Alan Jones and the Australian Communications and Media Authority:

Keith Thomas writes: Re. “Jones failed ‘reasonable efforts’ test, but chaff bag OK” (Friday, item 3). ACMA — and to some extent Bernard Keane — miss the point by focusing on the detail of what Alan Jones said and whether what he said was “capable of being construed as urging violence or brutality”.

Alan Jones, Andrew Bolt (and probably others I have not listened to) are far too clever to step over ACMA’s mark. They are largely entertainers who encourage audience participation by way of using their imaginations to fill in the gaps they deliberately plant in their work. Their incitement is not so much what they say, but in their choice of topic in the wider context of events on the day.

This was most clear on Bolt’s blog before News took a direct interest in its content: Bolt would write a relatively measured, literate, informed commentary, often hundreds of words long, but the general tenor of responses of his readers was frightening: just a few words, usually smart-arse, in the style of early adolescent boys, exploiting their anonymity on the web in competing to attract attention by pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable while still playing by the unstated “house rules”.

Bolt was like a ringmaster or like an owner of pit-bulls who keeps them hungry so they learn to fight over morsels and do their master’s bidding without being asked. The damage these people do to civilised discourse today is magnified by the reach of the media. They play on the same base instincts that attract viewers to car races in the hope that a spectacular accident will occur before their eyes.

David Mendelssohn writes: ACMA has to be joking in finding that Alan Jones saying five times that Julia Gillard “should be put into a chaff bag and dumped at sea” was just a figure of speech, not intended to incite violence. What Jones in fact was doing was advocating the assassination of the Prime Minister and, apparently, other elected politicians. He should be put off the air for this and charged with a serious criminal offence.

Jones cannot plead that no one would take such a comment as a mere figure of speech. It only takes one deranged listener, and most of Jones’ listeners have a screw loose, to decide to take up the invitation and try to assassinate Gillard or one of the other politicians Jones nominated for Argentinean military junta-style “disposal”.  Just as his invitation to red-neck types to get down to Cronulla and show people of Middle Eastern background who was boss was taken up with alacrity, one cannot discount the possibility of others doing likewise when he advocates the assassination of politicians he dislikes.

This must surely show that ACMA cannot regulate the media and an independent statutory body is necessary to curb this sort of outrage by Jones and his ilk.

John Taylor writes: As I’ve told you repeatedly, 64.82% of statistics are made up on the spot. Obviously, Alan Jones made it up when he said human contribution to carbon dioxide “pollution” was 0.001%. Just as obviously you did the same with your statement that the true figure was 3%. Now, if Jones has to prove his point to ACMA, then I suggest you should have to as well. Betcha can’t!!

WA election:

Andrew Owens writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (Friday, item 7). The tip “Trouble in the Pilbara” commences “Deputy Premier Brendon Grylls…”  – he is not the deputy premier, that would be Kim Hames, as seen here.

The same site lists Grylls as “Minister for Regional Development; Lands; Minister Assisting the Minister for State Development Leader of the Parliamentary National Party (WA)”.

I think whoever penned the tip has made the mistake of assuming that the Liberal/National arrangements in WA are a traditional coalition.

Emma Forrest writes: In Friday’s edition, the tipster speculates that the next WA state election will be “probably June”.

They can’t be much of a “political watcher” if they aren’t aware that WA now has fixed terms — the next state election will be March 9, 2013.

Peter Fray

Save 50% on a year of Crikey and The Atlantic.

The US election is in a little over a month. It seems that there’s a ridiculous twist in the story, almost every day.

Luckily for new Crikey subscribers, we’ve teamed up with one of America’s best publications, The Atlantic for the election race. Subscribe now to make sense of it all, and you’ll get a year of Crikey (usually $199) and a year’s digital subscription to The Atlantic (usually $70AUD), BOTH for just $129.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW