Delusional free speech fundamentalists all on the same [racist] page

March 30, 2014

There are two certainties about the Weekend Australian that make a weekly reading of it a tiresome duty.

1. The newspaper propaganda sheet is tireless and relentless in pursuit of the shibboleths that occupy the increasingly erratic thoughts of Chairman Murdoch

2. The pervasive groupthink emanating from the  News Limited bunkers like the smell of a slow death, displays a remarkably consistent level of paranoia, delusion and editorial agreement among the chief journalists and writers propagandists.

Nowhere are these certainties more likely to reveal themselves than in the fevered attention the editor and his minions are throwing at the supposed attack on free speech posed by Section 18C and 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act. News Limited’s considerable, yet unprofitable editorial resources are being lavished on support for George “right to be a bigot” Brandis in his campaign to make it OK to be a racist in 21st century Australia.

In The Weekend Australian 29-30 March 2014 there are no less than six pieces supporting the campaign to have the ‘Bolt’ amendment passed in Parliament.

That alone is an indictment of their bleating claims that debate is being shut down and that 18C has a chilling effect on free speech. These dribblejaws are able to prosecute their case freely and at great length with the support of an editorial and acres of newsprint.

The only issue I have is that it is not a debate as such in the pages of the Weekend Australian. It is all one way traffic, it is propaganda without answer. Perhaps it is wishful thinking to argue that a newspaper that claims to take freedom of speech and debate so seriously would allow an oppositional voice. But hey, it is the party news organ of the coalition, so I won’t be so fucking stupid. How about you?

Read the rest of this entry »


Down the memory hole part 1: Repeat a lie long enough someone will believe it

July 25, 2012

The Armstrong Delusion

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed because they’ve been quite subtle, but whoever writes editorials for The Australian doesn’t like the idea that there should be some responsibility and accountability in the news media — particularly when it comes to News Limited papers.

I have collected more than a dozen editorials from The Australian that relate to media regulation, the Finkelstein and Convergence Review recommendations and the war on free speech that is currently crushing the news media. I have a pile of op-ed pieces 20 centimetres high and I’m slowly piecing together the story of the memory hole and the big lie.

It is impossible to include everything in one post because it is necessary to constantly check the facts. Big lies work through repetition and by relying on the assumption that no one will check the history and correct the record.

But I am working on a book about journalism ethics at the moment and a second one on freedom of speech so this is a research exercise. I am happy to share as I go along.

The memory hole is the device used in Orwell’s 1984. Winston Smith is obliged to correct (redact and edit) editions of The Times on behalf of the Inner Party. Whenever he corrects a piece of copy — usually because of some previous lie that now needs to be altered — the old story and all his working notes are sent to a furnace in the vast apparatus of the state. The offending materials are dispatched down the memory hole.

In the walls of the cubicle there were three orifices. To the right of the speakwrite, a small pneumatic tube for written messages, to the left, a larger one for newspapers; and in the side wall, within easy reach of Winston’s arm, a large oblong slit protected by a wire grating. This last was for the disposal of waste paper. Similar slits existed in thousands or tens of thousands throughout the building, not only in every room but at short intervals in every corridor. For some reason they were nicknamed memory holes. When one knew that any document was due for destruction, or even when one saw a scrap of waste paper lying about, it was an automatic action to lift the flap of the nearest memory hole and drop it in, whereupon it would be whirled away on a current of warm air to the enormous furnaces which were hidden somewhere in the recesses of the building.

George Orwell, 1984

The Australian and its free speech absolutist supporters are relying on the memory hole to erase any idea that there might be some value in media accountability and light touch regulation.

Read the rest of this entry »


The beginning of the end for the Press Council?

December 10, 2011

Some interesting news this week of a new organisation set up to represent newspaper publishers.

THE country’s four major newspaper publishers have formed a new venture, the Newspaper Works, to give the industry a united voice on a range of issues from environmental sustainability to collecting readership data.

