The plot thickens

Graham Young has a piece up at The Drum where he outs the complainant (or, at least, one of them).

And some gay readers claim not to have been offended by the article, but by some of the comments to the article. Gregory Storer, one of the activists who have been lobbying against us claims to have been offended by this comment …

It seems Gregory Storer is the author of this comment at OLO.

Companies that have active polices about diversity, acceptance and tolerance are able to specify where their advertising money is spent. If the publication of an article goes against their policy, then sure, they should withdraw the funding.

I wrote to every advertiser I could find on the site, and in true fashion, most didn’t bother to respond, some responded and dismissed my complaint, others said the editorial decision was up to the site, and some withdrew their funding.

That seems fine, I suppose, although I prefer the approach Don Arthur describes.

If someone argues for view you find objectionable you should not call their employer and try to have them sacked, mau mau their advertisers into withdrawing support or try to have them arrested.

I followed the link to Gregory Storer’s home page. Despite his protestations, he is an activist. He ran for election to the federal parliament – nothing wrong with that – for the Secular Party. This does put a different light on things. Is he really annoyed by an online article few no-believers on either side had bothered to read even if they had heard of it, or is this a publicity stunt? For minor political parties all publicity is good publicity.

I also found a ‘great’ public finance proposal – Tax the churches.

The Secular Party of Australia estimates that the cost of religion in Australia is at least $30 billion a year.

Religious institutions receive many exemptions and benefits. They don’t pay payroll tax, stamp duty or GST.

It’s time to end the rort!

So is this about gay marriage or a broader assault on religion? Views of gay marriage are likely to bring religion into conflict with (other) modern values. Religion is a modern value too.

I have been wondering which way the debate would pan out. Would this advance the cause of gay marriage or retard it? Until I saw Storer’s home page I thought this would advance the case for gay marriage. After all it would highlight the arguments against gay marriage as being somewhat hollow and incoherent. But there is nothing like a ‘Christian’s being persecuted by secularists’ campaign to get the donations flowing and the base agitated. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Australian Christian Lobby isn’t stuffing donation appeal envelopes even as you read this.
Update: Gregory Storer responds here.

I think I’m just another guy annoyed about the ongoing apology by the likes of Young and his supporters to allow people to vilify gay people because of their sexuality under the guise of free speech.

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108 Responses to The plot thickens

  1. OIC, Deveny came up with religions costing Australia $30 billion a year on Q&A last night (and I think Henderson asked where she got that figure from.) Now we know.

  2. JC.

    The argument against religious exemption is a little hollow.

    Established churches aren’t as income rich as Storer thinks they are and a huge portion of their money goes towards charitable work.

    Here’s some questions for Storer.

    Would he like to see a drop off charitable work? Other charities and endowments aren’t taxed. Would he like to see the exemptions for those entities cut too? If not why not?

    It seems to me that Storer is just running anti-religion racket. That’s all it is because the $30 billion dollars he’s talking about seems to be coming out of thin air.

  3. Adrian

    compare overheads between secular charitable organisations like Care Australia and religious charitable organisations and you’ll discover where the real rort is happening.

  4. .

    I support Caritas. If my donation is going to get taxed because some gay dude is anti clerical, maybe my generosity won’t extend to Hamsi who can now sleep in the gutter.

  5. JC.

    Okay, so compare. Don’t leave me hanging like this… and please no links to dodgy websites that derive figures for their arse.

  6. Tillman

    Graham Young sez:

    As Christopher Pearson points out in his article, based initially on a post by Helen Dale at Skeptic Lawyer, it is also a form of secondary boycott, something which is also illegal. For me the secondary boycott issue is very much secondary to the moral and ethical aspects of this activity.

    But despite whatever Helen Dale has said, it is not a secondary boycott and it is not illegal.

  7. Sinclair Davidson

    Ken Parish at Troppo also thinks its a secondary boycott.

  8. ken n

    Secondary boycotts only get caught by the law when they are imposed in the course of business. OLO and the advertisers are but Storer and the other objectors are not.
    And anyway, I’d have a strong objection in principle to the TP Act being used in a situation like this.
    I can think of very few things appearing on an opinion site that I would find so objectionable that they should be censored. Annoying, irritating – half the stuff on Unleashed/The Drum does that for me – but objectionable no. It’s just someone’s opinion.
    Some time back Clive Hamilton, who was an earlier contributor to OLO, announced that he no longer wanted anything to do with it because it ran climate sceptic pieces.
    Running an opinion forum the accepts a wide range of opinion in modern Australia isn’t easy. A pity.

  9. Tillman

    I see a thread where Ken seems a bit waffly as to whether it is a 2ary boycott or not.

    I just can’t see how you work it into the language of s45D.

    As far as I can tell, you simply have an advertiser that yanked its spend. That then has a knock-on effect to other blogs.

    I don’t see how that matches the language of s45D, which requires a first person who in concert with a second person hinders or prevents a third person from dealing with a fourth person where the first person wants to cause substantial damage or harm to the fourth person.

    No one who is advocating the secondary boycott argument seems to have actually bothered to try to fit the facts to the language of the statute.

    Who is the first person, second person, third person and fourth person referred to in the statute?

    Why are the first and second persons acting in concert?

    What did the first and second person do to “hinder or prevent” the third person from dealing with the fourth person?

    What’s the evidence the first person wanted to harm the fourth person?

    I’m not a competition lawyer, but I can read a statute (legal or illegal) and I don’t get it.

  10. ken n

    That’s what I said Till. Just fewer words.

