Sunday, November 13, 2005

Satire: A Seditious Act?

Usually limited to Word-a-Day calendars, the term "seditious" (arousing to action or rebellion; in opposition to a civil authority or government) popped up in an Australian news story today. Apparently, a new bit of anti-terrorism legislation includes language to create seven-year jail terms for use of seditious language, which Aussie comedians found troubling enough to stage a protest concert about it.

"Organiser [Aussie spelling] Wendy Harmer says Australia already has laws covering racial hatred and violence and says the proposed changes could limit free speech and political satire." Full disclosure: I haven't read the legislation. But I'll trust comedians putting on a special concert. I trusted Comic Relief, didn't I?

Far from being an quiet land filled with kangaroos and BBQ shrimp, Australia has been a terrorist target for some time, as its Prime Minister noted recently. So it's easy to imagine the potential parallels and perils (enough alliteration for you?) to free speech issues in the US. Which, as Terrell Owens could tell you, isn't really free.
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