Category Archives: Free speech (political)

Gag reflex

The HRC Welshes on Ending My Pain

By current standards of ethnicity and lineage my ancestor’s leek-infested origins in some misty valley populated by sheep-botherers and not enough vowels makes me as Welsh as they come. So I’m hurting, really hurting, that Evelyn Waugh’s racist abuse remains on library shelves

welsh pride IIThe priority of Prime Minister Morrison should be to protect Welsh-Australians from insult and ridicule. I identify as Welsh via my great-grandmother, Cymreigis Thomas. Two years ago I petitioned then Human Rights Commissioner  Gillian Triggs over a Welsh-humiliating cartoon by the late Bill Leak, but although I got a response running to six single-spaced pages, the HRC has failed to stem hatefulness against Welshpersons.

I thought civic libraries were safe spaces but in my Moonee Valley Library last week, while leafing through Evelyn Waugh’s novel Decline and Fall, I was newly offended, insulted and intimidated as a Welshperson.

I disagree with book burnings but each library  should have a naughty corner for works like Decline and Fall, Conrad’s book about that person of colour aboard the Narcissus, Neville Shute’s A Town Like Alice, Guy Gibson VC’s  Enemy Coast Ahead (because of the name of the squadron’s black Labrador), Biggles in Australia, and a shelf-load of  other books literally beyond the pale.

In Britain it is justly an offence to disparage the Welsh and their language. A Sunday Times columnist was reprimanded last April  for saying that the Severn Bridge connected the rain-sodden valleys of Wales with the First World, and that the Welsh were entitled to foreign aid in the form of vowels.

As for Decline and Fall, take the scene of the sports day of Llanabba Castle school, run by Dr Augustus Fagan. He has hired the local Welsh band, and explains how the Welsh retained their ancestral Iberian purity: they are so unclean that no invaders have wanted to mate with them. He says of the Welsh,

“Their sons and daughters mate freely with the sheep but not with the human kind except their own blood relations…

 “The Welsh are the only nation in the world that has produced no graphic or plastic art, no architecture, no drama. They just sing,” he said with disgust, “sing and blow down wind instruments of plated silver.”

The Welsh band arrives.

“Ten men of revolting appearance were approaching from the drive. They were low of brow,  crafty of eye and crooked of limb. They advanced huddled together with the loping tread of wolves, peering about them furtively as they came, as though in constant terror of ambush; they slavered at their mouths, which hung loosely over their receding chins, while each clutched under his apelike arm a burden of curious and unaccountable shape. On seeing the Doctor they halted and edged back, those behind squinting and mouthing over their companion’s shoulders…After brief preliminary shuffling and nudging, an elderly man emerged from the back of the group. He had a rough black beard and wore on his uneven shoulders a Druidical wreath of brass  mistletoe berries…’

‘We are the silver band the Lord bless and keep you,’ said the [bandmaster] in one breath, ‘the band that no one could beat whatever but two indeed in the Eisteddfod that for all North Wales was look you.’

The Doctor ordered them to stay in a tent.

“There was a baying and growling and yapping as of the jungle at moonrise, and presently he came forward again with an obsequious, sidelong shuffle.

‘Three pounds you pay us would you said indeed to at the sports play…Nothing whatever we can play without the money first.’”

Dr Fagan produces his notecase “the sight of which seemed to galvanise the musicians into life; they crowded round, twitching and chattering…”

The bandmaster, Davies, led non-stop playing of Men of Harlech to visitors during the afternoon, also offering his sister for a pound or on special terms to titled visitors. Waugh remarks in the preface that his first publisher in 1928 thought it less indecent if the bandmaster were to seek work for his sister-in-law rather than sister. Editions from 1961 restored the sister to the original Welsh domestic duties.

Waugh’s book involves a full hand of racial prejudice, including anti-Semitism. The delectable prostitute-trafficker Mrs Margo Beste-Chetwynde brings her coal-black friend Chokey (real name Mr Sebastian Cholmondley) to the sports day. Chokey is a cathedral buff.

“When I saw the cathedrals my heart just rose up and sang within me. You folk think because we’re colored we don’t care about nothing but jazz. Why, I’d give up all the jazz in the world for just one little stone from one of your cathedrals…Salisbury is full of historical interest, but in my opinion York Minster is the more refined.”

“Oh you angel,” said Mrs Beste-Chetwynde, “I could eat you up every bit…Chokey shot a man at a party the other night, He gets gay [merry] at times, you know. It’s only when he’s on his best behavior that he’s so class-conscious.”

Waugh’s mysterious Untermensch, Solomon Philbrick, says, “N—s are all right. Where I draw a line is a C—-k, nasty inhuman things. I had a pal bumped off by a C—k once. Throat cut horrible, it was, from ear to ear.”

“Good gracious!” said the Clutterbuck governess. “Was that in the Boxer rising?”

“No,” said Philbrick cheerfully. “Saturday night in the Edgware Road.”

You might think Scott Morrison has bigger fish to fry than my hurt Welsh feelings. Well OK. Let him fix energy and immigration policy and restore the budget to surplus. But look you, bod yn barchus I bobl Cymru – don’t mess with us Welsh. It’s the land of my fathers, or at least, great-grandmothers.

Allah is an Englishman

Holding a critical opinion of Islam is now grounds to be locked up by British officials, particularly if you intend to speak about terrorism, homophobia, misogyny and other unfortunate elements of multicultural enrichment. Indeed, being ‘right wing’ is enough to see the door slammed

gagged toleranceOn May 31, 2015, I did a Sunday gig at Hyde Park’s Speaker’s Corner, which since 1872 has been an icon of free speech and British tolerance for dissent. I spoke with gusto, as pictured below, on the global warming scam but it was a rainy Sunday and my audience ranged from zero to five. My wife alerted me that none of the five, all fellow-tourists, were fluent in English.

How times have changed.

tony thomas pulpitLast week Her Majesty’s Government thwarted an attempt by Generation Identity’s Austrian leader Martin Sellner, 29, to speak at Speaker’s Corner on “threats to free speech in the modern world.” He had been scheduled to speak at a UKIP youth-member forum but Leftists as usual threatened violence and the forum was cancelled, re-scheduled, and cancelled again for the same reason. He then forewarned authorities that he would give his speech instead at Speaker’s Corner.

Therese May’s “conservative” government responded by detaining him on arrival on March 9 at Luton Airport, claiming he was a racist who would provoke violence among spectators in Hyde Park (i.e. by Leftists). As persona non grata he was deported two days later. Sellner said, “I think it’s embarrassing the government is so afraid of me speaking. You can hold the speaker but you can’t hold the ideas.”

His lady friend Brittany Pettibone, 25, a Kansas-raised gonzo YouTuber and author, was with him and got the same treatment. Her main work this year has been filming a documentary on the murderous attacks on white farmers in South Africa. Sellner, with Pettibone accompanying, was a leader of the “Defend Europe” campaign last August, ineffectually targeting boats run by NGOs which sought to “rescue” illegal immigrants off the Libyan coast and bring them to Italy.

Pettibone was deemed by UK authorities a threat to civilisation because she planned to interview Tommy Robinson, another right-wing blogger whose past included anti-Islamic polemics and stints leading the English Defence League (EDL), along with gaol terms for a variety of “political” and ordinary offences. A complex character, he is by no means the Satan he is officially designated. See the Pettibone interview below.

Pettibone tweeted the official letter explaining her deportation. It is vulgar, Orwellian and weirdly illiterate. Any sane person would dub it a hoax. It maintained that this intelligent, outspoken young woman threatened “the fundamental interests of society”, no less, and would “insight” local tensions.

To: Brittany Alicia Merced Pettibone:

You have asked for leave to enter the United Kingdom as a visitor for 5 day (sic) but as you stated in your interview, I have reason to believe that you are seeking admission to the United Kingdom to interview Tommy Robinson – a far right leader whose materials and speeches incite racial hatred.

You stated at the interview that you will be filming your boyfriend Martin Sellner speech (sic) at speakers (sic) corner (sic) in London Hyde Park (sic).  Your boyfriend admitted in the interview to being a co-founder of the Austrian branch of  ‘Generation Identity’ which is viewed in the UK as a right wing organization.

Furthermore, Your (sic) boyfriend  have (sic) in his possession the Leaflets (sic) with scenarios regarding (sic) possible violence in his speech.

