Crikey Says

Aug 4, 2014

Crikey says: how much bigot is too much bigot?

Won’t somebody think of the children? Keane on Abbott’s latest desperate measure to sell the budget. Druery debacle prompts crisis of confidence in micro-parties. Stilgherrian on the curse of the Social Media Expert Guru and why Twitter won’t change the world. Police investigate New Matilda source. Rundle on why the Great War was far from glorious. Oz under fire for Leak cartoon. Penbo’s run-in with Max Bromson. And music for a forest full of pilled-up party kids.

Attorney-General George Brandis’ views on free speech when applied to News Corp columnist Andrew Bolt, March 24, 2014:
“People do have a right to be bigots, you know ... People like Mr Bolt should be free to express any opinion on a social or a cultural or a political question that they wish to express.”
Brandis’ views on free speech when applied to Fairfax media’s editorial cartoonist Glen Le Lievre, August 4, 2014:
“I thought the cartoon was deplorable. I think that critics of Israel’s foreign policy of course have every right to express their views. But I would have thought that a responsible media organisation would have a very good look at itself when it publishes cartoons [of] the kind we haven’t seen since Germany in the 1930s.”
According to Brandis' very own bigot-o-meter, offensive claims about Aboriginal people gaming the system are OK for publication, but racial stereotypes about Jewish people are not. Both groups have experienced racism, vilification and attempted genocide, so Crikey wonders: why the distinction? Of course, critics of Fairfax’s decision last month to publish Le Lievre’s cartoon (which Sydney Morning Herald editor-in-chief Darren Goodsir has now retracted and apologised for, while The Australian has republished it) can still take their concerns up in court under section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act … but they’d better get in quick.

Free Trial

You've hit members-only content.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

7 thoughts on “Crikey says: how much bigot is too much bigot?

  1. Carlton Davison

    In both cases Brandis appears to be of the view that people, including critics .. “have every right to express their views”. The difference is Bolt was prosecuted for voicing his view. That is what I believe Brandis takes issue with.

  2. j.oneill

    Of course there is a distinction.. It is a well known fact that regardless of what monstrous acts the Israeli government indulges in it is free from any criticism. Why, only the other day Christopher Pyne was in Jerusalem telling Netanyahu that he and his government were on the right side of history, and that Australia would stick with them. If Pyne says its is OK to kill women and children then of course it must be.

  3. graybul

    The First Law Officer’s quote concluding ” . . . publishes cartoons (of) the kind we haven’t seen since Germany in the 1930’s.”

    Is that not the point Attorney-GENERAL?? We ARE seeing such cartoons because Nations, and in particular the Australian Government is, re-creating similar concerns within the body politic, of that 1930 decade. Totalitarian Governments always begin with distortion of truth, repressive secrecy, propaganda ie use of mass media, unaccountability before the law, stigmatization/alienation of minorities and incarceration?

  4. klewso

    On Abbott’s Animal Farm, “All bigots are equal, but some bigots are more equal than others.”

  5. CML

    Apparently the cartoon in question was largely based on a photograph of some Israeli citizens gathered on a hilltop overlooking Gaza. They were waving Israeli flags and cheering as the bombs/missiles fell on that doomed region.
    Art (cartoon) imitating life (photograph) perhaps?

  6. David Hand

    Crikey wonders “Why the distinction”?

    The distinction is contained in the penultimate paragraph. Bolt was criticising people for gaming the system and was done over for it. His conviction makes it much harder for 18C to be effective because the judge’s interpretation of 18C has degraded its legitimacy.

    But trust Crikey to go into bat for a cartoon that was clearly denigrating a whole race of people – something Bolt’s articles did not do.

  7. j.oneill

    Actually, David Hand, he was “done over” as you so inelegantly express it, for making claims that had no factual basis. Read the judgment. It did not say what apologists for Bolt keep claiming it said.

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details