Thursday, October 09, 2014

Talk about an over-dose of irony pills ...

By golly, the pond just wanted to pickle that headline in aspic.

The full story is at The Graudian here.

It immediately raises the question, is there a free speech libertarian in the house?

Hmm, maybe not.

But there are dozens of ironists, and the ironists have been kept busy pointing out the irony of Tony Abbott apologising to a man who's made a career out of hate, and who made the Cronulla riots worse with his hate-filled invective and who thought nothing of suggesting that Julia Gillard be dropped into a chaff bag and drowned at sea ...

Which makes it hard to berate Islamic fundies for their attitude to women ...

Apologise to a genuine certified dealer in hate? (Tribunal rules Alan Jones incited hatred)

Now the pond deplores people who call Alan Jones a bitter, wasp-tongued, deeply unhappy old queen.

Let the rest stand but there's no reason to libel queens to make the point ... listening to your average queen isn't like enduring a radio tongue dipped in acid, or having a bath in paint remover ...

But it does raise an interesting question. What to do about the hate mongers?

Is it wise and proper to ban Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt, and perhaps the entire Murdoch media circus?

There really hasn't been a bigger bunch of hate mongers in recent years...

And then there's all the other hate gangs listed by the IBT here: the Crazy White Boys, the Australian Defence League, Combat 18, the Southern Cross Hammerskins and Blood and Honour Australia ...

Perhaps they could be given a job on a Murdoch rag so they can walk the straight and narrow ...

But wait, wait, was it only yesterday, talk of banning was such an easy game to play, there was no need to hide away, suddenly the free speech rights of the Bolter were only half the rights they used to be ...

Yes, there was a rage, a passion for free speech, what with the Bolter suffering, and talk of banning Gert Wilders afoot, and him being a ratbag from over the seas, and the Bolter wildly indignant at the injustice of it all:

And the rest of that extremely long and intemperate rant here.

Oh the Bolter was routinely outraged in early 2013, as determined ironists can remind themselves by suffering through On daring to hear Wilders, and on simply smearing him, and through his column Wilders' cowardly critics must explain this conference, and so on ...

So where's the Bolter now when it comes to free speech, however misguided, racist or Alan Jones-ish or Bolterish it might be?

Well he was very understanding, he understood Tony Abbott's concern:

I am very wary of banning any group unless the incitement to terrorism is explicit. But Hizb ut-Tahrir’s latest event sounds like it comes close ...

Yes it was "but, billy goat, but" ...

Again, I am not yet sure Hizb ut-Tahrir should be banned. But I have been very worried that it has not been opposed more strongly by Muslim leaders and parts of the media. (Abbott wants powers to ban preachers of terror)

And then the Bolter followed up with this. The temptation was irresistible:

Yes, because bigots should be allowed to run wild and free ...

Ah the ironies, as one more time Brandis's line about people having the right to be bigots comes back to haunt the Bolter ...

Poor muzzled Bolter, poor silenced hate merchant, poor bigot who can't be a bigot and run wild and free ...

Hmmm, but somewhere along the way, the Bolter must have had his morning libertarian free speech pill, because the next entry faithfully reproduced the remarks of Senator David Leyonhjelm:

By this time the pond was thoroughly confused, but felt that after taking dozens of these irony pills, heading off to the toilet for a pee would likely produce a stream of bright yellow irony of the kind you get after overdosing on a mega B vitamin tablet ...

Could the reptiles explain free speech a little more clearly?

In the battle to preserve tolerance, free, democratic and pluralistic societies must set a tipping point at which to quash intolerance. This newspaper’s disposition, always, is for tolerance; but it cannot be misplaced for indifference, and if we are to forever defend the freedoms we hold dear we must, at some point, refuse to tolerate forces that would destroy our liberal values. So when Tony Abbott declares we should block from entering our nation those who preach hate, we need to consider where to draw the line. For now, it seems reasonably clear; the threshold is the promotion of violence. Ideas (even repugnant ideas) can be shared on the basis that nothing serves freedom and open-mindedness better than robust debate. But once those ideas promote violence or encourage promulgation through violence, we must show zero tolerance. Even this seemingly clear distinction is bound to generate unavoidable grey areas as groups sympathetic to the aims of a variety of terrorist groups might buttress the extremists’ arguments and foment politically useful extremist grievances without overtly inciting violence. Still, whatever the difficulties, we must strive to stamp out subversive ideologies.

