Category Archives: Free-Speech

Aboriginal Memes, is Free-Speech Taboo in Australia?

A shit storm is currently brewing over a controversial Facebook page entitled “Aboriginal Memes” the page is now offline but I collected the photos from it so you can see what the fuss is about. Photos Now offline. (I think I’ve made my point.)

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has weighed into the debate over a racially abusive Facebook page, saying he thinks it should be taken down. 

SBS reported yesterday on the Facebook page, which allows posts with racially abusive “memes” about Indigenous people. The page was temporarily removed, before re-appearing on the site with a tag noting that the content contained “controversial humour”.  

World News Australia

However the really horrific thing that I personally found about this page was not the content at all, but rather the fanatical Anti-freedom of Speech groups that setup for the sole purpose of suppressing another persons speech. Yes, that speech is distasteful but supporting free speech means that we must often defend distasteful things.

A page Called Make Facebook Shut Down Aboriginal Memes

Has sprung up in protest of the Aboriginal Memes page  however this situation is nothing more than people seeking to suppress another person’s speech because they happen to find it distasteful. I find it disturbing how many people are radically opposed to freedom of speech in this country. Except of course when it’s their own speech then all of a sudden they are suddenly in favour of it.

But this only shows a gross lack of consideration for what free speech means for all of us. Because you cannot possibly claim to support freedom of speech while simultaneously seeking to suppress another. Free Speech is a right that must be given to everyone on equal ground regardless of its content.

When supporting the Freedom of Speech  you don’t need to agree with the opinions of others but unless you are prepared to defend their right to say whatever they like you cannot call yourself a supporter of Free-Speech and nor can you reasonably expect others to respect your rights when you do not extend that courtesy yourself.

I hate having to defend those whom I disagree with, but it seems I am required to do so more and more often in order to defend free speech these days. This is one of those times.

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. Evelyn Beatrice Hall

Anti-vaxxers trying to censor skeptic blogs.

An interesting event came to light recently. Two well known Skeptic blogs Reasonable Hank and Lucky Losing were being blocked by Trend Micro.

We believe supporters of the Australian Vaccination Network have been reporting skeptical blogs as malware in an attempt to have them blocked by malware vendors. This type of behavior has come to be expected from those who lack the evidence to backup their claims. 

There is an especially nutty fruitloop called Liz Hempel who had a few things to say on Twitter regarding the blockage of Reasonable Hank.

Liz Hempel (if that’s even her real name) is quite clearly making false accusations of fraud and criminal conduct. Without any evidence to backup those accusations of course, but then lack of evidence is what the anti-vaccination movement is all about (and promoting disease).

Liz continues…

Liz clearly knows little about the Internet. She receives the warning because she is most likely using Trend Micro which is blocking the page. Perhaps she thought reporting a page she didn’t like would get it removed entirely from the web, she is wrong only users of that particular blacklist are affected by the blockage.

I like her suggestion of reporting it to Services providers receive threats, abuse and complaints as part of their daily business but no decent service provider is going to remove content unless compelled to by a court of competent jurisdiction. They espesially aren’t going to act at the whim of anti-vaxx bullshitters. Nice try Liz but once more you fail.

Incidents like this just highlight the lengths that anti-vaxxers will go to; or in this case attempt to go to in order to silence critics of their ideology. While Liz Hempel doesn’t know what she’s doing not all anti-vaxxers will be so incompetent with technology and those of us who run sites likely to incur the wrath of others should take steps to ensure that our sites and services are secure from those who would like to silence their critics in desperation. I expect we will see more underhanded tactics being used in the future, by those with an otherwise indefensible position.

Francine Scrayen sends me a Cease and Desist.

It looks like two of my previous blog posts have upset Ms Scrayen to the point where she is willing to call in the lawyers. Of course nobody likes such harsh criticism of their business practices, especially when they are already surrounded by intense public scrutiny.

Ms Scrayen is so strongly opposed to my opinions and criticisms of her that she even wants me to remove them from my blog. 

I have no desire to publish inaccuracies and posting such a retraction would be doing just that. My opinions and criticisms of Francine Scrayen are based upon the facts surrounding the death of Penelope Dingle and I am more than willing to defend them in court if need be.

Ms Scrayen may be unhappy with what I’ve written about her, but I will not be removing it unless it is shown to be false. If Ms Scrayen thinks she can silence my criticism with lawyers then she is in for some disappointment.