Under the new banner, the publishers at Fairfax Media, News Ltd, Seven West Media and APN News & Media have the scope to discuss, comment and set collective policies to make the sector more efficient for advertisers and readers.

I can’t help but wonder if this is not a precursor to something else – the break-up, or perhaps the assassination – of the Australian Press Council.

In the past few weeks the Finkelstein inquiry has been getting an ear-bashing from old-school newspaper types objecting to the kite-flying proposal to give the Press Council more teeth and some government funding.
All along Ray Finkelstein has been raising this possibility as a solution to the vexed question of how to enforce greater accountability for errors and egregious attacks while maintaining the cloak of respectability (invisibility?) that comes with the pretence of full ‘independence’.

In Perth a few days ago, this hefty swing from West Australian Newspapers group editor-in-chief Bob Cronin smashed the government support delivery out of the ground:

“My concern is that in recent times, rather than dealing harshly with egregious errors, the council has become a cudgel with which zealots, bigots, academics and despotic politicians are able to beat newspapers which dare to depart from their view of the world.”
My colleague Professor Mark Pearson of Bond University and one of Australia’s leading media law academics also poured cold water on the Finkelstein idea. It seems, at least from this report, that they had a fairly terse exchange of views.

ANY attempt to force a newspaper to publish a judgment from a government-funded body would send a message that the Australian government does not believe in freedom of the press, a leading media law researcher has warned. Mark Pearson, professor of journalism at Bond University and the Australian correspondent for Reporters Sans Frontieres, was speaking at the final day of public hearings for the government’s media inquiry.

Chairman and former Federal Court judge Ray Finkelstein QC asked Professor Pearson what he thought of the notion of a levy-funded regulatory body with the power to order newspapers to publish Press Council-style judgments.

“Two out of three of the major members of the Press Council have told me they will refuse to provide any more funding,” Mr Finkelstein said. “So what do I do?”

But in a robust exchange of views Professor Pearson argued that any such body would be

viewed as an instrument of government regulation and would be at odds with any editor’s view of their role. “The notion of the fourth estate is a residual idea, it is much more than a commercial ethic. It is part of an editor’s sense of fierce independence from a government-funded body.”

Mr Finkelstein argued with Professor Pearson that a levy-funded body could be different.

“It is still a government institution,” Professor Pearson replied and said no editor or publisher would support it.

“Without freedom of expression embodied in a constitution or bill of rights, it would send a message to the international community that the Australian government wants to force its will on media organisations.”

Professor Pearson said he questioned any need for a new regulatory body when the Press Council did its job “reasonably well” and that all it lacked was community education of its process.

He also questioned the cost of the inquiry, estimating it as more than $1 million.

“So what, so what?” Mr Finkelstein said, glaring at him.

“I don’t object to government funding, but I do object to the regulatory regime,” Professor Pearson said.

Earlier, Mr Finkelstein had remarked that he was starting to understand the way editors thought: “Judges don’t like being told what to do and I have the feeling editors are like judges.”

The inquiry was also told publishers could benefit from the advice of an “integrity”authority.

[Nick Leys - The  Australian - 9 December]

I don’t agree with all of Pearson’s remarks, but in general he’s right – publishers have given a strong signal that they don’t like the idea of government ‘interference’ in their self-regulation (mutual stroking) regime.

But Mark is mistaken in his view about the links between ‘freedom of expression’ in a bill of rights type instrument and the freedom of the press being threatened by government ‘forcing its will’ on media organisations.

This idea is based on a flawed – but widely held view – that individual humans and giant media corporations are the same thing in the eyes of the law and that they have the same ‘rights’. I say this is bullshit.

Giant media corporations are legal entities (firms or companies) established for the benefit of shareholders. Their whole reason for being is to make money – profits – and to distribute this to shareholders.

Why should something – the media company in this case – which is founded on the principle of private profit be extended what is fundamentally a human right – the right of free expression.

What the legal fiction of equality before the law does in this instance is give licence to the private ownership of this right to speech.

