Coming to you for the first time from the Yum Yum Cafe…

… via Baby Toshiba, whose webcam works much better now I have removed the protective film that’s been there for about a year!


And there is so much news too. Had a call from Sirdan last night, who has been in Queensland. Major changes are coming up, and I am still processing them. It can’t be called bad news though it does make me more than a bit emotional.

Definitely bad news though is that a former SBHS colleague, Greg, who is much younger than I,  is very much on his last legs in hospital. Life is so uncertain, eh!

Meanwhile  do check the new page on the photoblog!

Yesterday I presented the most visited posts on this blog in the quarter just ending. Today it’s the top posts this month:

  1. Home page 1,532 visits in September 2011
  2. Thanks, Tilly and Kate! 455
  3. Showcase 300
  4. Jack Vidgen–Australia’s Got Talent last night 209
  5. Being Australian 16: inclusive multiculturalism Aussie style 9 – my tribes 208
  6. Nostalgia and the globalising world — from Thomas Hardy to 2010 194
  7. Australia’s Got Talent 2011 Grand Final 94
  8. The Rainbow Warrior 92
  9. A very personal Australia Day 26 January – my family 88
  10. Honk if you hate the changes on Facebook… 72
  11. Is that all there is? And how to remember 9/11 constructively… 65
  12. R U OK? Day 62
  13. So there went another August! 57
  14. Jack Vidgen comes to Wollongong 36
  15. Being Australian 11: inclusive multiculturalism Aussie style 4 36
  16. Has school bullying increased? 31
  17. Leaky Boat: the documentary 29
  18. In the matter of David Hicks 29
  19. This may well be the best Australian history book I have EVER read! 27
  20. The High Court has struck down the Gillard Government’s refugee swap with Malaysia 26


See Two years ago today–and the ending of the current quarter of 2011 on the photo blog.


24 thoughts on “Coming to you for the first time from the Yum Yum Cafe…

  1. Sorry to hear that you are having bad personal news. Especially when you are having bad news as a country. I only just heard about how that judge in the Bolt case basically curbed your freedom of speech :(. I know you don’t like him, but I’ll bet that verdict pissed you off.

    You weren’t clear, so let me say that I hope Sirdan Sirdan is doing well.

  2. He’s doing fine, and on Bolt I’ll just quote what I said on Facebook: “The way I see it Bolt got a judicial kicking for behaving like an arsehole and my freedom of speech hasn’t been affected in the slightest. This is not of course a considered legal opinion on my part, but true nonetheless.”

    Or again: “Andrew Bolt plays martyr and hero with such conviction! Shame he just was a victim of sloppy research and dubious assumptions…”

    Bolt isn’t even worth thinking about. I am not going to post about his posturing and personality problems, nor do I care to waste further comment space on someone who far from being “silenced” is screaming like a stuck pig into whatever ear he can find.

    Don’t bother to reply about Bolt.

    However, for the record I am copying here information about what we mean in Australia by “free speech” — including the rather surprising fact that it is not guaranteed in our Constitution nor in a Bill of Roghts — because we do not yet have one.

    International Background

    In 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Article 19 affirms the right 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.(1)

    Members of the Commonwealth Parliament reaffirmed the principles of the Declaration during a sitting on 10 December 1998 to mark the 50th anniversary of the UDHR and pledged to give wholehearted support to the principles enshrined in the Declaration.(2)

    Article 19 of the 1966 United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) states that:

    Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression … (3)

    Australia is a signatory to this treaty(4) and, in order to incorporate treaties and conventions into Australian law, governments must pass a specific Act of Parliament. Although some parts of the treaty have been implemented into law, such as the Human Rights Commission Act 1981,(5) no government has implemented the free speech provisions and therefore they are not enforceable by Australian courts.

    Freedom of Speech and the Constitution

    The Australian Constitution does not have any express provision relating to freedom of speech. In theory, therefore, the Commonwealth Parliament may restrict or censor speech through censorship legislation or other laws, as long as they are otherwise within constitutional power. The Constitution consists mainly of provisions relating to the structure of the Commonwealth Parliament, executive government and the federal judicial system.(6) There is no list of personal rights or freedoms which may be enforced in the courts. There are however some provisions relating to personal rights such as the right to trial by jury (section 80), and the right to freedom of religion (section 116).

