Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Certain sense of irony

SA Attorney General, Michael Atkinson, doesn't like nasty comment. Who of us does?
We now seem to have laws, leading up to our state election (see here) which will (as usual) require people who make electoral comment in letters to the ed to identify themselves with an appropriate name and an address. The new laws particularly extend this to internet weblogs...in particular I guess news ltd's Adelaide Now which gone into conniptions about it today. And rightly so.
I am not averse to people being encouraged to speak out in their own name rather than hiding behind pseudonym or anonym...but
The Attorney thinks that the new provisions will extend to Facebook and Twitter. And that political commentators in such would/should be required to divulge addresses.
One would have thought that at a time when a man has just been convicted for murder of a girl he allegedly stalked on the internet, that we should be discouraging people from putting personal information out there like that. But you know, the aim is maybe not to get the information out there but to stifle debate. This at least is the press's story and they are sticking to it.
There are other ironies too, when pollies are allowed to say what they like under so-called "Parliamentary Privilege" in order that they may be able to speak without fear or favour...I wonder where the ordinary person may be encouraged to speak with such boldness.
And when politicians can be indemnified at taxpayers' expense, even when they are found to have spoken inappropriately or innacurately...why this dogged pursuit of the little blogger.
Fortunately the Electoral Commissioner does not seem to think the law reaches as far as the Attorney thinks.

My issue is not that vile slanderers should be allowed to say what they like, but that this sort of tactic scares people into being overly cautious. Few amongst us, could afford legal action against one who is highly paid and/or indemnified. It borders on bullying the little chap into silence.

I blogged on this only a few days ago (here) in regard to another matter. Again I say it, it is so often those who are outrageously outspoken themselves who want to intimidate others into being quiet

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