Category Archives: censorship

A Few Truths

Why do Christians lie so much? What is this “lying for Jesus” all about. A means to an end is not always the morally right thing to do.

There are several Christian lobby groups around these days with The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) and Access Ministries being two very vocal, and apparently quite powerful, examples. The idea of a Christian lobby group should worry every right thinking person, religious or not. Why Christians need lobby groups is a thing to ponder, what ever happened to religious groups just doing what they do best – sings songs in churches and do a little charity work. When did they become so powerful? Are we seeing the march to a theocracy in this country?

ACL wrote this small article titled “A few truths of the religion in schools debate” supporting a Bishop who had written an article in Online Opinion (OO) complaining about The Age’s reporting of Christian Religious Education.

OzAz wrote the following comment in reply to the ACL:

Truth? You wouldn’t know the meaning of the word Truth.

If, as you’d like to portray, Christianity is the predominant religion in Australia (at last census about 60%, BUT only about 20% actual practitioners) then how can you cry “oppression”?

Australians, by and large, aren’t fearful of religion, most just don’t care either way. What we do fear is right wing fundamentalist religious organisations using tax payer funded money (for which they are totally unaccountable for!) to promote their narrow minded view of the world based on, what many believe, to be an out-dated book.

Even adherents of the various holy books do not adhere to everything written in them, so why should the rest of us adhere to anything written in them?

Some may suspect that the only reason your group, and other groups like yours, are so keen to use tax payers and parishioners money to lobby government to spend even more tax payer dollars on allowing CRE, Chaplains in schools and other forms of ensuring you get a foothold into schools and therefore young and impressionable minds is to procure more followers. The more followers the more money you can make. Pity this money isn’t always used for good charitable works.

PS I have copied this and will paste it to various other blogs and forums as I suspect you won’t have the dignity or adhere to freedom of speech and allow this comment to be posted to your site.

OzAz has forwarded this comment to me for inclusion in my blog, as he suspects the ACL will not moderate his comment as the ACL seem to have a habit of not allowing any comment which questions them in any way shape or form.

As usual Chrys Stevenson has written an excellent response to Nicholas Tuohy’s article in OO, I recommend you read it.

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Filed under atheism, beliefs, bible, censorship, christianity, church, politics, religion, religious school, secular

No Clean Feed

More news of the Governments crazy Internet Censorship / Clean Feed debacle.

As you are all probably aware by now wikileaks.org leaked a copy of the Australian Governments and ACMAs URL blacklist. It turns out, according to Stilgherrian writing in Crikey today, that until recently the list was also available from within filtering software available from some ISPs! Stilgherrian poses some interesting questions on the possible size of the banned URL list and whether there may in fact be two lists.

Additionally, it was revealed by Sam Davies in newmatilda today that Australia has been put on a watch list of repressive countries, such as Zimbabwe and Malaysia, because of the government’s clean feed proposal.

I highly recommend you read both linked articles if you are interested in the Clean Feed proposal, its inherent problems, risk of abuse and the position it puts Australia in with respect to democracy and in they eyes of the rest of the world.


Thanks to Mojoey I have updated my Atheist Blogroll page, which now contains a list of all the atheist blogs on Mojoey’s list as of March 2009, in one easy to see long (very long) list.

For other wordpress.com users who can’t put Mojoeys list in their sidebar (due to scripting being disallowed) and would like to have an Atheist Blogroll page like me, I can provide a copy of Mojoeys list as a text file, just ask.

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Filed under censorship, Clean Feed, internet censorship, internet filter

Why aren’t PC-level filters sufficient?

Because most people are stupid. Well, that’s the inference I get from Senator Conroy’s response to my comment on the governments website.

Some while back the government opened their pathetic excuse for a blog where people could respond to the ISP Filtering debacle [side note: there are now 768 comments on his ‘blog’, I wonder how many others Conroy responded to?) . I left two comments and Senator Conroy has responded to one of them.

Whatever happened to parents being responsible for what their children view? The government has already provided a PC based filtering system, which only about 3% of households took up. Which, to me, just goes to show most parents don’t care about filtering anyway.

Posted by OzAtheist / 10 Dec 2008 10:21am / Permalink

Conroy’s response:

The previous Government’s Protecting Australian Families Online strategy focused on providing families with PC-level filtering software. However, despite an $84.8 million government program and $15.5 million in advertising, only about two per cent of households with dependent children are using a filter. Unfortunately, many parents do not have the technical skills or knowledge to install and manage PC-level filters. ISP-level filtering could provide important protection for those families with limited technical expertise.

We understand that ISP filtering is not a ‘silver bullet’ for this purpose. However, in conjunction with the Government’s numerous other initiatives in this area, we believe it can make an important contribution to protecting children online.

Stephen Conroy

Which I think is a cop out. It is obvious that parents are just not bothered with filtering, they are too stupid or both. Either way filtering everyone is hardly an appropriate response.

