The Null Device

Slouching towards Singapore

A few years ago, Australia's conservative government gave the local censorship board sweeping authority to take down offensive web sites. Surprisingly, this has not impaired the availability of hardcore pornography. So they're looking at changing the law. And if you thought that means getting rid of the whole white elephant, you'd be wrong. Hard-line neo-conservative PM John Howard and "World's Greatest Luddite" Senator Alston are looking at a number of options, including a Singaporean/Saudi-style national filter and mandatory porn filters on all Internet connections at the ISP level (except for those who have signed a "pervert register" to get to download porn; though you may have trouble getting a job requiring "moral integrity" if your name is on the register). Labor has made noises about not supporting such legislation, though, so it may well get blocked in the Senate.

There are 12 comments on "Slouching towards Singapore":

Posted by: mark Wed Mar 5 10:36:22 2003

I was under the impression it was just an attempt to get into Senator Harradine's pants. Well, not *literally*... I hope.

Posted by: acb Wed Mar 5 10:58:35 2003

I suspect that Alston (whose close relationship with religious-right elements has emerged on many occasions; such as his personal string-pulling to help an evangelical Christian group set up a high-power radio transmitter in the NT to help Christianise the Mohammedan heathens of Asia) sees the ridding Australia of smut and filth as a personal crusade, or at least as a higher good than free speech and civil liberties.

Posted by: gjw Wed Mar 5 11:44:07 2003

They had a joker from something called "The Australia Institute" (sounds ominously right-wing, kind of like the "Adelaide Institute") on radio national the other day - they were the ones that produced the oh-so-shocking survey that revealed that 85% of boys and 65% of girls aged 17 and 18 accessed porn on the internet. He was advocating total porn filters on ISPs, and obviously the government are listening to him.

Posted by: kstop Wed Mar 5 12:23:34 2003

I wonder what percentage have seen print or video porn. Maybe ye should burn suspect books at the harbours, just to be on the safe side.

Posted by: acb Wed Mar 5 13:47:59 2003

Yes; think of all the children corrupted every year by reading Ulysses or Lady Chatterley's Lover under the bedsheets with a flashlight -- in the "safety" of their own home! Clearly we must ACT NOW before it's TOO LATE, for our ONLY HOPE FOR A FUTURE!

Posted by: dj http:// Wed Mar 5 14:26:54 2003

Action must be taken i say to rid ourselves once and for all of this disgusting thing called sex. All bedrooms must have locks on their doors! Heaven knows what may happen if the little ones awake late at night and enter the bedroom of their parents to find mother and father going at it, let alone if they find mummy and aunty grace, or daddy and uncle bob, or all of them together....

Parents must therefore be forced to lock their children in their bedrooms upon their retirement to bed. Government officers will carry out random inspections to ensure that the pure minds of our little Australians are not invaded by the dirty reality of their parents lust.

Any public mention of legal sex acts between consenting adults will be hitherto be subject to prohibition.

Posted by: dj http:// Wed Mar 5 15:21:57 2003

I read elsewhere another fantastic solution to the acknowledgement corporeality and sensuality of humanity. All mirrors must be smashed immediately, lest people be inflamed with madness over the sight of their own naked bodies!

Posted by: Ritchie http:// Wed Mar 5 17:16:39 2003

You ideas are fascinating, and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter. But I must know, what do you propose to do about masturbation?

Posted by: Graham Thu Mar 6 00:34:34 2003

There's always handcuffs. Umm...

Posted by: acb Thu Mar 6 01:00:23 2003

Have you ever read Margaret Atwood's _The Handmaid's Tale_. Yes, I know she's a cranky feminist wacko, but it's a disturbingly plausible representation of a Christian Fundamentalist theocracy in America. Anyway, in it mirrors are banned from wherever women are so they can't see themselves.

Posted by: hot soup girl Thu Mar 6 12:06:17 2003

"The Australia Institute is an independent public policy research centre funded by grants from philanthropic trusts, memberships and commissioned research."

In other words, a thinktank. I don't know how right wing they are - I've always considered them to be right-leaning, but for what it's worth their board of directors includes the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions as well as the Director of Welfare Rights Centre. There's a bunch of pdfs at their site on the subject of porn's effect of adolescents - they've obviously been doing a bit of a blitz on it. I haven't read any of them.

I just don't understand why anyone is suprised or outraged that teenagers are looking at porn.

Also: Is Atwood a wacko? I've never been able to make up my mind, myself. The Handmaid's Tale is probably my least favourite of hers, but she knocks out a pretty ace poem every once in a while.

Posted by: acb Thu Mar 6 12:32:59 2003

I don't think she's a whacko (I'm most fond of her short stories), but when I cite The Handmaid's Tale as a cautionary tale, people have replied along the lines of "you know she has some odd beliefs" or somesuch, as if her credibility was in doubt.

Is _The Handmaid's Tale_ the _Left Behind_ of the pro-choice set? Discuss.

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