There are two certainties about the Weekend Australian that make a weekly reading of it a tiresome duty.
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?
Before Bolt there was no problem with 18C or 18D, so what’s the problem now?
The problem is that people like Bolt have relied on the exercise of their privileged right to speak and to pontificate from the bully pulpits of their newspaper columns, company-supported blogs and subsidised television soapboxes.
The problem for these defenders of privilege is that their right is now being challenged by other voices not under their control. But it would seem self-serving for them to rally around that particular battle cry and also perhaps a bit vulgar.
So, instead, they pretend that there is a ‘war’ against freedom of speech; a war that demands their sacrifice and fusillades from the ramparts of conservatism.
As we will see, in order to campaign for their rights, the rights of others have to be trampled and history has to be rewritten. Like Winston Smith in 1984, but without the insight, they throw yesterday’s version into the memory hole and recast today in light of tomorrow’s political imperative.
Liberty’s valiant defenders?
It’s not so long since the valiant libertarian stormtroopers of News Limited fought off the attacks of the former ALP government who tried to impose Stalinesque totalitarian censorship on the heroic champions of freedom – Rupert Murdoch and the Institute of Public Affairs.
It really was a blitzkrieg of freedom.
Now Liberty’s defenders are once again throwing themselves selflessly into the breach against the black hundreds of the “Left” who want nothing more than to close down Murdoch’s tribunes of freedom so that they can make us all into tofu-munching, multicultural poofter-loving, tree-hugging, anti-fracking drones who will then undo all of God’s work by making everyone equal by abolishing the right to live in poverty while the one percenters further bloat themselves at our expense and the planet falls into a smog-induced coma.
There is only one way to describe the hive mind ideas that circulate in the corridors of News Limited where the air is thick with intrigue and Left conspiracy theories — WHACKY. The feeling created from the combination of a lack of oxygen and sunlight is one of free speech fundamentalism and the coma-like state is maintained through the mandated ingestion of the company Kool Aid.
Free speech fundamentalism
I use the term free speech fundamentalism to describe the zealotry with which The Weekend Australian (emblematic of the output from the Limited News presses) pursues the cause of repealing Section 18C of the RDA.
The approach is well characterised by this week’s guest contributor to The Weekend Australian (29-30 March 2014), Gabriel Sassoon.
Sassoon is straight from Central Casting and he is perfect for the walk-on role he’s been allocated in this free speech drama. According to the bio supplied, Sassoon is an ALP member [tick the box]; he is Jewish [tick the box]; he claims to be a fighter for human rights and he works in Tel Aviv for members of the Israeli Labour Party [presumably this absolves him from supporting real human rights for Palestinians living in the Occuppied Territories].
Presumably, the fact that Sassoon is Jewish is also useful because it means that anyone who criticises him can be tarred with the accusation of anti-Semitism, the veil behind which the pro-Israel lobby likes to conceal its own apartheid atrocities. I mention this because, as we see from the Weekend Australian’s editorial on the issue of 18C, other regular contributors to the fundamentalist cause are more than happy to wrongly conflate the anti-Zionism of the BDS campaign with anti-Semitism in order to attack it.
The fundamentalist approach is well articulated in Sassoon’s opening comments:
The measure of a society’s commitment to free speech is the extent to which it protects offensive, unpopular speech. Free speech is hard: it has any meaning only if it protects the most virulent and obnoxious of views.
Further definition is given a few pars later:
…free speech is the pre-eminent human right…free speech is the right from which all others flow. It is the right that guarantees all others.
Sassoon continues in this vein for some 600+ words on page 1 and 2.
Why should virulent and obnoxious views be protected as free speech. What right do racists, homophobes, sexist cretins and other hate speakers have to poison the world with their vile and uncomplicated idiotic and disproven prejudices?
Surely a sane person would argue the opposite; that is that the victims of hate speech actually deserve the right to protection from obnoxious bullies and fuckwits.
Inevitably, this commissioned opinion piece of dogrel and drivel is flagged as an
EXCLUSIVE EXCUSIVE by the paper, but it is not remotely news-related, nor is it reporting.
But let’s focus, for a moment, on the idea that free speech is the ‘pre-eminent human right’ that ‘guarantees all others’.
In my view this is a theological doctrine of the free speech fundamentalists that does not stand even a second of scrutiny. You only have to look at the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as adopted in 1948 by the United Nations to see that freedom of speech is actually quite low in the heirarchy established some 65 years ago.
The first ‘right’ established at Article 1 of the Declaration reads as follows:
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Leaving aside the archaic and sexist use of the term ‘brotherhood’ here, the key issue seems to be ‘free and equal in dignity and rights’ and that people should act towards one another in a spirit of generosity that maintains the dignity of both parties.