I believe that your planned activities whilst in the United Kingdom bear (sic) a serious threat to the fundamental interests of society and are likely to insight (sic) tensions between local communities in the United Kingdom…”

On the same weekend the UK’s Border Force swooped on a third potential wrecker of civilisation, Canadian Lauren Southern, all of 22 years of age. Like Pettibone, she happens to be drop-dead gorgeous, and a scourge of Left feminism. She’s a sponsor of right-of-centre views on the internet (half a million followers), author and creator of amusing stunts at the expense of the politically correct and the Religion of Peace.[i]  In one I really liked (below) she tested Ontario’s  sex-identity regime by firstly persuading a GP that she identified as male (30 minutes) and then using that doctor’s letter to get a driver’s licence as a male from a state public service (another 30 minutes). She fronted in make-up, high heels etc and just said she’d felt like a male for years and now liked hitting on women. The clerk immediately began addressing her as “Sir”.

She was about to enter the UK via bus but was hauled off at Coquelles, at the French end of the Chunnel, and interrogated for six hours under Section 7 of the Terrorism Act (2000), which deprives her and anyone else of normal rights such as to remain silent and have access to a lawyer during the first hour’s interrogation. The Act was brought in to thwart imminent terrorist atrocities. Ms Southern is about as likely as Bambi to stab or blow up British citizens.

Interviewed on-air by Tommy Robinson (below), she told of being asked by Kent-based police, “Are you a Christian extremist?” And “How do you feel about someone driving a car or truck into a group of Muslims?”

Southern: “I literally started laughing. ‘What? Sorry I’m laughing, obviously I think that is horrific, in general a pretty bad thing to run a car into a bunch of people. I think you have your priorities messed up.’”

Police: “How do you feel about right-wing terrorism anyway?”

Southern to Robinson: “It was insanity.”

Robinson: “Do you think they would ask a Muslim detainee, ‘How do you feel about people running cars over non-Muslims?’ It’s scandalous, it would never happen.”

To keep her spirits up, she did successfully identify herself to the police as “Pakistani”.

Eventually they agreed to phone her father to let him know she was detained. Although awoken at 4.30am (US time), he had the wit to record the conversation. The official said Southern was “just answering a few questions” under the Terrorism Act.

Official: “Just so you know (laughs), it sounds worse than it is. Not that we suspect her of being a terrorist or anything like that. We have the power to stop anyone who meets certain criteria.” [at 7.30 minutes]

From his own lips, an admission that their use of the Terrorist Act was an abuse of State power…

The authorities deemed Southern a racist because, if you believe the main media (a bad mistake), she had handed out tracts saying “Allah is gay” in Muslim-heavy Luton, Bedfordshire. Put aside the authorities’ mistaken belief, also held by our ABC, that to be anti-Islam is to be ‘racist’. Here’s the facts:

Vice magazine, which has a British operation and edition,  ran a story  by Jules Suzdaltsev in 2015 asserting that Jesus was gay. He wrote,

“Worshipping at the feet of a ripped, hung man, seems at least a little homoerotic. But it’s Jesus himself who lights up my gaydar like a Christmas tree. He’s a skinny young otter-like guy, flocked by a mess of dudes, telling everyone to love and care about each other, who later gets the shit beaten out of him by a bunch of closed-minded conservatives who are terrified of change… As it turns out, this is not a unique theory. Dr. Reverend Bob Shore-Goss, an openly gay senior pastor, has written several books on the subject, including Queering Christ and Jesus ACTED UP: A Gay and Lesbian Manifesto…”

Southern, an avowed Christian, wondered how Muslims would respond to their own fountainhead being branded gay. So with anti-Islamic crusader Tommy Robinson, she unveiled posters and handed out fliers in Muslim-heavy Luton with a faked “LGBTQI for Islam” message, namely, ‘Allah is Gay, Allah is Trans, Allah is Lesbian, Allah is Intersex, Allah is Feminist, Allah is Queer, Allah is All of Us.’ Who could object to that, in this LGBTI-friendly and gay marriage era?[ii]

Big  surprise! A great many bearded gents did object. The police shut her show down for the sake of public safety, but laid no charges. The authorities bided their time and struck by deporting her this month.

Southern complained, “I would hope that [the UK] would be pro-freedom of speech, and support people’s right to question Islam, to even have cheeky posters, make jokes and social experiments, to give a speech at Speakers Corner.”

The UK government’s vigilance in intercepting two young Christian women at the border contrasts with their official bumbling which recently allowed more than 400 British fighters for ISIS to come home  from Iraq and Syria and disappear into the community, for good or more probably, for ill.[iii]At the same time the authorities have cranked up desperate attempts to equate the menaces from Islamic and from far-right terrorists. Any terrorism is vile, but the relative UK body counts speak for themselves. If the letter to Southern is a guide, even to be “right wing” affronts the “conservative” May government.

The BBC in weasel words reported that the three deportations were “a move that some say is part of a crackdown on the far right”.

The media piled on by soliciting Leftist groups such as HOPE not Hate and the US-based Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC) to slander the deported trio. The SPLC, for example, claimed Southern’s YouTube interviewees “tiptoe at the precipice of outright white nationalism” and branded her the “alt-right’s Canadian dog whistle.”

HOPE not Hate CEO Nick Lowles let a cat out of the bag by saying the government is now going after “softer targets on the hard right”. “These are people who have huge reach on social media, they are peddlers of online hate, and the online reach of right-wing hate preachers can have disastrous consequences.”

In other words, this new phase is naked political censorship. Ben Wallace, May’s security minister, dismissed complaints that he was treating two young Christian women as greater threats than  jihadis. “Total bollocks,” he tweeted.

Bollocks? You be the judge.

Tony Thomas’ book of essays, That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, is available here.

[i] Barbarians: How Baby Boomers, Immigrants, and Islam Screwed My Generation. Written when 20.

[ii] Note that the mainstream media, by abbreviating her words to “Allah is gay”, distort her  message to discredit her.

[iii] Research by The Soufan Centre estimated that only Turkey (900), Tunisia (800) and Saudi Arabia (760) had larger numbers of returned foreign fighters.  About 300 fighters have returned to Germany and 271 to France.

Inky Wretches’ Inky Retches

According to members of the Fourth Estate, Donald Trump is a fascist or something close to it. As yet unreported is the charge that he roasts puppies over a slow fire, but given the media’s Trump Derangement Syndrome — a virus especially virulent at the ABC — it is only a question of time

mind narrows IIPresident Trump’s “fake news” awards last week inspire me to make some Trump Derangement Awards on our local scene. It was only last night (Jan 23), for starters, that the ABC’s $400,000-plus woman Leigh Sales on 7.30 was fawning over Michael Wolff, author of a hatchet-job book on Trump, Fire and Fury, purporting to be an inside account of the presidency. Sales’ questions were as soft as a week-old puppy’s tummy.

LEIGH SALES: What is Trump like in private? When staff attempt to brief him on issues that he needs to know about, what is he like in those moments?

For heaven’s sake, Ms Sales! The White House says Wolff never got one interview with President Trump. Wolff never claims he did. In a typical obfuscation, he says he has had three hours of conversation with Trump including during the election campaign.

And in terms of the ABC’s impartiality charter, how’s this for a smug, insulting question from Sales about the American President, our most powerful ally in a rapidly-shrinking free world?

LEIGH SALES: How did Trump’s advisers work out what policies he wants and what he wants to do? 

It’s almost beyond belief, except that this is indeed the ABC. Trump is such a total moron, Sales suggests, that he’s just a puppet of nameless advisers. Trump himself, Sales imagines, has had nothing to do with turning the US into an energy superpower, driving home the biggest US tax cuts in 30 years, and sending the Dow Jones soaring 30% in the year to date.

Sales should have taken a look at the trenchant TV interview of Wolff by columnist Meghan McCain[i], who waded in : “You know, Michael, your credibility is being questioned. Trump says the book is full of lies.” When Wolff asked for specifics, McCain rattles off the following list of people: “New York Times’ Maggie Haberman, New York Times’ John Martin, David Brooks, CNN’s Alisyn Camerota, Tony Blair, Tom Barrack, Kate Walsh, Anna Wintour all denying quotes.” Wolff lamely responded that lots of people hadn’t denied their quotes.

Inside the ABC bubble there seems zero interest in the book’s truthfulness and accuracy. It’s as if Wolff had never said: “Read the book. If it makes sense to you, if it strikes a chord, if it rings true, it is true.” Even key parties in the US liberal media have excoriated Wolff’s tome.  CNN anchor Jake Tapper, for example, said the book “abandoned all standards”.

Credulous Sales is therefore a front-runner for the Trump Derangement Prize, but she has plenty of competitors. When Trump had been in office a bare five weeks, ABC airhead Geraldine Doogue was burbling about Trump and fascism to her interviewee, a totally Trump-deranged London academic Sarah Churchwell:

Doogue: Quote, ‘…a Fascist  is someone whose lust for money and power is combined with such intensity of intolerance towards other races, parties, classes, regions or nations, as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or violence to attain his ends.’  It’s a pretty devastating old quote. You don’t think Trump is a fascist though really?

Churchwell: Yes actually I think he is. I do, I do.

Doogue: Oh you do! OK!

Churchwell:  That description is a very good description. I think Trump is a fascist in the strict sense of the term, a lot more like Mussolini than he is like Hitler.

Doogue (enthusiastically): or Berlusconi, it  is a very interesting comparison actually.”

If we follow the trend to giving prizes to collectives, like the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize going to the now jihadi-infested European Union, and Time’s person-of-the-year going to The Endangered Earth (Planet of the Year, 1988, no kidding), then in such a tradition, the ABC per se would contend for the prize.

If you google “ABC Trump Hitler”, note how seriously the ABC’s talent takes the Trump/Hitler analogy. Sometimes the analogy is raised and then disparaged, followed by a qualifying nudge the other way, as in

Mr Trump is no Roosevelt, nor Marx, nor Hitler, though there are some eerie parallels between the world that has given us soon-to-be President Trump and the period between the wars that gave rise to fascism.

My own variant, which makes equal sense, goes, “Victorian Premier Dan Andrews is no Roosevelt, nor Marx, nor Hitler, though there are some eerie parallels between the world that has given us soon-to-be Premier Dan Andrews and the period between the wars that gave rise to fascism.”

Night after night on the 7pm TV news are pieces-to-air on the past 24 hours’ anti-Trump fluff, no matter how trivial, faked or context-free.

Enough with the shilly-shallying. My Derangement Award goes to journalist Aaron Glantz. You’ve never heard of him? Fair enough, he’s a Californian  investigative reporter who has won a slew of prestigious awards on other topics, doubtless well deserved. But he displayed his drooling derangement in my own fair city of Melbourne as lunch speaker for the Melbourne Press Club.

The Press Club’s president last year was ABCTV newsreader Michael Rowland[ii] and CEO is  Mark Baker, former Age senior editor and former managing editor (National) of Fairfax Media. They organized a session, “Fake News Fightback”, in conjunction with the Walkley Foundation and featuring Glantz and another US journalist, Tonya Mosely, who among other things researches implicit bias in reporting.[iii]

I trotted along on August 29, naively expecting a clash of pro- and anti-Trump views from two dueling protagonists. No way! Both reporters were competing as rabid anti-Trumpers.

Glantz concluded, in all seriousness:

“I worry that America could slip in a fascist direction and you could have police rounding people up in my neighborhood, and throwing them in prison…

“It seems like members of Congress are not at this time inclined to move towards any kind of impeachment or anything like that.

“I don’t know quite how to approach it as a journalist. I say to myself , ‘This guy is going to be president for four years. You can’t kill yourself, they [media employers] are going to need you tomorrow. You need to be available tomorrow and the next day to continue to do your work. Sometimes I think we could all be dead tomorrow, so, anyway…’”

His co-speaker Mosely chided him,

“Oh Aaron, you were supposed to give us something to lighten up!”

The audience gave Glantz’s meltdown respectful sympathy. I didn’t laugh, that would have been like farting in church. I’ve disliked some Australian Prime Ministers — Julia Gillard, for example — but I never considered, in my professional capacity, killing myself over her.

Glantz scored this own-goal for himself, for the  Democrat-fawning media and for his hosts the Press Club, which is supposed to promote fair and balanced reporting, even on Trump.

Assuming Mr Glantz since August has not implemented his suicide, he therefore wins my antipodean Trump Derangement Prize. Readers can see how richly he deserves the award by watching the video below.

  • Community service announcement: Any ABC or Fairfax journalist contemplating suicide over the Trump presidency should contact Lifeline.

Tony Thomas’s book of essays That’s Debatable – Sixty Years in Print, is available here.

[i] Also daughter of 2008 Presidential candidate John McCain

[ii] Currently, Adele Ferguson.

[iii] Glantz is a senior reporter at Reveal, the publishing platform of the San Francisco based Center for Investigative Reporting, whose investigations have sparked congressional hearings, legislative changes and high-level criminal probes in the US.

Mosley is a senior Silicon Valley reporter for public radio station KQED in San Francisco,  and been named Journalist of the Year by the Washington State Association for Justice.

Conscripting Babies in the Culture Wars


Red nappies, green nappies — that’s how the progressive Left grooms its social justice warrior babies, a process that begins, as one kiddie-book author asserts, ‘fresh out of the womb’. Join us now at storytime and learn that  ‘A’ is for ‘Activist’, ‘L’ for LGBTQ and ‘T’ stands for for ‘Trans’

radical baby suit IIProgressives are concerned about the “indoctrination gap” which leaves many kids untouched by Green Left ideology. This gap involves the important demographic from birth through to three- and four-year-olds.

From four onwards, the kids are safely captured by state interventions, such as the Victorian Labor government’s political and gender-bending education down to pre-school and kindergarten level. For example, Premier Dan Andrews is now rolling out a $3.4 million program for 4000 educators to eliminate four-year-old boys’ “hegemonic masculinities”.

Closing the gap is under way through radicalising picture-books for toddlers. These include those board-books with hefty cardboard pages. Traditionally their content was of the “My First Colours” kind; the new authors fill them with images of their better society.

The gap-closing has gained momentum from the election of President Trump, to American progressives a near-unthinkable disaster. Some authors’ explicit goal is to raise a new generation programmed to avert any Trump lookalike in coming decades. “We’re going to have to start in utero,” one reviewer says.

feminist baby IIFeminist Baby is by New Yorker and BuzzFeed worker Loryn Brantz. It’s for babies “fresh out of the womb” up to two-year-olds, as she puts it. Published in April and “the perfect baby-shower gift for today’s new parents”, it’s flying off the shelves at Australian bookstores and libraries.

Brantz told Time magazine, “Why not start kids off right away? Hopefully if we raise a whole generation of kids with Feminist Baby and with older books for kids about feminism and activism, something like this [Trump’s election] will never happen again.” Brantz is marketing the book with comics aimed at adult buyers. In these, “Feminist Baby serves as an under-age heroine bent on smashing the patriarchy and subverting tired traditions like the ‘gender reveal’ [that is, binary male or female].” In one panel, Feminist Baby punches Trump adviser Steve Bannon, who is dressed as a Nazi.

Brantz started to write the book pre-Trump, but obviously, “his administration is complicit in oppressing women of all shapes, sizes and colors”, which is why her book is so very important. Feminist Baby “is decidedly the one we need right now”, says another reviewer. “She’s here smashing your patriarchy, speaking her truths, and not taking anybody’s crap.”

Feminist Baby’s first words (tongue in cheek) are “Gender is a social construct.” In Brantz’s world, the feminised cradle-dweller “lives how she wants and doesn’t let the patriarchy keep her down”:

Feminist Baby chooses what to wear
and if you don’t like it she doesn’t care! 

When it’s snowing, let’s hope she doesn’t choose sandals.

And do it tough, Dads. If you coo to Feminist Baby that she’s beautiful, the infant swipes back, “And I’m smart and capable too!”

Another reviewer says presciently that the book should “imbue your tiny tot with all of the important characteristics necessary for her (or him) to become a lifelong, probably insufferable, feminist”.

Brantz sees toddlers’ books opening a cot conversation about “intersectionality and feminism”. (No, I don’t know what intersectionality is either.)

Another such author is Innosanto Nagara, whose book for children up to three years old A is for Activist has sold 50,000-plus copies. He’s “calling children and parents to action” on things like social justice and immigration. His board book is “unapologetic about activism, environmental justice, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and everything else that activists believe in and fight for”.

A is for Activist came out for in 2013 and was re-issued for over-fives last November. “I love reading this to my nine-month-old,” gushes one mum. Writes another, “Never too early to get progressive thoughts brewing in little minds.”

Nagara lives and works at an artists’ social-justice collective in Oakland, California, comprising five families. He helped raise seven children there before introducing his own infant to concepts like transsexualism. He had no experience with kids’ books, but crowd-funded $4000 for a home-brew edition of 3000 before Seven Stories Press took it up.

The typical family buyers are “unflinching progressives” who go on anti-war marches, and put up gay-marriage signs in their front windows. He says, “This family understands that even a two-year-old can appreciate a word like ‘camaraderie’ … It’s pretty awesome to hear a three-year-old saying ‘union power’.”

Nagara draws parallels between the oppression by the Suharto dictatorship in Indonesia in 1977 and “Trump’s America”. He’s had earnest discussions with his now six-year-old son about the presidential election “and what we’re going to do between elections, given the outcome”.

