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Je Suis Larry? Quelle est la différence?

It’s rather strange that in a week, where free speech is such a hot topic that we’ve had the “I’m with Stupid” t-shirt incident, people arguing that the anti-vaccination campaigner, Sherri Tenpenny shouldn’t be allowed into the country, and Rupert Murdoch’s tweet.

Personally, I’m all for Rupert tweeting. Generally, he shows himself to be the ignorant, old fool that he is. (Apologies to anyone ignorant, old or foolish reading this but you really need to distance yourself from Murdoch or I’ll consider you responsible for everything he does!) When he asserts that “Egyptians are white” or when he tweets “Enemies many different agendas, but worst old toffs and right wingers who still want last century’s status quo with their monopolies.” (sic), it shows exactly how out of touch with reality the man really is – not to mention spelling – as well as going a long way towards explaining Fox News.

And, of course, his idea that even if “Most Moslems are peaceful” but still accountable for the actions of the others strikes me as absurd when you apply it to any other group. I can’t imagine anyone writing “Maybe most Americans are peaceful, but until they recognise and destroy their growing number of gun criminals, they must all be held responsible…” And should all Christians be held responsible for the Westboro Baptist Church? Or does Father Rod Bower cancel them out? Am I responsible for other Collingwood supporters?

Now, we’ll undoubtedly have people arguing that to protect our free speech we need to ban certain people from saying certain things and to give our government greater powers. And I’m sure we’ll have many articles telling us that Islam is the problem. Not violence, or vigilante actions. We’ll have many articles telling us that political correctness is the problem. And without reading him, I suspect Andrew Bolt has probably already complained again that he’s prevented from writing about Islamic immigration, while writing about Islamic immigration. (Paul Sheehan complained that Islam has made certain places in the Middle East unsafe to travel. Afghanistan, for example. And Iraq. Mm, I’m wondering when Afghanistan was a safe place to travel given it was invaded by the Soviets in 1979 leading to a war which lasted nine years! Iraq, on the other hand, used to be very safe while the Americans were in charge. Certainly, inside the green zone anyway.)

Most people have some sort of belief in the concept of human rights; the only point of disagreement is what are they and who has them. The dilemma of free speech, of course, is how we deal with competing rights. Few reading this would say that I don’t have a right to express my views in this piece of writing, but may object if express my views through a loudhailer on the street (or outside their window at 6a.m. on a Sunday morning). Yes, there are laws against noise, as well as libel and fraud. But when my views are “merely” offensive to you, at what point do you have the right to object to me expressing them at all?

Voltaire’s famous: “I disagree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it” sounds all very nice and politically correct, but the fact is I’m not always comfortable with it. I won’t defend a racist’s right to incite hatred, nor a liar’s right to spread misinformation to give two examples that have nothing to do with any high profile case in Australia’s recent past.

Neither will I endorse Larry Pickering’s views.

Yes, there are views and statements which I don’t think that people should be allowed to make because they trample on other people’s rights.

But is this hypocritical of me? Is free speech a matter of open slather and allowing people to judge for themselves with offensive views being drowned out by the chorus of disapproval? If I say, “Je suis Charlie” must I also say “Je suis Rupert” or “Je suis Larry”?

These are the hard questions. The easy question is do people have a right to use violence as a solution to being offended? And I suspect the quote attributed to Ghandi is probably most appropriate.

“An eye for an eye will leave everyone blind.”


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  1. John Fraser


    And, RossLeigh, is the Sydney siege censorship starting to unravel :

    The Australian public heard (at the same time) that Abbott was suggesting that the victims killed should get an award and that one of the victims (Katrina Dawson) was killed by (ricocheting) friendly fire while she was laying on the ground she was shot through the heart.

    Of course there has been no explanation yet about the other 2 victims who were shot, one through the foot and the other through the shoulder.

    How much longer can Murdochs rubbish hold out ? ….. before they have to start asking why they can't interview all those held hostage inside the Lindt cafe.

    The manipulation of the media is looking a little shaky for Abbott.

  2. Margot

    “Most Moslems are peaceful” but still accountable for the actions of the others”
    Given that almost all the terrorist actions are carried out by men shouldn’t Murdoch be writing that most men are peaceful but still accountable for the actions of others?
    Has the fact that Lassana Bathily, 24, a Muslim shop assistant originally from Mali, in west Africa, was praised for risking his own life to save those led to safety hit the Murdoch papers or does that not fit his agenda?

