Home > Economics - General, Oz Politics > Team Australia

Team Australia

August 7th, 2014

George Brandis’ spectacular live meltdown over metadata retention has distracted attention from the abandonment of the government’s plans to repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, prohibiting the kind of racial abuse dished out by the likes of Andrew Bolt and Fredrick Toben. Abbott’s rationale is that a purist attitude to freedom of (racially divisive) speech is something we can’t afford, given the need to unite against terrorism.

Obviously, neither Bolt nor Toben is a member of Team Australia[1]. Each makes it their primary business to stir up hatred, in Toben’s case against Jews and in Bolt’s case against (among many others) the “muslims, jihadists, people from the Middle East” he sees as responsible for Abbot’s backdown. The striking conflation of religion, geographical origin and terrorism is typical of Bolt’s approach.

Horrible as he is, though, Toben is not a serious problem. His Holocaust denialism is universally reviled, and it is a sign of strength, not weakness, in our democracy that he is free to walk the streets. Repealing the constraints imposed on him by 18C would only emphasise this.

Bolt is another story. It is his case that led the government to seek the repeal of 18C, and that motivated George Brandis’ gaffe (that is, a politically inconvenient statement of an actual belief) that people have a right to be bigots. Far from being reviled, Bolt has been embraced and coddled by the government, to the point of having exclusive access to the Prime Minister. He enjoys a well-rewarded position in the Murdoch Press. Even casting the net wider among our so-called libertarians, I’ve can’t recall seeing a harsh word against Bolt. He’s a tribal ally and his bigotry is either endorsed or passed over in silence.

It’s impossible in these circumstances, for the government to be taken seriously when they mouth the (apocryphal) Voltaire line about defending to the death speech with which they disagree. The repeal of 18C was clearly intended as an endorsement of Bolt, and not a statement of bare toleration. That position is now untenable, and it’s too late to switch back to Voltaire.

In summary, those on the right lamenting the continued existence of 18C ought to reflect on the fact that it’s their own overt or tacit endorsement of bigotry that’s brought this about. If they cleaned house, and dissociated themselves from the likes of Bolt, their claims to be supporting free speech might acquire a little more credibility.

fn1. I was going to add Sheikh Hillaly to this list. But based on this report, he seems to have joined the Team.

Categories: Economics - General, Oz Politics Tags:
  1. Uncle Milton
    August 8th, 2014 at 13:42 | #1

    @derrida derider

    “Of course that getting a personally inconvenient law changed was a feasible option for him does indicate something rotten in the state of politics.”

    It sure does. We can draw some comfort though from the fact that the attempt failed, so maybe our politics are not quite beyond redemption. We are not Putin’s Russia (yet).

    If I were an opposition senator I would asking at the next Senate Estimates how much this doing a favour for Bolt cost. The consultation process alone would have run into the millions.

  2. Fran Barlow
    August 8th, 2014 at 14:33 | #2

    @Uncle Milton

    If I were an opposition senator I would asking at the next Senate Estimates how much this doing a favour for Bolt cost. The consultation process alone would have run into the millions.

    An excellent question, particularly as they haven’t released a detailed report on the consultation process. It’s rumoured that by about a 3:1 margin those who commented were against repeal of 18C. If that’s what so much of the money was spent on, we ought at least to have the results, if only so that this should not have been a total loss.

  3. Megan
    August 8th, 2014 at 15:33 | #3

    @Hab=n

    I’ll add:

    “Debt and Deficit Disaster” – to be used all the time in the gaps between the others.

  4. Tim Macknay
    August 8th, 2014 at 15:43 | #4

    @Megan
    Also: “Boo! Terrrists!”

  5. Lt. Fred
    August 8th, 2014 at 18:57 | #5

    Obviously, the RDA is a far less serious restriction on the freedom of speech than defamation law, which nobody has suggested we ought to abandon. Unlike defamation law, I can’t think of a single case where the RDA was abused in such a way that it would deter political speech (Bolt, of course, was not deterred in the slightest). Defamation, of course, is routinely used in this way, including by Andrew Bolt in his recent and ritual SLAP against the ABC and Marcia Langton. I also note that he regularly and dishonestly accuses people of being racists as a debating tactic, as he has her – but when accused himself, this is a terrible insult, tears spring and so on.

