Censorship - too much, not enough or just right?

08 Jul 11 07:00AM EST
Post by Brendan Mays
blindfolded man

Australia has a long history of censorship. At our foundations, we have no constitutional protection of free speech, and some claim ours are among the most restrictive censorship policies in the Western world.

Some notable examples of censorship in Australia include:

Video game ratings have also been a point of controversy as censors grapple with the fact that many adults are using the medium. In a recent government telephone survey, 80% of people supported an R18+ rating on video games.

With all that in mind, we also rely on the censors to help avoid the publication of things that are abhorrent and overall damaging to our society. Where to draw that line is at the crux of the debate. But despite people’s personal opinions, there is perhaps one part of censorship that does not inspire debate – once something is banned, everyone wants to find out about it.

A case in point this week was the No Harvey Norman No ad campaign from activist group GetUp! and Markets for Change. An advertisement that was based on a joint report from the two groups was banned earlier this week, and since then dozens of online news articles and posts on social media sites like Twitter have directed people to where they can view the ad concerned. Gerry Harvey was quick to rebuke the claims, pointing out along the way that it is the government that specifies which natural forests are open for logging.

Gerry Harvey is trying to protect his business, and at the same time, the activist groups are campaigning for a greater commitment to environmental sustainability – a hot topic considering all the debates going on at the moment surrounding carbon pricing.

In similar news, ASIO’s powers were recently expanded, and although there was no clear official explanation of what this could mean, the general consensus was that the powers would enable ASIO to spy on WikiLeaks and similar organisations. WikiLeaks’s response? See for yourself in the video below.

What's your opinion? Do censors take it too far in Australia, or are they doing well by protecting our society? Share your views in the comments section below.

Last week…

In my last post, we discussed whether Australia should be putting more emphasis on better public dental care. Here are some of your comments:

Tania said, “Of course dental care should be available to everyone. Your teeth and gums are part of your health. They affect the way people feel, they cause pain, etc. Why SHOULDN'T this be part of the health system as it is somewhere like Britain???”

Kimberley said, “… It should be seen as basic healthcare and perhaps covered in some way by Medicare, if it means higher taxes well they will only tax us somewhere else so why not for benefit rather than gain.”

Lili101 said, “There's a program now where some people who are on the pension can receive free dental care without long waiting lists. But it's not available to all on benefits and I don't think this is fair because it leaves out the thousands of working poor we have in Australia. Seems short-sighted because the problems bad dental problems can lead to end up costing the health system more. Most of us would not jump up in favour of more tax but what about redirecting some of the waste to areas like this?”


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