A celebration of democracy?

Instead of weighing as to whether Chaser’s song last night was offensive or humourous (because, frankly, I don’t care), I’d like to skew this whole thing a little differently. Couldn’t the fact that that gronk saying that stuff is the ultimate sign that Australia is a flourishing democracy, where you can say what you want, do you what you want, and be who you want (within the law) without fear of massive repurcussions?

Some time ago, on YouTube, a user made fun of the King of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej. The user made a video that said, among “defacing” pictures of the king while putting pictures of exposed feet over others (both extremely offensive to some Thais), he resembled a monkey. Fun and games I saw it as, while also a political message. That message was proven to be right after Thai media came out in an uproar, reminding everyone that it’s a criminal offense, in Thailand, to say or do anything that may insult the king. A criminal offense.

North Korea, you get killed for saying anything critical about their dictator.

China is more likely to imprison you for dissent, rather than give a television station funding to make a satirical show.

And let’s not get into the whole “I wonder why there’s no opposition party in Zimbabwe ‘elections’?” question. For the uninformed: there’s no opposition because they’ve either been killed or driven out of the country.

So, yes, squabble over who is offended or not (I think that too is a sign of a healthy democracy), and if I cared some more I’d take part, but as I don’t, I thought I’d make this whole this relevant to me through a sociological lens. The fact that Chaser has the opportunity to offend and people have the opportunity to speak out should be a focus of someone at least, right? Howard could get on and say “While I don’t disagree, I think that it’s a sign that what the Coalition has done for the past decade is foster a healthy and proactive Australian democracy with such and such …”. Of course, he won’t, because whoever is setting out his campaign isn’t nearly as smart as I am.

O f course, by now, anyone who knows me well will know that I’m a supporter of ‘censorship’ (of sorts). So I expect to be called a hypocrite any time soon. Such is my second middle name …

Thomas.

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10 thoughts on “A celebration of democracy?

  1. That song made my cringe. I thought it more than a bit heartless, I have to say. I don’t think The Chaser people earned many brownie points at all on this one, even if I like a lot that they do. I think they need to think pretty hard about why they did it and who they were possibly hurting, and hope a sense of shame hits them about some of it. However, there’s always a risk in shows like this and it is better that they be allowed to go over the edge at times rather than becoming too acceptable. In sum, what they do is healthy for the rest of us — in total that is.

  2. (Ninglun recommended me to this entry.)

    The satire has gone into completely disrespect.

    Couldn’t the fact that that gronk saying that stuff is the ultimate sign that Australia is a flourishing democracy, where you can say what you want, do you what you want, and be who you want (within the law) without fear of massive repurcussions?

    It wasn’t the case. Freedom is always limited. Quoting Government’s words, “All Australians are free to say or write what they think about any subject, issue or person, so long as they do not endanger people, defame anyone or obstruct the free speech of others.”

    Such reprehensible show broadcasted under taxpayer funded national broadcaster simply demeans Australia. I fail to see that there’s anything worth being celebrated.

  3. Well, I suppose the freedom of speech protects allows you to say that.

    Ignoring the fact that you completely missed the point of my post, I’d still like to point out that “defaming” someone goes well beyond what satire is deemed. And if Chaser say it was a satirical piece, then I guess onus is on those defamed to prove so. Of course, you would have a hard time doing that when you’re dead …

    Also, I’d be quite interested in the source of your quote? What government, when and where would be helpful.

  4. Australian Government, or Commonwealth of Australia.

    Also quoting from the same section:
    “The same applies to Australian newspapers, radio, television and other forms of media.

    (…) There are laws that protect an individual’s good name against false information or lies.”

    Taken from page 5 of “Becoming an Australian citizen” published by ‘Australian Government’ in this year. I hope this answers your query.

    (And to Ninglun in case he wonders: I am proudly not applying the citizenship.)

  5. Well, I know the point of your post was different, but I will add my 2 bobs’ worth.

    The song is clearly satirical, because you can’t take seriously the joke about Bradman not getting a run the last time he was in (even though there is no shortage of bad press about Bradman, the determinedly masonic Adelaide stockbroker), and because the verse about the John Lennon and Michael Harveyindicates this, and because the Princess Dianna verse was so clearly over the top; likewise the reference to Martin Bryant being a saint once he is dead. In other words, it’s not about how bad these dead people were, but rather about the deference to the dead which paints them as totally rosy (hence the introduction about Andrew Hansen’s presumably fictitious grand/great grand father).

    “There are laws that protect an individual’s good name against false information or lies.” That’s true, but those laws only protect the reputation of the living (though for a while we had a different law in NSW to protect the memory of Ezra Norton.)

    So, who can really lay a claim to be unjustly offended by the song? Surely not the Packer family’ (that memorial service was the most sickening travesty and abuse of public funds, all except for the brothel allegations were made in his lifetime; and he was the proprietor of Channel 9 which dished plenty worse out); surely not the Irwins (all of that was said in his life); possibly the Brocks (though that begs the question: which Brocks?); not Rove live (because the whole point was the BE was spared).

    I do think that the Chaser gang may regret the song (even though it was included in “Dead Caesar” without causing any outrage) because it has given Howard a tenuous scrabble onto the high moral ground, via an enormous non-sequitur – ie, notwithstanding my proportionate liability for a share of the deaths in Iraq, SIEV-X, etc, nothing you can say about me (as a living person) counts because you have said something bad about the dead (here wrapping himself in the Bradman-Irwin-Packer flag).

    And yes, it is a credit to Australian democracy, such as it is, that the Chaser can say these things and only lose the possibility of a gig on Channel 9, but that is no particular thanks to Mr Howard.

  6. Great response marcellous.

    Antony:

    So one has to prove the lies? Or at least false information?

    So in saying that you didn’t like someone, or that they were bad people, isn’t exactly a lie, rather an opinion. Voicing that opinion something permissible under freedom of speech.

    At the end of the day, most people are taking offense because the targets are dead and what was said was satire, informed by a group of people’s opinion, that was ‘edgy’. I had heard a lot of the targets called what they were called when they were alive, and no one was this mortified.

    And the Citizenship brochure …

  7. Thomas, you doubted about the source, I provided it. I’m making no comment on if one has to prove the lies or false information. I’d rather focus on the disgraceful show aired on taxpayer funded ABC.

    Are you now arguing Becoming an Australian citizen published by Australian Government not to be counted as “Government’s words” as I initially used?

  8. Antony, I don’t think the Government’s words meant quite what you think they meant, for the reason already given above (at para 3).

  9. See: marcellous’ comment.

    And perhaps you’d like to make a comment, seeings as it is the crux of the argument here, and not some political propaganda.

  10. Pingback: Angry rant « Deus Lo Vult

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