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Australian PM Has Parody Site Shut Down 289

Posted by Zonk
from the ah-to-breath-the-free-air-of-australia dept.
babbling writes "The Australian Government has shut down a parody website that mocked Australian Prime Minister John Howard. The website featured a satirical speech that 'apologised' for the Iraq war. The site was down for two days before a phone call from Melbourne IT advised the owner that it had been shut down 'on the advice from the Australian Government'. A mirrored PDF copy of the "apology speech" is available."
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Australian PM Has Parody Site Shut Down

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  • by AEton (654737) on Friday March 17, 2006 @09:55AM (#14941545)
    MelbourneIT representative: "To us it looks like a phishing site."

    Not bloody likely.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17, 2006 @09:56AM (#14941562)

    Shut down this Al-Qaeda Portal [whitehouse.org].

    Attack Iran. They want to sell oil for Euros.

    Feloniously as always,
    President-VICE Richard B. Cheney
  • Fascism spreads (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17, 2006 @09:57AM (#14941563)
    It's the way of the world, folks. Our corporate masters can't have you exposed to a different world view, now can they. And, of course the citizens who should be protecting the old "democratic" system are way too busy.

  • by hey! (33014) on Friday March 17, 2006 @09:59AM (#14941579) Homepage Journal
    The answer is if you elect politicians who think you need to be protected from your own stupidity, those politicians may be onto something.
  • by HellYeahAutomaton (815542) on Friday March 17, 2006 @10:02AM (#14941594)

    Politicians are in the public eye, and should expect satire and public attention. No one forced them to be politicians. Danish cartoons causing bloodshed, and now this. Does the Australian government think its people so dumb that they can't distinguish parody from sincerity?

    What a miserable miserable world we live in.

  • by mpe (36238) on Friday March 17, 2006 @10:03AM (#14941596)
    This is a Bad Thing, and it's quite possibly unlawful.

    It's also rather counter productive since it gets a lot of people looking at whatever all this fuss is about.
  • by ackthpt (218170) * on Friday March 17, 2006 @10:04AM (#14941606) Homepage Journal

    Politicians should grow some thicker skin in Oz. Hard to imagine a more thin skinned bunch, what next, censorship, oh, wait, that's exactly what it is.

    50 years ago, March 17th, 1956, Fred Allen, born May 31, 1894 in Cambridge MA to irish catholic parents, famed comedy writer and radio comedian, died of a heart attack while walking his dog.

    I'll toast him with a pint of Guinness. Thanks Fred, for all the laughs.

  • Backfire! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by redelm (54142) on Friday March 17, 2006 @10:05AM (#14941611) Homepage
    As usual, attempts to ban something mostly just serve as publicity.


    It would have been better to request that the material clearly be labelled "parody" or "fiction", because some wankers might be confused and think Howie is a nice guy.

  • by digitaldc (879047) * on Friday March 17, 2006 @10:08AM (#14941634)
    He said that after two days of silence, a customer service representative from Melbourne IT today informed him by telephone that the site had "been closed on the advice from the Australian Government"

    People know censorship when they see it.
    People do not like being censored.
    I suggest if you are an Aussie and this bothers you, vote John Howard and his friends out of office.
  • by Kohath (38547) on Friday March 17, 2006 @10:10AM (#14941649)
    Don't they have free speech in Austrailia?

    This wouldn't happen in the USA because we have free speech. Except if a lesbian is offended, then it's sexual harrassment. Or on campuses with a speech code. Or it you want to advertise cigarettes. Or alcohol. Or if you want to run political ads, then it might violate campaign finance reform, even if it's exactly like this John Howard web site.

    So this wouldn't happen in the USA in the early 80s. We sort-of had free speech back then.
  • Satire (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mwvdlee (775178) on Friday March 17, 2006 @10:11AM (#14941660) Homepage
    I'm probably going to get marked as a troll or something but the site (see google cache elsewhere) does indeed try to look identical to the real site and links everything but the speeches to the original site, down to the copyright notice.
    Copying material for satire is probably legal in this case, but he should not have misrepresented ownership of the text he wrote.
  • Johnny gets tough! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ockegheim (808089) on Friday March 17, 2006 @10:16AM (#14941691)

    Well at last he's doing something about sedition [news.com.au] instead of just talking about it. I'd better stop thinking freely.

    Any Australian would know this is a fake speech because the Mr Howard is pathologically unable to apologise for anything.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17, 2006 @10:22AM (#14941722)
    So, don't just blame the "Australian government" for this, as it's unclear who exactly intervened.

    The current Australian government's reputation doesn't help them though...

