Kaye Healey (editor)

Spinney Press 1997
A book review by Danny Yee © 1997 http://dannyreviews.com/
Volume 76 in an Australian series "Issues for the Nineties", Censorship is an A4 booklet designed for use in schools. It contains a wide selection of materials, organised into three sections. The first section considers the use of defamation actions and immigration controls to censor, the second covers the traditional media, and the third looks at the Internet. Given the intended audience of the booklet, I was surprised to find nothing about the censorship of school syllabuses.

The majority of the pieces included are from the print media (newspaper and journal articles); others are taken from government reports and publications. One piece was taken from the Electronic Frontiers Australia web site, but I would have liked to see something illustrating the new forms of communication available on the Net — an edited exchange from a mailing list or newsgroup, perhaps.

Though naturally I think the censors get too much space, all kinds of positions are represented. On the one side, Robert Manne supports the ban on Irving, Margot Prior argues for stronger controls on television violence, Young Media Australia explains how to complain about programs you don't like, and the Office of Film and Literature Classification guidelines for film and computer game classification are given in full. On the other side, David Irving gets to speak for himself, David Marr opposes a separate classification system for videos, Terry Lane and David Flint argue against the reopening of the Theophanous case in which the High Court found an implied right to political free speech, Les Carlyon mocks film censorship, and an assortment of people speak out against Internet censorship.

For a publication clearly meant to spark debate, however, Censorship is a little staid in its choice of material. There are no explicit calls from ultra-conservatives for banning things indiscriminately (though the recommendations of the Senate Select Committee on Community Standards on violence in the media come close) and no arguments from civil libertarians opposing censorship entirely. But Censorship is a useful collection which I would recommend to schools, or indeed to anyone seeking a general feel for the public debate over censorship in Australia.

July 1997

Related reviews:
- books about Australia + Australian history
- books about civil liberties
%T Censorship
%Y Issues For the Nineties
%V 76
%E Healey, Kaye
%I Spinney Press
%D 1997
%O paperback
%G ISBN 1875682848
%P iv,40pp