To Bernadette McMenamin, Internet Censorship Advocate

Dear Ms McMenamin,

Yesterday I noticed your comments in the press that people protesting against Conroy’s ISP filters were “not fully aware of the facts and secondly, those who are aware are, in effect, advocating child pornography”.

This is a loathsome accusation which lambasts and belittles those like myself, who abhor child pornography and child abuse yet who also abhor unaccountable government censorship and ineffective, costly exercises which pander to right wing fundamentalists, social conservatives and wowsers, some of whom appear to be completely sexually repressed in wanting all adult material filtered and/or banned.

I don’t look for or watch adult material myself, yet will support the cause of those who wish to do so freely – there is no SOUND research I’ve been able to find that pornography causes harm to its viewers, in fact quite the reverse. Wielders of moral outrage slogans, on the other hand, have been responsible for a plethora of hideous pogroms and human rights abuses throughout history.

What people wish to do legally in the privacy of their own homes and bedroooms is their business, not the government’s or other interferring parties. Will random spot checks of people’s libraries be next? A sexually repressed society is a sick society – rightly, prudery and wowserism has ALWAYS been sneered at throughout Australia – healthy, sceptical Australians do not tolerate fools. The current moral panic expressed recently under the pernicious guise of “what about the children?” and now from you and Conroy – that those who are against filtering are “advocating child pornography”, is yet another manifestation of the wowser underbelly which occasionally rears its miserable head here. You’ve lost me.

Please desist from patronising Australians – you are damaging your cause and past achievements.

From both technical and democratic points of view, Conroy’s filters are intractably flawed.

Anyone with a slight understanding of how the internet works would be able to broach the filters within minutes – and please remember, that the ‘forbidden’ often radiates an irresistible attraction. The proposed ISP based filters would not affect the main conduits which are used by abusers, would do nothing to reduce the amount of child pornography travelling across the net, yet they would cripple the already very slow internet speeds of everyone and be rife with false positive and negative results – as a web developer, I am extremely concerned that my clients’ sites (and none of them are adult sites, I might add) could be adversely affected. (If they are, I would be advising them to seek legal opinion with a view to suing the government.)

The above counter-productive effects have already been proven by the outcomes of Tasmanian filtering tests this year, and are echoed in recent statements from ISP heads and technically knowledgeable system administrators throughout the country. In addition, our already way too high ISP costs will rise.

In making filters mandatory, the government would be sending a detestable message that all Australians are criminals, unable to be trusted. Our mindsets would change. In adopting unaccountable net authoritarianism, we would be setting a dreadful retrograde example to existing authoritarian nations which already filter their feeds for all sorts of things which their paternalistic, intrusive governments deem unfit for their citizens’ viewing.

Australians would not, as is with other material currently banned by the Film & Classification Board, be able to know what is on the banned url list, and it will be unaccountable, with a distinct probability, influenced by future wailing ‘moral champions’, insidious scope creep may occur – with banning or filtering of more vague “unwanted material”.

All these resultant effects are unacceptable.

A people which trusts government to make unaccountable decisions on its behalf is not a democratic, free people. Furthermore, free speech and free expression are inalienable individual human rights.

If Conroy’s undemocratic filters are instituted, I will be amongst the first to ‘opt out’ as a declaration of freedom and distaste for wowserism.

Please reconsider your stance. The government is not the parents of our children – we are, and we are adults who are capable of discriminating what is best for our children, and should insist our government treat us as such. As you would be aware, there are free filters and ISP feeds available to those who want them now. Even if Conroy’s anti-democratic censorship filters are instituted, they will never be a substitute for appropriate parental supervision, education and better funding for our police task force which is doing a wonderful job catching child abuse perpetrators at present.

Please help keep the internet and our society free from interferring pseudo-intellectual religious and secular mind control freaks who pathetically claim to know what’s best for everyone else. As has been shown very obviously in the past few years with the exposure of long term abusers in the churches, it is often these people who have the most to hide. I don’t trust moralisers who claim to know what’s good for me and I don’t need or want Big Brother or Big Church in my house.