  11. Ken Parish

    ken n

    Graham Young asserts that there are “gay activists” within one or more advertising agency who are allegedly orchestrating the boycott by numerous advertisers not just ANZ and IBM (Graham reports a 96% drop in ad revenue which suggests a boycott much wider than just 2 companies). Assuming that they actually exist, these “activists” are clearly engaged in commercial activity although it may be unclear whether they’re doing it in their private capacity and spare time or as part of their work for the ad agency. Questions of actual and ostensible authority might even arise. I don’t have much doubt that s 45D is potentially applicable, it’s just that the practical issues surrounding taking action make it simply not worth even considering. However as I observed on my own thread, it’s interesting to think through the legal and practical issues just as a thought exercise.

  12. ken n

    I agree that the advertisers had a perfect right to pull the ads. I’ve been in enough mettings on stuff like that to recite the conversation – “Why should we put up with any aggravation over a few thousand dollars worth of advertising?”
    Still, if it was a company I was involved in I would expect it to be less gutless than this.

  13. ken n

    If Graham is right Ken, that does put a different complexion on it.
    And if I was running a business and found that the ad agency was manipulating the placement to suit its political views, I would drop that agency.
    I’d be surprised if it was true, though.

  14. Tillman

    Ken P

    Let’s assume the “gay activists” (the “first person” under s45D) are acting “in concert” (as required by 45D) with the advertisers.

    How are they are “hindering or preventing” a third person from providing or acquiring goods or services from a fourth person?

    And where is the evidence the “gay activists” are doing so with the aim of causing “substantial loss or damage” to the fourth person?

    I don’t have much doubt that s 45D is potentially applicable,

    It’s very nice that you have an abstract theory of wrongdoing, but unless you came show how the facts conform precisely to the language of the statute, it’s going nowhere.

    You are barking up the wrong tree.

  15. Tillman

    Assuming that they actually exist, these “activists” are clearly engaged in commercial activity although it may be unclear whether they’re doing it in their private capacity and spare time or as part of their work for the ad agency.

    That is absolutely irrelevant to the question of whether there is a secondary boycott or not.

    RTFSFFS!!!!!!

    (read the fucking statute, for fuck’s sake)

  16. ken n

    “RTFSFFS!!!!!!”
    Gee, you’d make a great teacher Till. Ever considered it?

  17. Tillman

    Bend over, Nielsen. Time for six of the best.

    This is going to hurt you a lot more than it’s going to hurt me, son.

  18. ken n

    No, Till, it would not work. Sadism is considered a disqualify character quality for teaching these days.
    Still, somewhere there must be a career for you…

  19. Ken Parish

    This entire discussion proceeds on the false premise that I am suggesting 45D action is sensible or feasible. There are obvious practical and evidentiary problems that make it a silly idea and I said that from the outset.

    “How are they are “hindering or preventing” a third person from providing or acquiring goods or services from a fourth person?”

    There is at least an implicit threat that the “gay lobby” would target corporations who continued to advertise on OLO. One strongly suspects that the ear of such action was part of ANZ and IBM’s motivation in cancelling advertising. Proving it would be another matter.

    “And where is the evidence the “gay activists” are doing so with the aim of causing “substantial loss or damage” to the fourth person?”

    The action they are allegedly orchestrating (a general advertising boycott) is one which by definition causes substantial loss or damage. Courts readily inferred the requisite intention/purpose from analogous fact situations in IR picket line situations until s45DD was enacted allowing unionists to rely on the fact that their dominant purpose was an IR one even though a subsidiary purpose (means to and end) was to cause commercial loss or damage by stopping customers from trading with a picketed business.

    – Agency is “absolutely irrelevant”.

    As Ken N pointed out in an earlier comment: “Secondary boycotts only get caught by the law when they are imposed in the course of business”. If the alleged “gay activists” in ad agencies were acting in the course of their employment for the agency then it’s clearly in the course of business and thus potentially caught by 45D. If they were acting in their private capacities and merely using their work-generated corporate contacts to organise a boycott it would not be caught by 45D. However, what if IBM and ANZ THOUGHT the employees were making ad placement recommendations/advice to them on behalf of the agency but the agency denied that they had authority to do so (being aware of the possible 45D implications)? Would questions of ostensible authority then be relevant? That’s what I meant. I’m not sure of the answer and I’m interested in your thoughts. Purely in the abstract of course. there’s no way I’d ever be party to litigation in this situation, not only because of the obvious and huge evidentiary problems discussed above but because (a) the defendants probably aren’t worth suing; and (b) troppo makes very little money out of advertising so there’s no commercial point anyway. as I said, it’s just a mildly interesting thought exercise.

  20. rog

    I doubt if you could get the argument of a secondary boycott to stick, for all intents and purposes the OLO has been operating a group and individuals within that group have benefitted from the arrangements made by OLO. The plug was pulled on the group and that is it.

  21. Tillman

    There is at least an implicit threat that the “gay lobby” would target corporations who continued to advertise on OLO. One strongly suspects that the ear of such action was part of ANZ and IBM’s motivation in cancelling advertising. Proving it would be another matter.

    Right. That’s – perhaps – the first person hindering the second person. But that’s not prohibited by any law.

    And it’s certainly not the first person and the second person acting in concert to hinder the third person from dealing with the fourth person, as is required to establish a secondary boycott under s45D.

    I can call up Dairy Farmers and tell them I’m not going to buy their milk because I think they haven’t done enough to disassociate themselves from the Muslim Brotherhood, and that I’m going to advise my friends to do likewise. That’s not a secondary boycott, and it is perfectly legal.

    The action they are allegedly orchestrating (a general advertising boycott) is one which by definition causes substantial loss or damage.

    Right. That’s the first person seeking to cause damage to the third person (or perhaps only the second person).

    It is not the first person causing damage to the fourth person by acting in concert with the second person to prevent the third person from doing business with the fourth person.

    Read the damn statute.

    As Ken N pointed out in an earlier comment: “Secondary boycotts only get caught by the law when they are imposed in the course of business”. If the alleged “gay activists” in ad agencies were acting in the course of their employment for the agency then it’s clearly in the course of business and thus potentially caught by 45D.

