How cheeky, weird, ironic and post-modernist can it get in Murdochian la la land?
No doubt there's a formula:
But why bother with formulas when you can enjoy the simple pleasure of a man currently embroiled in legal action against the ABC moaning about ideological opposites being muzzled by the judiciary?
Will we ever see a headline like Debate best avenue for ABC's detractors?
You can get around the paywall if you like and read A free and vigorous debate would be the best avenue for Bolt's detractors, but it's such a bizarre and existentially peculiar experience, it should only be done if you're in good physical and mental health.
Almost every line invites a reading with a mantra, a chorus, the sort of simple harmony you could get in the good old days of Motown:
“In a free and energetic society, giving offence is necessary,” wrote David Marr in The Sydney Morning Herald. “It’s called being grown up. Its other name is freedom.”
Freedom? But what about the legal action against the ABC?
After a week of debate about the Racial Discrimination Act and proposed amendments to the so-called Andrew Bolt clause, these are refreshingly wise words from a leading left commentator.
Wise words? But what about the legal action against the ABC?
We need to remember that we live in a land where two of Bolt’s newspaper columns are banned from republication — they are the uncolumns.
Uncolumns? But what about the unimages at the ABC?
In an ideal world perhaps all journalists would show solidarity by having their newspapers or websites defiantly republish the columns — a national act of civil disobedience in favour of free speech. There is no such support.
Republish the unimages? But what about the Chris Kenny legal action against the ABC?
Indeed, the journalistic consensus seems antagonistic towards the Abbott government’s moves to claw back the provisions used against Bolt.
Antagonistic? You mean like the legal action against the ABC?
Those words from Marr were written six years ago, not about the Bolt case but the offence caused by artworks such as Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ . When it came to Bolt’s conviction under the RDA’s section 18C, Marr, like many journalists, exhibited only schadenfreude. “Freedom of speech is not at stake here,” wrote Marr. “Bolt was wrong. Spectacularly wrong.”
And so we come to realise that the “permanent oppositional, moral-political community” is actually quite submissive.
Schadenfreude? Is that German for taking an action against the ABC?
Submissive? Is that the same as submitting a legal action against the ABC?
The progressives, or Green Left — so lovingly described in those terms by Robert Manne — have been less than oppositional when it comes to recent attacks on freedom of expression.
Oppositional? Does that include a legal action against the ABC?
They seem to ration their liberalism depending on the perceived partisan leanings of the proponent or defendant. The acquiescence of the permanent oppositional moral-political community exists even though they count as their own large elements of the Canberra press gallery and journalists elsewhere. They give free speech short shrift.
Short shrift? Does that include the legal action against the ABC?
When the Gillard government, in a fit of pique and paranoia, called an inquiry into the print media, then drafted legislation for de facto regulation of newspaper content, it won support, incredibly, from many journalists particularly at the ABC.
The bloody ABC? Can we take a legal action against the ABC?
Even the journalists’ union, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, was mostly absent from the battlefield, supporting the inquiry and standing meekly by to see press freedom whittled away before speaking up when it was clear the package was doomed.
The battlefield? Is that the courtroom where we can take a stand against the ABC and jumped up bloody comedians?
You can go on playing this game, and singing the same song for the entirety of the column:
To see the importance of what is transpiring we need only consider these events another way around. Think of the Abbott government introducing laws to regulate print media content. And let us pretend laws against religious persecution are used to convict Marr over columns about Tony Abbott and the Catholic Church, so that he is forced to apologise and the offending columns are banned.
Oh instead of the Catholic church - the Pellists and their handling of child abuse is just too easy to defend - can we just imagine a satirical image of Chris Kenny doing things with a dog?
It is not hard to imagine the justifiable and thunderous outrage from the Right.
Oh sorry, typo alert, where it said Right, it should have veered Left.
After all, many are already screaming like banshees at the very mention of holding the ABC to its existing charter.
Banshees? Wouldn't it be simpler to scream sue, sue, sue, sue their bloody socks off?
Left or right, centrist or apathetic, we all have an interest in resisting insidious encroachments on free speech.
Except of course when it comes to satirical matters on the ABC. Sue, sue, sue their bloody socks off!
It is true Labor’s media regulation has been seen off, for now, and that section 18C has been in place for decades.
So let's head off to court and teach those bloody wannabe satirical clowns a lesson ...
