You may recall some years ago, when section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act was being debated in federal parliament, George Brandis, the then Attorney General, saying that people have a right to be bigoted. Of course, he came under attack from the usual suspects. He was right then and it is right now. But what George forgot was the devolvement of our former robust open society into an inquisitorial epoch; where wrong speech is punished. It’s got worse since.
Up pops Julie Inman Grant, Australia’s eSafety Commissioner, threatening Twitter with a fine of $700,000 a day if it doesn’t come back within 28 days showing the steps it will take to prevent online “hate” on its platform. My calculations suggest that Twitter has about until 21 July. “We need accountability from these platforms and action to protect their users,” she reportedly said. Over to Elon Musk.
This threat to the Twittersphere was discussed on the Andrew Bolt show. Neither Bolt nor whoever he was chatting with at the time had heard of Ms Grant. I had. She has form. She has popped up before. At Davos in May 2022, when she said that we needed a “recalibration” of free speech. The latter-day Marxist members of the World Economic Forum loved it. People can’t be allowed to go around criticising Big Brother and his doings. I wrote about it here in passing.
As I understand, her day job is to prevent the online exploitation of children. A worthy endeavour. It’s when she’s moonlighting that it all goes wrong. It’s funny how inside some people is an urge to disallow speech that they don’t like? Not really, scolds came out in force during the prolonged and grotesque overreaction to Covid. They’re around, just quiescent most of the time. And, as we also discovered, Brownshirt and Stasi recruits would not be too hard to find either.
Hard on the heels of Ms Grant’s intention to save Australians from speech she doesn’t like on Twitter, we learnt of proposed federal legalisation to outlaw “misinformation” and “disinformation” on social media. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) will be given powers, we are told, to hold digital platforms to account. To wit, to require them to submit codes of conduct and to fine them up to $2.75 million or two per cent of their global turnover, whichever is higher, if they breach such codes.
So what is misinformation? Apparently, information which is “unintentionally false, misleading, or deceptive.” And disinformation? That is, “misinformation intentionally disseminated to cause serious harm.”
All of this is part of our decline into a totalitarian future. Misinformation and disinformation can’t in general be objectively defined. They will be whatever the government of the day deems them to be. “Climate change” is the most egregious example of mis- and disinformation ever foisted on a gullible public. Yet its denial will no doubt fall under scrutiny of the ACMA. Watch out for compulsory smart meters and enforced power rationing, preparatory to selectively rationing dissidents; i.e., those spreading mis- and disinformation. Can’t happen here. Don’t bank on it.
Covid hysteria demanded that young healthy people get vaccinated or lose their livelihoods. Yet, vaccination posed more risks to young people than ever did the virus. But , no doubt saying so would have fallen under the scrutiny of the ACMA. And the Voice? Might not opposition in its various guises be at risk of causing serious harm to sensitive Aboriginal activists? I suspect it might. And worst of all perhaps. Claiming that women can’t have penes. Now, don’t tell me that that “disinformation” isn’t going to cause very serious harm to, well, “women” with penes.