I’m sure Ms Scrayen will read this so I’ll make this perfectly clear. You cannot silence legitimate criticism with lawyers. If you can prove the Homeopathy works and is effective for treating cancer, as Penelope Dingle was led to believe. Then I will gladly make the necessary corrections to maintain the accuracy of my blog. But if you want to sell unproven medicines to vulnerable cancer patients then you can expect to be justifiably criticised for it; especially if the patient then dies due to your ineffective treatment.

Cease and Desist Letter.

Coroners Report

My First post about Francine Scrayen

My Second post about Francine Scrayen

Twat sues Twitter over Tweet.

A Melbourne man is suing over a defamatory tweet, but rather than suing the author of the tweet he plans to sue Twitter itself.

It all began when a writer by the name of Marieke Hardy mistakenly identified Joshua Meggitt as the author of a “Hate blog” written about her. Hardy wrote on Twitter ”I name and shame my ‘anonymous’ internet bully. Liberating business! Join me,” she then linked to her blog where Mr Meggitt was incorrectly identified.

It was a tweet seen around the world, and now that Hardy (below) has already reached a confidential legal settlement with Mr Meggitt, believed to be about $15,000, and published an apology on her blog, his lawyers are seeking damages from the social media site where the original defamation had the greatest exposure. Sydney Morning Herald

Normally I would sympathise with Mr Meggitt as he had false information posted to the Internet about him. However this is not one of those times. As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald a settlement has already been reached with the offending party. Needless to say I don’t think Marieke Hardy had any malicious intent she just stuffed up and made a genuine mistake. A mistake she is now paying for.

So Joshua Meggitt has his compensation (If the article I quoted is correct) by way of a legal settlement. Personally I would love $15,000 every time someone wrote a false accusation about me on the internet, I would never have to work again.

Mr Meggitt’s lawyer Scott Gibson told Fairfax Media his client was now seeking legal redress from the social media company: “Twitter are a publisher, and at law anyone involved in the publication can be sued.” Herald Sun

However the offending Tweet never appeared on Twitter. Hardy posted the offending content on her blog. She simply used Twitter to notify people of her blog post, a post she has since apologised for making. Twitter had nothing to do with the content of that blog post.

So why does Joshua Meggitt want to got after Twitter. I personally suspect that greed is playing a role here and Twitter has deeper pockets than Hardy does; at least $140 Million USD per year.

All Australians should be pissed off by this assholes (I held out as long as I could) attempt to hold a service provider liable. In this country we are already a technological backwater and while Twitter is outside Australian jurisdiction to set such a legal precedence here will have dire consequences for us all. If service providers are held accountable for content created by their users it will completely abolish the Web 2.0 in this country. Afterall who in their right mind would host a website or other communications platform if they are to be sued and censored every time someone gets upset with what someone else writes about them.

I host my website offshore because it’s already too easy for miscreants in Australia to bully service providers into taking content offline. But if someone emails me and shows me that information is false I will gladly correct it. Misinformation is damaging and should be addressed, but the correct way to deal with it is by dealing with the author. Most people; at least those who attribute their names have no desire to publish inaccuracies and are happy to correct false information when they are called on it.

However attacking a service provider who has nothing to do with the creation of the content; anymore than the post office or phone company is simply the wrong approach and any sympathy I might of had for Joshua Meggitt is long gone.

Dr Stanislaw Burzynski's cancer scam.

Their are many frauds, cheats and conmen out their to make a quick buck from the suffering of others. But there are none quite so vile as those who target cancer patients. When I first learned of The Burzynski Clinic I was immediately reminded of Penelope Dingle who was scammed into her grave by a fraud out to make a quick buck. As far as fraud goes you can’t get much lower than conning terminally ill patients and their families for easy money.

Dr Burzynski is one of these lowest of the conmen. He sells an unproven, unscientific cancer treatment called Antineoplaston Therapy. This treatment has been criticised by scientists, doctors and skeptics alike. Dr Stanislaw Burzynski has even been on trial for cancer fraud in the past.

At the moment, there is very little solid scientific evidence to show that antineoplastons are effective at treating cancer, and virtually all the research in this area has been carried out by Burzynski and his team – a red flag to the scientific world (as we’ve discussed before).

To explain, scientists are not stupid – whether they work for independent organisations like a research charity or a pharmaceutical company – and they can spot a bandwagon rolling towards them from a great distance.  Once the evidence starts to fall into place about the potential effectiveness of a discovery, it’s guaranteed that the scientific community will start to pay attention and jump on.