    Interesting observations, but nothing to do with the statute and hence totally irrelevant.

    There is a reference in the statute to the business of the fourth person, as there need be in order to give the statute the necessary constitutional hook.

    But there is no reference in the statute to the first or second persons being engaged in business. Whether they are or not is irrelevant.

    You can’t get up in court and argue that “I read on a blog that Ken N thinks such and such…”. Well, you can do that, but you will get more traction if you refer to the actual language of the statute.

    it’s just a mildly interesting thought exercise

    Ok, but it’s not a legal exercise because you aren’t making any effort to fit the facts of the matter to any actual law that is on the books.

    The law isn’t a secret, and it’s written in English.

    Here it is:

    http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/caca2010265/s45d.html

    If you can tell me who the first, second, third and fourth persons are, how the first and second are acting in concert, how the third is “hindered or prevented” from dealing with the fourth, and what the evidence is that the first and second wish to do economic harm to the fourth, then you can characterise this as a legal exercise.

    Until then it is just a typical beat-up. To be given as much credence as the “OBAMA INTERNET KILL SWITCH” hysteria a few weeks ago.

  22. JC.

    Does anyone understand what Quodge is trying to say as I can’t make it out.

  23. ken n

    In the US it is common for major advertisers to receive orchestrated large volumes of complaints about ads appearing in programmes that the Christian Right objects to. Most companies then tell the ad agencies not to place in programmes that they might object to.

  24. ken n

    I was kind of hoping you’d translate for the rest of us JC

  25. Quentin George

    Most churches (or indeed other religions) are asset rich and cash poor – the Catholic church is a pretty good example – most of them have huge costs in maintaining inner city churches (usually heritage listed) in areas of declining congregations. I’m not sure what this bottomless well of cash that people think taxing the churches would provide comes from, but I got news for them – it’s not there, unless you like hitting up little old ladies.

  26. Gregory

    Let me clear some of this up for you. This has nothing to do with the Secular Party. I took it upon myself to complain to the advertisers about the comments on the website after approaching Young about them. He declined to do anything.

    There is no organised attempt by any lobby to shut down the website. (Well, if there is I’m not a part of it)

    Young claims to have lost 96% of revenue from one revenue stream, it’s not stated how much that revenue stream contributes to his overall income. Is it 10%. I guess it’s not very much.

    Others are labelling me an activist. I think I’m just another guy annoyed about the ongoing apology by the likes of Young and his supporters to allow people to vilify gay people because of their sexuality under the guise of free speech.

    I’m surprised the election website is still there – thanks for visiting.

  27. Ken Parish

    The alleged “gay activists” are the first and second persons (cf union picketers); ANZ and IBM etc are the third person (45D(i)(a)(ii)); OLO is the fourth person. The third and fourth persons are all corporations.

    Your other questions (other than the final one) are all covered by my previous acknowledgment that evidentiary issues might well be insuperable, although if there was lots of money involved there may be a range of ways in which evidence could be gathered. That may even include interrogatories directed towards IBM and ANZ (since they’re not exposed to risk of 45D action as defendants) designed to elicit the identities of th ANZ/IBM employees who spoke with the activists and the content of those conversations. As there isn’t significant money involved, however, we’ll never know. However the hypothesis is not inherently fanciful.

    On the final point, as I observed previously, in older cases on 45D (before 45DD was enacted to provide a defence where the picketers’ purpose was primarily industrial), courts readily inferred the requisite purpose from the fact of a picket i.e. the purpose of a picket at the very least includes causing commercial loss or damage. Picketers are trying to intimidate potential customers, suppliers etc from crossing the picket line and trading with the business concerned. Similarly with the present situation. If it was possible to prove that the ad agency activists (the first and second persons) contacted a range of businesses and urged them to boycott OLO under an explicit or implicit threat to orchestrate a similar boycott of those businesses if they didn’t boycott OLO, then that at least arguably brings the situation within the ambit of 45D. To hinder in terms of the section is not confined to the sort of physical harassment that occurs on picket lines; it extends to the conveying of threats of action such as a boycott against the third person.

  28. rog

    I’ll try to make it a more simple for you JC. A secondary boycott exists only when members of a trade union takes action against an enterprise and are supported by a similar action by workers in a separate enterprise. The TPA section on secondary boycotts relates to trade unions only.

    In this instance a group of independent operators act through one operator, namely OLO. OLO enters into an unspecified commercial agreement for the group which is later cancelled.

    This cancellation of a coomercial arrangement can hardly be classed as an industrial action.

    A secondary boycott involves action by two or more people acting in concert, which prevents a third party, such as a potential customer or supplier, from dealing with or doing business with the target.  It is prohibited under section 45D of the Trade Practices Act 1974, where the purpose and effect (or likely effect) of the conduct is to cause substantial loss or damage to the target.  The maximum penalty that can be imposed for a breach of section 45D of the Act is $750 000 per contravention.

  29. rog

    I should amend that to say that the relevant section on secondary boycotts was instigated by unions action(s) but is phrased in more general terms.

  30. .

    Why only trade unions rog? Tillman has shown the Act has been superseded.

    “To be given as much credence as the “OBAMA INTERNET KILL SWITCH” hysteria a few weeks ago.”

    That’s not hysteria. Do you want to give old man Conroy having his finger on our internet button?

  31. Tillman

    Ken P

    First, you now seem to be saying that the advertisers have done nothing wrong – i.e. they are the third person and the wrongdoer (the first person) is the gay activists.

    But then why were people making much of supposed incriminating statements made by the ad agencies?

    Second, your analogy to a picket is completely wrong.

    A picket actually prevents or hinders people from doing business i.e. you have to physically cross the picket to deal with the fourth person.

    For a gay activist to say “we don’t think you should do business with these people and if you persist we will publicise the fact and this may cause you a publicity problem” is not preventing or hindering.

