Take downs

Nov 22, 2008

Of race and crime and Andrew Bolt.

Andrew Bolt has been banging on ab

Possum Comitatus — Editor of Pollytics

Possum Comitatus

Editor of Pollytics

Andrew Bolt has been banging on about Africans again- Sudanese and Somalian born Africans in particular and their crime rates compared to the Victorian population as a whole. It stems back to some arsehattery about how Victorian Police Commissioner Christine Nixon might have produced statistics that Bolt found misleading on the issue of Sudanese migrant crime rates in Victoria last year – stats that she gave in response to a Kevin Andrews spiel about the same. Apparently, Bolt reckons that Nixonhelped to turn voters against the Howard government” in those heady weeks before the poll and that she “ fed a campaign of abuse against the immigration affairs minister, Kevin Andrews, that was so vitriolic it may have ended an honest man's career.” (Which we can only take to mean as a Minister of the Crown since he’s still a Parliamentarian). Oh really? Yes, in the parallel dramaverse of Andrew Bolt, the polling patterns and election result in Victoria went a little something like this: In this mad, mad topsy turvy world, there was no late swing back to Howard in Victoria - Christine Nixon’s words were mind control beams, helping turn voters away from the government, ending the career of Kevin Andrews and worse, they were so insidious that even Bolt himself - who obviously wasn’t wearing his designer tin foil hat that day – became but a mere victim.
“I rang Nixon's office at the time to confirm that these figures were genuine. I was assured they were. And, stupid me, I believed them. Perhaps tired of being on the hard end of another race debate, and knowing of fine African boys who'd volunteered to coach local basketball teams, I gratefully joined in hammering Andrews. Sure, I didn't call him a racist, but I still kicked hard.”
He kicked Kevin Andrews hard! One could only imagine the wave of angst that swept through his readership. With the toxic twins of Bolt and Planet Janet saying naughty things about the Liberals, and with Dennis of Shanahan getting sillier by the minute over the dismal polling – it was little wonder that large parts of the News Limited blogging section came to resemble the aftermath of the Jonestown Massacre. Anyhoo, Bolt purchased a new calculator the other day – one that actually does real maths. His trusty old Casio AGW Denialist 3000 model he’s previously been using –the one that made statisticians and mathematicians across the country cringe in vicarious embarrassment, well apparently it’s seen better days and has been replaced by something that actually works. Rumour has it that Andrew handed Old Trusty down to Christopher Pearson so that he can do some more splendid psephological analysis for our enjoyment. Stay tuned for that dear readers! To celebrate this great leap forward in numeracy, Andrew has been looking at immigrant crime and doing himself some subtraction, a bit of multiplication – and a hell of a lot of division. That division button on his spiffy new toy has been getting hit more than the actual blog site of Mr 1 Million Hits himself. The worst type of tawdry media comes from a mix of creating deliberate outrage by the exposition of some usually innocuous fact(s) aimed at a very specific point on the one hand, but with arms length responsibility from the way those facts might be used as they feed into broader issues on the other hand - and in these days of new media, an ambivalence towards how readers and blog participants run with and interpret that info is par for the course with this type of horseshit. That ambivalence, the complete absence of ever challenging any of the readers and comments on these (usually Murdoch tabloid) sites regardless of how far they fly off the handle with this stuff pretty much defines what they’ve become. So it was that we got another outburst from Bolt about those damn Africans, but this time aimed at the semi-serious issue of attacking Nixon’s dubious use of crime statistics – and as sure as night follows day, the usual dross in the comments started flowing and went entirely uncontested by Bolt himself (except for Crikey’s Jonathan Green where, in response to a comment Jonathan left, Bolt beat his little chest, stamped his little foot and his minions obligingly kissed his little arse in a spectacle so pathetic you really have to see it to believe it). This is where I come into it. Jonathan Green made a comment in response to Bolt getting all bloggier than thou about Crikey’s Wednesday Editorial, an editorial that went like this:
“Andrew Bolt, perhaps encouraged by the 'revenge of the nerds' regime change at Melbourne's Herald Sun is off the long run this morning, returning to one of his pet themes, the eerie juxtaposition of crime and dark skin. Kevin Andrews was right, Bolt reminds us, to "worry and urge caution" over our intake of African refugees, people who, it appears, all too readily turn to crime. Bolt concludes after a lengthy (he does bang on) survey of the available statistics. Here is some other number crunching, just to put this poisonous little call to arms into perspective. Says Bolt, "The Victoria Police Crime Statistics 2006-07 record that 115 Somalis allegedly committed a crime that year. Given the 2006 Census says 2626 Somalia-born people live in Victoria, the police figures mean one in 23 Somalis was allegedly involved in crime in just one year. For the rest of us, it’s just one in 85." So he's saying that 1 in 23 Somalis of all ages allegedly commit offences in a given year in Victoria. Which is barely different to the 1 in 24 of all Victorians between the ages of 15-19 that allegedly commit offences in a given year. Most of the Somali offenders are actually between 15 and 24. The document that this all comes from can be seen here (it's only a page). So really you'd have to view the Somali crime rate as a triumph of successful social integration. No better, no worse than the rest of us.”
I was responsible for doing the numbers the editorial was based on. I also entirely agree with the general slant of it, in that Bolt is being a nasty little twat – not because his numbers are wrong, in fact, the few numbers he provided are generally correct – no doubt a testament to his new calculator. No, what makes this yet another nasty little episode in Andrew Bolt’s The Days of Other Peoples Lives is either his unique lack of awareness about how his facts flow through into the wider community (particularly on his own blog, but also with the nastier elements of his column readership), or worse, that he does realise how it occurs but refuses to undertake any real effort to make it more difficult for the moonbat end of the community to start peddling their usual divisive tosh using his work . One only has to delve into the grimy pit of his comments section on just about any given issue to see how that plays out – too many pitchforks and not enough hay. Freedom of speech has never meant that all opinions are equal – the complete lack of Bolt confronting any of his minions going apeshit with stupidity speaks volumes. If it’s the latter I could at least understand – not agree by any means, but at least understand why he does what he does; herding the bottom feeders that make up the majority of his blog community would be a tough commercial ask for anyone – “leave the net benefit of human welfare at the door – this is about eyeballs, particularly the eyeballs of a large number of loudmouthed dickheads”… so to speak, might be good for the wallet and the business model - but not good for the soul, and not a particularly positive contribution to the further development of the world we live in. But if that’s his brief, then he has to live with himself and you can at least understand where it’s coming from– even if it would be a wholly disgusting attitude. The problem is that the rest of us have to live with the fallout of the steaming little turds he leaves on the carpet of public opinion, and the way an army of miscreants then drags them around the house trying to turn the whole place to shit. If Bolt was trying to bring to our attention a few simple facts, but in such a way that it didn’t stir the hornet’s nest of bigotry – then he failed dismally. Any idiot can produce those numbers – hell, any idiot did. When it was pointed out that the proportion of total distinct offenders born in Somalia was about the same as the proportion of 15-19 year old Victorians of any hue – a little bit of nuance to calm the rampaging hysteria over at Cult Bolt, that’s when he got all manbeastly. His dick swinging, chest beating attempt at a pissing contest in the comments would be pretty funny if it wasn’t actually a real community of people we were dealing with here. On the other hand, if he wanted to tickle his demographic’s bigoted little tummy, then he was profoundly successful by the looks of his comments section. So let’s do what Bolt didn’t/couldn’t/wouldn’t/wouldn’t know how to/couldn’t give a toss about – and treat this issue with a little more finesse that migration settlement issues deserve. The two groups that Bolt is banging on about are the Somalian and Sudanese communities in Victoria. Unfortunately there is no available Victorian crime data for people whose birth place was in Sudan by age cohort, so we can’t have a look at that particular community here, but we can for Somalia. The Somalian community in Victoria has a problem, a large problem, a large mostly youth problem that needs urgent attention by both the community themselves and government and community sector support agencies. First up, let’s contrast the age distribution of both the Victorian population as a whole against the Victorian population whose place of birth was Somalia, and we’ll do this using the 2006 Census data. As we can see, the Somalian population skews heavily toward the bottom end, with 15-40 year olds making up 64% of the entire Somalian population in Victoria compared to that same age group making up only 35% of the broader Victorian population. We also know that, historically at least, 15-29 year olds make up the highest proportion of distinct offenders when it comes to crime across Australia. So we would expect, ceteris paribus, that the effects of the Somalian population distribution would push up their average crime rate. If you have a disproportionate number of people in the age group that historically commits the most crime, you would expect that population to have a higher number of offenders. However, what is happening