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Australian Government Sets Out To Ban Political Web Game

Government officials in Australia are threatening a lawsuit against for posting a political satire Web game, which pokes fun at the country's treatment of its aboriginal people. Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Herron feels that the use of his likeness in the game, JOHN HERRON'S STOLEN CHILDREN GAME, is a defamation of character. In the game, players must capture all ten of John Herron's children then place them in non-white families. The game is a satire of an early 20th century Australian policy, which removed aboriginal children from their families and placed them in white homes. Current Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, has also come under heat of late for refusing to apologize for the policy, which displaced thousands of children known as the "Stolen Generation." The STOLEN CHILDREN creators, Russ Weakley and Peter Firminger, e-mailed Herron about what he thought of the game. Herron responded in a written letter saying, "This is formally to let you know that I am instituting proceedings against you for defamation in the Supreme Court of Queensland. The Federal Police will be involved to track this Website if I do not receive a response within 24 hours." Weakley and Firminger removed the game on Thursday, January 18, however it was back up on Monday, January 22. The creators wrote on the site, "This game is political satire. It was intended to be a comic depiction of the Howard government's policy and John Herron's stance towards the 'Stolen Generation.' We do not, in any way, intend to offend or threaten John Herron's real children." Electronic Frontier Australia board member Dale Clapperton said, "In a free society, it is completely unacceptable for politicians to use threats of legal action to silence their critics. Senator Herron has completely overreacted to a humorous parody of his handling of the 'Stolen Generation' issue. Furthermore, threatening to use the Federal Police to track down the authors of this site constitutes a gross abuse of his power as an elected official." WebWank features two other political games, which have enflamed officials. THE CRUCIFIXION GAME challenges players to nail WebWank creators to a cross and THE JOHN HOWARD SHOOTING GALLERY has gamers fling tampons at the Prime Minister a poke at the Australian government's unpopular tax on feminine hygiene products.

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Rick DeMott
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