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Censorship Industrial Complex

Australian politicians attack Elon Musk for refusing to remove video of Orthodox bishop’s stabbing

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Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images

From LifeSiteNews

By David James

The video is available on YouTube but Australia’s political class is singling out and waging war on X owner Elon Musk for his refusal to delete footage of the stabbing of Orthodox Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel.

In a demonstration of governmental overreach the Australian prime minister, Anthony Albanese, has attacked Elon Musk, the owner of X (formerly Twitter) for not acceding to demands to put a worldwide ban on video footage of an attempted stabbing of a bishop in a Sydney church.

Albanese is not alone; virtually the entire Australian political class has joined in the attack. Tanya Plibersek, minister for Environment and Water called Musk an “egotistical billionaire.” Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young described him as a “narcissistic cowboy.” Albanese chimed in by describing him as an “arrogant billionaire who thinks he’s above the law.”

Senator Jacqui Lambie went as far as suggesting that Musk be “jailed” for his refusal to bend to the demands of the Australian government.  

In response to Lambie’s comments, Musk declared her to be an “enemy of the people of Australia,” agreeing with another social media user who suggested it should be Lambie, not Musk, who belongs in jail.

The right wing Liberal-National coalition was only slightly less aggressive saying Musk was offering an “insulting and offensive argument” in his refusal to remove graphic footage of the stabbing. How Musk saying that posts should not be taken down is “insulting and offensive” was not explained.

The victim of the attack, Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel, an Iraqi-born Assyrian Australian prelate who is head of the Eastern Christ the Good Shepherd Church, has displayed a maturity and moral virtue conspicuously lacking in the political arena. Emmanuel recorded a message saying that he loved his assailant, and that he wanted the video to stay online, urging people not to respond to violence with violence.

After the incident there were riots outside the church, resulting in 51 officers sustaining injuries. A 16-year-old boy has been arrested and charged with a religiously motivated terrorist attack.

That formulation is inaccurate. There is no effective protection of free speech in Australia, unlike the US, which has the First Amendment of the Constitution. The Federal government is currently preparing a misinformation and disinformation bill to force social media companies only to allow content of which the government approves.

As Senator Ralph Babet of the United Australia Party observes it is a “censorship agenda” that will be pushed no matter which party is in power. “The office of the eSafety commissioner was created under the Liberal Party and is now being emboldened by the Labor Party,” he writes.

The public battle with Musk is better seen as an attempt by the Australian government to control what is on the internet. The newly appointed eSafety commissioner, Julie Inman-Grant directed X to remove the posts, but X had only blocked them from access in Australia pending a legal challenge. The government then demanded that the posts be removed world-wide.

That the Australian political class thinks it has the right to issue edicts in countries where it has no legal jurisdiction is a demonstration of the lack of clarity in their thinking, and the intensity of their obsession with censoring.

Musk accurately characterised the situation in a post: “Should the eSafety Commissar (an unelected official) in Australia have authority over all countries on Earth?” It seems that many Australian politicians think the answer to that question is “Yes.”

The childish personal attacks on Musk, typical ad hominem attacks (going at the person rather than the argument) are revealing. What does the fact that Musk is a billionaire have to do with the legal status of the posts? Does having a lot of money somehow disqualify him from having a position?

If he is “egotistical” or “arrogant” what does that have to do with his logical or legal claims? How does exposing Musk as a narcissistic cowboy” have any relevance to him allowing content on the platform? Wouldn’t a narcissist be more likely to restrict content? The suspicion is that the politicians are resorting to such abuse because they have no argument.

The Australian government’s attack on Musk, which borders on the absurd, is just one of many being directed at X. An especially dangerous initiative is coming from the European Union’s Digital Services Act, which can apply fines of up to 6 per cent of the worldwide annual turnover, a ridiculously punitive amount. The United Kingdom’s communications regulator, Ofcom is even worse. It will have powers to fine companies up to 10 per cent of their global turnover.

Western governments are mounting an all out push to censor the internet, and Australia’s aggressive move is just part of that. What is never considered by governments and bureaucrats is the cost of such censorship.

The benefits of “protecting” people are always overstated and inevitably infantilize the population. The price is a degradation of social institutions and a legal system that does not apply equally to the citizenry and to the government. It is a step towards tyranny: rule by law rather than rule of law.

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Censorship Industrial Complex

New federal legislation should remind Canadians of Orwell’s 1984

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From the Fraser Institute

By Jake Fuss and Alex Whalen

The legislation seeks to punish citizens not just for what the governments deems as “hate speech” but also grants the state power to bring Canadians before tribunals on suspicion that they might say something hateful in the future.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of George Orwell’s classic novel 1984 (and it’s been 40 years since the actual year 1984). In the novel, Orwell explains the dangers of totalitarianism by exploring what happens when government exercises extreme levels of control over citizens including censoring and controlling language. While Canada is a relatively free country in 2024, there are aspects of Orwell’s world reflected in government policy today.

The Human Freedom Index, published annually by the Fraser Institute and Cato Institute, defines freedom as a social concept that recognizes the dignity of individuals by the absence of coercive constraint. In a free society, citizens are free to do, say or think almost anything they want, provided it does not infringe on the right of others to do the same.

