Monthly Archives: March 2014

18c, Andrew Bolt doesn’t know a thing!

There are worthy legal and academic discussions to be had about the proposed repeal of section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act. You will not find such discussions here, Bolt’s law as it has become known is not about the law, policy or protecting freedom of speech. It is the public vehicle with which the acts of racial arsonists like Bolt are not only being defended but encouraged.

When now Senator for the State of Minnesota and three time Emmy winning Comedian Al Franken was asked in 2004 by commercial backers why it was important to start a politically left wing radio station he paused for a moment… Those backers had come with their cheque books open and ready to support the radio venture and expected Franken, a Harvard Graduate and Saturday Night Live performer and writer, to convince them with one of his famous light hearted comedic lines. Instead the pause ended and Franken angrily exclaimed…. “It’s about answering these fuckheads that have been on the air, and lying, and delivering this simplistic black-and-white babble about how the world works. As if they know something. Sean Hannity does not know a thing. Rush Limbaugh does not know a thing.”

Andrew Bolt does not know a thing, Piers Akerman does not know a thing, Alan Jones does not know a thing. And together along with their many friends in the Government and Media they have been delivering simplistic Black and White babble about how the world works and it’s about time someone answered these fuckheads!

We are told by Attorney General Brandis that this is about protecting free speech and that Andrew Bolt was unfairly silenced by the courts. Was this the silencing that took place in 2002 when Bolt was successfully sued by Magistrate Jelena Popovic for defamation? When a jury found Bolt’s article was ” not true, that it was not a faithful and accurate record of judicial proceedings”, after which Bolt threw a tantrum on the court steps which contained comments that were “misleading” and “disingenuous” according to Justice Bongiorno and the Court of Appeal found to be “at worst, dishonest and misleading and at best, grossly careless”. Is this the sort of behaviour Bolt’s law will protect? No, of course not! Magistrates will still be able to sue Andrew Bolt for defamation and good luck to them, but this immediately points out the hypocrisy of Brandis and Co., who seem comfortable with this check on free speech but not so if it prevents racial bigotry.

Because that it seems is the court case that matters, when in Bolt v Eatock Andrew Bolt was found to have contravened section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act. And once again a court was not at all flattering in its criticism of his journalism. “Distorting the truth, not acting in objective good faith, inflammatory, selective misrepresentation, cynical, derisive” and so on. Andrew Bolt has form, how many other journalists hold the distinction of twice having courts find their work to be not only defamatory or racist, but just plain old untruthful. And it is not just in the courts, Bolt who does not believe in the Stolen Generation (See his book “Still Not Sorry) famously challenged Professor Robert Manne to “name just 10” Aboriginal children who had been stolen. Manne named 50…, this of course was not good enough for Bolt.

An important point to remember here is that Manne is a Professor, educated at Melbourne and Oxford Universities. Bolt is not. Bolt is also not a climate scientist and does not believe in either climate change or it being a result of human activity while 97% of climate scientists “agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities”.  My source for this quote? NASA! Is it any wonder a court has on more than one occasion found Bolt to be untruthful, misleading, disingenuous, dishonest and very importantly in this debate “inflammatory”. Because that is what he does, he sets fires, he is a racial arsonist who uses falsehoods to stir fear and hatred in the community. He divides people with his “Black and White Babble” on race, climate change and multiculturalism and just like his American counter part named by Franken, Sean Hannity, he works for Rupert Murdoch. All of whom profit from the many fires of community upheaval these men start.

And when the flames get a little out of control and Mr Bolt gets singed he once again throws one of his famous tantrums. Either on the steps of a court house, by refusing to go to work as he did just weeks ago or claiming that he is being silenced. This is a man with a TV Show, a Radio Show, a Blog and the most read Newspaper column in the country. Silenced? Based on court findings alone this man is lucky to have a job that doesn’t include scrubbing toilets and yet with all that he has we need a change to the law to protect him according to the current Government.

Bolt, a denier of the genocide committed against the Indigenous people of this land, holds something in common with another man who is a genocide denier. Gerald Toben has also been found to have contravened section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act. Toben, another racial arsonist, makes his money denying the catastrophic genocide that is the Holocaust. And just like Bolt he too throws a tantrum every time he is found to be on the wrong side of the law. Twice he has served time in prison for his offences, he has been found in contempt of court and along with a group of other holocaust deniers including a former Ku Klux Klan leader attended an event in Iran that sought to wash the Holocaust from history books.

And despite the findings of a court , the Adelaide Institute founded by Toben, has stated “‘What Andrew Bolt said was basically true and factual” and supports the repeal of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act and other laws on racial vilification that stifle ”legitimate” historical debate.