But gradually the game palls, especially when Kenny does the usual in this matter, which is to turn Bolt apologist, and wheel in others to support the Bolter:
But where the Left and many journalists have been derelict is in not being innervated by the Bolt case. Instead of rushing to trumpet our own tolerance by condemning Bolt’s harshness, those of us interested in the free exchange of ideas should condemn Judge Mordy Bromberg’s decision and/or the laws under which it was given. You don’t have to agree with the confronting columnist to defend his right to share his views. As it happens, Bolt’s columns were appeals against race-based preferment and the temptation to parade one aspect of our ethnic make-up over any other. The columns highlighted an extremely significant issue about whether grants and positions for indigenous Australians are going to those suffering discrimination or disadvantage or whether, at least sometimes, they go to those simply able to demonstrate a connection. Kerryn Pholi, who worked in but then rejected positions reserved for Aborigines, has written at length on this from a personal perspective in Quadrant. “I felt hurt (by the Bolt columns) because the truth hurts,” she says, “and my comforting rationalisations about myself and my place in the world were already painfully dissolving.”
Now the pond wouldn't know Kerryn Pholi from a bar of soap or a satirical image on the ABC involving a dog, but it's astonishing to read that Pholi was hurt by the Bolter's truth.
Now there's a seriously disturbed individual, especially as the blather about the truth hurting wilfully ignores the many ways the Bolter actually got his facts wrong. Shouldn't Pholi have written I felt hurt because the untruths hurt?
The way the Bolter got key points wrong was why it was easy to find against him, why the Murdochians didn't appeal, and why many in the legal fraternity thought a defamation action would have succeeded.
It's always worth going back to Eatock v Bolt to remember what was actually decided.
Sad to say, you won't get that from reading Pholi refracted through Kenny ... and Kenny wilfully dumbing down and misinterpreting what Bromberg actually said in his judgment.
But you do get ongoing comedy:
This ill-defined and subjective power in the hands of the judiciary is far too broad and can only have a chilling effect on free speech.
So let's sue the ABC.
That'll chill those bloody comedians who think they're satirists good ...
There are two ways a more free society could have dealt with Bolt’s challenging and provocative columns. First, to the extent they raised important issues and people disagreed, then his views should have been contested in a vigorous and free debate. And to the extent individuals believed their reputations were attacked and damaged, the longstanding protections of defamation law were available.
So let's sue the ABC.
The 18C amendments are necessary to ensure we see no more columns banned.
But hey, if a few comedians who think they're satirists get banned or bankrupted, where's the harm in that?
Let's see many more dangerous images banned. You know, like the Islamics did with those wretched Scandinavian cartoonists.
Now on a technical point, the pond admits some of the above chorus isn't quite Motown.
Motown tends to keep it simple:
Oh-oh, he's suing (Suing)
On that legal train to learn the ABC a lesson,
Yeah (Suing on a midnight train)
Said he's going back to find, ooh (Going back to find)
A simpler place and time, ooh, yeah
(Whenever he takes that ride, guess who's not gonna be right by his side)
I'm not gonna be with him (don't know who will)
On that legal train to teach some comedians a lesson
(Leaving on a legal train to hypocrisy, woo woo)
I'd rather he lived in his world (Lived in his world)
Than lived with me in mine
(His world is his, his and his lawyers alone)
But speaking of choruses, punters who can't get enough of the bizarre spectacle of the collective kool aid drinking by the reptiles at the lizard Oz will appreciate getting a double bunger:
It's a cunning ploy, because there's a languid photo of Gabriel Sassoon adorning the actual story, so you can see who """ really is:
What Andrew Bolt said in his articles was hurtful and wrong. Most of it would have been unlawful under defamation law.
But if he wishes to make ignorant comments about “fair-skinned” Aborigines, or if some hate group wishes to deny the Holocaust, I disapprove of what they say, but I will defend to the death their right to say it. That is their right in a democratic society.
So set to, holocaust deniers. Why you could start with stripping the capital off the word, since god herself isn't above a holocaust now and then, as Russell Crowe is reminding us in the cinemas right now ...
Is there an irony in this? Well yes, back in the day, it was Philip Ruddock that banned David Irving from visiting Australia, one of a number of bans instituted by both sides of the house (Irving even has a page on his website dedicated to the many rebuffs he's endured, here).
It's shocking, outrageous stuff, this banning of a man who sees the brighter side of Nazism. The pond looks forward to Gabriel Sassoon's vigorous campaign to overturn this shocking ban, in which the party governing for the bigots, by the bigots, seems to have taken a role ...
Now can any drinker of the kool aid top all this?
