August 29, 2019

Horse 2587 - We Absolutely Support The Right To Protest; Except When We Don't
Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner says, "the people of Brisbane are fed up with it".
"Blocking the traffic, causing disruption as they are deliberately trying to do repeatedly in the city.
These aren't just ordinary environmentalists here. These are right at the extreme fringe, willing to take extreme measures."

Mayor Schrinner tells Alan Jones the proposed laws have nothing to do with stopping free speech.
"We absolutely support the right to protest; it's when they do it and how they do it which is important here."

Alan says people "have had a gutful".
"The Brisbane CBD is being held to ransom by a group of reckless protesters."
- The Alan Jones Show, 4BC, 28th Aug 2019

The protests in the CBD of Brisbane yesterday, were against political corruption (which if you believe 4BC, exists on only one side of the political divide), and climate change. Both of these are serious and rational complaints, given that in the state of Queensland, private mining companies have actually bankrupted the local Aboriginal and First Peoples groups and been helped in their efforts by complicit State and Federal Governments.
This is in addition to the fact that as a nation, our Prime Minister officially told Pacific Island Nations to get stuffed and if they don't like it then that's just too bad, but at least their citizens can get jobs as fruit pickers in Australia once all of their islands are underwater.
I would not be surprised if someone was taking a bung or a kickback, and I can almost guarantee that someone from the Federal and State Government will end up on the board of directors of one of these mining companies; which will totally not in any way shape or form be corrupt because the Federal also refuses to set up a Federal ICAC.

It should be of no surprise that there are people who are jolly well annoyed at the decisions of government. When you have journalists being tried and put in prison for reporting what governments have done, then it looks like governments are engaging in corruption. It is the sort of thing that you would expect to see in authoritarian regimes; not in supposedly liberal democracies who purport to uphold the rule of law.
Normally you would expect media organisations to want to support the public's right to protest and hold their governments to account but when they are singing the same tune, something is suspicious.

I always find it interesting that the most vociferous people who want to talk about the importance of the right to free speech, are often also the same people who want to curtail the right to free speech to other people. It is almost as if the words which are said in support of the right to free speech, are said by people who do not bother to think through the implications of what they have said.
It is like telling people to blow their own trumpet, which they then proceed to do but have never taken up trumpet lessons. The most skilled trumpet players go on to produce and play complex pieces of jazz music but those with no interest in learning the skills of the craft, may as well be playing a vuvuzela. You can get a lot of noise out of a vuvuzela but as far as I am aware, there is no Concerto No.1 In The Key Of Z.
The Alan Jones Radio Show on 2GB and 4BC, is the radio equivalent of a vuvuzela. It doesn't matter which edition of the show you are listening to, the 'tune' is always the same. The nearest equivalent that I can think of in arts or literature, is The Screaming Clown Show in Ray Bradbury's 'Farenheit 451'. It is three hours of noise and cacophony, dressed up as political commentary, which must be by design, an attempt by the broadcaster to expel all rational thought from its listenership; which it does oh so very well.

Actually when you scratch the surface even just a little bit, what you find is that commercial interests are the ones who provide the song sheets for vuvuzela players like Alan Jones. Remember, only last week he was calling for someone to stuff a sock down the throat of the New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern.  He remained staunchly unrepentant until people complained to the advertisers on his program and the threat of monetary withdrawal was made. Although having said that, this is hardly new territory for Alan Jones, who most famously said that Prime Minister Julia Gillard's father died of shame and that she should be put into a hession sack and thrown out to sea.

By the time I was forced to endure the Alan Jones Radio Show (because it was on the loudspeakers of the bus that I happened to be on), the Lord Mayor of Brisbane was already having a whinge about people protesting in the city. This is an amazingly useful tactic.
If you can paint people who are rightly annoyed as 'extremists' as the Lord Mayor did, you can then pass laws in the name of public order and security. The actual truth that the people in the protests were armed with nothing more than umbrellas, bits of cardboard, and megaphones, is conveniently and deliberately ignored.
Of course you have a willing participant in the conspiracy in the form of an agreeable radio host, who can play up for a mostly older audience, who by the way would have never been involved in protests in the days of their own youth and therefore have no sympathy. What they have are votes; which can be translated into legislative power.
Both the Lord Mayor of Brisbane and the radio host have to be careful to say that they believe in the right to free speech though, because legislative limits upon free speech can have adverse effects on their own free speech; which is pretty important for someone in the media, especially someone like Alan Jones who repeatedly breaks the bounds of civility.

There's also an acute degree of hypocrisy from Alan Jones here. He would rather that protests happen on the weekend when they aren't as disruptive to business. He is of course entirely aware that protesting on the weekend would have no effect on the decisions of business or government, when none of them are at work.
There's also the somewhat problematic fact that last week he stated that he absolutely supported the rights of the people of Hong Kong to protest against the Chinese Government. Apparently it is perfectly fine for people to protest against an economically leftist government and in numbers which are an order of magnitude larger but not fine for people to protest against an economically rightist government.

For me though, there are two big issues here. The first is that I believe in the right to protest and I think that it is backed up by a bank of established law.
Lange vs The ABC (1997), confirms that there is an implied right of political communication in the Constitution. Various traffic laws, consistently confirm that pedestrians have the right of way on roads in all circumstances except for motorways where they are not allowed to be on. The right to petition the King and by extension the Crown, has been in existence since the Bill Of Rights Act 1689. I also think that the right to freedom of assembly and free speech which are both contained within the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights (1948), should be relied upon as a common law defence.
All of this means to say that both Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner and Alan Jones need to stand down, put up and shut up. The people have a set of grievances and clearly they aren't going anywhere until they are heard.

My second issue here is that I actually sort of agree with the Lord Mayor of Brisbane but not in the way you'd expect. While I believe in the right to free speech and assembly, I don't believe in the effectiveness of it. Actual legislative and policy change happens on the floor of parliaments and in the board rooms of companies; so I think that protesting on the streets is for the most part, useless.
The people who decide on policy decisions, clearly do not give a rip about a bunch of protesters outside their doors. If you remember the Occupy movement of 2011, the actual legislative effectiveness and the number of prosecutions that happened in the wake of that, was nil. If we look to our own history, the grand labour marches of the 1890s, actually achieved nothing and it wasn't until labour properly organised into a political party that real change happened.

To that end, the Lord Mayor of Brisbane has accidentally spoken truth here. Protesting on the streets of Brisbane is disruptive but ultimately pointless and he knows it. Alan Jones gets to do some grandstanding of his own, safe in the knowledge that his mates who run the cheque books of power and have the ears of the people who wield it, have far more say in what actually happens and the decisions which are made, than all the protesters put together. They can jump up and down until they're blue in the face but the unspoken truth of this is that the people who are actually right at the extreme fringe and willing to take extreme measures, such as sending journalists to prison, bankrupting indigenous peoples in the name of profits, literally leaving refugees on islands to die, and having the actual power to punish free speech, are the friends of the Lord Mayor of Brisbane and Alan Jones.

Yes Alan, the people "have had a gutful"; that's why they on the streets.
Yes Alan "The Brisbane CBD is being held to ransom by a group of reckless protesters" and they're all indoors. One them is named Alan Jones.

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