Thursday, 6 February 2014

A Dangerous Opinion

Defence Minister David Johnson has attacked the ABC over its coverage of the asylum seeker boat tow back.

"The good men and women of the Royal Australian Navy have been maliciously maligned by the ABC and I am very dissatisfied with the weasel words of apology that have been floated around by senior management of the ABC," he said.

"If ever there was an event that justified a detailed inquiry, some reform, an investigation of the ABC, this event is it," he said.

I think opinions like this in the minds of politicians are very dangerous. There is a reason why we have a free press. The ABC is doing an incredibly important job. They and other media organisations help keep an eye on what our government is doing. Remember we are taxpayers we have a right to know what the government is doing on our behalf.

The reason why this is important is because governments everywhere have a history of lying and abuse. There is a reason why authoritarian regimes put strict limits on their press. You can be sent to jail for reporting on things that the government wishes to hide.

This is why it is so bad that a government minister is threatening to investigate and report maybe even reform the ABC simply because it is doing its job.

It seems to me around the Western world our rights are slowly being eroded. Governments are now able to break the law with impunity. Recent revelations by Edward Snowden show that a British government organisation used denial of service attacks and uploaded malware to fight Anonymous activists. If a private citizen had done this they could be facing a decade in prison. It’s kind of equivalent to a policeman beating somebody up - said policeman still gets charged with assault.

I think drone attacks could also fall into this category. The US can now kill terrorists from the other side of the planet. In any other age this would be called murder, but in 2014 it’s simply law enforcement. You may say, “but they are terrorists”, but just think about this. Did Jack Ruby get charged with murder after killing JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald? Of course he did. Some may say, but this is different. Different how?

If we continue to let governments get away with murder, literally, and let them take our freedoms away one by one - we would be the worst kind of fools. One of the best ways to protect ourselves and to keep our freedoms intact is to keep our press free and as independent as possible.

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