At Crikey, Stilgherrian reports some musing from the head of the organisation that the government is considering giving new, statutory powers to regulate freedom of speech:
Discussions at the “Privacy in the 21st Century” symposium organised by the Communications Law Centre at the University of Technology Sydney even saw the chair of the Australian Press Council, Professor Julian Disney, complain that there’s too much freedom of speech.
“You don’t have real freedom of speech if you’re buried in a cacophony of irrelevant and vitriolic comment streams. That’s why a lot of serious people are pulling out from comment streams,” Disney said. Serious news publishers want to avoid the inevitable “welter of defamatory, vitriolic, abusive comments”.
“It’s caused by excessive abuse of freedom of speech by the people that are coming into those streams and not being properly moderated,” he said.
Disney called for us to “get real” about “the realities of freedom of speech” and the need to share this freedom as equitably as we can: ”I don’t mean the same to everyone, I’m not that unrealistic, but far more equitably than we do now. Some people actually have an excess of freedom of speech in this country, and are exercising it in a way which is hurting others and limiting their ability to exercise their freedom of speech.” Applause soon followed.