Ah the pond is beginning to get it.

We must refuse entry to American imperialists who come to Australia promoting violence, and encouraging promulgation through violence, and urging endless interference in the middle east and elsewhere, using bombs to produce mayhem and the loss of hundreds of thousands of innocent lives ...

Oh wait, the pond's got that wrong ... this free speech business is so confusing ...

Well the rest of the reptile editorial effort in favour of banning radicals can be found outside the paywall in Tipping point of tolerance as haters target our values ... but let's just pick it up at the end:

...terror plots, some large-scale and sophisticated, have been thwarted — so we know the threat is real. New anti-terror laws will seek greater access to communications metadata to track linkages to online hate preachers. If we are to do this — and we surely must — then it would be foolish to allow hate preachers in the flesh to visit our shores. 
Promoting violence is the obvious boundary in making such assessments but beyond that, as the case of Hizb ut-Tahrir demonstrates, the community and political challenge can only become increasingly complex.

Remember that line ... would be foolish to allow hate preachers in the flesh to visit our shores ...

... the next time an American visits urging Australia to violence, or Vladimir Putin turns up in Queensland urging the benefits of violence in Ukraine or against journalists, or Rupert Murdoch comes for a visit, or some other right wing hate preacher in the flesh comes to visit Australia's free speech shores ...

Meanwhile, was there any chance at all, just a teeny weeny itsby bitsy one, that Tony Abbott was - beguiled by a hate merchant - talking through his hat?

Yep, that's how hate-mongering and fear-mongering works.

It was just another dog-whistle ...

Get yourself a decent straw dog and then bash away with carefree disregard for the facts, and get everybody agitated, the Bolter and the reptiles, and hysteria just the next breath away ...

And yet ... here we are, routinely told that it's the internet where radicals do their real business.

So are we back in the world of a giant Conroy internet filter?

By way of contrast, a meeting in the flesh of actual ratbags  seems like a real opportunity ...

Here's a publicly promoted meeting where a decent spook in disguise might attend and observe the attendees (hey you can still hide completely in certain kinds of clothes, and maybe you could get an extra allowance for dressing in drag).

So is there an alternative way?

For the past decade, security agencies in the West have repeatedly considered whether the group should be banned. Invariably, they have declined. 
The main concern has been that the group is a "conveyer belt" for jihadists, a weigh station where they are inculcated with radical ideology before they leave for a group with more violent tendencies. Nawab Osman, an academic at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore who did his doctorate in Australia on the group, says the "conveyer belt" theory doesn't stack up. Hizb, overall, acted as a bulwark against Islamic radicals taking the next step and turning to terrorism, he said. 
A ban, he added, would be counter-productive. 
"All you will do is create martyrs out of Hizb ut Tahrir. It will grow and it will grow underground. That makes it much more difficult for security agencies to monitor." (Is Prime Minister's anger at 'hate preachers' justified?, forced video at end of link)

What's astonishing is the way that the Bolter and the Murdochians fell into line with the 'ban this, and never mind the facts ma'am' Abbott routine ...

Is there a final irony in this, and in the Murdochians being slow learners?

Well yes, the dear sweet things have only just woken up, and amongst the sleeping beauties springing to life is Greg "bromance" Sheridan:

Yep, long after it's done and dusted, the reptiles are in a state of high agitation and dudgeon. 

Sheridan gets extremely upset about 35P and the act's jail sentences for journalists, a "desperately misguided overreaction with potentially sinister consequences".

