When a News Corp columnist defended Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs, it was only a matter of time before free speech warriors Andrew Bolt and Tim Blair and their commenters turned on one of their own.

Paul Syvret, a columnist for News Corp’s Brisbane daily the Courier Mail, drew the ire of his colleagues by agreeing with Triggs. Syvret’s column explained his view of Triggs’ speech to a Bob Brown Foundation event, in which she said (in reference to laws about public racial abuse), “Sadly, you can say what you like around the kitchen table at home”.

As Syvret said, it was “the addendum which has had the right wing ‘free speech’ warriors in Australia foaming at the mouth”. 

His words were prophetic.

Blair was incredulous that the column was not satire: “The Courier Mail‘s Paul Syvret signs up for Gillian Triggs’s kitchen speech surveillance squadron,” he thundered.

Bolt also included a link to Syvret’s column in a post titled, “Triggs would turn your kids into informers”.

Syvret posted on his public Facebook feed yesterday he had gone home and was taking union advice after the blog posts prompted abusive comments from readers, including one comment revealing where Syvret did his grocery shopping. These comments have since been deleted.

“Gee it’s a great fucking day when your own news organisation attacks you, and publishes comments suggesting you are deserving of a very late term abortion. Read the comments,” Syvret posted.

He followed up with another post:

“I’m well hardened to the abusive and threatening emails I get from various nutters, and on social media the ‘block’ tool is used with little hesitation, but to have this happen feels like corporate sponsored bullying from my own employer that has risked the safety of my family.”

News Corp Australia refused to comment. — Emily Watkins

Peter Fray

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