That’s what this repeal is about, protecting bigots like Bolt and Toben. Senator Brandis admitted as much when he stated people have “a right to be bigots”. That is to say that the likes of Bolt and Toben have a right to be racial arsonists, setting off fires wherever they like with no view to the very real world consequences that result. The Foundation for Young Australians conducted extensive research which found “the experience of racism has serious impacts on health and wellbeing”, the current and historical impacts of anti-Semitism are undeniable and the racist policies perpetrated against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Peoples is the cancer that still eats at this nation. Indian students are beaten in the streets, Islamphobia is an everyday experience for the Muslim Community and “70% of secondary school students experience at least one form of racism” and yet for the sake of untruthful, inflammatory, convicted racists we will repeal a section of law that seeks to tackle racism in our society…

You must be fucking joking!

What happened to victims rights? Not one of the victims of Bolt or Toben support the repeal of 18c, not a single community group made up of those effected by 18c support its repeal. From Aboriginal leaders like Marcia Langton, to a cross section of Jewish, Muslim and Christian groups to just about every Human Rights organisation there has been condemnation. About the only person who does not oppose the repeal is new Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson, who before being personally appointed to the six figure salary by George Brandis himself worked at the IPA championing the rights of Bolt above all others.

We can get easily caught up in overly academic and legal discussions on this issue or we can accept in a world far more complex than the black and white babble sold to us by Bolt, that ethnically diverse communities like ours need some basic rules in place that uphold the dignity of all. Andrew Bolt doesn’t know a thing, but if the repeal of 18c goes ahead he will be free to use his untruths and dishonesty to set off racial fires around the land. If he is silenced now on his blog, radio show, TV show and newspaper column imagine the carnage he will sow when he is freed from the shackles of decency. And the fallout will be on the heads of the Government and anyone else who thought 21st century Australia should return to the laws of the jungle.

Intellectually disabled Aboriginal people stuck in prison without conviction

Rosie Ann Fulton: one of dozens of intellectually disabled Aboriginal people stuck in prison without conviction

By John Stewart

An investigation has revealed dozens of intellectually disabled Aboriginal people are being kept in prison indefinitely because of a lack of proper healthcare facilities.

The ABC’s Lateline program exposed the case of 23-year-old Rosie Anne Fulton, who has spent the past 18 months in a Kalgoorlie jail without a trial or conviction after she was charged with driving offences.

The magistrate in her case declared her unfit to plead because she is intellectually impaired – a victim of foetal alcohol syndrome.

Her legal guardian, former police officer Ian McKinlay, says Rosie Anne ended up on a prison-based supervision order because there were no alternatives in the area at the time.

“At the moment this outcome is almost entirely reserved for Aboriginal, Indigenous Australians,” he said.

The Aboriginal Disability Justice Campaign says there are at least 30 Indigenous people in her situation around the country.

Mr McKinlay has been trying to get her moved to Alice Springs to be closer to her family.

“She rings several times a week, sometimes twice a day, wanting to know when she is coming back to live in Alice Springs,” he said.

Last year, the Northern Territory health department agreed to move Rosie Anne to a secure care facility built next to the Alice Springs prison.

The centre was specifically designed to house people with intellectual disabilities and challenging behaviours.

Mr McKinlay says he received repeated assurances from the department that Rosie Anne would be moved there last year.

“They identified her as a prime candidate for secure care and they rejected any other form of service that guardians were advocating for pending the completion of this facility,” he said.

But last month he received a new letter from the health department, this time rejecting Rosie Anne.

The letter states that she is not compatible with the male residents staying at the centre.

“From a clinical risk management perspective, the risks posed to Ms Fulton’s safety were she transferred to the facility are untenable,” the letter stated.

A statement issued from the NT health department said secure care facilities were not gender specific.

“The Department of Health always holds the health and wellbeing of clients as paramount,” the statement said.

“Due to its responsibility to client privacy, the department is unable to provide comment on specific client circumstances, treatment or care.”

Mark O’Reilly, principal legal officer at the Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service, says some of his clients have waited in jail for an outcome for five years.

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Queue Jumpers, Dead Hookers and Savages

Queue Jumpers, Dead Hookers and Savages; The real faceless men and women of Australian Politics.

“We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience. And that will be a day not of the white man, not of the black man. That will be the day of man as man. (Yes)”

The healing power in the truth of Dr Martin Luther King Jnr’s words was not just in their wisdom, not just in their moral authority but because they were delivered by a man who was “the other” of his time. The Civil rights movement in the United States was largely centred around abolishing public and private acts of discrimination against Black People. The Jim Crow laws of the South were designed to ensure despite the confederacy loss in the Civil War, African Americans while not kept as slaves were to be second class citizens. Dr Martin Luther King Jnr was one of these such citizens. So where then must we ask in modern battles for civil rights are the voices of Asylum Seekers, First Nations peoples and yes, Sex Workers? If we truly believe in the democratic ideal of Nothing About Us Without Us, the idea that no policy should be decided by any representative without the full and direct participation of members the group(s) affected by that policy. Then where are the loud voices in public, in the media and policy circles of the three “other” groups that I mentioned?

