Australian Lawmakers Propose Outlawing Parody, Having A Sense Of Humor
from the no-lol dept
There is nothing more dangerous than a government without a sense of humor. This is true for a myriad of reasons, but chief among them must be that a government unable to incorporate humor into its ethos is all the more likely to attempt to outlaw forms of humor held dear by the general public. To see an example of this in action, we can look to Australia and its strange battle against Juice Media, makers of the series Honest Government Adverts, such as the one they did on Australia.
Those of you who haven’t been hit in the head with a hammer recently likely noticed that the Australian shield on display on that clearly satirical video is slightly off in that it doesn’t spell “Australian” correctly. Hammer attacks or not, if that was the only clue you had that this video is pure and brilliant satire, you need immediate help from healthcare professionals. And, yet, despite all of that, the National Symbols Officer of Australia, which is apparently a real thing, has begun banging its drums over the various laws it claims using that satirical symbol violates. Via the EFF post:
It is unfortunate that the Australian government cannot distinguish between impersonation and satire. But it is especially worrying because the government has proposed legislation that would impose jail terms for impersonation of a government agency. Some laws against impersonating government officials can be appropriate (Australia, like the U.S., is seeing telephone scams from fraudsters claiming to be tax officials). But the proposed legislation in Australia lacks sufficient safeguards. Moreover, the recent letter to Juice Media shows that the government may lack the judgment needed to apply the law fairly.
The legislation in question takes bad legislation to horrific levels. For example, while a 2 year jail sentence is the proposed punishment for anyone impersonating a government agency, there are no provisions within the law involving the violation to be one that is intentionally deceiving. And, while the proposed law does make room for uses that are “solely for genuine satire”, that word “genuine” is doing a lot of heavy-lifting to allow the Australian government to be the arbiters of what is truly satire and what isn’t. That’s territory ripe for misuse and is the reason why our own First Amendment doesn’t include such qualifiers. Also, given that the Australian government is already issuing threats to Juice Media, it seems clear that government isn’t well-suited to the work this legislation would make for it.
And, in case you were wondering, yes, Juice Media has already responded with another “honest advert”: