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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

sedition, the media, Cronulla « Previous | |Next »
December 14, 2005

The tabloid media in Australia has acted to create a fear of Islam that is then clinically exploited by Australia's leaders (eg., the Howard Government) for their own political gain. As Michelle Grattin observes much of what has been done this year in the name of the fight against terrorism has made minority communities feel more besieged and isolated, and has not contributed to a better feeling of belonging. This politics of fear has often resulted in white wing violence against Arab Australians.

SpoonerA.jpg
John Spooner

How then do we make the media accountaible? Consider a classic example of the above kind of media poiltics, that of Alan Jones, the conservative tabloid journalist, around Cronulla. This guy has form. What the track record shows is more than media bias and lap-dog support for the Howard Government. The significance of Jone's record, and his actions in the Cronulla event, indicate that Jones is a player; just like the Romper Stompers and the Lebanese-Australian gangs . He is a powerful political player wearing the mask of a journalist.

I mentioned earlier that Alan Jones, should not be allowed to get away with his incitement to racial hatred and violence at Cronulla. Here's the case against Jones that points to the need for media accountability.

Jones said on 2GB:

"I'm the person that's led this charge here. Nobody wanted to know about North Cronulla, now it's gathered to this,” as listener after listener phoned to declare war on Muslims in general and Lebanese in particular. “ A community show of force!”.

This is not to suggest that Jones caused the violence at Cronulla. He didn't. Jones helped simmering the tensions that ignited the fire of racist violence, and he helped to fan the flames of that fire.

Alan Jones also broadcasted, and to repeated, the SMS phone message calling for violence on public radio:

“Come to Cronulla this weekend to take revenge. This Sunday every Aussie in the shire get down to North Cronulla to support the leb and wog bashing day."

This is sedition as defined by the Anti-Terrorism Bill (2) 2005, passed by parliament in the last sitting fortnight.It reads:

A person commits an offence [of sedition] if:

(a) the person urges a group or groups (whether distinguished by race, religion, nationality or political opinion) to use force or violence against another group or other groups (as so distinguished); and,

(b) the use of the force or violence would threaten the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth.

Penalty: Imprisonment for 7 years.

Now Jones should be charged with sedition. The case is solid. It was also made by Mike Carlton, the 2UE broadcaster, on todays Crikey Daily. Shouldn't ASIO start watching and listening to Jones? He's a threat to the social order stirring up racial hatred.

However, Carlton makes no call for media accountability in general; an accountability that subjects the media to checks and balances to ensure they are accountable and responsible for their content? John Quggin says that 2GB should be stripped of its license by the Australian Broadcasting Authority for broadcasting people like Jones. The ABA is now defunct. So it will have to be its replacement. Will the replacement for Australian Broadcasting Authority investigate Jones? The codes of conduct for commerical radio have been clearly broken.


| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 2:14 PM | | Comments (4)
Comments

Comments

Just to clarify, did he give his support to the message's contents? If a case can't be made that he did, then does repeating the message without giving support to it still constitute sedition?

Simon,

From all the accounts I have read he gave strong support. He was not neutral-- a mere reporting of a news event.

Jones is a player.

OK, I'll just be holding my breath now until he's officially charged...

No really, I'd love to see the unnecessary and draconian sedition laws put to use this way, but I think I'll be waiting until a non-white Australian makes a similar round of comments inciting violence against white Australians. Hopefully even a white supremacist from the riots, but that person would probably find himself charged with other incitement to violence laws to prevent any unfortunate comparisons to 'terrorists'.

Simon,

I see that David Flint has argued that talk back radio is in tune with the silent majority in The Australian. Flint says:

Talkback has indeed come of age. It is now conceded to be, albeit grudgingly on the part of mainstream media, a significant source of news and opinion. But to declare it to be an accessory to the commission of serious breaches of the law attributes to it not only gross impropriety and possibly criminal behaviour, but also unbelievable power and influence over an allegedly gullible audience.

Who is arguing that the audience is guillable? Here we get the nonsense about the Lefty elites putting their agenda in place, preventign it from being be reversed, and blocking criticism by any reasonable person etc etc.

According to Flint talkback radio offered a space for the vehement opposition to the doctrine of multiculturalism by ordinary people and the failure of the political elites in NSW to provide strong law and order against the Lebanese-Australian gangs. Hence the need for vigilantes.

None of this addresses the issue of Jones. Flint evades it.

You are are right. Ruddock will not move on Jones. He would, however, move against an Islamic religious figure who said similar sort of things on the radio.

Neither will the NSW Labor Government move against Jones. They are too scared given the forthcoming election.

But the replacement for the Australian Broadcasting Authority can and should strip 2GB of its licence. That is one of the tasks of the ABA--ensure the conduct of the commericals is inline with the code of conduct. Jones may well have broken the Racial Hatred Act.