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

sqwarking shock jocks « Previous | |Next »
October 8, 2012

Alan Jones, the 2GB shockjock, is rather upset at the campaign in the social media against his comments about Julia Gillard. The campaign against hate speech aimed to pressure advertisers to 'boycott' the Alan Jones Breakfast Show. It has has been so successful that Macquarie Radio Network has indefinitely suspended all advertising on his 2GB breakfast show after a week of sustained pressure.

RoweDJonesA.jpg
David Rowe

Alan Jones, the shock jock bullyboy par excellence, is outraged. The management of 2GB is furious. They say that they are the victims of ''21st century censorship, via cyber-bullying''. This fits in with Jones argument that it is the backlash against his comments which is at fault. In claiming that it is his own freedom of expression which is under attack he ignores the way he and the other shock jocks have consistently trashed the liberal ethos of civility in public debate.

Jones says that Australians:

do not have the right to interfere with that freedom of choice, or should not. And they don’t have the right, or should not, have the right to attempt cyberbullying of people who listen to this program or advertise on it ... These false petitions are anything but civilised. The hypocrisy is breathtaking .... If this is not illegal, it ought to be. As I said, if it happened anywhere else in society, this kind of bullying or harassment or intimidation or threatening conduct, the police would be called in.

Jones adds that the decision taken not to advertise had one purpose: to give innocent, hard-working people employing advertisers a break from cyber-terrorism, a break from bullying, a break from harassment.

It's about time the right wing shock jocks were made accountable for their attack dog mode of public speech, given the failure of the toothless media regulator---the Australian Communications and Media Authority, whose job it is to investigate alleged breaches of broadcast regulation, to call the vitriol for what it is. Remember Jone's inciting the Cronulla violence in 2005? It is still being resolved.

Jones and his grumpy old supporters, in trying to frame the issue as one of free speech being trammeled on by a lynch mob, look very defensive and anti-democracy. The campaign against Jones is yet another indication of the tremors taking place in the mediascape. The tremors are not just the global print media crisis in the face of the digital revolution resulting in cutting pay and reducing editorial staff because of a serious drop in revenue.

The traditional power relationships, which have been locked in for so long, are beginning to melt. Social media is providing the tools for people to organize to use them to make the shock jocks accountable for what they say in the public sphere on their syndicated radio program. More broadly, if the vacuum being left by the collapse of newspapers is resulting in the increased influence of social media, then it is also being filled by the PR industry's spin and misinformation.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:32 AM | | Comments (30)
Comments

Comments

I suppose he feels he has to do something to control the commercial damage. He tried an apology and that didn't work - possibly because he couldn't resist turning it into another sneering attack on Gillard because "she wouldn't take the call", as if that makes him the victim - so now he's relying on the tactic he feels at home with: going on the attack.

I'm sure he knows it's laughable to call for the free speech of others to be curtailed because it's affecting his livelihood. Fortunately I doubt that anyone but his most ardent disciples will even understand his argument, let alone agree with it.

it is probably too early to say goodbye to Alan Jones. But I suspect his power in the opinion marketplace is starting to erode.

The conservatives at The Australian newspaper are all fired up about free speech and they are furiously recycling Voltaire's quote about disagreeing with what you say but defending to the death your right to say it. They are opposed to any regulation of the press that is more than their self-regulation.

The conservatives keep forgetting to to say that free speech is not absolute, and they willfully ignore their own campaign to limit child pornography in the public sphere.

Hence it is a legitimate question to ask what protection speech enjoys when its sole or primary purpose is to hurt or insult, rather than to debate ideas, exercise religious freedom or air grievances.

Jones tries to sell himself as strong and compassionate as he pulls the Liberal Party evermore to the Right and away from the centre.

Jones a cuddly compassionate? Whose kidding who?

the media creates its own monsters

Alan Jones is free to say what he wants, however, I think the call for a boycott illustrates that many Australians do not want to pay Alan Jones to speak.

I believe Peter Costello had legislation he wanted enacted to outlaw such campaigns.

Paul says "Alan Jones is free to say what he wants"

not really. There are legal limits to free speech eg., defamation; inciting or provoking violence against others; or inciting illegal action; or obscenity (child pornography), advertising content or releasing state secrets etc.