    Particularly they have a very poor reputation as far as "supporting civil liverties on principle" is concerned. It is one of the few governments that is entirely happy for the US to keep its citizens who are terror suspects in Guantanamo Bay (on the grounds that that way Australia doesn't have to deal with them). Their attitude towards assylum seekers is notorious worldwide. And the opposition aren't actually much better - they have just successfully campaigned to remove accountability for controversial drug approvals from the Health Minister [who might have to justify himself to the Australian people] and pass it to an entirely unaccountable "panel of experts". I wonder how long before John Howard realises that so long as you pass all the unpopular decisions to an unaccountable "panel of experts" then no voter can ever reasonably complain about anything you do!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17, 2006 @10:26AM (#14941744)
    Except if a lesbian is offended, then it's sexual harrassment.


    Yeah, lesbians are stopping free speech... nice one.
  • by 'nother poster (700681) on Friday March 17, 2006 @10:28AM (#14941756)
    Satire doesn't have to be "Ha Ha" funny. I'm American. I follow world politics fairly loosely, and I can tell that the Australian PM, wossisname, Um, Howard Dean? Nah. Oh, yeah, John Howard didn't write that. His political allies would shit kittens, then have him commited to the loonie bin for saying those things.
  • I suggest if you are an Aussie and this bothers you, vote John Howard and his friends out of office.

    We would, but there's nobody to vote into office. All we can chose from is a bunch of near-identical lying pricks.

  • Rights vs Laws (Score:4, Insightful)

    by stlhawkeye (868951) on Friday March 17, 2006 @10:32AM (#14941793) Homepage Journal
    This is one of those tricky intersections of "rights" and "law." Note that "rights" are things we have whether the law recognizes it or not. That's the classic liberal "natural law" version, and it's what most modernized democracies found their legal system on. Among those rights are speech, especially the right to speech of a political nature. The law protects IP because such laws ultimately benefit everybody (in theory), but this guy MIGHT be breaking IP laws to make a political statement. My take would be that his political statement isn't being silenced, just this particular method of making it. The guy could probably re-package or re-do the web site to make it more clearly a parody and get around the IP laws on this. What pisses me off is that it was just SHUT DOWN rather than trying this very reasonable intermediate step.
  • by Zzesers92 (819281) on Friday March 17, 2006 @10:35AM (#14941819)
    Wow, the Australia government does something facists and you actually managed to make an anti-American dig as a result! I'm impressed.

    America has problems, yes, but when another country demonstrates their similar inperfections to the world, can't we hold them accountable without trashing the US in the same breath?

    How about just a "Boo Australia" in this case?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17, 2006 @10:38AM (#14941847)
    I think the full blame should fall on Melbourne IT. When they received the request to have the site taken down, they should have asked the Government staffer what law the site was breaking, and when the staffer replied "None, we just don't like it" (or something to that effect), they should have told the staffer to go jump.
  • Re:Chilling. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Friday March 17, 2006 @10:40AM (#14941868)

    It's an easy enough misunderstanding: a phishing site looks like a genuine site, but isn't.

    Parody sites look like genuine sites too. That's the general point of parody.

    Yes, he's missed the point that phishing is about data capture not misinformation but I wouldn't rag him too hard, he's in the right ballpark.

    "The right ballpark"????? For Chrissakes....he's the chief technology officer at Melbourne IT [melbourneit.com.au]. If he doesn't fucking understand what a phishing site is, Melbourne IT Needs a new CTO.

    What's more likely? That a CTO of a major ISP actually doesn't understand the concept of a 'phishing site', or said CTO is prevaricating because the Government is breathing down his neck? You do the math.
  • Re:Good (Score:3, Insightful)

    by deesine (722173) on Friday March 17, 2006 @10:42AM (#14941891)

    We'd all do better off without such hateful speech.

    Betterment through censorship is a one step forward-two steps backwards maneuver.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17, 2006 @10:43AM (#14941896)
    Right on, dude!

    I'm glad at least someone is talking about how the Republican controlled federal government is constantly trying to limit our free speech and curtail our civil liberties, while weighing us down in record federal debt and promoting the outsourcing of American jobs to other countries.

    And you're right, this shit wouldn't have happened here in the 90's, when we had a President who could balance the budget and capture terrorists who attacked the WTC.

    I'm with you, let's vote against the Republicans this November. At least the Democrats have proven they can run the economy and capture terrorists.

    Yeah, yeah, I know, you're absolutely right. Voting for some third party like the Libertarians or the Greens is a luxury we just can't afford this November. We can't afford to lose any more cities or start any more wars, which is always a possibility if the Republicans stay in power.
  • I'd rather (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tkrotchko (124118) * on Friday March 17, 2006 @10:47AM (#14941933) Homepage
    In the U.S. we're supposed to be a beacon of freedom and tolerance. When we don't meet these ideals, they should be pointed out. In fact, people are doing us a favor for pointing out our flaws because it's possible we don't see them ourselves.

    Let me use an analogy... If I have some food on the corner of mouth after I eat, I hope my friends will tell me about it, and not just ignore it because some guy down the hall spilled his entire meal on his tie.

