That doyenne of the Aussie online community, our very own Dame Joan Sutherland of Social Networks, Dame Laurel Papworth, has once again blessed our morning television with wise words of wisdom.
Pitted against what can only be described as a throw-back to the 1980s, La Pap fought bravely agin what seemed at first view to be sheer stupidity, a play on emotions against rational logic, and seemingly devoid of any understanding of how human beings actually behave rather than how we wished they behaved.
Appearing on the Sunrise program, alas sans the common sense of Kochie, David Galbally QC argued passionately but ultimately illogically for protection of his clients by [snicker] shutting down the internet in Victoria during trials [/snicker].
There is no argument from me that accused should be presumed innocent until found guilty, nor is there any argument that the accused deserves the full weight of the law to protect his case, but there are times when the ‘common’ in ‘common law’, let alone criminal law, seems to be forgotten – that is, ‘common sense’.
As Laurel quite rightly points out, pretending that a Victorian jurist would not have heard of the bushfires, nor heard of at least one of the accuseds’ names (there are now two members of the good citizens of Victoria confirmed charged, with more potentially following) is laughable.
In addition, with the media coverage outside of Victoria having reached all the way around the world (see my earlier post on Social Media and the bushfires for examples of well wishes from around the world, plus there is a shedload of private correspondence I have received from other corners – South Africa, Asia, northern Europe, inter alia), getting someone from outside of the Victorian community to sit impartially on any jury might be a bit of an ask.
But Galbally argues that there must be a Conroy-esque mechanism for blocking out the internet in Victoria.
Which reminds me of when one of the tv networks over here broadcast a series called ‘Underbelly’, largely based on true stories of crime in Melbourne’s underworld. The program was banned from airing in Melbourne but aired around the rest of Australia. Within minutes of it finishing broadcasting in Sydney (same time zone as Melbourne) I knew of torrents being uploaded and downloaded across State borders. Some of the more adventurous/keen were probably even uploading sections to torrent sites at each advert break…
Far from the good people of Victoria being spared the risk of a then-running court case being potentially impacted, instead they were able to download the broadcast from their computer and watch it on the same night. Many of those Victorians blessed to live near to their borders were even able to watch it on the ‘other’ State’s network. Gasp!
But returning to Sunrise: So here we have a rather emotional QC playing to the audience about how damaging this may all be and how Facebook should be held accountable and liable. All of which is prima facie logical, until you remind yourself of the history of the internet and where social networks like Facebook, MySpace, YouTube et al came from…
Born of a military need to keep information flowing even when one or more communication nodes were knocked out, the internet replicates the all-too-human propensity to gossip. Shut down one gossiper and a dozen will pop up in their place.
Try it at work. Sack the biggest gossip at your place of work (let’s pretend there are no such things as ‘unfair dismissal’ laws for a moment, nor any ability for the sacked to seek revenge or publicity). Others will very quickly come out of the woodwork to lay claim to ‘King’ or ‘Queen’ of the Workplace Gossip.
This is exactly how it should be!
Workplace – or any other place – gossip is a wonderful mechanism for a society to self-regulate and to set its own cultural parameters.
For lawyers to come goose-stepping in with their custom-made shoes and tailored suits and attempt to inflict ‘their’ definition of what that society’s culture should be reeks somewhat of cultural imperialism – something that Australia has a long and disturbing history of, as both receiver and perpetrator.
Watch the video below, wander over to La Pap’s blog and read her well-informed post on this, and then marvel again at the ludicrousness of Galbally’s emotion-driven argument. Sheer and utter nonsense. The genie is out of the bottle, ol’ boy, and it ain’t going back in…