The ‘right’ to freedom of expression should not reside with the media company; it actually belongs to the people and, as our political representatives – working to the public interest – governments technically and morally have a right to intercede on our behalf to ensure that corporations act in the public interest.

This is not going to happen, the force of the (broken) market will ensure that capital is free to exploit and expropriate and also to continue speaking with forked tongue on freedom of speech.

I am working on a major research piece that will elucidate my arguments more clearly. That will be available early in the new year.

Season’s greetings

This is my last post for 2011. I am having yet another round of hand surgery on Tuesday next – the dreaded ‘Viking disease‘ – and will be in a cast for three weeks.

I hope you have a safe and fun silly season where ever you are in the world. As a level 7 aetheist I offer a secular greeting – “cheers”.


Free speech, vilification and the Herald Sun editorial

September 30, 2011

The Herald Sun editorial defending Andrew Bolt against Federal Court ruling that he breached provisions of the Racial Discrimination Act argues that the offending columns were justified.

In the second paragraph the editorial “maintains” the view that:

What Bolt wrote in this newspaper and online was not based on race, but on the way race was used by those who took such offence. (‘Free speech vital to society’  12011)

This is a semantic point that twists the argument to suggest that the actions of those who claimed to be offended, insulted, intimidated and humiliated by Bolt’s comments are themselves racist.

In the fifth par the editorial insists the paper was right to publish Bolt’s comments:

We say [publication] was [justifiable] and if it is the interpretation of he law that comes into question, then it is the law that should be changed.

This is a key turning point in the argument, which sets up the HWT defence that the unfettered principle of free speech must trump a law, which attempts to curtail it.

The following paragraph makes a stab at defining free speech in this context:

A key measure of a mature society is the ability to publicly discuss unpopular views without fear, no matter how distasteful they are to some of us, and to follow this discussion with vigorous public debate.

But this case was not about tasteful or distasteful comments. It was about the deliberate denigration and traducing of nine individuals based only on their ethnic identity.  The HWT justification on this point seems to imply that anything goes in the freedom of speech stakes. This takes no account of the public benefit and public interest in having a legal means to curtail hateful, hurtful and inflammatory propaganda. Any society that wants to call itself democratic and civilized will have legislative and legal provisions preventing racist speech. There is no right to freedom of speech that involves racial or other defamation based on stereotyping, misconceptions, deliberately deceptive arguments. There is no right to free speech if the aim of that speech is to encourage others to action – even if that action (at this point) is merely an invitation to share such views.

On this point the Herald Sun editorial spins itself a very tight web, but unfortunately it appears caught in the clever strands of its own faulty logic:

This has very much been a trial of freedom of speech [sic]. Those who complained had he opportunity to put forward their own views. They were offered equal space on these pages, but sought to silence Bolt on the subject of the social consequences of their choice to identify as Aboriginal. (‘Free speech vital to society’  12011)

I cannot, at this point, offer an opinion on whether or not the complainants were offered and refused a chance to respond in the paper. However, I can observe that this would not necessarily have been in the plaintiff’s best interests. The only possible outcome I could see would be to add fuel to the fire Bolt was attempting to ignite with an explosion of feigned moral outrage. If I had been advising the nine my recommendation would have been not to engage with Bolt in the pages of his own newspaper. Bolt has previous form in these matters and he would know that anything the accused put forward in their defence would be used to further inflame the mob rule atmosphere that demagogues thrive in.

But on the last line “the social consequences of their choice to identify as Aboriginal” I can surmise that the irony of this comment is lost on the editorialist. One of the social consequences the plaintiffs had to endure was the vilification and opprobrium heaped on them by Andrew Bolt in his offending columns and by his legion of ill-informed fans who lap up his diatribes.

 

, ‘Free speech vital to society’ 12011, Herald Sun, 29 September, Editorial.

 

 


‘Free speech’ …the last defence of cowards and scoundrels

September 30, 2011

Freedom of speech is not freedom to say whatever you like, whenever you want about anything you please.

