The comments on my post Why the language of #nocleanfeed dooms the movement to failure. were overwhelming, and has prompted me to write a second post in the series on the language surrounding the #nocleanfeed debate. Josh Mehlman’s post over on The Drum Filter opponents: change tactics or fail mirrored many of my sentiments in my original post but raised an interesting issue.
These arguments have also failed to convince the public because the anti-filter groups have allowed their opponents to set the terms and language of the debate. Senator Conroy has consistently framed the filter in terms of protecting children from online nasties such as child pornography. The mainstream media has almost without exception taken this line uncritically when reporting on the filter.
This is an important roadblock to taking the language currently used online into the offline space. By making arguments based on censorship, you immediately are on the back foot against the Government, as by opposing the filter, you are automatically labeled as being in support of child pornography. Once you are tarred with that brush, whatever arguments you make from that point, no matter how technically correct, will be tainted by the belief that you aren’t interested in saving the children.
As we all know, this isn’t the reality, but it is the perception of the issue by Joe Public and Government alike. The language of the debate has been dictated to the #nocleanfeed campaigners by supporters of the filter. By this stage it is too late to re-frame the debate in our own language, we must use language that is compatible with the debate as it currently stands.
This needs to take the form of:
a) We want to protect the children as much as you do
b) The current plan for a filter will not achieve this
c) Here is a viable alternative
Simply opposing the filter with no viable alternative undermines our argument that we want to protect the children as much as the Government does. What form the viable alternative takes, I’m looking for suggestions, but a viable alternative needs to be established in order to overcome the public perception that we do not support the protection of children by opposing the filter.