The fact that no other labs have managed to replicate Burzynski’s apparent success with antineoplastons or are interested in developing the treatment raises questions. Cancer Research UK

However Dr Burzynski won’t let a little thing like lack of evidence stand in the way of some easy cash and he’s not afraid to threaten people who expose his scam. Recently 17 year old blogger Rhys Morgan was threatened by the Burzynski Clinics marketing department; which is apparently also the legal department.

Eventually, I decided to write a rather scathing blog about Burzynski and the treatment, which you can find here. The thought of someone being promised an effective treatment when in fact, it’s at best unproven disgusts me. The blog went up on August 11th, 2011. A few comments were posted but it soon disappeared into obscurity again.

Then, out of the blue, on the 3rd of November, I received an email from a man called Marc Stephens, claiming to represent the Burzynski Clinic. He was threatening to sue me for libel for my previous blog about the Burzynski Clinic. Rhys Morgan

However Rhys isn’t the only blogger to be threatened by Marc Stephens. Andy Lewis has also received legal threats for criticising the Burzynski swindle. However legal threats are no substitute for evidence and so far all the evidence points to Dr Burzynski being a callous fraud who like many others in Alternative Medicine is happy to cheat the terminally and their families out of cold hard cash with empty promises and false hope.

The bottom line is that Dr. Burzynski is not a miracle worker. He is not a doctor who sees something that mainstream science has not and who therefore has a cure for many cancers that mainstream medicine scoffs at. He is not a bold visionary. Rather, he appears to be a man pursuing pseudoscience. The reason that mainstream scientific medicine has not accepted the existence of antineoplastons or their efficacy against cancer is because there is no credible evidence to support this thrapy and no one other than Dr. Burzynski has been able to replicate his results. Orac; Respectful Insolence

This is one scam I’ll be looking into allot further. I consider bogus cancer treatment to be amongst the most heinous of pseudo-science. Using legal threats as a means of censorship also does not sit well with me. The Burzynski Clinic has my attention.

Internet Censorship is 21st century book burning.

Internet Censoship is the 21st century equivalent of book burning. You cannot be inspired or educated by a book that you’ll never read, and you will never read that book if it is destroyed. In 1933 the German Nazi Party began it’s campaign of burning books that didn’t correspond with Nazi ideology. Censorship has always been a favorite tool of authoritarians because it limits peoples access to information and silences dissent within the population.

However the existence of the Internet has now made book burning largely redundant because books no longer need to be printed and shipped to those who will read them. Now ideas can be posted online where they are accessible anywhere in the world. I do not need to print pages of this site and send them off in the hope that someone might read them, instead I can post things here on my own corner of the web and anyone with an internet connection can access them. The internet provides a sort of immunity to book burning because not only can ideas be easily accessed without the need to ship a tangible item but they can also be electronically copied an infinite amount of times. Even destroying the server that hosts a particular website cannot guarantee that the ideas have not been copied and made available elsewhere.

But governments do not give in very easily. While there may not be many books left to burn there are still ideas that may need to be silenced. So authoritarian governments of the 21st century have come up with the idea of Internet Censorship. It may be impossible to burn the pages of a website but if the government can prevent people from accessing that website then the end result is the same as burning a book. People cannot be inspired or educated by an idea that they never read. Dissent can be silenced without the need to destroy all copies of the original.

Here in Australia the Gillard Government has plans to introduce legislation that will require all Internet Service Providers to block access to content that is “Refused Classification” that is any content that the Australian Government has deemed undesirable for public consumption. In 2009 Wikileaks released to Australian Governments blacklist of website that it wants banned for all Australians.

University of Sydney associate professor Bjorn Landfeldt said the leaked list “constitutes a condensed encyclopedia of depravity and potentially very dangerous material”.

He said the leaked list would become “the concerned parent’s worst nightmare” as curious children would inevitably seek it out.

