The ability to freely express one’s views and opinions is very much taken for granted in Britain and the USA. Even though there may be occasional attempts to encroach on this right, those affected ultimately have recourse to the law. Article 10 of the human rights act is the ultimate safeguard in Europe, while the USA has the first amendment to the constitution.
By and large we associate this legal right with western democracies, and in our minds we associate repression of freedom of speech with autocratic and less democratic nations, particularly those with strong religious or extreme political influence.
It came as a surprise to me then to discover that Australia has no legal protection of the right to freedom of speech. No matter you might think, the principal is still respected, surely. Think again. A recent government report has recommended that the government introduce control and censorship of all media. From the big media corporations, right down to the tiniest blogger. If this law were to be passed Australia would become in effect a totalitarian regime. Australia of all places.
That this could happen in a nation we generally regard as advanced, progressive and liberal is something that should concern us all.