Where’s #FreeSpeech Bill when we need him?

February 13, 2017

The Australian’s highly-phobic cartoonist Bill Leak usually has plenty to say about freedom of speech and freedom of expression. He’s always in the frontline and mounting the Holt Street barricades whenever there’s a call to arms over some egregious complaint against his master’s voice.

You can’t silence Bleak when there’s gay Nazis to be mown down, or when a politically-correct snowflake “victim” demands equal rights, or a Muslim family claims institutional racism.

“Certainly a BLeak view”. Screenshot and artwork by @ethicalmartini

Therefore, I find it strange that he’s been eerily silent recently about the plight of fellow cartoonists who are feeling the sting of an unjust law.

The Cartoonist Rights Network International (@CRNetint on Twitter) is currently featuring three incarcerated cartoonists on its homepage:

Zunar (Image courtesy of CRNI)

(1) Zunar, a Malaysian cartoonist currently challenging state-sponsored censorship on multiple fronts. He is subject to a travel ban, is facing multiple charges of sedition, and suffers continual harassment by police and supporters of the government.

Drawing of Musa Kart from an exhibition in his honour (Used with permission)

(2) Turkish political cartoonist and Courage in Editorial Cartoon Award winner Musa Kart, who has spent over 100 days in custody after he and several colleagues from Cumhuriyet newspaper were arrested and charged with ‘crimes on behalf of the Fethullahist Terror Organisation and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)‘.

(3) The winner of the 2016 Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award Eaten Fish, who is currently held in an Australian refugee rendition camp in Papua New Guinea and who has been on a hunger strike for over 10 days.

Cartoon by Glen Le Lievre in support of Eaten Fish (Used with permission of artist)

Dave Pope is one of many international cartoonists who has drawn a powerful cartoon in support of Musa Kart as part of the CRNI’s campaign to have all three cartoonists released.

(Cartoon used with the permission of artist, David Pope)

Mr Eaten Fish is dying on Manus Island

The dire situation of Eaten Fish is yet another Manus Island horror story.

Eaten is close to death. He has been on a hunger strike because the authorities on Manus Island (which is part of Papua New Guinea) refuse to deal with his serious allegations of sexual and physical assault. He weighs only 48 kilos. The guards have told him he is to be returned to the compound where he is unsafe.

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Trump and the media – who to believe?

January 17, 2017

Why the Donald should be pissed at Buzzfeed

The disinformation swirling around President-elect Donald J. Trump (savour that phrase for a moment) is so dense and toxic that it is virtually impossible to work out fact from fiction.

Did the PEOTUS indulge in watersports with Russian prostitutes in a honeytrap set by Putin to compromise him? Did Trump openly mock a disabled journalist during the campaign?

Only the video can give us an indication of the veracity of these two statements. Video of Trump mocking the journalist does exist, rendering Trump’s denials this week, redundant.

However, we are yet to see proof of the golden shower incident, even though, according to one source, the Russian security service (FSB) has the ‘tape’.

The document containing this startling and salacious allegation has apparently been circulating in Washington DC political circles since October, but it was published only this week by the news and listicle website, Buzzfeed. As you might expect, this sparked a political storm, with Trump issuing angry denials via Twitter and in a long-awaited media conference (His first in almost six months).

But can we rely on the Buzzfeed report, or more importantly, on the ‘dosssier’ itself. Buzzfeed’s motivation in publishing the report appears to be simple and self-serving: to generate clicks through to its website and boost its SEO rankings. We shouldn’t be surprised, this is a website renowned for dodgy, traffic-boosting tricks.

Even the three by-lined reporters who put together the Buzzfeed story, seemed keen to distance themselves from the leaked document, allegedly compiled by someone who claims to have worked for British intelligence (this is almost as unproveable as the claims made in the document itself).

Never mind the lack of verification, posting the document has done the trick it was intended to perform – within just six hours of the story being posted it had been viewed over two-million times. The rest of the media was also talking about the story, and about Buzzfeed.

As The Guardian reported, redacted versions of the document were known to US officials weeks ago and a summary of their contents had been given to both Trump and President Obama in recent days. But CNN and other media, including The Guardian, decided against publishing the full package because of the problem of verification. In fact, the CNN story would have disappeared if Buzzfeed hadn’t jumped on the bandwagon.

Trump, whatever you might think of him, has every right to be annoyed that this dossier has been published because it contains unsubstantiated claims that are highly-damaging and, in some jurisdictions, including Australia, would be considered defamatory.

How is publication justified?

I cannot stress this enough: there is no independent, reliable corroboration of anything in the dossier. In fact, it is likely that there is a strong political motive for the existence of this document, it could have come from anywhere and anyone with access to a keyboard could have written it. Media claims that the document was written by ‘a former western counter-intelligence official, now working as a private consultant’ (as reported in The Guardian) are also suspect. Who knows for sure where this dossier originated? The author is reported to be in hiding and in fear for his life now that the document has become public. He has been identified as Christopher Steele, a former British agent who now works for a private investigations firm.

