Archive for September, 2011

Freedom of speech really doesn’t exist in this country

Today’s ruling in the Federal Court is a worry. It may very well be legally accurate (and I make no comment on its legal accuracy) but it spells out a very worrying precedent in this country.

HERALD Sun columnist Andrew Bolt has lost an action brought in the Federal Court in which the columnist was accused of breaching the Racial Discrimination Act.

Bolt was found to have contravened Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

Nine aboriginal applicants brought a class-action against Bolt and the Herald and Weekly Times claiming Bolt wrote they sought professional advantage from the colour of their skin.
[..]
In concluding the eight day proceedings, counsel for the plaintiffs conceded Bolt’s writings did not incite “racial vilification or racial hatred”, rather they “constituted highly personal, highly derogatory and highly offensive attacks” on the nine individuals.

(h/t Michael Bodey for The Australian)

This ruling spells out in clear legal judgement that it is an offence in this country to offend someone. It has long been true in this country that we don’t actually have a right to freedom of speech as such, but that we have generally accepted that we are able to speak our mind with the exception of laws relating to defamation. For a very long time we have accepted this as being “fair enough”…but now I really do start to wonder.

How can a society be free if its citizens are not free to exchange thoughts and ideas? There is clearly no freedom of expression if merely offending someone constitutes a criminal act, and in the free exchange of ideas on controversial subjects, the fact is that people will occasionally be offended by the thoughts of others. I am very worried by the fact that the people who are offended now have a clearly defined legal ability to take somebody to court for offending them when, I believe, in a free society the appropriate recourse for being offended is to argue and disagree with the person who caused the offence.

In a free society, one should have the right to disagree with others, but one should not have the right to avoid being offended; one should have the right to seek legal recourse for defamation, but not for being offended.

Freedom of speech, which I admit never truly existed in this country, is officially dead, however it can be revived. I do believe that this country needs, enshrined in law and preferably the constitution, the right to freedom of speech, if it is to have any hope of long-term success as a free country. This may take time, so to start with in the short term, laws which inhibit freedom of speech such as the Racial Discrimination Act need to be repealed or amended.

Today’s ruling, no matter how legally accurate it may be, scares me greatly. It scares me because I can see the consequences that this type of law will have on this country, and it scares me because I worry about my own safety as a person who happens to have an opinion. It, sadly, adds to my reasons for wanting to seek freer lands.

I hold out hope that this ruling helps to pave the way for the citizens of this great country to stand up for freedom of speech and to do what is needed to protect it.

I hold out hope because, for the moment at least, one can hope, and one can dream, but one apparently can’t talk about it for fear of a court ruling that someone else was offended by it. What utterly ridiculous and dangerous times we are living in.

Samuel

4 comments September 28th, 2011 at 12:55pm

Julia’s speech therapy

An email to 2UE’s John Kerr

Morning John!

I'm not in the least bit surprised that Julia Gillard has had some speech therapy and training as it seems to be common practice amongst political leaders, and fair enough, their job is to communicate, and if you speak in a manner which makes people want to throw their TV in to a lake (as Julia often does in that monotone lecturing tone of hers) then a bit of training might help. Regardless of the message, it is important that it can be listened to without annoying people…it should be the content of the message which annoys or delights people, not the way in which it is spoken.

In recent memory, it is well-known that John Howard had some speech training to assist in removing a stutter, and I'm pretty sure that Tony Abbott has had some training to remove some of the distracting "uhhs" and scratchy back-of-throat noises from the middle of his sentences. As for someone who I wish would have some training…Barack Obama. People say that his is a "great orator", well I'm sorry but I think he is worse than Julia Gillard. He has three modes: louder and louder campaign mode; loud and angry; and quietly angry and repetitive. I can't listen to him for more than a minute, and even within that minute I struggle. I have to wait for the transcript if I'm to have any hope of digesting his message.

Anyway, enough of my thoughts…if I go on any longer then you might start to think that I have something against Barack Obama…and I can't have you figuring that out so quickly.

