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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.

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  1. Pete Moran
    August 7th, 2014 at 19:55 | #1

    What’s so frustrating about this whole episode is how obvious it is that people haven’t read the judgement against Bolt. It’s surprisingly easy to read and understand.

    http://www.fedcourt.gov.au/publications/judgments/judgment-summaries#20111103

  2. Lutea
    August 7th, 2014 at 20:25 | #2

    Racist comment deleted. Exercise your free speech somewhere else, please

  3. TerjeP
    August 7th, 2014 at 20:45 | #3

    This fiasco just confirms that Abbott is a liar and more a nationalist than a liberal. 18C still stinks like dead fish.

  4. John Quiggin
    August 7th, 2014 at 21:07 | #4

    As a Bolt apologist yourself, Terje, you’re part of the problem, not part of the solution.

  5. rog
    August 7th, 2014 at 21:07 | #5

    According to reports IPA are in a “cold fury” over 18C and have raised $30K towards an ad campaign. Online polls indicate overwhelming support for 18C which puts the IPA in a minority, so it would seem. Supporting Bolt has seen Abbott lose a lot of skin for no gain. This seems to be a pattern with Abbott, tiny if not miniscule victories achieved by huge losses.

  6. John Quiggin
    August 7th, 2014 at 21:10 | #6

    As I’ll post in more detail soon, the IPA has been at the forefront of efforts to suppress free speech in Australia, with the tacit support of “Freedom Commissioner” and ex-IPA staffer Tim Wilson.

  7. bjb
    August 7th, 2014 at 21:19 | #7

    @rog
    It’d be really interesting to know who are those with the deep pockets able to tip in $30K in 3 hours (according to Roskam).

    It appears the master is not happy when the pupil disobeys.

  8. themanwithnofingers
    August 7th, 2014 at 21:27 | #8

    The problem with the commentary on 18c is that it operates with 18d. This provision allows for debate and discussion. Until the ‘Bolt’ case came along there was little or no issue with speech in Australia.

    This whole issue was based on a poorly written article rather than a denial of rights.

  9. TerjeP
    August 7th, 2014 at 21:29 | #9

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

  10. TerjeP
    August 7th, 2014 at 21:32 | #10

    John Quiggin :
    Terje, you’re part of the problem, not part of the solution.

    That’s pretty much how I think of you John. I suppose that makes us even.

  11. Donald Oats
    August 7th, 2014 at 21:39 | #11

    So is this a broken promise or not? I get so confused by this government…

  12. Ikonoclast
    August 7th, 2014 at 21:47 | #12

    I wonder what can be behind the attack on Section 18C? It can’t be merely bigotry. It is bigotry of course but it has to be more than that as well. Well-heeled people don’t put up serious money just to be able to abuse the less fortunate. (They only put up pin money for that privilege.) It has to be a real investment of some kind. The attack on aboriginals and aboriginality has to be about land and mining rights in my opinion.

    Unfortunately, for the white mining lobby, some aboriginals (under the definitions attendant on and in 18C) who have white or white-ish skin are also probably well-educated in at least some cases (having been given opportunities they might well have been denied by white society if they had been “conveniently” blacker). These people might in some cases be good political organisers and speakers. The white mining lobby cannot abide these erudite and effective opponents so the white mining lobby seeks to split them off, destroy their credibility and implement a divide and conquer strategy.

    When race and class become battle grounds, organised attacks on the oppressed are orchestrated with more than just gratuitous cruelty in mind. The goal is to steal stuff by force or biased law; land, produce, minerals, products, labour or all of these.

  13. Fran Barlow
    August 7th, 2014 at 21:48 | #13

    Brandis (2012) v Brandis (2014)

    http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/digital-life-news/george-brandis-video-shows-he-questioned-storage-of-web-browsing-data-in-2012-20140807-101mg3.html

    Apparently old Brandis refuted new Brandis … Which is embarrassing.

  14. Fran Barlow
    August 7th, 2014 at 21:58 | #14

    This seems to be a pattern at ‘Team Australia’.

