* I hope everyone saw this bit from LGF: Village Voice runs an apparently serious piece saying some activists are trying to get Cindy Sheehan to run for President. What a hoot that would be.
* Surprisingly few letters to the Sydney Morning Herald expressing skepticism about the timing of the terror threat announcement by John Howard. One letter doesn't understand which legislation is being rushed through "overnight" either. Should letters editors permit clear mistakes of fact go through? (I don't like the new website layout much either. Requires too much additional clicking.)
* There is also an opinion piece in the SMH by a publisher (Nick Parsons) complaining that the new anti terror laws attack free speech as it may make his company an "unlawful association" because it publishes books which are arguably seditious. Funny thing is that, as far as I can see, the new legislation (I am looking at the Stanhope published version) does not create the unlawful associations provisions at all - they have been in place for some years. The article implies that these provisions are completely new. Go have a look at the Crimes Act s.30A and see for yourself.
The writer talks of the "good faith" provisions not applying to the "unlawful associations" part of the Act as a result of the new Bill. He might be right, although it is not clear to me wether this was deliberate or an accident of drafting. (The new Bill amends several bits of legislationa and mistakes can happen.)
I think he is clearly wrong when he says: "Unfortunately, the bill makes no special allowance for criticism, political or otherwise. What it says is that sedition is an offence, regardless of how it is committed, or by whom."
But he then points out that there is a "good faith" provision which his company, as an association, may not have the benefit of.
If you read the good faith section of the Bill, it seems plain that legitimate criticism is what it would protect.
This opinion piece is in my view seriously misleading. SMH luvvies will be lapping it all up, though.
Update: I found this submission by a Sydney academic lawyer about the sedition laws. In one section he complains that the "good faith" defence is too narrow and technical, and "might", for example, mean that teaching a class about opposing views to those of the government could not use the defence.
My problem with this is that the "new" good faith defence - see s.80.3 in the Stanhope bill linked above - is extremely similar to the "old" good faith defence in s.24F of the Crimes Act, which the notes indicate was inserted in 1960! If anything, the new definition is better, in that it is clear in the second part that the government wants the court (when deciding whether "good faith" applies or not) to look at the question of how the comments make relate to the incitement of violence.
Why wasn't the old section dealing with "good faith" the subject to criticism by these lawyers for the past 45 years? Just how many teachers have been charged with sedition under the present laws? Why give the impression to people that it is something new?
I stand by my comments above that it is clear that the good faith provisions will protect the "usual" criticism of the government, particularly when there is no question of it being a case of urging violence. To argue otherwise is silly, and misleading, scaremongering by lawyers and lefties.