Rundle: the 18c wars, latest dispatch. I’m betting by now that more than a few Libs are wishing they’d never hitched their wagon to Andrew Bolt’s obsessive pursuit of Aboriginal people who do not display the “purity” of their race through appropriately dark skin. It’s an ugly, demeaning cause, it has put relations between the Libs and the Jewish-Australian community at their lowest point since Robert Menzies praised Hitler. It has even managed to unite otherwise divided Aboriginal leaders against them. Nor is the campaign getting much of a run in Anti-News Unlimited’s tabloids, a sure sign that they think the issue isn’t playing in the heartland.

But it’s still playing in The Australian, the North Korea of Australian media, forever lobbing missiles into the season. Today’s entry from Planet Janet — calling in Canadian right-wing ratbag Mark Steyn — is notable for two reasons. The less important of these is that repeats the lie that no one on the Left has come out against 18c. This assertion was always untrue — as I noted all the way back in 2011 (yes, this is how long this farrago has been going) — and by now, it is the range of the fully ludicrous, as Antony Loewenstein, for one, repeated the Left anti-18c argument in The Guardian Australia last week, and Jeff Sparrow touched on the matter a few days later. None of the Right have the excuse that they can’t access these piece, etc — they’re now simply flat-out lying. The reason why the Right loves to turn 18c into some sort of martyrdom is also touched on in Sparrow’s article: because Liberals, state and federal, are doing so much everywhere else to curtail freedom — of association and assembly in Victoria and Queensland, and with a stunning Ceausescu-esque “informer” campaign in the federal public service — that making any connection between the 18c campaign and these depredations (as the Left does) is extremely embarrassing.

The whole purpose of the 18c campaign is as a cover to curtail freedoms elsewhere, though one has no doubt that Libs like Attorney-General George Brandis, Senator Scott Ryan and Tim Wilson, formerly of the IPA, believe that the only freedom that matters is that private capital may print what it likes (and David Marr is, as ever, wrong about both Right and Left in his piece in The Saturday Paper — wrong to believe that the Right’s campaign is purely cynical  — or electorally savvy — and wrong to defend 18c, when he has elsewhere defended a pretty open slather for artists to be offensive. Or is it only artists who get that dispensation? Easier to believe that line, if you decide that there is no principle, however attenuated at the bottom of the campaign).

Funny that Planet Janet quotes Steyn extensively, because he’s currently caught in a heavy libel/slander case being run by climate change scientist Michael Mann, who derived the famous “hockey stick” graph. Steyn doesn’t have much time for Mann or his graph, and the manner in which he expressed it, had Mann go to law in defence of his professional reputation. Venerable US conservative magazine National Review is also being sued for publishing Steyn’s comments. So solidarity, right? Not so much. After Steyn foolishly attacked in print, the judge presiding over the case, leading to mutterings about a contempt citation, NR dropped him from their roster like a potato 2-6 degrees hotter than it should be. Courage, hey? Seems to be lacking all over the place. Still once more into the breach, for Andrew Bolt’s right to measure skull circumference. It all plays really well in western Sydney — Guy Rundle

Wrong place for a mine (better for horses). Why have racing champions Gai Waterhouse, Bart Cummings, Peter Snowden, Kerrin McEvoy, Mark Kavanagh and David Hayes, along with business punters John Ingham, Lloyd Williams and Gerry Harvey, signed a full-page ad in today’s Daily Telegraph?

Well, Anglo American wants to mine at Drayton South in the Hunter Valley — a replacement, it says, for an existing open-cut mine nearby. The problem is, the new site is a short gallop away from two of Australia’s biggest thoroughbred breeding operations, Coolmore Australia and Darley Australia. The Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association — which attracted the racing luminaries, and no doubt some of their cash to pay for the expensive print campaign — says the mine has the potential to “destroy an entire industry and the employees and communities that rely on it”. As John Singleton well knows, Gai is not one to be trifled with. Stay tuned.

Front page(s) of the day. Americans go a little bit crazy at this time of year for college basketball. The Connecticut Huskies defeated the Kentucky Wildcats in yesterday’s “March Madness” final, and the home-town papers took it to heart …

Peter Fray

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