    Since 1992 decisions of the High Court have indicated that there are implied rights to free speech and communication on matters concerning politics and government, e.g. permitting political advertising during election campaigns.(7) This is known as the ‘implied freedom of political communication’. Issues arising from these decisions include defining when communication is ‘political’ and when the freedom should prevail over competing public interests.(8)

    In 1942 a Constitutional Convention held in Canberra recommended that the Constitution be amended to include a new section 116A preventing the Commonwealth or a State passing laws which curtailed freedom of speech or of the press.(9) The government did not accept this proposal and it was not included in the referendum on 19 August 1944, when other constitutional amendments were proposed.

    The advantage of having such rights written into the Constitution is that they are ‘entrenched’ and cannot be amended or removed by any government without the overwhelming approval of the people voting at a referendum to amend the Constitution.(10) Rights contained in other legislation, such as the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, are not entrenched. They may be amended or repealed by any government with the consent of Parliament….


    All Australians are entitled to freedom of speech, association, assembly, religion, and movement.

    Freedom of speech

    Australians are free, within the bounds of the law, to say or write what we think privately or publicly, about the government, or about any topic. We do not censor the media and may criticise the government without fear of arrest. Free speech comes from facts, not rumours, and the intention must be constructive, not to do harm. There are laws to protect a person’s good name and integrity against false information. There are laws against saying or writing things to incite hatred against others because of their culture, ethnicity or background. Freedom of speech is not an excuse to harm others.

    Freedom of association

    We are free to join any organisation or group if it is legal. We can choose to belong to a trade union or to a political party. Having and debating points of view allows for a healthy and strong democracy.

    Freedom of assembly

    We are free to meet with other people in public or private places. We can meet in small or large groups for legal social or political purposes. Being able to protest and to demonstrate is an accepted form of free expression. Protestors must not be violent or break laws such as assaulting others or trespassing on private or public property. People can change governments in a peaceful way by elections and not by violence.

    Freedom of religion

    Australia does not have an official or state religion. The law does not enforce any religious doctrine, however, religious practices must conform to the law. We are free to follow any religion we choose. We are also free not to have a religion.

    Freedom of movement

    We can move freely to and from all states and territories. We can leave and return to Australia at any time. Some migrants may have conditions placed on their visa until they become Australian citizens.


  3. “Australians are free, within the bounds of the law, to say or write what we think privately or publicly”

    Within the bounds of the law? You call that freedom of speech? I can’t believe that you think Bolt should not be allowed to say… well, ANYTHING he wants to, provided that nobody dies because of it.

    In any event, glad to hear about Sirdan.

    • “Australians are free, within the bounds of the law, to say or write what we think privately or publicly”

      That is not my formulation but the nearest we have to an official definition of freedom of speech, but I see it as very wise and most acceptable. That’s the difference between free speech and anarchy, between mature judgement and a juvenile desire to mouth off no matter what damage one does. Freedom never has been and cannot be absolute.

      On Bolt:

      The usual reactionaries have risen as one in defence of Andrew Bolt, the Melbourne columnist and village idiot, convicted on Wednesday for breaching the Racial Discrimination Act. An attack on freedom of speech, they howled. A dark day for democracy.

      Since the verdict, Bolt himself has played the martyred victim, drenched in self-pity, a sickening spectacle…

      The judge did not smother free speech. He skewered dud journalism…

      Read more:


      …I met Anita Heiss, one of the litigants in the Bolt case, seven years ago. She has a generous spirit and is frank and forthright. Coming from Tasmania, I am aware of the extent to which definitions of Aboriginality can become ultra-defensive and ossify. Here was a young woman who was proudly Aboriginal but totally open about her Austrian father’s side of her family. To me, she represented a way forward, so I wrote about her.

      Bolt used the article. Other than her name, he got virtually everything about her wrong, including her skin colour and academic achievements, but no less important was the tone of the article, which opened her to ridicule and contempt.

      Bolt’s defences of his actions are always phrased in the rhetoric of high reason but his articles and blog posts rely on suggestion and innuendo. For example, his blog post on the Aboriginal man giving me the dog was titled, ”Pets giving pets”. Well, I now have a whippet called Darcy. I invite Andrew Bolt to write about that and show us what a serious thinker he is.

      Read more:

      But he’s not only not a serious thinker he’s not a serious thinker’s bootlace.

  4. Yes, I understand that the left is very afraid of what he stands for. But that’s no excuse to take away his right to speech. Remember the poem “First they came for…”

    If the smh people are correct and he wrote untruths about this woman (I understand that Bolt said that the father was german, when in reality, the grandfather was the german, for instance), then she should sue for slander, not to take away his freedom of speech.

    It feels like you are ok with taking Bolt’s freedom of speech simply because you disagree with him. I find that appalling, yet typical of a progressive. Progressives do that kind of thing here in the states too. They’ll go to someone’s speech and start chanting inane slogans over bullhorns until the speech cannot continue. That is also appalling.

  5. In happier news, Australians are chowing down on insects! I’ve eaten some pretty gross stuff too, like snails, crawfish and squirrels. So I’m not judging you :). They say that the aborigines of Australia have been eating bugs for thousan… yikes!

    Uh oh! I just said ‘aborigine’ and then mentioned eating bugs! Is someone going to be offended in Australia? Did I just break your laws regarding what a person is allowed to say out loud in Australia?

    Just to be safe, we’ll be staying far away from your totalitarian regime. It’s creepy. Newspeak creepy. Still, the eating bugs in Sydney part is kind of fun. Freedom isn’t lost all at once, after all.

  6. It feels like you are ok with taking Bolt’s freedom of speech simply because you disagree with him.

    Bolt’s freedom of speech has not been taken away, but the court has quite rightly given him a lesson in responsibility. That’s one of the things courts are for.

    As for my take being “left” or “progressive” — that shits me so much. Bolt is quite simply wrong and what he said is actually quite damaging of generations of growth in understanding of the issues he blithely applies his sloppy research and overrated intellect to.

    Jim Belshaw is a very careful thinker — and a historian — whose views are in many respects very conservative. He summed Bolt up a year ago:

    Let me start by listing areas that I agree with him:

    1. I agree that the current definition of Aboriginality and its link to entitlements can create problems.

    2. I agree that that there is probably a group of people who chose Aboriginality to gain benefits. Just ask any Aboriginal person in NSW on this one.

    3. I agree that there is a group – I would not limit it to artists or academics – who have made Aborigines a fashionable cause based on their perceptions of historical wrongs without adequate regard to either the historical record or the reality of variation within the Aboriginal community.

    Now the areas where Mr Bolt is just plain wrong:

    1. He ignores the link between Aboriginality, culture and family up-bringing, focusing instead on skin colour and looks. I don’t want to go into the long and in some ways sad history of this one, but if you grow up in an Aboriginal community, identify with it and are identified with it, then you are Aboriginal regardless of blood proportions. For example, you probably speak and are recognised to speak Aboriginal English. This is not a comment on Aboriginal English, simply on the way we use a variety of markers to categorise people.

    2. I know of no evidence to support the assertion that there is a “booming new class of victims” supported “with special prizes and jobs”. I do know of specific individuals, I do know that among Australia’s welfare poor there is an incentive at the margin to claim Aboriginality as a way of getting a possible edge, but we are talking in hundreds, perhaps low thousands, not tens of thousands.

    3. Mr Bolt fails to recognise that Aboriginal people themselves are the greatest barrier to this type of rip-off. This one deserves a special comment.

    Kinship is central to Aboriginal culture. To be accepted, you must be able to show and have accepted your kin relationships. Aboriginal people actually guard this quite closely. In my experience, they quickly identify people who are trying to use claims of Aboriginality for personal benefit and close ranks against them. It is a matter of pride.

    See Sunday snippets – stats, Bolt & a dash of sci-fi for Jim’s current thoughts and links to his earlier posts.

    As for my views on free speech, they are in fact those of a classical conservative rather than a “progressive”. I could be accused of channelling Edmund Burke!

  7. It’s not really germane to speak about ‘aboriginality’. I’m not at all interested in that. It makes no difference to me whether the amazing Mr. Bolt’s statements were true or not. the only thing that bothers me is that he’s been denied the right to speak them. These days, you only find laws like this in places like North Korea, Burma, China, and sadly Canada*. And now Australia. David Bowie was only off by 27 years when he wrote 1984.

    *Canada is fixing the laws though. They should have a return to freedom of speech by year’s end.

  8. he’s been denied the right to speak …

    He’s still in the newspaper, still on TV, and screaming fit to bust that he’s a martyr to political correctness, when all he really is is a loudmouth dick!

    Free speech my arse!

    And another thing: I get so sick of being typecast as some fantasy version of what so-called conservatives in the US love to hate when as a matter of fact I have thought Marxism is about as useful as astrology for the past fifty years at least, and that’s just for starters.

    I said I was conservative on free speech, and I am. Do you know who Edmund Burke was? Just the founding father of English conservatism. But he didn’t think too much of revolutions, French or American…

    See Freedom of Speech in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

    I respect Australian philosopher Tim Soutphommasane on this issue, even if he writes in Murdoch’s The Australian: see Talk is cheap if speech isn’t free and Liberalism, Harm, and the Limits of Free Speech, which is excellent.

    I also find that most people who quote Orwell in defence of some populist oversimplification of an issue like free speech have usually not really read the man, and certainly don’t realise what a socialist and antifascist he remained to his dying day! He must spin in his grave at the abuse his name is constantly suffering.

  9. I can see that you are not the right person to discuss freedom of speech, or freedom in general with. We have such wildly different beliefs on this subject. I hope and pray that my beliefs remain in the majority.

    And I didn’t quote Orwell. I merely referenced a David Bowie song. George who? Never heard of him.

  10. Aside: Hmm. Orwell was a socialist? That’s an interesting viewpoint. I can’t see any evidence of that in 1984, which, as a conservative, of course I’ve never read. Quite the opposite in fact. 1984 is an example of what happens when socialism runs wild. I can kind of see it in another book I’ve never read because I’m a conservative, “Animal Farm” though.

    But I can’t see it entirely. The book I didn’t read starts off with the promise of a socialist/communist utopia. If it ended there, I’d agree with you that Orwell (whom I’ve never read or heard of) was a socialist. But it doesn’t. It goes on to show how socialism sucks and leads to hierarchical government where everyone is poor except government officials. You know, like we’ve seen in every communist country.

    No, I don’t buy your argument that Orwell, whomever he was, was a socialist. He seems too smart for such idiocy.

    • Orwell in 1941 on the English Revolution:

      There will be a bitter political struggle, and there will be unconscious and half-conscious sabotage everywhere. At some point or other it may be necessary to use violence. It is easy to imagine a pro-Fascist rebellion breaking out in, for instance, India. We shall have to fight against bribery, ignorance and snobbery. The bankers and the larger businessmen, the landowners and dividend-drawers, the officials with their prehensile bottoms, will obstruct for all they are worth. Even the middle class will writhe when their accustomed way of life is menaced. But just because the English sense of national unity has never disintegrated because patriotism is finally stronger than class-hatred, the chances are that the will of the majority will prevail. It is no use imagining that one can make fundamental changes without causing a split in the nation; but the treacherous minority will be far smaller in time of war than it would be at any other time.
      The swing of opinion is visibly happening, but it cannot be counted on to happen fast enough of its own accord. This war is a race between the consolidation of Hitler’s empire and the growth of democratic consciousness. Everywhere in England you can see a ding-dong battle ranging to and fro – in Parliament and in the Government, in the factories and the armed forces, in the pubs and the air-raid shelters, in the newspapers and on the radio. Every day there are tiny defeats, tiny victories. Morrison for Home Secretary – a few yards forward, Priestley shoved off the air – a few yards back. It is a struggle between the groping and the unteachable, between the young and the old, between the living and the dead. But it is very necessary that the discontent which undoubtedly exists should take a purposeful and not merely obstructive form. It is time for the people to define their war aims. What is wanted is a simple, concrete programme of action, which can be given all possible publicity, and round which public opinion can group itself.

      I suggest that the following six-point programme is the kind of thing we need. The first three points deal with England’s internal policy, the other three with the Empire and the world:

      — Nationalization of land, mines, railways, banks and major industries.
      — Limitation of incomes, on such a scale that the highest tax-free income in Britain does not exceed the lowest by more than ten to one.
      — Reform of the educational system along democratic lines.
      — Immediate Dominion status for India, with power to secede when the war is over.
      — Formation of an Imperial General Council, in which the coloured peoples are to be represented.
      — Declaration of formal alliance with China, Abyssinia and all other victims of the Fascist powers.