This essay appears in the current edition of Quadrant.
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A reviewer suggests that families that have endured war, discrimination, repression and hardship have had to find ways to talk to their children about their traumas. Likewise, Trump’s election is another “difficult subject” to relate to toddlers without generating fear and despair.

Nagara’s first draft included, for “A”, “Actively Acting Against Atrocities”. Atrocities are just what toddlers need to know about. “C” was “Comrades Countering the Corporate Vulture”, later toned down to omit the “Comrades” reference. “L” was also toned down from “Lesbian and Gay. We’re here to stay.”

A is for Activist is nothing short of a masterpiece for the newly literate, writes queer reviewer Lindsay Amer. Her bio says, “When she’s not completely overwhelmed by adulthood, she’s probably plotting ways to overthrow the patriarchy while playing her ukulele.”

Author Naomi Klein, who wants grass-roots campaigns to overthrow capitalism, proclaims the book “Full of wit, beauty, and fun!” Try “Q” for such wit, beauty and fun: “Q is for Question. Querying coercion. Querying Qualities counter false assertions.”

The book starts, “A is for Activist. Advocate. Abolitionist [?]. Ally. Actively answering A call to Action. Are you An Activist?”

“C”, as amended, reads: “C is for Co-op. Cooperating cultures. Creative Counter to Corporate vultures.” Any baby enjoys a debate about incorporated vulture-like entities versus unincorporated mutuals.

“D” mystifies me. “Little d democracy. More than voting, you’ll agree. Dictators Detest it. Donkeys Don’t get it. But you and me? We Demand equality.” The own-goal here is that the illustration shows a blue donkey butting heads with an aggressive red elephant. Nagara seems unaware that the donkeys (that “Don’t get Democracy”) signify Democrats and the elephants signify Republicans.

A second howler is at “N”, not a bad score for a small board book. “N is for NO. No! No! No! Yes to what we want. No to what must go. No! No! No!” All well and good, except the illustration shows one kid holding up a sign, “NO war”, and another kid, “NO justice. NO peace.” Some mistake, surely?

Gender arrives in execrable doggerel. “L-G-B-T-Q! Love who you choose, ’cuz love is true! Liberate your notions of Limited emotions. Celebrate with pride our Links of devotion.”

t pageBy “S” we have a plug for solar power, contrasted with “Silly Selfish Scoundrels Sucking on dinosaur Sludge. Boo! Hiss!” Then “T” is for Trans … Trust in The True. The he, she, They, That is you!”

“X” is a stretch for Nagara, who settles on Malcolm X (Nagara is totally fluent in English after decades in the USA). “Remember Parks. Remember King. Remember Malcolm. And let freedom ring!” Reality check: Malcolm X, at twenty-one, was sentenced to ten years for burglary. On release he helped launch a black Muslim separatist movement, which was riven by infighting. In 1965 he was shot fifteen times by three disgruntled members of the Nation of Islam. Toddlers may wonder at Malcolm X’s relevance to their daily round of Play School, naps and Teletubbies.

With “Z”, Ragara’s desperate solution is “Z is for Zapatista. Of course.” Of course, indeed. The illustration shows an angry young man in a black hood with a horizontal eye-slit. He looks more like a rent-a-rioter for Berkeley campus than a Mexican rebel. A balaclava wearer doesn’t seem a good note on which to settle in a two-year-old for the night.

Politicisation aside, Nagara’s book is incompetent in any literary sense. Rhymes don’t rhyme. Lines don’t scan. The language level and content baffle adults, let alone toddlers.

His latest book is Counting on Community. Number 8, for example, is “Eight picket signs showing that we care”.

Pity these people don’t care about their offspring. In all my explorations, not once did I find a progressive wanting to leave kids to be kids.

Tony Thomas’s book of Quadrant essays, That’s Debatable: 60 Years in Print, is reviewed in the June edition.


Hillary’s Shameless Media Shills

Two political conventions, two grieving parents, two very different presentations of their respective stories. Khizr Khan used the death of his son to lambast Donald Trump and was hailed for his bravery. Patrica Smith directed a similar change against Hillary and was attacked for her partisanship

hillary boredThe mainstream media, let alone the ABC, no longer even pretends it is providing an unbiased coverage of the presidential quests of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

As a case study in partisan journalism, this piece will look at media coverage of Khizr Khan, the Muslim father whose soldier son, Humayun, was killed in Iraq in 2004 while defending his squad. Then, by way of contrast, I’ll  examine the attention given to bereaved mother Patricia Smith, who opposes Hillary Clinton’s bid for the White House. Patricia who, you ask? Exactly! You have likely never heard of her, as she is definitely not part of the media narrative — despite, or because — her son was killed by terrorists who attacked the US diplomatic compound in Benghazi in 2012 during Hillary’s term as Secretary of State. So here we go…

There are not many positive things the media can find about Hillary. Number one, she’s the first female presidential nominee. Second, horrible people call her names like “bitch”[i] and “lock her up”. Third, err, see 1 and 2.

Her term as Obama’s Secretary of State from 2009-13 was marked by endless disasters, such as the premature US pullout from Iraq (2007-11),  IRS targeting of conservatives for tax audits (2010-12), and Al Qaeda’s sacking of the US consulate in Benghazi. Her successes? Hmm. I’ll get back to you.

As icing on Hillary’s rancid cake, there was her use of a private email server for State business and her official connivance in the money-making corruptions of husband Bill, who has enhanced the couple’s wealth by  $US150 million-plus since 2001 (such as taking $US500,000 from Moscow for a speech in 2010 concurrent with Hillary’s department approving a Russian takeover of US uranium resources). By a further coincidence, Hillary clean forgot her undertaking to Obama to disclose $US2 million-plus  gifts to the Clinton Foundation from those uranium interests.

Hillary’s record is therefore of no interest to the mainstream media. Instead they focus on the latest gaffe or infelicity of her Republican rival, Donald Trump. Trump is dubbed a racist, violence-promoting, dangerous fool.  Like the magicians who distracts his audience’s attention with a waved handkerchief, the object is to distract the audience — America’s voters — from what’s actually important.

This month the story was all about how Trump, on July 30, disparaged the parents, particularly the silently grieving mother, of the  (genuinely) brave  Captain Humayun Khan. ABC TV continues to wallow in Schadenfreude about Trump’s boorishness. Cut to visual of Captain Khan’s headstone in Arlington cemetery. Cut once again to father Khizr Khan giving Trump that serve at the Democrat National Convention in mid-July. Hillary would never sink so low as to disparage the parents of a dead patriot, was the ABC’s unstated premise.  And yes, even conservative ABC viewers probably found Trump’s behavior (as distilled by the ABC)  indefensible, ungracious and discomfiting.

But it’s never smart for conservatives to drop their guard. The media’s specialty is removing the context and failing to tell the whole truth, even when not telling actual, outright lies.[ii]

So let’s unpack the Trump vs bereaved Muslim parents controversy, and see what really emerges.

About 100,000 Muslims immigrate to the US each year. After the  San Bernardino shooting of 36 people by an Islamist couple last December, Trump proposed a temporary ban on Muslim would-be immigrants “until we can figure out what the hell is going on”. He subsequently and continually refined the idea of allowing re-entry of obviously “good” Muslims, such as US servicemen and those hailing from US allies such as the UK, and he redefined the proposed ban to involve only immigrants from nations “tied to Islamic terror” or those with a “proven history” of anti-Western terrorism. Grey areas include countries like France and Spain with their large Muslim populations. Note that Trump targets new  Muslim would-be  immigrants and has never proposed retrospective action against existing Muslim immigrants now resident in the US.

Two years ago a plan such as Trump’s would have been highly controversial, but Islamic barbarities in the West have escalated — the recent mass slaughter in Nice and throat-slitting of an elderly priest near Rouen last month being the but two of the most recent examples. Hence Trump’s proposed banning new Muslim arrivals, [1]pending a tougher screening regime, is no longer beyond the pale as a rational response to terror.

However, “progressives” have distorted Trump’s idea to mean that he would have excluded every decent/innocent Muslim ever to immigrate in the past.[iii] The argument is like saying that someone in early 1939 who called for the banning of German (including Nazi) immigrants, would have banned and/or expelled all German immigrants of the 1920s and 1930s.

Bereaved  father Khizr Khan not only waved his son’s shroud to assembled Democrat conventioneers, but did so in the context of a fiery attack on Trump and a call to elect Hillary as the candidate of love, amity and decency.

Khan told the convention,

“Tonight, we are honored to stand here as the parents of Capt. Humayun Khan, and as patriotic American Muslims …

Hillary Clinton was right when she called my son “the best of America.” If it was up to Donald Trump, he [Humayun] never would have been in America.

Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims…. He vows to build walls and ban us from this country.

Donald Trump, you are asking Americans to trust you with our future. Let me ask you: Have you even read the U.S. Constitution? …[In fact, the constitution does not bar the US from discriminating against would-be immigrants based on their religion].

Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of the brave patriots who died defending America — you will see all faiths, genders, and ethnicities.

You have sacrificed nothing and no one.

We can’t solve our problems by building walls and sowing division. We are Stronger Together.[iv]

And we will keep getting stronger when Hillary Clinton becomes our next President.” 

Khizr Khan concluded by imploring all US immigrants to vote for Hillary, “the healer, not the divider”.

Thus provoked, Trump responded,

  • “I’d like to hear his wife [Ghazala Khan]  say something” (implying that such Muslim women are kept subservient – Ghazala responded that she was too grief-stricken to speak);
  • Khan’s speech was scripted by the Democrats (Khan denied that);
  • He, Trump, had made sacrifices for the country as a business person employing thousands; and
  • Radical Islamic terrorism requires counter-measures.

Trump honored the dead soldier and included respectful remarks about Khizr: “He looked like a nice guy to me,” but pushed back against Khizr’s accusations. Mainstream media went into paroxysms of indignation at Trump, omitting the context that Khizr Khan had done his utmost to offend Trump and promote Hillary.

At the start of this piece I mentioned pro-Trump Mrs Patricia Smith. She’s the mother of Sean Smith, one of the four  US embassy staffers who were murdered in Benghazi.  Hillary, as I noted, was Secretary of State at the time and ultimately responsible for the safety of US staff abroad. The run-up to the Benghazi assaults is not easy to summarise but includes

  • Despite President Obama’s clear orders to deploy military assets, nothing was sent to Benghazi, and nothing was en route to Libya when the last two Americans were killed almost 8 hours after the attacks began.
  • A US Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST) sat on a plane in Rota, Spain, for three hours, and changed in and out of their uniforms four times.
  • With Ambassador Stevens missing, the White House convened a two-hour meeting at 7:30pm, which resulted in “action items” — the spin fed to the press — that focused on a locally-made anti-Islamic YouTube video.[v]

This was all unfortunate, but what is Patricia Smith’s specific beef with Hillary? Well, her accusation was that Hillary was not just responsible for Sean’s death. But standing by the son’s very coffin, Hillary had lied to the grieving mother that the video had provoked the Benghazi mob. These hotheads, Hillary claimed, spontaneously rioted against the US installations in Benghazi. Smith’s case is that Hillary knew at the time, as proved by a subsequently revealed email to  daughter Chelsea on the night of the attack, that the waves of assaults were planned and executed by al Qaeda-like forces.

Moreover, Hillary’s lie beside Sean Smith’s casket was overheard by other parents who lost children in Benghazi. So Smith took the stage at the Republican convention a week before Khizr Khan’s appearance at the Democrats’ gathering, and, in tears, had this to say:

“…The last time I talked to Sean, the night before the terrorist attack, he told me, ‘Mom, I am going to die.’

All security had been pulled from the embassy, he explained. And when he asked why, he never received a response.

Nobody listened. Nobody seemed to care.

The very next day, he was murdered by radical Islamic terrorists…

That night, we lost sons, brothers, fathers, and husbands.

We lost four brave Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice for the country they chose to serve.

And, the American people lost the truth.

For all of this loss, for all of this grief, for all of the cynicism the tragedy in Benghazi has wrought upon America, I blame Hillary Clinton.

I blame Hillary Clinton personally for the death of my son.

In an email to her daughter shortly after the attack, Hillary Clinton blamed it on terrorism.

But when I saw Hillary Clinton at Sean’s coffin ceremony, just days later, she looked me squarely in the eye and told me a video was responsible.

Since then, I have repeatedly asked Hillary Clinton to explain to me the real reason why my son is dead. I’m still waiting.

Whenever I called the State Department, no one would speak to me because they say I am ‘not a member of the immediate family.’…

How could she do this to me? How could she do this to any American family? 

Donald Trump is everything Hillary Clinton is not…And, when it comes to the threat posed by radical Islamic terrorism, he will not hesitate to kill the terrorists who threaten American lives…This entire campaign comes down to a single question. If Hillary Clinton can’t give us the truth, why should we give her the presidency?”

So how did Hillary respond to Smith’s accusation? She more or less called Smith a liar (emphasis added).

CLINTON: “… I certainly can’t even imagine the grief that she has for losing her son, but she’s wrong. She’s absolutely wrong. I and everybody in the administration… we were scrambling to get information that was changing literally by the hour, and when we had information, we made it public. But then sometimes we had to go back and say we have new information that contradicts it. So I testified [to congressional inquiries] for 11 hours… and when it was over, the Republicans had to admit they didn’t learn anything…[vi] And this is not the first time we lost Americans in a terrorist attack…At no other time were those tragedies politicizedInstead people said, let’s learn the lesson and save lives. That’s when I did.” (My emphases).

Note that Hillary dismisses Smith’s accusation in blanket terms, dodging all the specifics and then going off on a tangent.

How did the media react to Smith? With a classic pack attack. She was guilty of “extreme overreach”, “scary” stuff, “really disturbing” [i.e. reprehensible]  and  “a new crossing of a line and an ugly degradation of a norm in American politics.” The Republicans, by promoting Smith, were being both “exploitative” and “irrelevant”.

Fact-checker Politifact rushed to defend Hillary, tweeting, “Smith has said Clinton lied to her about Benghazi, but it’s not completely clear just what Clinton said.” Politifact further claimed, “No one recorded these brief meetings behind closed doors. Family members and Clinton disagree on what was said. Especially given the emotional setting, memories — both Clinton’s and the families’ — might be fuzzy.”

Sorry, but Smith heard the words, as did several other bereaved Benghazi parents. Politifact then tried to argue that, even if Hillary did blame the video, she might have believed, genuinely believed, the video was the culprit. This meme is regularly run when Hillary is caught out lying; she just made (yet another) “honest mistake”.

This week Pat Smith and another bereaved Benghazi parent, Charles Woods, filed a wrongful death lawsuit  against Hillary Clinton. They claim that Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server contributed to the attacks by, highly probably, exposing Benghazi embassy routines to hackers. They also accuse her of defaming them in public statements.

FBI head James Comey, in announcing last month the findings of the FBI’s investigation of Clinton’s private e-mail server, said it was “possible that hostile actors gained access” to it but there was no direct evidence of that. A Clinton spokesman said that nine different Benghazi investigations had cleared Hillary Clinton.

By now readers should have a solid grasp of how the mainstream media is operating in this US presidential campaign, and how media “truthiness” is neither  truth nor the whole truth. The US public is wising up to the media spin, and that’s why Trump is getting a good shot at winning the presidency.

Tony Thomas’s new book of essays, That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, is available here


[i] Julia Gillard likewise gained victim-of-sexist-attacks status when her stature as Prime Minister fell to pieces

[ii] The ABC 7.30 footage of an Aboriginal child detainee in a spit-hood is a classic context-free message, as Prime Minister Turnbull has discovered to his embarrassment.

[iii] Pauline Hanson has been attacked thus for her similar proposed ban, with Q&A rabble-rouser Khaled Elomar, for example, demanding to know why his 11yo son is worried by Islamaphobia.

[iv] “Stronger together” is a Hillary  campaign slogan.

[v] The low-budget, amateur trailer entitled “Innocence of Muslims,”  for a never-shown film, portrays Muhammad as a womanizer who approved of pedophilia. The trailer’s author Mark Basseley Youssef,   an Egyptian-born Coptic Christian, was arrested and charged with violating terms of his probation, including making false statements regarding his role in the film and his use of the alias “Sam Bacile”.

He got  a year in prison.

[vi] The Republican-dominated report in fact concluded that Clinton and the Obama administration  should have realized how endangered U.S. outposts in Libya were and done more to protect them. Rep. Jim Jordan (OH) said:

“Obama Administration officials, including the Secretary of State, learned almost in real time that the attack in Benghazi was a terrorist attack. Rather than tell the American people the truth, the administration told one story privately and a different story publicly.”



