Red Symons Racist? Probably not. Controversial? Hell, yes.

This week, former guitarist and ‘Hey, hey, it’s Saturday’ regular, Red Symons came under fire for “What’s the deal with Asians?” podcast interview on ABC’s Radio National with Beverley Wang, who is Canadian of Taiwanese descent. I didn’t hear the interview (an Andrew O’Keeffe trick, ha!), but from what I read here, it seemed nothing more than satire.

I agree with Andrew Bolt in that calling Wang “yellow” was quite crass and unnecessary. Then again, Symons is well – known for controversy and crassness. I grew up watching him on “Hey, Hey It’s Saturday” back in the early 1990’s. He was a panellist on “Red Faces”, a skit where Symons and other panellists ‘judged’ performances. Red Symons was the ‘bad guy’, well and truly. And some people thought Ian ‘Dicko’ Dickson and Kyle Sandilands were bad on Australian Idol! Sheesh!

Back in the 1970’s, Symons was one of the guitarists in Melbourne – based band, Skyhooks. They were controversial. They caused such a stir that in 1974 due to their provocative lyrics that fours songs from their debut album ‘Living in the ’70’s’ were banned from commercial airplay.

Skyhooks' 1990 'Latest and Greatest'
Skyhooks’ 1990 ‘Latest and Greatest which features two songs that were banned from airplay in 1974.

 

Did they mean any harm? Probably not. It was just satire. Biting satire, offensive satire, but none the less, satire.

With this particular interview, I get race, migration and in particular, boat people are sensitive topics, especially given the ongoing controversy of Nauru and Manus Island, plus the ongoing debate of our refugee intake.  Since then, Symons has apologised and the ABC has deleted the interview from its website.

I hope this is as far as it goes. I do think as a society we do need to be careful, both of what we expect from artists, but I do think it’s important that everyone in the public eye or with a wide platform (myself included), need to be careful not to cause harm to the people we talk/ write/ joke about. It’s a real balancing act.

Did you hear the podcast? Did you think it was offensive? 

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Extending 18C the Racial Discrimination Act is a bad idea

 In the midst of debate on changing 18C of Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act 1975, the Labor Party have said they wanted the law extended. They want the LGBTQ+ community, people with a disability as well as racial minorities to be protected. So, it would be an offence to offend, insult, humiliate people on basis of race, ethnic background, disability and sexual orientation.

As someone with a disability and someone who isn’t straight, I have one thing to say on the proposal – GOD PLEASE NO!!!!

No, no, no, no, no. i can’t say this enough! The way 18C has been used already has proven to be disastrous: the students from Queensland University of Technology and the case against the late The Australian cartoonist Bill Leak suggest, while defendants were not prosecuted, the law does more to destroy people’s reputations rather than actually making Australia a safe country for racial minorities – the original intent of the law.

 

One of the fears is that if 18C was extended, it will silence opponents of same – sex marriage. I get that this is an emotional issue to many in the LGBTQ+ community. But this isn’t the right way to go about it. This extension will not stop homophobes or racists. In fact, I fear it will only aggravate people, not win support for the people that are meant to be protected. Anti – discrimination measures brought into law by the Obama Administration in the U.S. has already backfired with anti – trans laws (e.g. HB in North Carolina), being put forward by hard-line Republicans across the country.

Meanwhile, in Australia, I fear that the Left and so – called LGBTQ+ allies should embrace for a similar pushback. The latest events, such as the Cooper’s Brewery/ Bible society backlash, I believe that would have only confirmed to opponents exactly why LGBTQ+ people SHOULDN’T get legal rights. They won’t be won over if they feel their rights to freedom of speech, conscience, etc are being threatened. Also, there will be an increase – not decrease – support for policies such as multiculturalism.

 

Personally, I say scrap 18C altogether and replace it with an anti – hate crimes Act. This can be used to combat things like Antisemitism, which seems to be at alarming levels around the world now. There is likely going to be a case in Canada real soon where an Imam is going to be charged when he preached that Jews should be killed, (by the way, the controversial Imam has  also received condemnation from other Muslims). Along with anti – defamation and possibly anti – discrimination laws in regarding services, (well, that’s another can of worms for another day), that’s all minorities should need. I think the majority of liberals and conservatives can agree with anti – hate crime measures. Nobody has a right to physically harm or threaten another person.

 

While safety does need to be considered, stifling thought and speech has proven to do more harm than good. Too often, laws like 18C have left people feeling silenced and frustrated, rather than help people its allegedly supposed to protect. Maybe it’s time for a rethink.

Do you support a change to Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act? Do you think such laws should be scrapped or extended to protect other groups? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Racial Discrimination Act: change? Scrap?

The raging debate over 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act is still still red hot to some commentators, especially Andrew Bolt. The case involving seven students from Queensland University of Technology – three of which were taken to court by Cindy Prior – after the students were told to leave a computer lab allegedly reserved for Aboriginal students. The boys protested on Facebook, calling it “fighting segregation with segregation” and one asking sarcastically where the “white supremacist” computers were. One of the defendants Callum Thwaites was also accused of using the “N” word, but has emphatically denied it.

