On the face of it, there’s not a lot to be said for David McRory and his fellow IT pioneer Josh Turner.

Careful, or you'll swap this small dark room for another one

This pair of Gen Y trail-blazer were the brains - if that is the right word - behind “Benders Root Rate”, a page on Facebook which invited Bendigo citizens of that Goldfields metropolis to rate the sexual performance of their partners.

The concept was not an original one. The discussion of the performance of sexual partners is older than the internet age, as anyone who has ever stared at the back of a dunny door could tell you. Indeed some of the graffiti discovered in the ruins Pompeii deals with the subject.

But though the concept behind it was not new, the internet has brought to our fingertips information that once required hours of research to obtain, and no doubt it was this utility, combined with the ethos of the consumer rights movement, that has encouraged us to rate everything from our teachers to our washing machines, that inspired young David and Josh to establish their service.

Either that or they heard there was already a similar webpage for Marysville and they didn’t want Bendigo to be left behind.

From the fat slug-like creature that later stared out from the pages of the Bendigo Advertiser, it is difficult to imagine that Josh himself has any personal sexual experience of anyone except himself to impart to his readers.

In David’s case, it was hard to tell as he kept his face obscured as he exited court in Bendigo on Tuesday after pleading guilty to using a carriage service to offend and publishing offensive material on an information network.

(He also put his hand up for a series of traffic offences and two charges of obtaining property by deception, matters that need not detain us here.)

Where Josh and David have made history, as far as I can tell, is in the sentences they received.

Josh copped six months (wholly suspended) while David was given four, in his case, sadly, not suspended, making them the first social media people to receive prison sentences in Australia for posting offensive things on Facebook.

Not that David is inside yet. Both men are appealing against the severity of their sentences and David is presently on bail.

Now of course rating the root performance in cyberspace or real space is a deeply offensive thing to do: callous, ungallant and - apart from anything else - only capable of giving you only half the story.

And people who engage in such behaviour ought to be shamed and shunned, however useful the people of Bendigo may have found the service (and by all accounts it was popular in certain circles there).

And it was very bad indeed that some of the rooters the page rated were under age - in one case as young as 13.

But as bad as that is, it strikes me that we are entering very murky waters indeed when we look to their authorities to punish people who offend us.

I have no doubt that my view is a minority one and influenced by the fact I am a columnist who offends people for a living. But do we really want to live in a country where we are going to start sending bogans to prison for what they write on their Facebook pages?

I ask this not merely because it seems obvious to me that once we start going down this road there will be no end to the prison building programs needed to hold all the offenders, the internet being a place where people offend and are offensive as a matter of course, but because the idea of punishing people for what they say - unless it puts people in danger - is utterly offensive.

But just as in the case of Andrew Bolt and his accusers last year, the law seems more and more to regard anyone who is upset or offended or hurt by what they read as the victim of a crime, the perpetrator of which should be punished.

And not just in what they read either. The recent passage of laws against bullying would suggest we are heading in a direction that, before too long, will bring us to criminalising saying a harsh word to anyone ever.

The truly depressing thing to me is that no one I have spoken to about the Bendigo Two - as I shall henceforth insist on calling them - seems to share my instinctive sense of outrage that the law is punishing people for what they have written.

If this had happened in America, people would be outraged at an attack on free speech. Freedom of speech being understood in that country to include things we don’t care for.

Of course Benders Root Rate is offensive. But that doesn’t mean its authors should be jailed.

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    • Sickemrex says:

      06:50am | 26/08/12

      They can have root rating meetings if they want, they can set up a private email group if they want.  But what they’ve done by using Facebook is the equivalent of sending each idividual ratee a text message, except publicly.  Would you argue that doing that would not be offensive?  Do you want s474.17 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act changed?  Good order laws such as these exist to draw the line somewhere for the idiots who don’t understand the limits of acceptable behaviour.

    • marley says:

      10:04am | 26/08/12

      Sorry, but I disagree.  Yes, what the guys did was offensive - but true freedom of speech must include the right to offend, or it is no freedom at all.

      There are laws against defamation, and if the guys defamed anyone, fine, let them defend themselves in court.  But if they were simply being offensive, well, that sort of behaviour if the price we pay for freedom of speech.

    • Sickemrex says:

      12:40pm | 26/08/12

      Then we shall agree to disagree.  With the right to free speech comes the responsibility to use it wisely.  The offence section that these males were charged with is pretty clear.  More people should be aware that abusing someone via electronic media is actually a Commonwealth offence.

    • Stan says:

      01:08pm | 26/08/12

      They can have root rating meetings if they want even have an auditorium from the council of Bankstown to preach theirs dislikes and bear malice against our society and nobody dare to stop them.

      Try to do the same and you will see for whom where the line has been draw…..

    • DOB says:

      02:02pm | 26/08/12

      No, Marley. freedom of speech does not include the right to offend. Second, the leading jurisdiction on freedom of speech law is the USA - and the USA Supreme Court has consistently said that there are different types of speech that have different standards and regulations can therefore differ on those types of speech - thats not me saying that, thats the USA Supreme Court (and every other western court has adopted those ideas). Political speech should therefore be absolutely free - scurrilous sexual gossip on the other hand? Uh uh - if youre going to get into public scurrilous sexual gossip then you should know that different rules apply.

      The problem here is that so many people dont know what theyre talking about. Both this James Campbell fellow and Marley seem completely unaware that the law can - and does - discriminate between different types of speech - and always has. By not understanding that, by not knowing the facts,  you end up with a very very wrong idea of the situation. And as a result any contribution you make to the debate can only be utter crap. As are the contributions of James Campbell and Marley. What you two have done is assume that if you walk down the road you will be punished as if you have committed a murder. If you get your facts that badly wrong; if you make such an extreme assumption, then of course you will feel yourself under siege from the big bad government. But of course those are not the facts and that is not the situation. Which simply makes you an idiot.

      I think most of you guys dont know what youre talking about - thats you James Campbell and you, Marley. Maybe you should do some research instead of spreading ignorant crap. Until then perhaps you should also ponder the idea that with the right to freedom of speech is attached the duty to speak responsibly - which is another way of me pointing out that perhaps you should just shut up until you guys know something about what youre talking about ...

    • Smurf Silva says:

      02:15pm | 26/08/12

      But who gets to decide what classify as “offensive” speech? Yes, this particular page is rude, vulgar and obnoxious, but as far as offensive, I would disagree. So clearly what you call offensive and what I call offensive are two different things, so how do you police something that is so highly variable from person to person?

      And where does it stop? There are people in Australia who would view a gay man writing that he loves his long term partner on a public forum as deeply offensive. Should that man go to gaol?  By this token, anyone who creates a religious or political page of ANY description on Facebook should be gaoled, because I can guarantee you, somebody is finding those pages and their content offensive.

      So where do you stop? If you start gaoling people for being offensive, who decides where to draw the line at what is definned as “offensive” and what happens when we start gaoling people for saying something negative about another persons sports team?

    • Philosopher says:

      02:16pm | 26/08/12

      I agree criminal defamation is being enabled by Google and these social media morons.  Google actually refuses to disclose the details of bloggers no matter how unlawful and offensive the posts are.  We have taken out court orders against Google on one accasion.  All of these people should be prosecuted and gaoled for enabling or paticipating in criminal defamation.

      The US has different laws to the Commonwealth and they are able to be prosecuted overseas and should be.  We need more stringent laws against these people who advance their financial interest at the expense of others and their reputations and peace of mind. The US has such a high murder rate due in no small part to the difficulty of prosecution for defamation. It is simply easier to buy a weapon and blow them away.  We don’t or didn’t work that way until very recently.  I have no desire to live in a state that fails to defend the rights and the reputation of its citizens.  If the Yanks defame you or these sites enable your defamation sue them here where they have property and you can recover the orders and if necessary you also have the Hague convention to enforce it.

    • Shane says:

      02:31pm | 26/08/12

      I told my wife about this ruling and her response was that if we’re going to jail people for rating partners on their performance in bed we’d have to jail half the women in the country. Women discuss their partner’s performance with their friends in a level of intimate, graphic detail that makes most xxx porn look tame in comparison.

      Free speech must have the freedom to be offensive. If we start to legislate against and jail people for something that is offensive, then we’re in a world of trouble because you can find someone who will be offended by almost any statement. Even something as simple as history and speculation on the origin of the planet and universe can be offensive to someone who believes in the account expressed in the bible.

      So, I see this as not just an outrageous attack on free speech but also a bit sexist.

    • marley says:

      04:31pm | 26/08/12

      @DOB - sorry, but I heartily disagree.  In this country, guarantees of freedom of speech may be limited to political matters, but that is not the case elsewhere.  Free speech is far more broad ranging in both the US and Canada than your little contribution implies. 

      It is entirely legitimate in the US to be extremely offensive in speech and action on non political matters without having your right to free speech abridged.  Those nutcase Westboro Baptists are a good example.

      Yes, the US has laws about hate speech, and also about defamation, not to mention truth in advertising.  But limitations on free speech are subject to judicial oversight and to testing against the Constitution on a regular basis.  And simply being offensive isn’t enough to run afoul of those Constitutional protections.

      In Canada, which also has a constitutional guarantee of “freedom of expression,” the jurisprudence is a little less generous, but nonetheless merely being offensive is not sufficient to have your right to speak taken away. 

      Two key Supreme Court rulings there have established that, to fall outside the constitutional protection for freedom of expression, the speech must express a degree of hatred and/or contempt for a group which involves “unusually strong and deep-felt emotions of detestation, calumny and vilification.”  To quote another court case, “the language under examination must reflect these extreme or unusually strong and deep-felt emotions. Nothing less will suffice. “

      Merely causing offence is not sufficient grounds to bring in criminal penalties, nor indeed civil ones, in Canada, as the Mark Steyn case before the Human Rights Tribunal a couple of years ago clearly established.  The Tribunal found that “[Steyn’s] Article sets out purported facts, draws conclusions from these facts, and expresses opinions, which many would, and did, find objectionable and disagreeable. .. However, as explained above, we have determined that, considered in its context, and on the evidence before us, the complainants have not met their burden of demonstrating that the Article rises to the level of detestation, calumny and vilification necessary to breach s. 7(1)(b) of the Code.”

      So, you are in fact incorrect in your statement that “freedom of speech does not include the right to offend.”  In two jurisdictions at least, it does. 

      Now, since you’re such a believer in the responsible exercise of free speech, are you going to retract or correct the errors in you argument?  I suspect not.

    • Sickemrex says:

      05:50pm | 26/08/12

      To those wondering who decides what is offensive or not, in the absence of a legislative definition, it falls back to case law.  In QLD for example, case law suggests that behaviour or language that is contrary to common decency.  The magistrate applies an objective “reasonable person” test to decide.

      Free speech does not mean anyone can say anything to anyone.  Can any of you defending anyone’s right to say anything anytime comment on the following?  You’re with your partner/parent/children.  Is there really nothing that anyone could scream in your face that you wouldn’t be offended by?

    • acotrel says:

      07:07am | 26/08/12

      ‘rate the sexual performance of their partners.’

      I wish I could remember what that was ! - Oh, to be young again !

    • Robinoz says:

      09:36am | 26/08/12

      Ha, ha, ha ... I know what you mean, it’s a distant memory. I used to keep a note book with names, but never got to scoring.

    • JACKO says:

      09:41am | 26/08/12

      That is a piece of rank conceit. I don’t believe your memory has lapsed for that statistic, OLD chap. Send us your ratings criteria and we’ll try to help your wrinkly cortex.

    • Shane says:

      05:59pm | 26/08/12

      Acotrel, I have to ask. Has your doctor put you on happy pills or something? Not too long ago any topic, even something like this, and you’d launch into a wildly off topic diatribe against Abbot with enough fervour that I could picture little drops of spit scattered all over your screen.

      What happened?

    • Nyani says:

      08:10am | 26/08/12

      Political incorrectness gets this treatment .
      My e/mail address has been banned on a certain Media site if I attempt lodging any comment!
      If one makes any comments factual in wording as in sodomite rather than ‘gay’ is a big no/no.
      As was with the “Human Headline” in his attempts with exposing the evil in the sodomites who use children!

    • Lloyd says:

      11:04am | 26/08/12

      You might need to consult a dictionary. Paedophiles abuse children and it is not just by “sodomising”. Gay or homosexual are for those that are attracted to the same sex as well as happy, for the former. You may also want to look up: stupid, bigot and if it is up to date with Australian slang, wanker.

    • andye says:

      11:54am | 26/08/12

      @Nyani - “Sodomite”. Ha, yeah that’s great. I hope you don’t mind but I am going to refer to Christianity as a “cult” from now on. Do you think that’s ok? It will be “factual in wording”.

    • Philosopher says:

      04:00pm | 26/08/12

      The word Cult comes from Cultus and deals with any group of beleivers that believe in anything. Thus the Biggest Christian Cult is Roman Catholicism and so on and in Islam is is Sunni Islam. These days so-called Christians label anyone that disagrees with them or is small as a cult. Atheists refer to Christianity as an irrational belief and attack them for the refusal to accept any of the strange sexual abberrations the Bible. or whatever their particular structure of beliefs is that does not condone whatever the other person wishes to do.  In the First Century Paul stated that he belonged to a sect called the Way. Now the Way is a small sect and was formed over the last few centuries.

    • Rhys says:

      08:18am | 26/08/12

      Come on author with your IQ mate you need to realise we lost our right to freedom of speech along time ago. But you also need to realise that what these two men from bendigo have done is not freedom of speech. ” I dont like gays ” thats freedom of speech, rate your partners sexual preformance websites are not freedom of speech but a form of defamation towards those people being posted about, and yes calling this defamation is stretchging it to the extreme but calling these websites freedom of speech is just moronic.

    • Craig says:

      08:30am | 26/08/12

      Bolt is not a pin-up boy for free speech, he lied, misrepresenting facts and telling complete untruths in a way designed to cause hurt and prejudice. He should not be brought up in relation to this case.

      In this case the issue is that the law has applied more severe standards and penalties to the Internet than to the physical world.

      This is a dangerous trend, given that the Internet is the medium of choice for 97% of Australians. We all risk greater punishment through our online activities than for engaging in similar activities in physical space - from protesting online by blockading a site (the penalty for participating in an online denial of service attack is far more severe than for chaining oneself to a tree or blockading a gate), lending a movie you own to a friend (a misdemeanor in physical space, a crime online) to saying bad things about people to your friends.

      Until we normalize the digital world in our legal system, these issues will continue. Sometime it is better to simply have a quiet word or publicly shame someone doing something inappropriate than to charge them with an offense. However our police and legal system seem to have lost their ability to warn - jumping straight to the ‘example in gaol’ solution.

      This is not the recipe for positive community management.

    • Angry God of Townsville says:

      09:34am | 26/08/12

      Craig, read the judgement before posting. What you have said is factually inaccurate. As such a stickler for such things, you should ensure your personal prejudices are not included in your postings as they make you look a bit stupid. It is a pity because the rest of your post was valid and well written, in fact it is an accurate defence of Bolt’s right to present information.

    • andye says:

      05:12pm | 26/08/12

      @Angry God of Townsville - He got his facts wrong about specific individuals. Their true stories weren’t nearly as inflammatory as the ones he presented. If you have evidence to show otherwise, go right ahead but it sounds like you are happier in ignorance, just denying.

    • Jaz says:

      08:39am | 26/08/12

      Freedom of speech is messy, people will say and publish things that are racist sexist low brow and offensive but the flip side is that we can speak out against authority, totalitarianism and freely rebut the offensive comments of others. It is worth suffering the bad because the good is so important and fundamental to a free society.
      However Australia has never had in its character a freedom loving nature. Our culture has traditionally not celebrated individual rights we have always prefer what we perceive as the collective good over the right of the individual. That is why whenever there is a debate about an Australian bill of rights people always have to throw in the qualifier ‘and responsibilities’. That is why censorship is so persuasive here and why the government is desperate to control the content we can see on the internet with its secret list of band sites including political sites that are critical of it. And why there is so much unwarranted secrecy in government, and why most Australians don’t bat an eye lid at any of it. We simply do not care. There is a lot wrong with the U.S.A, their crazy gun laws, their politicians who are owned by corporations, their increasingly militarised police and the great disparity in wealth to name a few but I will always be envious of its peoples commitment to freedom of speech and individual rights.

    • TChong says:

      08:46am | 26/08/12

      A year or so, ago, a woman at a US uni did exactly the same thing ( rate partners sexual ability etc) - she was hailed as a ground breaking feminist heroine in a lot of the US and international media.
      Then men involved wernt asked.
      She even wrote a book, got (e)mag syndication., ( usual stuff , for a 15 minute US celeb.

      Guess thats where “ungallant “comes into it- if a man / men compose such a list -they are predatory, creepy ‘net perves.
      The (US) lady does exactly the same thing - and shes a hero !
      A notable, obvios double standard ?

      Guess these poor ( as in sad sack ) dudes wernt going to uni, or wernt able to afford a PR team that turned their fetish into a ( financially rewarding )  faux moral crusade .
      ( like the US woman managed to do )
      BTW i reckon any non consenual rating etc shouldnt happen to anyone.
      Even the sex life of politicians, “celebs”, sports people etc ( providing they break no laws of consent etc ) is entirely their business

    • marley says:

      09:57am | 26/08/12

      @TChong - I don’t see any difference between what the women did and what the guys did.  They’re all crass, offensive and despicable.

      But no one should be facing criminal charges for any of it.

    • Tim says:

      03:15pm | 26/08/12

      Yeah I read this and instantly thought of the “don’t date him” website.

      The female founders were hailed as providing a service for women and did the rounds being interviewed by all the morning shows.

    • Tubesteak says:

      04:17pm | 26/08/12

      Mark Zuckerberg turned his internet rating page into a billion dollar business called…..Facebook.

      From some angle there is a massive amount of irony in this.

      I’m just not sure if the joke is on the two in this incident, Zuckerberg or law enforcement officials who charged the two for using Facebook to rate people which was Facebook’s original intention.

    • Stuey says:

      08:51am | 26/08/12

      Gee blubber guts, please excuse my offensive use of freedom of speech but you calling Josh a ‘fat slug like creature’ is a bit rich isnt it?

    • Fiddler says:

      10:41am | 26/08/12

      have you seen pictures of the guy? He looks like the lovechild of Kimdotcom and Jabba the Hutt

    • Philip Crooks says:

      09:21am | 26/08/12

      Words fail me but I am not surprised. Nobody can be offended, mind you , that nobody must be of the correct gender or racial group.{ I almost deleted that last sentence because it might be thought to offend.}
      Welcome to 1984.
      All is well at Minitrue.

    • Louisa says:

      09:43am | 26/08/12

      Under the Australian constitution and Australian law, we actually do not have explicit ‘freedom of speech’ as, say, American citizens do. What we do have is this (taken from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s website): Australians are free, within the bounds of the law, to say or write what we think privately or publicly, about the government, or about any topic. We do not censor the media and may criticise the government without fear of arrest. Free speech comes from facts, not rumours, and the intention must be constructive, not to do harm. There are laws to protect a person’s good name and integrity against false information. There are laws against saying or writing things to incite hatred against others because of their culture, ethnicity or background. Freedom of speech is not an excuse to harm others.

      So if what you say in Australia in any way causes ‘harm’ to others, you don’t have the ‘right’ to say it. The upside of that is that we can stop issues like the US have with the Westboro Baptist Church picketing the funerals of soldiers who die in Afghanistan. The downside is that you actually don’t have the right to say whatever you want.

    • marley says:

      12:45pm | 26/08/12

      It’s true that we have no explicit constitutional right to free speech, although we do have the right to free speech on political issues. 

      That said, in those countries which do have constitutional guarantees of free speech, the concept is broader than you understand it to be.  It certainly doesn’t include defamation, nor incitement to violence, but it does include the right to repeat rumours, to offend people, and to be wrong.  And nothing about the principle of free speech says it needs to be “constructive.”  Heck, if that were so, you could never criticise a government or a policy you didn’t like.

      Bottom line:  if I have free speech, then I have the right to say things that “harm others.”  If I defame you, sue me.  If I just offend you, too bad.

    • Sandra says:

      04:06pm | 26/08/12

      Under the Australian constitution ......
      local governments are not recognised, in 1988 we had a referendum to recognise them and the people have clearly rejected them.

      In septembre there is local government election WHY?

      Constitution is irrelevant as we all are after each election,

      Haven’t you noticed that, we are in Australia under the absolute power of the political parties and theirs cronies full stop.

      It would be nice if James Campbell can give us an answer ???

    • Gregg says:

      09:43am | 26/08/12

      I can agree to your sentiments in general James re principle of freedom of speech and publication etc. unless someone can be harmed, that in a macro sense claimed to be at the core of Julian Assange’s discrediting by some governments who may also not just want all that egg on their collective faces for us all to see.

      You do start heading in another good direction with bullying and that has all sorts of conotations on the internet, a few episodes I have been involved in including:
      . targetting by those of a particular political persuasion on a forum
      . eventually having a post put of something like ” why don’t you crawl away and die ” fortunately water of a ducks back as far as I am concerned but I well remember it for who posted it and the poster is actually a reasonably prominent media journalist type, quite amazing in fact that someone purporting to work in an industry that should be high up there with standards of posting.
      . the continual maligning which said journalist was to the fore in leading a pack eventually led to myself being banned for no good reason.

      Yes, the internet is full of barbs and no place to have anything other than a thick skin or feathers for the roll off.
      You do however raise:
      ” but because the idea of punishing people for what they say - unless it puts people in danger - is utterly offensive. ” and also mention of a thirteen year old.
      It is not so long ago that I watched an article on TV of a youngish girl who had committed suicide with internet commentary considered to be a largish part of what drove her to do it.

      There should be guidelines and limits to all types of actions we take in life and we do have many laws ascribing how we should behave generally in a society, the internet just being a relatively recent change to communication and subsequent actions within societies.

    • Babylon says:

      10:45am | 26/08/12

      People on this site, publishers, journalists and commentators could get years for what is said, illustrated and implied about Tony Abbott.

      If the Gillard Government wins the next election, I predict even left wing journalists are going to find the New media controls a bit suspect.

    • Inky says:

      10:47am | 26/08/12

      Jailing people for offending people?

      Well, that’s me buggered.

      Although to be fair, there’s a pretty big difference between running something like that and being my usual smug yet charming self online. Did that site deserve to be pulled down? Certainly. Should the ones have put it up been punished for it? Again, certainly. Did it warrant jail time? That I don’t make a judgement on.

    • Inky says:

      12:37pm | 26/08/12

      Ugh, don’t dig up the Assange debate again. The bottom line is previous consent does not equal continual consent, and we’re all sick of hearing about it.

    • Shane says:

      06:06pm | 26/08/12

      Inky, you can’t withdraw consent several weeks after the event. Any law supporting that is just moronic.

    • Trexdex says:

      11:08am | 26/08/12

      Free speech is alright, but the right to use slander is not. The people who use Facebook to slander other people should look the term up because it is a legal term, and using Facebook or any other media to do it is punishable by the legal system.

    • marley says:

      12:56pm | 26/08/12

      @Trexdex - I think the legal terminology has moved from slander to defamation.  And I agree that if you defame someone, you should expect to be sued.  But that’s not what these lads were accused of, and not what happened.  I really have a problem with their being punished for putting offensive (not defamatory) material on the web.

    • fish says:

      11:09am | 26/08/12

      “And it was very bad indeed that some of the rooters the page rated were under age - in one case as young as 13”

      They were lucky not to get done for paedophilia.

    • Tubesteak says:

      04:41pm | 26/08/12

      Paedophilia relates to sex with girls under the age of about 10.

      Girls over that age but under the age of consent, 16 in NSW, Vic and most other states, means you’re a pederast.

      However, you have to be over 16 for it to be a crime. There is even some leeway if you’re over 16 but under 18.

      No crime if it’s two 13 year olds going at it.

    • Carramaena says:

      11:32am | 26/08/12

      Hmm.. yeah.. the ‘fat slug like creature’ was a bit harsh, he might have been rated really harshly and taken to hunching over a pc and eating greasy foods all day to numb the pain.

    • maria says:

      11:33am | 26/08/12

      We are under the strict regime of tolerance, the dictionary defines the word TOLERANCE: disinclined to interfere with other’s ways or opinions… put up..

      no wonder that the political correct nuts or the new gestapo can take over the destiny of the country the same way as Hitler did it and the worse part of it that we let them.

      Strange democracy isn’t it and do you think that could happen under a direct democracy a la Switzerland in which the people are sovereign???

    • marley says:

      12:52pm | 26/08/12

      @Maria - as a matter of fact, I believe Switzerland has been criticised by the UN, amongst other agencies, for the impact of some of its legislation on free speech.  So,  yep, I reckon it could happen in a direct democracy.

    • Ted says:

      03:38pm | 26/08/12

      @ marley
      Criticisms -free speech are part of a direct democracy as it is in Switzerland but it is the people who have the final word and not the UN or a party politic unfortunately that’s the difference you can’t see yet.

      Can we repeal any laws by calling a referendum in Australia?

    • marley says:

      05:42pm | 26/08/12

      @Ted - the UN doesn’t call the shots here, so I’m not sure what your first point is. And if you think Switzerland doesn’t have a political class, you’re mistaken.

    • Sandra says:

      05:48pm | 26/08/12

      I agree with you Maria
      If we had a direct democracy we the people would have decided what is freedom of speech and not just a few spin doctors.

      @marley as a matter of fact why are we irrelevant in every decisions?
      Strange democracy isn’t it.

    • PW says:

      11:35am | 26/08/12

      Without needing any information whatsoever about the sex appeal or lack of same of these silly young fellows, its not difficult to deduce that most and probably all of the sexual encounters referred to occurred in their imaginations.

      Those lads who can pull the ladies are too busy doing just that to be wasting time rating them on Facebook.

    • Bee says:

      01:13pm | 26/08/12

      I’m tempted to make assumptions about the physical charms of the women-haters who post on here.

    • John says:

      01:37pm | 26/08/12

      The problem with the west it has marketed speech that expendable and speech that is not. If one guys out of line, the mass’s sheepish people will be quick give him or her a few guilt trips if he or she is out of line. So of the law’s can jail someone just by expressing a few views. The topic’s such as race, so so called historical events could lead you into jail a sentence. This coming from this western leftist marxist inclined society that has been constructed since WWII ended.

      Then you have except-able speech, like bashing the religion, catholic church, anti-white sentiment by minority’s and stating that having a nation based on nationalistic values is bad. Border Control, and Anti-Multiculturalism and Anti-Immigration is considered taboo in the leftist marxist inclined western society.

    • fonfurroulnek says:

      03:08pm | 26/08/12

      Our own group’s staff were forced on the way to leave northern Arakan state, where some 800,000 Rohingya live and moreover where malnutrition rates were already far above the exact global indicator regarding a trustworthy health crisis. Consisting of scant medical care reaching the entire area, those situation is often likely in order to worsen. http://www.cheapoakleysuk.co.uk
      “There’s no way as to measuring each impact over specific past month because staff are blessed with either happen to be evacuated or possibly forced returning to flee,” your boyfriend said. “And given which rainy flavor is very much underway, when you factor all over all these other problems, we don’t have to have measure understand it of know it’s your own catastrophe.” oakley frogskins uk
      President Thein Sein, who is internationally lauded to receive spearheading Burma’s reform, on Wednesday unsuccessfully requested UN help when it comes to resettling abroad nearly one million Rohingya. Critics end up with likened the device that can an attempt only at mass deportation.

    • Dr B S Goh, Australian in Asia says:

      04:52pm | 26/08/12

      Yes the Rohingya muslims are among the most desperate minorities and refugees in the past few hundred years!!