Regards,
Samuel Gordon-Stewart
Canberra

3 comments September 18th, 2011 at 03:51am

Large factory fire in Mitchell

Final final update: With thanks to Kane Bond for the link, video of one of this morning’s many explosions.

End update

Final Update 10:10am: The fire continues to burn, however the alert advising people to remain indoors in Northern Canberra has now been lifted. Public schools in Canberra’s north are closed however they are maintaining a skeleton staff to supervise any children who have turned up.

Apologies for the delay. I was operating on one single hour of sleep in about 38 hours and needed to get a bit of sleep, especially seeing as I have to drive back to Canberra today. I hope you are all well. I am certainly feeling refreshed. End Update

Urgent Update 5:14am: The alert for toxic smoke now covers a 10km radius around Mitchell. That’s almost all of Canberra north of Civic…so the entire inner north, most of Belconnen and all of Gungahlin. Residents in these areas are being advised to stay indoors until further notice. The last update from the fire brigade advised that the fire covers an area 30 x 40 metres. Also, an additional evacuation centre has been set up at Canberra Stadium. Update ends.

Update 6:15am: Canberra Stadium evacuation centre is now closed. People wanting to go there should report to Dickson College instead. Also, some schools may be impacted by this today. The extent of that is being determined as I write this. End update

Update 5:53am: Authorities advise that all roads in to Mitchell are closed. This includes Gungahlin Drive, so expect delays. Delays in ACTION services in northern Canberra are also expected today.

Now, if you haven’t seen the fire, turn on WIN or Sky News. The Today Show has some absolutely stunning footage and Sky News have made use of it as well. Sky appear to have a live feed from a camera looking at the fire as well. End Update

Update 6:05am: Add Ten to that list and probably ABC News24 (although I can’t see ABC News24 where I am so I can’t check). Strangely absent though is Seven who seem to have completely missed the story. End Update

These things always seem to happen when I’m out of town for some reason…

The entire suburb of Mitchell, including some people at Exhibition Park, has been evacuated following a series of explosions at a chemical factory on Dacre Street. The factory, which works with oils used in electricity transformers, has been completely engulfed by fire, creating flames which are visible from a large distance.

The fire is producing a potentially toxic smoke plume, and the fire brigade have issued an emergency alert, advising people in surrounding suburbs to remain indoors.

Fire fighters are currently struggling to contain the fire due to the explosions.

An evacuation centre has been set up at Dickson College.

Hopefully they can get this one under control soon, it sounds like it is quite nasty.

Samuel

September 16th, 2011 at 02:58am

Tonight on One

Some of you may be familiar with a show called “The Game Plan” which airs on Ten’s “sport and other stuff” digital multichannel One. It comes in two versions, a rugby league one and an AFL one. The rugby league one is hosted by Andrew Moore, Steve Roach and Joel Caine from The Continuous Call Team on 2GB and radio stations across the country.

For the rugby league finals, The Game Plan has been extended from its usual timeslot of 8:30pm-9:30pm to 8:30pm-10:00pm and is having a studio audience. Tonight I will be in that studio audience and I’m looking forward to it. I’ll be travelling up to Sydney today for that and one or two other things and will be coming back tomorrow.

If you’re in to rugby league, I would recommend watching The Game Plan. It’s a great show and spends plenty of time discussing rugby league in an interesting manner without deviating in to the off-topic in the way that shows of the genre on other networks have an annoying tendency to do. At the moment, if I’m at home, I will usually watch it live and DVR Rush over on Ten (which airs at the same time) for viewing straight after.

Just because I can, I’ll try to post a freeze frame or two when I get back, and I should also see about posting a freeze frame or two from when I was at the National Press Club a few weeks ago to see Chezch President Vaclav Klaus.

The Game Plan – NRL airs on One at 8:30pm in NSW, QLD and the ACT. Check your local guides in other areas

Samuel

September 15th, 2011 at 10:57am

Republican wins safe Democratic seat on national issues in sign of the times for Obama

In the district infamously recently vacated by the aptly named Anthony Weiner, a special election was held yesterday (we would call it a by-election). The district, New York 9, has been held by a Democrat since 1923 and is generally considered to be a very safe district for Democrats, and is also a district in which Obama won by 11 percentage points in 2008.