Canada currently fares relatively well compared to other countries on the Human Freedom Index, placing 13th out of 165 countries. However, our score has dropped six spots on the index since 2008 when Canada recorded its highest ever rank.

This is not surprising given the Trudeau government’s recent efforts to control and manage the free exchange of ideas. The recent Online Streaming Act imposes various content rules on major streaming services such as Netflix, and requirements to extract funds to be redirected toward favoured groups. The Act seemingly seeks to bring the entire Internet under the regulation of a government body.

In another piece of recent legislation, the Online News Act, the government attempted to force certain social media platforms to pay other legacy news outlets for carrying content. In response, the social media platforms chose simply not to allow content from those news providers on their platforms, resulting in a dramatic reduction of Canadians’ access to news.

Now, a new piece of federal legislation—Bill C-63, the Online Harms Act—seeks to control language and grant government power to punish citizens for what the government deems to be unfavourable speech.

The government has sold Bill C-63 as a way to promote the online safety of Canadians, reduce harms, and ensure the operators of social media services are held accountable. In reality, however, the bill is Orwell’s Big Brother concept brought to life, where government controls information and limits free exchange. The legislation seeks to punish citizens not just for what the governments deems as “hate speech” but also grants the state power to bring Canadians before tribunals on suspicion that they might say something hateful in the future. Not surprisingly, many have raised concerns about the constitutionality of the Bill, which will surely be tested in court.

Put differently, the Bill dictates that citizens may not only be punished for speech crimes, but also punished when another person or group of individuals believes they are likely to commit such a crime. The legislation outlines punishment mechanisms at the government’s disposal, including electronic monitoring devices, house arrest or jail time. Frighteningly, if the government doesn’t like what you say or even suspects they won’t like what you might say, then you could face serious repercussions.

That sounds eerily similar to Orwell’s concept of the Thought Police. In 1984, a secret police force investigates and punishes “thoughtcrimes,” which are personal and political thoughts unapproved by the state. The Thought Police monitor citizens and arrest anyone who engages in such crimes, to prevent personal autonomy and freedom of thought, thus providing the state with immense power and control over the populace.

The big government approach inherent in the Online Harms Act and others is antithetical to the idea of personal freedom. Famed English philosopher J.S. Mill was particularly observant in recognizing the perils of controlling and punishing speech government officials deem “dangerous.” In his book On Liberty, Mill stated “If any opinion is compelled to silence, that opinion may, for aught we can certainly know, be true. To deny this is to assume our own infallibility. Secondly, though the silenced opinion be an error, it may, and very commonly does, contain a portion of the truth; and since the general of prevailing opinion on any subject is rarely or never the whole truth, it is only by the collision of adverse opinions that the remainder of the truth has any chance of being supplied.”

Orwell’s famous novel provides a guidebook for what governments should avoid doing at all costs. Unfortunately, hints of 1984 have seeped into government policy in Canada today. The erosion of personal freedom is not something we should take for granted anymore.

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Censorship Industrial Complex

‘We are in the most dangerous anti-free speech period in our history’

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From LifeSiteNews

By Tom Olohan

“It’s hard to get a free people to give up freedom, you have to make them afraid, you have to make them very afraid. And that’s why you hear this echo chamber that its free speech that’s endangering us”

Jonathan Turley, a Fox News contributor and George Washington University law professor, issued some stark warnings on the future of free speech.

During the July 12 episode of MRC UnCensored, MRC Free Speech America Vice President Dan Schneider spoke with Turley about his new book, The Indispensable Right: Free Speech in an Age of Rage, and his observations about free speech and the media from a long and successful career.

Turley warned that journalism schools have abandoned long-held standards and young Americans have been indoctrinated against free speech. He made clear that a dangerous public-private partnership between powerful institutions threatened the future of the First Amendment.

“We are now in what the book refers to as the most dangerous anti-free speech period in our history, and the reason is indeed this alliance that has never formed before, of the government, corporations, academia [and] the media, all aligned against free speech,” he said.

 

Turley followed with a description of this alliance’s twisted rationale. “You now have on college campuses and in many media outlets, the unrelenting mantra that free speech is dangerous, that it is threatening us, threatening jobs, even threatening lives,” Turley said. “And the idea here is very simple, it’s hard to get a free people to give up freedom, you have to make them afraid, you have to make them very afraid. And that’s why you hear this echo chamber that its free speech that’s endangering us and if you just give the government more power over your speech you’ll be happy and safer.”

When Turley warned that the “wave” of censorship arriving in America “began in Europe,” Schneider lamented that American free speech had once inspired advocates of freedom in Europe and the world, such as Lech Wałęsa and Václav Havel. “And something has changed again, in Europe, in here, where people now see free speech as a threat to democracy, as a pose to the most important central element of democracy.”

Turley dug deep from his experience and observations to explain this state of affairs. He mentioned that he had poured 30 years of work into his book and observed the media make a massive turn for the worse during that period.

The Fox News contributor also noted that journalism schools have officially abandoned objectivity and neutrality. Turley made the point that the media had abandoned its principles in part because new graduates had been taught to abandon them: “J-schools now teach that, that objectivity and neutrality get in the way of social and political agendas. That’s what we’re producing from J-schools and its having an impact.”

Reprinted with permission from NewsBusters.

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