The answer is these groups of “others” are deliberately shut out and the air that would be a space for their voices taken by others. As Liz Thompson brilliantly pointed out in regards to speakers at protests against the treatment of Asylum Seekers “Where is the invitation to the delegates, the resisters and those who brought down Woomera and Baxter from within last time, some of whom are pretty easy to find with a phone call to @RISErefugee.” The answer, as I believe Liz also suggested, is too many non-“others” are speaking and filling the space that is most desperately needed to be filled by the “others”. Would there have been as much impact from Dr King’s famous “I Have a Dream” Speech if it had been delivered by anyone but an African American? Of course not.

Even those of us who advocate on behalf of “others” are not always from that group. In fact in the current Asylum Seeker debate virtually nobody is and thus the power of their words is not only not felt, it is never even heard.  Our role as advocates should never be to gain attention for ourselves, never raise a dollar for our own need and to always to lift our clients up above us so that they may be seen and they may be heard. The Indigenous warriors of Chiapas Mexico, the Zapatistas of EZLN have a motto – Para todos todo, para nosotros nada! “For everyone, everything. For us, nothing” They are the “others” but as advocates they know that it is everyone they represent that should be the beneficiaries of their struggles. And the name of their struggle? The Other Campaign.

The very purpose of creating this blog was to promote positive messages about Indigenous Australia, to give air to the issues that matter and to refuse the mainstream media and many politicians very real attempts to paint all things First Nations Peoples as bad, lazy and lacking. Yet despite the efforts of many even the ABC continues to ignore the importance of Nothing About Us Without Us. I have repeatedly contacted The Drum and Q and A over their lack of Indigenous representation, especially when discussing issues directly related to Indigenous people… And heaven forbid be allowed to discuss other issues as well. These inquires conducted formally and often by social media are met with a sort of glazed stupidity, as if this was obvious to nobody and who are these Indigenous experts they could be having on their programs anyway?! If journalists and producers of our National Broadcaster do not know the very existence of Indigenous people of excellence then they have no place in those positions. This is the shutting out of “other” voices, whether deliberate or from sheer ignorance the impact is the same. And now it appears the most IndigenousX of all media, Tracker Magazine, will be shut down. Why? Well we the public have been told a number of reasons, but my opinion is that it is because they have dared tell the truth as “others” about “other” issues.

And if there has been a long tradition of abuse against tribal people and those fleeing war and famine the same has been true for those working in the “oldest profession in the world”. When was the last time you heard a Sex Worker speak in the mainstream media about the issues effecting them? The answer is almost never and if they do then this group “othered” by our society must hide their identity or change their name. I offer no opinion here on sex work or the sex industry, but when people stand up and speak about what is best for sex workers by calling them “prostitutes” I must question their motive. When they are told they are priviledged to even have a voice if they manage to get one I say this is wrong. And when a sex worker is brutally murdered in our cities streets and the crime goes unreported by the media I say that this group of “others” has been relegated to second class citizens, demonised and criminalised and is it any wonder that the Scarlet Alliance, the national peak sex worker organisation in Australia, has adopted the motto Nothing About Us Without Us.

Just as I have offered no opinion on the Sex Industry I will not offer an opinion in this article on the struggles of Asylum Seekers and First Nations Peoples other than to say the present conscience of our society that is surely unacceptable while these struggles continue will remain our future until voices are given to the Dr King’s of these issues. The Dr Kings who are currently behind wire on Manus, who live in the many First Nations of this land and those whose work is Sex. “Others” are not issues, nor are their advocates them. Taking away nothing from their work but Al Gore is not a climate scientist and Sarah Hanson Young is not an Asylum Seeker. They are political advocates who can be either respected or lampooned, but only the true human face of these struggles can show us their humanity when they are given the space and the voice to do so. Whether it is the MSM and Politicians who deliberately shut out these voices or the advocates who unwittingly take away the air that belongs to others, we will be a community not with a scar, but a gaping wound in the very fabric of who we are until these voices are heard.

It is easy to be painted as a Queue Jumper, a Savage or just another Dead Hooker when you are not given a voice, when your face is never seen and your humanity never acknowledged. When will this end….

“How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Liz Thompson explains why she is not speaking at the Close Manus rally on Saturday

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I am not speaking at the Close Manus rally on Saturday, organised by RAC [Refugee Action Collective]. Without thinking, I agreed to do it, thinking there could be no harm. But in fact the reaction to me speaking on Dateline has made me reconsider. 

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