|Censorship Australian Style 2012|
"The Christian lobby says children as young as 11 are regularly accessing porn online. Research had also found that 84 per cent of boys and 60 per cent of girls had been exposed to internet sex sites accidentally." Michelle Gratten, 9th November 2012: http://www.theage.com.au/technology/technology-news/backdown-on-internet-filter-plan-20121108-290qr.html#ixzz2BhVpWh1G
As a child growing up in the 1960's - 1970's I was "accidentally" exposed to porn, not through the internet of course which was only available widely in Australia by the time I was in my mid 20's. My father had a "collection" of porn magazines, hidden badly, we found them "accidentally" as Michelle puts it. When you are 5 you are not looking for porn, you are looking for secrets, lollies, treasures. You are at your nosiest as a little child and those who will remember know that curiosity takes you for a walk and you just have to follow. We were all very little and went through this "collection" with eyes ever widening, utterly transfixed amidst much giggling. Even when you are little you can't look away from some imagery. Colourful and intriguing? Yes, but harmful? No. In the years that followed New hiding spots for the "collection" were randomly discovered. Some of the imagery I encountered remains vivid to me and it taught me a little about the naked form in a way. Not in a disturbing way the Christian Lobbyists will be sad to know or find difficult to understand. Images are powerful but they can't alter the essence of who we are. We are more than the sum of our individual experiences which include what we are ingesting or digesting through seeing, hearing and reading. Statistic such as those quoted by The Christian Lobby, if correct, only tell us that children encounter porn (who'd have thought) but not that this is harmful. Statistics also tell us a significant percentage of sexual abuse of children is perpetrated by religious leaders such as priests or similar, nuns, or officials belonging to various denominational religious bodies, which we know, without requiring statistical proof, is harmful to children.
Why the Christian Lobby is not concentrating more on addressing the sexual or physical abuse of children by Catholic, Anglican etc, nuns, priests and others belonging to the Christian Church realm is beyond reasonable comprehension. Abuse of children within these bodies existed prior the internet and still does. A form of Nanny cam lock on the Australian internet is not any sort of solution to protect children but represents a real and potentially damaging attack upon what freedoms of expression, thought and access to information we do have in this country. Such an act of parliament would open the door wide to do so for any purpose deemed to be harmful to the public palate. Art, literature, music, poetry, thoughts, ideas, politics all could slowly be sucked into a sticky web of censorship for reasons of public protection. Political rivals labelled harmful etc. And, all in secret. Suddenly and without warning a site and or its content could be deemed harmful and blocked. Attacking the perpetrators of any internet visible crime such as child porn and shutting down that industry at its source is the solution. Finding and shutting down the physical criminals, the who and where they operate. Technically internet filters will be detoured around by correctly skilled and resourced criminal networks. Use of the internet to locate and target them using their own medium is the logical remedy. Still this does not address the ultimate aims of The Christian Lobby of course which deems all porn harmful. It isn't, it never will be and it isn't criminal though some forms of porn may be, normal adult consensual porn is not in and of itself evil, harmful or illegal.
The internet is of course a kind of unfettered filter in itself and mostly it is a valuable delivering in its warts and all way a summation of human generated content. Good, bad and ugly the public domain needs to remain visible to us, not hidden. The laws and processes to address the criminal aspects of the net additionally need to remain transparent and open to challenge when wrongly or unfairly applied. Just as with the physical world, open and transparent works best in the digital space. Secrecy in law supports suppression of information which conceals actions that may further suppress our natural freedoms and rights. Then we will have censorship and Government power over the individual is ensured to be lead out of balance. If Government is pliable, yielding and swaying to suit a Lobby or Faction with greater influence than the general public then the temptation for Government is to widen the ambit of legislation beyond its original scope. In order to curry or gain favour in tough political times a Government under the influence can be tempted to make changes that suit a few but damage the rights of many. This is never more the case when acceding to religious or cultural pressure when it is the case that human rights must come first and foremost before the religious or cultural. Bad legislation by weak Government leads to bad Government through corrupted decision making. Religious influence over Government decisions is undesirable any way you look at it. Religious causes that successfully apply pressure to produce legislation of questionable benefit outside of a religious criterion is religiously inspired cronyism and it is insidious as it will ultimately destabilise secular democracy.
Barely concealed attempts to enact legislated censorship such as the internet filter bill must not take 5 years to fail. Though we can't blame the Christian Lobby necessarily for attempting to pursue their religious agenda by influencing our socio-political framework via their political sympathisers, that they are formally being give so earnest an ear by our Secular Democratic Government is of great concern.
What ever happened to the separation of Church and State?
It is more than of passing concern now that this Labor Government, since Kevin Rudd, are not just seeming to be but are full on emerging as more religiously reactive, sensitive, acquiescent and influenced overall.The Christian Lobby and the current Labor Government are obviously too close. It would otherwise never have taken 5 years to rule out this filter nonsense and if they were listening to public temperament at all, we'd have legally recognised same sex marriage in Australia by now. Clearly the Australian Government are not listening to what the Australian people want, it can't hear them as it is only a few are being provided their full attention.