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ACMA says ‘OK’ to Hezbollah, but ‘No Way’ to Lezbollah

August 24, 2009 – 11:03 pm3 Comments

Source: Arabinfo.org

Source: Arabinfo.org

Hezbollah comes to the Idiot Box

by Anthony Frosh

Many of our readers are by now aware that Al-Manar, Hezbollah’s ‘television wing’ is coming back to Australian screens, at least for those with satellite dishes and the necessary subscription.  A lot has already been written on this, so I’ll try not to go over old ground too much.   Colin Rubinstein, executive director of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), has made a number of good arguments for banning Al-Manar in his article in The Age.

However, while I agree with Dr Rubinstein on the nature of Hezbollah, I’m not sure banning their television broadcasts is worthwhile. Even putting aside complex arguments about free-speech, in the era of broadband internet, banning media content is probably futile.  Far better than banning terrorist-television is to translate it (as the MEMRI organisations does) and make it available so that the uninformed can see exactly the kind of vile content that Al-Manar puts to air.

Of course, there is an additional issue here.  Even though I see a ban on Al-Manar as being of little if any value, I find the decision by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to be a bit odd when you consider some of the other things they have banned from our airwaves.  After all, this is the organisation that considered Network Ten’s inane Big Brother: Uncut too radical for our screens.  Thus here we have an organisation that bizarrely says OK to Hezbollah, but would probably say ‘No Way’ to Lezbollah.

Perhaps it’s time for a re-examination of ACMA, and the role it plays in our society.

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  • ariel says:

    frosh, i find the arguement of making Al-Manar’s views known to the public so that they can “see what we’re dealing with” to be tenuous.

    I once thought it a good idea to teach such books as Protocols and Mein Kampf for HSC and at university for the same reason. However, the costs far outweigh the benefits. My fear is that there is a chance that some people in society might see this type of anti-Semitic literature/broadcasting and actually agree with it.

    When it comes to these sorts of issues, I think the public have a right to remain ignorant – it’s safer that way.

  • Chook says:

    I reckon let them broadcast, then when the next lot of would be terrorists are arrested they can claim they were influenced by Al-manar, and then ACMA will have something to answer for.

    PS please do not email me when new comments are posted, I have a very old computer.

    Editor’s note: Hi Chook, I’ve removed all of your comment subscriptions. They aren’t automatic so I assume that you subscribed at some point? If you want to discuss this further shoot an email to editorial at galusaustralis.com

  • Larry Stillman says:

    There is a real freedom of speech issue at stake here. I am wearing my Liberty Victoria hat –I am not speaking on their behalf–but I am exposed enough to issues around free speech and the prevention, survellence, and prosecution of acts of terrorism through being an active member of that organisation.

    There is the old principle that there is a difference between hard talk and threats that cause or lead to violence. It’s a very fine line which hits at the core of free speech. In Australia, we have tended to be over cautious and limit harsh talk, upsetting as it is.

    If you are interested in the background to talk v. threats and danger, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shouting_fire_in_a_crowded_theater for the famous lawcase in the US.

    TV shows based on the Protocols, antisemitism etc, bloodcurdling threats, racist kids shows are absolute garbage and of course I have no sympathy with them or the rationale for producing them. But of course, banning them on TV, only makes people go to the internet–where you can get Al Mahar already Look up the station on wikipedia for more information).

    There has been severe criticism about how effective a system of filtering would be for porn filtering (see what I wrote at http://www.libertyvictoria.org/node/78/ ) and censorship of political opinion, at the fine line between offense and calling for violence is likewise very difficult. Just because some programs break codes should not mean a whole service is suspended–as we’ve seen with those idiot commentators and the teenager who was raped and numerous other examples in Australia. No one thinks of turning off the radio station.

    As Frosh suggests, and as Liberty Victoria suggests, the best defense against such garbage is a strong offence of community education and engagement (but this, if not done well, as our ‘leaders’ frequently discover), can have an angry, inverse reaction.

    There’s a bookshop in Sydney Road which sells all sorts of garbage–are we going to close it down (Muslim). There’s a ‘Christian’ bookstore in the city which sells truly offensive anti-Jewish and Muslim tracts and books –are we going to close it down? And I suspect there is some pretty hot stuff on sale in some Jewish bookshops bagging other religions as well.

    Of course, the difference can be claimed that Christians and Jews are not calling for violence, but as we all know, there are various rabbis in Israeli who have a jihadist tendency, justified through Torah, and I suspect there is internet audience for such garbage here was well. Are we also going to ban Lieberman or Moshe Feiglin online?

    Better that we know and can monitor such stuff openly, and engage a the Arabic-speaking community in a postive way), rather than forcing Al-Manhar underground.

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