Friday, April 04, 2014

Australia is a land of tosh ...

(Above: how about "Australia is a land of crazy media barons and their minions?" Clive and Gina are probably a bit too easy. More Leunig here)

Sorry, the pond simply can't recall.

No, the pond has no memory of it, none at all.

It might well be that the pond watched a rap show on Apple TV and that this led to an outbreak of potty mouth yesterday, but that was yesterday and so is yonks in the past.

And before you snigger at the memory loss, it seems there are many other examples of memory loss, on both sides of the aisle, the latest detailed by the Fairfaxians in Saw nothing, did nothing (forced video at end of link).

Try crossing the pond's palm with $200k and the memory might return - or on the other hand, it might not.

Meanwhile, what a pleasure to see Richard Ackland nail the hapless, nutty Timbo to the wall in Culture wars ignite piggy in the middle-style bigotry:

One of the nuttier contributions came from Brandis' freedoms expert, Tim Wilson, ex-Institute of Public Affairs and now a Human Rights Commissioner. 
Timbo was in The Sun-Herald complaining it was "bizarre" that members of a community can use racially loaded language to each other, while people outside that community cannot. 
Was he referring to the word "nigger", asked reporter Bianca Hall? 
At this point Wilson was not very deftly dancing on eggshells and cracking quite a few of them in the process. "I won't say it, but that's right." 
He wants poor old section18C repealed so News provocateurs will never again get into trouble. It's only fair, he argues, for there to be "equality before the law". 
Two things about this latest cack-handed contribution to the "community consultation". 
First, there is a world of difference between black people calling themselves "nigger", as we saw in The Wire, and whities or yellowies applying the same word to black people. 
It's like gay men calling each other "poofter". For a non-gay man to do the same thing can be insulting. Minority communities appropriate offensive words to use with each other as a way of making light of the way they have been stigmatised. 
Second, when you talk about "equality before the law", it's helpful if you know what you're talking about. In a formal sense the law says everyone is equal and will be treated equally. But then we also know that people come before the law from unequal positions. 
To ensure that the law has an equal impact on people affected by it is what is largely ignored in the puerile way in which the issue is discussed. 

Is it appropriate to call someone nutty and puerile and an eggshell cracker?

Well surely when someone has called others "bizarre", and then offered a nutty, puerile, eggshell cracking contribution, it's both modest and seemly ...

Meanwhile, over at the lizard Oz, Michael Sexton has come up with a canny ploy to discuss 18C, in We need more than libel laws (behind the paywall because you pay for the freedom to read)

Sexton boldly leads with this:

But section 18C is not concerned with truth or falsity. If a statement is offensive or insulting, it does not matter whether it is true or not.

And so the pond turned once more to Eatock v Bolt - so few in the debate seem to bother to read the actual matter at the heart of reptile and Bolter rageand discovered that the learned judge, according to Google, made use of the word "truth" some forty times, and that his notion of the truth significantly affected his findings, especially insofar as the truth might provide a defence in 18D against 18C:

8. For the reasons that follow, I have determined that some of the messages (what lawyers call “the imputations”) which were conveyed by the two newspaper articles, were reasonably likely to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate the people in question (or some of them), and that those articles were written or published by Mr Bolt and HWT including because of the race, colour or ethnic origin of those people. I have not been satisfied that the conduct is exempted from unlawfulness by s 18D. The reasons for that conclusion have to do with the manner in which the articles were written, including that they contained erroneous facts, distortions of the truth and inflammatory and provocative language and that as a result, the conduct of Mr Bolt and HWT is not justified in the manner required by s 18D of the RDA.

Indeed the learned judge seemed obsessed with the truthfulness of witnesses and contemplated board philosophical matters involving "truth":

228. Liberal-democratic thinking identified three main pillars or foundational arguments that justify the existence of the principle of freedom of expression; firstly, the pursuit and discovery of truth (also known as the ‘argument from truth’); second, the harvest of self- fulfilment (also known as ‘the argument from autonomy’); and thirdly, the enablement of democratic governance (also known as ‘the argument from democracy’); Keegstra at 727-728; and Coleman at [333] (Heydon J); and see Carmi G, “Dignity – The Enemy from Within: Theoretical and Comparative Analysis of Human Dignity As A Free Speech Justification” (2006-2007) 9 U. Pa. J. Const. L. 957; Chesterman M, Freedom of Speech in Australian Law, Chapter 2; Barendt E, Freedom of Speech (2nd ed, Oxford University Press, 2005) at 6-23; Weinstein J “Extreme Speech, Public order, and Democracy: Lessons from The Masses” in Hare I and Weinstein J (eds), Extreme Speech and Democracy (Oxford University Press, 2009) pp 23-30.