  3. stephentardrew

    Nothing is really free as everything has a cost. The idea that suddenly freedom pops up out of the complex web of fundamental laws and constants, driven by time and causation, is strange and confusing. Human minds are rational and logical, irrational and illogical, yet the tension between subjectivity and objectivity leads us into maize of paradoxes and wishful thinking. It’s a puzzling mystery that the universe is constrained by finely tuned fundamental laws and constants yet sentient beings can wax lyrical about any nonsense and believe their own spiel.

    Basically we are a bunch of naughty children given a bag of lollies. We want to eat them all before we know which types are poisonous. What does evolution do? It kills off the numbskull’s and we seem to be doing it a favour in that regard. Thing is we have to learn to adapt to these changes and make effective decisions. It is those who are, at the moment, a minority who are the change agents that will lead to a revised version of human intelligence and responsibility. Extinction and stagnation are unavoidable aspects of evolution. When a species atrophies it requires a minority of newly adaptive creatures to set the trend for the future as the majority either change, ossify or become extinct.

    It’s a damnably difficult problem however we must make choices and follow our hearts and rational minds not some fallacious concept of freedom that seems to be leading us to self-destruction. Though rational change agents may be in the minority it is vital that they confront their fellow humans by demonstrating how environmental equilibrium and equitable distribution of goods make for a better and more sustainable society ready to move onto the next phase of evolution. With the onset of accelerated change and exponential growth in technology I have the feeling that change is going to happen fairly rapidly in the not too distant future.

    What that means we do not know. That it is an evolutionary necessity is obvious.

  4. corvus boreus

    I am referencing my regurgitated self(9/1).

    Je nést pas Charlie Hedbo.

    I deplore the murders of the staff of this magazine(and the attending policemen) as a despicable act committed by sick murderers, and I utterly reject and despise the kind of dementedly intolerant zealotry that seems to have been behind it. People should not be subjected to any violence, let alone murdered for expressing an opinion or simply doing a job.

    I do not, however, stand with Charlie Hedbo as a commercial media entity. From what I viewed of the cartoons reported/reputed to be the alleged catalyst for the atrocity, they were the kind of defamatory caricature pornography that I deplore when deployed by Larry Pickering and the like, only these were directed at a figure held as sacred by a large number of their countryfolk.
    There are a number af rational critiques and criticisms that can be made about Islam(and other faiths), on a variety of issues (including gender prejudice, intolerance, irrationality, inherent fatalism etc), none of which are communicated by depictions of genitals displayed during devotional prostrations or drawings of generic middle-east types being riddled with bullets through a copy of the Quran.
    The intent of the cartoons seem to have been merely to provoke reaction and controversy, possibly to help move print, rather than to make any valid point or encourage any rational discussion. They received the irrational response of murdering gunfire from a bunch of homicidal lunatics.
    A trite but valid comparison would be that of someone loudly abusing other patrons in a bar and getting glassed in the throat. Glassing people is completely and utterly wrong, but gratuitously sledging people with offensive vulgarity is not entirely righteous(or clever).
    I have unreserved sympathy for the victims and those affected around them, but this is not matched by any desire to offer symbolic ideological support, based on what I have seen, for Charlie Hedbo or the type of media entity that it represents.

    Je suis pour humanité civile.

  5. Rossleigh

    Merci, corvus, moi aussi!

  6. mark delmege

    shame shame its people like you who give the establishment a bad name

  7. stephentardrew

    I agree Corvus:

    In any society there are a number of psychopath and antisocial personalities who, if given a chance, will peg their madness to any dysfunctional group. Rather than be rational and tread carefully some rush out to provoke dissension with the result being the disasters we are witnessing. Self-respect also comes form respecting others rights as long as they are not overtly hurting others. The percentage of psychosocial and antisocial personalties is fairly consistent across cultures so it has to be the particular stressors within a culture that lead to the formation of group psychosis. We must then learn no to feed the beast since the results can be catastrophic.

    Corvus notes:

    “the cartoons reported/reputed to be the alleged catalyst for the atrocity, they were the kind of defamatory caricature pornography that I deplore when deployed by Larry Pickering and the like, only these were directed at a figure held as sacred by a large number of their countryfolk.”

    We have to find the boundaries of rational descent and strive not to push crazy people over the edge by providing them with stationary targets. In fact Pickering may be doing as much harm by infecting those who have mental health issues with despicable ideas couched in humour.