But about half of the sites on the list are not related to child porn and include a slew of online poker sites, YouTube links, regular gay and straight porn sites, Wikipedia entries, euthanasia sites, websites of fringe religions such as satanic sites, fetish sites, Christian sites, the website of a tour operator and even a Queensland dentist. Sydney Morning Herald

It seems like nobody in Australia is safe from the Gillard Governments censorship regime. Many of us already know better than to run our website off servers located within Australia, but this regime of censorship is aimed at everyone. It doesn’t matter if your content is 100% legal the Australian Government may still silence you at their own discretion. Some people who find themselves on the government blacklist already reside within Australia. So I think it’s fair to ask; Why are they not arrested if the content of their website is so bad? The answer is of course that many of the websites that our government wishes to censor are not actually illegal. If the blacklisted content was illegal they would at least arrest the people who own it and live in Australia.

Internet Censorship is the 21st century version of Book Burning. Essentially a Book Burning 2.0 and it must be stopped at any and all opportunities. The internet gave us the freedom to share and discuss ideas without boundaries and those in power seek to reinstate those boundaries and limitations on behalf of vested interests. Silencing Dissent is the dream of every authority but it must not be allowed to happen here in our western democracy.

DDoS attacks are a cowards 'protest'.

There seems to be this belief floating around that the DDoS attacks that are carried out by the so called “hacker” group Anonymous are the equivalent of a legitimate protest. Some members of Anonymous even have the audacity to liken themselves to civil rights protesters; the irony.

Launching a Denial of Service attack against somebody you wish to silence is not the equivalent of a virtual sit-in for several reasons the one of which is accountability. When you conduct a sit-in protest you are held accountable for it, it’s an illegal activity (trespass) for which you can be prosecuted. In contrast when you lunch a DDoS attack on someone’s website over the internet with or without a proxy server you are removing the accountability for your actions. You are hiding like a sniveling coward.

It takes a certain amount of courage to stand-up for what you believe in and throughout history we have seen many examples of just that. People standing up for what they believe in from the civil rights movement to the Tiananmen Square protesters and countless others throughout history. Many of these people put themselves on the line to stand-up for their belief and ideologies and for many the price was high. It is at the very least a tremendous insult to these activists that a group of cowards hiding behind an IP address on the internet could ever compare themselves to real activists.

The group Anonymous is built upon hiding as opposed to standing-up. They are not activists but cowards who hide online and attack from the shadows some even employ the use of proxy networks to further cower away behind their keyboards.

If you think I’m being harsh on Anonymous then take a look at this and explain the logic to me because I cannot find it.

Lastly, they set up this website called and they stored their members information with virtually no security. The data was stored and easily obtainable via basic sqli. Any 8 year old with a internet connection could have done what we did to find it. On top of that none of the info, including the passwords, was encrypted. It is obvious BART does no give a fuck about its customers, funders and tax payers,THE PEOPLE.

Thus below we are releasing the User Info Database of, to show that BART doesn’t give a shit about it’s customers and riders and to show that the people will not allow you to kill us and censor us. This is but the one of many actions to come. We apologize to any citizen that has his information published, but you should go to BART and ask them why your information wasn’t secure with them. Anonymous Dataleak

Wow, did I just read that? Anonymous is critical of for not taking adequate steps to secure customer information. So in response they steal the data themselves and publish it on the web for the whole world to find. They then apologise to the users who have had their information published.

That right there shows the childish attitude towards accountability that characterises the group that calls itself ‘Anonymous’. Protecting privacy and free-speech while violating both? What a joke these so called ‘hackivists’ really are. You cannot claim to defend Freedom of Speech while attacking websites and you cannot claim to value the privacy of follow citizens while simultaneously publishing their personal information on the web.

United States policy is at odds with Australian politics.

The United States government is funding the development of systems that will allow citizen in foreign countries to evade government internet censorship. However meanwhile in Australia the government is moving ahead with it’s draconian plan to censor the countries internet service. So we are left in an interesting situation where our own government is gearing up for a massive assault on our human rights while an allied nation is seeking to develop tools to mitigate such an attack.

THE US Government is reportedly financing the development of “shadow” internet systems to enable dissidents abroad to get around government censors.

Financed with a $US2 million ($1.9 million) State Department grant, the suitcase could be secreted across a border and quickly set up to allow wireless communications over a wide area with a link to the global internet.

So how will this work with the proposed internet censorship here in Australia. Will we be able to import this technology from the US to help Australian citizens evade the governments censorship?

You would think that with all that’s been going on in the middle east recently, that our government would be taking a pro-democracy and pro-freedom of speech stance. Unfortunately it is not and senator Conroy remains as committed to the filter as ever. How can our government persist with it’s ideology of censorship and control while one of its closest allies (at least in the public spotlight) is developing tools to thwart such control.

