Tuesday, December 2, 2008

With Extremists Like These, Who Needs Moderates?

Since Clive Hamilton's Crikey article of November 20 in which he tried to characterise Electronic Frontiers Australia as "representing the most extreme strand of libertarianism", the following organisations and people have taken a stance which is consistent with that of Electronic Frontiers Australia

With extremists like these, who needs moderates?

On Monday, Clive Hamilton wrote another piece for ABC Online. One would have thought that he might respond to EFA's Colin Jacobs subsequent Crikey piece or use his intellect to take the above organizations and individuals to task for their irresponsible opposition to the Government's proposal.

But no. Clive Hamilton, public intellectual, avoided direct confrontation with his public opponents but chose instead to represent the opposition to the Government's proposal by selectively quoting utterances from random, unidentified opponents which he presumably found with a lazy Google search.

Really, Clive, one has to ask what on earth is going on with public intellectuals such as yourself.

If the only people you are prepared to debate are sock puppets, what does that make you?

See also Geordie Guy's and Syd Walker's takes on Hamilton's latest.

Since writing this it has been revealed that another extremist organization, NSW Young Labor, unanimously passed a motion at a recent conference which is consistent with the EFA's position.


Nick said...

Bravo! Well said.

Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. said...

Who awards these monikers ie "Public Intellectual"? Clive Hamilton has done nothing but destroy his own reputation as a critical thinker.

Jon Seymour said...

Not yet he hasn't - not until and unless Google PageRank kicks in :-).

I am beginning to suspect that Clive knows exactly what he is doing. In his view (he has written as much) rationality is not a virtue but merely a tool that is useful for defending oneself against the manipulations of others. The corollary of that is that one doesn't need to use rational arguments to manipulate others. His performance to date indicates that he is more interested in the manipulating the broader public than in appearing to be rational. Indeed, he appears to be prepared to sacrifice at least some of his intellectual credibility if it means he can achieve his broader agenda. His agenda isn't hidden - he hates porn, but his true objective isn't to eliminate extreme porn or its users. His real objective is to moderate the porn viewing habits of middle australia by making them feel guilty about it. A few too many HTTP 404s or strange delays will do that very nicely, thank you. He couldn't care less about doing anything effective about truly extreme porn or its users. Extreme porn is just a rhetorical device he uses to corral us to accept a mechanism that will effectively Silence Dissent about the boundaries of the milder stuff.

I'll be writing more about this over the next day or two.

Anonymous said...

Hamilton might be "public" but he's no "intellectual"

Syd Walker said...

Very interesting discussion!

Jon wrote: "I am beginning to suspect that Clive knows exactly what he is doing."

I think that's exactly right. Clive is not a fool by any means. If he avoids key criticisms of the 'Clean Feed' proposal, it's because he's already commited to an outcome.

Clive has yet to address key his critic's concerns head on. These include the inherent unworkability of the proposal, ease of evasion, lack of any consensus that there's a 'problem' to fix in the first place and concerns that other forms of content (non-sexual) will eventual be subject to consorship.

Unless thhis changes soon, I think we need to accept that debating Clive on this issue is not like debating a genuine 'intellectual'. It's more like debating a salesman.

No offense intended to salemen. An honourable profession. But most salesmen and women have the decency to be up front about their role.