    If the gay activists said they would cut the advertisers internet connection so they were physically incapable of sending copy to OLO, perhaps that would be a secondary boycott.

    But you are in the realm of pure hypotheticals there.

    On the facts presented, there is absolutely nothing to suggest that this is an illegal secondary boycott.

    What surprises me is that so-called “skepticlawyer” doesn’t seem to know how to read a statute – she doesn’t seem either very skeptical or very lawyerly.

  32. ken n

    I suggest you stay out of this rog. Ken P and Till both understand the issues and how the law might be applied to it.

  33. ken n

    Did you read what skepticlawyer wrote Till?

  34. rog

    Why so ken, both Tillman and I are saying the same thing, there is no illegal secondary boycott?

    Time for you to walk the dog.

  35. .

    “What surprises me is that so-called “skepticlawyer” doesn’t seem to know how to read a statute – she doesn’t seem either very skeptical or very lawyerly.”

    Read the Ashington Piggeries case and tell me if it makes sense.

  36. Ken n

    Yes rog and I believe you are both correct.
    But he understands the legal issues and you don’t.

  37. JC.

    Why so ken, both Tillman and I are saying the same thing, there is no illegal secondary boycott?

    No, not exactly, as even you suggest. Tillman made the comment first and you subsequently lifted it from him without acknowledging or making any attribution (to tillers) until now. So what is the point of duplicating what Tillers is saying. Ken’s therefore right, stay out of it , as you don’t understand the discussion.

  38. rog

    The TPA has been succeeded by the Competition and Consumer Act but the intent of section 45D remains

  39. rog

    I lifted nothing JC, you can take walk too.

  40. Ken n

    Till skeptic lawyer is a better lawyer than anyone here.
    Doesn’t mean she’s always right but you better have a few degrees and practicing experience before dissing her.
    Anyway read what she said….

  41. Sinclair Davidson

    Guys – a lot of this ground has been covered over at Club Troppo.

  42. Ken n

    Worried about the waste of electrons Sinc?

  43. Sinclair Davidson

    Not at all – just that rog, who has participated in the Troppo discussion should already know that we know a whole bunch of stuff. Tillers hasn’t, so he wouldn’t know.

  44. Ken Parish

    “First, you now seem to be saying that the advertisers have done nothing wrong”

    I’m certainly not saying ANZ and IBM have done nothing wrong morally; they’re certainly guilty of weakness in the face of threats and as such are the willing instruments of intimidatory behaviour directed at a lawful exercise of free speech in a democratic society (of course the trumping argument there legally for the directors is that they may argue that they’re obliged to do so if their assessment is that the company’s interests so require) .

    However in terms of s 45D they are the third persons and therefore not legally liable. As I observed to Sinclair this morning, I attempted at an early stage of the discussion to conceptualise the situation in a way that might make ANZ and IBM liable, for the obvious practical reason that they would be worth suing in dollar terms whereas the activists very probably wouldn’t be. However that just doesn’t work in terms of s 45D, a point on which we are certainly agreed.

    “But then why were people making much of supposed incriminating statements made by the ad agencies?”

    In a purely evidentiary sense such statements might throw light on the purposes or motives of the potential defendant activists who apparently (according to Graham Young) work for those agencies.

    “A picket actually prevents or hinders people from doing business i.e. you have to physically cross the picket to deal with the fourth person.”

    The section does not on its face require that the hindrance must be either direct or physical. Obviously the vast majority of cases decided have been picket line cases but the section is not directed exclusively at pickets or even just at IR situations. Some earlier cases involved consumer and environmental boycotts (which typically don’t involve pickets) until the Democrats negotiated a deal with the Howard government whereby those sorts of boycotts were expressly excluded (see s 45DD). Thus some of the earlier comments were fundamentally misconceived. Consumer boycotts certainly aren’t covered but it isn’t because they don’t fall within the words of s 45D, it’s because they’re expressly excluded by s 45DD. The fact that parliament found it necessary to expressly exclude these sorts of boycotts from the ambit of s 45D is clearly relevant to our discussion.

    In a more general sense, there’s an interesting question as to whether mere THREATS of retaliation amount to a sufficient hindrance without more. Neither pickets nor consumer boycotts typically involve actually PHYSICALLY preventing or hindering suppliers or customers from dealing with a boycotted business. If a picketer tried to do so he/she would probably be instantly arrested. Tactics on picket lines typically consist of exerting a combination of moral persuasion and either explicit or implicit threats of retaliatory boycotts against the customer or supplier business if it deals with the boycotted business. How does that differ from what the activists may well have done here (again leaving aside questions of evidentiary availability)?

    Finally, note that I’m not saying that such a case would necessarily succeed, because it’s true that the great majority of decided cases involve pickets or some other form of immediate physical hindrance (e.g. refusing to service a supplier’s vehicles if it continues delivering goods to the boycotted business). However I don’t know of any case that decisively rejects the argument I’ve just explained. I’d be happy to have it drawn to my attention if you know of one. I don’t claim to be a trade practices expert, although I HAVE been involved in s 45D litigation over the years.

  45. Tillman

    Ken N sez:

    In the US it is common for major advertisers to receive orchestrated large volumes of complaints about ads appearing in programmes that the Christian Right objects to. Most companies then tell the ad agencies not to place in programmes that they might object to.

    Exactly.

    Happens here too, all the time.

    You don’t even need a campaign to do it.

    And if you do have a campaign, it just is not the sort of conduct the secondary boycott laws are aimed against.

  46. Ken n

    My experience is out of date Till but companies don’t react to the odd letter but a mass of them does make them twitch. That’ s why the organized campaigns

  47. Tillman

    Gregory sez:

    I took it upon myself to complain to the advertisers about the comments on the website after approaching Young about them. He declined to do anything.

