Wednesday, April 11, 2012

In deepest sympathy that free speech died ...

(Above: you can find the original here).

You have to admire First Dog, the way he's got the Bolter's eyes down pat.

Weird, or what.

Now you'll also notice in the text that First Dog makes a satirical reference about the herd of Bolters making their group think thoughts known on the Amazon website.

And sure enough, as not proposed by the Bolter, there you can find unleashed an anonymous torrent of racist abuse and cruel one star reviews, which of course the Bolter has nothing to do with, because that would be an incitey thing to do, and he's not that sort of person. He doesn't have a slavering attack of group thinkers at his fingertips, no way ...

Now it turns out if you head off to the customer reviews of Dr. Heiss's book, Am I Black Enough For You, and at time of writing, you'll find some 78 reviews (and counting), full of this kind of rhetorical overkill:

Here in Australia it is illegal for anyone to publicly respond to this question in a way that is contrary to the State-sponsored and legally enforced view of this author.

Oh yes, we live in a Nazi state, or perhaps a gulag and certainly at least a Stalinist state-sponsored concentration camp.

In other words, if you you disagree with Dr. Heiss and you say so publicly, you will get taken to court and the court will order you to retract your statements and ban you from making similar statements in the future.

Did someone mention paranoia?

And here is the rub: Dr Heiss was one of a group of people who identify as Aboriginal who instigated the legal procedings. So to sum up we have here an author who has written a book asking a question which, if you disagree with the answer she gives and say so publicly, she will take you to court and have you silenced. So I ask you Dr Heiss: What is the point of your book? Oh and PS: Will you be commissioning Amazon to remove the comments you and your publisher don't like just as you have removed all the comments to which you object from the Australian sites? Good luck with that; I believe freedom of speech still exists in the US; it no longer does in Australia.

Why that's worthy of the Bolter himself, who was sure that there could only be open debate in America, and Australia should be embarrassed.

Back on Amazon, there's lots more by a lot more Bolter-style enthusiasts. Pick a page, any page, and you can find the culture wars alive and well, and rarely an acknowledgement that anyone has actually read the book in question. Instead you get lots of unrelated commentary, such as this:

I believe she wrote this book about being an Aboriginal in Australia whilst living the high life in Paris. Research? Really?? May I have tax payer dollars to go live in San Francisco and 'research' and write a book about being Tasmanian? No???

Well there's certainly a lot of sorry and shameful remarks going the rounds, and this particular comment is particularly shameless. It's all the rhetorical question marks ???? that tell you a goose is on the loose.

This book does nothing to advance her cause, if anything it sets the clock back, but I'm not allowed to say so because that might be interpreted as racist. This is a sad day for freedom of speech. Shame on the publisher and the ABC for removing all comments on the book. Shame!

Yes it's a shame the shamer has no shame. Shame!!!!!!

Phew, there's nothing like a coherent, cogent stylistic flourish to make a point.

A remarkable number of the "reviews" involve first time efforts by people peddling the same sort of paranoid 'freedom of speech is dead' agenda.

How wondrous and quaint that they should suddenly and collectively wheel like squawking geese and arrive at just one book on Amazon's very large catalogue, and therein dump their fetid load of fear and loathing.

Well if freedom of speech is dead in the lucky country, can anyone explain why we still have Andrew Bolt blathering away in the HUN and on Network Ten? Could someone tell him it would be really nice if he'd just shut the fuck up because freedom of speech is dead in this country? And can anyone explain how we can read tired, repetitive, simple-minded abuse on the Amazon web site?

And is it too much to hope that at some time in the future, the Bolter will take just a little time to explain why he's always so angry?

Now there's a flock of allegedly angry atheists - they're an alliterative lot and it seems the thought of AAA's gets everyone going - and they're allegedly gathering in Melbourne as we speak to get very angry about anything and everything (AAAE), but is any of them as angry as the Bolter seems to be about everything? Or more specifically about minorities?

In particular why does he maintain the rage about blacks and people who identify as black? What exactly is his most peculiar problem?

Of course even on Amazon there are customer discussion guidelines:

Behave as if you were a guest at a friend's dinner party. Please treat the community with respect.

Er would that be the sort of dinner party where after you've sunk a few stubbies, you go out on the town for a bit of verballing the blacks, and if you can't find a black, perhaps verballing a poofter will do?

Who knows, and in the end, who cares, because there's always the second half of First Dog's cartoon to read:

By golly, the Dog's caught those eyes.

What would the eyes of the followers be like? Why does The Midwich Cuckoos and The Village of the Damned come to mind?

Eerie, blank, empty, eyeless in Gaza, yep Doggie, that's it, dead set right.

Oh and if you don't remember the Huxley novel, you might not remember the Milton quote that inspired the title:

... Promise was that I
Should Israel from Philistian yoke deliver;
Ask for this great deliverer now, and find him
Eyeless in Gaza at the Mill with slaves ... (Eyeless in Gaza)

We prefer to think of that line as Eyeless in Gaza at the HUN and TEN or perhaps the Amazon website, with keyboard slaves.

Still it's handy to know that the slaves know how to write a review for Amazon ...

Meanwhile, First Dog can congratulate himself for being ahead of the curve - such a stoic sense of duty, to actually read the Bolter's blog, because attention is being paid, as in today's story by Saffron Howden Bolt link to racist reviews of book. Yep Fairfax has finally caught up with the Crikey blog piece Andrew Bolt does not support "Amazon bombing" critics' books.

The amusing thing? Well if you follow the link therein to the Bolter's original provocative piece, you get a blank page. And if you go searching for the post, Can Amazon be stopped from answering Heiss's question? you also get a blank page, and this forlorn note in Google cache: No longer available. Try one of the articles below for more from the Andrew Bolt blog.

No thanks but oh noes, it seems the Bolter has censored himself. Unless of course Dr. Heiss has super-human hacking powers.

Meanwhile, the faithful have rallied within News Corp and who better to do the rallying than the ever so pious and righteous Caroline Overington in It's not about being black enough, it's about need.

You might need to google this remarkable insight into aboriginal life if you want to beat the paywall:

... the experience of being Aboriginal in Sydney, particularly when you are educated, comfortable and articulate, is vastly different from the experience of being Aboriginal in a remote town camp, where you may not have access to even the most basic services.

Yes if you live in a town camp, you rarely have the collective forces of undiluted News Limited scorn heaped upon you for daring to be uppity. Instead you just have to settle back and enjoy the invasion ...

All that said and done, another dust up delivered by the master duster, the pond was left with a final question to ponder. Who's more contemptible? The geese master or the geese?

Not to worry, as usual, someone has saved the Bolt post for posterity, you can find it here, and that's how we can quote the coda:

Note: I am not trying to incite anyone into attacking Bolt's blog. He is entitled to express his point of view. This is not a hate-Bolt session, but a protest against the Bolter censoring himself, when after all, writing before you think, and shooting yourself in the foot over and over again, is an important part of the democratic process.

(Below: okay let's wrap it up with a doggie classic. Click to enlarge, or give Crikey a click by heading here).

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