Flint and Pasquarelli have crawled out from under a log to defend Alan Jones (yesterday, items 5 and 20). Fabulous. Good to see the boys right behind each other.

They both make a similar point: Jones was not able to confront his accusers, because the people who complained to ACMA remained anonymous. This shows a degree of desperation: if Flint and Pasquarelli have to resort to that argument in the circumstances of this case, the cupboard really is bare.

The core of Flint’s argument is: “The ACMA judgement is a classic case of shooting the messenger. The inquisitorial process is totally flawed. A fundamental principle is that you should always be able to face your accusers. Here they were faceless. They probably never heard the original program. They trawled through the transcripts and found small extracts, mainly emails or letters read which offended them.”

In short: selective extracts, and no ability to face accusers.

Obviously, if a complainant is the source of the evidence on which allegations are based, the person accused is entitled to confront his accusers. Here, the allegation is that Jones’s own words, broadcast on 2GB, involved breaches of the code. There is no question that he said the words. The question for the authority was whether the words involved a breach of the code. You do not need to know the accuser’s name to deal with that question. If Flint read the judgement, he might have noticed that it includes not extracts, but the full text of the relevant broadcasts.

The foolishness of Flint’s argument is astounding, coming from a person with some legal training. The real reason for the red herring is obvious: to distract attention from the disgraceful fact that John Howard has actually come out and defended Jones, despite the findings of ACMA. Howard said on ABC radio: “As to the circumstances of an individual case, well, I haven’t studied it and I’m not going to make a comment, but I think Alan Jones is an outstanding broadcaster, I don’t think he’s a person who encourages prejudice in the Australian community, not for one moment.”

Well, it is obvious that he has not studied the case. In fact, it is doubtful he has even read a summary of it. It says Jones’s broadcast on 7 December was:

  • likely to encourage violence or brutality
  • likely to vilify people of Lebanese background and people of Middle-Eastern background on the basis of ethnicity and … was not presented reasonably and in good faith

It says that Jones’s broadcast on 8 December was “likely to vilify people of Middle-Eastern background on the basis of ethnicity and … was not presented reasonably and in good faith”.

Anyone reading or hearing the words Jones spoke would be hard put to disagree. It is a matter of interest that ACMA found that other complaints were not made out. Perhaps Flint and Howard would say that ACMA is competent when it acquits Jones but not otherwise.

John Howard does not think Jones is a person who encourages prejudice. Perhaps Howard really means it. It is just possible that he is so bigoted that he truly does not see how offensive Jones’s words were. And, of course, he will continue to fawn and flatter in order to access Jones’s useful audience reach.

Peter Fray

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