Letters to the Editor

The case for a new form of censorship 

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Dear Editor,

Any proposal to police political advertising is a form of censorship. 

I cannot feel comfortable at the idea of establishing new forms of censorship, but I also believe that it must be done.

It seems to me that, for truth in political advertising to be effective, it must be timely. For that to happen, all political ads would need to be authorised – probably by the AEC.

Even supposing we are able to find a meaningful definition of a ‘political advertisement’, I seriously doubt we have the means to police the many forms by which such advertising can be delivered in a  world of digital social media. Never mind next week, or next year.

We have seen disinformation flash into the general consciousness through social media, immediately to have the sources disappear without trace.

Might the new definition include any opinion expressed in any medium, I wonder?  

I applauded through the half a century in which we climbed out of the censorship trough of the mid-1900s. But, to change metaphors, we threw the baby out with the bathwater. Once we can no longer agree on standards of decent debate, government censorship of certain public communications again becomes necessary.

It won’t be easy, particularly in a climate in which governments don’t attempt ‘difficult’.

Iain MacPhail


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