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ON March 29 2011, Crikey bloggers Jeremy Sear and Dave Gaukroger wrote in defence of Andrew Bolt’s right to free speech. This was in relation to the federal Court litigation under the Racial Discrimination Act, and both saw the action as a threat to free speech. They argued that in spite of the fact that they find much of Bolt’s writings to be poorly written and offensive, that “we don’t think that a court of law is the place to try to censure him for his political views”. They also in the same piece opined as follows:
Free speech and a free press are cornerstones of a modern liberal democracy, and no doubt Bolt’s defence team will be making a point of this. We do not think that the court system should be used to silence someone in the media simply because they are publishing profoundly stupid things, even when they do so on a regular basis, and even when we think that their published opinion is offensive. Almost by definition, if you’re not hearing someone saying things that you find truly offensive, then you probably don’t have freedom of speech.
Quite sensible for change, and consistent with their view of themselves as tolerant lefty liberals. But as soon as Justice Bromberg found that Bolt has breached the Racial Discrimination Act, the two lefty bloggers seemed to change position immediately.
Pure Poison’s first post after the judgement was delivered was written by Gaukroger. Rather than finding that a blow to free speech had been dealt, the view that free speech had been affected had been debunked. After quoting a small part of Bromberg J’s judgement, Gaukroger wrote that:
Does this quash the “free speech” argument?
Not according to your 29 March post, Dave.
The next post was written by Sear, who accused Bolt of “outrageous bullying” of the subjects of criticism on his blog and concluded that “But it’ll have a chilling effect on that kind of “free speech””. A follow-up piece considers it a great contradiction that Bolt claims he has been silenced, but gets a big story on the front page of the Herald Sun complaining about it. Perhaps Bolt’s view would only have credibility if he was sacked and then shunned by the Herald Sun as a result of the judgment.
Other pieces complain that News Ltd editorials failed to make mention of Bolt’s errors of fact, even though they were discussed in columns which appeared in those newspapers, defend Julian Burnside (who supported the Bolt judgement but tweeted “paedos in speedos”), and ridicule Bolt for the fact that lots of money has been expended on legal costs on his behalf. Another post by Sear expresses the attitude that Bolt should “get over it”.
Importantly, the view that free speech was being undermined by the case is not repeated amongst the triumphalism that their chief adversary has been censured in court over opinions he has expressed.
Opening with the claim by Gaukroger that Sear is “dancing a jig” outside the Federal Court, the podcast contains much partisan celebratory gloating. It also contains a number of howlers:
– A repeat of the idea that Bolt cannot possibly be silenced in any real way because he is such a widely read and heard columnist who has been talking a lot about the case and the judgement. The fact that Bolt now cannot discuss how certain part-Aboriginals identify as Indigenous and consequently receive certain advantages without the possibility of further litigation against him is not considered.
– They argue that Bolt isn’t having his free speech attacked because if he had been found to have written the contravening articles in “good faith” he wouldn’t have lost, as that was what “the case turned on”. The fact that the judgement holds that judges are now umpires on whether or not speech concerning race that offends others is lawful or unlawful is not considered, and so is apparently quite irrelevant. The fact that defamation law protects individuals from untruths which affect their reputations is also not mentioned in this context, but it is suggested later on that conservatives such as Tony Abbott are hypocritical for availing themselves of defamation law.
– Gaukroger then argues that once Bolt can no longer use the errors as fact to support his claims, that their entire basis disappears. He seems to have forgotten that seconds earlier Jeremy was claiming that Bolt was able to and did make the same points he did in the contravening articles after the judgement was handed down without the errors of fact.
– They both then make the suggestion that the only way that the plaintiffs could have answered Bolt and pointed out his errors of fact was by the Herald Sun donating entire pages to that cause or that they could have started their own newspaper. Apparently neither the ABC nor Fairfax would likely give them a sympathetic run. Again, defamation is not mentioned in this context.
– When the issue of defamation is finally raised, Sear notes that the remedies are no more censorious than those available under the law of defamation. He then makes the extraordinary inference that what Bolt wrote was already illegal when no such finding was made by Justice Bromberg.
Among all the gloating that Bolt has been thumped in court, there is no explanation either on the blog or in the podcast that explains why Sear and Gaukroger have apparently changed their minds about whether the Bolt case was an unwarranted attack on free speech.