    The media is unlikely to ever be part of the solution to the political ailments of western society, it is the major problem. When Lenin quipped that – “when we come to hang the capitalists they will queue to sell us the rope” – he didn’t realise how accurate his ‘joke’ would be. The media in Australia [and most of the western world] is the ‘rope’ by which freedom and free people are being hung. The mock outrage at minor events gaining headlines when civilisation stopping actions are ignored is all too common in the media world wide which is dominated by leftists.
    For example, ISIS publicly beheading people, or killing people with a truck in Nice is less newsworthy than is worry about the ‘Islamophobia’ which might occur in Australia [but hasn’t occurred yet, and most probably won’t]. Remember how the media led by the ABC made Tony Abbott daring to look at his watch or speak publicly to people who are ‘non approved’ as being a bigger crime than mass sex attacks in Cologne or Rotherham [or numerous other places].
    If there was a method available of effectively taxing leftist hypocrisy in the media, then even Wayne Swan might have been able to deliver his mythical budget surplus.

  2. Ian MacDougall

    Trump or Clinton?
    Gee, that’s hard.
    A couple of days ago, Trump suggested that he expected that Hillary Clinton might be assassinated due to the threat she allegedly poses to the Second Amendment and the right it confers on all all US citizens to tote hardware for national and personal defence purposes.

    (CNN) It’s come to this. Donald Trump said on Tuesday that his opponent Hillary Clinton “wants to abolish, essentially abolish the Second Amendment. By the way, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks.” Trump followed his claim, which was not supported by any source or proof, with a not-so-veiled suggestion, adding, “although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is.”
    For years fringe figures on the right have spoken of “Second Amendment solutions” in ways that leave little doubt they are talking about people using their guns to solve political problems… 

    (Note, this is from CNN; not the Guardian or some other suspicious source in need of delousing and depongification in the interests of informational purity.)
    In that speech, Trump set a new benchmark for political irresponsibility. I venture to suggest that if Clinton had suggested the same ‘solution’ for the problems posed by Trump, there would have been howls for her blood, posses and vigilante gangs forming up; and when the lead started to fly a whole lot of unintended victims of the national gun culture. Which of course, would have been nothing all that special.

    • Ninderthana

      Ian MacDougall does not seem to be aware of:


      But Trump, in an interview with Fox News’ “Hannity,” denied he was suggesting this.

      “This is a political movement,” Trump said. “This is a strong powerful movement, the Second Amendment. Hillary wants to take your guns away. She wants to leave you unprotected in your home.

      “And there can be no other interpretation,” Trump said of his remarks. “I mean, give me a break.”

      • Ian MacDougall


        Well, Trump is definitely wrong there: there can be at least one other interpretation, which is the one the media and the gentleman identified below have drawn.
        From your link:

        Michael Hayden, the former CIA director who has come out against Trump, also said on CNN: “If anybody else had said this, they’d be out in the parking lot in a police wagon being questioned by the Secret Service.”
        An agency spokesperson told Fox News, “The Secret Service is aware of the comment,” but would not say whether an investigation had been launched.

        The most generous interpretation is that yet again, Trump has shot himself in the foot thanks to his innate irresponsibility. With anybody else it is possible to give him the benefit of any doubt. But this is a man who seeks to become the most powerful man in the world, in charge of an arsenal capable of the total destruction of the whole planet.
        If he was running for local dog catcher there would still be problems, (dog catchers must retain a cool head as they go about their work) but they would be manageable.

    • MalW

      While I agree that the Guardian and many other suspicious sources are in need of delousing, the Clinton News Network has a strong reputation for untruth, injustice and the Leftist way.

      • Ian MacDougall

        So ‘MalW’: Can we take it that only those sources favouring Trump can be trusted? But a bit of a self-serving condition, wouldn’t you say?

  3. Homer Sapien

    Khan should apologize to Trump as I see it.

  4. Patrick McCauley

    Nevertheless ….. it does seem that the populations of America, Britain, Europe, Australia – the western world .. are profoundly divided. Apart from the violence and slaughter that is being perpetrated by the enemies of the western world ..we are also close to violence within. To many, it seems that we are approaching a point of no return – between ‘the progressives’ and the ‘conservatives’ – It may not be too long before someone from either side fires a gun over one of the many issues that divide us. Likely it will be over something really stupid (say, Safe Schools or a carbon tax) … or something existential .. like immigration or Islamic terrorism. In this tinderbox … Trump should choose his words carefully … and the media should be held responsible for its over interpretations.

  5. MalW

    Someone on WUWT pointed out that the US candidates are bad and worse (not dissimilar to our recent election). The key difference is that if Clinton gets in, the media will ensure that no amount of incompetence, nepotism, cronyism or lying, for which she is rightfully famous, will result in her impeachment. The Donald, on the other hand, can be given the flick after his first major stumble. Sounds like a better bet to me.

    • Ian MacDougall

      As ‘The Donald’ is unable to get through a day without a serious gaffe, “his first major stumble” will probably be in his inauguration speech: that is if he manages to flounder his way over the finishing line in this presidential contest.
      Q: What is he trying to hide in his tax return?

Hundreds More Reasons to Detest 18C

The law that makes it an offence to ruffle the sensitive tends to get headline attention only when a high-profile target, such as Andrew Bolt, is dragged before the courts. The truth is that it is deployed often — it’s just that we don’t hear about those cases, or of their legal costs and settlements

18c logo IIIPeople think Section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act has only really caught Andrew Bolt, plus a few luckless students and staff at Queensland University of Technology. Not so. Right now the Human Rights Commission (HRC) is considering eighteen more complaints – a fact elicited by the Institute of Public Affairs via a Freedom of Information request. And in the past six years, as we now know, aggrieved citizens have lodged a stunning 832 complaints.

This extraordinary data was disclosed today (April 28) by IPA Policy Director Simon Breheny at the launch in Carlton of a new Connor Court book on Section 18c: No Offence Intended: Why 18C is Wrong (270pp, $29.95). The authors are Murdoch University trio Joshua Forrester (Ph.D candidate), Lorraine Finlay, (lecturer in constitutional law), and Dr Augusto Zimmerman (senior lecturer in constitutional law and a WA Law Reform Commissioner). For those who need reminding, Section 18C makes unlawful any act reasonably likely to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or group of people because of race, colour, nationality or ethnicity.

Breheny said the QUT case involved legalized extortion, secret legal proceedings, and the pursuit of left wing political aims using the federal court system.

“The complainant is Cynthia Prior. Ms Prior was a university administrator at QUT until she decided she simply couldn’t work any more for fear of being offended. The basis of her distress were a number of remarks  made online by QUT students, including the factual statement by one student that Indigenous-only computer labs were an example of ‘QUT stopping segregation with segregation’.

“Three respondents have each handed over $5000 to make the issue go away. But the case continues for the remaining respondents. But this complaint is just the tip of the iceberg.”

Mr Prior, whose trauma must be extreme indeed, wants $247,570.52 compensation.

Breheny was asked how much the current 18 complaints emanated from Muslim, Aboriginal and Jewish complaints. He said he considered race and religion to be irrelevant to the issue. But from a back-of-envelope tabulation, he noted complainants include Lebanese (1), Pakistani (1), Sinhalese (1), Indian (3), Australian (8), Chinese (1), and non-specific Asian (1), “dark-skinned” (1) and uncategorized (1).

“The progress of these complaints ranges from an acknowledgement to a final response following conciliation at the commission,” he said. “Details of these complaints are not made public. The documents provided to the IPA under FOI are heavily redacted. They include some basic procedural information, dates, and the race of the complainant but none of the conduct which forms the basis of the complaint.

“The conciliation process within the commission is shrouded in secrecy.  HRC Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane admitted this last year: ‘To give you a sense of how the law currently operates, last financial year the Commission received 440-odd complaints [including s18c complaints]. Only about 3% of those complaints ended up in proceedings before a court.’”

Breheny says, “That means that 97% of all complaints are dealt with behind closed doors. Only in 3% of cases, where the matter is not resolved at conciliation, is the public ever made aware of the details of a complaint.

“Why is this relevant? Because had it not been for the QUT complaint advancing from conciliation to litigation, the public would never have known the extent to which s18C threatens freedom of speech. And without transparency around the conduct, the public doesn’t have the opportunity to assess the practical operation of the law.

“Many people, including the former Prime Minister (Abbott), have made the mistake of believing that S18C cases are aberrations.[i] But the HRC’s own statistics show S18C has restricted freedom of speech in hundreds of cases over the last six years alone.

“Malcolm Turnbull would do well to learn from the lessons of Tony Abbott’s time as prime minister in taking the leadership of the Liberal Party. Turnbull promised to lead a ‘thoroughly liberal government’. In line with that statement, Turnbull should make the case for freedom of speech to his colleagues and the public, and recommit to the repeal of S18C.”

In their  book No Offence Intended, the authors argue that s 18C is not only philosophically wrong, but also unconstitutional.  They note that there is no international human right not to be offended or insulted, and that s18C is so broad and sweeping that it infringes the implied freedom of political communication found in the Australian Constitution.

