted uranium dropped by Australia’s military allies with the connivance of our own Government? Why aren’t you using your advocacy skills to lambast our mass media for helping to sell wars based on lies? How do you choose your priorities?

The bottom line, of course, is that you are free to pursue your own interests and concerns. But start impeding MY opportunities to do the same and you become my opponent.

Actually, I’m disgusted that you even try, without adducing compelling evidence of the alleged net social benefit. The ‘evidence’ you have come across may persuade you, but you’ve clearly not persuaded the majority of people actively concerned about this issue and you haven’t persuaded me. Why not try again? Are you a democrat – or an authoritarian?

Your grubby desire to restrict the freedom of your fellow Australians without good cause revolts me.

A child casualty of the Iraq WarYou fret like the Reverend Fred Nile over photos you’ve seen of men and women with semen on their faces. Dear me. Why not change the page?

How about real children with their arms or legs blown off, in Palestine, Somalia, the Lebanon or Afghanistan? Why DON’T we Australians see MORE of those pictures which show the direct consequence of our own nation’s foreign policy?

You seem to think there’s too much shocking material in the media. I think there’s not enough of what we should find truly shocking. You obsess about illicit sex. I’m more concerned about unnecessary death.

You are quite entitled to believe your moral perspective is well-considered.

So are the rest of us.

In Conclusion

Clive, please keep your hands off all the entrances to all those pigeon holes – the millions of them that make up the ever-changing World Wide Web! That’s public domain. Back off!

The Government’s Internet Censorship plan, for which you have become the most visible apologist, is counter-productive, unreasonable, divisive and outright dangerous.

Clive Hamilton - A Progressive or Totalitarian Legacy?If your role as Public Advocate No 1 for this scheme becomes the crowning achievement of your career – the key policy change for which you can later claim major personal credit – then I believe you will leave a sorry legacy.

History will remember you as fondly as it recalls the enthusiastic commissars, who started tidying up the means of communication – and history itself – on behalf the Soviet regime, once the Leninists consolidated their power.

You’re not my Big Brother, Clive. The impersonation ill becomes you.

Why not lighten up and take a holiday?

Alternatively, get back to issues that matter to all sentient Australians, issues on which there’s strong and growing consensus for intelligent new policy – issues such as climate change policy or the current economic turnoil.

I don’t ask you do this for me, Clive. I’ve no right to make demands on your time.

Do it for the sake of the children!

24 Responses  
  • Simon writes:
    November 26th, 200810:12 pmat


  • vealmince writes:
    November 27th, 20081:36 pmat

    Oh goody, an anti-semitic bolshie conspiracy nutter is against internet censorship. With friends like these… (Yes I know dear, you love Jews, you’re just anti Zionist.) How is it you have not uncovered the obvious links between the all-powerful Jewish mind-control lobby and Labor’s internet censorship plans? Keep digging!

  • vealmince writes:
    November 27th, 20081:47 pmat

    Also, I think you’ll find it’s ‘Clive Hamilton and me’ if you’re keen on being 100% grammatical. You always use ‘I’ for the subject and ‘me’ for the object of a sentence. ‘She gave the ball to me’ … ‘She gave the ball to Clive and me’.

  • Hoyden About Town writes:
    November 27th, 20082:02 pmat

    […] Wakler: “Clive Hamilton & I: Getting Personal about Sex, Lies, Hate & Censorship“. 26 Nov […]

  • Syd Walker writes:
    November 27th, 20083:38 pmat

    To vealmince

    Thanks for posting your comments.

    Regarding whether I should have used ‘Me’ or ‘I’ in the title, here’s a link that may help you better appreciate the allusion:

    As for your initial torrent of invective, you are a lucky man indeed. You are the first and last person I will permit to use the facility of commenting here, in this blog, as a means of making gratuious, inaccurate and largely meaningless personal attacks. There are plenty of places you can do that sort of thing. Not here. Comments are welcome, but abuse is not.

    Thanks for providing such a clear example of the type of comment that will not be approved henceforth on this blog.

  • mark writes:
    November 28th, 20088:20 amat


    I’m glad you let Vealmice have his say. It’s a perfect example of the reaction elicited by those opposed to free speech. They hate seeing ‘publicly accepted’ narratives being challenged.

    As for the Government’s internet censorship plans, well one doesn’t need to be Einstein to understand where it will lead. As you point out, powerful lobby groups are behind it. Once they get a foot in the door, the definition of a ‘clean feed’ is up for grabs. Religious groups will argue for the banning of sites containing pornography, sites dealing with euthanasia, homosexuality and abortion. Of course, they have no right or mandate to claim moral oversight of the wider community but that’s never stopped them before.

