Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Just when I thought I’d heard it all

Yet again, I find myself amazed at the sheer idiocy of a certain individual within this country. As I sat reading an article on the Black Mesa mod in the latest issue of PC PowerPlay, I hear something on the radio which absolutely stuns me. Immediately, I cease reading and pay closer attention. I hear that in South Australia, a law was proposed which would force any person within that state to provide their full name and postcode when commenting on politics online. Think you can work out who proposed this? Take a guess. It was every gamer’s favourite misguided bigot, SA Attorney-General Michael Atkinson. Clearly not satisfied with demonising violent games and making insulting generalisations against Australian gamers, the man seems determined to stamp out any criticism whatsoever. Instead of being able to voice an opinion anonymously, without fear of retribution beyond the usual name-calling, Atkinson seriously expects South Australians to provide all the information needed for any given nutter to rock up to their house and do whatever they please. This comes in the wake of Atkinson calling one online poster who criticised him a Liberal creation, despite the man living only a few doors down from his office. He even came into it to collect some paperwork. Of course, this means nothing to Atkinson.

I’m usually the first person to complain about the immense freedom of speech the Internet allows, because I hate having know-it-all armchair experts vomit their misinformation in my face, but to strip this altogether is absolutely mind-boggling and, for any sensible person, an appalling violation of basic rights. I don’t doubt that if I had to provide my full name and my postcode every time I expressed an opinion online, various people would’ve tried to intimidate or even harm me. I have a habit of going to town on the ignorant, and most of the time they don’t like this. Atkinson likely realises full well that this is a possibility, but since when did anything like that ever stop him? Apparently, his own precious image is more important than the safety of his critics. In my eyes this shows just how perverse an interpretation of democracy this country’s politics are becoming.

Of course, I heard this on 2GB, and any Australian will probably tell you how often 2GB gets into trouble and how prone their talkback hosts are to shooting their mouths off with reckless abandon. I haven’t heard the other side of the story, but at the same time this strikes me as precisely the kind of thing such a grossly incompetent person as Atkinson would do. How the man remains in office is utterly beyond me, and I can only hope he finally gets the axe (and I don’t mean that literally, as he would likely construe) before he manages to make an even bigger mess of things.

Internet filters, inconsistent bans on violent games rather than appropriate ratings, and now the removal of anonymity which allows people to voice opinions which may cause them great amounts of misery otherwise – I’m beginning to wonder what this absolute joke of a government comes up with next.