The government has already spent  over $100M on previous filters that have proved a complete flop, why spend more? Are the children really in that much trouble on the net? From some reports in the media, chat programs such as messenger pose more of a threat than children just accidently stumbling upon porn on the net. From what I’ve heard Conroy’s filter won’t protect children on chat programs. Really why is he bothering?

Interesting Conroy’s own admission that the filtering is “not a ‘silver bullet’”, this is a bit of a departure from early statements he made.

Hat Tip to Sean for finding the response, and letting me know about it via twitter. What you aren’t on twitter?

 

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Filed under censorship, China, freedom of speech, internet, internet censorship, internet filter, no clean feed, paedophile, porn

Atheist Advertising too Controversial in Australia

In previous posts I’ve discussed how the Atheist Foundation of Australia (AFA) are trying in vain to place adverts on buses around Australia. Well now they have lodged a complaint with the Tasmanian Anti-discrimination Commissioner.

The Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc is to complain to the Tasmanian Anti-discrimination Commissioner following the refusal of Metro Tasmania, a State owned bus company, to display its advertisements.

President of the Foundation, David Nicholls said: “Following legal advice we have decided to lodge the complaint. It is unfortunate the AFA has to go down this path to achieve justice. However, there is no grudge involved here, just a simple matter of what is right.”

David Nicholls said atheists worldwide have an important message for humanity and one that is quite urgent. He said the denial of an opportunity to express that message on Public Transport had possibly resulted from unfounded concerns in executive decision making. Mr Nicholls said he expected a good outcome to the complaint and envisaged the slogan, “Atheism – Celebrate reason! Sleep in on Sunday mornings” to soon be on a bus near you.

Hobart lawyer James Crotty has been retained to advise on the complaint.

hat tip to Sean

In more news of discrimination against atheists and free speech comes this piece of news from Albury-Wodonga. Kieran saw a good deal for classified adverts in his local newspaper so decided he’d post an atheist message:

The Border Mail has a classifieds deal on, $1.10 a line for a Christmas greeting. I rang up, and requested the following:

Christians, There probably is no god, so stop worrying and enjoy life – Kieran.

The lady at the other end said “No”.

Surprise, surprise, they wouldn’t accept it.  If the Border Mail is anything like my local rag, The Star, it will be filled with religious adverts, so why not one tiny atheist one?

In fact page 18 of The Star, dated 17 December, is a whole page advertising feature for Christmas church services. There are two letters, one from the Catholic Bishop and one from the Anglican Bishop, and eleven (11) pictorial adverts for various churches and their Christmas services. I don’t’ have a problem with that, if they’ve paid, they are fully entitled to, I’ll just ignore that page. However if the same newspaper refuses to place an atheist (or even a hindu, muslim or other religion) advert then that is discrimination, censorship and denial of free speech.

Kieran has asked for others to try and place an atheist message in his local paper and has even offered to pay for it:

If anyone manages to sneak a good atheist message into the Border Mail’s Christmas greetings, I’ll pay for it.

Intersting idea, and hat tip to The Atheist Blogger.

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Filed under activism, atheism, atheist, censorship, freedom of speech

Why Internet Filtering is NOT a good idea

When someone decides the picture on an album cover is offensive and adds it to a black-list then everyone suffers. from Wikipedia added to child pornography blacklist

Wikipedia has been blacklisted by a British online child pornography watchdog, causing almost every internet user in Britain to be blocked from contributing to the site anonymously.

The British Government-backed Internet Watch Foundation blacklisted Wikipedia over an article on the 1976 album Virgin Killer by German heavy metal band Scorpions.

At issue was a screen shot of the album cover, published with the article, that featured a naked, young girl with her genitals obscured by a simulated tear in the photograph.

After hearing of the blacklisting, Britain’s six main internet service providers blocked their users from accessing the article.

Here in Australia our government is considering having mandatory ISP filtering, unlike the UK where it is not compulsory. But as can be seen if something is considered child pornography then most operators will also consider it such, quite likely to avoid being seen as being soft on child pornography, it then becomes a matter of self censorship. Having seen the offending picture I can see how it could be considered child pornography, but then again I thought Bell Henson‘s pictures were as well.

The problem with the ban is that now all users appear to wikipedia as one of six users (the six ISPs blocking the site), so if just one user gets banned then all users on that ISP will be banned from modifying wikipedia. This may seem a bit innocuous but think of the consequences.

One person complains to the watchdog (and in this case it was only one user), the site gets blacklisted, all users on those six ISPs (about 95% of home internet users) now appear as one of six users. Lets say six people, one on each of the six ISPs, purposefully get themselves banned by wikipedia, then just about every internet user can no longer edit anonymously. Then using an alternate ISP these nefarious gang of six edit various wikipedia sites, the rest of the populace now finds it difficult to correct these edits. These new entries come

I know I’m probably being a bit paranoid and ‘conspiracy theorist’ here, but it just shows how easy it could be, if mandatory filtering was in place, for a small group of people to wreck  havoc on the internet for everyone else. Worse still, in Australia you might not even know it had happened, as the government doesn’t have to expose which sites have been black-listed.