    How on earth could that be illegal?

    How could it be illegal even if he called twenty of his mates and got them all to call up ANZ and say they were closing their accounts if ANZ continued to have its ads on Muehlenberg’s opinion pieces?

    Ken P sez:

    However I don’t know of any case that decisively rejects the argument I’ve just explained. I’d be happy to have it drawn to my attention if you know of one.

    The reason there is no case law is because this would never be litigated.

    People do what Gregory did in more or less organised fashions all the time.

    It just doesn’t get to be a secondary boycott.

  48. Tillman

    Did you read what skepticlawyer wrote Till?

    yeah, she said:

    This is why (with some reluctance), it’s my duty to inform you that Online Opinion (and, by extension, the sites for which Graham brokers advertising) have become the victims of a secondary boycott. Secondary boycotting involves circumstances in which two or more people act in concert so as to engage in conduct that hinders or prevents a person from dealing with the target entity. It is illegal under the Trade Practices Act.

    That’s about as accurate as the “OBAMA INTERNET KILL SWITCH”.

  49. Tillman

    companies don’t react to the odd letter but a mass of them does make them twitch.

    An outfit like Procter & Gamble doesn’t even advertise on controversial shows.

    Traditionally the test of whether a show was starting to push the limits of acceptability on TV was whether P&G would place ads, but I think they have loosened up lately.

  50. daddy dave

    Not being a lawyer, I have no opinion about whether it’s illegal behavior.
    However, despite orchestrated campaigns against TV shows or other companies being commonplace, it’s a shady and conspiratorial practice. I don’t like it. It seems like a form of blackmail.

  51. Tillman

    It seems like a form of blackmail.

    I think it’s just part and parcel of the messiness of democracy.

  52. Peter Patton

    Where would Lefty Kim be without an opportunity for Culture War trolling, in which she makes howler after howler regarding LP’s defence of minorities, when everybody knows LP is basically a bourgeois left white supremacist hate group.

  53. Peter Patton

    I’ve been distracted today on more important matters like finding my missing black sock, so have only just started reading about what, for a lot of Australia’s blogging denizens, the greatest, and most morally and legally complex outrage, to hit the Oz blogosphere, since the near civil war Big Brother’s Bianca’s boobs.

    What has happened? Did a few advertisers pull their money from a few blogs over an article published by one of them?

    Tough titties.

    Suck it up, and pay for your vanity vehicles with your own money. Oh, how Hell must be reverberating with the mirth of Spartacus, Norma Rae, Trotsky, and Che, at the mewling over this supposed injustice of Australian corporates, deciding a gaggle of blogs to be basically the same entity: welcome to reality of the commune of interconnected hiveminds y’all constitute.

    So very few people are involved in this blogging activity, and an unhealthy number invest far, too much of their identity into what is overwhelmingly shooting the breeze, blowing off time, delighting in a rare opportunity for good old Aussie vitriolic stoushing, free from the risk of a glassing, or an inappropriate pinch of the ass.

    This delusion that they truly are the Lenins, Trotskies, Castros, and Arafats of the social media, who are on the verge of vanquishing the imperialist hegemony of the MSM, has hopefully been at least brought to the attention to the various vanguardists revolting away from their bedrooms, or mum’s back shed.

    Given the reality of how these blogs operate on a daily basis, and what these particular political blogs are, less than an oily rag is needed to maintain them, and anything more that is actually spent, is pretty persuasive evidence of either the same trait behind cocaine addiction – too rich – but more likely an ignorance of Microeconomics 101.

    Anybody who thinks there are any ethical, moral, or political issues at play here, worthy of more than a few hours discussion, probably needs to lock their computer away for a few months for the sake of their own health, and to get a grip. No, I’m sorry, but typing shit from your mum’s garage is NOT political activism; it is an AVOIDANCE of political activism. And NTTAWWT.

    But my favourite bit is this ranting about “secondary boycotts”. My best mate is one of Australia’s top trade union lawyers. I sent him some of the stuff claimed about the relevance of “secondary boycotts” here, his response would violate even the Cat’s laissez faire comments policy; let’s just say more colourful versions of: pathological narcissism; deluded self-importance; need to improve grasp of English – “boycott” FFS; but lastly, he said he’d gladly represent anyone who was dragged into court accused of secondary boycott on these tawdry facts, even the most evil of the “bosses” being accused.

    I was surprised to read that the corporates of the quality of those who have withdrawn their five and ten cent pieces, ever doled anything out at all. I am going to make some inquiries, but I would bet a reasonable sum of money that hitherto, the actual individual members of this “Domain”, were completely unknown to the likes of ANZ. When this shit hit the fan, a team was probably quickly formed to get up to speed about what sort of spaces and events, their advertising dollars were staking their corporate reps on, and were like, “WTF”, and that was that. As Stephanie Rice might say, “Suck on that faggots”!

  54. So very few people are involved in this blogging activity, and an unhealthy number invest far, too much of their identity into what is overwhelmingly shooting the breeze, blowing off time, delighting in a rare opportunity for good old Aussie vitriolic stoushing, free from the risk of a glassing, or an inappropriate pinch of the ass.

    This delusion that they truly are the Lenins, Trotskies, Castros, and Arafats of the social media, who are on the verge of vanquishing the imperialist hegemony of the MSM, has hopefully been at least brought to the attention to the various vanguardists revolting away from their bedrooms, or mum’s back shed.

    And what you doing with this rant? Good summation of Catallaxy.

  55. Now this is how you engage in political satire …

  56. Peter Patton

    John

    I am quite clearly, and most enjoyably

    overwhelmingly shooting the breeze, blowing off time, delighting in a rare opportunity for good old Aussie vitriolic stoushing, free from the risk of a glassing, or an inappropriate pinch of the ass.