Glad you asked. Cue serial pest and relentlessly dumb energiser bunny Brendan O'Neill:
Oh dear, and O'Neill not a signatory to the pond's Godwin's Law swear jar convention. We could have made out like bandits ...
How weird does it get? O'Neill defending Bardot having a go at the Islamic ritualised slaughter of animals, and shush, not a word about the way that the slaughter of animals by Islamics (Halal) and Jews (Kashrut) are dead ringers .... except for a few details.
Never mind. Bardot would have been on much safer ground simply decrying animal slaughter. Then the Islamics, the Jews, and the pond - don't feed the pond any guff about it being a meat-free week, feed the pond meat - would all have been guilty as charged.
But okay, let's forget the right of loons to be loons. Where would the pond be without them? How does O'Neill join the chanting band of loons?
The Weimar Republic of the 30s had laws against “insulting religious communities”. They were used to prosecute hundreds of Nazi agitators, including Joseph Goebbels. Did it stop them? No. It helped them. The Nazis turned their prosecutions for hate speech to their advantage, presenting themselves as political victims and whipping up public support among aggrieved sections of German society, their future social base. Far from halting Nazism, hate speech legislation assisted it.
The Weimar Republic of the 30s? Say what you will, the Weimar was dead in all but name by March 1930 when President Hindgenburg assumed dictatorial emergency powers, and appointed a number of chancellor lackeys who ruled by presidential decree until he met a chancellor in 1933 who was more than his match.
It's the tendency to simplification that shows a simple, simplistic mind at work.
Has anyone else deployed the Nazi party?
Why yes, James Allan was on the same stump early in March with These elitist hate-speech laws erode democracy.
Note the tidy pike and twist which sees "elitist" get into the header.
Leave aside the fact it is insulting to Australians today to have any argument implicitly rest on the premise that we are somehow like Weimar Germany, and realise that, for more than a decade before Hitler came to power, the Weimar regime did have hate speech laws and did have prosecutions for anti-Semitic speech. Convictions, too. And that sort of ''suppress, suppress, suppress'' mindset worked out how, exactly?
eek, is that brendan o'neill pretending to be a professor of law in queensland? (let's have a world free of capitals, so much shouting).
Now the one thing that gets the goat of the pond is people misusing and abusing history. Or seeking parallels in the past to explain or propose a course of action in the present, and in the process wilfully abusing what actually happened in the past, or entirely missing the point of what is actually at work in the present.
Peter Wertheim took time out to explain the bleeding obvious:
Contrary to the assertions of Professor James Allan, (‘These elitist hate-speech laws erode democracy’, Sydney Morning Herald, March 3), there was no equivalent of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act in Weimar Germany.
The only laws against hate speech were criminal offences, not civil remedies. Weimar Germany had nothing equivalent to the framework which currently exists under the Racial Discrimination Act within which complaints of racial vilification have, in the vast majority of cases, been successfully conciliated through the Australian Human Rights Commission or resolved by direct negotiations between the parties. This framework, which has proven to be an inexpensive, just and efficient way of resolving complaints, would be lost if section 18C were repealed as Allan recommends. The anti-hate laws of Europe, past and present, bear no comparison to section 18C. (And more here)
Wertheim makes the bleeding obvious point that the Weimar republic had a few other problems at the time.
It's also stating the obvious that Allan's simple-minded suggestion that the 'suppress mindset' helped pushed the Nazis to power was just an idle provocation.
Which brings the pond to yet another obvious point. There seems to be nothing in 18C that prevents routinely blatant displays of bigotry and stupidity on a daily basis, with the Murdochian press showing and leading the way.
Never mind, the pond's dream of imposing a Godwin's Law swear jar on the minions of Murdoch will never come to pass, and with it the millions to be made in the first week of operation are lost, and Australia's infrastructure set back by decades. No super train? Blame the refusal to implement Godwin's Law national swear jar...
As for the rest, the pond sees no sign of the bigots being halted in their bigoted traducing and abuse of history, and their relentless desire to allow the Bolter to get back to bashing the blacks.
But when the Bolter is allowed to return to his black bashing ways, what then?
Why sue the ABC ...
(Below: speaking of the kool aid, it turns out that David Pope has discovered the chief supplier. Why there he is with a kool aid cocktail and a pussy cat, and a whole keg of IPA draught. How kind of him to share it with the Murdochians. And who can argue with a crossing of Milne and Python? More Pope here. Lucky he doesn't work for the ABC).