Now there's an irony for you, all the more so as the reptiles seem to have failed to notice what was happening in the actual parliament, and now after the horse has long bolted, Sheridan notices the barn doors are wide ajar:

This is one of the worst moves against media freedom that I have seen. 
The idea of the legislation is that the identity of ASIO agents working under cover should be protected from media or other revelations. Well, of course that is obvious. It is already an offence to reveal agents’ names. 
But this legislation, by design or inadvertence, will massively shift power to government and away from media institutions, which are already much weaker than they were and much weaker than they should be. It was designed by people who either don’t understand how journalists operate in national security stories, or understand perfectly well and want to shift the balance of power unhealthily to government. 
 One of the profoundly objectionable elements of the legislation is that an SIO, once a government declares it, remains illegal to write about indefinitely, even after it’s long finished. 
To take an extreme case — as Bret Walker SC, the former national security legislation monitor, has pointed out — if ASIO accidentally kills someone in an SIO this can never be written about in the media, ever. 
Such a scenario will never present itself. ASIO behaves in an exemplary fashion. But we shouldn’t have laws that are manifestly ridiculous ...

Speaking of manifestly ridiculous? ASIO behaves in an exemplary fashion ...

Along the way Sheridan takes a detour to shoot a rival messenger:

This legislation does nothing to prevent the most damaging types of leaks, such as occurred with Edward Snowden. He knew his leaks were illegal and was prepared for the consequences. He simply dumped millions of secret documents on to his computer and steadily released them. The new laws would make no difference to an Australian Snowden. 
I criticised the way the ABC handled Snowden’s revelations about Australian eavesdropping on the Indonesian president, his wife and inner circle. I had no problem with the ABC reporting this, once Snowden had made it public. But I was critical of the ABC turning itself into Snowden’s publicity machine. The ABC’s ­irresponsibility then has contributed to the atmosphere that makes this kind of appalling legislation possible. 

It was the ABC wot done it? Now there's a stupid man. Is there anyone else to blame? Say the left?

Hypocrisy, of course, is widespread. Those figures on the Left now championing free speech were happy to limit free speech by hysterically opposing and demonising the government’s quite modest proposed changes to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. But once you compromise free speech without a compelling reason in one area, it is easier for your opponents to do so in another area. 

Uh huh.

Remember that line? How's that sitting with the stupid one? would be foolish to allow hate preachers in the flesh to visit our shores ...

Yep, once you compromise free speech, it's easy for the right wing haters to keep on doing it ... but do go on ...

This legislation could cripple normal, responsible, national security journalism. I have been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Very often you get a piece of information that a government urges you not to publish. If there are compelling, genuine, national security reasons, most journalists comply. Mostly the government cannot legally stop you from publishing. So, in the absence of compelling national security concerns, you have a hard, hard conversation with government along the lines of this: I’m going to publish this whether you like it or not, you can give me some context and your side of the story or you can leave me to publish what I’ve got. 
Through gritted teeth, a government frequently then gives you some background. The result is that the public knows vastly more than would otherwise be the case. People who think such stories are regularly dumped to journalists have no idea what a complex, unpredictable, diverse, exploratory, jigsaw-like business this mostly is. The government now can stop all this give and take simply by telling the journalist they are dealing with an SIO and cannot legally publish. How would the journalist know whether that’s true or not? Most security operations will involve some ASIO dimension, so could be classed as an SIO. Governments thus will have more power than ever to prevent serious, good faith reporting of security matters that may simply embarrass them. The power of governments to declare subjects forever unpublishable is a wicked and extreme power. 
One likely consequence is for gonzo journalists to publish without consultation and dare the government to jail them. This horrible polarisation will give governments less ability to influence serious journalism and drive security stories into the hands of extremists, nutters, conspiracy theorists and overseas websites. In time, it will delegitimise national security. 
This is drastically bad legislation that should be repealed.


It's done and dusted. Where was Sheridan when it was happening? Where's Sheridan when the Oz editorialist and the Bolter speak up for bans here and bans there?

Is there any chance of an even bigger irony? It would be ever so delicious if the reptiles scored an incredible scoop, one of their world-famous EXCLUSIVES and they couldn't do anything with it ...

Meanwhile can there be any more fatuous or ironic sight than watching an impotent Sheridan jump up and down demanding legislation should be repealed, having done nothing, absolutely nothing, to inhibit it from passing ...

Well that's more than enough irony pills for the day. The pond could end up looking like a yellow submarine.

And so to the news of war.

How's Turkey helping out? How are the gulf states performing?

As usual, the pond resorts to cartoonists for the real news, and there's more Pope here.