    Turnbull 2007 refutes Turnbull post 2009 on Climate Change policy. Hunt debunks his academic work on pricing carbon, Abbott deep sixes his preference for a carbon tax, Bolt forgets he wanted pokies banned after Singleton started paying him, Hockey said kids would be put into detention over his dead body and shed tears over it, Tim Wilson couldn’t understand why there was a Human Rights Commission at all, and why its leader was paid so much and now he’s in charge of it, his pain salved by a pay rise and now data retention is good, according to Brandis who said it was bad when he understood a bit about it but has changed his mind now that he has forgotten what he learned. More recently, Brandis didn’t know dropping 18c was about the need to establish Team Australia but about the crowded legislative agenda, but presumably he has now remembered that, for now anyway.

    It’s a funny old world.

  15. White Rabbit
    August 7th, 2014 at 22:09 | #15

    Ikonoclast must be thinking of the indigenous ALP member Carol Martin who resigned from the WA Parliament after a left wing hate campaign against her and various other indigenous persons who were slurred as “toxic coconuts- brown on the outside and full of the milk of white man’s money” for supporting a Woodside gas development.

    The Age and SMH widely reported that story. Not.

  16. Fran Barlow
    August 7th, 2014 at 22:17 | #16

    @White Rabbit

    Nothing in the article suggests that the left had anything to do with the observations described in the Murdoch Press. Martin didn’t allege it and the authors were not named.

    The article did note that the family was split over the matter of the gas hub, and assuming such a document exists, one may presume its source was an embittered relative.

    Again, like Watkin Tench who was just invited to take two days off you are making allegations that are unsupported in an effort to smear leftists. How very coincidental.

  17. Ikonoclast
    August 7th, 2014 at 22:19 | #17

    @Fran Barlow

    LOL, that is very clever and accurate Fran. The humour of it, of course, is that it all sounds too preposterous and egregious to be true but it actually is all true! You should be a writer for The Chaser or Shaun Micallif.

    Note: I worked in two of Alexander Downer’s favourite words, namely “preposterous” and “egregious”; the irony being that they apply to the LNP best of all.

  18. rog
    August 7th, 2014 at 22:21 | #18

    @Fran Barlow The issue was over support for the proposed Woodside development which was opposed by a wide range of the community. Woodside has since dumped the idea.

  19. eigenscape
    August 7th, 2014 at 23:39 | #19

    Quiggin seems to have let political considerations and Abbott bashing blind him from admitting that repealing 18C is the right thing to do to protect free speech. He hasn’t defended 18C, in fact he has indirectly written positively of it’s repeal (all of the 3rd paragraph), but refuses to outright admit it.

    Yes, Abbott is a terribly bad PM. He’s engaged in a class war against the poor. He is a liar and hypocrite, with a record of broken promises that makes Gillard look like a saint. He destroyed an effective and efficient carbon tax. But in the rare cases when he does (or should have done) something right (repealing 18C), then bashing Abbott, Brandis and Bolt, and making up political excuses for not supporting its repeal and to preserve tribal affiliations, is not helpful.

    If this happened in the US, this outrageous, free speech killing law would have been absolutely savaged and annihilated by both the right and the far left (maybe not the centrists or the moderate left) and would be ruled unconstitutional by any US court.

  20. Megan
    August 7th, 2014 at 23:42 | #20

    Ikonoclast:

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

    In short it was a “non-core” election promise to News Ltd./IPA, but now that both those outfits are an anchor on Abbott he (via his handlers) is risking he can bruise them in the hope of raising his stocks with the broader electorate (ie. in ‘the polls’), he feels he can spurn them – for now.

    Not as weird as it first sounds. Remember Gillard’s secret private dinner with Murdoch’s troops. She bowed and scraped and they shafted her, as they did Rudd I & II.

    I wonder if Abbott will be the first PM in decades to try to semi-stand up to Murdoch. I doubt it, my feeling is that Shorten will be very busy right now making nice with Murdoch and all his minions.

  21. Megan
    August 7th, 2014 at 23:45 | #21

    PS: You have an error in the last paragraph. You accidently linked to a News Ltd site.

  22. Collin Street
    August 8th, 2014 at 00:19 | #22

    eigenscape :
    Quiggin seems to have let political considerations and Abbott bashing blind him from admitting that repealing 18C is the right thing to do to protect free speech.

    Why would you want to, though?

    “Anyone who wants to can hop up on stage and talk” collapses under high load, making it impossible for anyone to communicate anything.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ALOHAnet

    If you’re more comfortable with economics you get the same result if you model speech as a rivalrous good: it’s the classic tragedy-of-the-commons problem. When you actually sit down and work it out, free speech isn’t actually a very good idea at all.