Racists and other bigots breach this principle every time they open their foul gobs.
The second article is about the universal application of the rights espoused in the Declaration’s 30 clauses. The real work begins in Article 3 and — surprisingly perhaps — it is NOT about freedom of speech.
Article 3: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
This is the fundamental right — the right to not be murdered, to not be wrongly-imprisoned and the right not to be beaten-up or otherwise have your ‘security of person’ interfered with.
What use is the right to speak if your speech does not lead to action or consequence? Articles 4 & 5 are about freedom from slavery and freedom from torture.
Articles 6 through to 12 are about rights before the law. Article 13 is about freedom of movement and migration.
Article 14 is about the right to seek asylum, but this one it seems does not apply to those seeking asylum in Australia who travel by sea. Funnily enough, none of the free speech fundamentalists has yet spoken up about these rights. Most of them actually support Abbott on this – certainly News Limited and the IPA are right behind Operation Sovereign Borders.
News Limited has taken a vow of silence on any criticism of Scott Morrison and has been a champion of punishing the ABC for exercising its right to broadcast uncomfortable news about the asylum-seeker issue.
Article 15 is about the right to a nationality (again, not apparently applicable to Palestinians in the Occuppied Territories); 16 is about freedom to marry; 17 is about freedom to own property; 18 is about freedom of ‘thought, conscience and religion’ and 19 is about free speech.
Yes, that’s right; according to the collective wisdom of the United Nations (for better or worse) in 1948, the right to freedom of expression is number 19 on a list of 30. You might have thought that if the UN shared the libertarian obsession with freedom of speech it would have rated much higher than it does. you might also have expected that it would have a pre-eminent place in the Preamble, but it doesn’t.
Pre-eminent in the Preample is this phrase:
…recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
So we come, at last to free speech:
Article 19: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Article 20 is related to this — it is the right to freedom of assembly.
And coincidentally (or not), both the IPA and News Limited are only supporters of a limited application of Article 20. Both are enthusiastic supporters of the governments war on the trade union movement.
Forgive me for thinking they are not to be trusted when it comes to protecting my freedom of speech or of assembly through my trade union membership and forgive me for calling them stinking fucking hypocrites, for that is surely what they are.
So, for the drafters of the Universal Declaration this trio – freedom of religion, expression and assembly, are important, but not pre-eminent. They are in the bottom half of the list.
The last third of the Declaration is about the right to a job, a house, food, education and participation in cultural life. All of these are important and in my view a home, a full belly, reading and writing and the ability to sing and dance without persecution are all precursor rights to the right to freedom of speech if it is to mean anything at all.
Now to the objections. For the fundamentalists this document is flawed because it does not support their libertarian hierarchy of rights that fetishises freedom of speech. They would argue that it reflects the Left’s emphasis on conformity and group rights over individual rights, but that is no more than sophistry and sophistry is a polite way of saying it is fucking bullshit.
The Declaration was written by the nations that emerged victorious from the Second World War and it was crafted by these imperial leaders against a backdrop of a global war in which the horrors of Fascism were all too clear to see in Spain, Italy and Germany. However, there is a view of history much more favourable to the free speech fundamentalists and it too was on display in the Weekend Australian.
It is a view that it is all the fault of Stalin and his namby-pamby apologists in the West (seriously).
You see, if it is possible to reach back into a doctored and distorted view of history to justify a cause then Brendan O’Neill is the right man for the job.
In a turgid and almost unreadable slab of badly organised and poorly-argued prose (for poetry it is not), the fake former Left , now libertarian knob, Brendan O’Neill writes from London (yes, it is a long way from here) that a ban on hate speech actually helped the Nazis come to power in pre-war Germany.
‘Far from halting Nazism, hate speech legislation assisted it,’ O’Neill writes in the last but one par of an article under the headline ‘How a ban on hate speech helped the Nazis‘. This is a ludicrous view of how and why Hitler and the Nazis came to power in Germany in the 1930s.
More important — I would think — is the economic crisis imposed on Germany by the Treaty of Versailles, the defeat of German social democracy and the failure of revolution in the 1920s. To blame one small piece of Weimar legislation for the rise of Hitler is an insulting, misleading and ahistorical piece of sophistry (see earlier definition).
More interestingly, O’Neill blames the former Soviet Union for the mess we are in today; his Cold War zealotry knows no bounds. It seems, if you can believe O’Neill’s imaginary history, that the Russians were so intent on undermining the West that they insisted for 30 years on inserting a clause against racist abuse in international conventions and this led eventually to laws against hate speech in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
So the story of hate speech laws is a story of the West’s slow but sure ditching of freedom of speech. Where once Western leaders opposed the criminalisation of word — “whatever their nature” — more recently we’ve come to see certain speech as dangerous after all, and something that must be punished.
