Australia to block Wikipedia parody

March 18th, 2010 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The SMH reports:

The Australian Human Rights Commission has threatened legal action against a widely read but controversial US-based website over an article that it says encourages racial hatred against Aborigines.

But online rights group Electronic Frontiers said trying to stamp out the deplorable content would only create the “Streisand” effect, whereby an attempt to censor online content only brings more attention to it.

In a letter to Joseph Evers, the owner of Encyclopedia Dramatica (ED) – a more shocking version of Wikipedia that contains racist and other offensive articles dubbed as “satire” – the Commission said it had received 20 complaints from Aborigines over the “Aboriginal” page on the site. …

On the Australian Communication and Media Authority’s blacklist of “refused classification” websites, which was leaked in March last year, encyclopediadramatica.com was included. This means the entire site will likely be blocked under the government’s forthcoming internet filtering plan.

This is why I don’t like filters.  It is outrageous that the Australian Government will block such a site.

Don’t get me wrong – the site is highly highly offensive to many people. It is a rather puerile site (rather than a smart satire site) that just abuses everybody and everyone in the most insulting way it can. But being offensive is not a reason to be banned or blocked.

I cite again the words of Noam Chomsky, who said there is little virtue in defending popular speech – it is defending unpopular and even offensive speech that is courageous.

When we allow the state to start deciding what parts of the Internet we are allowed to see, that is a bad thing.

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28 Responses to “Australia to block Wikipedia parody”

  1. expat (4,048 comments) says:

    Very puerile and with some truth.

    Australia – As the world’s largest jail, based on an early model that would later become Guantanamo Bay, it is comprised entirely of the still imprisoned distant relatives of Britain’s worst criminals (tax dodging sheep fuckers) and other detritus

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  2. A1kmm (91 comments) says:

    Let’s hope there is enough public outcry in Australia to let this undermine the filter entirely. This is especially true if an entire site is blocked because some parts of it are ‘refused classification’.

    Hopefully it should also bring the issue to the forefront here, and stop the DIA’s filter with its secret list of filtered sites that they recently rolled out by stealth.

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  3. eszett (2,337 comments) says:

    Wow, citing Chomsky, you are brave, David.
    That makes you a knuckle-dragging commie in the redbaiter universe. ;-)

    More to the point, it is a dangerous precedent, filtering an entire site because of one page. And even filtering that one page is highly questionable.

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  4. expat (4,048 comments) says:

    Don’t our governments and government depts. have enough to do without getting all Orwellian on our asses with all this filtering and firewalling shit?

    Just WHO are the consultants making a lot of cash out of this stuff?

    Find them and fumigate the infestation of leachus consultanticus and it will save the Govt. a packet.

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  5. MikeNZ (3,234 comments) says:

    This is a dichotomy isn’t it?
    On the one hand paedophiles are a menace to children and society but atrocious bad behaviour is just that.
    So on the one hand I disagree with you over the DIA filter for child porn but I agree completely over this matter and it does appear to be the thin edge of the wedge.
    Now after the Ploughshares verdict I certainly don’t think leaving it to a jury to decide is the best option either.

    As it is I don’t agree that their defence should only apply to damage to property as it is the self-justification (belief) that counts, not the act that flows from that.

    I would have thought people mattered more than property surely?
    So it could even be justified by some that there is merit in ( by people who truly believe that paedophiles are incurable) in “killing them (paedophiles) where you find them” is justified to protect kids who can’t protect themselves.

    Very interesting and I have no doubt polorising pub talk will ensue this Friday after work.

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  6. redqueen (457 comments) says:

    It’s good to see the Australians can’t read…maybe we should send them a copy of the Areopagitica?

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  7. MIKMS (164 comments) says:

    Heheh … Gore….Heheh :D

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  8. Put it away (2,888 comments) says:

    I didn’t think it would be so soon that they’d ban a harmless and fairly popular site and thus guarantee open revolt against their filtering from the net community. This makes me predict the end of this nonsense in Australia sooner rather than later.