    Naturally, any site which is critical of Israel will be immediately classified as a hate site and will be banned.

    The powers governing us have always been suspicious of the internet and have been dying to control it, imo. It’s too dangerous letting people go out and discover the facts for themselves. After all, they might discover things that the power elites and major institutions don’t want us to know.

    Big business, the mainstream media, powerful lobby groups and the Government are in agreement. It’s too risky letting people have access to too much information. It’s much better spoon feeding them with ‘decent, respectable narratives’ provided by, let’s say, the Murdoch media.

    Don’t forget the mantra now. “It’s for the children, the children, the children”. Sing it baby.

  • Terrence Valter writes:
    November 28th, 20088:48 amat

    This is the best thread of arguments against the filter I have come across.
    Whilst I agree with the technical arguments, and appreciate the efforts of those who have put them, to me your’s is the compelling one.

    I two believe this incursion into adult freedom is UNACCEPTABLE.
    Please continue to tackle Clive Hamilton whenever he appears publicly.

  • Brendon writes:
    November 28th, 200811:31 amat

    The “reluctantly fielded critical questions on the topic” link seems to be missing a destination. (Or was that intentional?)
    Still reading…

    Thanks Brendan. I’ve fixed this now. The linked article is Conroy misleads Senate in more ways than one on – Ed

  • Michael Brock writes:
    November 28th, 200811:40 amat

    Syd, while there are some matters within your piece with which I would disagree I am in full agreement with most of what you say. I find it very sad that someone like Clive Hamilton, for whom I have had the greatest respect in the past, has taken such a blinkered view over the matter of Internet censorship. Does he not read or examine the many reasoned and (in my view) intelligent arguments against both the possibility of the government’s proposed filtering system being able to work, and the justification for its installation?
    Like you, I have warned Kevin Rudd that, if this filtering system is installed, the Labor party will lose my vote. A vote the Labor party has had since I became old enough to vote, just over fifty years ago.
    Also, like you, I believe that ‘net porn’ is not the REAL reason for the government’s attempts to restrict our access to the net.

  • Stefan writes:
    November 28th, 200812:36 pmat

    You’ve probably grown a thick skin from people like vealmince so you probably don’t need me to say that, like Voltaire, while imay not agree with what you say I support you’re right to say it. While comments like vealeminces do nothing to further debate, is deleting them the best solution. I assume you would have to do this manually, perhaps you could set up a Nasty file, a sort of virtual ‘naughty corner’ (you would be a NetSuperNanny), so nobody could cry censorship on you. Just a thought.

    Thanks Stefan. I’ve give it thought and keep comments policy under review. At present each comment must be manually approved before it appears. Re: censorship, I think it’s acceptable that I manage this site’s content, especially as and when sensitive topics are discussed. Nothing to stop Velamince from setting up his own website, and allowing or disallowing comments as he chooses. That’s free speech. My main goal is not to establish a perfect model for uncensored debate. I want to stimulate intelligent discussion. In a perfect world they’d be identical, but… – Ed

  • daggett writes:
    November 29th, 20081:18 amat

    I concur with Terrence Valter’s view:

    “As This is the best thread of arguments against the filter I have come across.”

    So, thanks, Sid Walker.

    Like you, I had a lot of time for Clive Hamilton until I learnt of his support for compulsory net filtering.

    That said, I take issue with a secondary point in this article:

    the Iraq invasion – and the entire, bogus ‘War on Terror’ – was primarily orchestrated by Zionist (pro-Israel) interests

    I have yet to be convinced that Israel is the main driving force behind all this.

    Obviously, there is close collaboration between Israel and the US, but it seems to me that the principle drivers of the (misnamed) “War on Terror” and its principle justification the ‘false flag’ terrorist attack of September 11 2001 are elements within the elite of the US and not Israel.

    BTW, I support a two-state solution in spite of the fact that I believe that it was wrong to give Palestinian land to Israel back in 1947.

  • mark writes:
    November 29th, 20082:07 pmat


    Sorry to have to tell you this but it was Israel who provided the US with the crucial intelligence information about the Iraqi WMD’s (which turned out to be false of course), in the days leading up to invasion of Iraq in 2003. Israel was easily the biggest cheerleader for the invasion.

