Saturday, March 10, 2012
Aussie speech suppression and Andrew Bolt's misguided attack on boycotters
The proposed scheme of regulation (pages 290-300) includes NO limits on the restriction of speech. Page 291 calls for open ended power to regulate speech, and the only stated constraint is that the ten-man ten-woman News Media Council MUST regulate:
While the setting of standards should be left to the News Media Council, they should incorporate certain minimum standards, such as fairness and accuracy.As for how much the News Media Panel can regulate, no constraints are listed anywhere in the plan. Don't take my word for it. Go look for yourself. Opinion is explicitly subject to regulation, and absolutely no stated freedoms from regulation are mentioned anywhere, unless maybe you're a blogger who gets less than one reader a day, but that too is flexible.
In addition to making whatever rules they want, the panel will also sit in judgment (p. 296):
If not resolved informally, complaints should be dealt with by a complaints panel consisting of one, three or, only in exceptional cases, five members of the News Media Council.Envisioned remedies (p. 297-8) include forced corrections, forced withdrawals, and forced publication on the offender's website of contrary views.
Elsewhere the government makes perfectly clear which views are to be corrected: global warming skepticism and criticism of the Labor government.
Take that skeptics! We'll force you to take down YOUR views and put our OURS in their place! Eeee-Haw.
Truly Orwellian is the last benefit that the government claims for this system of unlimited regulation (p. 300):
Enhancing the public flow of information and the exchange of views.
Using speech to attack speech IS legitimate
Bolt has already been prosecuted for running afoul of Australia's already crazy speech laws. He had the temerity to point out that many of the benefits set aside for Australian aborigines are going to people with no visible aboriginal ancestry (i.e. the set-asides are going to people who look like Andrew Bolt). ILLEGAL! So it's understandable that he's sensitive about any attack on speech.
Still, when I was vicariously visiting the anti-pode of the Anglosphere a few days ago, I was surprised by Andrew's take on a media controversy. As Bolt relates it , a television chat-show grossly insulted a hero-soldier who had won Australia's Victoria Cross, suggesting he must be stupid and probably couldn't perform sexually. Yet Bolt was disgusted that viewers were complaining to the network and were urging sponsors to stop supporting the show.
Andrew has been attacked for his views in this same way, with critics trying to get him shut down, but I think he's gotten off track here. There is no comparison between official suppression of speech and people using their own speech to attack what they disagree with.
It's easy for Andrew to say that people should limit themselves to changing the channel. He has his own platform. He has more powerful ways to express himself. Most people don't, and expressing their opinion that a particular person is not worthy of being sponsored to an elevated position of public influence is perfectly legitimate, not implying laziness or a "fat bottom" or any other of Bolt's pejoratives.
If the exercise of this form of expression puts sponsors to the acid test as to what public voices they are willing to stand behind, so be it. If that's where the evolution of liberty takes us, then that's where we go. Andrew's moralizing against these "moralizers" does not impress, but I guess even the colossus of Australia has to have a toe of clay.
Not unilateral disarmament, but tit-for-tat
We face the same boycott issue in this country, with the left's phony outrage at Rush Limbaugh for daring to suggest that a woman who goes before the United States Senate demanding that other people buy her a thousand dollars worth of contraceptives a year could be likened to a "slut." Seems pretty mild to me, but the left is good at scaring advertisers and a few of Limbaugh's actually jumped ship.
They have since figured out that the people who demanded they jump ship weren't really customers and that their actual customers are the people who have listened to their ads on Rush Limbaugh's show since the 1980's (duh), so now they want to jump back on-ship, but Rush is having none of it. They betrayed his listeners and to be loyal to these fans there will be no backtracking, which sends the message to other advertisers that they had better figure out where their bread is buttered before knuckling under to left-wing manipulation. Hey, this liberty thing might sort itself out after all!
But just because these attacks might prove survivable by conservatives doesn't mean that conservatives should themselves refuse to boycott. In the name of his young daughters, President Obama himself joined the dog-pile against Rush while studiously ignoring far more misogynistic attacks on women by his own supporters. Sarah Palin and Michelle Malkin are regularly called the worst names by the highest profile pro-Obama hacks. If the left is going to set the standard that Rush must be ostracized for calling a 99.999th-percentile contraception-user a slut, then surely top Obama donor and television host Bill Maher should be ostracized for calling the Governor of Alaska a c+, right?
Otherwise conservatives are unilaterally disarming, which is just brain dead. If you don't want to use chemical warfare you at least demand that the other side foreswear chemical weapons as well. You don't promise not to use them no matter whether other side uses them or not. You use "tit for tat." If they use chemicals, you use chemicals, until they lose enough battles that they stop using this weapon.
I've joined in twice in recent days. Being a Carbonite customer, I'm dropping them for dropping Rush as soon as I get up to speed with another online backup provider. Plus I nixed HBO, telling them (in response not just to Bill Maher, but also to their new anti-Palin mockumentary):
Goodby HBO. So you have decided you want to be a left-wing boutique? So be it.Being a victim of chemical warfare himself, Bolt is well aware that the other side IS using it. They need to be punched back, "twice as hard" as our thug-in-chief likes to say, and the most important reason to fight back is precisely because it is the thug-in-chief and his Media Matters co-conspirators who are involved. That turns the left's private boycotting into a semi-official policy, which is bad behavior, and if this attack on conservative speech is actually being orchestrated from the White House, it could even be unconstitutional.
For countering left-wing speech, I would never want to see conservatives make the phony charges of offense that the left does, but come on, the people in the Aussie case are genuinely offended! Bolt's latest indicates that the conservative boycotters are proving to be just as ineffective as the Limbaugh boycotters. Good news, perhaps, but it doesn't stop him from continuing to rip on conservatives who are angered by total disrespect of a war hero. I would rather see Andrew simply use his powerful voice to speak out in favor of the offending television host NOT losing her job, without trying to de-legitimize those who think otherwise.
Bimbos down under: pretty little chat-host channels Andrew Dice Clay
To see how forgivable the offending chat-show segment actually was, I took a look at the video of Yumi Stynes and her "Circle" commenting on Corporal Roberts-Smith. She was trying to be sexy and ended up sounding like Dice (i.e. a female version of "put a beer holder and an ash tray on her back and she'd be perfect"). It was meant to be a sexist joke obviously, but also a sexist compliment, and it came out more clueless than nasty, so no big deal. Her male co-panelist, on the other hand, should never appear on television again. The comment I left at Andrew's place is below:
Okay, I went and looked at the video. She sees how well built this soldier is and the first thought that pops into yummy little Yumi's vacuous head is "BIMBO!" Set aside that a man who surmised that a woman must be stupid just because she has a good figure probably WOULD be fired. What the comment shows about Yumi is that she must not have ever reflected with any appreciation on the soldiers who defend her liberty or on what they actually do.
Pretty much ALL frontline troops work themselves into the best shape they can as a matter survival and battle effectiveness, but she looks at this guy and is absolutely clueless about why he looks the way he does. That's what is so telling about her bimbo joke. If she had an iota of patriotism she would see his strength-of-mind carved right into his physique. When she sees the opposite, the irony is how her comment applies so perfectly to herself. SHE'S the bimbo.
Here's this titty, pretty, giggly, airhead who is obviously there precisely for the flirty appeal of those qualities. She was palpably breathless as she called Roberts-Smith a bimbo, so she obviously DID mean it as a compliment. She probably thought he would take it that way too. After all, he's just a bimbo, right, just like her? What more could he want than to be complimented on his body? And he probably didn't mind the compliment, but the catty jealousy displayed by the elderly man, suggesting that the male bimbo probably can't get it up, truly is disgusting. That nasty old fool should be out of public life.
Elderly man as catty little bitch? Are you kidding?