Purveyors of the “war on terrorism” tell us that we are engaged in a
global struggle, in which one side wants to wind back the gains of the
enlightenment and destroy our civil liberties and freedom of
thought. Er, which side is that, exactly?

Consider two of yesterday’s news items. First, a chorus of tabloid
press and talk back radio met a ready response from Attorney-General
Philip Ruddock with the idea of new laws against books containing
unpleasant thoughts – specifically, those that “promote” or “justify” terrorism. Michele Grattan in this morning’s Age was a lonely voice against this idea:

A belief in freedom of speech demands that we should tolerate
abhorrent religious/political material except in extreme circumstances
(such as direct incitement to violence) – in other words, that we err
on the side of liberty, not restriction.

The second story was in Melbourne, where the Australian Football League
bowed to federal government pressure and agreed to sign the illicit
drugs policy of the World Anti-Doping Agency – a front for the
US-inspired “war on drugs.” (here)
Sports minister Rod Kemp portrayed this as a victory against “doping,”
but this is baloney: the bone of contention between the AFL and WADA
was not performance-enhancing drugs but recreational drugs.

According to Tim Lane, writing in The Age on 2 July, the WADA
code means a professional footballer could be banned for life for a
third offence of smoking marijuana: “Such breaches in Australian civil
life probably would result in a not very big fine.” As Lane says, if
such standards were to apply across the board “we would quickly have a
greatly reduced workforce.”

We may yet succeed in staving off Osama’s world of universal mind
control. But why bother, if we’re just going to impose it ourselves?

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey