It’s Australia versus Elon Musk — but who’s the real villain?

Australia has played centre stage to a Twitter firestorm in recent days — one that has taken place both on and off the social media site.

On Monday, Australia’s eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman-Grant won a two-day injunction forcing the platform now known as X to censor videos showing the mid-sermon stabbing of Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel.

It is a story layered in irony.

First, Inman-Grant is a former (disgruntled?) Twitter employee who previously campaigned against the sort of online surveillance that she now champions — and at a cost to Australian taxpayers of almost half a million dollars annually.

Second, she hails from the United States, a nation whose First Amendment would make her apparent vendetta against Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk nigh impossible.

Indeed, during an impromptu interview in Davos, Inman-Grant glibly dismissed the First Amendment as something that “does not apply in Australia”. Ominously. she also told a World Economic Forum panel that she believed human rights like freedom of speech are in need of a “recalibration”.

Third, the commissioner’s legal victory against Musk not only hides the content in question from all Australians but all X users worldwide.


How an Australian court possesses such powers remains a troubling mystery. Before the ruling took place, Musk responded to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s commentary on the affair, asking, “Are you requiring this platform to censor content globally, even when that content is made inaccessible to Australian IP addresses and the content is stored only on servers in the United States?”

“We have already censored the content in question for Australia, pending legal appeal, and it is stored only on servers in the USA,” he also clarified.

The PM never responded, though he was quite happy to label Musk an “arrogant billionaire who thinks he is above the law” — a remark also dripping in irony given the Australian government is now, in this instance at least, dictating what an American-based company may and may not broadcast in every nation on the planet.

As Musk has pointed out, “If ANY country is allowed to censor content for ALL countries, which is what the Australian ‘eSafety Commissar’ is demanding, then what is to stop any country from controlling the entire Internet?”

If delusions of grandeur are at play here, they appear to be emanating from Canberra first and foremost.


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But that is hardly the end of the irony.

Even as Twitter has now removed footage of Bishop Emmanuel’s stabbing, the same video is still circulating freely on Meta-owned Facebook. It is difficult not to conclude that eKaren is harbouring personal animosity for Musk.

Nanny state

To change tack, as Sky News commentator James Macpherson has pondered, if Australians need protection from video of the Mar Mari incident, Should we get rid of footage of 9/11? Should we erase footage of the Bali bombings? Should Anthony Albanese and Peter Dutton come and go through our personal DVD collection?”

Though satirical, Macpherson’s questions demand answers. The footage at issue, while disturbing, pales in comparison to past incidents of terrorism that were broadcast into every living room for weeks on end in decades past, and that have been published online ad infinitum in the years since.

Clearly, the terrorism has not gotten worse, but the demands for censorship have. Why?

Rather than going after videos of knife crime, perhaps the Albanese government would do better to go after knife crime itself. Or is “eSafety” more important than actual safety?

In a classic case of deflection, Elon Musk has successfully been branded as the villain, and fragile Australians as the victims.

If Australia’s leaders continue on their current path, Aussies will be victims, but not of Musk. Suppressing speech and keeping a nation’s citizens in the dark about the events that concern them has never turned out well in history.

Just ask a couple of Americans with far more clout than Inman-Grant.

In those wretched countries where a man cannot call his tongue his own, he can scarce call anything his own. Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech; a thing terrible to public traitors.” — Benjamin Franklin

“If the freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” — George Washington

Has Australia gone too far? Leave a comment below.

Kurt Mahlburg is a writer and author, and an emerging Australian voice on culture and the Christian faith. He has a passion for both the philosophical and the personal, drawing on his background as a graduate architect, a primary school teacher, a missionary, and a young adult pastor.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons


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  • Michael Cook
    followed this page 2024-04-30 16:39:58 +1000
  • mrscracker
    At least it’s called knife crime in Australia. Here in the States, gun control interests use the misleading term “Gun Violence” which in fact covers every sort of firearm mishap, accidental shootings, hunting accidents, & the largest loss of life through firearms: suicides. If they were honest & stuck strictly to homicides, the statistics would look rather different.
  • Kurt Mahlburg
    published this page in The Latest 2024-04-24 21:05:54 +1000