… She was born that way!
It comes as no surprise that Andrew Bolt has found himself involved in yet another controversy surrounding race. We all know Bolt lost a high profile case and like the guy who doesn’t accept the umpires decision in a game of street cricket he’s taking his bat and ball and going home. But first he is going to throw around a few names and smash some bins as he marches off down the street.
But Bolt doesn’t simply play with a bat and ball, he plays with peoples lives, with the identity of an entire race and as the most read journalist in Australia, with how we shape public discussion on such issues for generations to come. Bolt and his supporters would have you believe that he lost a free speech case and that he has been silenced. This is a lie!
He breached the Racial Discrimination Act and returned to work as Australia’s most read columnist & blogger who also has a TV show and a radio program. Silenced? And how much did the applicants ask for in damages, landmark case like that would have to get you a few million each surely? Not a cent! No victims here, just folk wanting the record set straight and for Bolt to tell the truth and not abuse them racially. This does not seem like too much to ask, In fact as someone who knows a thing or two about handling high profile court cases I would say the nine individuals who took the case against Bolt are brave for what they did. Brave because going through any legal battle is awful, especially one where you have been wronged and it is played out in the media.
Six months later and we arrive back at the present time and Bolt having come to terms with his error has had the chance to meet with Indigenous leaders, think about the importance of his own Dutch culture to him and apologise to each and all…
Or that is what would have happened if he was indeed sorry, a decent individual or employed by a media company that respected the law. One of the applicants to the case, Dr Anita Heiss, has written a new booked entitled Am I Black Enough For You? and Bolt & co. are fuming. From reading his column and their ranting it seems they don’t believe Dr Heiss should have written the book, it shouldn’t have been published and she shouldn’t be speaking about the case or her identity.
In short, they want Dr Heiss silenced, they don’t believe in free speech and so they’ve taken to Amazon to ridicule a book they haven’t read. All at the direction of Bolt, who in his Column (most read in Australia) spoke about the book and Dr Heiss.
Hold on a moment, who’s free speech is being attacked here?
Let’s get some fact straight. Dr Anita Heiss is an author of considerable standing in Australia. She has been a prolific writer for two decades with successful works across a wide range of genres. A director of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and an author who gives back to the entire community through her promotion of literature and the craft, literacy for all Australian’s and encouraging and assisting up and coming writers with their work. Having been seriously misrepresented by Bolt, something a judge found also breached the Racial Discrimination Act it is only a very nasty individual who would seek to deny her the right of reply.
But to suggest that this is all her new book is about is an insult to Dr Heiss and an insult to anyone who cares about true harmony and understanding in the Australian community. The book is about a woman who comes from the oldest living culture in the world but lives in one of the most cosmopolitan cities on the planet. The story of a woman of colour who has become a leader in her field when very few existed and what it is like to be a high profile Aboriginal Woman in a ground breaking legal case.
What Heiss shows us with her book is that your identity is not one that can be written on an ID card, it is not something determined by where you live and despite any obstacles laid in her way she is not a victim but a success and an example to all of us.
Make no mistake, history will judge this period of time in our Nation. It will judge the fact that Indigenous Australian’s still face a 20 year gap in life expectancy compared to their non-Indigenous brothers and sisters. It will judge how a Government sent the army into communities that needed nurses and teachers and it will judge how a few white men in the media tried to tell the oldest living culture on earth how they should determine their identity.
And then History will turn the page on Am I Black Enough For You? And see Dr Anita Heiss, a writer, an activist, a teacher and a leader who stood up so that future generations can live out their identity as they see fit, not have it questioned or belittled.
Dr Anita Heiss is a proud woman of the Wiradjuri nation, an incredible writer and she is more than Black enough! Andrew Bolt is a convicted racist, one found to be a terrible journalist who relies heavily on google for his research and a man who has contributed nothing to the positive growth of our country. It is only because Bolt lost in court to Heiss that their names ever need be mentioned in the same breath. And with her new book and dignified response to Bolt’s continued attacks she is winning again!
The editorial space is overwhelming, the Twittersphere and Facebook walls have gone feral and talk back switchboards have strained under the pressure as the Eatock Vs Bolt decision came in. But why the fuss…?
There is nothing I can add to the debate that hasn’t already been said on the verdict and the fall out for those involved on both sides and the legal implications. However what has been missing this week is some perspective. Andrew Bolt a man not known for his moderate views wrote two columns that should never have seen the light of day. Not because he doesn’t deserve free speech or he doesn’t have a right to express his opinions. But because the pieces were so full of factual inaccuracies that they do not belong in any major newspaper in this country. If Bolt has an editor and I assume he does, they simply did not do their job. Clearly he is hired to be controversial, a flame thrower and partisan zealot whose success comes from driving people apart and polarising opinions.
