The lamb roast roundup: Mums and censorship

This article originally appeared on Hoyden About Town.

Feminist criticism of the “It’s Time to Tell Mum” anti-filtering campaign has shown up on several blogs:

ZDNet Australia writer Josh Taylor picked up the story and contacted myself and Geordie Guy, vice-chair of EFA’s board, for comment in his article EFA apologises for ‘sexist’ anti-filter site.

[Geordie] Guy told ZDNet Australia the responses he received to his blog forced him to delete the entry.

“A couple of the comments that came in response to that were really abusive and I didn’t want to start or continue a fight, which is why the article was removed,” he said.

“We sincerely regret that the campaign offended some people,” Guy said, explaining that his personal musings on the blog were superseded by the apology from the EFA board. He said it was inevitable that the different approach to the censorship debate — and getting a comedian involved — would offend a few people.

“Needless to say, we didn’t set out to upset anyone and we don’t think mums are stupid — we think some mums are being treated as such by the government, who is playing on their fears without giving them the full story,” he said.

The EFA though have explicitly disclaimed any apparent apology in their own blog:

So contrary to reports elsewhere, like [Taylor’s piece], we aren’t apologising for the campaign – we’re happy with the way it turned out. Of course, we’d rather nobody was offended, and sincerely regret it. But offending nobody is only possible without any risk-taking, and a risk-free campaign is unlikely to break any new ground.

I’ve also transcribed the the Akmal Saleh video that’s part of the “It’s Time to Tell Mum” campaign.


The speaker throughout is Akmal Saleh.

[Akmal Saleh appears in a head-and-shoulders shot against a nondescript graduated light blue background facing the camera and speaks.]

Akmal Saleh here. Now do you remember a time when we didn’t have the Internet? A lot of people remember that time, mostly old people who’ve really got nothing better to do than watch Kerri-Anne Kennerley and Days of Our Lives.

I don’t watch any of these shows.

[Text briefly appears beside Saleh reading “I Don’t Watch Any of These Shows”]

but I did watch this show the other night called, um, Question Time and it’s the worst show in history, and uh and and this guy got up and started saying uh

[Saleh pulls an exaggerated serious facial expression]

“Mr Speaker” and the other guy said “shut up sit down” he didn’t say “shut up” and he said “order order order” and then I said “go on give me a pizza with the lot and garlic bread” nah I didn’t I didn’t that was just a joke just between me and myself.

Anyway he started talking

[Text briefly appears beside Saleh reading “He Started Talking”, Saleh resumes his exaggerated serious politician expression and begins speaking in plummy tones]

and he started saying things like “er, Mr Speaker, er, the government,er, intends to introduce, yeah, er, a filter for the Internet”

[Resumes normal tone.]

and I thought “this show is shit”

[Text briefly appears beside Saleh reading “This Show Is Shit”]

and then someone, my flatmate said to me “it’s not a show, it’s actually real.”

I thought “Is it? Real?”

Check this out.

[Text briefly appears beside Saleh reading “Check This Out”]

They’ve got a list of secret websites that they don’t want you to see. But I tell you something. The government should not have secrets like that. Only the Catholic Church is allowed to have secrets. Because, you know, they know God personally and everything. But that’s another issue.

And so I did what any good son would do.You know what that was? I told me Mum. [gets louder and more emphatic] That’s right, I dobbed the government in and that’s what you should do. But you know that was a bit forceful then, you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to. You know, it’s your choice, but I recommend that you tell your Mum about this.

Mums love gossip.

[Text briefly appears beside Saleh reading “Mums Love Gossip”]

You know, have you ever s— have you ever been to the hairdressers with your Mum?

[Assumes a high pitchy whiny tone]

“Oh look I’ve… Brad, Brad Pitt left Britney and Lindsay’s done [unclear: “a hammy”?] and and Daryl Somers has had a boob job and…”

[Resumes normal tone.]

They just, it never stops. So, I guess what I’m saying is if you tell your Mum they’ll tell other Mums and uh and uh and that would be a good thing.

All right now the next bit I going to say is a little bit serious OK? You ready? [pause] It’s not going to protect kids from looking at sites that they shouldn’t. It’s not going to stop criminals. And it’s going to block access to sites that really should not be blocked.

Here’s an example right.

[Text briefly appears beside Saleh reading “Here’s an Example, Right”]

There’s a poor dentist in Queensland who,uh, whose been blacklisted because he’s been caught [makes quote marks with fingers], uh, with pictures of children’s teeth. [Loudly.] He’s a dentist. [Normal tone.] You know, I would understand that maybe if it was a Rabbi who had a collection of children’s penises then yes! But it’s still, it’s still, I mean it’s work-related I suppose but ah.

What if I was blacklisted?

[Text briefly appears beside Saleh reading “What If I Was Blacklisted?”]

It could happen. you know, I’ve been to airports and I’ve seen the way people look at me I mean it’s getting to the point where I can’t walk into an airport dressed as an Arab with like wires hanging here and little red things that look, maybe look like dynamite and suddenly I’m a terrorist! You know? [very short laugh] That’s just racism!

The government is saying

[Text briefly appears beside Saleh reading “The governme[nt] is sayin[g]”, very slightly obscured by his torso]

that if you don’t agree with their Internet filter that you must be a supporter of child pornography. Which is just absurd. It’s like saying if you don’t like felafels then you must hate [short pause] Arabs! And you want them dead. Or, uh, if you don’t, uh, if you don’t fly Qantas then you m— must hate all people from Nigeria. Or, uh, or if you don’t, uh, put, you know, if you don’t like Vegemite on toast then you’re a [loudly] fuckwit. And of course you are because it’s so nice and tasty and it’s not everyone’s taste but I like it and it’s high in Vitamin B and it’s put and it puts the rose in every cheek and um I don’t know what that e— actually means but look

[Music begins playing over the speech and Saleh is shown continuing to speak for a moment but it is inaudible. The video cuts to him speaking in a different tone while the music continues.]

We all know that it’s Mums that do the best job of looking after their kids not the government. It’s time to tell Mum that Internet censorship is a bad idea.

[Music slows to a close, and the visuals cut to the “It’s Time to Tell Mum” logo.]