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Byron Shire
October 23, 2021

Editorial: For whom the whistleblows

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Hate speech v free speech: Axed Wallabies player Israel Folau and Julian Assange.

Hans Lovejoy, editor 

Why are whistleblowers treated like criminals by the political elite – surely this conflicts with the coalition and Labor bipartisan ideals of free speech?

While the newly elected federal government wasted no time in preparing new laws to protect religious (and atheist) freedoms, there is little political support for whistleblowers, who are individuals who shake the system and create a better society. Sunlight is the best disinfectant and all that.

But wait – what did footballer Israel Folau say?

Right-wing politicians and their media commenters jumped to his defence after he tweeted: ‘WARNING Drunks, Homosexuals, Adulterers, Liars, Fornicators, Thieves, Atheists, Idolaters HELL AWAITS YOU Repent! Only Jesus Saves’.

Good grief! If only there were as much interest in what real freedom of speech looks like (hint: that was hate speech).

Australian citizen Julian Assange faces over 170 years for releasing embarrassing information on US atrocities and will receive no special treatment, PM Scott Morrison said before being re-elected.

Shouldn’t Assange be thanked for keeping the world informed on how the US military complex operates?    

Former spy Witness K and his lawyer Bernard Collaery have been aggressively pursued by the federal government for exposing a covert Australian spy operation to bug the Timor-Leste government during sensitive oil and gas negotiations in 2004.

Shouldn’t they instead be thanked for fearlessly upholding the principles of ethics and integrity when dealing with an impoverished neighbour?

Last week, the ABC and other media reported that Australian Taxation Office (ATO) whistleblower Richard Boyle is facing a 161-year jail term for helping to expose the ATO’s aggressive and unethical debt collection practices.

Shouldn’t Boyle instead be thanked by the federal government for keeping their employees accountable?

As of going to press on Tuesday, The Guardian reported that the federal police raided the home of News Corp journo Annika Smethurst over a leaked plan to allow government spying on Australians.

Shouldn’t she be thanked for keeping Australians informed of the government’s attempts to spy on us?

Police claimed the justification for Smethurst’s warrant was ‘undermining national security,’ which is exactly the same disturbing loose rhetoric used in 1930s Germany.

And while it’s easy to dismiss 2019 references to the dark days of pre-second-world-war Europe, the West’s decline (again) towards hardline tyrannical rule is neatly outlined in the 2018 book How Fascism Works by Jason Stanley. 

An important panel discussion will take place at this year’s Writers Festival on August 4 from 10.15am till 11.15am, inside the Feros Care Marquee.

How Free is Free Speech? will feature Amal Awad, Kate McClymont, Ranjana Srivastava, Peter Greste, and chair Paul Barclay.

The session is sponsored by The Byron Shire Echo.


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2 COMMENTS

  1. Assange is the meat in a bloody political
    sandwich that is illogically nasty. He’s
    been pre-figured, detained, contained &
    told to shut-up. We now know that the
    ‘world’ that was a wonder is now in
    danger of being over-run by synthetic
    Political trolls.

  2. What’s up? … antichrist puppets can’t handle the truth?

    With today’s brand of egocentric journalists and media demigods, there is a deluge of hypocrisy and vile double-standards bombarding the public. In your story, above, you comment on The Guardian’s report about federal police raiding the home of News Corp journo Annika Smethurst – and ask :
    “Shouldn’t she be thanked for keeping Australians informed of the government’s attempts to spy on us?”

    THEN .. go on to promote the “important panel discussion” at the Writers Festival – which includes the self-appointed armchair Judge of Theology, Kate McClymont, who thinks it’s fine to SPY ON a private gathering of Christian people – in their church – and proceed to denounce them on the say-so of an anonymous “Christian parent”.

    Who appointed McClymont, or that spying parent, a theological judge to pontificate on what is deemed true Christianity and what is not? On whose authority can such judgements be made, about which parts of the Holy Bible should be “whited out” and which should not? Kate McClymont has become very vain indeed.

    But notably, Kate McClymont has not set out to disparage Seventh Day Adventists, or Roman Catholics, or Jehovah’s Witnesses, or Mormons – (the list goes on ..) ALL have differing doctrinal stances – but I challenge Kate McClymont to offer her excuse why she hasn’t sent a spy – or had the guts herself – to launch such an attack against the Muslims, despite the plain hatred and calls for death found in their book, the Qur’an.

    Israel Folau’s church and its people hold to the doctrines that Jesus taught His Apostles, which are in the scriptures followed by MANY other churches around Sydney, and Australia, and by millions of Christian people all around the world for two millennia. It’s not some “corruption” discovered by Kate McClymont.

    Those kindred self-appointed Judges of Theology who “hold the reins” in the Fairfax, Murdoch and other mastheads – but all allow their egocentric journalists to run amok in this filthy anti-Folau vendetta – should all hang their heads in shame. There will be a final Judgement for them, at which their present journalistic badges and vanity are not worth a cracker.

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