      The general tendency of this programme is unmistakable. It aims quite frankly at turning this war into a revolutionary war and England into a Socialist democracy. I have deliberately included in it nothing that the simplest person could not understand and see the reason for. In the form in which I have put it, it could be printed on the front page of the Daily Mirror. But for the purposes of this book a certain amount of amplification is needed…

      ….From the moment that all productive goods have been declared the property of the State, the common people will feel, as they cannot feel now, that the State is themselves. They will be ready then to endure the sacrifices that are ahead of us, war or no war. And even if the face of England hardly seems to change, on the day that our main industries are formally nationalized the dominance of a single class will have been broken. From then onwards the emphasis will be shifted from ownership to management, from privilege to competence. It is quite possible that State-ownership will in itself bring about less social change than will be forced upon us by the common hardships of war. But it is the necessary first step without any real reconstruction is impossible….

      The Lion and the Unicorn.

      Not a socialist? Pull the other leg! What he did hate was totalitarianism: hence Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty Four which are about that, about socialism gone wrong. But a free market capitalist or a libertarian? No way!

      See also George Orwell Was a Socialist..

      Again Orwell’s own words. As the person who posted that says:

      It pays to actually read Orwell for oneself: “I am well aware that it is now the fashion to deny that Socialism has anything to do with equality. In every country in the world a huge tribe of party-hacks and sleek little professors are busy ‘proving’ that Socialism means no more than a planned state-capitalism with the grab-motive left intact. But fortunately there also exists a vision of Socialism quite different from this. The thing that attracts ordinary men to Socialism and makes them willing to risk their skins for it, the ‘mystique’ of Socialism, is the idea of equality; to the vast majority of people Socialism means a classless society, or it means nothing at all. And it was here that those few months in the militia were valuable to me. For the Spanish militias, while they lasted, were a sort of microcosm of a classless society. In that community where no one was on the make, where there was a shortage of everything but no privilege and no boot-licking, one got, perhaps, a crude forecast of what the opening stages of Socialism might be like. And, after all, instead of disillusioning me it deeply attracted me. The effect was to make my desire to see Socialism established much *more* actual than it had been before.”

      From chapter 8 of “Homage to Catalonia” (1938). It is from this book (really a memoir) that one gets perhaps the fullest picture of what attracted Orwell to socialism.

      It would be a very good idea if Americans thought more deeply about what freedom actually means and what its limits have to be. US libertarianism has to be the most juvenile and inadequate political philosophy — if it deserves such a name — on the planet.

  11. Yeah, it sounds like, from your excerpt that in 1941, Orwell was prone to socialism. I wonder what convinced him that socialism was so bad between 1941 and 1945-49 when he wrote Animal Farm and 1984 – two books that lay bare the inherent problems with socialism, both describing how soul crushing it is.

    In any event, I forgive his early beliefs. As a child, I thought socialism sounded great too. But then I grew up.

    I have to say that I find it sad that you think that freedom (aka libertarianism) is a juvenile concept. But I can’t say that I find your belief unexpected. I’m not happy. I’m not happy that Australia, our sister country (despite what you say), holds people so anathema to freedom. Freedom of speech. Freedom of movement. Freedom of everything. Freedom. You lost it last week, and you’re ok with that. I’m not.

    I’ll say no more about it. It’s you’re country. I’m just sad about it. That’s all.

    Funny link to people in Sydney eating bugs though, huh?

  12. Orwell never changed his mind about socialism. And 1941 is hardly early — just seven years before he wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four — which by the way he never called 1984….

    Get a grip about the Bolt affair. He’s been rapped over the knuckles for being defamatory, that’s all. No-one has fined him, put him in jail, or sent for the torturers. They haven’t taken away his TV show or banned his newspaper column. They have however given him a golden opportunity to play martyr — such a great big storm in a teacup that has so many people becoming quite deranged about it.

    There has been published just minutes ago a really good post on the Bolt issues.

    …So many of us operate with a kind of adolescent idea of freedom. I gotta do what I gotta do. This is an impulse control issue, not an issue of freedom. There are lots of things I’d like to say here about Andrew Bolt — things straight from my id in particular. To write them might be fun, even cathartic, but it wouldn’t qualify as an expression of freedom.