In short he is a Bully in the written form and this time he seriously overstepped the mark. He was pulled into the principal’s office, given a dressing down and like every other Bully before him came out of the office the victim, the martyr who just wants everyone to get along. “I argued then and I argue now that we should not insist on the differences between us but focus instead on what unites us as human beings,” Bolt said. Until of course he got back to the safety of his computer and once again the keyboard warrior took aim at all and sundry.
So let us step back, have a cuppa tea and gain some perspective on all of this. Bolt is NOT the victim. He named many very high achieving Indigenous Australians and the only way he could sully their names was to make things up. The end! But what has followed shows just how little perspective Bolt and many of his colleagues in the media and politics have. Life in Australia for middle to upper class journalists is not a tough one. They very rarely get sued, they never get thrown in the clink for urging greater democracy in their nation and the vast majority don’t have to leave their desks and head into war zones, refugee camps or famine ridden slums to get a story.
Therefore it comes as no surprise that a decision like this has turned every newspaper and news website in the land into a smorgasbord of opinion, feigned outrage and overnight expert legal opinion on the issues of racial vilification and free speech. All of it wildly missing the mark that Bolt was wrong, his punishment will be extra light with skim milk, the complainants vindicated and the world still just as complex as before the decision. If only these same newspapers dedicated as much editorial space to positive Indigenous stories or the real success of Multiculturalism. If only as many lawyers with a comprehension of migration law had been called upon during the opening days of the “Tampa” crisis, “Children Overboard” and the “Malaysian Solution”.
When are we going to get full-page stories on the disgraceful life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians? Any chance we could have a week of outrage at the fact that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused in this country before they are 18? Or what about the fact we are STILL IN A WAR! Yes media men and women, ladies and gents we are still in a war in Afghanistan, longer than our involvement in Vietnam, WW1 or WW2 and yet it barely rates a mention. Or the fact that a very preventable famine is killing a child every few seconds in the Horn of Africa. Dead………., Dead………., Dead……. and from the media, SILENCE!
The media in Australia have it very easy, Andrew Bolt is not a victim and the complainants in the case should NEVER have been vilified in the way they were. All of them have shown themselves to be brilliant Australian’s dedicated to many of the causes I have mentioned. The issue here is not one of free speech or the tweaking of any law that may impact on that. The real issue is that the Australian media has been asleep at the wheel and on a very simple issue of right and wrong that could have been reported by a nine year old we’ve been forced to endure a Blitzkrieg.
Next time the media wish to roll out the big guns, call in an air strike or a naval blockade I for one hope it is on an issue that really is about uniting and not dividing or an issue like famine, war and child abuse that we simply cannot as a nation afford to ignore. The story this week is that Andrew Bolt is an idiot, but so are we if we allow the issue of a national debate to be him and his ignorance.
Hero – David Manne, Executive Director of the Refugee & Immigration Legal Centre .
David Manne and his team at the RILC brought the action in the High Court against the Government’s “Malaysian solution” that was this week found to be unlawful. The ruling by the court was historic, in that in provides a major hurdle for this and any future Government to attempt to process Asylum Seekers offshore. But history is not forged by those who sit by why injustice takes place and High Courts do not rule against a Government unless a group of people do Hero like work to ensure that justice is done. In a time when politics has become particularly dirty, tea party like rallies in Canberra, politician’s caught up in serious legal issues and a parliament ground to a halt by mud-slinging the good news is that not all leaders are politicians and most politicians are NOT leaders. So our 1DEADLYNation.com hero of the week for leadership, commitment and an amazing achievement for Human rights is David Manne and the team at RILC.
Villain – News Limited “columnist” Andrew Bolt
In a week where his News Ltd stable mate, Glenn Milne, could have beaten him to the prize. Bolt proves there is nothing like a hissy fit to get your name in the papers and be this weeks Villain. The Australian newspaper kicked off the week by publishing an article by Milne about PM Gillard that was short on facts and high on Chardonnay fumes. The false and defamatory article was pulled by News Ltd and an apology put in its place. To Bolt this was the equivalent to appeasing the Nazi party and he would take his flaming sword of freedom to the airwaves. “What are you so afraid of? What else would you stoop to in order to cling to power? I was considering resigning as a News Limited columnist,” Bolt screeched. “I thought this company that I love, that I have long admired for its defence of free speech, had caved in to pressure from a Prime Minister to close down reporting of a matter of public interest.”
So Bolt took his bat and ball and went home. But like most cry babies and bullies it only lasted for a day and with his sword still out of its sheath went on the rampage about Democracy, Freedom, Socialism, Lenin and why he just had to hold strong for the good of the nation. Sorry Andrew, but your pen pal Milne got it wrong, suck it up and get on with writing about why Carbon Dioxide is actually a beautiful rainbow creating lolly drop from God. But you are this weeks Villain!
*credit to http://www.sarcastic.com.au for Bolt image.