Enter Bob Turner, a former television executive with no political experience, who ran on a platform opposing Obama’s disastrous economic policies and Obama’s dangerous cuddling up to the Palestinians at the expense of America’s important ties with Israel.

Republican Bob Turner was called as the winner of the special election for the 9th Congressional District, held to replace disgraced former Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner, who resigned in June after admitting he sent sexually-charged messages to women he met online.
[..]
After being introduced as Congressman Turner — while Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” played in the background — the retired media executive and political novice told his supporters at the Roma View restaurant in Howard Beach, Queens, that he was ready to get to work.

As his supporters chanted, “Yes we can!” — a jab at Obama’s 2008 campaign slogan — Turner told the crowd, “It’s still me up here,” WNYC reported.

“Maybe we started something. I sure hope so,” he said.

“We’ve been told this is a referendum and we’re ready to say, ‘Mr. President, we are on the wrong track,” he said, according to the New York Daily News.

“We’ve been asked by the people of this district to send a message to Washington and I hope they hear it loud and clear. We only hope that our voices are heard. We can start putting things right again.”

(h/t Fox 5 New York)

Bob Turner won on national issues. He turned a safe Democratic seat in to a Republican seat…or to be more precise, Obama’s horrid policies and the effect they are having on the nation did that, Bob Turner is just the loud and clear voice of the people on this one.

This victory follows a number of other recent Republican victories and reflects national polling which shows that Obama is on the nose and would lose to “Generic Republican” 49% to 42% if the election were held today and the Republicans would wipe the floor with the Democrats in congressional elections.

So, in light of that, plus another day of bad economic news (Retail Sales flat in August – Wall Street Journal), and yet another court ruling that the individual mandate in the Obamacare law is unconstitutional and an abuse of the Commerce Clause (Legal Newsline.com has the details), and a continuing investigation in to the very dodgy dealings of the Obama Administration in pumping money in to a solar company which went bankrupt not long after (h/t The Hill newspaper) how does the White House respond?

Well, Obama gave another speech about his so-called “jobs plan” which would raise taxes and kill more jobs in the process and his press secretary Jay Carney ran the Democratic National Committee line of the week “oh, elections don’t actually matter”.

Q And Jay, what’s the reaction to the elections last night? How can they be viewed as anything other than a referendum on the President and where he stands with voters?

MR. CARNEY: I know I’m a little older than you, but you’ve been around long enough to know, as a reporter, as I was, that special elections are often unique and their outcomes do not tell you very much about future regularly scheduled elections. And I’m sure that you and everyone else here did not write, after Democrats won all, I believe, the special elections in 2009 and 2010, that that foretold a certain outcome in the 2010 midterms. Certainly, this election has no other bearing.

Q But those 2009 elections were before major administration policies were passed; it was before health care, it was before financial regulation. These seem more like a referendum on what’s going on, but if you’re —

MR. CARNEY: Hans, you can make those predictions and look foolish in 14 months or not. I’m simply saying that we do not view it that way.

Q Okay. Do you view these elections as a wakeup call, then? That you need to reach a —

MR. CARNEY: I think that the — one election in what had been a Democratic seat is unique to that district, to the circumstances around what created — that caused the special election to take place. And judge it as you will, I think it’s a very specific case in a specific district in, obviously, a very low turnout election.

Q So, not an indicator species at all? Won’t it all —

MR. CARNEY: I think I’ve answered the question. The answer is no. I mean, if you’re asking me — if you’re asking me, are Americans in general anxious, not happy with Washington, the answer is yes. And I would say, as we’ve said, that every elected member of Congress — elected official, rather, who is up for election in 14 months needs to take that mood very seriously. And the President certainly does, because he knows he works for the American people — that’s why he’s out there pushing the jobs act. And he believes that members of Congress need to take it seriously as well.

(h/t WhiteHouse.gov).