1984 anyone?

In more political correctness gone wrong, comes the story of the man who has been convicted of possessing child pornography, and then lost his appeal. The offending matter?  A cartoon of Homer Simpson having sex with Lisa Simpson. Yes folks a cartoon! The judge (where do they find these people?)  stated:

the word ‘person’ included fictional or imaginary characters …,”

and

“… The mere fact that the figure depicted departed from a realistic representation in some respects of a human being did not mean that such a figure was not a ‘person’.”

feckin’ genius this judge, even most four year olds know the difference between a cartoon and a person, but not our ‘learned’ judge.

There are a few other bloggers covering this and they have come up with some, at times quite funny, extrapolations of this ruling. How far could this go?

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Filed under activism, atheism, censorship, freedom of speech, internet censorship, internet filter, no clean feed, porn

Aussie Atheist Bus Campaign – an update

A couple of days ago it came to my attention that the AFA’s Atheist Bus Campaign has hit another snag. From the transcript of the Religion Report radio broadcast the other day:

… the Atheist Foundation of Australia, who have been refused permission to buy advertising space on public transport.

You might have read in recent weeks that the British Humanist Association, assisted by crusading atheist Richard Dawkins, have been raising money to put their message on London buses. The ads, planned for January, will read, ‘There’s probably no god, now stop worrying and enjoy your life.’

And in Washington, buses are already trundling around with a Christmas message from the American Humanist Association: ‘Why believe in a god? Just be good, for goodness’ sake’.

Well the Atheist Foundation of Australia wants to mount its own campaign, and says that its members and supporters have pledged $16,000 to fund advertisements on buses in Australia. So they’ve approached APN Outdoor, the company that manages public transport advertising in most Australian capitals.

According to the Atheist Foundation’s president, David Nicholls, APN Outdoor said that they had problems with the wording of the proposed message. But then after the Foundation made two sets of changes to the wording, APN Outdoor said they simply weren’t able to accommodate them.

WHY? Just because. David speculates that APN has rejected any and all atheist bus slogans because of the cultural belief that religion has some sort of privileged status. Even mild criticism of religion is shunned.

I suggest you have a read of the transcript or listen to the podcast, it’s quite interesting, After the host finsishes talking to David he contunes the discussion with Greg Clarke, Director of the Macquarie Christian Studies Institute who is open to allowing the atheist bus slogans “as long as it’s done with a level of civility”, which it was.

The radio show continues with a discussion about a new book, ‘In Your Shoes: Interfaith Education for Australian Religious Educators’, which provides advice for teaching students about different religious traditions. Some interesting comments from the author.

Back to APN censoring advertising, it appears that it’s not just atheist slogans they refuse to advertise. APN has also refused to carry the Catholic’s Respect Life Office (RLO) anti-abortion adverts which were going to display graphic pictures [to scare women into not having abortions]. Whilst I think the idea of showing graphic pictures and trying to scare women into not having an abortion is not very productive and amounts to not much more than psycological warfare against women at a time they can be very vulnerable, I’m not sure it’s really up to the advertisers to be censors? Or is it? Who should be ultimately responsible for what gets advertised?

In the article about the RLO’s advertising ban, I thought it was ironic that the RLO are worried about women’s mental health following an abortion. According to them:

Many women seeking help had experienced substance abuse, anxiety, sleep disorders, suicidal thoughts, psychiatric illness, risk-taking behaviour and relationship problems as a result of their abortion.

Well I’ve heard the same thing about women who had found out they were pregnant and didn’t want the child. I’ve also heard of womens lives that have been completely ruined because they were coerced into having a child they didn’t really want, some of these women have experienced the exact same symptoms the RLO described. So who is right and who is wrong? Should abortion be banned because some women feel bad afterwards? NO, I don’t think so, in fact I think if abortion wasn’t so stigmatised, especially by the religious, and women were provided with non-judgemental guidance before, and afterwards if required, a lot less women would have psychological problems with abortion. What do you think?

One more Bus advert banned by APN, ‘The Chasers War on Everything’ DVD release was going to carry the slogan:

“The only good thing to come out of APEC.”

with pictures of their APEC stunt. However APN has banned the advert for being “too political”.

I’m starting to wonder how APN makes any money, as they seem to not want to advertise anything even remotely political or anti-religious.

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Filed under abortion, activism, APEC, APN, atheism, atheist, Atheist Bus Campaign, billboard, Catholic, censorship, christianity, freedom of speech, politics, religion

Update on No Clean Feed – Internet Censorship

I recently sent a letter to both my local MP and Senator Conroy expressing my dismay at the idea of the Internet filter (see No Clean Feed in side bar). Today I got a reply from my local MP.

If you would like to read it please download the following links:

I will be reviewing and critiquing this letter shortly, and possibly sending a reply to my MP. In the meantime if anyone would like to provide assistance please leave suggestions in the comments.

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Filed under censorship, internet censorship