  57. Peter Patton

    Oh, and having quite a few very close old friends, who work at place like News Ltd, let me assure, these corporates take their right to withdraw their advertising dollar very seriously, and exercise it swiftly, and often. This issue with the Domain, is a fart in the bath compared to a hell of a lot of really nasty and 7 figure tiffs that take place all thee time.

  58. Yeah I know Peter. Recently I was encouraged to get on Facebook. My friend list is short but interesting. 4 biomed researchers, 3 physicists, a biophysicist, a psychiatrist, couple of doctors, some students, 2 political scientists, 2 libertarians of the anarchist bent, and various radical leftists. I do live in a strange world. I prefer that variety. Life is too short to stay in the one tribe.

    You are right about the venting aspect. However to my surprise many USA citizens are not only just blogging, on my friend list at least many are actively involved in political movements and taking it to the streets. I wish I could say the same about my Aussie friends.

  59. Peter Patton

    John, oh through all that mucking around, I get an INCREDIBLE amount of intellectual stimulation, have my views challenged, modified, and learn far more than I even have in a lecture theatre, and that is overhwelmingly from the Cat, whose pretensions to grand politcial players are mercifully non-existent.

  60. Peter Patton

    John, my points was exclusively about Australia, and exclusively about those aggreived by recent events. When we talk about other parts of the worls, such as Egypt, we are having a conversation ina language incomprehensible in the language we are speaking when we discuss this tawdry fart in the vath.

  61. daddy dave

    Peter, John, three points.
    1. the blogosphere has definitely accelerated political debate.
    2. Not all social networks have equal influence; similarly not all blogs have equal influence.
    3. without the internet, it simply wouldn’t be able for me to have this in-depth level of discussion on politics, economics, science and other topics on a daily basis.

    No, I’m sorry, but typing shit from your mum’s garage is NOT political activism; it is an AVOIDANCE of political activism. And NTTAWWT.

    The written word – and verbal debate for that matter – have always been a part of political activity. The fact that people can play a role from ‘their mum’s garage’ who previously did not have a role may irritate elitists like yourself, but is happening, no matter how much you try to scornfully wish it away. Besides all that “activism” is a word usually associated with progressive causes.

  62. daddy dave

    incidentally the “elitist” descriptor was intended for Peter, not John.

  63. daddy dave

    and by the way, attempting to destroy a publication by strangling its funding sources may not be a big deal to you, but it’s not a non-issue.
    The only argument for it being a storm in a teacup is if you think the blogosphere doesn’t matter.

  64. Peter Patton

    And daddy dave, it is precisely the comfort all feel at the Cat feel in disagreeing with another, without the beed to self-censor for fear of being deleted, moderated, etc. And you’re right. I spent too many words on that particular point, which actually could have been deleted completely. It came from having just spent an hour reading blogs, which ponged of far too entitlement from capitalism given how important they are politically and culturally.

  65. Peter Patton

    But in the same spirit, I must be equally candid, and inform you have very little understanding of what has happened here, if you really believe

    and by the way, attempting to destroy a publication by strangling its funding sources may not be a big deal to you, but it’s not a non-issue.

  66. 3. without the internet, it simply wouldn’t be able for me to have this in-depth level of discussion on politics, economics, science and other topics on a daily basis.

    I hear ya. Very important for me over recent years because my physical social circle has shrunk to near non-existent. One thing I love about internet discussion forums is you can always call upon people to back up their assertions(show me the fucking evidence!). In physical life that is often unrealistic call. When I was younger I went to a lot of trouble to memorize information and sources just so I could make people accountable. That, however, typically pissed people off because most people just want to provide throw away lines. For myself it is very important to be able to reference the relevant material, I even go to the trouble of rechecking material.

    I can learn more in a hour on the internet than a day out with friends. The context of internet forums promotes memory consolidation and thinking, the context of physical discussion is like “The Late Session.” Don’t get me started on that again!

  67. ken n

    Good observation John H.

  68. daddy dave

    ponged of far too entitlement from capitalism given how important they are politically and culturally.

    I guess I can relate to that experience.

    my physical social circle has shrunk to near non-existent.

    me too.

  69. daddy dave

    living in 4 cities in 4 years can have that effect.

  70. Would he like to see a drop off charitable work? Other charities and endowments aren’t taxed. Would he like to see the exemptions for those entities cut too? If not why not?

    Ugh. Why do people always trot out this tired old statement?

    Nobody said anything about taxing charities – this is about taxing religions, which are businesses set up to promote a set of arbitrary codes of conduct designed to ensure you entry to a super-badass country club after your death.

    Charitable activities will continue to be non-taxable long after we start taxing religions like we do every other entity.

  71. Sinclair Davidson

    Mitch – wouldn’t there be a crowding out? So imagine St. Pauls on the corner of Flinders and Swanston gets hit with a land tax – they would close down all their activities and so doing also exit the charity work that they do around that area.

    This may not be a bad thing (that’s a value judgement), but it would still probably happen.

  72. .

    “Nobody said anything about taxing charities – this is about taxing religions, which are businesses set up to promote a set of arbitrary codes of conduct designed to ensure you entry to a super-badass country club after your death.”

    They are charities, whether you like them or not. The donations they get are already taxed. Why are you promoting double taxation?

    Actually I’m inclined to think they should be taxed as in Sinclair’s example. Just as long as they get treated the same and we have no double taxation.

  73. Peter Patton

    dd

    I imagine the addition of the “daddy” part to “dave’s” life would have contributed a little as well. 😉

  74. Peter Patton

    I don’t think the phrase “tax exempt” should exist period. And especially not churches. If I had my way tax legislation would be one page long. For ever word, it exceeded that one page, the MPs who supported the offending legislative additions would have their pay docked pro-rata.