in, to and with this community goes far beyond the expected increase in crime levels associated with such a skewed age population distribution. In fact, what is happening with Somalian born Victorians can only be described as a complete failure of the migrant resettlement and support system in Victoria. If we compare the Census data to the Victorian crime data and look at how many distinct offenders there are per thousand population for each age cohort, and compare the numbers for the Victorian community as a whole against the Somalian born community in Victoria, we find some pretty disturbing numbers. However, first we need a bit of perspective here. The Somalian community is small – around 2600 all up. The crime numbers in each cohort are likewise small and it can cause some odd things to happen. For example, where it shows Somali born people in the 55-59 age group having a higher than average proportion of distinct offenders than the broader Victorian community, we should keep in mind that this result comes from 1 single Somali born offender among a population of 58 Somali’s that age. When dealing with small numbers, the tails become highly uncertain and aren’t worth a great deal of attention. But with those age cohorts between 15 and 30, there is unambiguously something problematic happening. In the 15-19 age cohort, there were 43 distinct offenders from a population of 404, in the 20-24 group there were 31 distinct offenders from a population of 334. These are extraordinary numbers by any yardstick and point to not only dysfunction within the community itself, but the abject failure of existing Federal and State government funded (and independent community sector) migrant support services. The simplest answer is simply to stop migration from Somalia at its source and substitute it for other African groups – which sounds kind of appealing on that simplistic, superficial level that Andrew Bolt does so well. But it defeats the entire purpose of the humanitarian refugee intake, does nothing about dealing with the existing problem and does even less when it comes to the development of a properly functioning migrant support architecture that would not only let us deal with exactly these types of problems should they ever occur again in the future, but one which should lower overall first generation migrant crime rates if it was working properly. Community integration works best when there is a bit of trust floating around. Having high distinct offender rates among a highly visible migrant community does no one any good, not the migrants themselves, not the victims of their crimes and certainly not broader community harmony. The only mob that would appear to benefit are the Tabloids that thrive on human misery. With only 115 distinct offenders in the Somalian community in Victoria, we need to be careful not to turn this into the latest Moral Panic de jour, as the total numbers we’re talking about here need to be kept in perspective. If you see someone born in Somalia, you don’t need to cross the road (as if you lot don’t know this anyway). But neither should we be blasé about what’s happening and quietly ignore it, or worse, man the ideological barricades and go into denial. There’s a problem with this community, and developing a means to fix it not only provides us something to work with in the future should similar issues happen to another migrant group down the track, but may also give us ideas on how to fix another similar problem, but one of which we should all be ashamed – high distinct offender and incarceration rates in indigenous communities. Victoria is a very community centric place - if you’re a large company and you aren’t in the community partnership game then you just aren’t with the in crowd. The non-government migrant support sector is one of the largest in the country, there are good working relationships between them and government agencies. The resources are there, but is the organisation to utilise them and the willingness to deploy them also there? We’re only talking about a community of 2600 people, if we can’t fix this we probably couldn’t find our arse with a map. And then we’d all be like Andrew Bolt. UPDATE: Having been informed about Bolt's latest spiel on this, someone in comments posted a link to this article. The response:
I won’t dignify that Crikey article with a link, but quote from it the passages that give the gist - that I’m a despicable racist for providing accurate figures about a problem we, er, must confront: 'Bolt is being a nasty little twat – not because his numbers are wrong, in fact, the few numbers he provided are generally correct – no doubt a testament to his new calculator… The Somalian community in Victoria has a problem, a large problem, a large mostly youth problem that needs urgent attention by both the community themselves and government and community sector support agencies.' These two critical concesssions are buried among many hundreds of words of undergraduate and vile abuse of the kind for which Crikey under Jonathan Green is now infamous.
Oh please, someone hand this princess some tissues.  Lucky blogging cryptorchidism isn't fatal. Elsewhere: Larvatus Prodeo where there's some really good discussion in comments by people that actually know what they're talking about.

