19 February 2009

Hamilton: Free speech has no place in a democracy

Clive Hamilton, propounder of all that is evil about the "Clean Feed", has determined that as well as not being able to shout "Fire!" in a crowded cinema, citizens of democracies also have no right to the internet. It seems that censorship, which we all thought was a necessary evil to be used sparingly and not at all for adults who are doing legal things that harm none, is in fact the foundation of civil society. Who knew? Oh, yes, the Catholic Church knew, didn't it Clive?

A response from ZeroPaid - to whom the hat tip - are not enough. This highly illiberal advocate of a closed society wants to call those who value freedoms online as "net libertarians", as if being in favour of liberty was somehow unChristian, unAustralian and unphilosophical. Hot news tip: not all who value liberty are libertarians and not all who oppose it are being honest about their reasons.

The rule is this: In a civil democracy, one can do anything one likes so long as it is not illegal, without interference from government controls or moral censors. And if you want to make something you don't like illegal, like reading pornography or advocating abortion, you had better brace for a public debate over that, not slip it in via some barndoor mechanism that enables you to house all you favourite restirctions on others without oversight or redress.

And speaking of a lack of redress, the usually liberal New Zealand is about to install a "guilt by accusation" law about internet accounts - if anyone at all, with no evidence whatsoever apart from a j'accuse, makes a complaint about copyright infringement, the ISP will be required to immediately delete that user's account and all online materials! No doubt this is driven by the fascists in the music industry who think their IP rights trump everyone else's rights.


intouchwiththeobvious said...

Perhaps even more dismaying than Hamilton's article is the ignorance displayed in the comments in support of his opinion. (I can't bring myself to call Hamilton's hypocritical cherry-picking and convoluted-hypothetical-scenario scaremongering an argument in any real sense.)

On the other topic, Creative Freedom NZ is running the The New Zealand Internet Blackout campaign (which has gone viral and apparently even has the support of Stephen Fry) to raise awareness of the "guilt upon accusation" law in NZ.

(Also, welcome back to the blogging world, John! It has been, if you'll excuse the pun, a bit of a drought both here and at Evolving Thoughts.)

John S. Wilkins said...

Thank Primus for the dearth! It took three friggin' weeks to get my internet and phone relocated to Sydney.

Bob O'Hara said...

if the "guilt upon accusation" law works exactly as you claim, the poor NZ PM is going to have a hell of a time with accounts being closed.

Russell Blackford said...

What irks me is that this socially conservative nitwit, Clive Hamilton, is lionised on the Left. The Left has really lost its way when people like Hamilton and Robert Manne are its heroes.