At the launch, co-author Lorraine Finlay said that Section 18C was having a real impact on public debate in Australia.  “Because of laws like Section 18C, certain topics are now off the table.  You can’t talk about them for fear of being sued.  What is worse is that this law doesn’t even achieve what it’s meant to.  We’ve had Section 18C for over twenty years now and all that it has proved is that banning supposedly racist speech doesn’t actually help to stop racism at all.”

Footnote: The QUT case involved three students entering a vacant  Aboriginals-only computer lab and being told to leave by Ms Prior because they weren’t Indigenous. Various students then commented on a QUT Facebook, including

# “I wonder where the white supremacist computer lab is…today’s your lucky day, join the white supremacist group and we’ll take care of your every need”

# A QUT lecturer wrote: “It seems a bit silly to kick someone out of an indigenous computer lab  for not being indigenous when there are computers not being used” and queried whether Prior was in breach of QUT anti-discrimination policy  by asking the students whether they were indigenous.

# Another student wrote that the lab was “more retarded than a women’s collective”

# Another wrote: “My Student and Amenity Fees are going to furbish rooms in the university where inequality reigns supreme? I believe if we have to pay to support these sorts of places, there should be at least more created for general purpose use, but again, how does these sorts of facilities support interaction and community within QUT? All this does is encourage separation and inequality. The psychology of living in the past is dangerous, and these ‘disadvantaged’ people will only stay in their given ‘seat’ in society iif that situation is reinforced.  There is a hypocrisy and bureaucratic taint in all attempts at making ‘special’ things for people who are ‘deemed unequal’ in order to ‘help make tem equal’. If you deem them unequal, well those poor bastards have no hope now. You’ve tainted them. I think the worst thing to do to a human is to tell them they’re unequal. They will forever doubt their integrity and ability.”[ii]

Tony Thomas’s own Connor Court book, “That’s Debatable…60 Years in Print” will be launched at Gambero’s, 166 Lygon St, Carlton, 6.30pm Thursday May 19. Buy it here

[i] Abbott writes in the May edition of Quadrant that his failing to repeal S18C was a significant reason for his loss of office. He wrote, “S18C is clearly a bad law. Our debates should be polite  but they should never be guaranteed not to offend. With hindsight, I should have persisted with a simpler amendment along the lines of Senator Bob Day’s later private members’ Bill.”

[ii] Forrester, J et al, No Offence Intended. Connor Court, 2016 p 180-182


  1. acarroll

    I don’t see there being any real chance of 18C being removed. The ethnic lobbies, especially the powerful and connected ones, are all for it for very practical reasons — it’s beneficial to their group strategy.

    Ain’t multiculti just dandy!

  2. ianl

    > With hindsight, I should have persisted with a simpler amendment …

    Abbott’s comment. Note the self-serving use of the word “hindsight” … pathetic. Foresight is accurate here; he had the chance and squibbed it. He won’t even list here the names of the slippery little groups that whispered in his ear to keep 18C. He should list them openly, without omission or sympathy. Never happen of course – politicians are genetically incapable of truth.

    • Mr Johnson

      Yeah, Abbott got some re-eeeaallly bad advice here. Someone, somewhere, said to him that he could attract the Muslim vote by avoiding making any changes to 18c. But also, the Jewish lobby came out hard against modifications. The moment was there, and now its gone, like you say, probably for good.

  3. Tony Thomas

    Comment from James Hargrave:
    As a natural contrarian I helped financially and, I like to think emotionally, a young man in old South Wales who, in drink, had written some impolitic things on ‘Facebook’ or one of these damned things, received abuse, returned the abuse and then been convicted and imprisoned (2 months nominal) for a ‘racially aggravated public order’ offence’ (had a publicity-milking ‘district judge’. i.e. a stipendiary magistrate). He was drunk i/c a smart phone, as far as I could tell. Crass comments and his invective lacked style. But most appalling were the threats (inc. arson) that his family received – mother was off work with the nerves for a month or two. ‘Ordinary’ family, rugby (union) mad, from an erstwhile mining town at the mouth of the Rhondda. His local rugby club, for which he had played and, as far as I could gather, which multiple generations of the family had supported was cajoled into a public disavowal and suspension of him (they the quietly let him back once the caravan of disapproval had moved on to another target). His university suspended him (what had it got to do with them?) and issued the usual vomit-inducing, self-important, public-posturing drivel you expect from such a place. And so on and so forth. He took and failed his finals a year late, but has been in gainful employment in his chosen field of chemical-analysis, been promoted, moved jobs, etc. Sports mad chemistry students aged 21 are not really my natural company, but I thought (accurately) that I recognised the type from my time in Aberystwyth. And in the still rather close and culturally homogeneous communities of the South Wales valleys they presumably don’t know what you can’t say in the equivalents of Fitzroy, because you certainly can say it in Pontypridd. And it was the usual collection of wowsers who took offence.

    A bit of a sideways rant, but I am a virulent supporter of people being able to say what they like and the law keeping its distance.

  4. Renato Alessio

    Excellent article thanks.

    One thing that I don’t understand about 18C is whether expressing an opinion can constitute “an act likely to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person”? My understanding is that it is pretty hard to get sued for defamation if one expresses an opinion, as opposed to stating something as fact. Mainly because an opinion is neither right or wrong. Does 18C go beyond defamation law?

    The other thing I don’t understand is exactly what power does the Human Rights Commission have when it calls one before it after a complaint is made. If one goes to a Conciliation meeting – does one really need a barrister? What penalties can the Commission give out, if any? Or is it just a prelude to going to Court – like having to go to mediation in disputes about Wills?

    The main thing wrong with the Act is that it is so subjective.
    Consider this example. A woman goes up to three separate Muslim or Chinese women and says to each,
    “Your dress is terrible, you Muslims/Chinese have a hopeless sense of style”.
    Woman A is offended, insulted and humiliated – lodges a complaint.
    Woman B thinks “There goes that silly old woman again, trying to put me down like she does everyone else around here. I can ignore her or say ‘Tell someone who cares’ ” – no complaint is lodged as the woman isn’t offended, insulted or humiliated, just annoyed.
    Woman C thinks “Hmmm – maybe she has a point, she has pretty good judgment in relation to clothes. I’ll discuss this with friends and coworkers, see if my sense of clothing style needs improvement.” – no complaint is lodged as the woman isn’t offended, insulted or humiliated.

    Thus the exact same act is done to three separate people, but only one is unlawful.

More Farce Than Class at the ABC

While it is always handy to have a sharp lawyer, nothing beats a sympathetic judge. Having appointed two of its most ardent admirers to investigate both Q&A and its overall coverage of science,  that wisdom gets no argument from the national broadcaster

thumb on scaleTwo inquiries into the ABC’s professionalism are due for release shortly: the Ray Martin report on Q&A and Fiona Stanley’s  long-overdue examination of science coverage. As each has publicly extolled both the ABC’s virtues and the Coalition’s villainy, their findings, if less than critical, will be inevitably and grossly diminished by the widespread perception that their tasks should have been assigned to other auditors.

The report on Q&A, launched on July 1, was projected to take three months for its examination of 22 episodes.  The review is led by one-time Q&A panellist and current ABC fan Ray Martin, who has been teamed with  former SBS managing director  Shaun  Brown. It was prompted by the June 22 grandstanding on Q&A by ABC-invited questioner Zaky Mallah, who had earlier been convicted and done hard time for threatening to kill security officers.[i] This record did not stop the ABC driving him to and from the studio and, before his on-camera moment, providing him with coaching by the show’s producers.

Barely one week after Martin’s appointment, he gave a spray on  Channel 7’s Sunrise to then-Prime Minister Tony Abbott for having temporarily banned federal ministers from appearing on Q&Awhile the inquiry  was proceeding. Martin not only called the ban “silly” but said host Tony Jones was as tough on the previous Labor government as on the Coalition. Some of the ”rants and raves” about Q&A  had been “crazy”, Martin continued, saying that he hoped his audit would bring some balance to the debate.

Capping off what many will see as a remarkable display of bias, he further suggested the Coalition had been beating up its criticism of Zaky Mallah and Q&A as a pre-election ploy. Any ethical organisation would have replaced Martin to preserve the inquiry’s credibility. Not the ABC, but.

An ABC spokesman responded  instead  by saying that Martin had been  chosen to conduct the audit because

he is independent and the public perceive him to be. That doesn’t mean he can’t express an opinion.[ii]He made it clear that his final view will be shaped by an orderly audit of previous programs. His comments related more to the boycott than to the program itself, and everyone has an opinion on that.