  23. Heisenberg
    August 8th, 2014 at 00:59 | #23

    Thanks to the progressives who want to silence us and the regressives who want to surveil us, we seem to be growing a little less free with each passing year.

    I think it is time to at least consider a Bill of Rights. Geoffrey Robertson puts the case quite eloquently in his book Statute of Liberty and on the linked ABC audio.

  24. Megan
    August 8th, 2014 at 01:44 | #24

    Just read Shorten’s opinion piece in Saturday’s Fairfax.

    He spends the first half talking about ‘terrrrrrr’ and then makes absolutely no sense whatsoever trying to segue into Brandis and 18c.

    As far as I can tell, his argument is “vote ALP”.

    Sorry pie-face, that is not an election winning argument.

  25. yuri
    August 8th, 2014 at 03:52 | #25

    Sec 18C has always been indefensible in its absurdly wide prohibition on insulting and offending. So Brandis has stuffed it up. But the case against Bolt was misconceived and thoroughly objectionable for reasons American courts would articulate eloquently. After all there is no doubt that there are bound to be people trying to cash in undeservedly on the Aboriginal gravy train just as there tens of thousands cashing or trying to in on hundreds of other gravy trains large and small created by politicians with other people’s money. Cutting it back is a good cause. And if you can find some truly ripe cases – the Eddie Obeids of the Aboriginal industry (one of the plaintiffs in Bolt’s case was indeed a low rent version) – then it might be justified to name names even when it is the huge weight of the MSM and and someone with Bolt’s readership who does it to an individual of no comparable power. But people like Bolt and Jones (and wannabes like academics with blogs) depend on stirring so that accuracy and fairness become less important than making a striking impression so inevitably you are going to be fed stories or just invective with lots of names, celebrities best, but common emotive storylines will do.

    That said, if we won’t punish him for being nasty to little people in aid, in part anyway, of his own promotion and prosperity, we should at least punish him for material inaccuracy. That’s why the case against Bolt properly conceived should have been a defamation action by the plaintiffs who could say that he was wrong in fact about them.

  26. John Quiggin
    August 8th, 2014 at 05:00 | #26

    @Yuri&Eigenscape It would be better to replace 18C with an improved version of individual defamation, including enhanced damages for racial abuse. But, as Yuri points out, that wouldn’t have helped Bolt.

    So, the fact that the government proceeded as it did made clear that the purpose of the changes was to help Bolt, not to protect free speech.

  27. Collin Street
    August 8th, 2014 at 05:51 | #27

    > It would be better to replace 18C with an improved version of individual defamation, including enhanced damages for racial abuse.

    No, not really, because “A group cannot be defamed, only individuals”. Under defamation, “Moshe Goldsmith uses the blood of unbaptised children to make pizza” would be actionable, but “the jews” etc wouldn’t be.

    We could extend defamation protection to groups, but in that case you’d have something more-or-less the same as 18C anyway.

    [I've also got some pretty big problems with handling racial vilification as a tort: I feel that the harms that spring from racial vilification aren't the individualised harms that torts were meant to rectify, but far far closer to public-order crimes like affray or riot.]

  28. yuri
    August 8th, 2014 at 06:34 | #28

    @John Quiggin
    I don’t share your obsession with Bolt (a rival opinionator with a big megaphone?) because I hardly ever read him but I can offer an opinion on your contention that the government’s objective must have been to help Bolt, not to protect free speech.

    On the face of it there was no way it could help Bolt because the tort of defamation would catch him anyway even assuming that the government wants the chastened Bolt (and he did feel chastened I am reliably informed) to be able to run a similar line again (which 18C would have allowed if he had not made mistakes of fact).

    In fact the impetus for the legislation where it mattered was probably George Brandis’s genuine enthusiasm for old fashioned free speech which had to be fought for for over two hubdred years. I can’t add any detail such as how he deals with some of the fuzzy edges to the doctrine and the discussion. But it standards to reason that a Catholic barrister who respects the traditions of the Bar in favour of liberty of the subject and of free speech (even if a bit wobbly in sme areas) is going to see things differently from our Catholic PM who is not a lawyer and was a Santamaria acolyte). I vote for GB being genuune and principled as the proximate cause for the good ship Fiasco setting sail in the first instance.

  29. Collin Street
    August 8th, 2014 at 06:49 | #29

    > which had to be fought for for over two hubdred years.

