Wednesday, 28 September 2011

"A terrible day for free speech in this country"

The country in this case being Australia, where journalist Andrew Bolt has been found guilty of writing something that some people didn't like, specifically mixed-race people who self-identify as Aboriginal. Reading what he actually wrote, as an Englishman, it's difficult to grasp what line he crossed, if indeed there is a line at all. Sure, those whom he named didn't like it, but so what? There's no right not to be offended, right?

Wrong. The judge in the case may claim that such controversial subjects are not off-limits, but he has just declared them off-limits. His ruling means that anyone discussing race issues will be risking legal action. The consequence is that whatever tensions exist, and the fact that the subject is controversial indicates that there must be tensions, will continue to exist, as they cannot be openly discussed.

Readers can peruse the article for themselves, but here are some quotes, which run contrary to the judge's ruling:
I'm not saying any of those I've named chose to be Aboriginal for anything but the most heartfelt and honest of reasons. I certainly don't accuse them of opportunism, even if full-blood Aborigines may wonder how such fair people can claim to be one of them and take black jobs.

I'm saying only that this self-identification as Aboriginal strikes me as self-obsessed and driven more by politics than by any racial reality. It's also divisive, feeding a new movement to stress pointless or even invented racial differences we once swore to overcome. What happened to wanting us all to become colour-blind?
The article ends with:
To me, this blacker-than-thou offends the deepest humanist ideals. And our "enlightened" opinion is debased when it takes a Casey Donovan, a mere Australian Idol winner, to hint at the healthier truth, saying she's proud of being Aboriginal, but "proud of being half-white, too".

In fact, let's go beyond racial pride. Beyond black and white. Let's be proud only of being human beings set on this land together, determined to find what unites us and not to invent such racist and trivial excuses to divide. Deal?
Brother, if you're so thin-skinned that the above is offensive, you better watch that Aussie sun.

Hat tip: The Humble Servant


The Humble Servant said...

The biggest issue I have with this post is you misspelt Aussie.

I stand by my claims that Bolt is a cock and attacking Aboriginal issues in Australia is fairly divisive. I think he could have avoided being as personal as he was with his examples and he might have got away with it. Maybe.

Many Australians will disagree but I think with Aboriginal affairs you've got to be very careful. This isn't some potato famine, crusades or war of independence. The appalling treatment of the Aboriginals is still very recent and many claim still on-going.

I don't think I'm personally responsible and I don't think any Australian should feel that way but at the very least I think we need to tread delicately around any issues to do with Aboriginals and Bolt knew full well what he was getting himself in for.

Have the reactions from his opponents been rational? Of course not and the decision is obscene given the leftist love of free speech when it fucking suits them.

So, in summary for me - Bolt is a cock who knew what he was doing but to prosecute the man for an opinion is insane. I thought such idiocy only existed in the UK.

As for "race is irrelevant" I agree 100% with Bolt. But as said above - with Aboriginal affairs it's a minefield.

The Humble Servant said...

Interesting follow-up by the ABC here with the 7 minute story from The 7:30 Report.

The woman from Crikey (yes, laugh it up) seems to be coming from the right direction. And the two Aboriginal Brothers also have interesting things to say.

Those shouting "Yay for freedom of speech" make me angry. Urgh.

As for the bearded man wearing the pelt shawl, that would be many-times accused but never convicted rapist, Geoff Clark.

Trooper Thompson said...

Ah, Aussie! It didn't look right. Thanks, I've changed it now.

Ta for the update. The more I learn, the more mystifying it seems, at least to an Englishman, in fact I'm not even sure I am an Englishman - I may be Aboriginal too!

I'd like to know what some of their darker cousins make of it.

The Humble Servant said...

I just had a chat with my flatmate about it (also Australian) and she feels the same as I do in terms of it being a minefield. In fact as she put it, Aboriginal issues can be as explosive as discussing abortion and euthanasia at a dinner party. It's an Australian thing. Like happiness and sunshine.

As for the 'fuller' Aborigines opinion on all this, I don't think they'd mind. They're probably too drunk anyway*.

* that is me using ironic racism. Alcoholism within Aboriginal communities is one of the most appalling "white fella" legacies but I am a joke-maker first, as you well know.

Trooper Thompson said...

I know that, but I'm not sure you'd want to explain the irony it to the judge in this particular case.

The Humble Servant said...

Now the Sydney Morning Herald has its say

Some interesting facts that weren't evident on the ABC reports. If what they were pursuing was a retraction and apology from the gross inaccuracies then they are entitled to that and if that's what the ruling meant then fair enough. He was being slapped for shoddy journalism.

But I hereby retire from this story. Freedom of speech = good. This case = messy as fuck.

Trooper Thompson said...

You're right it's messy, as he seems to have been found guilty of something that he didn't do - or that should not be a crime, because he was guilty of something else - i.e. factual inaccuracies.

They are also making a deal out of him using the internet to research the article, as if this isn't what every journalist and everyone else does.