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Finkelstein Scares

Pure Poison IconSo many of us have tried to warn you of the impending apocalyptic hellscape that following the recommendations of the Finkelstein media inquiry will inevitably create in Australia:

“This all comes from Finkelstein,” said one former press gallery member, now working incognito in a Hume Highway fast-food franchise and smuggling out precious analysis of internal ructions within the ALP to a public readership starved of idle and unsourced speculation. “We warned them that forcing newspapers to prominently publish corrections was the thin end of the wedge. And here we are, with the professors in charge – cracking down on misplaced modifiers and throwing passive case authors into solitary confinement.”

Attempts to overthrow the autocratic regime have been thwarted by a ruthless secret police cadre created by the government’s communications minister, Major General Grogs Gamut – a former blogger and now vainglorious enforcer who insists he be represented at every state occasion by Ralph Fiennes as Coriolanus.

And yet even now you won’t believe us. You call us self-interested hypocrites, scaremongering hacks, pathetic liars without shame who are blatantly misrepresenting what’s actually been proposed.

Well here’s one collection of our courageous predictions. Let the record show that we saw what was coming, and tried to warn you. It’s not our fault that you refused to listen.

* * *

Naturally, the far-right IPA – which was pretty darn happy with the status quo, thank you very much – was quick out of the gate with TERRIFYING PREDICTIONS OF THINGS TO COME.

Here’s man of the people John Roskam. published in the AFR:

A failure to defend liberty

The inquiry was demanded by Bob Brown and the Greens as part of their campaign against News Ltd [my hyperlink]…

A blog site visited by literally one or two people a day would fall within the ambit of the council.

Finkelstein’s recommendations are profoundly illiberal and undemocratic.

They are the most serious assault on the liberties of Australians since Robert Menzies tried to ban the Communist Party in 1949. It is almost incredible that Finkelstein, who as a Federal Court judge once adjudicated on the lives of citizens according to the laws of a liberal democracy, could conceive of such a regime to control freedom of speech.

Finkelstein’s ideological position is not hard to find. It’s in paragraph 4.10 of his report. He thinks a council should control speech in Australia because most people are too dumb or ignorant to decide for themselves about what they see and hear and read in the media.

In response to the claim from News Ltd’s John Hartigan that ultimately readers “were capable of making up their own minds” about bias in the media, Finkelstein writes, “often, however, readers are not in a position to make an appropriately informed judgment”.

This is intellectual arrogance at its most breathtaking. And it’s a great argument against democracy. If, as Finkelstein claims, people aren’t smart enough to decide for themselves the merits of what they see in the media then they’re certainly not smart enough to decide who to vote for.

This is the totalitarian fallacy: don’t let the people decide (because the people are too stupid), let judges and academics decide for them.

The Finkelstein report overturns two centuries of Western political philosophy. Since the French Revolution, the left have fought for the right of every adult regardless of class, education, or background to participate in politics and political debate. In Australia in 2012, Finkelstein and the Greens believe access to the media should be restricted.

(I like how Roskam pretends Finkelestein called people “dumb” and then reinforces his inaccurate paraphrase by suggesting Finkelstein claimed people “aren’t smart enough”. That’s some quality verballing right there.)

And here’s Chris Berg, not being silenced by the far-Left Sydney Morning Herald:

Free press to be sacrificed for political retribution

Freedom of the media is too important to be controlled by government.

The Independent Media Inquiry has proposed just what was expected: an outrageous attack on freedom of speech and the press.

Mark Pearson tried to warn readers of the ABC’s The Drum:

Scratch the surface of this proposal and you will find a harsh new regime which stands to damage Australia’s reputation as a democracy and might well come back to bite the politicians, academics and publishers who are supporting it today.

And one of Chris Mitchell’s employees at The Australian courageously gave their boss a couple of paragraphs to explain the upcoming oppression at the hand of those dastardly disease-ridden Leftists:

Chris Mitchell, editor-in-chief of The Australian, believes the problem is both cultural and political. “The media studies academic class is far removed from the concerns of viewers and readers and is engaged in a sociological project to change the world in its image. That is, to infect people with progressive left ideology,” he says.

“Journalists are interested in reporting what is actually happening. It is hilarious so many media academics who fought John Howard on the grounds he was ‘stifling dissent’ are now at the forefront of shutting down free speech. They only support free speech they agree with.

“Like many on the Left they love scrutiny of conservative governments but completely reject scrutiny of the Greens and the Green-Labor coalition.”

(Only The Australian‘s special Mitchell-Level-Hypocrisy Proof publishing system was able to repeat the “only support free speech they agree with” line by the famed defamation-suit threatener without exploding.)

The ever-reliable Gerard Henderson even explained to us why we should fear the report’s author – “Ray Finkelstein as (sic) an ABC-Admiring Kind of Leftie”.

Last, but not least, here are the great heroes of the people, Piers Akerman and Andrew Bolt – not that their readers didn’t already know exactly what to expect.

Bolt:

The rise of the totalitarians

…It takes a certain kind of mind to want such controls over the political speech of so many… the sinister Finkelstein inquiry… the totalitarian instinct behind its recommendations

Akerman:

Greens try to muzzle media

…It is a slap in the face for that fundamental democratic pillar – a free press… Of course [Brown] wants the media muzzled.

There you are. And many more, collected on Twitter under the hashtag #FinkelScares.

Wake up, sheeple.

12
  • 1
    Ruprecht
    Posted March 16, 2012 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    How DARE anyone suggest ways that media organisations be more accountable for what they publish?

    The IPA has no credibility on free speech.