Regardless of their public bleatings, Obama and friends are obviously concerned, because they’ve launched yet another website asking people to report on the bad things which people say about Obama so that they can “stop the attacks on the President before they start” and “arm you with the truth so you can share the facts with your friends and family”. It’s a bit like a citizen-powered version of Julia Gillard’s inquiry in to how to make Andrew Bolt and The Australian newspaper be nicer to her (h/t TVTonight.com.au) in that the problem with both of these things is that attacks on Barack Obama (and Julia Gillard) tend to be on the factual basis that their policies are causing ongoing problems. If attackwatch.com wants to arm people with facts, it will simply forward the “attacks” to people.

It’s all a sign of the same thing. Barack Obama’s policies are running America in to the ground and people have had enough.

Samuel

September 15th, 2011 at 03:53am

Shock jock inquiry

An email to 2GB’s Ray Hadley

G’day Ray,

A government inquiry in to bloggers who support the views of shock jocks? I’ve long held the view that various governments have monitored my blogging activities…it’ll be nice to have the proof, and I’ll have some words about the inquirers as well.

By the way, the licence printing machine at the ACT Government’s Woden shopfront has broken down and could be down for another hour. People renewing drivers licences should avoid the Woddn shopfront and go elsewhere. Too late for me though.

Regards,
Samuel Gordon-Stewart
Canberra

September 13th, 2011 at 09:33am

Casey Hendrickson’s new show starts today!

Regular readers of this blog would know that I’m a fan of former Las Vegas radio host Casey Hendrickson, and I believe that some of the readers of this blog are too.

For those of you who haven’t been following Casey’s movements since leaving KDOX at the end of last year, I have some good news. Casey has found a new station and his show starts today.

Michiana's Morning News with Casey Hendrickson

Casey is the new host of the morning drive program “Michinana’s Morning News” on 95.3 MNC Michiana’s News Channel in South Bend, Indiana.

Casey joins the rest of the Morning News team in boradcasting from 5am-9am US Eastern time which, under current timezones, translates to 7pm-11pm Canberra time. MNC’s stream is available on their website where you can also find an app to listen on a mobile device. If you’re looking for the station on the TuneIn Radio app, you will find it under the callsign WTRC-FM.

I wish Casey every success at his new station. He filled in on the station a while back and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The station’s management must have seeing as they have asked him back, so I’m sure he will do well. Go get ’em Casey!

I should probably also note, seeing as I neglected to do so at the time, that Casey’s former colleague at KXNT in Las Vegas, Alan Stock, was let go by the station a little while back when KXNT management made a decision to have less political talk on the station. Alan has since moved over to competitor KDWN AM 720 where he hosts the 10am to Midday program, just after his former co-host Heidi Harris hosts the morning drive show. Unfortunately the KDWN stream is not directly accessible in Australia.

Samuel

September 12th, 2011 at 04:00pm

Samuel’s Musician Of The Week: Alan Jackson

With thanks to 2UE’s John Kerr and Stuart Bocking for playing this song this morning, this week’s award goes to Alan Jackson for his stirring tribute to the victims of 9/11. This week’s feature song is Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning?

Thanks also to Youtube user MEGARA2009 for this video montage of the song and images from 9/11.

Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?
Were you in the yard with your wife and children
Or working on some stage in L.A.?
Did you stand there in shock at the sight of that black smoke
Risin’ against that blue sky?
Did you shout out in anger, in fear for your neighbor
Or did you just sit down and cry?

Did you weep for the children who lost their dear loved ones
And pray for the ones who don’t know?
Did you rejoice for the people who walked from the rubble
And sob for the ones left below?
Did you burst out in pride for the red, white and blue
And the heroes who died just doin’ what they do?
Did you look up to heaven for some kind of answer
And look at yourself and what really matters?

I’m just a singer of simple songs
I’m not a real political man
I watch CNN but I’m not sure I can tell
you the difference in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith, hope and love are some good things He gave us
And the greatest is love

Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?
Were you teaching a class full of innocent children
Or driving down some cold interstate?
Did you feel guilty ’cause you’re a survivor
In a crowded room did you feel alone?
Did you call up your mother and tell her you loved her?
Did you dust off that Bible at home?