  6. August 8th, 2014 at 19:39 | #6

    Meanwhile the IPA is attempting to organise a “civil disobedience campaign” against RDA s18C. However, it seems they either didn’t read or didn’t understand the judgement against Bolt:

    At the very least, an appropriate campaign would involve the deliberate and pre-publicized expression of opinions and disclosure of information that the relevant special interest groups have alleged would or might offend them. Ideally, these opinions should be ones that would be accepted by most ordinary Australians as reasonable (e.g., many terrorists are highly vocal Muslims); and the information disclosed should be factual (e.g., about the ineffectiveness of many programs for disadvantaged indigenous people and the channeling of scarce funding to white bureaucrats and urban professionals and academics).

    Essentially, it seems they’re organising a civil disobedience campaign where no-one actually disobeys the law…

  7. Megan
    August 8th, 2014 at 22:06 | #7

    Links only send me to eternal moderation, so you’ll have to go to “defence.gov.au” if you want to check it out.

    We have a “Team Australia” already:

    Team Australia is a collaborative initiative of the Australian Government and the Australian defence industry sector. It utilises the complementary strengths of government and industry to provide Australian defence capability solutions to global customers.

    Managed on behalf of the Australian Government by the Defence Materiel Organisation, Team Australia engages the leaders, operators and capability experts of the Australian Defence Force and the technical expertise of Australian industry. The unified Team Australia approach enables Australian industry to respond to client needs for tailored solutions to a wide range of defence and security requirements.

    Abbott was probably talking about the privatized/militarized/military-industrial-complex.

  8. Donald Oats
    August 9th, 2014 at 00:04 | #8

    All I can say is, since Tony Abbott picked his own sterling team for the cabinet, he now owns it, owns it all.

  9. yuri
    August 9th, 2014 at 03:16 | #9

    @themanwithnofingers
    Well no you can’t argue that since your understanding of the law in relation to High Court appeals or giving leave to sppeal is flawed. Rog is right and Bolt was undoubtedly advised that the judge’s findings of fact were (a) not so egregiously wrong that they could be overturned, and (b) so decisively against him on the issues which would have exculpated him despite his insulting some of the plaintiffs etc. that there was no reasonable prospect of success on appeal. What is.more it would have drawn further attention to the reason he lost – and would have lost defamation actions by some of the plaintiffs – which would have been bad for his reputation and perhaps earning power.

  10. yuri
    August 9th, 2014 at 03:30 | #10

    @Uncle Milton

    @Fran Barlow
    You both seem to have missed the obvious, namely that Bolt’s only connection to Brandis’s stuff up was to provide (as defendant) the occasion to take Sec 18C seriously. That’s all. The idea that the government was trying to do him a favour is ludicrous by the standards of both logic (as has slready been pounted out) and realism.

    Brandis may have shown little imagination and has been politically inept but you wouldn’t find barristers, including Mark Dreyfus, impugning his.motives as anything but honourable.

  11. yuri
    August 9th, 2014 at 04:30 | #11

    @Julie Thomas
    So now it is my turn to have the
    Miss Lonelyhearts treatment. But if you persist in your amateurish but earnest attempts at psychological analysis you should take care that you are accurate snd careful if you insist on being patronising.

    A minor point but I did not say that Brandis’s ideas on free speech were “wobbly”. I do have reason to suggest, as I did, that he may be a bit wobbly on some of the traditions one expects a barrister to uphold – but I did not say or imply that my reservation applied to his ideas on free speech contrary to what you attributed to me.

    Then your curious and somewhat ungrammatical paragraph apparently inviting me to consider the notion of “narrow mkndedness” generally and/or as applicable to myself. So careless that it speaks of “two concepts” [what two concepts?] while leaving one to guess what you might possibly be trying to say.

    Amongst other matters left in doubt are what was your basis for suggesting that Brandis didn’t understand 18C or perhaps his own proposed reform. Are you perhaps confusing it with the internet storage legislation which you might have read about on Thursday?

    What do I think motivates Bolt? You must have forgotten that I addressed that matter or you would have framed your question “Apart from a, b and c what do you think motivates Bolt’s campaigns?”.