We’re witnessing the victory of the Soviet view of speech as bad and censorship as good, with various members of the modern West’s chattering classes unwittingly aping yesteryear’s communist tyrants…
“chattering classes” is O’Neill’s unintentionally ironic euphemism for the Left. It’s ironic because he and his co-offenders around the Kool Aid dispenser are the epitome of the incessant and stale chatter that passes for educated opinion in rags like the Weekend Australian.
The purpose is clear in these passages — there is a direct link between Stalinist Russia and the modern Left that is unbroken. This of course is no more than a convenient lie, but repeated often enough (and it is repeated every day in the Murdoch press) it will come to pass.
The right to be a racist fuck
I am grateful to Brendan O’Neill for one thing — he makes it clear that what he is arguing for is the right to be a racist fuck. It is important to put this on the record and to challenge everyone who wants to repeal 18C to clearly say if this is actually what they intend to support. I will come back to this in the context of the odious John Roskam and the disgustingly vile Institute of Public Affairs, but first here’s Mr O’Neill.
The Bolt case is no Aussie one-off — it’s better understood as part of a global war against so-called hate speech, where states are clamping down on what they consider to be offensive words, and in the process are criminalising certain moral, political and religious world views and trampling on freedom of speech.
This is just plain stupid. The way that O’Neill and his fellow Kool Aid warriors write about this issue it gives the impression (deliberately) that some how the free speech fundamentalist are fighting a defensive battle against further encroachments on their rights. This is simply not the case, it is a distortion designed to make out that they are the victims in this matter and that ‘the sate’ is in the hands of insidious creepy faceless Lefties who are intent on turning the world into some Soviet-style dystopia.
For fuck sake, these arseholes do not even believe their own propaganda. It is the height of their arrogance that they think the rest of us are dupes who will simply swallow their dire “warnings” as if there is gospel truth in their lies. It is time to turn the question back on these monsters (I’m looking at Brendan O’Neill’s hideous mugshot as I write this).
Is it right that former actor Brigitte Bardot can incite racial hatred through publicising her views about Islam and Muslims in France? Bardot has been prosecuted five times through the French legal system for inciting racial discrimination and hatred. Wouldn’t most civilised people be appalled that anyone could get away with incitement to racially-based hatred and violence?
O’Neill slides past most of Bardot’s more outrageous statements by suggesting that she is no more than an animal rights activist who has been misunderstood and persecuted under archaic French laws. But her comments, going back more than a decade, are consistently racist. O’Neill also conveniently doesn’t mention Bardot’s links to the notorious proto-Fascist party of Le Pen, the French National Front.
Here’s a few of Bardot’s choice thoughts:
In 2004 in which she alluded to Muslims as “this population that leads us around by the nose, [and] which destroys our country.”
“…my country, France, my homeland, my land is again invaded by an overpopulation of foreigners, especially Muslims.”
“I am fed up with being under the thumb of this population which is destroying us, destroying our country and imposing its acts,”
generally associating Islam with the 9/11 terror attacks, and denouncing the “Islamization of France” by people she described as “invaders”.
Brigitte Bardot, by the way, may not be just an anti-Muslim bigot. She has also attacked gays, immigrants, and the unemployed. But not all is lost. She is an avowed lover of animals.
O’Neill is also upset that it is against the law to denigrate religion, or that in Finland and Germany it is against the law to slander on the basis of race. Turn this around and it actually seems quite reasonable that civilised countries would outlaw virulent racism. After all, the very first article of the UN Declaration says that everyone has a right to their dignity and racist abuse – whether mere mockery or the more dangerous incitement to violence – surely is an attack on personal dignity.
Surely the question we have to ask O’Neill and his fellow travelers is: Why are you so insistent in your defence of the rights of bigots and fucking racist fucks?
What is the purpose of your free speech zealotry? Is it to give voice to that most oppressed of political subjects — the right-wing, white, middle class, middle-aged, wealth-hogging fuckwits like yourselves who suffer under the yoke of imagined political correctness?
It sure looks like that when you see who’s in bed with whom on this issue.
The zealotry of IPA knows no bounds
There was an enlightening exchange between John Roskam (executive director of the IPA) and ABC talkbot Jon Faine earlier this week in which Roskam made it clear that he is in favour of the right to bigotry.
Roskam asked the most pertinent question in this debate: (paraphrase, I don’t have a transcript) Should it be against the law to be racist?
