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

the bully boy motif returns « Previous | |Next »
August 8, 2012

Tony Abbott's speech to the Institute of Public Affairs is part of the campaign that says press freedom in Australia is under threat from the Gillard Government's proposed public interest test recommended by The Finkelstein Report into Media and Media Regulation and Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.


The speech is political through and through. It has little to do with strengthening human rights in the Australian constitution or equal rights and more to do with the right of free speech being under siege from jihads conducted by the Gillard Government. Abbott says that the Gillard government’s response to criticism:

has been thinly veiled intimidation of critics masquerading as proposals for better regulation. Instead of mounting a better argument, this government’s inclination is to disqualify its critics. Its instinctive response to criticism is to bully people rather than to reason with them.This is not a government that argues its case. Mostly, it simply howls down its critics using the megaphone of incumbency...The ferocity of this government’s return of serve often goes way beyond reasonable counter-argument to become a form of state-sponsored bullying.

Therefore, any new watchdog could become a political correctness enforcement agency destined to suppress inconvenient truths and to hound from the media people such as Andrew Bolt or Alan Jones.

Abbott concludes by saying that the Liberal Party is the freedom party---it stands for freedom and it will be freedom’s bulwark against the encroachments of an unworthy and dishonourable government.

Abbott says that the Gillard Government is a government that wants to prohibit statements (S18c of Racial Discrimination Act) that “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” another person or a group of people on grounds of race or ethnicity; that conducts jihads against mining magnates; assaults mum-and-dad anti-carbon tax protestors; and is out to get News Ltd for pursuing anti-government stories.

It's politics based on Abbott's usual tactic of misrepresentation and beatup to deepen the partisan divide. What the Finkelstein inquiry recommended was a News Media Council, appointed via an arms' length process which would be mostly funded by industry but with some government funding, and would run in a very similar fashion to the present, industry created, Australian Press Council. As Margaret Simons points out:

The crucial difference would be that in cases where the council found a publication to have breached the well established standards, which are supported by all major media outlets, then it would have the power to order the publication of a correction, apology or right of reply. If the news media outlet refused, then there would be the power to apply for a court order enforcing the council's finding. An editor who defied such an order would be in contempt of court, and could face criminal penalties.

So it is designed to make the media more accountable for their deceptions, misrepresentations, distortions and untruths. Abbott's no to this proposal means he supports, and gives the greenlight to, the self-regulation that okays the deceptions, misrepresentations and untruths by the powerful media organizations who have little time for democracy.

Abbot is going to repeal the anti-discrimination provisions (not hurt feelings) of S18c of Racial Discrimination Act. S18c renders unlawful (not prohibits) acts (not statements) that is likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people; and the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person or of some or all of the people in the group.

So Abbott's conception of liberalism is that it defends the freedom to discriminate on racial grounds.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 1:56 PM | | Comments (7)


Abbott is defending the shock jocks and News Ltd bully boys. Let it rip he says.

The media need less regulation not more says Chris Berg from the IPA.

Paul Kelly in The Australian refers the freedom wars and says that there is now a political battle on core issues of free speech.

According to Kelly, if Labor embraces the new media laws recommended by its Convergence Review and by its Finkelstein media inquiry, then it will become a party that favours restrictions on public debate in the cause of censorship and constraining its opponents. He adds:

Once progressives would have endorsed Voltaire (defending to the death your right to say it) but no longer. This value is subjugated to the new gospel that your speech must reflect progressive values and beliefs as part of legislating desired social behaviour and respect for human rights... This is the same progressive mindset at work - erring media outlets and individuals must be brought into line.

Making newspapers accountable for what they publish is censorship?

Kelly is partisan. He doesn't even bother to argue the case.

The right wing extremists deliberately, well maybe possibly perhaps its unconsciously cos of their ideology, confuse freedom of the individual with the so-called 'freedom' of an organization/corporation.
They are not the same thing.
Nor do they manage to take into account the flip side of 'freedom' viz responsibility.
And just as my freedom to swing my arm stops when it meets the responsibility of not swinging it into your face so too corporation/organizations face a social responsibility of managing their freedom so as not to hurt the freedoms of others.
And if they can't do that someone else has to manage that resposibility for them, and by extension for us, cos we are involved whether they like it or not. Because they do not operate in a social vacuum.
Freedom is not limitless or infinite or unbounded and particularly in a social context it is limited, necessarily so, by social responsibility.
And we, the members of that society get, by virtue of our democratic rights and freedoms, to decide those limits.
Or at least it should, according to democratic theory, be that way. In reality we are seeing exactly the opposite, the abrogation of social freedom by corporate privilege.

"Making newspapers accountable for what they publish is censorship"

Andrew Bolt was found in the federal court judgment by Bromberg J to have written articles that contained erroneous facts, distortions of the truth and inflammatory and provocative language. Justice Bromberg found that Bolt's articles were not done reasonably and in good faith for particular specified purposes, including the making of a fair comment in a newspaper.

Abbott's position--and Paul Kelly's--- is that it is okay that the bully boy hacks at News Ltd should have the freedom to make erroneous facts, distorting the truth and using inflammatory and provocative language.

Bolt + Co should not made accountable for their kind of nastiness.

Bolt is so hurt and humiliated by the federal Court's decision that he sees now book burning everywhere. Why didn't he and News Ltd appeal the decision?