26 July 2010

The first casualty

The increasing intention of western and non-western governments to censor the internet is usually put in terms of "child protection", although it is very unlikely to be affected by censorship, merely by using uncensorable techniques like Torrents. But one has to wonder if the real reason is more to do with preventing this sort of thing. It turns out that we have been lied to about civilian casualties and targeted assassinations in Afghanistan, two things that any civilised society should repudiate. Aeschylus is supposed to have said that in war, truth is the first casualty. Governments and militaries who prosecute wars do so for their own reasons, which are almost never the reason they give to their populace. Controlling information is crucial. We went into Iraq on a lie, and it looks like we are behaving in Afghanistan in ways that are contrary to what we are being told. This is not the fault of those on the ground, but it is the fault of governments. Without services like Wikilinks, we would never know these lies until it was too late to act on them. So, of course, governments wish to block access to information about the lies. I note also that Wikileaks is providing a service for whistleblowers to notify the media securely. Whistleblowers are usually well motivated individuals with a civil conscience, and so they are usually the only ones blamed and punished for the things they blow the whistle on, despite supposed protection laws. This is a marvellous idea. Media outlets can put a form to notify them on their own websites, and Wikileaks will anonymise the posts. Wikileaks is available from here. It's under a heavy strain right now, for obvious reasons, but I wouldn't put a DDoS attack out of the question either. In any even I expect that the Australian internet filter will include Wikileaks. If it does, I'll post a way around it. Think about why people are criticising Wikileaks: they are providing us, the people, with the truth about things that governments and vested interests do not want exposed. Why would anyone think that was wrong? Nobody who is open and honest could. Yes, I mean you Conroy, you weasel.

05 July 2010

A letter to the PM

It turns out you can write to the Prime Minister via an online form, Roger Lamb pointed out to me and others via Twitter. Here's what I wrote:

Policies that will make me not vote Labor

Dear Prime Minister

Congratulations on your accession to the office. I am impressed that you eschew faux religiosity and do not apologise for your marital state. It's about time we had such honesty in our politics. But I wish to express my concern, both as a voter and as an academic (I teach philosophy at Bond), about some existing Labor policies and statements you have made in recent times

1. Internet filtering: this is a regressive and paternalistic policy that will, incidentally, not work. Drop it immediately. I would also suggest that Senator Kate Lundy is a good person in this discussion. That is, if you are unable to appoint Senator Ludlam to the ministry.

2. Gay Marriage: Some 10% of Australian citizens or so are discriminated against. You may not like gay relationships, but they deserve the same protection of law as every other citizen.

3. Asylum seekers. Must we really defer to xenophobia here? Asylum seekers are a minuscule problem in population growth (and you have adopted the right slant on that matter); say so and make the process more humane.

These policies as they stand are deal breakers for me. I know they are deal breakers for many others who might be classed as "swinging voters". You won't change the minds of the entrenched, but you can for those who are social progressives, who were once the constituency of Labor.

With respect

John Wilkins

Cardinal Fang gives notpology, and evades real problem

Cardinal Fang, also known as George Pell the Ignorant, has avoided an apology (at least his Melbourne colleague gave one) for child abuse by priests int he Catholic Church, on the grounds that he did that already, and isn't it time to move on?

George, if you have any decency at all, open up the Church's correspondence on pedophilia. Let us know what the Church knew, when and who. Hide no details. Don't act like the Mob does, as the Church is doing in Belgium. Full and frank disclosure is the only way to rescue the reputation of the Church, if anything will. Go on, I dare you.

Later: See these letters regarding Archbishop Rabbit's "apology", in the Melbourne Age.