Thursday, March 21, 2013

If only the Murdoch press could and would exercise their right to silence ... oh wait, when it comes to the rights of ordinary people, they have ...

The wonders of ironical irony.

Thanks to Craig Thomson, the media reforms proposed by Conroy, Gillard et al seem like they might just be about to die a death.

Yes, even paranoid hysterical News Ltd reports Craig Thomson will not back media reforms proposed by Stephen Conroy.

The pond had a wondrous vision of a herd of Murdoch elephants charging for the door.

Led by Kim "the squawker" Williams, there was a lumbering Akker Dakker, a bolting Bolter, a raging Miranda the Devine, an indignant Janet "Dame Slap" Albrechtsen, a covey of Blairite lemmings, and assorted other members of the herd, all were doing an Abbott, or a poodle Pyne.

Never ever ever would they accept a Thomson vote, they were rushing out the door, and once out the door, they kept running and running, until they reached a cliff, and fell over it.

In the very same dream, bolting Abbott and poodle Pyne joined with Thomson to ensure the defeat of the bill. There they were, standing proudly side by side, arm in arm, fingers held aloft in a Churchillian salute to the world ... with the whole tribe of cheering, applauding Murdochian members of the commentariat watching from the public gallery.

Of course it was only a dream, a Dali dream turned surrealist nightmare. It'll never come to a vote on the floor this way.

But still, think of the potential ironical irony.The man the Murdoch press had tortured for a year saved their bacon, and where's the gratitude?

Meanwhile, in another country far away, there's Bazza "let's build Sydney's second airport in Canberra and hook it up with very fast hot air balloons" is still flagging the stripping of the right to silence.

You can read about it in some places, as in NSW to vote on right to silence laws

Talk about the convoluted stripping of an ancient right said to go back some four hundred years:

Under the proposed new laws, an unfavourable inference can be drawn if an accused person fails to mention something during official police questioning that they could reasonably be expected to mention, and that they later rely on in their defence. 
NSW Police Minister Mike Gallacher said it was incredible that Labor wouldn't support the government laws and accused the party of giving organised crime a helping hand.

Actually it's incredible that a state government could construct such a bodgie dodgy notion, relying on notions like mentioning something that a person could be reasonably expected to mention.

Now the New South Wales police force has had long had a history of fitting up people. In the old days, a telephone book could do valuable service in an interrogation (not so many marks to the face), and 'verballing' was turned into an art form.

Don't think it's gone away in the age of video recordings. Recently there was a case involving a Ballina man:

The assault charges were heard in the Ballina Magistrates Court in July last year. After seeing the police station CCTV footage of the incident, Magistrate David Heilpern threw out the charge. Magistrate Heilpern was so concerned by the incident—which he said 'debased the administration of justice'—that he referred the matter to the NSW Police Integrity Commission. The police watchdog is investigating both the assault on Barker and the alleged plan to cover it up by laying charges of assault against him. It should be stressed that the PIC is yet to hand down its findings. (Video evidence key to police brutality cases).

Now there is always another side to any story, but the point here surely is that the chance to fit someone up for failing to mention something they should be reasonably expected to mention - when in fact they might just reasonably want to tell the police to fuck off - will surely prove an irresistible temptation down the track.

You know when the police are keen to trash an ancient right that there's the smell of bloodlust in the air, dressed up as a chance to crack down on crime:

...NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione on Wednesday denied the legislation would infringe on a person's basic rights. 
 "This is simply a matter of trying to level the playing field," he told reporters in Sydney. 
 "This is about making sure that people can't concoct an excuse when they get to court on the first occasion and try and catch us out by not having disclosed that previously. 
 "I don't think it trashes civil liberties." 

Of course it trashes a civil liberty and in the worst way imaginable.

Now you don't have to be a Green to share the sentiments of David Shoebridge MLC writing when the proposals were first flagged, here:

The O’Farrell government is removing a four century old right to silence apparently to target hardened criminals but in doing so they are removing this right from everyone in NSW. 
 “This government is trashing a four hundred year old right to silence just to get a headline about fighting gang crime,” Greens NSW MP and Justice spokesperson David Shoebridge said. 
 “The reason the right to silence has stood so long that is because it protects individuals from the heavy handed use of police powers. 
 “Most people’s interactions with police are in highly charged and emotional circumstances. It is at these times that the right to silence is crucial in order to protect people from being entrapped or misunderstood. 
 “You don’t institute fundamental law reform that applies to everyone to deal with only a limited number of hardened criminals. 
 “If organised criminals are getting smarter the solution is smarter policing, not the erosion of a fundamental pillar of the justice system.


Now the NSW bill is hovering in the air, and coming to the vote. Perhaps the Murdoch press is thinking that the legislation will be defeated in the Legislative Council through an unlikely alliance of Greens, Shooters and Fishers party, and the Labor party.

Perhaps that's the reason they're exercising their right to silence.

Naturally the pond went in search of righteous indignation at News Ltd, a fervent crusading campaign denouncing the stripping of ancient rights, and showing Barry O'Farrell as, if not an Adolf Hitler, then at least a despot up there with Mao, or Stalin, or a few others of a North Korean or Iranian kind.

Here's what we found in rags which deal directly with NSW. First up the Daily Terror:

Yep, there's more navel-gazing about the federal media bill, and you get the chance to blog with "Sarrah" about the need for Michelle Obama to HTFU and stop messing around with vegie gardens, but nothing, zip, nil, nada about big bad Bazza and his bill.

Switch over to the lizard Oz, and what do you get?

Yep, nothing, zip, nil, nada.

