The article Web censorship plan heads towards a dead end by Asher Moses in the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday revealed several interesting behavioural traits that seem to be common whenever a group or a person tries to implement censorship.

La la la I’m not listening – I will do what I want.

"The Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, has consistently ignored advice from a host of technical experts... Despite this, he is pushing ahead with trials of the scheme"

This behaviour does not make any logical sense. No leader is expected to know everything. Instead, they rely on experts to provide them with succinct information and advice so they can then make the best decisions. So why then ignore these experts?

Clearly, there are many leaders out there who are interested only in furthering their own personal agendas, and imposing their own personal will onto their flock. Because they lack sufficient emotional maturity, they are blinded by their own personal biases, and driven by runaway, vitriolic emotions.

The inability to admit mistakes is another trait. If you, as a reasonable human being, made a mistake that could cost lives or money, you would seek to rectify that ASAP right? But not certain people seemingly. Their egos force them to stick to a flawed decision long after it has been clearly revealed to be so. They simply cannot be wrong at all. Or if they were, they cannot possible admit it, even to themselves. This struck me as being quite juvenile.

These are disturbing traits for any leader to have. George Bush and the Great Leader of North Korea obviously do not listen to experts; nor do they admit to mistakes. These people had/has access to The Big Red Button.

Fan the emotions, so as to retard any clear headed discussions for as long as possible.

In other articles, the various proponents for web censorship have trotted out the logic: “if you don’t support web censorship, then you are a paedophile.”

This sort of thinking is insulting, simplistic and shows a disturbing limitation of critical thinking in these leaders. Beliefs like this force a black and white, with us or against us, position. No discussion or exploration is thus possible. Again, juvenile and facile.

This could of course, also be a conscious attempt at obfuscation. This is also undesireable.

Start with censoring one, often highly emotionally charged issue. Then expand to include other issues. Mix everything together with some vague moralistic words.

“Senator Conroy originally pitched the filters as a way to block child porn but - as … feared - the targets have been broadened significantly since then.”

Once an issue is being censored, it becomes easier, and logical, to add more issues to the programme. Human nature enables a society to gradually put up with more and more crap over time without seeming to notice the deterioration.

This is one of the most dangerous and insidious aspects of censorship. History has many examples of this. All we need to do is look at various totalitarian societies and how they implemented/are implementing information and though control.

It comes as no surprise that Senator Conroy would extend the censorship to other issues he (and the ACMA) personally considers inappropriate. “last month, ACMA added an anti-abortion website to its blacklist because it showed photographs of what appears to be aborted foetuses.” So, what’s next? People eating with their mouths open? Middle-aged women in Hello Kitty clothes?

And here comes the vague moralistic words – as clear as mud: “This week Senator Conroy said there was "a very strong case for blocking" other legal content that has been "refused classification". According to the classification code, this includes sites depicting drug use, crime, sex, cruelty, violence or "revolting and abhorrent phenomena" that "offend against the standards of morality".”

“Cruelty”? How about blocking sites that sell squeaking shoes that inconsiderate parents think cute to inflict on their children and the public?

As for “revolting and abhorrent phenomena”, let’s ask religious fundamentalists to submit their lists – combined, they should cover all potential eventualities.

The “offend against the standards of morality” one is interesting too – just whose standards of morality are we talking about? Is Senator Conroy trying to enshrine his personal religious beliefs as law?

Lack of consistent values.

“Even Labor has previously opposed ISP-level internet filtering when the Howard Government raised it as a method for protecting kids online.”

Clearly, politicians have super flexible values. Clearly Labor’s opposition to the previous government’s censorship plans were done for political point scoring.

Lack of consistent values = lack of integrity. Politicians = lack of integrity?

Preference for unworkable quick fixes.

No surprises here: “…actively considering proposals for unworkable, quick fixes that involve filtering the internet at the ISP level”

We are forever tempted by the quick easy fix. Just like we are forever falling into too-good-to-be-true get-rich-quick schemes.

Why do I keep expecting any government to show leadership, long term inspiring vision, and spine?

I would suggest that we need to strongly look at the characters of our leaders – business or political – as evidenced by their actions, and not their words.

Businesses and government combined forms a significant impact on our lives. Can we afford to have people with half-formed or disordered characters running the show? Is not the current economic crisis the result of many flawed leaders working within flawed systems?

I want my leaders to be sane, well-rounded, emotionally mature, and able to think critically and clearheadedly. Is that asking too much?