    Real freedom isn’t about acting on impulse. What has been restricted for Andrew Bolt through this imperfect legislation is not freedom but impulsivity. Having to get your facts straight is part of a genuine expression of freedom, because real freedom is always connected to actual knowledge. Without knowledge, even the freedom to speak becomes just a stab in the dark…

    To look at freedom of speech in the light of this case, we need to go beyond the superficial and analyse what it is Andrew Bolt is actually doing and how his particular style of commentary functions.

    Bolt can line up at the back of a long queue of white men who have tried to define blackness for other people. Nothing new here. Attempting to pit black people against each other? Nothing new there either.

    Part of the experience of being white is of not having to think about race in terms of ourselves. Race becomes about other people. But when Bolt speaks about race being irrelevant, when he refers to us as all being mere human beings, what he is really saying is that whiteness is the only valid experience…

    What you can see in the comments section of his pieces is the bolder and clearer expression of the racist views he refers to more obliquely. This is how bullying operates too. Someone fosters fear and a sense of threat, and their followers do the dirty work. The dirty work here being specifically a kind of reintroduction of a colour caste system and the promotion of racist ideas of identity.

    At his least offensive, Bolt works like a clever gossip. The oblique reference with a disclaimer — I don’t really mean to say this, but — and the damning tone and eye rolling that when freed of actual facts, manages to destroy a reputation that cannot be defended against the unclear. How do you respond to innuendo? This is crazy-making territory. Particularly for those of us who lack a strong internal sense of who we are, and rely instead on how others perceive us….

    Freedom is really just a lack of restraint — it doesn’t in itself imply the ability to achieve anything. I think part of our current difficulty with the debate about freedom of the press and the defence of Andrew Bolt’s “right” to speak, is that for most of us we know all too well that media freedom is less meaningful in an environment where there is such a concentration of media ownership. In other words, when we hear the same stories over and over again, things don’t feel very free.

    Anyone who has experienced marginalisation, and I would argue that this includes all of us at some point as children and certainly as children within educational and religious institutions, will know that some of our voices are heard more loudly than others. Some stories are dominant and some are hidden. Bolt’s story is not a marginal one, for all his cries that he is a lone voice in the wilderness of leftist propaganda.

    So many of us are silenced and so many defined by the needs and projections of others, that it’s no wonder we turn to any tools at hand to stop the constant destructive tirade of popular racism. But we are understandably torn and uneasy about silencing even the most offensive and divisive of commentary….

    Meanwhile, just how free are Americans really? Judged in the light of Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” that is. Speaking of things said or written in 1941… How’s freedom from want going? What about “the ending of special privilege for the few?”

    Yes, to your last but. 😉 Though I hear this is happening in quite a few places lately.

  13. I’m too lame/squeamish to eat bugs. Not so with some Sydney people. Kudos to them. Eating a bug is hard. Try it.

    Meanwhile, just how free are Americans really? Judged in the light of Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” that is. Speaking of things said or written in 1941… How’s freedom from want going? What about “the ending of special privilege for the few?”

    Hmm. Let’s test it.

    Niggers undermine the fabric of America.
    Peckerwoods undermine the fabric of America.
    Chinks undermine the fabric of America.
    Spics undermine the fabric of America.

    Yeah, we’re pretty free. I just insulted every … You know what? Screw you Neil. You are a huge part of the problem. I don’t want to support the problem anymore. Goodbye.

    Aside – You seem to believe that reading books written by old dead people makes you smarter. It really doesn’t. It only makes you nostalgic.

  14. What did you just prove, Kevin? They say having no sense of history is a problem for Americans. Perhaps this is true.

    The major part of my comment did in fact quote someone who had published just minutes before I quoted, so not dead it seems.

    The Wall Street protestors seem to be evidence that the pull of “freedom from want” isn’t dead either in the “land of the free” — but they are free to protest, and it appears free to be arrested.

    But then the freedom to show the world you might be a goose by bravely saying “spic” or “peckerwood” is far more important, isn’t it?

  15. Former labor minister Barry Cohen:

    The bomb went off recently when the pin was pulled by Federal Court judge Mordecai Bromberg. The good judge claimed that prominent journalist Andrew Bolt had “sought to convey the message that certain people of a certain racial mix should not identify with a particular race because they lack a sufficiency of colour and other racial attributes to justify the racial choice which they had made”.