    The problem of general claims to free speech are much more complex than simple two word sound bites can encapsulate.

  8. Kerri

    “Most Moslems are peaceful” but still accountable for the actions of the others”
    If this is how Murdoch feels then surely he is responsible for the actions of other newspapermen?
    Hence he deserves the same fate!as the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo?

  9. Richard Knowles

    Yep long live free speech. Didn’t someone, in effect, say: “I don’t agree with what you say. But I will defend your right to say it.” This, I guess, is more so now. No need to curb the dumb and foolish – the Murdoch’s of this world. They will always trip over their own expressive stupidity. Their own words condemn them.

  10. stephengb2014

    Billiant – Thanks Rossliegh

  11. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Thanks Rossleigh.

    +1 Corvus.

    stephentardrew, your evolutionary argument is interesting too.

  12. Phi

    Corvus – I share your view on the assassination of the Charlie Hebdo staff and police.

    I don’t share your view on the material published by the magazine.

    In my view, nothing published by Charlie Hebdo comes within a galactic distance of the pornography of war that is ‘published’ every minute of every day right across the globe – an unceasing war porn that is utterly destroying the human spirit whilst profiting a very powerful and wealthy elite.

    The Charlie Hebdo cartoons merely reflect the real war porn that daily floods our senses. The cartoons are an urgent, graphic reminder for us as to just how debauched are the powers that should be governing for the good of the world, but which are pushing humanity and other species to the edge of extinction.

    Je suis Charlie

  13. Kaye Lee

    And right on cue….

    “Australia must revisit the issue of changing the Racial Discrimination Act to protect freedom of speech in the wake of the terrorist attacks in France, Liberal backbencher Cory Bernardi has told Guardian Australia.

    The government dumped planned changes to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act in August.

    The Coalition had made an election promise to water down the act so that insulting, offending and humiliating people on the basis of race was no longer included in the legislation.

    The changes prompted outrage from community groups and members of the Coalition alike.

    But Bernardi said it was appropriate to have discussions with the community on reinstating the changes, following a coordinated campaign of attacks in Paris perpetrated by Islamic extremists.

    “It’s about time we started to have these conversations without pejorative slurs and name-calling,” Bernardi told Guardian Australia.

    He points to comments by Tony Abbott urging Australians not to “cower” from having difficult conversations about controversial issues as evidence that the prime minister is open to potentially revisiting the 18C changes.”

    Not that we want to capitalise on tragedy or anything…..

  14. Kaye Lee

    Speaking of capitalising, this from George Brandis in The Australian….

    “AFTER the Martin Place siege and the atrocities in France, no rational person can dispute that the world — and the free and democratic West in particular — faces a profound threat that is likely to be with us for a long time.”

    What follows is a justification for his huge spending, his stripping away of rights, and the withholding of metadata.

    It’s paywalled but a copy can be seen here

  15. rossleighbrisbane

    ‘”It’s about time we started to have these conversations without pejorative slurs and name-calling,” Bernardi told Guardian Australia.’

    So we should have a conversation about people’s right to call people offensive names without name-calling because name calling is just wrong.

    What a silly bernardi!

  16. stephentardrew

    Good lord we are such a bunch of fraidy cat sooky-bubs when a statistically insignificant number of terrorist attacks throw us into paroxysms of anxiety and despair. Mummy, mummy hold my hand I am scared. The word wimp comes to mind.

    We trust our democracy so much that we have to defend it against a world of terror and threat that is almost invisible. That does not deflect from the suffering and sorrow caused by terrorist acts, however, It seem to me that thousands have been killed by Boco Harem without much more than a parsing reference.

    No marching through the street for Africans.

    Netanjahu marching for Charlie Hedbo?

    More guns, more shinny jets, more big bangy techi ships, more tanks, more guided weapons that just sit in the shed waiting for the end of times that just seems to fade into the past.

    What happened to courage and unity in the face of a very small number of actual threats. Oh but the military industrial complex loves fear so let’s have a go at Russia and who gives a damn about the suffering of the Russian people. Get Putin damn the people. Same happened with Saddam and we did such a swell job of that.

    We Australians were once a fearless bunch now look at us.

    Well done Captain Darling.