The question is where are the limits to the freedom of speech when it is used to harm others. Where are the limits to be placed? Hence all the debate about constitutes harm to others.

freedom of speech is a contested right because there is much disagreement about what constitutes speech and where the limits should be in the public sphere. There is no such thing as unlimited free speech.

It is generally held that without some rules and procedures we cannot have a conversation at all, and consequently speech has to be limited by protocols of basic civility. Alan Jones doesn't do civility on his radio programme.

we are in fact free to speak as we like but we may face sanctions after what we have said, written or published.

Sanctions mean that the state and other individuals can sometimes make that freedom more or less costly to exercise. Thus Andrew Bolt, a conservative political commentator, was found guilty of racial vilification in 2011 in a civil case brought by nine aboriginal applicants.

Alan Jones has just discovered the force of social sanction for what many people see as hate speech causing harm rather than just being offensive, obscene or outrageous.

Paul says" Peter Costello had legislation he wanted enacted to outlaw such campaigns" [the call for a boycott]

We can interpret the 'boycott the advertisers' campaign as a form of public censure because Jones' comments were deemed offensive.

Something like the offense principle operates in liberal democracies where citizens are penalized for a variety of activities, including speech, that would escape prosecution under the harm principle--eg., running across a football or cricket ground naked during a big match.

Hate speech calls into play the offense principle because it is inconsistent and undermines, the values of liberal democracy.

Mercedes are right to take back his car. What a stupid advertising deal!
I dont see the Alan Jones audience having the readies for mercs. Perhaps 2nd hand commadores or datsun 180b's.
Anyway it amuses me because i am sure negotiations are underway for Alan in the 6:30 tv slot. Unpopularity and popularity are both hooks.

"The traditional power relationships, which have been locked in for so long, are beginning to melt."

This is the major issue here. Bleating about free speech, censorship, media regulation, bullying and anything else is diversion.

The first serious audience backlash I'm aware of was against Dennis Shanahan's efforts to spin the Newspoll numbers leading up to the 2007 election. Print media responded to criticism from the audience with a bunch of articles telling that audience they're all idiots. MSM attitudes haven't changed, but consumer tactics have.

Nothing else has ever been able to hold MSM outlets to account. They're not used to their privileges being questioned, least of all by consumers.

They started the free market in opinion, and it's turning around to bite them on the bum.

Those defending the shockjocks offensive language through the cyber bullying defence equate social media (Facebook and Twitter) with the mob---they are the cyber rabble. The rabble are the problem, not Jones' remarks about Gillard at a Sydney University Liberal Club fundraiser

"The traditional power relationships, which have been locked in for so long, are beginning to melt."

Lyn says that this "is the major issue here. Bleating about free speech, censorship, media regulation, bullying and anything else is diversion."

Do you sense that the public conversation is moving elsewhere from the gatekeepers of traditional media and the corporate end of town?

Social media is giving rise to a new public square or media space?

Ken_L says "I'm sure he knows it's laughable to call for the free speech of others to be curtailed because it's affecting his livelihood. Fortunately I doubt that anyone but his most ardent disciples will even understand his argument, let alone agree with it."

Jones is enriching himself as he postures as the champion of Struggle Street in Old Australia

Jones is going to whip his fanboys into a frenzy. The vast left-wing media cartel is oppressing him. He is being stripped of his rights by the latte-sippers of the nanny state. Decent, hard working, patriotic Christian Australians are being denied their voice in the media.

We'll be rooned...

"We'll be rooned..."

With the cyber lynch mob on the march it clearly is a dark day for Australia. White, hard working, patriotic Christian Australians will have to stand up and defend Australia against the lefty mob hell bent on public hangings and destroying Australia in the process. In this paranoid us-against-them world-view which defines Jones and his audience it's the carbon tax that's the problem here; as well as Gillard not defending the borders against the Islamists invading the country to establish a caliphate. They've only got a decade or so before its all over.

Jones had better be careful to avoid self-destructing the way he is carrying on the fabric of our civilization, democracy and economic system being under attack by nasty cyber bullies who have taken the form of cyber terrorists.