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  9. ben (2,399 comments) says:

    What is the name given to the fallacy that defending Idea A on Principle B implies support for A?

    I strongly suspect this fallacy is why the DIA has been allowed to set up a filter. Opposing the filter, for any reason, might be seen to support child porn. Duh.

    I also get this sort of thing when I visit my family. Whenever I defend the right of gay couples to marry I suspect my fundamentalist mother (god bless her) thinks I am gay!

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  10. thomasbeagle (78 comments) says:

    And it’s exactly the sort of reason why I think we shouldn’t have internet filtering in New Zealand.

    It’s just too *tempting* for governments to keep adding things to the list.

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  11. goonix (140 comments) says:

    ED is an entertaining site.

    But you’re right, this is exactly why filters are a bad idea. You just know with the way that populist politics works that over time the government (any government) will start blocking every site that ever gets into the news for being ‘offensive’. A very slippery slope…

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  12. Rex Widerstrom (5,278 comments) says:

    Yes, a lot of the content on Encyclopedia Dramatica is puerile and some of it is funny. But that’s not the real reason governments want to ban it. ED (like Wikileaks) refuses to impose censorship on its users.

    In ED’s case, 90% of the time that just results in some clown venting his prejudices and trying to make them funny so as not to look like a knuckle dragging moron. Mostly they fail, and the result is both offensive and unfunny, with the odd nugget of brilliance (like that quoted by expat above :-D).

    But it’s the other 10% that worries governments: “insiders” telling the truth. They’ll go out of their way to muzzle and discredit anyone who poses the slightest danger to their interests. Prior to the net, the lack of outlets made it easy: an off-the-record chat with a few tame journos mixed with a threat to deny access to decision makers usually succeeded.

    Controlling the net is harder, but draconian defamation laws and the prohibitive cost of defending against them are enough to discourage many. Then there’s regulatory control over ISPs. But for sites which refuse to comply, there’s “filtering” under the guise of “controlling child porn”. And, handily, that plays right into the “anyone opposed is discredited because…” meme.

    One thing everyone with their own web site should be doing is publishing information on how to bypass the filter. Flood the net with it… they can’t start blocking legitimate blog sites… can they?

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  13. grumpyoldhori (2,410 comments) says:

    David, you will find among the more frothing at the mouth right wing types a willing to stifle any speech THEY do not agree with.

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  14. expat (4,048 comments) says:

    Agree Rex, why bring attention to these sites at all by banning them.

    It’s the old school yard mistake made by teachers.

    I still have a feeling in my bones that there is an infestation of consultants who see this as a lucrative long term cash flow – identify them and get rid of them. Start at the DIA project and work backwards.

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  15. Kieran_B (81 comments) says:

    Perfect illustration of the Streisand Effect – most people wouldn’t have heard of ED (or the sites that generate a lot of its material) without the attempted censorship. Now that it is newsworthy you’ll greatly increase the number of people going to the site or viewing it through a mirror or proxy.

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  16. RRM (9,478 comments) says:

    The slippery slope principle is about the only thing that I can get excited about with this cause. That is a pretty poor “humour” site.

    Cruder than Sickipedia but without the brevity. Uncyclopedia positively brims with sophicatication, compared to that site…

    Don’t really care if the banstick gets waved TBH.

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  17. JiveKitty (869 comments) says:

    eszett: “Wow, citing Chomsky, you are brave, David.
    That makes you a knuckle-dragging commie in the redbaiter universe. ”

    I think Redbaiter’s banned at the moment, so no reason to worry about the perception presently.

    And yeah, the Australian government at present is a disgrace, just for the filtering alone.

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  18. Fairfacts Media (371 comments) says:

    As I have just blogged at my place, I wish to thank the Australian Human Rights Commission for bringing this website to my attention.
    Offensive, peurile, yes, racist, no, because it slags off everybofy.
    There was blasphemy too for the awful things said about Margaret Thatcher, or Obambi (if you are a lefty).
    But to think that Australia, our best mate over the Tasman is seeking to block such sites, it also plans its own major filter which will be compulsory, could descend into the same company as Burma, China, Iran, etc.
    Of course, as “Australia’s Bitch”, we in New Zealand should worry too!