Blogging is a funny old game, especially when you write about politics and engage in ongoing sniping across the political trenches. Now our learned friend was quite peeved when the Herald sun took up the story of Andy Blume and when that chap lost his job with Yarra Trams now our man at the bar thought that there was something terribly wrong and unjust that poor Andy has been forced into the ranks of the unemployed for the things that he has Tweeted and posted on the internet. It would seem that Jezza really likes to think that there should be no consequences for dising your employer on the net or for posting pictures of Tram passengers to mock and deride them to your twitter followers. Anyway one of the elements of the Andy Blume saga was the fact that he was taking pictures from the cab of his Tram so our learned friend thought that he had the perfect counter strike when Andrew bolt published this post, another in his “from the window of a typical blog reader” series:
A fairly innocuous post and not something that really meets Pure Poison’s Mission statement (not that it ever seems to matter to Dave and Jezza) none the less our learned friend decided to write about it any way seeing an opportunity to “even the score” and this post was the result which in turn led to Andrew Bolt putting up this post which is where I come into this picture because I posted this comment to Andrew’s post:
Jeremy Sear is a sad venial man who is seeking a revenge of sorts because the Herald Sun quite rightly highlighted the case of his personal friend Andy Blume’s very bad internet behaviour while he was employed by Yarra Trams. The delightful irony is that on this occasion he has completely misunderstood just what goes on at the pointy end of a modern Jet airliner and just how his attempt to draw a comparison between a jet cockpit and Tram’s driving compartment is just a total FAIL.
Its good for a laugh though
This resulted in our learned friend sending me an email complaining about my comment and posting this comment in the thread of his Pure Poison post:
I would dearly love to share the email exchange but our learned friend is rather coy about what he had to say but the gist of it was that he claimed that I misrepresented him because I had no evidence that he was a “close personal friend” of Andy Blume, he maintained that he had met the man only twice at blog meet ups and that Blume was just one of the many people that he follows on twitter. In the exchange that followed (over several emails during the afternoon) he insisted that he did not want me to write a correction, and when I asked him why he was emailing me rather than posting something at Bolts Blog to set the record straight on the nature of his relationship with Andy Blume Jezza made comparisons between Blume and syphilis and the communist witch-hunts. All rather entertaining on a quiet Sunday afternoon. Then I made a point of rereading my comment at Bolts blog and I noticed that I had not in fact used the adjective “close” at all (like who remembers the precise wording of every comment that posted on the internet?) After a hearty belly laugh at the realisation that our learned friend had spent the afternoon chiding me about making sure that one has evidence for the claims made on the internet. I wrote back to him pointing out that I had never suggested that he was a “close personal friend” at all. Top marks to the chap though for editing his comment (cited above) to correct the error, however you just can’t escape the fact that the whole episode is a great example of crusading blogger scoring a hat trick of own goals. In the first instance he was wrong to assume that the picture posted by Andrew Bolt represents any sort of pilot negligence or misdeed which makes his comparison with the Andy Blume affair pointless, secondly he spent some effort trying to shame me into making some sort of retraction and public apology for something that I have not done, and finally it was he who has made a “correction” to what he has said about this matter (at my insistence) rather than yours truly.
Amusing stuff indeed Comrades
Having committed the serious crime of praising a lefty this morning I now find myself unable to stop laughing at this post at Pure Playschool it seems that Dave and Jezza are having trouble editing their podcasts and they are begging for a regular freebie from some schophant:
Frankly Pure Poison has for a very long time failed to meet is own mission statement and these two seem to be playing the internet’s Pantomime horse these days and they are often inadvertently very funny as they are in this instance.
Best of luck to anyone who takes up this “offer” thankfully it is one that you can refuse
This morning I read the rather amusing Post from Derek Sapphire where he rather cheekily suggested that we sceptics should demonstrate the harmlessness of Co2 by a sort of total immersion in it or it gaseous sibling Carbon monoxide:
Of course on planet Warminista it is always someone else who has to pay the price for their faith in the liturgy of Gaia. However it occurs to me that there may just be a way that those truly faithful to the Goddess can make a real difference to our collective future and that would be if they all decided to remove themselves from the problem by a coordinated act of devotion to the Goddess. Yes there have been others who have made the sacrifice for their deity, and their messiahs but they have usually been part of fairly small cults. Profits of the Warminista faith keep telling us that their ranks are legion so just imagine how much of a difference it would make if they were all to submit to a self sacrifice for the sake of the planet?
Yes Comrades they do have in their power a way that they can make a real difference to the environment and I’m sure that even if you allow for the emissions of cremation that their over all emissions per capita life time just have to be less for a short life that ends in a virtious sacrifice to the Goddess than it would be for along one sipping lattes in the inner city and taking overseas holidays…
Now for those who lack the cahones to take the ultimate step for the glory of Gaia there is another way that they can make a difference and that is to have themselves neutered, I am rather sure that there would be plenty of followers of the faith who would gladly do the deed to their fellows and although this would not be as effective as a total self sacrifice it would have the same effect upon the projected population growth of the planet.
So to all of you Warministas out there its time to step up and name your poison….
I have only vaguely been following the coniptions that some lefties have been having over the possibility that Andrew Bolt may get his own TV show, frankly I think that such a show would be a great commercial success, The right thinking public will enjoy Andrew telling it like it is and Lefty fan boys like our learned friend will enjoy watching it because they want to show the world their own righteous indignation at the opinions of Andrew Bolt and to bemoan the fact that what he says so obviously resonates with the public. It has to be a commercial winner for network Ten.
Ten has confirmed it will launch a new Sunday morning program, The Bolt Report, hosted by Herald Sun journalist Andrew Bolt on 8 May.