390. The protection of reputation through defamation law and the protection sought to be provided by s 18C are both infused with the need to protect social standing and public esteem. That feature of s 18C was emphasised by Lee J in Bropho at [138]. Just as an adherence to the value of truth protects reputation, so too will it serve to protect the values which s 18C seeks to foster. The protection of reputation and the protection of people from offensive behaviour based on race are both conducive to the public good: Scully at [239] (Hely J). Untruths are at the heart of racial prejudice and intolerance. When not misused, truth will not generally cause the kind of offence s 18C is concerned with. Untruths generally will and regularly do. The more a comment made on the basis of asserted facts is based on true facts rather than untruths, the more likely it is that any offence, insult, humiliation or intimidation arising from the comment will be minimised. A conscientious approach to freedom of expression is required by s 18D. Expressions made on the basis of untrue or distorted facts or without due care to avoid distortions of the truth are not likely to involve a conscientious approach to the task of honouring the values asserted by the RDA.

Truth to tell, there were so many references to truth in Bromberg's judgement, that the pond came to the conclusion that Sexton was an ass talking out of his arse, and a fine example of truthiness.

Sexton spends the rest of his piece using the Armenian genocide as an example likely to be insulting to Turks, and explaining how the pond - amongst many others - could be done over by referring to the said Armenian genocide.

It is of course hogwash, and a convenient way of avoiding the elephant in the room, which is the Holocaust and Holocaust deniers.

Sexton then descends into an absurdity of fear-mongering - upset Palestinians, agitated Israelis, disturbed Sri Lankans, defiant terrorist Tamils, all resorting to 18C to clear their names and assert their political views, and judges using 18C to make grand pronouncements on history.

It's so beyond the valley of the bizarre that the pond wept to see the debate reduced to this kind of posturing nonsense ... will someone someday explain to this SC that there's more to an argument than sounding like a feral prosecutor or a defence lawyer proposing ever more preposterous outcomes?

Finally, the pond ignored the charms of Akker Dakker doing yet another bit of boofhead thuggee union bashing for the Daily Terror with his patented brass-spike clad baseball bat, because the editorialist at the lizard Oz sent out a sweet siren song with a header Our newspapers set the agenda.

Now often in the past, the reptiles have avoided displaying any strutting, preening arrogance. They have declaimed with great modesty how people have exaggerated their influence, and how the frequently noted 70% dominance of the marketplace is a false statistic.

Only yesterday the besieged and befuddled Clive Palmer was flinging the stat around again and berating the Murdochians for their evil-agenda setting Clive-bashing ways, and the pond was most upset on behalf of the mild Murdochians  ...

Back in August 2013 Sally Jackson furiously scribbled for the lizard Oz News Corp rejects share claim (behind the paywall because data doesn't come cheap).

News Corp has again rejected the oft-repeated claim, made most recently by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, that it owns 70 per cent of Australian newspapers, releasing data that shows it owns or co-owns a third of all audited newspapers.

Oh it was modesty and coyness all the way, like a Victorian aghast at the sight of a naked table leg:

"Recent political commentary has perpetuated a long-standing myth that News Corp Australia owns 70 per cent of Australian newspapers," a News spokesperson said. 
"News Corp Australia newspapers are popular - over half the adult population of Australia chooses to read a News Corp Australia newspaper each week. 
 "This means that News Corp Australia has a 59 per cent share of newspaper circulation. 
 "All of this ignores television, radio and the myriad of online news sources which offer more diversity in opinion than at any time in history."

It led the likes of The Conversation to do a fact check on the Ruddster's remark here (how strange that sounds, how much like the feather from a plucked chook, and when did we all stop banging our heads with a Ruddster hammer?)

Well, you can't keep a good sociopath - and their grandiose ego and sense of self-esteem - in the closet for long. Her's the full vainglorious header:

Silly, strutting, preening lizards.

They've fallen for the oldest card in the pack. You see, if the ABC doesn't set the agenda, what's all the fuss about?

If it's News Corp setting the agenda, that means Australia is at the whim of a nepotic twittering despot who tweets about how a 777 was hijacked and hidden in northern Pakistan like Bin Laden ...

The reptile editorialist even mentioned the Malaysian Airline flight:

On the evening of Mr Scott’s speech, at a busy time politically and economically in Australia, the Early Edition ABC television news reflected the malaise afflicting its news gathering. The lead story, on the International Court of Justice upholding Australia’s bid to ban Japan’s Antarctic whaling program, was a day old. The second item provided no fresh insights into the fate of the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.

Indeed, indeed. It's shocking, it's appalling. The ABC should have led with this:

Now there's an angle, though strangely it seems to have been ignored by many of the reptiles too.

There's something even weirder and pathetic - perhaps even tragic - in the strutting of the reptiles.

