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Australia Censorship News


2020: July-Sept

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The Trouble with Being Born...

Is that you have to put with censors like those from the Melbourne International Film Festival


Link Here18th August 2020
The Trouble with Being Born is a 2020 Austria / Germany Sci-Fi drama by Sandra Wollner.
Starring Ingrid Burkhard, Susanne Gschwendtner and Jana McKinnon. IMDb

Elli is an android programmed with memories that mean everything to her owner but nothing to her. The story of a machine and the ghosts we all carry within us.

Film critic and anti-censorship campaigner David Stratton has attacked the Melbourne International Film Festival for its 'craven response' in dropping the movie The Trouble with Being Born, that features an adult man in an implied sexual relationship with a young android girl.

The movie was dropped from this year's online-only program after 'concerns' were raised by two forensic psychologists. Dr Karen Owen, a former manager of Corrections Victoria's Sex Offender Programs, last month said she was so disturbed by the film she ceased watching it and deleted the link, adding that because the festival was an online event this year, without question [the film] would be used as a source of arousal for men interested in child abuse material.

In announcing the decision to censor the film on July 30, the festival's artistic director Al Cossar said the safety and wellbeing of the MIFF community and the broader Australian public is the festival's paramount concern. While the Australian Classification Board had cleared the film to screen in this year's festival, we have decided to remove the film, he said.

Tom Ryan, former film critic for The Sunday Age , was similarly scathing, writing a day earlier on the same forum that the festival was guilty of meekly acquiescing in the face of a potential controversy. Ryan said:

A film that was selected by [artistic director Al Cossar's] team, approved by the programming committee, and passed by the Australian censor was then withdrawn because of what two psychologists who either hadn't seen the film or had only seen part of it had to say about it.

 

 

Dangerous drawings...

Australian book censors ban manga from the No Game, No Life series


Link Here12th August 2020
Full story: Book Censorship in Australia...Australian books banned by censors
the Australian Censorship Board has banned 2 books from the No Game, No Life series of novels to the surprise of readers.

The national censor board has made it illegal to import or sell volumes one, two, and nine of No Game, No Life. This is because the novels were said to violate a classification clause concerning the depiction of minors. The censors explained:

The publication is classified RC in accordance with the National Classification Code, Publications Table, 1. (b) as publications that describe or depict in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult, a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18 (whether the person is engaged in sexual activity or not).

Australia's decision to come down on No Game, No Life came after several politicians called for the classification board to re-examine manga and light novels.

 

 

Trials of Portnoy's Complaint...

When Penguin Australia fought for literature and liberty


Link Here3rd August 2020

One grey morning in October 1970, in a crowded, tizzy-pink courtroom on the corner of Melbourne's Russell and La Trobe Streets, crown prosecutor Leonard Flanagan began denouncing a novel in terms that were strident and ringing.

When taken as a whole, it is lewd, he declared. As to a large part of it, it is absolutely disgusting both in the sexual and other sense; and the content of the book as a whole offends against the ordinary standards of the average person in the community today -- the ordinary, average person's standard of decency. Scribe

The object of Flanagan's ire that day was the Penguin Books Australia edition of Portnoy's Complaint . Frank, funny, and profane, Philip Roth's novel -- about a young man torn between the duties of his Jewish heritage and the autonomy of his sexual desires -- had been a sensation the world over when it was published in February 1969.

Greeted with sweeping critical acclaim, it was advertised as the funniest novel ever written about sex and called the autobiography of America in the Village Voice. In the United States, it sold more than 400,000 copies in hardcover in a single year -- more, even, than Mario Puzo's The Godfather -- and in the United Kingdom it was published to equal fervour and acclaim.

But in Australia, Portnoy's Complaint had been banned.

Politicians, bureaucrats, police, and judges had for years worked to keep Australia free of the moral contamination of impure literature. Under a system of censorship that pre-dated federation, works that might damage the morals of the Australian public were banned, seized, and burned. Bookstores were raided. Publishers were policed and fined. Writers had been charged, fined and even jailed.

Seminal novels and political tracts from overseas had been kept out of the country. Where objectionable works emerged from Australian writers, they were rooted out like weeds. Under the censorship system, Boccacio's Decameron had been banned. Nabokov's Lolita had been banned. Joyce's Ulysses had been banned. Even James Bond had been banned.

There had been opposition to this censorship for years, though it had become especially notable in the past decade. Criticism of the bans on J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye and Norman Lindsay's Redheap had prompted an almost complete revision of the banned list in 1958.