  17. Kaye Lee

    “So we should have a conversation about people’s right to call people offensive names without name-calling because name calling is just wrong. ”

  18. Kaye Lee

    “While it is perhaps unsurprising, the Attorney-General’s latest attempt to use the Sydney siege and recent events in France as justifications for the government’s mandatory data retention laws is as distasteful as it is misleading.

    It’s difficult to know whether he is being deliberately disingenuous or whether his understanding of the detail of what he is proposing has not advanced significantly since his spectacular failure to explain it to Sky News presenter David Speers in August last year.

    The problem with citing France and Sydney as examples, apart from leveraging a number of tragic deaths for political gain, is that they are in fact fairly strong cases of why mandatory data retention may not be the critical necessity he asserts it to be.

    Two other recent “acts of terror” similarly point to the same conclusion, namely the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013 and the brutal murder of Lee Rigby in London the following month. In each of these four recent examples, the perpetrators were well-known to police and intelligence agencies. The Attorney-General quotes former ASIO chief David Irvine as saying that access to metadata is “absolutely crucial” in identifying terrorist networks. As these examples clearly show, identifying the perpetrators was not the problem.

    In each case, it was rather decisions taken to not commence, or to cease, close surveillance of these individuals that arguably contributed to the failures of law-enforcement and intelligence agencies to prevent each attack.”

  19. John Fraser


    Bernardi answers the Murdoch dog whistle.

    Good boy Bernardi, sit boy sit.

  20. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    @Kaye Lee

    Cutting off the general population’s access to fair and effective use of the internet is the preferable option for the LNP Degenerates and their henchmen in ASIO.

    This is probably because there is less effort involved than providing effective surveillance against known or suspected potential perpetrators of violence.

    Might be too much hard work to have boots on the ground!

  21. CMMC

    Martin Place must have been terrifying but so was Port Arthur.

    Neither had anything to do with Islamist extremism.

  22. rangermike1

    Bernardi is my Hero. Where else can someone find such pearls of wisdom as Bernardi speaks ? He is a man of wisdom and truth, Abbott must be privileged to have this guy on board. He is a real Gentleman. Sorry must go, as there are quite a few waiting to use this computer in the Nursing home. The nurse is calling me for my shots, Lobotomy can be a bugger at times.

  23. mars08

    “Afghanistan …was invaded by the Soviets in 1979 leading to a war which lasted nine years…”

    The Soviets were lured into Afghanistan after the US and Pakistan acted on Zbigniew Brzezinski’s scheme to give Russia it’s own Vietnam war. They began by supporting the local tribes who were opposed to the Kabul govt… and escalated by using the Saudis to recruit foreign Mujahedin. Including Osama bin Laden.

    Afghanistan was not simply invaded. I was DELIBERATELY turned into a killing field…

  24. stephentardrew

    Oh dear that truthy thing again Mars8.

  25. mars08

    So bloody inconvenient, right?

  26. Carol Taylor

    For those who haven’t already seen it, and perhaps it’s unlikely to be given any airtime on the MSM whatsoever..

    Hicks officially innocent, Pentagon admits..

    The lie that he was a terrorist who had committed a crime was promoted by the Howard government, notably Prime Minister John Howard and Attorney-General Philip Ruddock, and by the Pentagon and US Administration. It has been perpetuated by the Abbott government, notably by AG George Brandis. But all their claims have now been officially admitted to be false and wrong in law.

    The Australian government faces the prospect of a considerable payout – in the many millions of dollars range – to Hicks for false imprisonment and for defamation.

    Hicks officially innocent, Pentagon admits

  27. Kaye Lee

    February 2013…

    LIBERAL senator Cory Bernardi has spoken out in support of anti-immigration Dutch MP Geert Wilders, saying a double standard on free speech is emerging in Australia.

    Mr Wilders, who is on a speaking tour of Australia, has in the past called Islam ”a retarded culture” and in Melbourne on Tuesday called the prophet Muhammad a ”warlord, terrorist and paedophile” and called for a ban on migration from Muslim countries.

    ”There are a myriad of (sic) reports from a previously harmonious and tolerant Dutch society where Jews and gay people no longer feel safe from attack by Islamic fundamentalists,” Senator Bernardi wrote in a blog post on his Common Sense Lives Here website.

    ”These fundamentalists are the same people who want to kill Wilders and establish sharia law under a global Caliphate because Muhammad commanded them to back in the 7th century. And yet, it is Wilders who is characterised as an extremist.”

    Cory’s just not very bright is he.

