When the media train gets rolling behind calls for censorship it’s hard to get it to stop. It usually requires a concerted effort from the community to put the roadblocks down and yell “Yield!” to all the interlopers attempting to co-opt a culture that does not belong to them. We’re seeing the seeds being planted right now by Australian members of parliament who are making moves to not only get anime and manga that they deem exploitative of children banned in Australia, but they’re also collaborating with pressure groups in Japan to get the laws affixed to ban certain anime and manga in the homeland.
Australian outfit ABC.net.au is reporting that South Australian Best Upper House MP, Connie Bonaros, is working with Centre Alliance South Australian Senator Stirling Griff to either get the Australian Classification Board to overturn ratings for certain anime and manga, or to pressure them into being more aggressive in banning anime and manga that they claim contains “child abuse material”.
Bonaros explained to the media…
“They are effectively regulating this material like they would a video game or like they would a film, but they are doing so in isolation of our criminal law. Our federal criminal code clearly says that this material would meet the definition of child exploitation material and therefore should not be available at all.
“You have Astro Boy and Pokemon and in amongst all that material there are titles which clearly contain material that meets the definition of child exploitation material.”
The targets of Bonaros and Griff include Eromanga Sensei, No Game No Life and Sword Art Online to name but a few.
Bonaros, unlike Griff, isn’t content with simply having anime and manga she finds offensive in Australia banned, she took a trip to Japan back in the fall of 2019 in a bid to get sex dolls banned as well as to monitor what anime and manga culture was like at ground zero.
“The trip to Japan was a bit of an eye-opener in many regards. Obviously, when I went there I wasn’t aware of the extent of the problem of manga.
“They need external pressure — they need their politicians to understand that the rest of the world doesn’t look at this material through the same lens that they do. There is a lot of pressure being applied at the moment in Japan, but it is being done very discreetly, so what they’ve told me is the more help they can get from external countries, the more hope they have of making some inroads in terms of ensuring that their child exploitation laws are stronger.”
Some Australian shop owners told ABC that even though the Classification Board has given some material the a-okay they’ve already decided not to carry certain material and avoid ordering certain material. We’ve also recently seen the disappearance of Eromanga Sensei at a few shops, but some critics have said that they’re simply out of stock and there’s nothing to worry about.
The Australian Classification Board has rebuffed Griff’s call for broad banning of certain material, stating that while they welcome the review of their classification policies, the ratings they administer are in line with the context of the actual material.
However, as reported by the Refused Classification Twitter account, the Australian Communications and Media Authority could step in to monitor and oversee classification of media if it’s decided by parliament that the Classification Review Board is not up to task.
“The Classification Review Board would be abolished and the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) would oversee the classification of commercially-provided content across all platforms if the Federal Government accepts the ACMA’s submission”https://t.co/WKtK3rQyzf
— Ref Classification (@RefusedC) March 6, 2020
According to IF.com.au, they pointed out that Paul Fletcher, the Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, propositioned in December, 2019 that the classification review process needs to be overhauled.
The ACMA wasn’t averse to this suggestion, stating…
“It would be more efficient for the classification of commercially provided content, regardless of platform, to have oversight by a single regulator, the ACMA.
“This would reduce the costs to industry and government of the current arrangements while retaining the features of the Board such as statutory independence.”
This comes at a time where Australian parliament are also looking into reviving the U.K’s failed Porn ID initiative, which would restrict access to adult material for Australian internet users.
While the typical Centrists will say there’s nothing to worry about, we’ve seen how all it takes is a little bit of friction and a push to get the snowball rolling downhill for censorship. Lest we not forget all the social media measures put in place to censor and restrict access to certain kinds of content online via the Christchurch Call following the Christchurch massacre in New Zealand.
(Thanks for the news tips Animatic811 and Ebicentre)