    The disparity between the IPA shills’ reaction to Bolt’s case (full page ads) and the recent Wotton case (crickets) says all you need to know about the selective way they apply their supposedly universal principles.

  • 2
    Bellistner
    Posted March 16, 2012 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    infect people with progressive left ideology

    “What have Progressives ever done for us?!”

  • 3
    monkeywrench
    Posted March 16, 2012 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Having all those Murdochracy ratbags and Big Tobacco-funded “Institute” shills together in one piece simply underlines how badly our media freedoms have been eroded and subverted. Finkelstein isn’t tough enough on these people.

  • 4
    Matthew of Canberra
    Posted March 16, 2012 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    I reckon more folks should go and read the report for themselves. People who do that would have to wonder if it’s the same one being breathlessly hyped in the press, because the dire warnings just don’t match up with the recommendations. All I see is a proposal for a streamlined complaints process, with (actually) fairly limited legal powers, and no power at all to levy fines or santions beyond corrections or take-downs (which are pointless in the internet era anyway). If a newspaper (say) refused to comply with a determination, the committee would have to apply for a court order, at which time all those lovely herald sun lawyers would get to do what they do best, just as they always have.

    I actually disagree with holmes about this one. I think he’s seeing more in those recommendations than are actually there.

    I actually want to see this committee happen. At least in the form described between pages 290 and 300 of the fink’s report. I think the timeframes are too short, and I think they need to massively increase the cut-off for bloggers, but those are just proposals and easily changed.

  • 5
    Posted March 16, 2012 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Isn’t it those dangerous progressive lefty types that think people should be “accountable” for their work, whatever this “accountable” thing is?

  • 6
    Sancho
    Posted March 16, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Since you mentioned Chris Berg, I’ll throw in a reminder of how his IPA colleagues treat the concept of free speech when given the power to censor it.

  • 7
    Cuppa
    Posted March 16, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    Wow, it’s like a Right Wing Projection Expo. Right wingers projecting their own behaviour/motivations onto their opponents.

    Scary.

    #RightWingProjection

  • 8
    Angra
    Posted March 16, 2012 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    Seems the UK media is going through a similar navel-gazing exercise. Lord Hunt is proposing to wind up the Press Complaints Commission of which he is chairman and replace it with “a new body with teeth” in a feeble attempt to preempt stronger measures likely to be the result of the Leveson inquiry.

    “Lord Hunt relies, like so many people in the industry that now employs him, on the bogey-man of state control. If any form of Bill connected with the press comes before Parliament, he argues, it will automatically be turned by MPs and peers into a censor’s charter, with measures to dictate the content and form of news and comment in the press.

    He has made this argument before Lord Justice Leveson, who treated it with obvious scepticism, and he has made it elsewhere.”

    http://inforrm.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/lord-hunts-proposal-the-last-chance-saloon-again-brian-cathcart/

  • 9
    ShaunHC
    Posted March 17, 2012 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    I think it’s quite natural and expected for those who are advantaged by the current system (corrupt as it is) to be very vocal in condemning any changes to that system that would take away their advantage.

  • 10
    AR
    Posted March 17, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    Toxic turkeys not voting for Christmas, hooda thunk it? Insufficient integrity or intelligence to acknowledge that their outrageous lies & distortions have made these proposals necessary.

  • 11
    Phil Vee
    Posted March 18, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    Piers Akerman continues to hold back…..
    http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/opinion/piers-akerman-a-message-to-kim-il-gillard/story-e6frezz0-1226302584054

    Includes incisive analysis such as
    Les Carlyon does not recognise the names in the Report.
    Thalidomide compensation was a good thing
    The biggest problem with the local media is careless and sloppy reporting and bad writing. This report isn’t going to help overcome those problems in any way.

    I agree with you Piers on that one and eagerly await your effective remedy. Meanwhile we will push on with our ineffective solutions to mendacious lying, deliberate scapegoating and venal mercenary dishonesty.

  • 12
    Lau Guerreiro
    Posted March 20, 2012 at 1:25 am | Permalink

    I’m surprised when I hear intelligent people express offence whenever someone suggests that “the public” might be unable to determine whether what they read in the media is the truth or whether the media is leaving out important facts and giving a deliberately biased account of the story.

    I’m never quite sure whether these intelligent people are genuinely offended or whether they’re just pretending to be offended in order to remain consistent with their ideological beliefs about free speech and libertarianism.

    Surely, there isn’t a person alive that would suggest that 100% of the public are good at identifying biased media stories, is there? Certainly no sane person is going to argue that most people with IQ’s in the bottom 10% of the population are good at identifying biased media stories, are they?

    So instead of acting offended and dismissing the issue out of hand why not be honest and admit that there are a certain percentage of people that will be very good at identifying media bias and untruth, and a certain percent that will be very bad at it, and that the rest of “the public” will fall somewhere in the middle, along a bell distribution curve. Surely, this proposition is indisputable!

    I wish these “freedom of the press” spruikers would get real and start talking about what percentage of people regularly have some difficulty identifying media bias, instead of pretending that we’re all superstars at it!

    And what about the people who have difficulty identifying media bias and untruth? Don’t we care about them? Don’t they have any rights? What if there are fraudsters and con men in the media who are out to dupe these people? Doesn’t a compassionate society have a duty of care to protect them from the worst excesses of such con men?

    This is the beginning of a post at http://www.amimakingsense.com.au
    Its followed by another good post that demonstrates that freedom of the press is not the vital ingredient that ensures a well functioning democracy – its truth in media that is important… Sometimes freedom will lead to truth but sometimes it won’t… its not the freedom we seek … its the truth!

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