    People from around the world point out our flaws because we're disappointing them. After we did so much to liberate the world from tyranny in the 20th century, they want us to continue in the 21st. And if we don't meet that benchmark, then they want to tell us to get better.
  • by iminplaya (723125) <iminplaya.gmail@com> on Friday March 17, 2006 @10:53AM (#14941975) Journal
    When you're mired in it, it's pretty hard to see what you're mired in. Anyway, the politicians are living pretty well. Stupid are the people who elect them. Ignorant really. I don't think they would get elected if the voters actually made an effort to find out the truth about the people they're voting for. If not ignorant, then apathetic, if not that, then despicable, because they actually want censorship of "undesirables".
  • by Burz (138833) on Friday March 17, 2006 @11:26AM (#14942245) Journal
    Except if a lesbian is offended, then it's sexual harrassment. Or on campuses with a speech code.

    Can you tell the difference between criticisizing an individual, and generalizing about a minority? No?? I could tell...

  • by Mordaximus (566304) on Friday March 17, 2006 @11:27AM (#14942254)
    Except if a lesbian is offended, then it's sexual harrassment.

    I believe the first ammendment prevents the government from abridging free speech, not lesbians nor campuses.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17, 2006 @11:38AM (#14942346)
    they are doing things as bad if not worse than the fed RNC

    Oh? How many people have they gotten killed in a pointless war so far?
  • It's also rather counter productive since it gets a lot of people looking at whatever all this fuss is about.

    It's also bad press. Anyone/thing that can look at themselves and make fun of themselves or accept a good making-fun-of always comes out looking better in the end. In fact, they'd be smarter to publicize that they support the proprieter's free speech rights.

    Trying to stifle speech, on the other hand, never, ever looks good.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17, 2006 @11:56AM (#14942554)
    What exactly are you saying to women that keeps landing you in jail? I think this may be nothing more than a personal problem.
  • by operagost (62405) on Friday March 17, 2006 @11:57AM (#14942564) Homepage Journal
    In other countries doing things like that would get you fired from your job,
    Sounds like an problem with the employer. I'm afraid we don't force employment here in the US like France does (unless you're a 'minority').
    put on the nofly list,
    Have you heard of Michael Moore, Barbra Streisand, or Alec Baldwin being put on a no-fly list? Do you know anyone personally? No? See, it turns out that it's just the usual sloppy work by bureaucrats who confused similar-sounding Arabic names. Joe Caucasian Liberal has nothing to fear, and once we get our representatives to implement proper review procedures maybe we can weed out the incompetents who have screwed up the no-fly list.
    or even worse they dig up dirt on you and your family in an attempt to embarass or discredit you if you try to tell the truth.
    Sounds like the usual politics to me [littlegreenfootballs.com].
  • by qwijibo (101731) on Friday March 17, 2006 @12:05PM (#14942656)
    It's not just Arabic sounding names. There is no way to dispute being on the list, so there is no way to find out if the lists are abused. I know someone named David Nelson who managed our data center and is subjected to additional review, because someone else with a common name made it on the list. Here's a reference for this problem:

    http://archives.californiaaviation.org/airport/msg 26610.html [californiaaviation.org]

  • Re:Oh yes it does. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HrothgarReborn (740385) on Friday March 17, 2006 @12:45PM (#14943032)
    Yes but in the US all we need to look for is proper spelling and grammar to tell Bush didn't write it.
  • by billgates (75865) on Friday March 17, 2006 @04:40PM (#14945065)
    'they have just successfully campaigned to remove accountability for controversial drug approvals from the Health Minister [who might have to justify himself to the Australian people] and pass it to an entirely unaccountable "panel of experts"'


    This is not true and you know it. Didn't your mother tell you not to tell lies? The health minister had a right wing Christian agenda. That's why many people in his own party voted against him.
  • by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithy.gmail@com> on Friday March 17, 2006 @09:14PM (#14946324)
    And the opposition aren't actually much better - they have just successfully campaigned to remove accountability for controversial drug approvals from the Health Minister [who might have to justify himself to the Australian people] and pass it to an entirely unaccountable "panel of experts". I wonder how long before John Howard realises that so long as you pass all the unpopular decisions to an unaccountable "panel of experts" then no voter can ever reasonably complain about anything you do!

    For non Australians, what *actually* happened, was that the Health Minister had veto power over a *single* drug - the abortion pill RU486 - and that veto power has been removed. The only reason the Health Minister even had such a veto was because several years earlier the Government had traded it for the support in Parliament of a Christian fundie independent MP, since at that time they needed it to have legislation passed.

    The situation has *nothing* to do with "accountability" and everything to do with anti-abortion agenda of the Christian Right. Parent post should be modded "-1, Blatant Misinformation".

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