      See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rohingya_people:

        In February 2009 there was evidence of the Thai army towing a boatload of 190 Rohingya refugees out to sea. A group of refugees rescued by Indonesian authorities also in February 2009 told harrowing stories of being captured and beaten by the Thai military, and then abandoned at open sea. By the end of February there were reports of a group of 5 boats were towed out to open sea, of which 4 boats sank in a storm, and 1 boat washed up on the shore. February 12, 2009 Thailand’s prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said there were “some instances” in which Rohingya people were pushed out to sea.

      We in Australia do not understand what border control in Asia means.

      India has a 2,400 kms of high fence with Bangladesh and border guards have orders to shoot to kill and hundreds die this way each year.

    • Rose says:

      03:52pm | 26/08/12

      “The second creator of sexually degrading Facebook page ‘Benders Root Rate’ has been sentenced to four months jail.
      The page, which went viral in June last year, named and rated the sexual performance of local teens, some as young as 13.
      David McRory, 22, pleaded guilty in the Bendigo Magistrates Court this morning to using a carriage service to offend and publishing offensive material on an information network.
      He also pleaded guilty to a series of traffic offences and two charges of obtaining property by deception.
      Magistrate Richard Wright sentenced McRory to four months jail on each of the two Facebook related charges, as well the charges of obtaining property by deception.
      The sentences were made concurrent, making an effective sentence of four months.
      Mr Wright disqualified him from driving for 12 months and imposed a $2000 fine.
      McRory immediately appealed his sentence.
      Earlier this month 25-year-old Josh Turner, also a creator of the page, was sentenced to six months’ jail, wholly suspended. Turner has also appealed his sentence.”
      So his jailing was as much about his other crimes as it was about what he did on Facebook. Kind of weakens your outrage somewhat doesn’t it?
      I have no problem with criminal convictions for what these boys did, no real problem with the sentences either. Had they made generalized comments about the general standard of ‘roots’ in Bendigo they would’ve got a free pass, no question. What they did though was to invite comment about specific people, which included identifying them, knowing full well that the comments could cause people to suffer long lasting ill-effect from their publication.
      There needs to be a line drawn in the sand and now everyone knows where it is and what the potential punishment for crossing that line is.
      Freedom of speech is important, but protection from this kind of persecution is more important!

    • Jay2 says:

      03:55pm | 26/08/12

      They’re a pair of morons and I don’t feel that sorry for them, but it is an area where it is be careful for what you wish for.

      On one hand, I’m glad they were publicly humilated enough to want to cover a face up, on the other hand was it bad enough to warrant a sentence?

      Yes, but only if I were rated on that page and more importantly, rated poorly! (..not that I would have…honest…)

    • colroe says:

      06:18pm | 26/08/12

      Just a question on grammar.  Should the person receiving the “root” from the “rooter” be called the “rootee”?

    • MamaK says:

      07:34pm | 26/08/12

      I don’t think this particular case can be used to highlight the free speech debate. What these two did wasn’t free speech. The 13 year old girl mentioned on their page had never had sex with either of them, and the police had been informed of the page and advised that nothing could be done unless a complaint was made. As the girl, and her parents, felt that her reputation had and would suffer ongoing defamation, they made a complaint, and the pair were prosecuted on those facts. In my view they’re quite free to rate anyone they actually had sex with, what they are not free to do is make up a bunch of lies about people to present themselves as some kind of stud or whatever the popular word for that is these days. Given their appearance I would suspect that if they had of actually stuck to rating people who they had actually had sex with, their page would be rather blank.

    • Eda says:

      07:39pm | 26/08/12

      ‘(He also put his hand up for a series of traffic offences and two charges of obtaining property by deception, matters that need not detain us here.)’

      Mr Campbell, what do you mean?, ’ matters that need not detain us here’.

      Magistrate Richard Wright, sentenced McRory to four months gaol on 2 Facebook related charges and seperate charges of obtaining property by deception.

      Your piece implies that McRory was only gaoled for writing/being offensive on Facebook, which I am sure you know is not right.

    • Ellen Who says:

      07:59pm | 26/08/12

      If we urinate on the flame of freedom, the spray could many.


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