The Null Device
Looks like the Australian national internet firewall is one step closer, with the Tories moving to support it.
But yesterday Senator Coonan's spokeswoman said "the Government has not ruled out ISP-based filtering and is currently undertaking a trial in Tasmania in conjunction with the internet safety agency NetAlert".It looks like Australians' days of free unfiltered internet access are numbered, and soon they will have to sign a "perverts' register" to get access to things not deemed suitable for children (which would not merely mean hardcore porn, but any sites that do not restrict themselves to themes suitable for children; for example, Boing Boing would almost certainly be blocked, as it is in the United Arab Emirates and such). And, with the infrastructure of censorship in place, chances are access to content not deemed suitable for Australians (such as parodies of government web sites) could be blocked to everyone.
Of course, the national firewall isn't law yet, though given the amount of pressure there is on all parties from the wowsers and religious conservatives (who have become very well organised, as in the U.S.), it stands a good chance of becoming so unless those who believe in an open internet stand up and be heard. Electronic Frontiers Australia is one group opposing this scheme.
A telephone survey of 2,000 households across the United States has revealed that atheists are America's most distrusted minority. Americans see atheists as a threat to the American way of life, rate them below Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in "sharing their vision of American society", and are the least willing to allow their children to marry one.
Even though atheists are few in number, not formally organized and relatively hard to publicly identify, they are seen as a threat to the American way of life by a large portion of the American public. "Atheists, who account for about 3 percent of the U.S. population, offer a glaring exception to the rule of increasing social tolerance over the last 30 years," says Penny Edgell, associate sociology professor and the studys lead researcher.
Edgell also argues that todays atheists play the role that Catholics, Jews and communists have played in the pastthey offer a symbolic moral boundary to membership in American society. "It seems most Americans believe that diversity is fine, as long as every one shares a common core of values that make them trustworthy—and in America, that core has historically been religious," says Edgell. Many of the studys respondents associated atheism with an array of moral indiscretions ranging from criminal behavior to rampant materialism and cultural elitism.Of course, not all Americans would prohibit their children from marryin' an atheist. The study found, not surprisingly, that intolerance of atheists is inversely proportional to one's education and exposure to diversity.