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34 thoughts on “Of race and crime and Andrew Bolt.

  1. Why Andrew Bolt should be Sodomised with a Calculator – Part 142 – Pollytics

    […] ago there was a flair up with Bolt over Somali crime numbers, where Bolt couldn’t ignore what was said here (our readership is too widespread, and there was far too much mirth going on in the blogosphere at […]

  2. Liz45

    Well Poss, while I admire your response to Andrew Bolt’s utterances, personally, I couldn’t be bothered – although, I think racists need to be confronted, I find him so offensive, that he’s debilitating and depressing. I wonder what joy, if any, people like him get out of life. He’s either worshiping at the feet of Howard etc or whipping up some racist untrue stuff, usually against people without the means or ability to defend themselves. I wouldn’t even bother reading his diatribes – I put him in the same category as Gerard Henderson, Miranda Devine, together with the ultra right wingers on the board of the ABC and ……
    I promised myself in November 1975, that I’d never buy another Murdoch paper, and I’ve only broken it once – there was a front page article on the ramifications (detection of radiation in other countries)of nuclear tests in the Pacific. I bought 4 copies! Murdoch’s filthy rags haven’t improved in over 30 years!

    However, if I’m informed that you’ll take him on re Insiders, I’ll review my position. A young woman journalist from WA used to give him some stick, and I enjoyed that. The ABC must be desperate to renew his position. Getting depressed early on a Sunday Morning is not fun! He probably misuses stats re indigenous people too – like his arguments re the stolen generations. A real turd!

  3. Jasmine

    ok I hope you can translate some of those paragraphs into english, then concoct a brilliant answer (and of course local can be demographically or physically tested I guess)

  4. Jasmine

    Not sure what stats you have, but is there any stats on who their victims are, have a vague recollection that the young cohort, and particularly a young male poor cohort, has for a long time (statistically) committed a huge proportion of crime. Along with the vague recollection is a recollection that largely this crime was committed against each other (and others unlucky enough to live with / near – ie linking into routine activity theories of crime).

    I’m assuming refugees don’t within a few years fit into wealthy demographic, I’m just wondering if we can tell who the victims are – I just suspect – and hope you can show with stats that not only are the victims largely ‘local’ but that rich white old blokes like Andrew have a snowflakes chance in hell of being victims.

    And stepping back from the fun and humor, if his odds of being a victim are relatively low, it makes the contrast between concern for the community (I mean the refugee community) is incredibly relevant and appropriate, but that concern Bolt style for the rich white old community is pretty stupid?

    Just a thought or two. Feel free to slam dunk me with facts.

  5. David Richards

    Bolt had a go at aboriginals and the stolen generation too – seems a case can be made for him having an aversion to darker skinned peoples… or is it just a general xenophobia?

  6. Labor Outsider

    Thanks Possum

    My point though, was whether there was enough expertise and resourced to cope with the specific problems of the Somali community in Australia. The programs that you allude to have had varying degrees of success in Australia, but I dare say that the trauma experienced by the some members of the Somali community, and the difficulty of adapting to life in Australia, presents a unique set of challenges that I am not convinced our social services (volunteer or governmental) are able to cope with. Australia’s success with correcting indigenous disadvantage doesn’t leave me with a lot of hope I am afraid.

    Your last paragraph is an example of the type of writing you should employ more often. In my view, the “netroots” phenomenon is over-rated. It is a good tool for mobilising action and opinion amongst people that already agree with you, but a pretty poor tool for altering the views, even at the margin, of those that don’t. In my view you could do a whole lot more good by writing a series of op-eds in the Herald Sun that make nuanced use of data and demonstrate the flaws and undesirable social implications of the views of reactionary commentators. Perhaps they wouldn’t publish you, I don’t know. An interesting alternative would be to challenge Bolt to a town hall debate in one of the suburbs that the Somali community is concentrated in.

    I’m probably being unrealistic, but what I see around me in the blogosphere is the polarisation of political debate, and certainly not a meaningful dialogue that might form the basis of compromise and enhanced cohesion.

  7. Possum


    On your first point, if we look at what actually works in terms of succesful community economic development programs – not only here but generally around the world – it’s mostly small scale programs at the local level. Scale is a bit of a killer here because moving beyond the local level requires coordination between often different organisations run by different people with often different interests, management practices and resources. Scale also starts diluting the programs – if you start out with a program tailored to the needs of one community (let’s say it’s a program that tries to use sports participation as a substitute for criminal activity for young adult males – a popular one around the world) in a particular place, if you increase the size of that program to include new areas, the program has to then change to accommodate the different circumstances that each community may bring to the table (from the type of sport you use, the local culture of the target group, the public relations angle used to build broader community support, the different needs of any business sponsors, the different circumstances of the criminality of the young adult males etc etc). Each additional community added to the program requires increased flexibility of the program as a whole, which can often lead to diluting the tailored nature of the program (and reduce it’s success level) to accommodate it’s expansion.

