One day I will be a terrorist simply because I don’t agree with the government. This is how I, and I am sure many others, read the Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock’s, proposal to widen Australia's censorship laws. The more they tweak and specify, the more likely your average person will fall into the trap of sedition.
Ruddock wants to impose a new power to ban books, films and computer games that advocate terrorism. The government has fulfilled its obligations and the period for public consultation closed last week, so now, no matter what anybody says the changes will no doubt soon become law.
Here’s an article discussing the issues “Terrorism proposal extension of censorship laws” by George Williams.
I don’t condone terrorism. Never have and never will. My issue is with who determines what is terrorism. A bunch of conservatives (doesn’t matter which side of politics) who have never really had much to do with the real world. They live at home with wealthy parents until their 30s then get jobs with mates or in the public service. By the time they start dictating what happens in our day to day lives most of us have held down several jobs, battled to pay the bills at some point or another and have seen authority and the government as playing a little or larger part in our problems. No wonder people want to protest and speak out against the government, but careful you are not being seditious.
And what about “terrorism”? One man’s terrorist is another mans freedom fighter. The Israelis are terrorists if the many UN resolutions ruling against their actions mean anything.
David Hicks was a freedom fighter in Kosovo, but a terrorist in Afghanistan. Why? US political alignment. The US were finished with their former allies in the region, the Taliban, and had swapped sides back to the Northern Alliance who they had helped the Taliban defeat years earlier.
So just be careful. One day you may think that you are standing up for the rights of the downtrodden in a conflict that seems unjust, or maybe you will be speaking up for your own rights to express your dissatisfaction with your government. The next thing you know you may be in an orange jumpsuit being brutalised by the people who declare that they are protecting us.
George Williams is the Anthony Mason Professor and Director of the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law at the Faculty of Law, University of New South Wales.