C'est nous qui brisons les barreaux des prisons, pour nos frères, La haine à nos trousses, et la faim qui nous pousse, la misère. Il y a des pays où les gens aux creux des lits font des rêves, Ici, nous, vois-tu, nous on marche et nous on tue nous on crève.

Friday, 13 April 2007

Freedom of (hate) speech

Margaret Simons in Crikey wrote an article the other day criticising the soft approach of the ACMA's findings against Alan Jones, on the topic of his incitements to violence that preceded the Cronulla riots:

Read the report, and it is clear that the biggest surprise in this case is not
that findings were made against Jones but that ACMA found that the majority of
his broadcasts on the Cronulla matter were not racial vilification or incitement
to violence. The broadcasts ACMA thought were acceptable included references to
"Middle Eastern grubs" and other choice remarks.
Read the report for ACMA’s reasoning, amidst a forest of legalistic and dictionary definitions on what amounts to vilification and what constitutes an "ethnic group". It’s hardly high level moral reasoning, and it certainly isn’t tough.

Some more examples of Jones' 'colourful' commentary can be found here and here. Unsurprisingly, for every article condemning Jones in cyberspace, one can find articles of unbridled support for Jones in the mainstream media.

We have David Flint, for example, dismissing the ACMA's decision on the basis that it damages freedom of speech. The AMCA finding is derided as 'inquisitorial', and Jones' accusers are 'faceless'. It is a shame that some of these keyboard warriors so intent on defending freedom of speech did not create a louder outcry when the Howard government passed sedition laws. Still, at least Flint had the chutzpah to condemn the attempts to curtail freedom of expression when the case did not relate to right-wing culture warriors.

But take this piece of 'writing' by Paul Kent, for instance, in Sydney's very own Pravda. Kent seems to think that the Cronulla riots were actually the fault of Muslim leaders, who 'let racial tensions fester, and cried racism when it spun out of control'. Perhaps I've got this terribly wrong, but I thought that when a rabble of drunken yobbos from Cronulla start belting people on the grounds of their perceived ethnicity, then this actually is racism. Irrespective of the purported precursors to the riots, or the alleged sins of the ethnic group in question.

Not to Kent, however. For Kent, it is the Muslims who are 'bullies', who receive sympathy only as a result of 'political posturing' by the ACMA. It would be interesting to see if Kent would remain consistent to his hardline stance if the recipients of the Cronulla beatings had been Jews, Sikhs, albino dwarf midgets, or anybody but Lebanese Muslims.

Nonetheless, poor Alan Jones 'got it right', for having the courage to stand up to 'bullies' from the vantage point of his broadcaster's chair. And so Kent remarks:

Bullies don’t deserve sympathy or false outrage to hide behind. They should get
what they deserve.

These precise lines are perfectly suited to Jones himself, the more so given that he did not hesitate to fan the flames of hatred amongst his brain-dead audience. But I could be very wrong - after all, Howard indicated that he believed Jones to be an 'outstanding broadcaster'.

But perhaps I am too harsh on Sydney's Pravda. After all, today's edition includes a groundbreaking piece on the latest all-important conflict to besiege the harbour city.

UPDATE: Another salvo has been fired at Jones, this time in relation to his treatment, and that of a certain loud-mouthed mufti. And Michelle Grattan presents a typically balanced and sober view of this matter, continuing the motif of Jones as bullyboy.