His answer is a resounding “No”, but to his credit Jon Faine seemed to think that the right to be a bigot was one of the most offensive lines he’d ever heard.
This really is at the nub of the debate about the repeal of 18C.
Is it OK to publicly air your racist views and prejudices without some form of social sanction?
The IPA’s position has been made clear, time and time again: the organisation wants the right to be racist protected from legislation. Here’s a speech from prominent Liberal and IPA supporter, David Kemp
The federal law depends on the nation that there is something special about a racial insult, but is there? Why is a special law needed for racial insults?
Kemp then makes a tactical elision in his argument, referring to ‘overblown rhetoric’ and arguing that rhetoric alone is not enough to cause offence. But he deliberately hides the real point — that words precede action.
In the Bolt case the words were not uttered to be mere words alone. Bolt always has a political purpose — to advance the cause of conservatism in the service of capitalism and its ruling class — and the purpose of stirring racism by uttering racist crap is to divide and to sow division among workers so that they are easier to manipulate and manage.
As a decorated class warrior David Kemp knows this, but he can’t say it out loud, lest his political mission be exposed.
Here’s another quick snapshot of the IPA’s views on Section 18C and 18D taken from another speech, this time from James Allen.
Think about it. Someone’s subjective sense of being offended or humiliated has been made determinative of whether an unlawful act has been committed, subject to a few exemptions in section 18D.
…So what they really want is a right not to be offended, as long as it’s the sort of things a good chardonnay-sipping member of the progressive elite ought to be offended about, nothing else.
Again, the real point is deliberately missed in a dig at the ‘progressive elite’. The targets of racial vilification – those who are really offended, insulted and intimidated by racist speech — are those less able to defend themselves. It is the factory workers with poor English skills who work long hours in low paid jobs and struggle to meet the requirements of decent food, housing, education and participation who are most at risk. In fact the very people that the drafters of the Universal Declaration had in mind in 1948.
It is hard not to conclude that the IPA is in favour of rights for racists, but not for the victims of racism. This is from the IPA’s Legal Rights Project, Simon Breheny:
“The Abbott government must rule out introducing any new laws that would restrict freedom of speech,” said Simon Breheny, director of the Legal Rights Project at free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs.
Mr Breheny’s comments follow recent media reports where Commonwealth Attorney-General George Brandis suggested the Abbott government is considering the introduction of a new criminal law of incitement to racial hatred.
The new law would expand the scope of the existing section 80.2A of the Commonwealth Criminal Code which establishes a crime of incitement to violence on the basis of race, religion, nationality or ethnic origin or political opinion.
“The establishment of a crime for incitement to racial hatred would be a dangerous restriction on freedom of speech. If it had been in place in 2011, Andrew Bolt could have been sent to jail,” said Mr Breheny.
This proposal is part of the Coalition’s response to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. Section 18C was the law used to take Herald Sun journalist Andrew Bolt to court in 2011 over two articles he had written on a matter of public policy in 2009. The provision makes it unlawful to “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” a person because of race, nationality or ethnicity.
“Section 18C is a significant limitation on freedom of speech. The Coalition acknowledged the negative impact this law has on free speech while in opposition, and on several occasions promised to repeal it,” said Mr Breheny.
“Now the Coalition has won government it must act on its election commitment. But recent media reports have suggested the government is planning to only remove the words “offend” and “insult” from the provision. Merely amending section 18C would fail to restore free speech in Australia,” said Mr Breheny.
And in case you think there is no conscious cooperation between the IPA and News Limited, here’s the last line of Mr Breheny’s media release:
Mr Breheny has written an article which appears in The Australian today explaining the free speech implications of the proposals under consideration by the Abbott government.
So not only does the IPA and its libertarian lunatic fringe want 18C repealed they are also for decriminalising hate speech.
You guys are fucking unbelievable.
And the last word goes to a former Twit
The best news I heard in a while came last weekend when I read that the embodiment of ugly Mr Chris Kenny had decided to quit Twitter. Unfortunately he has not given up his almost unreadable column in The Weekend Australian.
Instead he is back this week to back-end the paper’s campaign against 18C.
As usual, Kenny begins with a mis-statement of the truth (I don’t want him to sue me for accusing him of lying). He says that the offending columns written by Andrew Bolt are ‘banned from republication — they are the uncolumns’. This is actually not really accurate.
Why anyone would want to republish the columns is beyond me, they have been found to be riddled with inaccuracies; but the implication in this statement from Kenny is that you can no longer read them, that they have some how been unpublished.
