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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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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