    It need not be the case, but in practice often is.

    Scale brings better economics and funding capabilities to a program, but can often come at the cost of reduced effectiveness if the people or organisation running the program refuses to give a large amount of autonomy to the individual programs operating on the ground (and we need to remember here as well, the ’empire building’ that goes on in the community development sector is just appalling).

    A community of 2600 people is not too big. I used to do a fair bit with small rural based programs and nearly all of these were for towns with less than 5000 in population. For communities smaller than about 2000 or so, the danger becomes not getting a critical mass of community participants – which kills programs stone cold dead.

    On your second point, to be very clear about this – I didn’t accuse Bolt of being a racist.

    A divisive little twat with a simplistic grasp of reality, that shows an ambivalence bordering on irresponsibility when it comes to using sensitive data – yes, but not a racist. Racism is an overused and abused pejorative.

    The battle for the hearts and minds of the broader Australian community isn’t happening directly on the net in this country at the moment – we have yet to reach that point of audience penetration. Indirectly is another story – but that works mostly through community contact – feeding a relatively small number people information to use at their BBQs, their workplaces and their social get togethers, enabling a small group to influence one much much larger of their peers. The Australian netroots (for a lack of any better term) has hit that point, but that’s all we’ve hit.

    Finally, the more serious the issue, the more I find humour is important to convey the message. This pisses a few people off – especially those the sarcasm is aimed squarely at, that believe respect should be assumed because of who they are rather than earned through what they do. But sometimes people need the mickey taken out of them.

    It’s not going to convince everyone – it never can. One bloke that should know better summed up a common theme on what’s being said about this article: “He approvingly quotes an editorial that gets it wrong, agrees more or less with Bolt’s numbers, but says Bolt is wrong because the truth will set the rednecks running”.

    Sometimes people will just stick their fingers in their ears, stick the brain in park and go “la la la”. It’s not about racism, nor censorship nor having some argument that must be polarised.

    It’s about treating the grey nature of observable reality for the complex thing it nearly always is, and using a bit of sensitivity and responsibility when dealing with these issues. That never means not using the data, but it must mean, always, that we keep an eye on the consequences and be as accurate as we possibly can. That will turn a lot of people off – but it still needs to be done.

  8. Possum


    Bolt’s argument was that the Somalian community were a bunch of crims – but if we drill down into the data just by age alone, the observable reality shows something more complicated and nuanced that leads to an entirely different conclusion. The problem isn’t the community as a whole, but a specific age cohort within the community.

    That’s a pretty important thing to acknowledge if we’re interested in either understanding what is really going on, or interested in addressing it. Bolt, by sticking with his simplistic numbers has demonstrated he has an interest in neither.

    There is no playing up or down what the observable reality says, the 10-29 year age cohort has a serious problem, yet the rest of the community is statistically the same as the broader Victorian community. While the distinct offender numbers in any given age cohort above 30 for the Somalian community are too small to draw a robust statistical comparison to the broader Victorian population, collectively above the age of 30 the population is large enough and there is no difference.

    Too often people expect arguments and disagreements to be polarised with one side arguing black and the other side white. That is not the case here – I’m arguing that the observable reality is more nuanced than the blunt averages might ordinarily suggest, and that the conclusions drawn from those slightly more complex numbers are significantly different to the conclusions drawn by looking at the numbers simplistically.

  9. Possum

    Caf – I tried to get cross tabs using the Census data at the collection district level (since the Somalian community is very densely populated in a small area in Victoria) – but the non-Somalian community is still far larger even at that level, which prevents any real socioeconomic data specific to that community from being pulled out with any confidence.

    Cdata online doesn’t appear to allow cross-tabulation of all census information, so ethnicity and income, for instance, can’t be easily pulled out.

    As for the crime stats, only gender and ancestry seem to be the classifications released.

  10. James Roberet


    Shouldn’t that read “wingnut”. I think “moonbat” is the term of art amongst wingnuts for sane people.