  75. Some further food for thought:

    1) Did you know Sanitarium Foods is owned by the Seventh-Day Adventist Church? As such, it pays no taxes. But their tax exemption is meant to be for charitable activities undertaken by the church, so surely that oughtn’t exempt them from payroll tax and other costs associated with running that business. Another quirk of being tax exempt means their books are entirely closed. I’m not saying they aren’t doing charitable work, but who knows what kind of pay their company execs are getting when the money should be going back into the community?

    2) At Christmas, the wife and I took our two-year old out looking at Christmas lights (he was probably as excited about staying up late than the lights themselves). We stopped in at a big church on the northside of Brisbane that had a massive light display, a petting zoo and model railroads for the kids to check out. We were handed, on our way in, a big bag full o’ goodies for the boy. Inside the bag was a full-colour nativity pop-up playset, a professional-grade kids DVD and an assortment of other stuff. I imagine a significant amount church money is being spent on marketing materials instead of charitable activities.

  76. C.L.

    That’s about as accurate as the “OBAMA INTERNET KILL SWITCH”.

    Or saying that the BAIPA is “illegal.”

  77. Sinclair Davidson

    1) Yes.
    2) and?

  78. Tillman

    Or saying that the BAIPA is “illegal.”

    Who said that? I certainly didn’t.

  79. daddy dave

    Mitch, the same complaint can be made about all non-profits, not just the particular type of non-profit that you happen to not like. Some of them are huge, run retail chains, and are in direct competition with for-profit. The Wilderness Society is just the most obvious of many examples.

    In fact you could also complain about Australia Post and ABC bookstores having unfair advantages and stealing income from the competition.

  80. ken n

    Anyway, what’s so inaccurate about the kill switch story?

  81. Tillman

    Uh, well let’s start with the fact there is no “kill switch”.

  82. Sinclair Davidson

    That’s because the Congress was planning to legislate the create the kill switch. Nobody claims it already exists.

  83. ken n

    You mean no bill has been passed to empower the US government to take over and if necessary shut down the internet in the US if it thinks it necessary for national security?

  84. Tillman

    You mean no bill has been passed to empower the US government to take over and if necessary shut down the internet in the US if it thinks it necessary for national security?

    Not only that, no bill has been proposed that would empower the US government to take over and if necessary shut down the internet in the US if it thinks it necessary for national security.

    In short, there is no “kill switch” – either proposed or currently in existence.

    Don’t believe everything you read in the Sydney Morning Herald.

  85. That’s because the Congress was planning to legislate the create the kill switch. Nobody claims it already exists.

    But I have read reports that the Obama administration has sought to bring forward legislation to eliminate net neutrality and assign every USA citizen with an “internet identity tag”.

    Patriot Act not renewed today.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/08/house-rejects-extensions-patriot-act_n_820554.html?ref=fb&src=sp#sb=533284,b=facebook

  86. Tillman

    Here’s how it is actually proposed that it will work. It ain’t a “kill switch”. Sorry.

    The revised Lieberman-Collins bill, dubbed the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, works this way: Homeland Security will “establish and maintain a list of systems or assets that constitute covered critical infrastructure” and that will be subject to emergency decrees. (The term “kill switch” does not appear in the legislation.)

    Under the revised legislation, the definition of critical infrastructure has been tightened. DHS is only supposed to place a computer system (including a server, Web site, router, and so on) on the list if it meets three requirements. First, the disruption of the system could cause “severe economic consequences” or worse. Second, that the system “is a component of the national information infrastructure.” Third, that the “national information infrastructure is essential to the reliable operation of the system.”

    At last week’s event, Milhorn, the Senate aide, used the example of computers at a nuclear power plant or the Hoover Dam but acknowledged that “the legislation does not foreclose additional requirements, or additional additions to the list.”

    A company that objects to being subject to the emergency regulations is permitted to appeal to DHS secretary Janet Napolitano. But her decision is final and courts are explicitly prohibited from reviewing it.

    President Obama would then have the power to “issue a declaration of a national cyberemergency.” What that entails is a little unclear, including whether DHS could pry user information out of Internet companies that it would not normally be entitled to obtain without a court order. One section says they can disclose certain types of noncommunications data if “specifically authorized by law,” but a presidential decree may suffice.

    “No amount of tightening of what constitutes ‘critical infrastructure’ will prevent abuse without meaningful judicial review,” says Berin Szoka, an analyst at the free-market TechFreedom think tank and editor of The Next Digital Decade book. “Blocking judicial review of this key question essentially says that the rule of law goes out the window if and when a major crisis occurs.”

    For their part, Lieberman and Collins say the president already has “nearly unchecked authority” to control Internet companies. A 1934 law (PDF) creating the Federal Communications Commission says that in wartime, or if a “state of public peril or disaster or other national emergency” exists, the president may “authorize the use or control of any…station or device.”

    In congressional testimony (PDF) last year, DHS Deputy Undersecretary Philip Reitinger stopped short of endorsing the Lieberman-Collins bill. The 1934 law already addresses “presidential emergency authorities, and Congress and the administration should work together to identify any needed adjustments to the act,” he said, “as opposed to developing overlapping legislation.”

  87. Sinclair Davidson

    The term ‘death panel’ doesn’t occur in the ObamaCare bill either.

  88. Tillman

    In fact, the proposed bill amounts to the opposite of a kill switch.

    It is intended to be used if the US is under cyber-attack to preserve critical infrastructure. The bill is designed to give DHS the power to thwart those who would shut down the internet. It’s not designed to stop yokels having easy access to Glenn Beck’s youtubes, so calm the fuck down.

    But the dimwits at the Sydney Morning Herald reported it as an “OBAMA INTERNET KILL SWITCH”.

    This was then picked up in a thread a while ago at the Cat and everyone breathlessly ran with it.

    No one actually stopped to consider whether the Herald report was accurate, or to actually do a quick google search to consider whether the legislation created what could accurately be called an “OBAMA INTERNET KILL SWITCH”.

