It’s been just one year since Yassmin Abdel-Magied’s now-infamous Anzac Day Facebook post: “Lest we forget (Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine)”. That post (which Abdel-Magied edited and apologised for) marked the start of a year in which about 207,979 words were written about her, according to data analyst and writer Ketan Joshi.

Almost half those words (47%) were published by News Corp (including the 25% in The Australian and Daily Telegraph, the most prominent contributors), and Daily Mail Australia publishing 17%.

 

Joshi wrote that the coverage was clearly targeted, showing a “racial element in how speech will be policed and punished”. He found flurries of content published when Abdel-Magied commented on race in Australia, and a disparity in coverage prompted by other prominent, white people expressing similar sentiments to Abdel-Magied’s Anzac Day post last year. “The racially-tuned settings in the social punishment of speech emerge so clearly in the omissions, exclusions and forgiveness,” he said.

The rules are different for young, non-white Australians. We tread with ridiculous and exhausting caution, even as we’re the subject of frequent casual and formal racism … These are the varied and violent anxieties of the safe, comfortable and free. Your speech is free in direct proportion to the wavelength of light your skin absorbs. It’s not worth even discussing how this might be countered without first admitting we have a serious problem that is hurting energetic, articulate and successful young Australians.

Read Joshi’s study and his reflections in full on his website.

Peter Fray

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