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  19. Willie_Escaped (29 comments) says:

    I believe the DIA has the legal authority to block similarly racist, sexist, and possibly even politically sensitive internet sites in NZ.

    I hope someone can prove me wrong.

    They are not currently doing so (we have quite a reasonable censor at the moment), and they state they don’t plan on expanding the NZ internet filter beyond child pornography.

    However, if under the Films, Videos, and Publications Act, they have the authority to set up an internet filter *at all*, arguably they have the *responsibility* to filter everything that meets the legal definition of Objectionable as specified in the Act.

    http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1993/0094/latest/whole.html#DLM313407
    http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1993/0082/latest/DLM304475.html#DLM304475

    Section (3)(3)(e) of the Act references section (21)(1) of the Human Right’s Act. This is a sweeping catch-all and could be used to filter much political discussion.

    Section (3)(3)(d) is also particularly catch-all and thus dangerous. “Criminal Act” could be used to filter any promotion of politically motivated civil disobedience.

    Section (3)(a)(iii) Arguably, *any* pornography, even with consenting adults is “degrading and demeaning” to the actors.

    Section (3)(c) Could be used to filter anything ‘dehumanising’. What’s more “dehumanising” than “funniest home videos”, which is basically people hurting themselves really bad and other people laughing at their pain.

    The law isn’t currently being interpreted in such a way, and I can’t imagine this or the last administration filtering any pornography.

    However, it seems to me it’s very possible under the law.

    Certainly, they could get a little more aggressive in their filtering.

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  20. gazzmaniac (2,317 comments) says:

    Er, I am in Australia and I can see the site.

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  21. Steve (4,500 comments) says:

    “possibly even politically sensitive internet sites in NZ.”
    Yep, Blogfrog should be blocked for spreading Communist bullshit. Clean green NZ replaced by watermelons.

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  22. big bruv (13,331 comments) says:

    Ha ha, check this out.

    http://www.encyclopediadramatica.com/New_Zealand

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  23. Grizz (500 comments) says:

    @BB

    My skin is thick enough to handle being called a sheep shagger or a ram rooter by an Australian. It often reflects a lack of intelligence of the person trying to mock you. I do not think I could live with having the most Championed New Zealander being a deranged child molestorer who is so proud of himself that he has to write books on the subject advising others on how to do it.

    That said, as long as you do not take it seriously, the site is good for a laugh.

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  24. PaulL (5,875 comments) says:

    The photo of the kangaroo and the sheep at the top is pretty damn funny. Although I’m not sure what it’s got to do with NZ – looks like just another Aussie shagging a sheep to me.

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  25. V (668 comments) says:

    The most interesting thing is the website owners comments on the matter:
    http://www.blog.encyclopediadramatica.com/?p=84

    His lawyer recommends he not visit Australia. The hidden cost of freedom indeed.

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  26. V (668 comments) says:

    Also, lets watch this trend over the coming days as MM get hold of the story. The perverse effect of unintended consequences initiated by government plans to block it will result in an increasing number hits.
    (Seems South Aust. is really getting in on the action)

    http://www.google.com/trends?q=encyclopedia+dramatica&ctab=0&geo=au&geor=all&date=all

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  27. jimdemighty (8 comments) says:

    ED is better than that pretentious wankfest Uncyclopedia. It’s a great site, especially the meme pages. If you want the humour of ED without the sick stuff, go to http://whatport80.com/Main_Page

    I would have thought that the Australian government would have learned not to screw with Anonymous after Operation Titstorm earlier this year. They can expect nothing but all-out cyberwarfare if they take on Anon. Double it if they block http://4chan.org which is the home of Anon.

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  28. jimdemighty (8 comments) says:

    http://encyclopediadramatica.com/White_People

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