It’s not OK to use the pages of a newspaper or the bandwidth of a blog to defame and vilify people.

That’s why Herald Sun propagandist Andrew Bolt is crying crocodile tears over the Federal Court ruling that found he breached the Racial Discrimination Act in a 2009 column attacking so-called “light-skinned” Aborigines for – as Bolt would have it – milking the system to the detriment of “real” Aboriginal people.

Of course Bolt plays to his audience of dribblejaws. He stokes their prejudice and fans the flames of intolerance and white Australian grumpiness by simplifying his argument to the point of nonsense and focusing his attacks on the easy targets he knows will excite and agitate the usual suspects among dedicated Herald Sun readers.

He knows his coded racism will also act as dog whistle politics to those on the right fringes of Australia’s underbelly who see Bolt as some Glenn Beck-like messiah of salvation for that small-minded minority of Australian bigots who want a return to the days of the White Australia policy.

That’s why Bolt is a propagandist, not a journalist, not a columnist. He uses his position of influence to deliberately rake over these political coals attempting to catch a spark of righteous indignation.

That’s why Bolt deserved to go down in the Federal Court this week.

But of course, for a seasoned campaigner like Bolt, victory can be snatched from the jaws of defeat. In the Murdoch press war rooms up and down the east coast of Australia the planning included how to respond if Bolt lost his defence.

The editorials were already pencilled in and already paid-for tame opinionistas were phoned and told to sharpen their vitriolic pens ready to do battle on behalf of the Bolter.

One such is Gary Johns writing in The Australian. He returns to Bolt’s theme in an attempt to shore up the wrong argument that ‘free speech’ has been wounded by the Federal Court’s decision.

“The provisions of the act used to silence Bolt are bad law.”

Well, actually Bolt hasn’t been silenced – he had three pages to himself in the Herald Sun the day after the Federal Court decision and plenty of air time. No doubt he’ll come back to this on his TV platform too.

And the Racial Discrimination Act is not bad law. It is designed to prevent institutionalised and indiscriminate discrimination against those who have been historically and consistently marginalised in this still whiter-than-white nation.

What’s more surprising is that this is the first time the RDA has been used successfully against Bolt. He is a familiar face when it comes to racially-motivated diatribes against ‘difference’. Muslims and others have been targets before and will be in the future.

Johns’ defence of Bolt also revisits the ideas behind Bolt’s original offending pieces — that the group of nine who were named (and those like them) are light-skinned but identify as Aborigines “because there are public benefits in so identifying”.

This is the exact same defamatory imputation that Bolt made. It implies that this group chooses to identify as Aboriginal because they can milk the public purse by so doing.

As others have pointed out, Bolt’s words, phrases and meanings carried clearly defamatory imputations. His use of words like “official”, “political” and “professional” “white Aborigines” appear to knowingly damage the reputations of the people named in his columns.

More importantly, any defence Bolt might have to accusations of defamatory speech evaporate because he got even basic facts about his targets wrong. He wrote about one complainant that she had a white, German father. Problem was, Larissa Behrendt’s dad was an Aboriginal man.

When looking at this case over the past two days (I was living in New Zealand during 2009 when events happened and had not at that time read Bolt’s columns) I came to the same conclusion as David Marr:

Perhaps the Herald Sun and Bolt should be thanking their lucky stars not to be facing nine separate defamation trials.

[Freedom of Speech rides on - David Marr, SMH 29/9/11]

Yep, lucky that the nine complainants chose to use the Racial Discrimination Act where the test for harm is actually harder to pass than in defamation actions. The RDA contains a clause that explicitly defends freedom of speech when offensive speech is used “reasonably and in good faith”.

In the Federal Court it was proven that Bolt had not acted reasonably, or in good faith. He had knowingly used offensive speech for an explicit political purpose. To promote the myth of black privilege and to use this lie to incite hatred of his targets.

What Bolt and Johns fail to mention — though they both know it all too well — is that there is also public pain in identifying as Aboriginal in Australia. Just ask any dark-skinned Aborigine living in poverty and subject to daily racism anywhere in the country.

