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How have we allowed governments to get so out of control?
Across the ditch in Oz, the government is preparing to wage war on misinformation and disinformation in a way that is super-scary to anyone who values free speech.
One of the basic tenets of free speech is that anyone and everyone should be free to express their beliefs or opinions, even if those beliefs and opinions are not congruent with the mainstream. Without these freedoms, creativity and expression will be stifled and it becomes easy for governments to suppress any form of dissent, even when that dissent represents nothing more than a healthy challenge to the narrative being presented by them.
The whole concept of democracy is based on allowing everyone to be equally entitled to freedom of expression and as soon as you start restricting that freedom you begin moving down the slippery slope to totalitarianism
Take a moment to watch this short video and you'll see what our Aussie mates are facing right now. Rewind if you want to watch from the start but I've cued the video up to the most relevant place)
Kind of frightening huh?
It appears that mis/disinformation, at least in this bill, is defined as anything the government does not agree with.
Anyone who attempts to disseminate an opinion that is not congruent with the official line of government shall be silenced... lest the platform on which they share those opinions and beliefs be hit with huge fines.
This is NOT how democracy is supposed to work.
If this bill becomes law, even the voices of political adversaries could be silenced merely by classifying them as "disinformation" or "misinformation".
However, it's not just our Aussie cousins who are ramming through such draconian restrictions on free speech. Regular Aardvark readers will recall that I reported, with deep concern, the UK's Online Safety Bill which has now become law.
The worrying aspect of this new law is that it doesn't only prohibit the dissemination of illegal material via the internet, it also bans stuff that is merely considered to be "harmful".
What is harmful material and who gets to decide whether something meets that definition or not?
To a sitting government, anything published by their political opposition could be defined as "harmful" and thus we start crippling the freedoms on which our democracy is based.
As I have mentioned previously, governments have discovered that using "safety" as an excuse allows them to pass draconian restrictions that remove essential freedoms which would otherwise be considered sacrosanct.
Sadly, too many people are willing to believe that it's worth sacrificing these freedoms in order to remain safe in a world which is perceived to be filled with an ever-increasing number of existential threats.
The thing that worries me most about all this is not the huge shift away from democracy and towards totalitarianism but the full and certain understanding that at some point the great unwashed masses will eventually wakeup, rise up, and wrest those freedoms back -- perhaps in a violent manner.
In the meantime we must simply accept that too few people value, and therefore care about protecting the freedoms they've never had to fight for (that was done by their parents and grandparents) and that this gives governments free reign to rape and pillage our rights.
Carpe Diem folks!
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