The big downside of being a libertarian is having to defend odious garbage like Big Brother. As loathsomely exploitative as BB is, if the moral panic brigade were to succeed in taking it off air, there may be no holding back the censorious tide.

This is no time to be letting down the libertarian guard given that the conservatives are on something of a roll. This is, after all, the same week in which we’ve learnt that the stacked ABC board has moved to suppress criticism of a fellow traveller by stopping publication of a biography of the Parrot.

But as libertarians rush to the barricades in defence of the detestable BB, we should spare a thought for Merlin Luck, a victim of BB‘s own censorious ways.

You may not remember Merlin. The producers of BB and its host Gretel Killeen would no doubt like to forget him. Merlin was the brave soul who, when evicted from the BB House in 2004, staged a silent protest by sealing his mouth with gaffer tape and holding up a sign in support of refugees. He was removed from the stage and criticised by Killeen
for his “aggressive stance”. BB has also been known to censor debate on its own website.

What the boys did in the house last weekend was symptomatic of the environment created by the producers. It doesn’t excuse what the boys did but let’s not forget the culpability of the program makers. It says everything about the BB culture that it needs to seek the professional advice of a rape crisis counsellor to establish house rules.

It seriously tests a libertarian’s tolerance having to defend a program that creates a threatening environment for women but objects to contestants engaging in political protest.

Peter Fray

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