It has been all quiet on the western front when it comes to censorship in Australia. Even though the Internet filter test produced surprisingly good results which would lead you to believe that implementation is just around the corner but the last month has seen not a single word uttered about it. With parliament resuming this week it’s sure to come into the spotlight again very soon. If it doesn’t then that will say quite a lot about the government’s intentions for implementing the thing, it may get delayed until after the election in the hopes of saving the tech vote.
However it appears that one of my most hated politicians, Attorney-General Michael Atkins, is peddling his censorship clap-trap in his home state of South Australia. It would seem now that if you want to make a comment about the upcoming election there you have to provide your name, rank and serial number (just kidding, name and postcode will do the trick) which the government can then keep on record for 6 months:
The law, which was pushed through last year as part of a raft of amendments to the Electoral Act and supported by the Liberal Party, also requires media organisations to keep a person’s real name and full address on file for six months, and they face fines of $5000 if they do not hand over this information to the Electoral Commissioner.
Attorney-General Michael Atkinson denied that the new law was an attack on free speech.
“The AdelaideNow website is not just a sewer of criminal defamation, it is a sewer of identity theft and fraud,” Mr Atkinson said.
“There is no impinging on freedom of speech, people are free to say what they wish as themselves, not as somebody else.”
Well it would be nice if you could stifle public debate right before and election, especially when there’s been several campaigns set up against you because of your idiotic and hyperbolic views on things as trivial as a R18+ rating for games. He specifically mentioned the website AdelaideNow which has run several articles critical of his actions. I really shouldn’t be surprised at the vitriol that he spews when he gets any negative press (read my previous post about Atkins to see what I mean, the guy is a total fruitloop). All this was an attempt to shutdown the bad publicity he had been getting that he couldn’t do anything about.
That story was run at about 8:30am yesterday and you can imagine the supporters of the AdelaideNow site were in a bit of an uproar about the whole thing. Well over a thousand people posted up their comments with 90% of them against it. This sewer of criminal defamation, identity theft and fraud apparently has quite a voice since just over 14 hours after he robbed all South Australians of their rights to anonymity, he back peddled faster than anyone thought possible:
After a furious reaction on AdelaideNow to The Advertiser’s exclusive report on the new laws, Mr Atkinson at 10pm released this statement: “From the feedback we’ve received through AdelaideNow, the blogging generation believes that the law supported by all MPs and all political parties is unduly restrictive. I have listened.
“I will immediately after the election move to repeal the law retrospectively.”
Mr Atkinson said the law would not be enforced for comments posted on AdelaideNow during the upcoming election campaign, even though it was technically applicable.
“It may be humiliating for me, but that’s politics in a democracy and I’ll take my lumps,” he continued in the statement.
Far be it from me to look a gift horse in the mouth but does anyone else see through this thin veiled attempt to look like he’s completely reformed his position? Using the term “after the election” essentially amounts to “once I’m re-elected” which gives your average Joe the idea that if we don’t vote him in the next guy might not appeal it. He’s trying to play the remorseful wolf here after he’s slaughtered all the lambs in the field. I still don’t trust Atkins as far as I can throw him.
It’s not just his stance on censorship (both in speech and our right to by games for adults) that gets my goad up, it’s his hyperbolic vitriol that he spews on basically any issue he’s involved in. From using tortured refugee victims as an opposition to R18+ games to lashing out with accusations that people don’t exist I begin to feel that my previous label of fruitloop might be a little too kind.
With Gamers 4 Croydon standing up candidates in both houses there’s at least going to be some competition for the seat come election time. The seat of Croydon is unfortunately very safe and Atkins is unlikely to be dethroned over the issues that I harp on here, but the reaction of the AdelaideNow crowd shows the beginnings of a movement against Atkins. So whilst we probably won’t see a new Attorney General this election for Croydon we may see some movement on the issues that have stagnated under his rule. That is of course if he wants to keep his seat for another term after this one.
We can only hope.
Sometimes even when bad things happen there’s that little bit of light at the end of the tunnel that will keep you going. I guess somewhere deep in my head I had the idea that the Australian Classification Board would see how silly it was being denying Left 4 Dead 2 a classification in Australia and thereby forcing us to have a completely butchered product. Turns out they’re pretty consistent with their rulings and the appeal has fallen on deaf ears:
After the Australian Classification Review Board first refused to classify Valve’s zombie first-person-shooter Left 4 Dead 2, Valve appealed the government’s decision.Valve’s Zombie shooter was refused classification, which means it can’t be made commercially available in the country. Not quite the same as a banning, but it has the same effect.
The company’s appeal to overturn the Board’s earlier decision has been refused, and the original, unedited version will not be sold in Australia later this fall when the game launches there.
As Valve told us earlier, the version of Left 4 Dead 2 submitted to the Australian government for rating is “the adjusted version.” This version has been rated and will be commercially sold in Australia.
The cut down version of the game sticks in my craw for a couple reasons. The first is that it highlights a critical flaw in the Australian classification system which can trace its roots back to one man, Michael Atkins, who in the past has used extreme hyperbole to defend his positions. Here’s an excerpt from a charming letter he wrote to the Adelaide Advertiser back in March:
Their vote is hardly likely to hinge on the “right” to score gamer points… by running down and killing pedestrians on the pavement, raping a mother and her two daughters, blowing oneself up in a market, cutting people in half with large calibre shells, injecting drugs to win an athletics event or killing a prostitute to recover the fee one just paid her (Welcome to the world of R18+ computer games).
Those of my constituents who are refugees have been subjected to the practical instead of the virtual suffering that R18+ nerds seek to inflict for their gratification on the computer screen.
Probably the worst thing about this situation is that the seat he’s in, the just over a decade old seat of Croydon, is a safe labor seat with him winning 74% of the vote in the last election. If it was a marginal seat we might have seen a swing against him on an issue like this but for the time being this man with his hyperbolic rhetoric and conservative viewpoints are keeping the mature Australian gamers behind the rest of the developed world. He uses an appeal to emotion to say that he represents people who’ve endured the horrors of R18+ games for real, and that’s the reason why he’s opposing it. If we’re to take his view to its logical conclusion does that mean every other developed country which has such a rating for these games is encouraging behaviour that is seen in these games? Although I should hardly expect any kind of sense from him, especially when he’s mislead parliament in the past.
Secondly what does coddling all the gamers in Australia net for society at large? Since the rest of the developed world has such a rating and have yet to descend into an anarchist orgy of drugs, sex and violence I can’t see how introducing a rating would do any damage to the Australian public. In fact present research shows that violent video games have no link to real world violence and in fact since games have become more popular in the last 2 decades violence amongst the young has decreased. The end affect is that the Australian gamer receives an inferior product or none at all, removing income from Australian game distributors and encouraging more nefarious means of acquiring what they want.
In fact I’m going to detail one way us Australians can get the game we deserve. First you’ll need yourself a Steam account and a friend in the USA. Get your friend to buy a copy of Left 4 Dead 2 and gift it to you and voila! You now have yourself an as intended from the developer copy of Left 4 Dead 2, thereby circumventing Australia’s draconian classification scheme. There are of course other ways, but they’re left an as exercise to the reader.
The backwards view that Australia is taking with respect to a R18+ rating for games is a black mark that we can easily erase if a couple people started practicing critical thinking. The evidence is on the table and their flat out refusal to acknowledge it shows a purposeful cognitive delusion, something that I can’t stand for when they’re supposed to be representing the people. I know one day we’ll see the end of this, and it can never come soon enough.
Anyone got a friend in the US I can talk to?