    Exact same thing as the “secondary boycott” brouhaha. Some ill-informed journo says this is a secondary boycott and everyone gets hysterical.

    However, a brief glance at the legislation – readily accessible to anyone with internet access – makes it perfectly clear that this does not come close to conforming to the definition.

  89. ken n

    Oh, I see Till, there is no mention of the term “kills switch” in the bill.
    But it’s still pretty clear that the President can, under the bill (or perhaps even now) do what the Egyptian government did last week.
    Or am I misreading it?

  90. Tillman

    The term ‘death panel’ doesn’t occur in the ObamaCare bill either.

    Well, the phrase “the Currency Lad wears women’s panties” doesn’t appear in the Old Testament, but we all know that to be true, don’t we?

  91. Sinclair Davidson

    My understanding is that preserve infrastructure means dropping them off the net. Like the Egyptian government preserved the net. “to preserve the net, we have to kill the net’ and so on.

  92. Sinclair Davidson

    Maybe in the Hebrew.

  93. Tillman

    But it’s still pretty clear that the President can, under the bill (or perhaps even now) do what the Egyptian government did last week.

    The President can shut down the internet because he doesn’t like what he is saying?

    No, the bill does not empower him to do that. No act of Congress can trump the first amendment.

    So it is not a kill switch.

  94. ken n

    You see Till, after some of the things done by the Bush administration under the Patriot act and assumed executive powers, don’t you think it’s not unreasonable to be vey careful about increasing presidential powers?
    Currently, the power to shut down the internet is unclear but certainly the bill would remove judicial review. That doesn’t bother you?

  95. Tillman

    My understanding is that preserve infrastructure means dropping them off the net.

    My understanding is that there is a real concern that you have crappy for-profit ISPs in a commodity business, looking to cut costs, and about as reliable and trustworthy as Vodafone or Bigpond who are in control of critical infrastructure, including communications with nuclear power plants, military facilities etc.

    The bill is intended to give the executive the power to very rapidly step in and assume control of this infrastructure if there is a cyber-attack on the US.

    The bill may be a bad idea or it may be necessary. But it is not a “kill switch”.

    And no act of Congress can give the President the power to restrict political communications he doesn’t approve of. (See the First Amendment to the US Constitution.)

    So instead of there being a rational discussion of what is a realistic, proportionate and technically feasible response to what most agree is a serious threat (cyber warfare), we get an asinine debate about “kill switches” and censorship of political speech – none of which has anything to do with the actual legislation.

  96. The cyber attack threat is real. Only yesterday there was a news item how those friendly to Wikileaks(Anonymous) managed to penetrate computers.

    http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-02-wikileaks-defenders-hack-firm.html

    And this:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41280813/ns/technology_and_science-security/


    In a wartime situation cyber attacks are a very big worry. Don’t under-estimate this threat. If a bunch of nerds sitting in their rooms can penetrate high security websites governments should be very concerned about the potential to cause massive disruption through cyber attacks. I saw an interview with one bod working on a defence project in the USA and he stated that their network is subject to a huge number of attacks, daily. He suggested China as the main culprit.

    BTW, don’t assume your WiFi is safe, even with encryption and passwords that is relatively easy to hack.

  97. ken n

    So you reckon the US military shops around for the cheapest ISP for its communication systems? That’s an utter red herring.

    “The bill is intended to give the executive the power to very rapidly step in and assume control of this infrastructure if there is a cyber-attack on the US.” or another emergency. And the action is not subject to judicial review.

  98. Tillman

    You see Till, after some of the things done by the Bush administration under the Patriot act and assumed executive powers, don’t you think it’s not unreasonable to be vey careful about increasing presidential powers?
    Currently, the power to shut down the internet is unclear but certainly the bill would remove judicial review. That doesn’t bother you?

    Where did I say the executive should have unrestricted power? Where did I say I think judicial review is a bad idea?

    I don’t even know if the bill is a good idea.

    All I know is that it is not a “kill switch” and the valid questions you raise are not addressed by breathless irresponsible SMH-style commentary.

  99. And the action is not subject to judicial review.

    By the time there is a judicial review the damage is done. When you have thousands of people on a network with thousands of servers even one successful attack can be enough. That is why the bod I previously mentioned cited persistent ongoing attacks. It is a probability game, somewhere, sometime, someone is going to be lax in security. This isn’t just about the military, the electricity grid could be crippled, financial institutions could be penetrated(this has already happened a number of times).

  100. ken n

    “the valid questions you raise are not addressed by breathless irresponsible SMH-style commentary.”
    huh?

    It seems to me that the term you object to so strongly does describe what the executive could do under the bill. Not the only thing, but the bill would certainly allow whole or part of the net to be shut down for security reasons.

  101. dover_beach

    Sorry to say, but on this I agree with Tillman. Thanks guys.

  102. ken n

    No need to apologise d_b. We value diversity of opinions here.

  103. ken n

    You know what? I have been foolish. Reading back, Tillman is as concerned as we are about the implications of the bill.

    “Where did I say the executive should have unrestricted power? Where did I say I think judicial review is a bad idea?
    I don’t even know if the bill is a good idea.”

    All he is objecting to is the term “kill switch”. That’s fine, we can drop the term. Wish I had realized that sooner.

  104. Tillman

    And even if it is an “internet kill switch”, it is hardly an “OBAMA” internet kill switch.

    The sponsors are a republican and a conservative independent.

    This isn’t exactly some pet project of Obama’s that he’s trying to ram in over principled GOP opposition.

  105. Tillman

    Yes Ken.

    I was objecting to the breathless reporting. I don’t have a strong view on the bill one way or the other.

  106. ken n

    OK, we have a deal.
    I’m still not sure about “breathless”. It’s a bit hard to talk when you are out of breath. Probably another word would have been better but let’s not get into that now.

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