The myth of so-called black privilege is trotted out incessantly by the likes of Bolt – the cultural warriors who would do anything and say anything to carry out their jihad against “the left”.

These professional reputation killers know that they cannot muster any argument based on logic or rational attention to fact, so they make shit up and pander to the most base of prejudice in a small section of the community to rally the troops.

And the proof of this is in the Federal Court decision itself: Bolt got stuff wrong, he didn’t carry out basic journalistic checks on his sources (most of which were from a Google search), but found enough rubbish circulating in cyberspace to bolster his weak argument.

The judge also rightly skewers Bolt for being “intent on arguing a case”, but not making a “diligent attempt” to get the facts right.

Bolt doesn’t deny this point, but he won’t apologise or admit his mistakes to his acolytes and foot soldiers. To do so would expose as another lie the image he wants to present of himself as a martyred victim of political correctness gone wrong.

Johns tries to argue that Bolt has been prevented from discussing issues of what has become “cultural identity” in common parlance. But any honest reading of the Federal Court decision shows clearly that Judge Mordecai Bromberg explicity and rightly rejects this idea.

“In finding against [Bolt & the Herald Sun] I have taken into account the value of freedom of expression and the silencing consequences of finding a contravenion…Given the serious of the conduct involved, the silencing consequences appears to me to be justified…An expression of identity is itself an expression that freedom of expression serves to protect. That expression also derserves to be considered and valued.”

So the principle of free speech has consequences for those who choose to exercise it without due care and who knowingly claim the principle to defend wrong actions. But this point is not recognised by Bolt and his cheer squad.

In his defence of Bolt, Gary Johns intones the holy grail of the propagandist: “nothing is more sacred than free speech.”

This quasi-religious phrase is the last refuge of the coward and the scoundrel. Free speech is of course an important principle in any democratic society, but it is not the most sacred principle that a democratic society should uphold.

More important is a commitment to truth and to principles of common humanity and a commitment to fight racism and prejudice in all forms.

Bolt makes mealy-mouthed appeals to such principles as a sop to his base of supporters. He doesn’t really give a fuck. He is a paid propagandist and a mouthpiece for all that is vile and wrong in Australia today.

He should really just admit it, put on the black, shiny uniform and frog march his way into the history books.

Bye bye Bolter, I for one won’t miss you when you go.


Nonviolence, Media Freedom, Egypt and Fiji

February 20, 2011
“All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.”
T.E. Lawrence

Post by Dr Mark Hayes (Brisbane)

Browsing the dead tree edition of the Sydney Morning Herald for February 19, 2011, at Page 13, my weary eye chanced upon an article tagged ‘Inspiration’, headlined ‘Unassuming author helps write history‘ by Sheryl Gay Stolberg and sourced to the New York Times. Me being me, and always ‘going to the source’, I energized the mighty MacBook Pro and tracked down the original article. The New York Times helpfully assembles resources and other background materials so start there.

Some focused Googling (excuse the irritating neologism  :(  ) added quite a few other materials to my trawl on Gene Sharp, including this long interview on a US public radio station (13.3 Meg MP3; excuse the irritating donation pleas) and a fairly recent edited interview on YouTube.

This last item was occasioned after Gene was ‘outed’ as an American agent funded by the CIA to destabilize Iran, Venezuela, and generally being a Bush administration stooge. Several sources promptly, and vigorously, debunked this nonsense.

The genial Gene Sharp

However, the ‘Gene Sharp is a CIA agent’ fantasy surfaced again in Fiji in June, 2008, when then Fiji Human Rights Commissioner, Dr Shaista Shameem, released a report (2.41 Meg PDF) into the deportations of Fiji Sun publisher, Russell Hunter, and later, Fiji Times publisher, Evan Hannah, which, among many other very interesting things, uncovered a perfidious plot to destabilize the then ‘interim’ government by a cabal of media, lawyers, and foreign funded NGOs distributing and inspired by Gene Sharp’s The Anti-Coup booklet. Shock! Horror!

