Clive Hamilton lies about Net censorship on national TV

Clive Hamilton at Save Solar Systems public meeting at Fitzroy Town Hall, 091203

Clive Hamilton, liar.

Australia’s Internet censorship plans featured on tonight’s episode of Four Corners. The delightful Clive Hamilton, proud father of Australia’s Internet censorship scheme, was there bravely guarding the morals of our country.

Hamilton kindly let the nation know he is definitely opposed to bestiality and coprophilia, but he’s not quite so big on the virtue of telling the truth.

Hamilton said on Four Corners:

We commissioned a poll which showed that parents of teenage children are extremely concerned about their children’s access to porn on the Internet and when we asked them explicitly whether they would support a mandatory filter on Internet service providers to prevent extreme and violent pornography coming into the home an astonishing 93 per cent said yes they would support that.

Wow. 93% support compulsory Internet censorship. Hamilton did the numbers, so it must be true, right?

Well, no.

According to the Australia Institute, Hamilton’s own think tank that carried out the poll he mentioned, respondents to the poll weren’t asked about “mandatory filters” at all. The Australia Institute 2003 poll on net censorship (pdf file) says (p23) :

Finally, parents were asked about their support for the two new strategies proposed in this paper to protect children from Internet pornography, that is, mandatory blocking of pornography by ISPs and educating children on the risks of pornography. They were first asked the following:

Would you support a system which automatically filtered out Internet pornography going into homes unless adult users asked otherwise?

So parents weren’t asked if they supported compulsory censorship at all! They were asked if they supported optional censorship. Hamilton has been caught out in a pure and simple lie.

How can we take anything else he says about Internet censorship seriously?

Note the slippery wording of the report. It says parents were asked about “mandatory blocking”, but the question quoted in the poll only talks about optional censorship.

The other fascinating thing about the program was the “town hall” meetings about how to get around Internet censorship, apparently linked in some way to Exit International, the pro-voluntary-euthanasia organisation. This seems like an excellent way to take opposition to Government Internet censorship plans off the Net and into broader society.

5 Responses to “Clive Hamilton lies about Net censorship on national TV”

  1. 1 Asylum

    The whole thing is a waste of money, the Australian population does not want this and it’s quite evident.

    However, it will be implemented and services like will bypass the filter.

    I hope the great debate turns the government around, but I doubt it. It’s time to start education on how to have a self ‘opt-out’ system.

  2. 2 James Beattie

    No, I just cannot believe Mr Hamilton would ever lie. He’s a Greens candidate for goodness sake!

  3. 3 keza

    Just a few days ago, in the Weekend Australian Magazine (May 8-9, 2010) Hamilton is quoted as stating quite clearly that the whole thing “was in fact my idea”.

    This was in an article by Rosemary Neill.

    A major focus of the article was “cyber bullying” and other material which some people find offensive. Various examples are given, and yes, some of it, I would find offensive (although it’s more the shallowness and idiocy, which offends).

    But I find the clamour for various nanny state interventions to “protect us” from this stuff, even more offensive.

    This isn’t only for the obvious reason that once we allow the authorities to have more and more power in this area, we’ve allowed them to create an apparatus for serious political censorship, it’s also because I disagree in principle with sending people the message that if you don’t like something, or you’ve been personally attacked, running to the authorities for help, is your best option.

    Cyber bullies do need to be fought. But the answer isn’t to give people (including kids) the message that “hurt feelings” are in the same category as physical hurt. They aren’t. While it’s true that a minor physical injury can be less painful than a major psychological one, they still aren’t in the same category. Psychological hurt is hugely subjective, and can’t be subject to the same laws (or similar), which we can apply to physical assault.

    We can’t make it illegal to hurt someones feelings. But we can encourage people to learn how to cope with it in various ways … both by fighting back … giving as good as you got if necessary, or in some cases by ignoring it, and very importantly, by not actually adding to the pain, by pushing the idea that this sort of thing can destroy you, that you’re a helpless victim.

    It’s terrible that a couple of kids have actually committed suicide, apparently as a result of cyber bullying. But the answer still isn’t to call for limitations on free speech. And I’m inclined to think that the bullying which occurred could not have been the fundamental cause. It’s extremely important not to legitimize the idea that suicide is in any way, a normal response to this sort of thing.

    It’s as true as ever that “sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. Parents and others need to reinforce this message, and help kids to stand up for themselves. Just letting them feel like victims, is the worst thing we can do.

  4. 4 Barry

    The Q&A program that followed the ‘Four Corners’ last night was also very telling. One of the panellists was Brendan O’Connor, the Minister for Home Affairs in the Rudd Government. This morning, I expected to see headlines along the lines of “Rudd Minister defends book burning” but, alas, no-one has picked up on it yet.

    This is what happened. A member of the audience made this point:

    “AUDIENCE MEMBER: I just had a quick question for Brendan. Isn’t it the essential difference that the last time somebody took our choice away it was the national socialists with book burning and the good thing about Net Alert, wasn’t it, that it left the choice with the parents and with the individual citizen and the great shift that you’re advocating is to take our choice away from us?”

    And O’Connor replied: “Can I just say – I mean, just in response to the question by the gentleman earlier, look, quite frankly, I’d quite happily burn a book if it was entirely contained with child pornography and all we’re looking to do is to limit the material that’s offensive to almost everybody in the community”.

    Shortly after O’Connor made this point, a viewer’s email comment was run along the bottom of the screen, suggesting that the Minister might burn Vladmir Nabokov’s acclaimed novel, “Lolita”, were he to regard it as child-pornography.

    It’s a very good point. No-one would disagree that child pornography should be stopped, because it is exploitative, but do we want to give the power to decide what should or shouldn’t be seen/read to the state? Or put another way: do we want the state to filter/burn stuff to protect us from ourselves?

    The full Q&A transcript is here:

  5. 5 Darren

    @James, Clive Hamilton is not a Greens candidate. He was briefly in 2009 for the Higgins by-election. I actually have no problem with a compulsory, transparent internet filter on illegal material. Then we can discuss as a society what should be illegal and the veracity of individual determinations on material. This obviously has no relation to Conroy’s filter though.

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