  11. Labor Outsider

    Hi Possum – thought provoking stuff. I posted the comment below on LP.

    I’m most interested in getting your response to my second main point….

    “This issue is disturbing me on a number of levels.

    First, as Possum’s graphs show, there is a distinct crime problem amongst a particular cohort of Somalian refugees. As has been said, that is almost certainly related to the complex interaction of factors such as the violence they were exposed to in their homelands, poverty, family breakup and the difficulty of adjusting to life in a country that has little in common with Somalia, and were already stretched support services are struggling to cope with the scale of the adjustment problem they face.

    The main dispute between Possum and Bolt is obviously not the actual figures, but the use of those figures. Bolt, in his reactionary way, uses the figures to stir anti-Somali sentiment amongst his readers. As far as I can tell, nowhere in his comments does Bolt remind his readers of the harrowing backrounds of Somalian refugees, or plead for extra support be given to help them adjust. Possum, and some of the commentators on this blog, add that needed nuance.

    However, I have two concerns with Possum’s piece that I would like people to comment on. First, is the following statement:

    “We’re only talking about a community of 2600 people, if we can’t fix this we probably couldn’t find our arse with a map.”

    What concerns me is that statements like this play down the scale of the problem. How easy is it really to fix these sorts of problems? What proportion of volunteers or social services professionals in Australia have extensive experience dealing with the nature of the problems of young Somalis in Australia? Is there a record of succesful programs for other ethnic groups than can be replicated for Somalis? I’m not an expert in this area, but I would like to hear here from those that are.

    Second, I worry that articles like Possum’s aren’t particularly constructive – at least in terms of improving politcal discourse in this country, or even helping the issue at hand. Sure, they make centre-lefties like most of us feel better – that Bolt and his followers is a racist git and all that. But surely what we are most worried about (apart from the welfare of Somalis themselves) is that Bolt’s views are likely to reflect sentiment of a lot of ordinary Australians. People that don’t read blogs, don’t read nuanced reports, but do worry about the safety of the communities they live in.

    Aren’t we really in a battle for the hearts and minds of such people? Don’t we want to convice them that the problem can best be dealth with by more support, rather than cutting down on migrant intakes from Somalia? Do we think that Crikey polemics are the best way to do that?

    I’m sorry Possum if you think I’m being unfair here. But now you have lifted the profile of your blog to a journalistic level, I think you have think to more carefully about what you want to achieve. If all you want to contribute is insightful psephology, combined with the occasional clever and funny rants against the conservative MSM, then fair enough. But I think you could contribute a lot more by not stooping to their level, toning down the polemics, and demonstrating the real value of a balanced, statisically assisted, perspective on complicated issues.”

  12. Spam Box

    22 – 🙂

  13. Jason Wilson

    Shorter grn71: “By the lights of my negligible command of statistical concepts and methodology, you may be completely wrong. Then again, you may not. Andy is awesome – QED.”

  14. grn71

    Strange article. It claims to violently disagree with Bolt, while providing copious facts in support of his argument.

    You readily admit there’s a big problem with Somali crime, but then try to play it down by saying it’s only among a certain age group. Then you admit most Somali refugees are in that age group! Ergo, the Somali community have a crime problem.

    Then you say the high figures for other age groups are distorted by the small sample size. But that does not invalidate the proposition that all older Somalis may also be more prone to crime. A larger sample size may prove that to be the case. Then again, it may not.

  15. caf

    You’ve isolated the age variable – but what about socio-economic status? How does the Somali-born population look on household income as compared to the Victorian average? The problem here would be finding crime statistics broken down by that variable, I guess.

  16. Fozzy

    Great writing as usual Poss!

    Your analysis corresponds with a piece I was reading earlier today from the new magazine that’s come out called TheWeek (it’s not bad). They quote the following piece from The Advertiser (The same stable as Bolt) by Mariano Deng Akol.


  17. Thomas Paine

    How I miss the dog whistling days of the Howard Government. Not subtle or hidden in case the public missed the call to bigotry, fear, xenophobia, racism, intolerance etc. All the things the Howard Govt and its ministers became expert at, and some media sycophants salivating supporters of.

    In case the neocon press hadn’t notice their values are becoming intolerable, their tactics tiresome and repugnant and their relevance gone the way of Howard.