  1. And lets not forget Miranda the Devine, advocating stringing up Greenies on lamp posts....

  2. Another irony must be the disappointment of the AFP that Soapy Brandis still hasn't got his meta data laws passed yet.

    How helpful would they be in seeing who was making calls to the journalist publishing confidential Immigration Department reports smearing the Save the Children organisation?

  3. "The Overlanders" is on Gem. Arguably Australia's best 'western'. Chips is great and the b&w photography pretty amazing. What do you think DP?

    1. Yes they're running a few oldies these days. Bitter Springs was also on, and every so often the Eileen Joyce biopic Wherever She Goes turns up - it's an inconsequential film, but Joyce was a great pianist. While the pond honours what Harry Watt did for the industry here, if we're talking Ozwesterns, then surely The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith should be noted, while Mad Dog Morgan wins for sheer eccentricity ...

  4. according to our head lizard, the only way to save national security seems to be a dictatorship, but first you must destroy the greens and their pinko latte sipping journo mates. Hang 'em all.

  5. The Australian, IPA et el are not libertarian but rather tribalists. They defend the right to say something e.g. Bolt but only if you are on the right side. They don't see the irony that they advocate what they criticise, all they see is a political/cultural war to win.

  6. Sheridan should be commended for speaking out, even after the horse has rounded the bend. At least he has done so which is more than can be said for many others.

    I think there should be a concerted push by journalists to have these laws over-turned.

    I remain amazed that Sheridan took so long to realize the dangerous nature of these laws. What on earth took him so long?

    Abbott, Brandis, Shorten and Dreyfus should be ashamed.

    1. What took him so long? His doe-eyed adulation of his hero Tony.

      Even after eventually spotting these laws would seriously compromise his ability to get civil servants to speak openly about foreign policy, he still can't bring himself to properly apportion the blame for their creation.

      The usual culprits are rolled out - the ABC, Snowden and the Left, none of whom are the government in power.

      Sheridan is a pathetic journalist who throughout his career has sucked up to right wing authority figures and is still in denial that it is these very people who have compromised freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, open government and the right of citizens to privacy.

      Still as he has worked for Murdoch his whole life , it's unsurprising he finds it difficult to spot people who are uninterested in democratic principles.


    2. Agree with all that DW but despite the barbs tossed at usual subjects, Sheridan is expressing acute dismay. He has put forward a compelling and sincere case against the laws. He must have had those misgivings before the legislation was introduced. Why the delay?

      I notice this very early morn that the Oz's headline online is directed at the DYSFUNCTION of the government. Of course Rudd and Gillard get a bit of a kick too but the impact is directed at the leader of Team Australia. Is the bromance over?

    3. The pond is with DW. There was no need to head butt the ABC and the left for what the government is freely doing, and with the consent and approval of the Labor party ...

      They simply can't get away from blaming others for their own misdeeds. The pond was taught that when you chopped down the cherry tree, you fessed up, you didn't point your finger at Mark Scott ...

    4. Agree with both of you. The point I am laboring to make concerns timing.
      1 Sheridan is clearly disturbed by strictures on the media.
      2. He would have been just as concerned weeks ago but did not let on.
      3. Yesterday he did. His argument was sound despite the usual lashing out at well-known enemies.
      4. The next day the Oz runs with its special commissioned survey and wails about dysfunction, past and present.
      Something is going on

  7. Just a thought.....

    Why do we get every minute detail about the air force sorties over Iraq, but any mention of naval actions off the north of Australia were "operational matters" and wouldn't be commented on? Surely ISIS, has access to the interwebs and is now getting a "running commentary" on what raises a "red card"?

    1. Ah another delusional :). You no doubt think news of dropping a couple of smart bombs, or not dropping them, is important intel on a major operation up there with D-day! Whereas it's well known that this is just a prelude to Tony Abbott adopting the title Generalfeldmarschall of the western desert ...
      The important work is to stop ISIS getting into Australia by way of boat, and for that top secrecy is required, which will soon enough see Tony Abbott adopt the title Oberbefehlshaber der Kriegsmarine ...
      And that's enough money in the Godwin's Swear Jar to keep even the Bolter happy ...


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