A note from Richard Neville

From: Richard Neville

STOP PRESS!!
15 March 2006

JOHN HOWARD'S APOLOGY
Reflections of the Situation in Iraq.

The site hosting this controversial speech has been shut down by persons unknown. Within 24 hrs of its posting it received 8,500 visits. The web hoster, Yahoo, has not yet responded to enquiries. A pdf is available at the moment. We are working to restore www.johnhowardpm.org and to host replica of the original. "The new anti terror laws will not target free speech", John Howard.

To download the low res PDF, click here.

To link to a text only version, click here.


SECRET SILENT CENSORSHIP IN CYBERSPACE


It's funny; I'm about as much threat to the state as smelly socks.



And yet something happened at 8pm on Tuesday night, Sydney time, that gave me the shivers. Maybe it's a technical problem, I kept telling myself, which is why I've waited 36 hours before making it public.



As most of you who received my email on Monday now realise, JOHN HOWARD'S APOLOGY was an act of satire and culture jamming. Its impact was way beyond expectation, as was the variation in feedback. Many of you wanted to believe in John Howard's U-turn, and said he "stood taller" after the speech. Others replied he had "sniffed the wind" and was cutting his cloth to ensure his political survival. It made them hate the PM even more. A seasoned activist emailed from London, "this speech proves John Howard is smarter than Tony Blair". To heighten its impact, I asked a student to design a site that closely resembled the official page of the Australian Prime Minister, as well as his personality - oodles of grey.


For $9.71, I purchased a web-hosting package from Yahoo, which included domain name registration.


Was I wrong to indulge in this undergraduate jape? My previous email reported, "A friend just sent me this link, but I can't believe it". Well, when the site went up, the designer sent me the link and I couldn't believe how good it looked.


Satire is intellectual slum clearance. It works best if people are sucked in S for awhile. I left a trail of clues. Johnhowardpm.org is registered in my name, easily accessed. The embedded links were a give-away. Lotsa typos.


In the first 24 hours, the site received 10,500 visits, thanks to many of you. Then it was blocked, and remains so.


I didn't realise this until I opened my emails yesterday morning. Complaints of a "dead link" were building up. Crikey.com received similar reports and asked if I had heard from the PM's office. Not a peep. At first I put it down to local area tech probs, but over the day the site started to disappear, server by server, like watching the lights go out all over Europe. Urgent emails to Yahoo have remained unanswered for 36 hours. For further stats and background see http://www.timlonghurst.com



What's the alleged crime? Will the spooks knock at the door? During the debate on Australia's draconian "anti terror" laws, the PM kept assuring us all that free speech would never be endangered. Sure. A .pdf of the disappeared page has been posted on richardneville.com - let's see how long it lasts. This is the direct link:


Several questions remain:
1) who ordered the closing of the site?
2) On what grounds?
3) By what authority?
4) Through what mechanism?
5) Why in secret?
6) Will I get a refund from Yahoo?


If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone,

Best Wishes, RN


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