    Rudd and Obama and the public are in the 21st Century, the Libs, Republicans and Murdoch media still think the world is frozen in 2001 and dog whistle old grating tunes. I dare say many people don’t want to be reminded of how they once responded to the calls to bigotry and fear the Howard government issued on regular basis. It is too embarrassing and demeaning to them.

  18. Grumps


    We all know you are a person of a huge heart, intellect and preparedness to fight for right.

    But potshots at Bolt/Dolt is akin to smacking ones head against a wall in the most painful manner possible. It might serve a purpose, but will it really change anything. I accept the need to speak out against such small mindedness, but ………

    The main tenet of your piece is the poor integration of Sudanese and Somalians into the Victorian Society. In Noble Park and other cities within Melbourne the problem is exactly as you lay it out, no or very poor attempts at integration.

    But examples abound in country Victoria where communities have taken that extra effort to integrate these groups of people, with successful results. Bolt won’t want to talk about this lot, especially if it washes away his “dirty little turds.”

    Dear Rupert as we know runs his empire in a manner that satisfies economic principals. Obviously the employment of Dolt is a means that is necessary to pander to a particular niche that the Evil Empire seeks to reach, thus maintaining and expanding circulation.

    I am sure that Dolt as a loyal employee does whatever Rupert requires. His defection from “El Rodent” at the last election must have been at the boss’s behest. The Boss, sniffing defeat and wanting to reflect the readership thoughts, did so through Dolt. I cannot believe Dolt thought this up all himself, but being a good pragmatic employee, and wishing to remain relevant did as he was told.

    Obviously with blood in the air for Labor in NSW, and as I strongly believe in Victoria, Dolt will be let loose more often to whip the traditional liberal fare of being tough on crime, good economic managers and not employing mates.

    Poss of more interest would be comparison of circulation numbers, against Dolt utterances to see if he has any effect on circulation (the use of Dolt as a dummy variable is a pleasing thought).

    Thus a demonstration to Rupert that Dolt is an ineffective tool in maintaining circulation would be of extreme value to those who consider that Hun of only barely relevance in estimating the current date and even then after checking with relevant government instrumentalities.

    Keep up the good fight Poss.

  19. Possum

    Poor form is par for the course over there Jeff – you should see how the comment moderation/manipulation policy plays out:


    It makes their grubby little link policy look profoundly competent.

  20. Jeff Waugh

    Amused that Possum finds bad statistical analysis a more troubling crime than race baiting. 😉

    Meanwhile, not at all amused that Andrew Bolt chose to remove Jonathan’s links in such a nauseating fashion. Epic new media fail.

  21. Spam Box

    Nice Mr P – so, will we be seeing you on insider soon? 😉

    You up against the dickhead, man I’d pay to watch that 😀

  22. El Nino

    Possum, following on from HSO above, is there a male gender bias in the Somali 15-24 age bands? If so this may explain some of the trend. Also is it possible that the effect that you are showing in these age bands is a function of recency of immigration. As HSO says, these effects may be related related to post-traumatic reaction and the inherent difficulties of making a transition from a lawless failed sate into a stable community. If this is the case, then we would expect to see this crime effect subside over time with hopefully an accelerated fall if we can get the right support programs in place. I know that a lot of the African families end up in places like the high rise tenements in Carlton and Fitzroy where crime rates have traditionally been high in all ethnic groups. Not the sort of places conducive to believing that you have immigrated to a law abiding country.

    BTW thanks for you work interpreting Bolt. Sort of like enjoying a steak without having to slaughter and clean the cow myself.

  23. cyclosarin

    Why does my monster look sad?

  24. cyclosarin

    Bolt makes arguably moderate claims, but ones which can possibly give comfort to rabid racists and fascists.

    Funny that he is the first one to condemn moderate Muslims for making moderate arguments which can possibly give comfort to rabid extremists.

  25. Harry "Snapper" Organs

    Most interesting, Possum. Do you have any detail or breakdown of the types of crimes? One of the things we do know from a number of studies, is that young men in these age cohorts, in societies subject to large scale change in which males roles are grossly disrupted, develop all sorts of dysfunctional behaviour. It would be informative, for instance, to know comparative suicide rates in these cohorts, or contact with public mental health services. Hmm, might see if I can get the public mental health contact data for a big slab of Melbourne where there are significant numbers of Somali and Sudanese. The other thing, of course, is that people subject to trauma, particularly during developmentally vulnerable periods, can have all sorts of unfortunate mental health outcomes. Many people would be familiar with the seemingly antisocial behaviour of a cohort of people with post traumatic stress disorder.