Let’s turn now to Fiona Stanley’s pending report on ABC science, especially climate coverage. Even allowing for delays perhaps attributable to some members’ personal issues, its report is long overdue. When ABC Chairman Jim Spigelman announced the review way back in mid-2013, he told the Academy of Science, loftily, that science reporters were a dying breed outside the ABC, where Robyn Williams and Karl Kruszelnicki were paragons. ABC science coverage stands “head, shoulders, thorax and abdomen”  above other broadcasters, he boasted. Strangely, he made this pronouncement in advance of his own panel’s findings. Kruszelnicki, by the way, claimed that global warming since 1997 was six times more than the British Met Office had calculated, then abused columnist Andrew Bolt for getting the figure correct.

Spigelman said that while he is not a climate sceptic, ABC journalists need “to hold scientists and technologists to account for their claims and conduct”. He said “impartiality” included  giving opportunities over time for key points of contentious issues to be covered. However, “balance”’ involved following the weight of evidence on topics such as climate change.

We must go beyond PR handouts, or what has been called ‘churnalism’ …  What I believe needs most work, is to develop our capacity to appropriately challenge scientists, not least those whose work is distributed by press release from organizations with a vested interest in favourable publicity. That includes, these days, universities.

He emphasized that ABC accuracy and impartiality was not just something the board should promote but which by law it was required to enforce. The panel, Spigelman said, would examine ten representative ABC science stories. After the panel reports, it would run a private symposium with ABC staff on science coverage. The ABC would then issue a public report on the whole exercise. Later, other non-science ABC subject areas will get similar scrutiny, he said. As a sequel to the review of science journalism, the ABC’s political coverage brims with potential.

Amid all Spigelman’s good intentions, he omitted one adjective for his panel: independent. People just assumed the inquiry would be independent, but the ABC speedily appointed one of its own board members, Fiona Stanley, to head the inquiry.

What are the chances of Stanley giving the ABC a stern report sheet?

# First, she adores the ABC.
# Second, she’s a global warming super-activist, making stump speeches for greenies about “saving the planet”, and comparing sceptics to child abusers. So what’s not for her to like about the ABC’s climate alarm coverage?

Here she is talking about the ABC a year ago:

From the age of five, when I was an Argonaut, the ABC has been a force for good in my life and work.  It has educated, informed, entertained and excited me for over 60 years.  It is a fantastic resource for this nation.

Unfortunately,  many of us have taken the ABC for granted. My hope is that readers will realise how valuable our public broadcaster is and fight to save it from further cuts and harassment.

If you only read The Australian, or listen to the views of some politicians, you would think that the ABC is struggling to provide fair coverage of events, is biased in its politics and its science, and that it is wasting tax-payers’ dollars. Have you noticed that journalists critical of the ABC have started to call it ‘the taxpayer-funded ABC’?”  [Well yes, Fiona, strange, that].

“As a scientist”, as Stanley described herself, she believes the ABC is doing a great job, while “We are now in a situation where a major commercial news organisation [i.e. News Corp] is denigrating the ABC with a vicious, sustained campaign which is extremely damaging to our public broadcaster and to the nation.”

The nub of Stanley’s science inquiry involves the work of Robyn Williams, the maestro of the ABC’s flagship Science Show.[iii] Any normal auditor would be alert against creating perceived bias for or against Williams. Not Stanley.

She went on Williams’ show, mid-inquiry a year ago, to publicly sing its praises:

Fiona Stanley: There are lots of ways in which both Robyn Williams and Norman Swan are impacting Australia. There is no doubt that there is a huge both listening public and podcasting public that pick up on their programs.

Sharon Carleton [co-presenter]: Praise indeed from respected paediatrician Professor Fiona Stanley.

Fiona Stanley: And many of those podcasts are actually international, and so they are used extensively by people who are interested in science and health. We use them for teaching, in medical schools, and I’m sure they use them in public health. And so the impact, I think, goes way beyond the initial program.

Two of her  inquiry panel members – we kid you not – are ex-Media Watch compere and climate alarmist Jonathan Holmes and ex-ABC Triple J comedian Adam Spencer. A mixed bag – see here – of half a dozen outsiders complete the panel. Stanley, who has a distinguished background in epidemiology, paediatrics and Aboriginal health,  has a new career as a climate doomster and public speaker, for which she charges as much as $15,000 per appearance. Almost 19 years of no appreciable warming  has not diminished her catastropharian zeal in the slightest.

In April last year, mid-way in the ABC inquiry into the impartiality and accuracy of the ABC’s climate coverage, she actually compared climate sceptics with child abusers! “The way we are living on this planet is unsustainable, and that’s why I’m worried for my children, and my grandchildren and their children,” she said. By analogy, our own great-grandparents circa 1900 should have been worrying about threats to you and me in 2015.

Stanley’s forward genealogical concerns extend even beyond her great-grandchildren. She was lead signatory to a self-described “Monster Climate Petition” launched by greenies and luvvies in mid-2014, which included in its preamble:

It’s 3:23 in the morning and I’m awake 
 because my great-great-grandchildren
 won’t let me sleep. My great-great-grandchildren ask me in dreams what did you do while the planet was plundered? What did you do when the earth was unraveling? (My emphasis)

“I’m not a climate-change expert,” Stanley gushed with commendable frankness.  “But I do trust the incredible [well said, Fiona!] scientific evidence … We don’t actually know if [warming] is on the rise, but all the risk factors for it are on the rise.”   Make what you can of that.

Climate sceptics make her “anxious and angry”, she has said, because they were dissing her favourite scientists and hurting those generations as yet unborn.  What we should be doing, she said, is eating less meat and catching more buses and trains. Anyone spotted Fiona returning from one of her speaking engagements on a Transperth bus, possibly munching a carrot?

Her logic runs as straight as a worm in compost. On the one hand, she says “the data is very compelling”, but on the other

To expect science to be able to predict something as complex as what is going to happen on this planet, given human activity and other things, is extraordinarily challenging and I think it is pathetic of people to criticise the imprecise nature of the science…

My bet:  the two ABC inquiries will issue nuanced results like this:

Ray Martin/Brown inquiry: “Ten out of ten for Q&A!”

Fiona Stanley inquiry on accuracy and impartiality of ABC science coverage: “Ten out of ten for ABC Science!”

You read it here first.

Oh, and by the way, the ABC in both cases declines to reveal how much the two teams are being paid. Whatever sums are involved, if Martin and Stanley really care about the ABC’s credibility and their own, they should step aside and let others tackle these job afresh..

Tony Thomas blogs at No BS Here (I Hope)


Justice Wood, when sentencing Zaky Mallah in 2005 to 30 months jail, had even then deplored the way the media had adopted Mallah and “gave him  an entirely undeserved and unnecessary exposure… Placing a person such as the prisoner into the public spotlight is … likely to encourage him to embark on even more outrageous and extravagant behaviour.”

Mallah registered to go on Q&A in 2011, went into the audience twice, and was booked by the ABC into the audience another three times, but was a no-show. He asked twice to join the panel but – and this is a mystery – Q&A rejected him. On a further occasion Q&A begged him to join an audience, but he in turn rejected the Q&A invitation. Then there was his June 22 appearance. (Dept of Communications report, 1/7/15).

[ii] Presumably the ABC would see nothing untoward in a judge remarking at the start of a murder trial, “Well personally I’d say this fellow’s innocent.”

[iii] Williams a year ago gave a platform to climate fabulist Naomi Oreskes to predict that global warming in 2023 would kill everyone’s kittens and puppies, a prospect that thrilled Williams because of its educative potential.

Williams: Yes, not only because it’s an animal but it’s local. You see, one criticism of the scientists is they’re always talking about global things…And so if you are looking at your village, your animals, your fields, your park, your kids, and the scientists are talking about a small world that you know, then it makes a greater impact, doesn’t it.


  1. Jody

    In short, an objective “bystander” would find these ‘reports’ biased? Is that what you’re saying? I certainly hope the reports are trashed and their authors consigned to the nation’s dust-bin, just as the ALP sought to do with Justice Dyson Heydon.

    One law for the Left and another for everybody else.

  2. Jody

    Today (Monday 19th) a female politician from the seat of Griffith (Qld) – the one vacated by K. Rudd – commented on the positive poll findings for Turnbull. It was played on “The Drum”. The member in question said, “Turnbull is good looking but we need something more than this”. Not a single mention on the ABC news tonight about this – only the first minute of the woman’s interview. If this kind of sexist remark had been uttered by a male, particularly one T. Abbott, we would never have heard the end of it. But the ABC judiciously airbrushed it out of the equation.

    An 11 year old child would easily spot this kind of fraudulence and bias from the ABC.