Oh sure they spend a lot of time abusing Mark Scott for being a former political adviser with an academic background. showing inexperience and a lack of leadership in the matter of reporting - yes the reptiles expect a dictatorial tyrannical leadership because that's the only world they know.

Academic? Is there anything lower or more slithery than this, not even a snake?

But how's this?

There is no comparison between the number of major, exclusive stories broken by News Corp papers, especially The Australian, and the ABC. In turn, such stories set the agenda for online chatter. Tweeters, bloggers and other social media protagonists might not realise it, but their daily outpourings often follow digital and radio reports of stories broken in print or behind News Corp’s paywalls.

The dear cackling geese actually believe their claims to be EXCLUSIVE. And they believe that by some mysterious process of diffusion and osmosis, their work fills the world of tweeters, bloggers and social media protagonists, without the innocent dupes even realising that they're spreading propaganda for Chairman Rupe ...

Uh huh. So let's see the lizard Oz tighten its paywall so that it can't be evaded in a nanosecond. Let's see how they go on living like The Times which back in 2013 boasted that it had 150,000 digital subscribers (story here)

When one wag asked why The Times no longer set the news agenda, another wag replied:

Because it has a paywall, so if the UK has a population of 60 million, its online content is invisible to 59,850,000 of them. Grauniad please note.

And that's why the Oz's paywall is so porous and pathetic. It's desperate - off its exceedingly low subscription base - to be seen as setting the agenda and leading the conversation and having power amongst the political cognoscenti ...

There's a whiff about the emperor's tatty digital clothes in the preening:

Unfortunately for his credibility, Mr Scott’s speech resurrected a lecture he gave at the same university five years ago, entitled “The Fall of Rome.’’ In it, Mr Scott misread Rupert Murdoch’s plans to introduce online paid content for his newspapers as “a classic play of old empire, of empire in decline’’ that was “wistful and perhaps wishful.’’ Tens of millions of online subscriptions around the world later, Mr Scott has been proven wrong by the growing success of News Corp’s pay walls. Not that commercial success is of interest to the ABC. It can afford to give its online content away because it is funded by taxpayers — an anomaly that should be reformed at a time of fiscal stringency. 

An anomaly? Only in Murdoch la la land could that line be written. In the old days, the line was that the ABC should stick to old media - a philosophy that if historically true, would still see Sydney listening to 2SB and 2FC on their valve radios, just as they did in 1923 (there's a brief history of ABC old time radio here).

Now the line is that the ABC should charge for its online content, because of fiscal stringency, which if there were any coherent logic to the proposal, would see them charge for access to radio and television.

But the real point of course, and the reason the reptiles are always banging on about anomalies, is that behind the cock strutting, there's naked fear that the ABC and business models like The Guardian and Huffington Post, because the reptiles believe deep down that they pose a dire threat to their own paywall model.

News is cheap and widely available. The only real point of product differentiation is if you want to read raging ring wing ratbaggery, to a declining old angry male demographic.

The reptiles want everyone hidden behind paywalls so the sheep can be shorn quietly and efficiently, as in the glory days of pay TV, and that's why they've been so threatened by the NBN.

It's pitiful, defiant stuff:

The notion of “wistful and perhaps wishful thinking’’ better fits Mr Scott’s preposterous assertion the ABC is “the only sure bet to invest in quality news and current affairs,’’ self correcting and going out of its way to put its critics on air. The ABC aimed, he said, to be “the nation’s town square, where all people can come to speak and be heard.’’ Not all Australians, however, congregate on the left flank of the town square. 
If the corporation is to better fulfil its charter, Mr Scott should focus more on the basic tenets of journalism to improve the ABC’s mediocre news and current affairs coverage.

Ah well, we can all sleep better now. Chairman Rupert sets the nation's agenda, safely steering it to the right of Genghis Khan, and the ABC is just an irrelevant home for a bunch of lefties standing off in a corner of the town square ...

But if that's the way it is, why do the reptiles waste all their time and energy on a war with the allegedly vanquished losers, the Fairfaxians, the ABC et al?

What's the point? They've won, they set the agenda, they control the nation's direction, everything's hunky dory ...

Or is believing that a bit like believing a 777 is stashed in a cave in Pakistan?

(Below: so here's a maths question. Is one oldie but goodie David Pope cartoon worth 10 million agenda-setting lizard Oz editorials? Provide proof and evidence of workings. More Pope here).


  1. Aaaah, that's better. Thanks Dorothy, as always
    Mish xo

  2. Don't forget Titus Andronicis, possibly the most violent play ever written, in which baby pie is served. And it was Queen Li'zs favourite.

    1. Best Shakespearean adaptation? Well West Side Story is worth a mention, but my bet is on The Boys from Syracuse.


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