  26. Julian Watson


    I think you’ve just been slam-dunked by a marsupial.

  27. Possum

    No Tony, Bolt’s figures are up the shithouse irrelevent end of the spectrum.

    There is no statistical difference in crime rates between the Somalian communtity and the broader Victorian community except for the age cohorts of 10-29. Far from the Somalian community being a bunch of over represented criminals like Bolt was carrying on with, we actually have a particular problem with a particular age cohort, which needs particular attention.

    Inciting race hatred is the least of the problems, I’m more concerned about it inciting the type of stupidity that finds the need to call bullshit on self-created strawmen, simply because the observable reality of crime and the Somalian community in Victoria is just a wee bit more complicated than the maths in space and scratch and sniff politics that Bolt and his groupies seem addicted to.

  28. Tony of South Yarra

    So, you agree with his figures, but claim that in making the facts known to his readership he is – what? – inciting race-hate or something? Sounds alarming, if far-fetched. In fact, until you give an example of such a thing occurring anywhere outside of your imagination, I call bulls**t on your whole article.

  29. Michael Cusack

    Excellent work, as usual Possum.
    I live in the outer reaches of Canberra where there are a large number of highly visible members of the east African refugee community. I also do a small amount of work for a community based charity and so have come into intermittent contact with some of these families. Two points I would like to bring to attention. One is the almost universal fact that these families are fractured by violence, disease, abuse and official neglect. By that I mean that some important family members such as fathers, mothers or elder children are very often missing, sometimes known to be dead, often whereabouts completely unknown. Occasionally reunions have been arranged with a missing family member, but the period of separation has been just too long and the member is a complete stranger in his/her family, creating a sense of isolation doubled by the difficulty of settling into an alien society. If life in our prison system is notorious for coarsening our young prisoners, imagine what life in an African refugee camp for 10 or 15 years must do to the psyche of teenagers and young adults.
    The second point I would like to bring up is the difficulty of education. All young African refugees I have spoken to express a very strong desire to get a good education in order to make a good life for themselves and their extended family. But it is far easier said than done, many of the teenaged arrivals have had minimal to nil education in the camps, and so start very far behind the eightball and can become disillusioned and embarrased at their lack of sucess. In somewhat typical youth fashion they tend to drop out rather than demonstrate their deficiency, especially the boys. In the ACT at least there is a lot of additional assistance for youth such as these, but not all find it easy to accept it.
    It is a tough question, and there are no easy answers on the problems of refugees, but one thing we surely dont want is grubs like Bolt giving them a casual kicking in passing in order to play to his audience of lowlifes who have not the wit or imagination to understand what a refugee has to experience before facing the trials of adjusting to an Australian life we take for granted.

  30. philatvvb

    Great piece Poss. Notonly the writing, and the analysis that we come to expect, but a considered response to an influential (if fundamentally misguided) media person. You’ll attract his followers no doubt, who lie just beneath that thin veneer of civilisation we take for granted, until it collapses and one of the denizens below bites. It’s thinner than we think and certainly thinner than we’d prefer.

    Good stuff.

  31. non-Brit

    [Bolt’s pant’s ]

    Clearly I suffer from a bit of apostrophe catastrophe when I get excited…

  32. non-Brit

    Poss, a considered and interesting piece, I really enjoyed it, thanks a lot, and the fact you were able to be funny and pull down Bolt’s pant’s on the way was a bonus. I love this sort of analysis, it blows up the nasty distortion, but doesn’t avoid the reality and leaves the rank ideologues with little wriggle room, I wonder if you’ll get a visit from Bolt himself? I’d love to see his attempt at a rebuttal…

  33. Beclpwned « Not a Hedgehog

    […] on the home front, Possum has injected himself into Andrew Bolt’s tussle with “gossip site” Crikey. Following on from a dispute […]

  34. Michael Carroll

    “His trusty old Casio AGW Denialist 3000 model” Priceless, and the rest of the article nicely pulled apart the individual statistical anomaly that is Andrew Bolt.

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