While the case was dropped and Prior was demanded that she pay thousands in legal fees, which allegedly sent her bankrupt. While the defendants were ruled as being innocent of any crime, their careers have allegedly being trashed. According to Bolt, Alex Wood explained how his future had been badly damaged and his chosen career had been destroyed:

At that point in my life, it all sort of hit me at once. I was afraid. I felt that uni had been for nothing. I had studied quite hard and had a GPA of 6.3, and I thought that was going to go down the drain. I thought I was going to lose my job and potentially not be able to get a job after uni. I thought my friends would shun me if they thought I was racist. I honestly believe 18C was extremely close to ruining my life and still has the potential to do so.

There were absolutely no winners in this case. Reading about this case,  especially what Wood has said has made me change my mind about 18C. The fact it got as far as it did and had such devastating consequences on everyone involved.

There are three options that are often brought up when discussing this case and 18C – scrap the section, take the words “insult” and “offend” out of the section or leave it exactly how it is. I wonder if there could be another option – have a blanket anti – hate – crimes act that covers race, religion, sexuality,  gender identity, etc.Currently, Australia has a number of anti – discrimination acts, both State and Federal. Why not make it all one?

I would say too, that words like “offend” should be avoided. Why? Because they are too vague and open to interpretation. So what should an anti – hate crimes act entail. Well, quite simply, it should make it unlawful to attack someone because of race, gender, sexuality, etc. I also think that anti discrimination provisions for employers and services should remain. It’s just that, I believe that QUT case has proven that 18C doesn’t work. Even if you win, you lose. There needs to be a line drawn. There is no room for incitement to violence or deliberate discrimination or abuse in our society. However, what I find so heartbreaking is when well – meaning people are dragged through mud and the mud sticks no matter what they say. That’s what I think about the case against Andrew Bolt in 2011. I didn’t read the two articles that got him sued and were banned by the court, but I have since read his arguments since. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard Bolt being branded a racist. Last night on Sky’s ‘Paul Murray Live’, I saw a clip where Labor Senator, Sam Dastyari – who is Iranian born – ranted against changes to 18C. While he didn’t call Bolt by name, it was obvious, I think, that the tirade was partly aimed at him. Unsurprisingly, Murray condemned Dastyari’s speech.

I just don’t think 18C as it is is working. It may have had it’s place in 1975 when the Act was first introduced, but something has gone off. I think it needs to be mended so it can’t be open to interpretation as easy. Like I said, what about have a blanket anti – hate crimes Act instead plus workplace and services protections?

What do you think about 18C? Do you think it should be mended? Scrapped? To those who are in other countries, what anti – discrimination laws do you have? Do you think they work or are adequate? What changes would you like to see? I know these are quite a few full on questions. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments. 

Progressives, it’s time we change tactic

‘The Specator’s’ Brendan O’Neill offered an analysis on what was behind Trump’s victory.

I think the self – described Marxist may have a point. Maybe a Trump win as U.S.’s 45th President is a warning to politicians, and also cultural progressives. People don’t like to be told to shut up. They don’t like to see the next generation of adults treated as precious petals. They are sick of the double standards people practice when they criticise Christianity (which is sometimes justified, I must say), but are deathly silent on Islam.

People are tired of being told they can’t do what they want to their own bodies. When it comes to issues like smoking, the possible effects of passive smoking and littering do need to be considered, but people argue it’s gone too far.

Also, people are sick of being abused. And conservatives cop some revolting abuse, including here in Australia. A number of Trump supporters were violently assaulted in the lead up to the election. Even after the election, riots have still occurred. Then, there was the torture of an 18 – year – old disabled man by an African American gang in Chicago. The ordeal lasted between 24 and 48 hours.

While things in Australia haven’t been as extreme, many causes has been hijacked by the far – Left, leaving scores of people disillusioned. This is where Safe Schools lost the plot. I agree that LGBTQ+ students and families should be supported. I also applaud how resources like ‘All of Us’ acknowledged other identities in the LGBTQ+ community and how it went beyond the gay/ straight dichotomy. Unfortunately, much of the ‘information’ in the program was deemed age inappropriate and was based on far – Left gender and feminist theory, rather than up –  to – date psychology and research. Not to mention founder, Roz Ward’s conference where she revealed that Safe Schools was not intended to be an anti – bullying program. To make matters even worse, the ‘Herald Sun’ and ‘The Australian’ published photos of its founder, Roz Ward assaulting an Australian Trump supporter.

 

People are worried. People have been hurt by institutions and systematic injustices have gone on for way too long. Homophobia, bi – phobia and racism destroys lives, but this isn’t the way to fight it. It only scares off would – be allies and only confirms to the Right what they already think.

 

Enough’s enough. Time for change. We need to stop the abuse and the hypocrisy. We need to allow others to speak without fear of being howled down. Should we tolerate homophobia, racism and the like? No. But we shouldn’t guilt people for having genuine concerns, either. If people are out of line, then offer a counter argument – with facts, statistics, logic and so on. Also, condemn violence/ abuse when committed by other members of the Left. If you look at any of Secular Talk videos on YouTube, Kyle Kulinski does this very well. David Rubin isn’t too bad either. They aren’t closed to debate – in fact, they’re all for it. Kulinski, in particular, is a hardcore libertarian. While I don’t agree with all of what Kulinski says, it’s what the modern Left needs – someone who encourages debate and someone with enough conviction that they are willing to call out wrongdoing when they see/ hear it. I think if we progressives do that, then maybe things may turn around.

 

What do you think about what’s going to happen in the next few years? What do you think about the result of the U.S. Election?