Did you open your eyes, hope it never happened
Close your eyes and not go to sleep?
Did you notice the sunset the first time in ages
Or speak to some stranger on the street?
Did you lay down at night and think of tomorrow
Or go out and buy you a gun?
Did you turn off that violent old movie you’re watchin’
And turn on “I Love Lucy” reruns?

Did you go to a church and hold hands with some strangers
Did you stand in line and give your own blood?
Did you just stay home and cling tight to your family
Thank God you had somebody to love?

I’m just a singer of simple songs
I’m not a real political man
I watch CNN but I’m not sure I can tell
you the difference in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith, hope and love are some good things He gave us
And the greatest is love

I’m just a singer of simple songs
I’m not a real political man
I watch CNN but I’m not sure I can tell
you the difference in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith, hope and love are some good things He gave us
And the greatest is love.
And the greatest is love.
And the greatest is love.

Where were you when the world stopped turning that September day?

Samuel

September 11th, 2011 at 06:20pm

9/11. Ten years later.

In some ways the dreadful events of 9/11 seem so long ago, but in others they seem like they happened only yesterday. Certainly, the memories of that awful day are as vivid today as they were ten years ago.

Everyone has their own memories of that day, but for me I was in Year 8 in high school. I was ill, so I was in bed when the first plane hit a little after 10:45pm Canberra time. The first I heard about it was when I got up the next morning and Mum informed me that some planes had crashed. I decided that I would watch one of the mid-morning news bulletins on the television, and turned the TV on a few minutes early. The TV was tuned to a station which wasn’t due to air a new bulletin for another 30 minutes or so, but they were already airing news which I thought was a bit odd, until I checked the other stations and saw that they were also all airing news.

I knew that something very big had happened at that time as the last blanket news coverage that I could recall was for Princess Diana’s funeral. It was a couple minutes later when I saw the footage of the plane hitting the second World Trade Centre building, and the footage of the two towers collapsing, that the enourmity of this event struck me. I was mortified, and was glued to the coverage for the rest of the day. The fact that I was unwell seemed to be irrelevant…in fact I gather that, at school that day, everyone was watching the coverage of the 9/11 terror attacks…in some ways I am glad that I was ill and was able to digest this dreadful news without the commentary of a school teacher getting in the way.

I remember on that day when the news anchors announced that they had just received footage of the first plane hitting the first tower. I remember when the word started to filter through that Osama Bin Laden was the prime suspect. I remember going to sleep that night trying to remember the name of our new enemy, a man so evil that he would mastermind the deaths of so many thousands of innocent people. I remember taking the “Bin” part of his name and remembering that “that’s where he belongs” as my way of remembering his name.

Above all else though, I remember the horrifying footage of the people who jumped from the towers. As horrifying as that was for those of us who were witnessing it, I shudder to think of how awful it must have been in those buildings on that day to cause so many people to prefer jumping to their deaths from such a great height rather than wait to burn to death…and how awful it must have been to be in that position to have to make such a decision.

Such an awful day. Such a lot that we need to remember.

On this tenth anniversary, I am taking time to remember the awful events of that day, and the people who lost their lives that day. I give thanks for the brave souls who tried to save others, giving little or no consideration to their own safety in the process; the people who went in to the burning buildings; the passengers of United 93 who rose up against the hijackers and undoubtedly saved many more lives; and of course I give thanks for the wonderful brave troops who have gone to fight for our freedom and safety in the decade since that dreadful day.

In honour of all of these people, apart from remembering them, I am wearing my NYPD hoodie today and tomorrow. It might not be much, but it is a part of displaying that I am proud to say that I remember those people, and I stand as an ally of America on this day, and all days, but on this one in particular.

We must not let something awful like this happen again, and we must do all that we can towards that end.

9/11. Never Forget.

Samuel

September 11th, 2011 at 04:13pm


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