    Your sarcastic – and inaccurate remark about my “dispensing wisdom” also does you no credit. You actually proceed to seek another empirical observation by me which has nothing to do wuth wisdom ir wise advice. And your question is misconceived as there is really nothing to explain about an Attorney General reviewing and seeking comment on a legal prohibition that
    has long been controversial and has been given added prominence by much publicised litigation. To suggest that he thought he could “force through” legislation which was so widely opposed is just silly. Obviously he started off with no idea (and no means when in Opposition to do a comorehensive survey) that there would be such organised opposition (indeed Jewish organisations probably wanted a change of government si much that they shut up before the ekection). That may partly explain why he has failed to define a saleable product abd sell it. Given the number on the left and right who have criticised 18C I think he has some excuse for what has still been quite a stuff up.

  12. John Quiggin
    August 9th, 2014 at 06:12 | #12

    Yuri, I think you will find that Julie only offers this analysis to people, like you, whose comments are gratuitously offensive to other commenters or to me as author of the original post, in violation of the comment rules. I let it slide, but I think it’s reasonable for others to speculate on the mental state that produces trollery.

  13. Julie Thomas
    August 9th, 2014 at 06:40 | #13

    @yuri

    Too long: did’t read. :)

    But I like the last sentence. The one about stuff-ups.

    You really miss the point and the point you miss is totally the point; you don’t understand what is happening. All your waffling and justifying and making excuses for the inadequacies of the men and ideas that you support is irrelevant.

    People don’t want to understand the way Brandis or any of the other foolish old men – however old they are in chronological age, they are old in their thinking so don’t quibble – who are attempting to be a government have understood and continue to misunderstand the problem and not just the 18c problem or the data storage issue or the idea that abortion causes cancer.

    It is all about character and ethics now for the ordinary people that I live among and they don’t seem to find my psychological analysis amateurish. It is quite interesting how willing people are now to listen to my explanations of why men like you do the things they do, since the election.

    I find that ordinary mostly uneducated country people that I live very happily among, really do understand very quickly what is motivating the men in this government and the people, like you who continue to support them.

  14. Julie Thomas
    August 9th, 2014 at 06:51 | #14

    @John Quiggin

    Thanks.

    Yuri is so ungrateful for this free analysis I offer him. But he very generously responds in exactly the way one would predict, defensively and aggressively and ‘personally’ – as if he himself and his so – not – amazing individuality are the reason that I bother.

  15. Fran Barlow
    August 9th, 2014 at 10:00 | #15

    More broadly on the use of defamation law in cases with facts such as Eatock …

    I don’t see this as adequate. While the imputation clearly meets the tests for defamation, the bulk of the injury is to an historically marginalised group, and serves to reinforce community animus and shame, while underwriting hostile public policy dealing. It’s a denial of the reality that the group as a whole comes to access with inferior prospects than do those in the dominant group.

    The mere award of damages to a couple of defamed individuals would not approach acquittal of these wrongs.

  16. ZM
    August 9th, 2014 at 10:49 | #16

    Ikonoclast,

    “I wonder what can be behind the attack on Section 18C? It can’t be merely bigotry.”

    As well as indigenous people it seems those against 18C would specifically like more freedom to torment Islamic/Middle Eastern people.

    “Professor Augusto Zimmermann, of Murdoch University, released a paper at the symposium arguing the government’s decision to back away from changes to the laws made it harder to criticise radicalised Muslims.”
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/07/academic-racial-vilification-laws-radical-islamists-above-criticism

    “Filling in this document and sending it to the Prime Minister’s office, an act of civil disobedience in a noble cause, represents an offence if someone — anyone, actually — claims your opinion has hurt their feelings. Since he is leaving Section 18C on the books, Tony Abbott is duty-bound to see the law enforced. Let’s see if this is one pledge he is prepared to honour
    ….
    Fill in the blanks below with the name of whatever group seems most appropriate. Hint: It won’t be ‘Presbyterians’. Send the completed form to:

    Prime Minister Tony Abbott,

    Be aware that completing this document represents an act of civil disobedience. It will constitute Exhibit A in any charges brought against you

    1/ Members of the ______ community are disproportionately represented amongst those recently charged and convicted with plotting terrorist acts.”
    Etc etc
    https://quadrant.org.au/opinion/qed/2014/08/arrest-abbott-dare/

  17. Ikonoclast
    August 9th, 2014 at 11:32 | #17

    @ZM

    “As well as indigenous people it seems those against 18C would specifically like more freedom to torment Islamic/Middle Eastern people.”

    Well, pretty obviously, Islamic/Middle Eastern people have stuff (oil and land) that Western Capitalist people want to steal.

    When I said this campaign is not just about bigotry I meant it is about appropriating (stealing) other people’s wealth. Often this is unrealised wealth (resources) still on the land or in the ground. The monied classes are bigoted but that is not their primary motivation. Stealing other peoples’ wealth is their primary motivation. They then stir up the bigoted sections of the working class, the underclass and the criminal class to be their dupes and pressure governments and vote for bigoted, capitalist parties (like LNP and Labour in Australia).

  18. Nevil Kingston-Brown
    August 9th, 2014 at 12:57 | #18

    TerjeP :
    bjb – $10 was from me. I can’t account for the rest of it.

    As a left-winger, I’d like to reach across the aisle to congratulate TerjeP on this decision and say please, please, keep pushing Tony Abbott to take a public hard-right stance on as many issues as possible. You are totally part of the solution and not the problem. Also, please don’t read any Trotsky.

    PS Are donations to the IPA tax deductible? To keep this particular debate in the public eye, I’d be tempted to chip in some money myself.

  19. Fran Barlow
    August 9th, 2014 at 13:15 | #19

    PrQ

    Your response to Yuri was ambiguous, implying on one reading that Julie had violated the comment rules by responding as she had to Yuri, but I take it that the following was what you actually intended:

    Yuri, I think you will find that Julie only offers this analysis to people, like you, whose comments violate the comment rules by gratuitously offending other commenters and/or me as author of the original post.

    Concatenating clauses, especially with an ‘or’ as a conjunction without creating ambiguity is a fearful business.

  20. yuri
    August 9th, 2014 at 16:42 | #20

    @John Quiggin
    Oh dear how sensitive you are PrQ. I have looked back at my comments and the only “gratuitously offending” item is a rather obvious and ironical tease at your expense which was based on the paradox that it was you the Bolt hater who must have spent wasted hours reading him whereas I, whom you would presume to have more sympathy for some of the views of some of what you elegantly call “bigoted old men” ( and worse) than most of yours, don’t.

    It must be personal sensitivity because, assuming Julie Thomas is not your alter ego or hippy sister, you, qua professor, really wouldn’t want to associate yourself with what some crude person might call illogical twaddle. Yet you yourself are provoked into unjustified (so far: I’m waiting. You said you let something slide) aspersions on me, eg. the “mental state that gives rise to trollery (sic)”.

    Is It trollery to try and introduce reality into the rather wild a prioristic discussions of causality and the parts Bolt and Brandis, in psrticular, played in the stuff up. Is it trollery to support Rog in explaining why there would not have been an appeal?

    You have made valiant efforts on behalf of the person called Julie Thomas who has previously claimed, but not specified, a high IQ and presumes to give psychological analyses of people she hasn’t met and whose identity is so concealed that they might – but might not – be trolls (as you yourself imply). Clearly that is not proper professional behaviour – all the more so if she actually has any qualifications. So “amateurish” seems doubly apt. Now, as you can see, she has said she hasn’t read what I wrote and then purported to answer it (I suppose because I couldn’t bring myself to read it!).

    Let’s see. We are to understand that any old New Age guff can be justifiably thrown up against someone who teases you? Well that’s the way it seems until my offensiveness is spelled out so all can agree that I deserve a “Julie Thomas” brain scan.

  21. Julie Thomas
    August 9th, 2014 at 17:03 | #21

    @yuri

    “Is It trollery to try and introduce reality into the rather wild a prioristic discussions of causality and the parts Bolt and Brandis, in psrticular, played in the stuff up. Is it trollery to support Rog in explaining why there would not have been an appeal?”

    Yep in this context it is trollery. You do know that context is everything don’t you? And you continue to be a troll and to behave very childishly in your neediness for JQ’s attention and reassurance.

    Have you come across Dorothy Parker in your travels around the intertubes? He reads Bolt and does some analysis of his character and personality. Dot seems to find Freud useful in his efforts. Check him out and let us know what you think.

    http://loonpond.blogspot.com.au/2014/08/in-which-pond-proposes-arming-george.html#.U-XH8PmSzzI

    Do you need a language warning?

  22. yuri
    August 10th, 2014 at 23:48 | #22

    @Julie Thomas
    Oh you are a laugh!
    I haven’t tried the link and don’t think I shall do so because I would hate to see the appropriation and desecration of the name and reputation of the inimitable great Dorothy Parker, long one of my favourite authors. Oh that you could write like her – and did.

    Need for Prof JQ’s attention. Not a chance. Being his would-be big sister you wouldn’t recognise that he is beyond help or redemption. Besides he is the hereditary absolute monarch of this blog and only the Court jester – well paid for his impertinence (and secretly in cahoots with the great man) would dare wave a “look at me” flag in his face.

    But let’s see some of those vaunted IQ points of yours deployed to good effect. Tell us (and I shall read it) how you define “trolling/trollery” and how precisely it applies to what I wrote, eschewing empty generalisations , speculations and assertions without evidence.

  23. yuri
    August 11th, 2014 at 04:47 | #23

    @Julie Thomas
    I have tried the link after all in the hope of finding some of the great Dorothy Parker’s wit or some clever parody. Instead I stand amazed that you would tell the world that you waste your time wading in that slop pail of garbage.

  24. rog
    August 11th, 2014 at 05:02 | #24

    @ZM Zimmerman et al are dog whistling, if the reportage of “radicalised Muslims” is a fair and accurate report of any event or matter of public interest then it doesn’t breach 18C.

  25. Julie Thomas
    August 11th, 2014 at 07:17 | #25

    @yuri

    Well done; it is a good thing for us all if you are laughing and being amazed by my behaviour.

    But do you think this sort of therapeutic exchange is appropriate here? This isn’t even a Sandpit!

    As you say JQ is the boss of the blog – and it is an economic blog and here you are encouraging a hippie? – and we are his guests so suck it up and learn to fit in if you want to come on up to the house.

    Do you like Tom Waits? One of his best songs is called “Come on up to the house”, and it has a couple of lines that go; “Come on down from the cross; we can use the wood”.

    I won’t link but you can utube seach can’t you?

    Conservaties don’t tolerate ambiguity and uncertainty so understanding trollery is going to be difficult for you.

    But you are an intelligent person, I can tell that, so we can try to come to an understanding if you really do want to change. Like the light bulb that does want to change, it only takes one psychologist.

    The most important thing to understand is that ‘trolling’ varies and cannot be defined without reference to the context and another thing that is important is that the intent of the potential troller is the critical factor. I’d say perhaps the most difficult thing for some of us to do, if we are sincere about not being a troll is to be sensitive to the whole context of the discussion so that we can vary our responses appropriately.

    Being precise is not always appropriate.

  26. August 11th, 2014 at 20:51 | #26

    Pr Q said:

    In summary, those on the right lamenting the continued existence of 18C ought to reflect on the fact that it’s their own overt or tacit endorsement of bigotry that’s brought this about. If they cleaned house, and dissociated themselves from the likes of Bolt, their claims to be supporting free speech might acquire a little more credibility.

    Right, because the essence of freedom is the permanent intra-party purge. A political “house…cleaned” of any opinion that does not break out into a “spontaneous demonstration” in support of the conventional liberal pieties on diversity. That way, with everyone speaking from the same politically corrected script, the public can have a real free, informed choice.

    Double-think:

    “The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”

    You know it takes some chuzpah for Leftists to lecture social conservatives on freedom given that the Left is the main enemy of “actual, existing” free speech in the post-modem era of political discourse. Yes I know the knee-jerk civil libertarians are always banging on about draconian anti-terrorist laws and the surveillance state.

    Yet though “the dark night of fascism is always threatening to descend” on our land, it seems that only Right-wing “bigots” ever get into legal hot water, lose their jobs or experience a spine-chilling effect on their freedom. By contrast, terror-symps become such a cause-célèbre that Dreyfus would go green with envy.