    No one apparently had alerted him to the fact you could choose your religion or your nationality but not your race…

    I don’t intend to discuss the details of the case brought by the nine pale plaintiffs for the obvious reason I could well be the next one in the dock. Oddly enough I had been planning to write an almost identical article to Bolt’s….

    Bolt will be spot-on about freedom of speech going down the gurgler. More and more people will be scared to speak their minds. If that happens, the goodwill that has continued since the 1967 referendum will gradually disappear, and that would be a tragedy for all of us but particularly for the Aboriginal community.

    Even people on the left are beginning to understand what a horror this judgment is.

  16. Barry Cohen is entitled to his opinion, and so was Andrew Bolt, but those who took Bolt to court were entitled to seek redress also. That too is part of the picture of freedom — and responsibility — of speech. Meanwhile Bolt has not been banned, fined, jailed or in any way seriously penalised. He continues to speak, write and publish. But one may hope — in vain perhaps — that he learned something about what a minefield he ventured into. On that Barry Cohen should know better, but there you go — even our “socialists” (he was Labor) have a range of views.

    I haven’t posted on this because I really don’t care all that much and have nothing original to say. I certainly didn’t want to give even more oxygen to the Bolt.

    See Legal Eagle for a very judicious and even-handed view of the matter from a lawyer who definitely does not have a political axe to grind.

    Yes I do get it. What I don’t get is that Bolt deserves much sympathy and I still say my freedom of speech — and his — have hardly been affected.

    It’s a major storm in a teacup that makes the Right feel persecuted — and they love it!

  17. Thanks Jason Wilson.

    Nothing is more likely to be hypocritical than invocations of the right to freedom of speech.

    Tony Abbott called it a “sacred principle” the other day when he was talking about Justice Bromberg’s decision that Andrew Bolt had breached the Racial Discrimination Act.

    But most will recall Abbott, Peter Costello and their partners successfully suing Random House and Bob Ellis for defamation in 1999, which led to damages of $277,500 being awarded and the pulping of Ellis’s book Goodbye Jerusalem….

    Andrew Bolt is not a hero of free speech, speaking truth to power. He is, in my opinion, a cynic, who regularly pushes his characteristic browbeating of political opponents to the limits of the law.

    On this occasion, perhaps, he miscalculated.

    But he and his right-wing allies now have the material to portray the most powerful journalist in the country as a brave, downtrodden truth-teller.

    When we use the courts to settle our political disputes, we always risk according sympathy to those who don’t deserve it, and other, similar unintended consequences.

    Andrew Bolt now has an even bigger platform to put out the same messages in slightly subtler ways.

    And all the while, the hypocrisy around free speech will continue.

    Spot on!

  18. See The free speech thing… by Bruce Everett.

    Disclosure: Andrew Bolt is a part of my extended family, not that I’ve even met him in person. There’s not much more to it than that.

    Over at Metamagician and the Hellfire Club, Russell Blackford ponders the state of discussion about freedom of speech in Australia, following the result of the recent case of Eatock vs. Bolt. I tend to think the discussion has been pretty dismal.

    First of all, let me say I don’t feel at all sorry for Andrew Bolt.

    I think that the article in question that sparked the case was reprehensible. Bad journalism. Lazy with the facts. Defamatory.

    The legalities of the case aside (details of the act, potential for establishing precedent etc.), in terms of consequences, I don’t think Andrew’s got much to complain about. He’s not had to withdraw the article from online publication. He’s still out there banging on about the same stuff as before. All the Herald Sun has been ordered to do is to publish a correction to the details that are known to be factually incorrect….

    There’s also an excellent extended response in the comments section from Legal Eagle.

  19. Neil, I have no idea where this comment might end up – threadwise, subjectwise – but just wanted to record my agreement with your take on the AB saga. And also to politely ask if ‘Kevin’ is a real person, or maybe an alter ego you’ve invented to provide you with an excuse/reason to expand your comments on any subject? (If so, very clever device!)

  20. Kevin is real, and I have excellent evidence for that. I do understand him and believe it or not we actually like one another. But he is of his place, time and background as I am of mine.

Comments are closed.