Friday 1 April 2011

Freedom of Speech and Andrew Bolt

Andrew Bolt is in court for defamation.

Numerous "journalists" are jumping up and down, crying crocodile tears for Bolt, claiming all kinds of outrageous nonsense about Freedom of Speech for the Press and Democracy and related bullshit.

Here's some rubbish from Brull the fool at the ABC

And from Bernard the Retard at Crikey

Thing is, Bolt has defamed these people, in their view. (And, to be honest, my view too)

Defamation works like this:
You can say "everybody in XCompany is a wanker". Perfectly legal, because it's a company and no individual is damaged by it. This applies to groups, even member of a race.

If you say "FunkyJ is a member of  Xcompany and therefore a wanker", and (this is the important bit) I take offence and believe it can damage my reputation, then I can sue. Then it's up to you to prove I'm a wanker and for me to prove I'm not (yeah, I'm boned! )

Andrew Bolt didn't say "Some Aboriginals are pretending to be blacker to get privileges" which is a perfectly abhorrent, but perfectly legal thing to say.

He named these specific individuals in specific circumstances where he believes this occurred.

Of Pat Eatock, a 79 year old Aboriginal Activist, he said: “Eatock only started to identify as Aboriginal when she was 19, after attending a political rally, so little did any racial difference matter to her before her awakening to far-Left causes... But she thrived as an Aboriginal bureaucrat, activist and academic…”
Eatock, with 8 decades of being aboriginal and all that it brings, obviously thinks otherwise.

Another, Larissa Behrendt, is upset that Bolt said her father was "German". In fact, her father is Aboriginal.

Bolt never sought response from those he named. News Limited hasn't offered any corrections. (Bolt's website has the words "German Father" with "father" crossed out and the word "name" put next to it - yet the implication is still very apparent)

These people have taken offence. And quite rightly in my opinion. Their professional and personal reputation has the potential to be damaged by these claims.

Free speech advocates like Bernard the Retard and Brull the Fool know that most people don't have a bloody clue about journalism and the law, what it can and what it can't do.

Every single ethical rule about journalism you can think of - Truth, balance, fair, unbiased, sources, etc - is a mere recommendation. The AJA and ACMA can give out fines to newspapers and journalists who break the rules, as long as they are members of those organisations.

However, there are no laws that cause these recommendations to be adhered to. There are no laws that say any journalist organisation needs to join any member organisation so punishments for breaches can be dealt out.

Now, if Freedom of Speech of the Press is so integral to Democracy, why is getting a response from people only a mere recommendation for journalists? Why is fact checking not enforcible by law? Why is the only recourse of someone wronged to sue for defamation?

It's so easy for Bernard and other journalists to jump up and down over this crap, but I said this on another of Bernard's pieces:

When the Press actually start being accountable for the words they print by firing people who report sensationalist bullshit; by printing corrections and errors on the front pages and running corrections as the first news story; by reporting on a story fully and not relying on readers and viewers to contribute; by not running advertising as stories; by not having advertising; by not being multinational; by not having links to organisations which create a conflict of interest; by taking responsibility for commentators on their websites; by fully fact checking even the most mundane story; by not relying on news wires; by not charging for content or subscriptions… Only THEN can the Press be truly considered a pillar of democracy, and only then can the imprisonment of journalists in a country like Australia truly be an outrage.

Before the Press can claim to be a pillar of Democracy and have the right to Free Speech, they need to acknowledge their responsibilities through enactment of laws to make them act well in accordance to what is right and noble for Democracy.

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