Tim Stephens, Professor of International Law, Faculty of Law, University of Sydney, writes: To the many correspondents who think I’m the same Tim Stephens whose comments appeared in Crikey on Friday, can I make it clear that I’m not! Perhaps Crikey could avoid such mixups by adding a further identifier to readers’ comments, such as place of residence, institution or occupation e.g. Paul Kelly, footballer; Paul Kelly, musician; Paul Kelly, political commentator etc?

No fun, not ever

Maureen Boller writes: Re. “Pyne and Scullion say no sports for Indigenous kids” (Friday). When kids are at concerts, performances, fairs, carnivals, exhibitions, matches or excursions, they are not missing school. They are AT school.

You can walk and chew gum at the same time, you know

Luke Miller writes:  Re. “Rundle: Labor’s gay marriage obsession proves the ALP is done” (Friday). A straight person complaining that gay marriage is a distraction from bigger issues such as parental leave, childcare and the commute? Ok, I’ll bite. Fuck you, Rundle. So fucking sick of straight people talking about gay people as if we’re not here. It’s humiliating to have to read such grudging and tone deaf commentary. Marriage equality is not “simply administrative accounting” or “absurd” to us. We’re real people, with real grievances, fighting for very real rights. You’re “sick” of hearing about same-sex marriage? Tough shit, we’re not going away.

Imagen bitcoin fix Grexit

Richard Barlow writes: Re. “Greece should just use bitcoin. Actually, bitcoin can run the country” (Friday). Here’s an idea for Jason Potts —  let’s fund economics courses at RMIT through Bitcoin. Clearly Jason Potts doesn’t want public funding or government interference with his government funded job so let’s oblige him.

The problem with Q&A and the right

David Edmunds writes: Re. “Rundle: Q&A, The Australian, and why the right is scared to death of ideas” (July 1). Guy Rundle has only provided a little of the logical mess that the right has got itself into over the Q&A affair, but in a way it is irrelevant. The original outrage was diffuse, arguing that a terrorist had dared to challenge a senior Liberal. Then it turned out that the News Corp papers had given him extensive coverage, praised his attitude to terrorism and apparently paid him.  Little attention was paid to the ridiculous reply of Ciobo, who wanted to exile Zaky Mallah, despite the fact that he is one of very few Australians who has been found not to be a terrorist.

So, the attack changed to suggest that his transport to the studio was unconscionable, until, as it turned out, people were transported from all over Sydney. Then the argument was that he was not a good representative of the muslim people, but of course the show is precisely about citizen questions, not those from acknowledged representatives of anything. So, they moved to his tweets, arguing that apparently ABC producers should have done some detailed character assessment of audience participants, an argument that still seems, despite its clear stupidity to have some support.

No-one is now suggesting that Mr Mallah is a nice chap, but if Q&A producers had used previous media pieces, particularly those of News Corp, they would have thought he was a fine and worthy citizen. There was criticism of the audience as being leftys, but, of course, the program announces the political affiliation of the audience at the beginning, and the astonishing fact is how closely it represents the population at large.

So, we moved onto the security of the audience, a point made by Malcom Turnbull on Insiders last Sunday.  Apparently it was OK for Mallah to wander through the streets and malls of Australia, but was a particular risk to the ABC studio audience. On Q&A on Monday this week  the argument shifted to the “gotcha moment”, the suggestion that Ciobo, as an experienced senior politician, knowing that citizenship must appear on the show could not be expected to handle a question from a fairly inarticulate audience member, particularly as Mallah’s response was precisely what most anti-terrorism experts have been saying. But all of this doesn’t matter.  The furore fed a particular constituency, and will no doubt be used to fuel the campaign to damage the ABC.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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