    Bit fighting the last war, though, innit. Yes, your precious free speech was something that was worth fighting over two hundred years ago… but times change, and problems change, and knowledge and understanding improve likewise.

    And what we have to fight for will change too, you’d expect.

  30. J-D
    August 8th, 2014 at 06:58 | #30

    @Fran Barlow

    We have always been at war with Eastasia. Eurasia is an ally.

  31. Julie Thomas
    August 8th, 2014 at 07:06 | #31

    @yuri

    “In fact the impetus for the legislation where it mattered was probably George Brandis’s genuine enthusiasm for old fashioned free speech which had to be fought for for over two hubdred years.”

    So what you are saying is that this legislation that negatively affects vulnerable people and will create expensive social problems, was just made up on the basis of a quirky enthusiasm for an old fashioned idea? Even more egregiously is that the proponent of the old-fashioned idea does not appear to even understand it properly.

    That sucks, don’t you think?

    On the face of is you say this move could not have helped Bolt. Perhaps you are too narrowly understanding the way this move would have ‘helped’ this man. What do you imagine motivates Bolt?

    And, have you heard of term ‘narrow-minded’ and not understood it? Here is a chance to make a link between these two concepts as they apply to your own behaviour.

    And, since you are dispensing you wisdom so freely, how did it happen that GB with all his “fuzzy” edges, managed to be in a position where he thought he could force his “wobbly” ideas about free speech on a society that doesn’t want it?

  32. Calyptorhynchus
    August 8th, 2014 at 07:23 | #32

    I belong to Team F***Off Abbott.

  33. Ikonoclast
    August 8th, 2014 at 07:31 | #33

    @John Quiggin

    Yes, the impression I got from the 18C judgement is that 18C is not well written but the judge did a very good job of interpreting it and applying the proper spirit of the law. It gives one a new respect for (at least some) judges.

  34. Fran Barlow
    August 8th, 2014 at 08:13 | #34

    It seems to me that taken together, s18c & d are a fairly good approximation of the optimal balance between the scope everyone should have to comment as they think apt and the need not to be a facilitator of historic abuse of the culturally marginalised.

    Doubtless, in a world measurably closer to equity and inclusive governance than the world we suffer now, we’d scarcely need such provision, because the handful of those crossing the line in that direction would be seen universally as cranks, unconnected with the lived experience of those whom they sought to assail, and would surely lack the means to broadcast their vitriol.

    But as things stand, this is probably as good as it gets.

  35. themanwithnofingers
    August 8th, 2014 at 09:06 | #35

    Can someone advise on why Bolt never appealed the decision to the High Court?

    I have read the decision and agree that it is solid, however if this concept is so important why not take it further.

    I suspect that the whole ‘victim mentality’ plays a part and sells copy as well as galvanise support.

  36. rog
    August 8th, 2014 at 09:13 | #36

    @Fran Barlow You can add Abetz to your list Fran. He has just denied that he said that there was a link between abortion and breast cancer and is busy making it a free speech issue.

    It’s sort of funny, in a tragic way.

  37. rog
    August 8th, 2014 at 09:14 | #37

    @themanwithnofingers I guess that an appeal would have to be on a matter of law.

  38. rog
    August 8th, 2014 at 09:19 | #38

    @Fran Barlow If Team AUS were genuine they would review all libel/slander/defamation laws. However, changing an existing law to suit a particular interest (Bolt) smacks of cronyism.

  39. Uncle Milton
    August 8th, 2014 at 09:58 | #39

    Great speech by Mark Dreyfus yesterday at Tim Wilson’s free speech conference where he jumped down the wicket and hit Brandis – and by implication Wilson – over the clock tower.

    With the forensic precision he picked apart not just George Brandis’s “undergraduate” view of what is free speech but also the campaign – by the same people who were so outraged by 18C as applied to Bolt – to restrict free speech via extending the secondary boycott provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act to environmental activists.

  40. themanwithnofingers
    August 8th, 2014 at 09:58 | #40

    @ rog – the High Court can be petitioned to decide an important legal concept should they wish. The fact Bolt didn’t even try speaks volumes towards the mindset of these people.

    One could argue that this is one of the biggest dummy spits in history

  41. TerjeP
    August 8th, 2014 at 09:58 | #41

    In fact the impetus for the legislation where it mattered was probably George Brandis’s genuine enthusiasm for old fashioned free speech which had to be fought for for over two hubdred years.

    Yuri – in short you’re saying all the conspiracy theories are utter crap. I’m so shocked. Of course you are right. The notion that there was some “secret agenda” is just stupid.

  42. Newtownian
    August 8th, 2014 at 10:32 | #42

    John’s sarcastic use of ‘Team Australia’ got me wondering on a slightly left field matter.

    Can someone enlighten me as to where this [one word concept or cliché...fill in the blank] + [geographic/social location ...... again fill in the blank] form of the English language comes from? e.g.’Team Australia”

    Like : Team America, Environment NSW, Customs NZ

    Also do we have a really pretentious insulting term/label for them so we can gently remind their users that they are being moronic parrots? Something like ‘oxymoron’, ‘spoonerism’. I confess I haven’t heard it yet. We rapidly got ‘Selfie’ which is now an honourable word/insult and here to stay even if its not in the dictionary yet.

    Yet do we have a name for these other two noun abominations.

    Why this altering the older longer format of adjective and noun so you end up with two nouns is new I think is that it endeavours to impart pseudo-authority, or authority beyond that deserved, while demanding to know are we with this entity or against it in the manner of a football team.

    We have long used two word concepts like ‘Latin America’ but this use didn’t have this demand that we be for or against such and such a group.

    This new label style which I cant recall beyond 10-15 years ago seems more in the form of Orwellian Newspeak which leads me to wonder if recent bright young things have been reading 1984 as a manual rather than as satire.

    All speculation welcome….for possible publication on Weaselwords.

    I’m curious in particular if it is another example of think tanks and PR people trying to adjust our minds by adjusting our vocabulary.

    To illustrate some time back I remember a similar travesty ‘Incentivate’ which I understood subsequently was made up by a US think tank combining incentive and motivate. I still hear the word but the only thing Wiktionary that I can find though there is this for Italian declensions (?) incentivate: 1.second-person plural present indicative of incentivare, 2.second-person plural imperative of incentivare, 3.feminine plural of incentivato. But this is a different work and the pronunciation is different with the last ‘e’ sounding like ‘aii’.

    I raise this because I remember John Hewson tried to spin this horrible word during the 1993 election and it just made people cringe. But these days it actually seems to be entering the vocabulary more and more.

    Mike Carlton made some comments on this word in 2007 http://www.smh.com.au/news/opinion/big-words-from-the-big-man-of-pork-barrels/2007/08/24/1187462523411.html

    but seems to be unaware of Hewson’s use 14 years earlier.

    The word for these latter abominations is neologism – This second article was informative on both this and a possible even earlier origin of ‘incentivize’ – to ‘incent’???!! ://www.economist.com/blogs/johnson/2011/06/neologisms.

    To incent?? Do you incent?

    Suggestion for some fun. Next time you are presenting in a seminar use the word incent and see how people react.

  43. Nic M
    August 8th, 2014 at 10:35 | #43
  44. August 8th, 2014 at 10:55 | #44

    I wonder which independent told Abbott his legislation would fail if 18c was amended? Not Palmer… Family First? Or is this a distraction from the shelving of PPL? If we had the metadata from brandis’s phone calls perhaps we could guess…

  45. Nevil Kingston-Brown
    August 8th, 2014 at 11:39 | #45

    Those who think that 18C may need revision but don’t support Bolt or “the right to be a bigot” may find Gillian Triggs’ speech on the topic (including suggested revisions) helpful. Much more so than anything Freedom Boy has written.

  46. derrida derider
    August 8th, 2014 at 12:28 | #46

    @themanwithnofingers
    Bolt never appealed precisely because he knows the judge got the law right. Indeed that’s his point – he says “well so much the worse for the law”. It was more logical, not to mention more likely to succeed, to have the law changed.

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

  47. August 8th, 2014 at 12:39 | #47

    rog :
    @Fran Barlow You can add Abetz to your list Fran. He has just denied that he said that there was a link between abortion and breast cancer and is busy making it a free speech issue.
    It’s sort of funny, in a tragic way.

    One wonders why he doesn’t stick to the actual truth, since that does suit his prejudices: Delaying or not having children does increase the risk of breast cancer.

  48. Fran Barlow
    August 8th, 2014 at 12:46 | #48

    To illustrate some time back I remember a similar travesty ‘Incentivate’ which I understood subsequently was made up by a US think tank combining incentive and motivate.