Unless there is some form of proof that is reliable – for instance, the author is named and verified – we are right to be sceptical about the whole document, its contents and its conclusions.

Before backing away in subsequent editions, The Guardian, at first, appeared to give some credence to the dossier – and its author – by reporting comments by an un-named US official.

‘An official in the US administration who spoke to the Guardian described the source who wrote the intelligence report as consistently reliable, meticulous and well-informed, with a reputation for having extensive Russian contacts.’

But, this is not good enough for such explosive claims.

Given all the known unknowns about this dossier, how does Buzzfeed justify publication of salacious, unproven, highly-defamatory and likely made-up assertions about the man voters (rightly or wrongly) chose to govern the most powerful nation on the planet?

You can read the rest of this post at Independent Australia

 


Truth goes down the NewsCorpse memory hole

November 10, 2016

In a rambling and almost pointless column in The Australian on 2 November: THE MIND CODDLES, ultra-conservative Murdoch calumnist Janet Albrechtsen lamented the rise of so-called ‘political correctness’ on American university campuses and she cited an increase in administrative attempts to impose ‘trigger warnings’ on the content of some course materials to prove her point.

albrechtsen1

Janet Albrechtsen writes opinion to order for Rupert and Boris

Albrechtsen tapped into the NewsCorpse hive mind in preparing this article. In the first instance, she borrowed the idea from an October 10th column by the Herald Sun’s Rita Panahi, whose intemperate language and abusive tone goes unchecked by her editors. Albrechtsen also returned to the ‘yoga pants man’ imbroglio that we discussed in last week’s Media Sauce.

Then, a few days after the Albrechtsen column, ‘emeritus’ (simply means unpaid) Professor John Carroll returned to the theme in an opinion piece about the evils of Section 18C of the Human Rights Act: ‘Anguish is exquisite for wielders of 18C’.

carroll1

I’ve already been down the 18C rabbit hole and will go there again later this week, but for now I want to introduce you to the News Corp methods of groupthink and pushing inconvenient facts down the memory hole.

Groupthink is easy; it is represented clearly in the way that News Corp editorial and political lines are set at a high level and then all news and opinion reproduces the lines day after day. The current and increasingly vicious campaign against the Human Rights Commission and Section 18C of the anti-discrimination legislation is a paradigm example. I have written extensively on this phenomenon over on my blog, Ethical Martini. The simple point about the memory hole is that it permits the perpetrators of groupthink to deny that they do it, through the simple act of forgetting.

So firstly, permit me a short diversion into George Orwell’s magnificent novel of dystopian state capitalism, Nineteen Eighty-four.

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Dear Grace, I’m bending over for you

November 1, 2016

It takes a lot to rile the Doc. I’m not easily offended or upset, but the rank hypocrisy of the free speech fundamentalists tends to make me hot under the collar.

Today my blood is at boiling point, thanks to an opinion piece in the Weekend Australian by Grace Collier.

It's behind a paywall, don't bother

It’s behind a paywall, don’t bother

You might remember Grace from her recent appearance on the ABC’s QandA, which is increasingly no more than a free platform for pontificating NewsCorpse hacks. On the 17th of October, Ms Collier told Australia’s more than 700,000 unemployed that they should use their shrinking benefit payments to start their own business. That’s also really helpful advice for the estimated 2.2 million working Australians living below the poverty line.

Collier’s comments were made on a night when the NewsCorpse bias on QandA just oozed from the screen. Alongside Collier were Professor Judith Sloan and the Institute of Public Affairs’ John Roskam. Both Sloan and Roskam can be found tucked up on the op-ed pages of The Australian and Weekend Australian next to Ms Collier.

Ms Collier’s performance was a remarkable display of arrogance and ignorance, and as I always say, there’s nothing worse than a stupid person with strong opinions. Take a bow Grace; if the shoe fits, wear it.

Collier was rude, and constantly interjected over the top of other guests, in particular Greens senator Richard di Natale and ACTU president, Ged Kearney.

I’ve taken the trouble to watch the clip again and provide a transcript of sorts, it makes interesting, if cringeworthy reading.

The exchange starts with Collier

‘Nobody has an entitlement to a job…Society doesn’t owe you a job.’

This is just classic libertarian ideology. The statement contains as much social science as an icy pole; it goes no further than being a common-sense view, too common to the conservative free market proselytisers. Collier then continues:

‘In reality there’s one person in this world that can guarantee a happy future for you, and that person stares at you in the mirror every morning.

‘Work out what you’re good at and try and make a career out of it.’

Again, we’ve heard it all before, if you’re unemployed and unhappy, it’s your fault, etc etc. The last bit of advice here is what a 15-year-old might get from the school careers counsellor – if the school can bloody afford one! It is not a prescription for solving the unemployment crisis.

Then, when Richard di Natale points out that there are more unemployed than there are vacant jobs, Collier interjects:

‘People can start businesses.’

Yep, the solution to unemployment is for all the dole bludgers to steal a second-hand lawn mower, stick a sign on a telegraph pole near their house and start a landscaping business. I told you stupid people and strong opinions were a dangerous mix.