    In regard to the imminent internet censorship here in Australia, I’m now very concerned that the Govt, media, religious zealots and other cheerleaders for censorship will now cite the deadly terrorist attack in Mumbai as a further justification for internet censorship. Twisted logic never stopped them before.

  • daggett writes:
    November 29th, 20084:14 pmat

    (Sorry I mis-spelt ‘Syd’ as ‘Sid’ earlier.)


    The fact that Israel collaborates with the US in many ways, including in the fabrication of fraudulent ‘proof’ of the existence of WMD’s, is no great surprise to me.

    Nevertheless I don’t see that it follows from that that Israel, rather that the wealthy elites of the United States, is the principle driver of the so-called “war on terror”.

    Maybe someone could show me how this is the case, but until it can be clearly demonstrated that “the Iraq invasion – and the entire, bogus ‘War on Terror’ – was primarily orchestrated by Zionist (pro-Israel) interests,” I think making this claim doesn’t help the wider public to gain an understanding of what is going on.

    I also expect that it won’t be long before someone tries to seize upon the Mumbai terrorist attacks to justify further curtailments of our civil liberties, but I expect they may be more subtle than they have in the past..

  • Agmates Rural News » Blog Archive » Social Control -Why Clive Hamilton Wants To Shut Down The Net writes:
    November 29th, 20086:16 pmat

    […] Clive Hamilton & I: Getting Personal about S*x, Lies, Hate & Censorship […]

  • mark writes:
    November 30th, 20086:03 amat


    Hi again. Yes I agree that the wealthy elites in the US are pro ‘war on terror’. For one thing, it helps justify America’s massive military spending (which is actually nothing more than a massive wealth transfer from the US taxpayer to arms manufacturers and their shareholders) at a time when there is no actual military threat to the US.

    Problem is, many of those wealthy elites are very pro-Israel. Take our friend Mr. Murdoch for example. I have read that at the time of the Iraq invasion, all 200 odd publications in his global newspaper empire were baying for war—so much for editorial independence. You’ll never find a serious criticism of Israel in any of his newspapers, despite the dreadful plight of the Palestinians. (if you can, please point me to it—I would love to see it). Rupert Murdoch, like all the owners of the major US media conglomerates, is a fierce and proud Zionist. Some observers suggest that the US based Zionists are even more fanatical than the ones in Israel. AIPAC is the most powerful lobby in Washington and it controls the US Congress lock, stock and barrel. Look how Obama and McCain constantly genuflected to Israel throughout the recent campaign. Israel owns US foreign policy, no question.

    Maintaining the bogus war on terror is a major component of Israel’s strategy of balkanising the region, imo. To hardliners in the Likud, the Iraq war has been a major success. The US military industrial complex and the Zionist lobby are as one on the war on terror. They’re partners.

    That’s my understanding of the issue even if the wider public with their constant diet of western media, don’t agree.

  • vealmince writes:
    December 1st, 20085:27 pmat

    Gratuitous? Inaccurate? Piffle: I chose my words with great care.
    Let’s see. You make the utterly discredited and easily disprovable claim that Jewish Neocons (what’s the difference, eh?) were behind the Iraq invasion and the ‘war on terror’.
    For ‘proof’ you link to 800 Pound Gorilla, a site dedicated to examining the “growing body of research/evidence implicating an international Zionist network of criminal conspiracy against humanity”. Anti-semitic? Of course not!
    You make oblique references to ‘certain events during WWII’ and ‘hate sites’ – nothing anyone could pin on you, but definitely a nudge and wink to the Holocaust-denier cognoscenti.
    You talk about the ‘truth’ behind 9/11 – let me guess: it was planned and executed by the Mossad and the CIA?
    I’m sure we’d agree on a lot of things, such as the evils of internet censorship and the boring uniformity of the Western media. It’s just at some point your fervour to see Jewish manipulation at every point of history has caused you and sanity to part company in a fairly severe way.
    From your comments and those of your readers, I’m viewed as the inevitable backlash from the Zionist whatchamajigger trying to stifle debate. But you’re the one controlling what is published here and what isn’t and you’ve made it crystal clear how you feel about dissenting opinions…
    Also, just because people’s responses are predictable doesn’t prove you right – they’re predictable because your Elders of Zion fantasies are so old, boring and at odds with reality.

  • Syd Walker writes:
    December 1st, 200811:01 pmat


    In this reply, I’ll focus only on the causes of the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003.

    Here are a few links that support the case – which I find compelling – that the primary interest group behind the attack on Iraq was the pro-Israel lobby, both within in the USA and in other countries such as Britain and Australia.