    Howard in 1987 actually.

  49. Fran Barlow
    August 8th, 2014 at 12:46 | #49

    oops … left out your “Hewson in 1993 …”

  50. Hab=n
    August 8th, 2014 at 13:20 | #50

    For the benefit of our federal politicians I have made a lists of useful excuses for them to reference when faced with embarrassing situations:

    “It was for national unity” – to be used when withdrawing controversial legislation with 80% voter disapproval without admitting any mistakes. (back up version: it has become an unneccessary distraction)

    “I was cut off” – to be used when making ignorant and boneheaded remarks on women’s health issues based on 50 years old research without admitting any mistakes.

    “The bad law drives people to the edge” – to be used when your crazy consitituent shot dead public servant on duty.

    “It was operational matter” – to be used when trying to avoid answering to scrutiny over asylum seeker issues

    “It was based on merit” – to be used when your daughter got a five-figure scholarship that no other student was eligible to apply for.

    ” It was the publisher’s decision” – to be used when a self-promoting biography toting leadership amibitions was out only 10 months into a newly elected government.

    “It was a publicity stunt” – to be used when your opponent tried to point out your mistakes.

    “It was an election promise” – to be used when defending clearly wrong policy decisions.

    “It was the budget blackhole” – to be used when the above mentioned sacred promise was broken.

    “It was the Shambolic Labor” – to be used when all else failed.

  51. Uncle Milton
    August 8th, 2014 at 13:42 | #51

    @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.

  52. Fran Barlow
    August 8th, 2014 at 14:33 | #52

    @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.

  53. Megan
    August 8th, 2014 at 15:33 | #53

    @Hab=n

    I’ll add:

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

  54. Tim Macknay
    August 8th, 2014 at 15:43 | #54

    @Megan
    Also: “Boo! Terrrists!”

  55. Lt. Fred
    August 8th, 2014 at 18:57 | #55

    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.

  56. August 8th, 2014 at 19:39 | #56

    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…

  57. Megan
    August 8th, 2014 at 22:06 | #57

    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.

  58. Donald Oats
    August 9th, 2014 at 00:04 | #58

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

  59. yuri
    August 9th, 2014 at 03:16 | #59

    @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.

  60. yuri
    August 9th, 2014 at 03:30 | #60

    @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.

  61. yuri
    August 9th, 2014 at 04:30 | #61

    @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.

  62. John Quiggin
    August 9th, 2014 at 06:12 | #62

    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.

  63. Julie Thomas
    August 9th, 2014 at 06:40 | #63

    @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.

  64. Julie Thomas
    August 9th, 2014 at 06:51 | #64

    @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.

  65. Fran Barlow
    August 9th, 2014 at 10:00 | #65

    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.

  66. ZM
    August 9th, 2014 at 10:49 | #66

    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/

  67. Ikonoclast
    August 9th, 2014 at 11:32 | #67

    @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).

  68. Nevil Kingston-Brown
    August 9th, 2014 at 12:57 | #68

    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.

  69. Fran Barlow
    August 9th, 2014 at 13:15 | #69

    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.

  70. yuri
    August 9th, 2014 at 16:42 | #70

    @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.

  71. Julie Thomas
    August 9th, 2014 at 17:03 | #71

    @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?

  72. yuri
    August 10th, 2014 at 23:48 | #72

    @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.

  73. yuri
    August 11th, 2014 at 04:47 | #73

    @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.

  74. rog
    August 11th, 2014 at 05:02 | #74

    @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.

  75. Julie Thomas
    August 11th, 2014 at 07:17 | #75

    @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.

  76. August 11th, 2014 at 20:51 | #76

    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].”

  77. Patrickb
    August 13th, 2014 at 00:12 | #77

    @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?

  78. Julie Thomas
    August 13th, 2014 at 06:39 | #78

    @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.

  79. Collin Street
    August 13th, 2014 at 07:13 | #79

    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…

  80. Ikonoclast
    August 13th, 2014 at 08:23 | #80

    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.

  81. Fran Barlow
    August 13th, 2014 at 15:56 | #81

    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.

  82. Watkin Tench
    August 13th, 2014 at 18:48 | #82

    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.

  83. J-D
    August 13th, 2014 at 18:52 | #83

    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.

  84. J-D
    August 13th, 2014 at 18:59 | #84

    @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”.

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