    And who knows maybe one day Big Brother might get around to cracking the whip. But why bother when he has so many willing supplicants among the congenitally timid media-academia complex.

    BTW props to Mike Carlton for having the balls to speak his mind against one aspect of the huge anti-free speech constituency. I rarely, if ever, agreed with his opinions. But I think he did the right thing in criticising the Israeli lobby, even if he was a bit intemperate. I regret the fact that Fairfax “cleaned house” of Carlton, for the same reason Nick Cave mourned the passing of Johnny Cash: “there goes another one of these great voices. As far as I can see there aren’t the people around to replace [him].”

  27. Patrickb
    August 13th, 2014 at 00:12 | #27

    @eigenscape
    Yes, well, lionising US ideas about liberty and rights may not be a sound basis for making laws. How do you feel about their quaint “open carry” movement?

  28. Julie Thomas
    August 13th, 2014 at 06:39 | #28

    @Jack Strocchi

    ” it seems that only Right-wing “bigots” ever get into legal hot water, lose their jobs or experience a spine-chilling effect on their freedom”

    So true that – well except for the spine chilling bit – that’s you exaggerating and being all emotional again? But why is it so? Why do you think these men behave so badly? Nature or nurture?

    My explanation is that they had a dysfunctional upbringing and never learned to control their aggression, never learned how ugly they are when they force themselves on other, less aggressive people and never learned to care about the damage that this aggression does to the others.

  29. Collin Street
    August 13th, 2014 at 07:13 | #29

    Julie Thomas :
    @Jack Strocchi
    ” it seems that only Right-wing “bigots” ever get into legal hot water, lose their jobs or experience a spine-chilling effect on their freedom”
    So true that – well except for the spine chilling bit – that’s you exaggerating and being all emotional again? But why is it so? Why do you think these men behave so badly? Nature or nurture?
    My explanation is that they had a dysfunctional upbringing and never learned to control their aggression, never learned how ugly they are when they force themselves on other, less aggressive people and never learned to care about the damage that this aggression does to the others.

    Or it could have a biological basis, of course. And if it did we would based on the symptoms classify it with…

  30. Ikonoclast
    August 13th, 2014 at 08:23 | #30

    I find it amusing when right wing convervatives complain of being suppressed. The real facts are they are winning on all fronts. They own all the major newspapers, TV and media. They control most of the propaganda in our society. They have engineered the sell-off of government assets, the rollback of welfare, the reduction of the wage share of the economy and a massive increase in wealth of the super rich and their managerial lackeys.

    The interesting thing about right wing conservatives is that plenty is never enough for them. No matter how much money and power they have, they always must have more. Nobody else is to be permitted the slighest amount of power or money or the right to a different view.

    It is instructive to observe that when they complain of having their views suppressed what is actually happening is this. Their view has been proclaimed loud and long in the media they own and in all the bully pulpits they control. Then a small group manages to get a contrary view heard… a bit, somewhere. Suddenly, the right wing conservatives complain their views are being suppressed. So, to right wing conservatives “suppression” of their views is when their views do not dominate 100%. They claim that counter-argument is suppression yet they claim they claim they believe in free speech.

  31. Fran Barlow
    August 13th, 2014 at 15:56 | #31

    it seems that only Right-wing “bigots” ever get into legal hot water, lose their jobs or experience a spine-chilling effect on their freedom

    Well that’s the claim anyway.

    It may well be that rightwing bigots greatly outnumber leftwing bigots — I can’t say I’ve met many leftwing bigots, or any really. Maybe there’s a no true Scotsman rule here, but I’d say being bigoted probably excludes you from being a leftist — though I suppose you might be bigoted in the sense of being obsessed about the rightness of a particular cause. Let’s allow for the sake of argument that one can find such a person.

    Certainly given that the governance of the world and the control of resources is almost exclusively in the hands of the right, it’s easy to see why almost all bigots are going to be of the rightwing variety. Bigots are as keen to be amongst friends as anyone, and if all the people they’d like to snuggle up with are rightwingers, that’s the kind of bigotry they are going to run with.

    Of course, that kind of bigotry is dreadfully embarrassing to people on the centre-right, and repulsive to people on the centre-left or the far left. The centre-right figures alienating the folk that rightwing bigotry alienates is simply poor business. That in a sense is what Abbott’s “Team Australia” nonsense was all about. They really want to do over marginalised people, but there really is nothing in it for them to be seen as moved by m@lice.

