Michael Atkinson’s censorship crusade continues.

5 03 2010

For some background on the SA Attorney General.  Read these two excellent articles by Andrew Russel:

The Preposterous Posturing of Platonic Piffle

Attention Whore

When will this guy just go away and leave people in peace? 

Michael Atkinson, as far as i’m concerned your censorship dreams are unjust, and a waste of tax payer money.   

The collectivist bikie legislation you support is also highly suspect.  This “legislation empowered police to ask magistrates to place control orders on bikie gang members, effectively banning them from associating with each other”.  See article. For the current legislation see here

The last I heard, Atkinson had attempted to ban anonymous internet comments about political matters during an election campaign.  For more details the AdelaideNow article transcript is here.

The legislation was hugely unpopular and Atkinson backed down.  But his statement revealed that he only did so because he’s scared he’ll lose votes.  He clearly still supports this government intrusion.  For more information see article here.  While Atkinson seems to think of himself as a moral crusader he doesn’t always stand by his moral principles. 

Judging by the commentors, there were only a small percentage of people backing the legislation.  And I wanted to print a couple of their comments just to illustrate how bad they were:

“This is not censoring free speech.  I am not afraid to say what I think or feel or put my name to it and the Advertiser’s fear campaign/beat up is just a bunch of rubbish”

Lucy (the commenter) doesn’t seem to understand the issue here.  Your feelings of fear or lack of are totally irrelevant.  The issue is one of the government initiating force against the public forcing them to use their real name in all comments made about the government.  You are already perfectly free to use your real name if you want!  This is what I do when I comment on AdelaideNow. 

Another rare pro-Atkinson commenter who signed off as “Daily cliché of what have you been told to think today” wrote that the law was “beneficial for democracy”.  I have no idea how he/she justifies this assertion but of course if you are commenting anonymously while supporting the abolition of anonymous comments…….. 

A far more typical comment was one such as this: 

“Internet censorship – you always think of China!  Not Australia.  This is a disgrace.  Well done SA….NOT (or will this comment be censored too???)”

Well it now turns out that although Atkinson backed down on this particular piece of legislation, it appears he is still attempting to intimidate ordinary Australians concerned about their freedoms.  The fears of the above commenter are IMO quite justified. 

See media watch report here.

Media watch has just reported that Atkinson has used defamation laws to not only threaten the AdelaideNow website but also the commentor (Dean McQuillan) with legal action over a posting Dean made about the bikie legislation.  A letter from Norman Waterhouse lawyers demanded Dean either pay $20,000 in “compensation” or publish a full apology on the Adelaide Now website.  I cannot understand why Atkinson would need compensation.  How has he suffered financially?  Anyway, it seems Dean didn’t choose his words well.  Dean refered to Atkinson as a “crook”.  I can certainly understand Dean’s concern but this is not the correct word.  There are proper laws and improper laws but by definition you are only a crook if you disobey a law.  Atkinson is violating individual rights and has IMO been a party to the introduction of unjust and immoral legislation, but he’s not technically a “crook” .   

Media Watch makes this insightful observation:

The man who wrote the original post made the mistake of using his real name. And on Christmas Eve, Dean McQuillan too received a letter from the Attorney-General’s lawyers. 

An apology was printed. As media watch points out, Atkinson didn’t appear satisfied with one apology.  This was the second apology, the first being from AdelaideNow. 

Mediawatch end with a fitting warning:

“But be warned. In South Australia, at least, if you want to be rude about a minister in an internet post, safer to do it anonymously. 

The state’s chief law officer is prepared to threaten an ordinary citizen with ruin for posting rude remarks on the net, even when they were taken down within a couple of hours.”

I agree.  Atkinson has proved his anti-free speech intentions with both his words and actions.

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