  28. stephentardrew

    Great news Carol:

    Who knows how many others have been caught in the net. Being hated would be a heavy burden to carry and he deserves full compensation.

    Howard, Ruddock, Baradis and Co deserve condemnation for manufacturing lies and deceit.

    Imagine if they we accused of terrorism for no other reason than political expediency.

    I am sure the accuser would be doing prison time by now.

    The joys of our two tiered justice system.

  29. diannaart

    J’en conviens, corvus boreus.

  30. rossleighbrisbane

    Ah, mars08, I deleted about another forty words on Afghanistan because I was sure that it’d just be picked up as too simplistic by someone and I figured just one basic fact would allow me to move on.

  31. Kaye Lee

    This is getting weird….

    “Thousands of Immigration Department public servants face the sack if they fail to comply with tough new security tests imposed by their new bosses.

    Immigration’s 8500 officials have been told they must complete an “organisational suitability assessment” if they want to work at Border Force Australia, the new merged agency combining Immigration and Customs.

    The move by the Customs bosses, who are taking up many of the key posts at the top of the merged entity, comes despite all Immigration public servants already holding the “baseline” security clearances that are standard across the Australian Public Service.

    But the new requirements go further, probing into past activities in the private lives of Immigration’s bureaucrats and those of their families, friends and other acquaintances.”

  32. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    In answer to Kaye Lee’s last posting,

    this just goes to show how obstructionist this LNP Degenerate government is to keeping people and getting people into employment.

    These are the draconian measures that The Alliance, that boots the bastards out, must reverse and reform to get ALL Aussies working meaningfully.

  33. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Good news for Hicks and Dan Mori.

    Now, let’s see how much compensation the US Government has to pay to him.

  34. mark delmege

    Hicks was an adventurer who played a minor role in US’s wars of empire – in places like Bosnia and Afghanistan. He is no hero. He was an unwitting fool who got tangled up in events in places and paid a heavy price though he is probably lucky to be alive – imo of course.

  35. mark delmege

    You’d think our dear leader would have far better advisors but yeah ideologically just as blind – and foolish

  36. mark delmege

    However his Dad and Mori rate as heroes.

  37. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    @mark delmege

    Hicks is lucky to have had his Dad and Mori to stand up for him.

    Wouldn’t it be lovely to know we all had such loyal and effective support, if we found ourselves in perilous circumstances whether we contributed to them or not.

    The collusion between the US and AUS regimes had to be challenged, so that abuses to human rights could not go unrecognised (and maybe unpunished?)

  38. stephentardrew

    Fool or not he deserves appropriate recompense. Calling a mixed up person an unwitting fool does not help and is not necessary. You cannot define his motivations or experiences and there is no need to denigrate him. He has obviously had more than enough humiliation. After all they made huge mileage out of his demise.

  39. mark delmege

    If you think running with terrorist fundamentalist militia is a smart move you are welcome to join the cut throats in Syria and Iraq. I thought I was gentle in my criticisms – but there you go.

  40. mars08

    Hicks was an active member of a “terrorist fundamentalist militia”. Surely that’s a good reason to lock him up!!!

  41. mark delmege

    sure but at the time it was part of supported govt covert policy to have these types running amok – jeez they armed them and moved them around the world just like the so called Free Syrian Army today who the US Govt recently gave another half billion to kill Syrians. Which is why the MSM French Massacre meme is utter crap.

  42. MrPlumpkin

    Unfortunately the right to exercise freedom of speech does come with ramifications and consequences and every government recognising this, imposes restrictions on that freedom. There is no such thing as complete freedom of speech.

    If I offend you, wittingly or otherwise, then I risk a reaction. The consequences of this reaction may be simply a dismissal or may be more radical and involve violence (which may well be illegal).

    The right to freedom of expression therefore comes with the risk that some people will take the law of the land into their own hands. This picking and choosing of laws that one obeys or does not has been at the forefront with people who manipulate peoples’ thoughts and actions in the name of their religion. Abortion clinics being firebombed and staff being injured or murdered is an example of so called Christians’ outrage and claimed beliefs here in Australia and in the US. Illegal acts but

    Charlie Hebdo has undertaken to be provocative, confronting and controversial. The reaction by some people has been to enact bloody violence. Interestingly, it is unlikely that the very material published by Charlie Hebdo in this instance would not be allowed in this country.

  43. Harquebus

    Those who respond to the spoken word with violence are weaklings and should be branded as such.

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