Di Natale tries very hard to make his point and keep the discussion at a level above Collier’s kindergarten commentary, but she continues interjecting, as if repetition can make her wishes come true.

‘People can start their own businesses.’

At this point, there’s an audible groan from the QandA audience, as you might expect, seeing as it is deliberately stacked with Green Left Weekly readers and Labor Party plants (according to Mr C Kenny).

Instead of taking her cue from the obviously bored audience, Collier doubles down on the stupid.

‘Oh it’s terrible isn’t it,’ Ms Collier says sarcastically and she continues in this vein:

‘Wouldn’t it be awful to have to start your own business.’

When Senator di Natale tries to give Ms Collier a simple lesson in real world economics, she’s not having a bar of it and taunts him with this brilliant comeback:

‘Why don’t you start a business and hire some people?’

When Ged Kearney tries to jump in here and make a point, Collier continues her schoolyard taunting:

‘Go on, go on, I dare you.’

This is from a woman who claims to have some expertise in life and enough ego to think that offering advice to senators and leading trade unionists is somehow clever, smart and appropriate for a QandA panel.

Nah, it’s not clever. Let me tell you Grace it comes across as arrogant, rude and stupid.

At least Ms Collier had the decency to start her ranting and taunting with perhaps the only honest and accurate statement she made all night.

‘Oh look, I’m going to offend everyone in the room.’

Yes, you probably were, but then again Grace, you think that’s the role of a free-thinker and iconoclast. Trouble is you are neither a thinker nor an iconoclast, you are just a more simplified clone version of every other well-upholstered armchair philosopher who is given far too much space and freedom to write shite for the Murdoch press.

And that, dear reader, is how you do a segue.

Fast-forward two weeks to the Weekend Australian of 29 October 2016.

Ms Collier is leaving our shores for a little while. It seems she is off to the United States to perhaps offer some advice to presidential candidate Donald J Trump. Maybe she will get to go on one of those God-awful Fox programs and tell 92 million unemployed Americans that they should live the dream and start their own businesses. But I don’t think there are 92 million second-hand lawnmowers lying around along Route 66.

However, to the point.

Before Grace left Australia she wrote one last column for the Weekend Australian under the headline BENDING OVER BACKWARDS TO TAKE OFFENCE AT EVERY TURN (as I wrote last week, Boris uses a crayon to scribble out the headlines before the typographers compose the pages).

I was so disturbed by this column that I woke up in the middle of the night (between Saturday and Sunday) and I wrote Ms Collier a little letter. I was going to hold it over till my next Media Sauce column, but as we say here in Detox Mansion, ‘Better out than in.’ So here goes.

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The continuing education of a young badger: Speech has consequences

October 24, 2016

In a recent post, I promised an update if I heard again from the young badger who goes by the moniker Lushington Dalrymple Brady.

I had cause recently to correspond with ‘Mr Brady’ about a blog post he wrote and published on A Devil’s Curmudgeon. The post was a critique of my views about free speech, the Andrew Bolt case and my resignation from Deakin earlier in 2016. I responded in an email, which caused the badger to reconsider and publish an update. I accepted that at face value and published my own post, including some of the correspondence.

I challenged ‘Mr Brady’ to come clean and tell me his real name, and to explain why he felt it necessary to hide behind a name so ludicrous, and such a confection, that even my spell-check has trouble not laughing. Well, I got a response, which I’ll get to shortly. But first, I wanted to get to the bottom of the pseudonym itself.

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When a Tassie Devil resembles a badger you have to wonder what it’s hiding

October 23, 2016

Over the last couple of days I’ve had an interesting exchange with someone calling themselves ‘Lushington Dalrymple Brady‘. this person acknowledges that the name is a pseudonym, and the avatar that ‘he’ adopts is supposed to be a Tasmanian Devil; to me it looks like a foppish badger imitating an 18th century dandy. What do you think?

Looks like a badger 'toff' to me

Looks like a badger ‘toff’ to me

‘Mr Brady’ calls himself a ‘liberalist’ and I must confess it is a political label I’ve never heard of. I immediately assumed ‘he’ meant libertarian and perhaps that is what ‘he’ is. But, I’m willing to take ‘Lushington’ at his word, here is a definition of liberalist. It is apparently an adherent of the philosophies of John Locke.

liberalist-2016-10-23-10-15-07OK, so I went to the source — American Thinker — to see what this is all about and yes, ‘libertarian’ is probably a good synonym. It is certainly an anti-left, anti-Marxist position that has everything in common with modern right-wing libertarian thinking that argues ‘Today’s a liberal is in fact a socialist [sic]’. Why are these batshit-crazy folk also grammar-challenged?

The ‘liberalist’/libertarian is anti-state, pro free-market, and adheres to a total buy-in to the myth of individual supremacy over the social totality. In short, as I told ‘Mr Brady’ in an email, a ‘Fascist with manners’.

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Protected: Hirst v Deakin Update 19 June: Corrections & Clarifications

June 19, 2016

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