The Bolt Report will air at 10am, before Meet the Press, Ten’s existing political program which will move to 10.30am.
I know that the AFL Footy season is pending but this post is about that other AFL, a creature invented by our learned friend and this missive was inspired when I received this email.
Hi Iain,it seems that the AFL was a bit of a flash in the pan.I subscribe to their mailing list and there has been no correspondence for a couple of weeks.Following the Broadmeadows By Election where they published a how to vote guide they gushed about how they would be scrutinising all the candidates in the NSW state election on their ‘family friendly ‘ credentials.Well today is Election Day and not a peep.cheers(an AFL member*)
You would have to think from this email that my suggestion that Mr Sear’s creature would be short-lived is totally correct, like a shark, once a lobby group stops swimming it probably means that it is dead.
*name withheld by request
To Be hacked once , Mr. Sear, may be regarded as a misfortune. To be hacked twice looks like carelessness:
Unless of course there was no hacking at all and this is all just a ruse intended to garner some sympathy after a learned friend has been embarrassed by his own foolishness just as he was when he fronted up to the MTR switchboard under an assumed name “Jeff of Mulgrave “. He has form for not revealing who he is when commenting on the net. Astute readers may well notice that there is no direct and outright denial that the site in question is a Sear creation. Frankly I don’t believe that anyone would go to all of the trouble of Hacking someone’s blog just to insert a link to a rather dull parody site so maybe the edits to our learned friend’s blog were made by one of his cats who had watched him log in to WordPress and remembered his password…
Our leaned friend now admits that he was not hacked at all but instead he made a mistake in typing in the URL at his own blogroll and someone has taken advantage of that error to create a piss-take blog that he linked to:
Actually, my “benefit of the doubt” good will seems to have been a little generous.
If you check the Wayback Machine, you’ll see that the link Jeremy claims was just recently changed by an evil stalky rightwing hacker has actually always linked to http://blairboltwatchproject.wordpress.com/ (which until recently was an unclaimed non-existent blog, a fact someone obviously quite legitimately took advantage of just recently). It’s only recently been changed to link to http://blairboltwatch.wordpress.com/.
So I’m calling bullshit on Jeremy and his “poor me I’ve been hacked by evil rightwing extremist stalkers” claim.
I STILL have the utmost sympathy for anyone, Left or Right, whose blog really IS hacked, as that is just one of those things that needs blanket condemnation from everyone in the Blogosphere.
But I think crying “HACKED!!” when you haven’t been, whether it’s to get fake sympathy or cover up for one of your own mistakes or whatever, is a pretty shabby thing to do too. What a pathetic little creep. He’ll have only himself to blame if people aren’t especially eager to empathise with him next time he cries wolf.
As Gig Diary suggests in the comemnts its not a good look for a barrister to announce to the world that his electronic security is bad enough that he can be hacked twice and I will suggest that is just as bad or worse for him to claim hat he has been hacked when he hasn’t either.
You just never know Comrades
I like Jack the Insider, his shtick is pretty cute; the gruff man in the know telling all works for me. However I think that his current piece in the Oz may actually be a very good piece of political analysis on the loony efforts from Bob Brown to attribute the recent flood events to “climate change” and to extract retribution from the coal industry for them “causing” it.
Coal mining, according to Brown is to blame for the disastrous flooding that has beset Queensland and continues to cause property loss across eastern Australia.
“It’s the single biggest cause – burning coal – for climate change and it must take its major share of responsibility for the weather events we are seeing unfolding now,” Senator Brown said in Hobart yesterday.
“We know that the oceans around Australia are at record high temperatures, and that’s causing the moisture in the air which is leading to these catastrophic floods.
“It is costing billions of dollars, besides the pain, the anguish, the loss of life, the destruction and it should not be left to ordinary taxpayers to bear the full brunt of that”.
It’s not often that someone can so effortlessly accuse humans of responsibility for a natural disaster but Brown has form.
In 2006, Brown blamed John Howard for the drought that beset south eastern Australia. “No national leader has had a better box seat to take a world lead against climate change in the last decade. But Prime Minister Howard has scorned the science, ramped up coal burning and starved fantastic renewable energy science of funds in Australia. No comparable leader is more responsible for the effects of climate change damaging Australia’s prospects,” Senator Brown said.
Brown is no expert in climate science and neither he nor his party have a superior insight into its complexities.
One man who is an expert is Professor Neville Nicholls, a meteorologist at Monash University. Nicholls, one of the lead authors of the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, says of the flooding in eastern Australia: “The reality is that we don’t know if there is a climate change component in it.”
When the Greens managed to win a lower house seat and they took on the role of political king maker the game changed and now they are not going to get the sort of passes that they have previously enjoyed when it comes to their more loony policy positions and opinions. There are none more loopy than the attribution of blame to our coal mining industry for the recent flood events. Brown has absolutely no scientific credentials and no one with any real credibility would make the claims that he does about the flooding without looking very wrong and silly.