You can try to find a mention of big Bazza and his fiendish plan to break with an ancient English tradition, and you'll come up with diddly squat on the lengthy front digital page.

It confirms what the pond has always suspected - the current media kerfuffle has nothing to do with principle, and a lot to do with self-serving self-indulgent navel gazing.

The media loves to talk the talk but they run out of puff the minute you ask them to walk the walk.

Speaking of navel gazing, that eminent navel-gazer Brendan O'Neill has contributed yet another piece of fluff he found in his belly button:

Now the pond has no actual need to read O'Neill blather on, though if you want to, you can head off to Politician-led attack on media freedom is a sentence on the public, holding your nose and googling to avoid the paywall, and marvelling that an actual attempt to sentence and fit up the public in NSW is certain to be studiously ignored by the over-ripe camembert posturings of O'Neill.

The pond could write the O'Neill piece in its sleep. How's this for an opener?

Censorious celebrities and liberals who can't spell the word liberty are cock-a-hoop over the muzzling of the press in Britain and Australia.

Oh wait, it seems O'Neill channeled the pond, and has indeed used that very opening.

No, the real purpose in drawing attention to O'Neill is to marvel and to wonder at O'Neill's use of the word "elites" and "elitist" and "elitism" and not just in relation to fonts.

There could be a competition in this.

As well as "elitist" in the splash, O'Neill delivers a spray of "elites" in his closing pars:

Consider those censorious feminists who say The Sun's saucy Page 3 should be banned because it makes men rapacious, or greens who accuse climate change-denying columnists of warping the public's minds: time and again, elite discomfort with press freedom is really elite disdain for the idea that the mob is capable of thinking rationally and seriously. 
 The great British radical Tom Paine recognised this. When, in 1792, he was sentenced to death in absentia for writing The Rights of Man, he described attacks on press freedom as "a sentence on the public instead of the author", since the public is being told "they shall not think, they shall not read". Today, still, restrictions on the press are a sentence on the public, passed by elites who think we morons cannot handle tough or rough or challenging ideas.

Uh huh. Well the morons at News Ltd are doing sweet fuck all about big Bazza's plans, and it seems that only the greenies are taking the threat seriously.

Elitist or what? Up their own fundaments or what?

Well it goes without saying that O'Neill is a completely confused British git, who somehow imagines he's a genuine Marxist, thereby confusing adolescent schoolboy perversity and notions of rebellion with deeper political thinking, but where are the tirades coming from the outraged Murdoch hacks at the plan to abolish the right to silence?

You see that right was established as part of the revolt against the practices of a real Star Chamber, not the hyperventilating indulgent carry-on of Kim Williams about a media Star Chamber.

So where's Miranda the Devine? Up Akker Dakker's fundament, if you read Speaking up for freedom and the usual jibber jabber about Orwellian this and that. And don't ask about Akker Dakker or the Bolter, they're always up their own fundament.

Instead you have to head off to The Conversation back in October last year, with Suri Ratnapala and Our right to silence is too important to lose. The pond likes it so well it, here's a somewhat lengthy quote:

The principle that no person is obliged to incriminate themself is an indispensable element of the panoply of safeguards that secure the citizen’s personal liberty against state oppression. The criminal justice system in common law countries excludes involuntary confessions, bans torture, upholds the presumption of innocence, requires proof of criminal charges beyond reasonable doubt and excludes irrelevant and unreliable evidence. The right to remain silent is part of this system that was established in the seventeenth century revolt against the practices of the Star Chamber and the High Commission. 
It is part of the general common law freedom that no person be compelled on pain of punishment to answer any question asked by another person. 
 This is an aspect of the person’s right to privacy, without which individual liberty is unrealisable. Imagine a life where all your plans, whether personal, emotional or commercial, are available to all on demand. Criminal justice is unattainable without the cooperation of truthful witnesses. However, the common law has historically recognised certain specific immunities. 
 No person is bound to give answers to questions that may incriminate them. A suspect under investigation has no duty to answer questions of any kind. A person under trial for a criminal offence cannot be compelled to give evidence, and no adverse inference can be drawn from silence.

And today comes the news that O'Farrell did a dirty deal with the shooters, and the law has passed.

Yes, you can read about it in the Fairfax press in a nondescript piece tucked down the page under the header MPs backflip on 'right to silence' decision.

How did Law Society of NSW president John Dobson greet the treachery and the betrayal, which no doubt saw the shooters gain the right to some other benefit, having already gained the right to shoot stray passers-by in national parks?

...Law Society of NSW president, John Dobson, said the changes will take the NSW law beyond the UK silence provisions. 
“An adverse inference could be drawn simply as a result of not mentioning a fact at the time of police questioning which is later relied on at trial, " he said. 
“There are many reasons people may exercise the right to silence, including because they are in shock or confused about the allegations, affected by drugs or alcohol, inarticulate or have poor English. “Introducing mandatory defence disclosure in all trial matters would also have significant cost and resource implications for defence and prosecution agencies at a time when resources are already under strain." 

And meanwhile not a Murdoch crusade or crusader in sight or within cooeeeeee.

Instead the Murdoch press exercised its elitist right to silence.

Which is more than the rest of us will be able to do in the future in New South Wales ...

(Below: hey nonny no, on we go, we can at least exercise the right to irony).

1 comment:

  1. Why you should never talk to the police.

    "So for all these reasons, whether you are guilty or innocent, whether you want to confess or want to exonerate yourself, whether you’re poorly educated or the most eloquent speaker in the world, you should NEVER, EVER, under any circumstances, give a statement to the police when you have been detained as a suspect."


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