Thursday, April 12, 2012

Andrew Bolt's Race to the Bottom

There’s another racism ‘scandal’ occurring in Australia, and once more, columnist and serial conservative Pied Piper and kaaskop Andrew Bolt had to contribute. He just couldn’t help himself. It’s a good thing that he has such a popular column; an opinion like his needs to be heard, if only as a way for the rest of us to gauge our sanity relative to his.

Apparently, Andrew Bolt is feeling “censored” as a result of being found guilty of offences under the Racial Discrimination Act. He thinks the rest of us should be feeling censored too, because Random House has allegedly deleted 200 posts, and the ABC has deleted thread posts as well.

Before we talk about Australian censorship, it’s important to remember that Andrew Bolt has a blog, but there are conditions for commenting on his blog. (see below.)

This is the bit where I get to prove just how free we Aussies are. Mr Bolt and I have very different opinions on most things, yet we both have blogs. I don’t suppress my opinions here any more than Mr Bolt suppresses his. I choose to tweet, and Andrew Bolt could too. He has a national column in News Limited papers, a national television programme, and until recently, a Melbourne radio gig as well.

Andrew Bolt has more opportunities to be heard than most Australians, and as long as he doesn’t use his words as weapons, he won’t be censored.

And therein lies the challenge for Mr Bolt. He deliberately chooses his words to be inflammatory. That is his skill, and the reason for his fame and the purpose of his job. His column exists to be controversial. In the case for which he was convicted last year, in the pursuit of controversy, he stepped over a line defined by the Racial Hatred Act, which is part of the Racial Discrimination Act.

The RHA covers public acts which are committed because of the race, colour, or origin of a person or group, and which are likely to offend, intimidate or humiliate that person of group. It’s a really simple law: don’t be mean.

Now, there are a few exceptions .If you are reporting on what happened during an incident involving racial concerns, you’re okay. If you are a genuine racist, you’re not a good person, but you’re allowed to say express your racism, “reasonably and in good faith.” But you’re not allowed to deliberately set out to offend, intimidate or humiliate.

Mr Bolt was deliberately provocative, and he admitted it during his trial. Mate, if you set out to piss someone off, and as a result, they get pissed off and sue you, don’t expect the law to be on your side.

One more time for the stubborn folk: Don’t be mean. The rest of us learned this rule in kindergarten. Be careful how you use your words.

I have a perspective on race and racism, but you know, it wasn’t until I was much older, probably in my 30s, that I became aware that the “half-caste” isn’t a nice out-loud word. It was a word I grew up with, I used it to describe myself. Mentally, I still do, but apparently it’s offensive. These days, to avoid offending others, I use the term “caramel baby”.

I don’t find it offensive. I find it objectively descriptive. I am the child of two parents who weren’t the same colour as each other. Back in the 60s, you could’ve called that a miracle! It wasn’t until two years after I was born that the US Supreme Court overturned 300-year-old laws that prohibited inter-racial marriage. Inter-racial marriage was legal in the UK in 1964, yet it was legal to display “No Blacks” signs in your business for another five years.

Anyway, if you call me a half-caste, I won’t be offended. Now that I know others find it offensive, I’ll wonder why you chose that term, and probably feel a bit sad. But no, I won’t be offended.

For the record, terms I will not accept include Abo, Boong, Nigger, Camel Jockey, Muzzie, Towel-Head and Stupid.

As the fair-haired child of Dutch immigrants, I wonder if Andrew Bolt was subjected to any kind of discrimination. Actually, I couldn’t think of any derogatory terms for dutch people, so I turned to the interwebz for help. I found there 40-odd racial slurs for black people, 10 for East Asians, 2 for southern Asians, 18 for Europeans, and 29 miscellaneous listings.

Of course it’s not really about name-calling. It’s about respect versus disrespect. I respect myself and have no problem with being called a Half-Caste. Anita Heiss and the other eight petitioners who sued Andrew Bolt have self-respect, but Mr Bolt has no respect for them. That’s his problem, not theirs, and certainly not mine.

The bottom line, at least for me, is that it shouldn’t matter, and before much longer, it won't. We’ll all be Coffee-Coloured anyway.


  1. I have a spare rant up my sleeve about how racism is simply an extension of "My Family is more important to me than your family". We are ALL racist. This grows out of being "famliyist". We look after, our family, our town, our country. That old conundrum of "your child and your best friend's child are both in mortal danger. You can save just one. Which one?"

    Skin colour is a part of that whole thing. A very big part because it is obvious that someone of a different colour is not "One of us". Were we all sightless, then we would judge a person's kinship to us by their accent or language (and probably be more correct). btw, I am also a half caste. Half English and half Scot. There was a time this would have mattered. :)

  2. Thanks Archie. I must remember that!

  3. Andrew Bolt won the race to the bottom long ago. Now he's just on a perpetual lap of (dis)honour.

  4. Actually, you have the whole thing upside down, whereby Bolt wants all to be viewed as equal no matter their color, whereas professional grant receivers like Heiss trade on their part ethnicity in order to gain special access.

  5. Thanks for the comment, Brett, and thanks for reading.

  6. Andrew Bolt is pure dog vomit. I gave up watching his ridiculous TV show or reading his crappy column a long time ago, it wasn't good for my blood pressure to read or listen to any of his crazy notions. I refuse to give him any air.

  7. Brett, if Andrew Bolt wants all to be viewed as equal then he wouldn't have used inflammatory language when writing about Anita Heiss and other fair skinned Aborigines. He slandered them by saying they were using their identity to receive benefits. Now the question I ask about Bolt is this: He was born to both Dutch parents, who obviously have a very Dutch sounding and Dutch spelled surname. Why then has he Anglicised his real name to the very English sounding Bolt? Was it so that he could mislead his readers about his true identity and gain benefits by everyone thinking he was part of the Anglo establishment in this country rather than the son of recent Dutch immigrants? Just who is fooling whom here I wonder?