They are freely available for download and online reading. Here is White fellas in the black and here is It’s so hip to be black, (incidently these links are to the Herald Sun where the articles were originally published)
So much for the campaign propaganda point that Bolt has been censored and his columns taken down.
Also, as usual for Kenny, the column is full of rubbish, unsubstantiated and difficult to follow comments about how the rest of the media world (ie: journalists outside News Limited who think for themselves) don’t get how badly treated Bolt was and how damaging 18C and 18D really are. Here’s a sample:
And so we come to realise that the “permanent oppositional, moral-political community” is actually quite submissive.
The progressives, or Green Left — so lovingly described in those terms by Robert Manne — have been less than oppositional when it comes to recent attacks on freedom of expression.
They seem to ration their liberalism depending on the perceived partisan leanings of the proponent or defendant. The acquiescence of the permanent oppositional moral-political community exists even though they count as their own large elements of the Canberra press gallery and journalists elsewhere. They give free speech short shrift.
The phrase in quote marks “permanent oppositional moral-political community” must come from somewhere, but that where is not clear, maybe it’s Robert Manne. What is clear is the metaphoric and actual link between this column on page 22 and O’Neill’s diatribe on pages 13 and 16. The Green Left is a direct descendent of Stalin (which, incidentally is also laughably and demonstrably untrue).
The true purpose of Murdoch’s true believers and IPA fanatics is also revealed — to defend Andrew Bolt’s columns. To do this, the sharp racist tone of Bolt’s “uncolumns” is pissed away and replaced with anodyne and safe phrases like this:
As it happens, Bolt’s columns were appeals against race-based preferment and the temptation to parade one aspect of our ethnic make-up over any other.
The columns highlighted an extremely significant issue about whether grants and positions for indigenous Australians are going to those suffering discrimination or disadvantage or whether, at least sometimes, they go to those simply able to demonstrate a connection.
Utter crap and more sophistry. The real point of Bolt’s columns was to accuse the nine people he named in the two articles of only pretending to be Aboriginal in order to claim benefits and he is pointing this out directly to his readers, encouraging them to show animosity towards the named individuals. Here’s what he wrote in ‘White fellas in the black’ (It’s so hip to be black):
…that’s modern race politics at our universities and anywhere else where grants and privileges are now doled out.
Hear that scuffling at the trough? That’s the sound of black people being elbowed out by white people shouting “but I’m Aboriginal, too”. Hark! – is that a man’s voice I now hear bellowing: “And I’m an Aboriginal woman.”
You see, Mellor and McMillan are representatives of a booming new class of victim you’d never have imagined we’d have to support with special prizes and jobs.
They are “white Aborigines” – people who, out of their multi-stranded but largely European genealogy, decide to identify with the thinnest of all those strands, and the one that’s contributed least to their looks. Yes, the Aboriginal one now so fashionable among artists and academics.
This is from White is the new black:
Her father was Swiss, and her mother only part-Aboriginal. Racially, if these things mattered, she is more Caucasian than anything else. Culturally, she’s more European. In looks, she’s Swiss.
But she, too, has chosen to call herself Aboriginal, which happily means she could be shortlisted for this year’s Victorian Indigenous Art Award.
Shall I go on? Not yet convinced that there is a whole new fashion in academia, the arts and professional activism to identify as Aboriginal?
Not yet convinced that for many of these fair Aborigines, the choice to be Aboriginal can seem almost arbitrary and intensely political, given how many of their ancestors are in fact Caucasian?
Kenny calls Bolt’s columns “challenging and provocative”, this is just bollox. They are written to invite a response from readers, in other words, to incite hatred towards the named persons. Not only that, they were riddled with errors and written in a nasty tone designed to dog whistle his supporters among the dregs of Herald Sun readers. The case resulted in a ruling that Bolt’s columns were likely to cause offence and hurt to the named people, but also to other individuals who may identify as Aboriginal, but be ‘light-skinned’. Fair enough; the judge ruled that there would be offence, humiliation and hurt among this group of people and in doing so relied on S18C and S18D.
This is why News Limited and the IPA are campaigning for their repeal. Kenny uses his original mis-statement to conclude his diatribble:
The 18C amendments are necessary to ensure we see no more columns banned
Well they weren’t fucking banned you idiot.
Let me leave you with another mis-statement. This one is from Mr O’Neill and is an invocation of Godwin’s Law, so has no credibility, except it is a nice (though not thought through by O’Neill) statement about how Bolt and his supporters are campaigning against 18c:
The Nazis turned their prosecutions for hate speech to their advantage, presenting themselves as political victims and whipping up public support among aggrieved sections of German society, their future social base.
Here’s an anthem for all the underprivileged white racists out there who think Andrew Bolt is a victim.