censorship,  Unlikely heroes

Another Musk standoff

Fresh from his censorship battle with Brazil, Elon Musk is involved in another standoff, this time with the silly people Down Under. A christian orthodox priest and 3 other members of the congregation were stabbed in church by a teen jihadist. The stabbing was caught on film as the service was being streamed at the time. Millions, more likely hundreds of millions, have watched this crime. I am not sure if Australian news channels showed the actual video but stills from it were certainly in circulation in the mass media. Global media certainly showed it.



However soon after, the Australian eSafety commissioner Julie Inman Grant, the country’s independent regulator for online safety, issued notices to Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, and X – formerly known as Twitter – to remove the footage. The tech companies were threatened with heavy fines if they did not comply. Meta and all other global platforms complied while X and its boss, Musk, refused outright and rather defiantly. The regulator that made the orders, Australia’s eSafety Commission, describes itself as the world’s first government agency dedicated to keeping people safer online, then successfully applied to the Federal Court in Sydney for a temporary global ban on sharing the video of the bishop being stabbed.

Musk’s answer to the court order is still defiance. His argument is that Australia does not have the power to ban this video globally.

Apparently this video of the crime  falls under the Class 1 category of Australian law, depicting gratuitous or offensive violence. It is not clear if all violent videos are banned under this category or only the ones the Australian government does not wish us to see. Some argue that since the stabbing is now being investigated as a terrorist crime, the video is banned as it may inspire future acts of terrorism. I leave it to readers to judge the strength of that argument for censorship. For the record, the priest who was grievously injured in the stabbing prefers that the video remains online. I tried to find out if the stabbing at the Westfield mall which occurred only days before the church attack and which claimed 7 lives was similarly banned but that information seems not to be available. I do wonder at the strange incuriosity of the world’s journalist class.


The  Guardian has fired its own broadside at Musk whom it accuses of starting a puerile 4-chanesque culture war.


Meanwhile the teen assailant was not a lone wolf as 7 other teenagers have been arrested by police for being part of a network  of  violent extremists.