Friday, April 04, 2003

Dummy Spit Snob of the Week

Friday, 4 April 2003

Despite a determined, some might say desperate, search through this week's op-ed pages, Phillip Adams is the unchallenged winner of the inaugural Snob of the Week award. To make matters worse, it looks like I gave up on Dummy Spit of the Week too soon. Janet Albrechtsen's Truth the loser in race to gag media is the best example of the genre seen so far this year:

Daily anti-war protests show up how free speech is feast or famine, depending on your politics. Today, students and anti-war protesters ... promise to spill on to streets in cities across Australia, a repeat of last week's protests. They gorge on a smorgasbord of free speech. Good for them. It's part of the rough and tumble of civilised society.

Yet in other quarters a spectre hangs over free speech. Here regular warnings from speech commissars warn us to mind what we say lest we offend Australian Muslims. Here the right not to be offended trumps the right to free speech.

The enemy of free speech on Wednesday was former Liberal Senator Chris Puplick, president of the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board. In his report Race for the Headlines:

Puplick tried to shame The Australian for investigating refugee claims by Ali Bakhtiyari, pushed on to the refugee stage by activist groups hoping to embarrass the Howard Government. He tried to shame those in the media who exposed a strong racial element behind a series of brutal gang rapes of Australian girls in Sydney by Muslim boys. [My emphasis]

In the interest of balance, here's a little of what chapter 3 of the report says about Janet:

There are also examples of journalists who blatantly name race and religion as the cause of criminal behaviour. In July 2002, Janet Albrechtsen wrote a column in The Australian that stated:

French and Danish experts say perpetrators of gang rape flounder between their parents’ Islamic values and ociety’s more liberal democratic values, falling back on the most basic pack mentality of violence and self gratification.
[my emphasis again]

You probably remember the rest of the story (including the part about how Janet slipped the word "Islamic" in on her own initiative) from seeing it on Media Watch. But let's give Janet the penultimate word:

Airing offensive views is the best hope of showing them up if they are wrong. And sometimes even offensive opinions might be right. Imagine that.

That sometimes goes for other people's opinions of our writing. Unless you're a hero-columnist of course.

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