    Needless to say, whenever someone from the right scores an own goal like this, there is a long list of people lining up to distance themselves from it. Some American woman complained the other day when a McDonalds employee went with a swastika-in-butter design on her bun, and the employee got the sack.

    In Australia though there remains very wide scope for RW bigotry. The other day, the Daily Tele ran with a photoshopped image of the Boston marathon bombing in which they took an image of a victim fleeing from the horror and photoshopped Mike Carlton’s face onto it, along with an Arafat style scarf. Bigoted? Surely. Silenced by the state? No. Anyone disciplined? Laugh on. Was Miranda Devine ever even counselled for suggesting the Greens ought to be hung from lamp-posts for the Black Saturday deaths caused by our (falsely alleged) opposition to backburning? Not on your life.

    Bolt himself of course was forced to endure unpleasant things being said about him, which was a terrible imposition on his free speech, obviously, that no leftist would surely ever have to endure.

    But Ikonoclast is right. For the right, the mere appearance of dissent, the fact that they don’t have a monopoly of commentary on matters of policy or culture is what they regard as unfair. They want not merely free speech. They want uncontested speech. They want impunity, like the fellow who farts in the lift and expects everyone to grin or comment positively on the fragrance. The right to be a bigot is really a quest for the right to be affirmed by everyone.

    Of course the bigots don’t merely want the right to abuse people with impunity. They also want to be able to use the law to silence people. They want writs to prevent people arguing for boycotting their products. They regard defamation as a good system. They defend all manner of “national security” impositions not merely on free speech but association too. Up in Queensland, being a bikie in the opinion of police can get you arrested. Some tatoos are banned.

    Then there are laws denying you the right to misinform the market about dealings affecting shares. There are restrictions on insider trading and ambush marketing. All are good and compatible with freedom it seems. Patents and other IP are pillars of freedom.

    Clearly they are opposed to free speech for anyone who isn’t privileged by social arrangements. That’s what is consistent here.

  32. Watkin Tench
    August 13th, 2014 at 18:48 | #32

    Fran:

    Maybe there’s a no true Scotsman rule here, but I’d say being bigoted probably excludes you from being a leftist …

    Yes, that is obviously a No True Scotsman foul. There is no reason why someone on the Right can’t say that if X is racist then X isn’t truly on the Right, or at least not on the Right on the issue of race.

    Of course the Left and Right are not real things to begin with but rather categories that have no universally agreed deinition and any attempt to plot everyone out on a line from left to right is not always going to be illuminating.

    Certainly some on the Right have eloquently argued that:

    1/ discourses on white privilege;

    2/ racialised affirmative action programs;

    3/ versions of history that blame white people and their governments for virtually all the wrongs in the world; and

    4/ the hagioghraphy of non-white ethno-religious groups

    5/ the idea that only white people, because they are powerful, are capable of true racism

    are all inherently racist.

    The praxis of far-Left politics in particular has always contained elements of racism, for example the state-orchestrated pogroms against the Chinese minority in Saigon at the end of the American War in Vietnam.

  33. J-D
    August 13th, 2014 at 18:52 | #33

    The metaphorical use of the expressions ‘left’ and ‘right’ (and, by extension, ‘centre’) was introduced into political contexts as a way of referring to the positions, relative to each other, of contending political groupings. They are still useful for this purpose: as useful as they originally were, but no more so. They aren’t nearly as useful — maybe not useful at all — for referring to individual positions independent of contending political groupings but then, they weren’t supposed to be.

  34. J-D
    August 13th, 2014 at 18:59 | #34

    @Jack Strocchi

    Is there a difference between “bigots” and bigots? If so, what is it? If not, why did you refer to “bigots” instead of just referring to bigots?

    Our prisons are full of people who have got into legal hot water, lost their jobs, and experienced a spine-chilling effect on their freedom. I don’t believe that they are there because they are right-wing bigots. Possibly they are all there because they are right-wing “bigots” — it’s impossible to say without some explanation of what you mean by “bigot”.

Comment pages
1 2 12602
Comments are closed.