The repeated prosecutions of the Oz magazine team in 1963 and 1964 had attracted enormous attention and controversy.

Outcry over the bans on Mary McCarthy's The Group and D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover had been loud and pronounced, and three intrepid Sydney activists had exposed the federal government to ridicule when they published a domestic edition of The Trial of Lady Chatterley , an edited transcript of the failed court proceedings against Penguin Books UK for the publication of Lady Chatterley's Lover in Britain in 1960.

Penguin Books Australia had been prompted to join the fight against censorship by the three idealistic and ambitious men at its helm: managing director John Michie, finance director Peter Froelich, and editor John Hooker.

In five years, the three men had overhauled the publisher, improving its distribution machinery and logistics and reinvigorating its publishing list. They believed Penguin could shape Australian life and culture by publishing interesting and vibrant books by Australian authors.

They wanted Penguin's books to engage with the political and cultural shifts that the country was undergoing, to expose old canards, question the orthodox, and pose alternatives.

Censorship was no small topic in all this. Those at Penguin saw censorship as an inhibition on these ambitions. We'd had issues with it before, in minor ways, Peter Froelich recalled, and we'd have drinks we'd say, 'It's wrong! How can we fix it? What can we do? How do we bring it to people's attention, so that it can be changed?'

The answer emerged when they heard of the ban placed on Portnoy's Complaint. Justifiably famous, a bestseller the world over, of well-discussed literary merit, it stood out immediately as a work with which to challenge the censorship system, just as its British parent company had a decade earlier.

Why not obtain the rights to an Australian edition, print it in secret, and publish it in one fell swoop? As Hooker -- who had the idea -- put it to Michie, Jack, we ought to really publish Portnoy's Complaint and give them one in the eye.

The risks were considerable. There was sure to be a backlash from police and politicians. Criminal charges against Penguin and its three leaders were almost certain. Financial losses thanks to seized stock and fines would be considerable. The legal fees incurred in fighting charges would be enormous. Booksellers who stocked the book would also be put on trial. But Penguin was determined.

John Michie was resolute. John offered to smash the whole thing down, Hooker said, later. When he was told what was about to happen, federal minister for customs Don Chipp swore that Michie would pay: I'll see you in jail for this. But Michie was not to be dissuaded. 'People who took exception to it at the time are mostly dead,' Roth said, some 40 years and 30 books after Portnoy's Complaint was published. A stampede

In July 1970, Penguin arranged to have three copies of Portnoy smuggled into Australia. In considerable secrecy, they used them to print 75,000 copies in Sydney and shipped them to wholesalers and bookstores around the country. It was an operation carried out with a precision that Hooker later likened to the German invasion of Poland.

The book was unveiled on August 31 1970. Michie held a press conference in his Mont Albert home, saying Portnoy's Complaint was a masterpiece and should be available to read in Australia. Neither he nor Penguin were afraid of the prosecutions: We are prepared to take the matter to the High Court.

The next morning, as the trucks bearing copies began to arrive, bookstores everywhere were rushed. At one Melbourne bookstore, the assistant manager was knocked down and trampled by a crowd eager to buy the book and support Penguin. It was a stampede, he said later. A bookstore manager in Sydney was amazed when the 500 copies his store took sold out in two-and-a-half hours.

All too soon, it was sold out. And with politicians making loud promises of retribution, the police descended.

Bookstores were raided. Unsold copies were seized. Court summons were delivered to Penguin, to Michie, and to booksellers the whole country over. A long list of court trials over the publication of Portnoy's Complaint and its sale were in the offing. A stellar line-up

So the trial that opened on the grey morning of October 19 1970, in the Melbourne Magistrates Court, was only the first in what promised to be a long battle.

Neither Michie nor his colleagues were daunted. They had prepared a defence based around literary merit and the good that might come from reading the book. They had retained expert lawyers and marshalled the cream of Australia's literary and academic elite to come to their aid.

Patrick White would appear as a witness for the defence. So too would academic John McLaren, The Age newspaper editor Graham Perkin, the critic A.A. Phillips, the historian Manning Clark, the poet Vincent Buckley, and many more. They were unconcerned by Flanagan's furious denunciations, by his shudders of disgust, and by his caustic indictments of Penguin and its leaders.

They were confident in their cause. As one telegram to Michie said:

ALL BEST WISHES FOR A RESOUNDING VICTORY FOR LITERATURE AND LIBERTY.

