AA, Censorship and Sanity

John Ford (John.Ford@JCU.EDU.AU)
Sat, 15 Oct 1994 10:32:04 +1000

Whoa there. Are we not beating ourselves to a frenzy over this one?

Because this list became the focus of one particular individual, the
editor of AA (boardering on vilification), the list owner calls a halt to
proceedings. In my view, Hugh was quite right. I understand an Anthro in
Australian copped $40,000 in a defamation suite as a result of a email post.

But then the self flagellation began.

The ensuing posts have been rather illuminating standing on the far side
of the Pacific to say the least. Up goes the old rally cry "censorship". The
debate (?) then becomes submerged in emotion. Those on the high moral ground
behind the banner of Political Correctness and universalising discourse,
direct their emotions at Hugh for what in my view is some commonsense

1. The debate concerning editorial license of AA CAN be conducted
elsewhere. To suggest that an international fora is the appropriate place
to conduct a witchhunt is both nauseating to watch and unnecessary. To suggest
otherwise is somewhat egotistical. Gripes about editors are best perhaps
directed at editors.

2. Since then the debate has widened to encompass 'censorship' of this
particular list. It appears that the general argument is that - how dare anyone
limit discussion about anything for any reason! O.K. so we are mature, educated
adults and are quite capable of discussion and argument. But this episode has
become emotional and, in my view, dangerously close to being out of control.

The collective result is a silencing technique aimed at anyone who
suggest otherwise than what is the 'enforcing discourse" (I use Foucault's
notion of discourse). The same techniques were employed in Australia during
the MABO DEBATE which led to the NATIVE TITLE ACT. Anyone who criticised
the proposed legislation or the concept of Native Title was effectively
silenced by crying "Racist". This, I suggest, is a form of political violence
- it is designed to marginalise those 'outside' the discourse. As I write
in my thesis: "Those voices that did speak from the 'other side of the mirror'
were largely silenced by an egalitarian discourse".

Am I not seeing a similar phenomena take place here under the rubic of a
'censorship' discourse?

John Ford
from the Far Side