    ‘The Lobby’, of course, works not only through politicians. It also enjoys overwhelmingly favourable treatment in the western mainstream media, espeically at critical moments such as the months preceding the Iraq invasion.

    The Men From JINSA and CSP by Jason Vest in The Nation (2002)

    The Israel Lobby by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt in the London Review of Books, 2006

    Scott Ritter speaks on On Israel and AIPAC

    The Transparent Cabal: The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East, and the National Interest of Israel by Stephen Sniegoski, 2008

  • Mark writes:
    December 2nd, 200811:47 amat

    Admirable restraint, Sid.

    These neanderthal defenders of the utterly indefensible are just so old, boring and at odds with reality.

  • vealmince writes:
    December 3rd, 200812:45 pmat

    Many (not all) leading neoconservatives are Jewish, in family origin if not always religious belief. Many support Israel. Some Jewish groups lobbied in favour of the Iraq invasion. Much of the right-leaning commercial media, particularly in the US, has a pro-Israel bias. These are uncontroversial.

    But from there it’s a huge stretch to say pro-Israel interests ORCHESTRATED the invasion. Or that Jewish/Zionist groups CONTROL what politicians do or what the media reports. Or that Jews invented or exaggerated the Holocaust to guilt the world into establishing Israel. Or that the 9/11 attacks were a Zionist-Israeli-Neoconservative plot to bolster the case for invading Iraq. (If they’re as powerful as you claim, why would they need to? And why didn’t they plant any evidence that directly implicated Iraq instead of the Afghanistan/Al Qa’ida red herring? Clearly my thinking is not convoluted enough.)

    You don’t strike me as the sort of weak-minded fool who falls for conspiracy theories – which are so appealing because they explain EVERYTHING. But to explain the absence of evidence for these claims – save in a tiny circle of like-minded websites, blogs and publications – you always seem to fall back on a vast, all-powerful, worldwide Jewish conspiracy to hide the truth, of which Australia’s proposed internet censorship is just the latest chapter.

    A much less incredible hypothesis is that there is no proof because these things are not true.

  • Mark writes:
    December 3rd, 20082:47 pmat

    Vealmice says:

    “Much of the right-leaning commercial media, particularly in the US, has a pro-Israel bias. These are uncontroversial.”

    Who says it’s ”uncontroversial”? Certainly not the Palestinians, who have been steadily dispossessed and murdered for sixty years. I guess for people like you the Palestinians don’t count.

    The pro-Israel bias of western media and Governments is definitely controversial and disgraceful. Just like you, Vealmice.

  • Alan Gresley writes:
    December 8th, 200812:06 amat


    I see that you take the blue pill. It may seem hard at first to contemplate that particular elements inside the United States and Israel are behind 9/11, but when one is confronted with images of world leaders engaged in mock human sacrifice then perceived reality flies quickly out the window. It is you who is the weak-minded fool. It is you who is like a sheep being led blindly to the slaughter. It is you who believe governments tell the truth.

  • Diana A writes:
    December 9th, 20084:03 pmat

    I am reading this article in a work break at my desk choosing to follow the links in the text of the commentary I selected several links adjacent the images of the elderly Literature Proffessor in France to see what he had written.

    Unfortunately the filters on my work’s ISP responded with a message that “Racism and Hate” are filtered so I must assume that the injured man must be a purveyor of hate and racist literature.

    Following down the article I find links adjacent discussion of the basis of the US invasion of Iraq was the result “of orchestrations by Zionist pro-Israeli interests”, so I follow the link and read the articles. From this I can only justifiiably conclude that pro-Israeli zionists are good anti-racists without hate.

    I am so thankful that the Government of this fine land has subscribed to a US Government provision of internet filtering so that I can make up my own mind about the world in an intelectual, researched and reasoned manner.

    How then am I to consider the same “racism and hate” filters blocking access to a four wheel drive vehicle site directed towards vehicles with 36″ tyres. (On the site there are no images or discussion of genecide or any other racist material, just 4X4s with big wheels.)

  • Julia writes:
    February 19th, 20091:24 pmat

    Great article. Clear, rational, and intelligent, based on facts.

    Clive hamilton is a fraud who should be stripped of his titles (if he has any).

  • Julia writes:
    February 19th, 20091:27 pmat

    vealmince, respond to the facts. Stop labelling people accusing them of everything. The mainstream media was and IS *factually* wrong on the wars in the middle east. Not only this their bias extends to suppressing the importance of the deaths and injury inflicted on the people of those countries.

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