The United States stance against internet censorship is incompatible with Senator Conroys desire for control. Is it wishful thinking for me to hope that the United States will take an agressive stance against this policy?

SensaSlim sues Dr Ken Harvey

SensaSlim a highly suspicious product has recently caught my attention after news of a lawsuit being filed against Dr Ken Harvey.

Dr Ken Harvey, adjunct senior lecturer in the School of Public Health, La Trobe University, and a regular campaigner against nonscientific products and services, has been put under great personal and financial pressure by a ‘SLAPP’ suit (a strategic lawsuit against public participation) over a complaint he has made concerning a slimming product.

Dr Harvey complained to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) over promotion by SensaSlim Australia Pty. Ltd. for its weight-loss product that uses a spray to supposedly ‘desensitise’ taste buds and reduce hunger pains. The promotion claims that a research study of over 11,000 people had substantiated the company’s claims for the product.

Australian Skeptics

SensaSlim is suing Dr Harvey for libel because he dared to file a complaint against them with the regulator. The beauty of this is that the Therapeutic Goods Administration is powerless to investigate the complaint while it is the subject of a lawsuit. This means that SensaSlim can continue flogging it’s questionable product without intervention from the TGA so long as they can keep this lawsuit alive. You have to wonder why SensaSlim would be afraid of a complaint if their product works as claimed.

A Current Affair recently ran this storey about SensaSlim. It’s definitely worth watching.

Australian Skeptics is currently running a pledge drive to support Dr Ken Harvey should the need arise.

Dr Harvey is a particularly busy activist against dubious claims by suppliers of self-proclaimed ‘therapeutic’ goods, in particular those associated with weight loss. Over the last few years, all of his complaints to the Therapeutic Goods Administration and assessed by the Complaints Resolution Panel have been listed as justified. He is also a self-confessed “stubborn bastard”.

In support of his action, Australian Skeptics has instituted a program for individuals to pledge financial support for Dr Harvey should it be required. Anyone interested in pledging support should write to, with their name, phone number, and how much they are pledging.

Australian Skeptics has undertaken this pledge drive because we are concerned at the burden put upon one who has continually called to account those who promote and sell unproven and disproven products that have no basis in science. The suggestion that Dr Harvey could be stymied by such promoters and sellers’ resorting to legal action, and thus protect them (if even for a short time) from due process, must be countered at every opportunity. Australian Skeptics

This is about more than just shonky products, this is also about Freedom of Speech because SensaSlim are attempting to silence criticism with a lawsuit. If SensaSlim were to win such a lawsuit it would have devastating consequences as it would mean that criminals and frauds are now free to sell bogus products without fear of reprisal. Nothing enforces self censorship better than a lawsuit.

3 years is the price of free-speech in Western Australia

A local Perth man has been sentenced to 3 years in prison for daring to exercise Freedom of Speech in Perth, Western Australia. Brendon O’Connel posted anti-semetic videos on YouTube, yes O’Connel is a jackass but that isn’t the point. Regardless of whether or not you agree with Brendon O’Connel part of living in a democracy is the freedom to think and say what you like. Even if others don’t like it.

A 39-year-old Perth man has been sentenced to three years’ jail for posting an anti-semitic video on the internet.

Brendon Lee O’Connell is the first person in Western Australia to be convicted under the state’s racial vilification laws.

A jury found him guilty last week of six offences.

O’Connell posted a video on YouTube showing him insulting a young Jewish man in 2009.

The video also showed O’Connell standing in front of the Perth Bell Tower telling Jews their days were numbered. ABC News

This is pretty discusting. Australia is a Western Democracy and one of the foundations of that democracy is the Right to Freedom of Speech. Although poorly understood our society recognises and values the right to free-speech. However Steve Lieblich the other jackass in this storey seems to disagree.

Steve Lieblich, who represents the Jewish community and is on the Australia-Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, says racial vilification must be stopped. ABC News

The best response to distasteful speech is in fact more speech. Don’t seek vengeance against someone just because you disagree with them, instead find a reasonable way to address their speech with some of your own and you can still hold the moral high ground. Because demanding someone be punished or censored only pushes yourself towards moral bankruptcy.

So in the interest of Freedom of Speech in Australia I really do hope Steve Lieblich’s days are numbered. Feel free to respond in kind and use your Freedom of Speech however you see fit. (Caution Advised for Western Australia)