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.