Dr Shaista Shameem clearly pulled down Gene Sharp’s entry on Wikipedia, selectively Googled some other stuff to bolster her paranoia and conspiracy theory, and evaluated that rubbish in a way that would get her failed in any half-decent high school or university subject.

Around the time of the 2006 Fiji coup, in Boston, USA, Ms Jamila Raqib, a staffer with the tiny non-violence think-tank, The Albert Einstein Institution, founded by Gene Sharp, was e-mailing copies of the institution’s 72-page The Anti-Coup Handbook to every email address she could find in Fiji.

“Individuals whom we were able to actually reach (I am excluding a number of emails that were returned to me as ‘undeliverable’) included a diverse group of more than 200 human rights organisations, government bodies, civil society groups, business councils, religious associations, as well as radio, television, newspaper, and web media networks to bring their attention to our publication,” Ms Raqib told me in an email at the time. Radio Australia also reported on this activity.

What annoyed me was that, drawing on an illegal, stolen, and selective e-mail trawl probably obtained by the Fiji military, or helpfully provided by a coup-supporting stooge inside Fiji’s largest ISP, Connect,com.fj, Dr Shameem didn’t out me as another source of subversive and inciteful materials because I, too, had e-mailed several Fiji contacts with copies of The Anti-Coup.

Gene Sharp, apparently, also terrifies the local military dictatorship in the South Pacific, not without reason, it seems.

Read the rest of this entry »


A letter from occupied Thialand

August 11, 2010

In Thailand, freedom of speech is a severe danger to the ruling class

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

Tantawut Taweewarodomkun (¸Ñ¹Âì°ÇØ²Ô ·ÇÕÇâôÁ¡ØÅ), U.D.D. USA’s web designer, known as “Red Eagle”, who was arrested on 1 April 2010, on “Computer Crimes” and lese majeste charges, has been remanded in custody until February 2011, when the court has set a date to interrogate prosecution and defence witnesses. That means that Red Eagle will be detained in prison for at least 10 months BEFORE being tried in court. He has only just had access to his lawyer. Red Eagle has not been charged with any crime of violence or charged with committing any physical act. He is accused of looking after a website which had comments which the royalist elites do not like (see http://www.norporchorusa.com and http://www.norporchorusa2.com).

Da Torpedo or Daranee Chancheangsilapakun (´ÒÃ³Õ ªÒ­àªÔ§ÈÔÅ»¡ØÅ) who is in jail serving an 18 year sentence for lese majeste, has again been denied bail pending an appeal. The judge claimed that hers was a “very serious crime” and that she would escape if given bail. Her brother has started a fund to support her. Anyone interested in donating should read the article in Prachatai. http://www.prachatai3.info/journal/2010/08/30636

Once again, echoing the Cold War era of Thai dictatorships, Thai university authorities have sent out a letter saying that all student activities must be closely monitored, including plays. This is because they don’t want any “political activities” on campus, except of course, the constant attempts to promote the Monarchy and the ruling elites…. which everyone knows are “not political”. Most Thai academics believe that the 2006 military coup was a “democratic coup” and that it is possible for the present junta to sponsor “political reform” under the guidance of a former unelected Prime Minister who served the military.

Earlier in 2008, fascist PAD leaders (who are backed by the army, the Monarchy, and the present Government) were given immediate bail over charges of occupying Government House. During the occupation, the PAD used violence and destroyed public property. After being granted bail, the PAD leaders immediately returned to the occupation, but no one was punished. They then went on to cause violent incidents outside parliament. In December 2008 they then seized the two international airports, preventing all flights in and out of Thailand. More recently have been busy trying to cause a war with Cambodia. Their latest gathering, which breaks the Government’s emergency decree, was blessed by military backed Prime Minister Abhisit.

The PAD leaders have used violence against other citizens, have damaged property and they have re-offended repeatedly. Yet they are all free.

