Thursday, November 20, 2008

Clive Hamilton's advocacy of the abdication of parental responsibility.

This is a response to a recent posting by Clive Hamilton on I have edited it slightly to fix certain typos and errors of expression the original post. I also use this opportunity to expand on points I could not previously express because of space constraints on Crikey.

In the comments of his original post, Clive wrote:

> 1. The implication is that if parents want to screw up their children then that's their business alone.

The implication of your argument, Clive, is that all parents want to screw up their children.

If this wasn't an implication of your argument, there would be no reason for a mandatory ISP filter. You know that is true because you have actually written statements to this effect in other places.

If your arguments have any validity at all, and I am not granting that, then the strongest case they build is that adults with children should have their ISP feeds filtered.

Filtering everyone's feed because it conveniently absolves you of explaining to Australian parents that they are all irresponsible reprobates who can't be trusted to bring up their own children without Government help is not sufficiently good grounds to filter my internet connection or anyone else's.

BTW: in your scheme, will households with children be allowed to opt out of the optional filter? If so, on what grounds? Who gets to decide that a parent is sufficiently responsible to monitor their own children's internet use?

As for the allegedly theoretical nature of the threat of censorship. You are proposing the construction of censorship apparatus that will censor sites about anorexia as easily as it will censor porn. This is the practical outcome of your proposal. Whether it actually will censor it doesn't matter - the infrastructure will be there, ready to be switched on the next time a regressive Government takes power.

There is no benefit in filtering my Internet connection. Unlike others who apparently need to do it for their job, I have no reason to view child porn, online or offline. The imposition of a mandatory ISP filter on my connection provides zero practical benefit to me, or to anyone's kids.

> It's not viewed as another useful mode of communication but as the source of ultimate freedom. Home alone in front of my computer I can travel where I like and evade my responsibilities to society.

As to your argument that we seek to evade responsibility, that is rubbish. The only person in this debate advocating abdication or evasion of responsibility is you, Clive.

Our argument is that adults are absolutely responsible for their own Internet use and should not be relieved of this responsibilty. Similarly parents should be responsible for the Internet use of their children and, unless they are incapable of it, should not abdicate that responsibilty.

You have consistently argued busy parents must be relieved of this responsibility and that adults without children must bear the consequences of this abdication.

To characterise our position as an evasion of responsibility is absurd, considering your own position.


Anonymous said...

Well, this just proves that left wingers are essentially fascists.

I'm not going to pay to read that, but to go from the intro "...problem that the government is trying to address."

Since when has a government actually been able to solve a problem? Tried catching public transport recently? If (and that's a big if) there really is a problem, I wouldn't give the Government a hope in hell of solving it. If there's a problem then only self-regulation is going to have any lasting success.

Jon Seymour said...

As a left-libertarian myself, I object to the generalization that all left-wingers are fascist. Some left-authoritarians may well be, but then I have never been particularly interested in the distinction between left and right authoritarian.


Anonymous said...

I don't really understand left-libertarianism, but anything-libertarianism is obviously better than nothing.

I don't see how governments can "create" or "provide" freedom. Freedom is the natural state of a human being.

I say leftism leads to fascism because proponents of governments tend to think that governments are capable of doing good things, but naturally, though those "good things" may be good in the minds of the leftist, they aren't necessarily good in the minds of everybody else. In fact I don't believe it is possible for one human mind to conceive what would be best for everybody else. Governments may be able to do the right thing by one group of people but they're certain to simultaneously do the wrong thing by another group of people. Because governments are human constructs and inherently imperfect, even if the will to do good is there, the proportion of people on the wrong end of the stick at any given time is likely to be a majority; hence fascism. If there is a way out of this paradox, let me know.

Jon Seymour said...

To understand what Left Libertarian is, this is a good place to start. The Political Compass. I encourage you to "take the test" and see how your views compare with current politicians and those from the past. According the test I did, I am further to the bottom left than Gandhi. Most Western politicians are in the upper right quadrant.

I am on the left, because although I don't support totally equal distribution of income, I think reducing inequality is a good thing. However, I am also sympathetic to the argument that it is probably a mathematical truth that income and wealth will be distributed according to a power law which means that very big countries like the US will have a few obscenely rich people and lots of poor people. To the extent that politics can influence the alpha parameter of such a distribution, I favour an alpha that reduces inequality.

Anonymous said...

I've taken that test before and found myself to be on the lower part on the centre line.

Equality goes against individuality. I think you'll find that internet filtering is a form of equality, an effort to make everyone's internet experience the same.

Is someone who spends their whole life as a peasant in third world country worse off than an Australian with a career, a house and everything else? That peasant only goes on their experience, they don't know what the other life is like. There are plenty of opportunities for them to advance their peasant life, many joys for them to experience within their peasant life. The fact that they may only earn 0.10cents a day compared to $200 a day in Australia is meaningless. Money is not everything in the world.

Equalising everyone's money will have no benefit. If you and I were given $10k, come back to us in 1 year and see who has fared better and who had fared worse? If I lose my money due to poor judgement, while you have invested wisely and increased your earning capacity, do I deserve to take some of your money so we can be equal again?

Allowing individuals to sink or swim based on their own merits is the true "equality" -- equality before the law.