Step back folks, I think he's going supernova!!!!

mars08---Jones does seem to be getting angrier--eg., the way he went off about the Mercedes-Benz executive who wanted the broadcaster's sponsored car back.

Jones called him a "gutless wonder". Not the best choice of words.The pressure is affecting his judgement.

"Do you sense that the public conversation is moving elsewhere from the gatekeepers of traditional media and the corporate end of town?"

Yes and no. We still have a public conversation being held in public between a few talking heads pretending to be representative. We also have a parallel conversation being held by members of the ordinary public.

The two are happening in different spaces. I guess you could characterise that as two public squares - one exclusive, the other inclusive. You also have some of those talking heads participating in both conversations, mainly through Twitter.

It will be interesting to see how, whether, or which, politicians use the inclusive space through to the next election. Julia Gillard has been having small groups of non-political bloggers to morning teas at the Lodge. No idea yet what she plans to do with those new contacts. Malcolm Turnbull has used Twitter twice recently to distance himself from the Australian arm of the Tea Party, once to jump on Cory Bernardi and more recently this Jones thing. Both times he beat Abbott's feeble efforts by enough hours to steal a msm march and set a benchmark response Abbott couldn't follow.

It seems that Gillard and Turnbull both understand the futility of dealing with a msm that's more interested in stunts than anything that might be in the public interest.

FUN FACT: the Germans do not have a word for "schadenfreude". Just as the French have no word for "fiasco".

But the Norwegians have over 20 words for snow.

Assange is going to sue the pm and become a senator perhaps he could be a shock jock too.

For crissakes can't people differentiate between free speech (hopefully to some purpose) and abuse or incitement (as has occurred even more blatantly in the US, involving Fox and Rush Limbaugh )?

Lyn,
thanks to social media the old power of the mainstream media to determine who speaks - and what they speak about - is no more.

maybe what is also shifting is the corporate advertising dollar. It's leaving old media (talk back radio) and going elsewhere--just as it did with printed newspapers.

John Birmingham reckons this may well be the case.

Just as the broadsheets and tabloid newspapers can no longer rely on monopoly profits from classified advertising - or indeed on any profit from a collapsing business model – many of Jones's advertisers have other, better options for spending their marketing dollar.

It will be interesting to see how many of the corporates do return.

So free speech only counts if its nice or you believe it.

c'mon Les,
as pointed out above there are legal limits to free speech eg., defamation; inciting or provoking violence against others; or inciting illegal action; or obscenity (child pornography), advertising content or releasing state secrets etc.

An example: Alan Jones has been found to incite racial hatred towards Lebanese Muslims re Cronulla in 2005 by the Australian Communications and Media Authority. It found that 2GB breached its licence conditions.

Jones is required to apologize and pay damages to those he vilified as "vermin" who "infest our shores" and "rape" and "pillage" our nation.

It's true that ICT has broken the power of the corporations to control public discourse about public policy. It's not at all clear what will evolve in their place. What seems to be developing is a collection of groups using ICT to shout at each other, with large numbers of people simply uninterested in the whole process.

To judge by the abusive and apocalyptic tone of the rhetoric, next month's election in the USA poses a fundamental choice between catastrophe and survival. If that is truly the case, one would expect to see a record turnout at the polls. It will be interesting to see how many actually vote. If it's average or less, it will suggest that ICT has mainly acted to make the forum for debate about politics much larger, without any corresponding increase in engagement by the population at large. The result may be that the only way to get heard is to become ever more strident and extreme. Not a promising sign for the future.

It doesnt mean that Alan Jones only does bad things.
I would think he has used his profile for niceness in the 7 years since 2005. He is quite knowledgable on a number of subjects I expect. Rugby being one that I know of.
Now that aside. My point is that one could find similarities between Jones and Assange should you not like either one as is the case with me.
Well they are it seems both desperate attention seekers, media gods, sexual adventurers, adverse to exposing their version of the truth regardless of the consequences, cry babies. God i hope they dont sue me.
Time for me to go back to mineworld..... :)

Wasn't it a News Ltd paper that broke the Jones story? How funny is that?