There is also a great deal of evidence that millions of baht are being used in a corrupt manner to buy MPs and get them to change parties to join Pumjai Thai Party, which is in coalition with Abhisit’s so-called Democrat Party. These manoeuvrings are designed to “fix” any future elections because the Democrats and Pumjai Thai have never won a majority in a democratic election. Naturally, there are no charges being brought against Pumjai Thai, either for corruption or for electoral irregularities.

Queen Sirikit has once again violated the Constitution and intervened in politics by praising a letter which criticises CNN’s coverage of the Thai political crisis. Earlier Sirikit showed her blatant support for the PAD by attending the funeral of a PAD demonstrator. The PAD have made no secret of their aim to drastically reduce the democratic space in Thailand. Sirikit is celebrating her birthday in mid August. She will be called “the Mother of the Thai Nation” by toadies of the royalist elites. Yet, her mothering skills are highly questionable if the Crown Prince is anything to go by. Sirikit may not be the Mother of All Thais, but she is the initiator of the “mother of all squandering of public money”. In 1980 she spent 100 million baht on a 67 day holiday in the U.S.A.

King Pumipon has failed to carry out his duty as Head of State by remaining silent when the military –backed Government shot dead nearly 90 pro-democracy civilians between April and May 2010. In fact Pumipon has never done anything other than to support the ruling elites. Occasionally he preaches that the poor must be content with their poverty, while he, his family, and his cronies live in luxury.

But in Thailand, citizens are not allowed to speak these truths….. This is because the Monarchy has been deliberately been built into a sacred institution above criticism. A false image of its power has been deliberately fostered so that the army generals and the conservative elites can do as they please and destroy democracy, all in the name of the King.


The “godfather” of Chinese blogging: Isaac Mao in New Zealand

October 20, 2009

I’ve had the privilege in the last couple of days of spending quality time with Isaac Mao, the well-known Chinese blogger and social media enthusiast.

Isaac is in New Zealand this week on a speaking tour of J-schools generously sponsored by the Asia-New Zealand Foundation. Isaac’s passionate commitment to free speech and democratic ideals is clear from his thoughtful and fact-packed presentations. My only regret is that more of New Zealand’s blogging community didn’t take advantage of his two speaking dates in Auckland to actually meet with Isaac.

Despite the fact that a lot of people who should have known better chose to ignore what I think is an important event of interest to Kiwi bloggers, some media have taken a great interest in Isaac’s commentary on social media and the blogosphere in China.

Isaac Mao on Asian Report with Jason Moon National Radio 20 Oct 2009

more about “The “godfather” of Chinese blogging |…“, posted with vodpod

more about “World TV Ltd – www.wtv.co.nz“, posted with vodpod

You still have a couple of chances in Wellington, Christchurch and Rotorua, it is well worthwhile. Isaac is on his way to Los Angeles whree he is a speaker at UCLA’s 40th anniversary of the Internet conference. He’s also a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.2009


Gopalan Nair – a new charge and a tight chain

June 17, 2008

Singapore blogger, lawyer and general pain in the ass of the Singapore government, Gopalan Nair was back in court Monday. He is now facing new charges and his bail conditions mean that he has to report to the police station every morning at 9am and can be held there all day.

His life is on hold, but there is virtual silence from the blogosphere. What’s happened to all of the hype about freedom of expression.

Turn your back until it’s your turn to be persecuted, then wonder why you’re alone.

Do not forget the case of Gopalan Nair. Singapore today, where next?

Chia Ti Lik’s update 17 June 2008


Free at last: Chee Soon Juan and Chee Siok Chin out of gaol

June 16, 2008

Good news, Chee Soon Juan and Chee Siok Chin were released from prison. Siok Chin came out on Saturday and Soon Juan yesterday (Sunday). The news was reported on the Singapore Democrats site. Which also features a longer piece by human rights lawyer, Chia Ti Lik.

Mr Chia’s post is a strong rebuttal of denigrating attacks on Chee Soon Juan in the government-controlled Singapore press.


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