Barry Allen Little

Posted: December 21, 2012 by Serendipity in Queensland
Tags: , ,

Blank cheque for thought police

  • By Terry Sweetman
  • The Courier-Mail
  • November 14, 2008 12:00AM

BARRY Allen Little is a sad man in his 30s with an interest in church youth work. He is also a pedophile.

He has a history of molestation of girls aged between about nine and 12, going back to 2000, and has been given several chances, including suspended sentences.

That was unusual, as Judge Debbie Mullins noted in the Supreme Court this week, because his sort of behaviour normally earns real jail time.

But in 2004, he betrayed that trust by again indecently dealing with a girl and was put behind bars.

He was due out in the sunshine this month, so Attorney-General Kerry Shine made an application under the Dangerous Prisoners Sexual Offenders Act, which is where Justice Mullins comes into the story.

She heard the usual psychiatric reports and was satisfied the risk of Little reoffending was unacceptable, and put him on a 10-year supervision order.

Distressingly, it was fairly standard fare for our courts these days, except for some of the details on the supervision order.

“The respondent, however, must not access child pornographic images in any format, whether on the computer, in magazines or otherwise,” Justice Mullins said.

“And,” she said, “(he) must allow any computer or other device that he uses and is in control of where the internet is accessible to be randomly examined to determine whether the device has been used for unacceptable purposes involving children.

“The respondent has to be prepared to respond truthfully to any questions that the Corrective Services Officer who supervises him asks him about the access that he has made of the internet.”

Little is a pedophile. I am not and nor are the majority of people.

So why are our internet-browsing habits to be controlled by the same sort of thought patterns that govern the supervision of a child molester?

Why is some faceless bureaucrat to be given the same powers to censor our internet access as a prison screw has over the perversions of an uncontrollable pedophile?

The mechanics are different but that is the ultimate result of the Federal Government’s ill-considered and illiberal plan to filter the internet.

We learnt this week that the Government has a blacklist of 10,000 sites which will be added to 1300 already identified by the Australian Communications and Media Authority to be filtered out of our consciousness.

Just what might we be protected against?

The ACMA list is said to be mainly of child pornography sites but Broadband and Communications Minister Stephen Conroy cannot even define the grounds for restricting the 10,000, although they are supposed to contain “illegal and unwanted content”.

“Will the minister provide a definition of unwanted content and where we might find a definition of unwanted?” asked Greens Senator Scott Ludlum.

The answer was: “No.”

Call me suspicious but I find it sinister and arrogantly offensive that the Federal Government has a blacklist of banned sites even before it has established any definable criteria for censorship.

We are supposed to presume they are all violent or child-porn nasties but can we be sure?

The Vatican got away for two millennia with a library of forbidden books – the Index Librorum Prohibitorum – but I don’t know that a government in a modern society is entitled to such presumptions of literary, artistic and political infallibility. The Catholic Church had the good manners to suppress its list in 1966 but at least its list had some definable purpose – the prevention of the contamination of the faith or the corruption of morals through the reading of theologically erroneous or immoral books.

“Erroneous and immoral” doesn’t sound a world away from “illegal and unwanted”.

Without a workable (and legally disputable) definition of what is “unwanted”, the scope for government intrusion seems unlimited.

Given Australia’s sorry history of censorship, petty misuse of power, presumption of moral authority and political exploitation of secrecy in war and peace, is the alleged protection of children (and the deprivation of deviant sexual material) really worth the dangers to a society that should be travelling down a road towards transparency and honesty?

Somebody wise (me, in fact) once wrote: “The web is one of the greatest innovations of the late 20th century, probably the ultimate expression of the communications revolution that began with movable type.”

The Rudd Government, stampeded by moral crusaders, seems to have embarked on a counter-revolution to turn back the clock.

It not only wants to make a massive withdrawal on a bank of freedoms we have built up since the Magna Carta, it seeks the biggest blank cheque since the Howard government asked us to trust it on national security.


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