October 09, 2012

Horse 1376 - Alan Jones, Advertisers and Free Speech

"Advertisers trying to go about their business and exercise their choice as to where they spend their money and with whom they want to communicate have chosen over many years to advertise on this program"
- Alan Jones, 2GB, 8th Oct 2012.

I have heard all of Alan Jones' almost nine minute rate about cyberbullies and how supposedly people voicing their concern, has resulted in turning the dialogue of the nation into a dark place. To be honest I wouldn't have expected anything different at this point in time and it illustrates the other side of the coin we call free speech.

I have heard over and over again of the need for Australia to have a Bill of Rights and how free speech needs to be protected. Never mind the fact that the right to free speech is in the Bill Of Rights Act 1689 (which thanks to various statutes of adoption forms part of the legal framework of this country) and Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of which Australia is a signatory.
Because the right to free speech and expression is very much ingrained into the life of this country, there is really very little need to write yet mote legislation which might inadvertently limit the scope of the right.

The right to free speech and expression it should be noted, pretty well much gives people licence to speak their mind. I note that Alan has done this on multiple occasions, even calling for the Prime Minister to come to harm.
The other side of this is that although the right gives people the ability to say pretty well what they like, it also gives people the right to consume that free speech and judge what they have said. Since free speech is like a marketplace of ideas, consumers of free speech have the right to accept or reject what they've heard. We see this when it comes to politics, religion, science and even entertainment.

So then, advertisers as corporate people who have the right to exercise their choice as to where they spend their money and with whom they want to communicate, also have the right to withdraw their money and communicate elsewhere. Since advertisers rely on the public to spend their money and buy what is being advertised, they will look to see what sorts of profits and benefits will be gained for doing so.

In this case, the public who have been accused of cyberbullying, have basically threatened to withdraw their monies from advertisers. Obviously it stands to reason that doing so threatens the profitability of those businesses.
The difference being that if a corporate person (ie. a company or other advertiser) withdraws their money, it is taken by Alan Jones to be a business decision but if the public do likewise, it then becomes cyberbullying.
In slightly different terms he suggests on one hand the right to free speech and expression should exist for companies and advertisers but not for individuals. That in itself is kind of hypocritical because he in effect says that he himself does not have the right to free speech and expression whilst defending the right to free speech and expression which enabled him to say that.
The mind boggles.

As a consumer of free speech, I find Alan Jones to be dull and don't usually listen to him anyway. As a consumer of free speech with the right to judge the content if that free speech, I find it terribly horrid.
I still however defend Alan Jones' right to say whatever he wants to and more importantly be judged on the basis of what he has said, however horrid it may be.

Just don't expect me to buy.

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