 

 

No guts at the Australian Censorship Board...

Australia's game censors ban the Blood and Guts Bundle for Nintendo Switch


Link Here2nd August 2020
Blood and Guts Bundle is a 2020 trilogy of arena fight games from Digerati

The Blood and Guts Bundle for Nintendo Switch has been banned in Australia under the automated International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) system. Decision was in March, but has only recently been added to the National Classification Database.

The automated system is pretty much a random rating generator, so perhaps the delay is down to going back to the old manual way of rating games.

In the US the game is M (17) rated by the ESRB for blood and gore, use of drugs, violence.

The Promotional Material gives a flavour of the game:

Satisfy your lust for carnage with three gloriously gratuitous games! This bundle contains:

Slain: Back from Hell . A heavy metal inspired arcade combat game with stunning pixel art visuals, challenging old school gameplay and gore galore. Plus the most metal soundtrack you've ever heard!

Slayaway Camp: Butcher's Cut : A killer puzzle game and darkly comic homage to 80s horror movies where you control Skullface, a homicidal slasher hell-bent on revenge.

Super Blood Hockey : Arcade sports gaming gets a shot of adrenaline in this violent homage to classic 8- and 16-bit ice hockey games. Use fast-paced skills and bone-crunching brutality to dominate.

 

 

Australian data censor calls out Google...

Google found to be exploiting user's personal data without consent


Link Here27th July 2020
Full story: Gooogle Privacy...Google's many run-ins with privacy
Australia's competition regulator has launched court proceedings against Alphabet's Google for allegedly misleading consumers about the expanded use of personal data for targeted advertising.

The case by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in Federal Court said Google did not explicitly get consent nor properly inform consumers about a 2016 move to combine personal information in Google accounts with activities on non-Google websites that use its technology.

The regulator said this practice allowed the Alphabet Inc unit to link the names and other ways to identify consumers with their behaviour elsewhere on the internet .

 

 

Updated: Ticking privacy bomb...

TikTok comes under scrutiny in Australia over revalations that the app snoops on users sending passwords and users' private data back to China


Link Here7th July 2020
Full story: TikTok Snooping...Chinese App comes under fire for snooping on users
Chinese video app TikTok has been accused of being a data-gathering arm of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in news reports quoting an unnamed federal parliament member.
 A mysterious whistle-blower said the government is facing pressure to ban the app, as was recently done in India. TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance.

Members of the armed forces in Australia and the US have been told not to use the app on any Defence-issued device.

There's a possibility TikTok representatives could be called before an ongoing Senate Inquiry into Foreign Interference on social media.

Update: America too

7th July 2020. See article from aljazeera.com

The United States is considering banning Chinese social media apps, including TikTok, over allegations Beijing is using them to spy on users. The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said:

I don't want to get out in front of the President, but it's something we're looking at.

US politicians have raised concerns over t he handling of user data by TikTok saying they were worried about China's laws requiring domestic companies to support and cooperate with intelligence work controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.

In an apparent attempt to distance itself from China, Tik Tok said it would pull its popular video sharing platform from app stores in Hong Kong. It came as a growing number of tech companies suspended compliance with data requests from the Hong Kong government, citing concerns over a new national security law imposed by Beijing on the financial hub.

 

 

Tibetan Buddism...

Chinese printers refuse to print Australian book over the phrase 'Tibetan Buddism'


Link Here3rd July 2020
Chinese printers have banned an Australian book by Miro Bilbrough because it contained the phrase 'Tibetan Buddhism'.

Miro Bilbrough had to change printers after the Chinese censor attempted to removed the phrase Tibetan Buddhism from her manuscript. Bilbrough's upcoming memoir, I n the Time of the Manaroans , due to be printed in China before the words Tibetan Buddhism, were requested to be removed from the manuscript.

Bilbrough, who grew up in New Zealand, said leaving the words in the book was non-negotiable. She said China had overt, geo-political views about Tibet, by not recognising it as a country. She added:

That is what censorship is, they are symbolically erasing Tibet. I did feel quite sick when I read the email.

She was pleased publisher Victoria University Press was on the same page as her, saying:

I'm really happy that Victoria University Press is taking the book elsewhere -- and not pandering to this very overt censorship.

The use of the phrase Tibetan Buddhism, related to a discussion of the concept of karma, and the book itself was not about Tibetan sovereignty, but about the experience of being a child of hippies in 1970s New Zealand.


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