Anita Heiss – positive messages in the face of negative attacks

A few weeks ago I interviewed author Anita Heiss about her new book Am I Black Enough For You?  The book is partly a personal memoir and partly explores the issue of Aboriginal identity.  You can listen to the interview at this link.

Anita Heiss was one of a number of people who took columnist Andrew Bolt to court for making a range of false claims which in effect suggested they were manufacturing an identity as Aboriginal people for their own personal gain – a very serious and hurtful accusation to make against someone which at a minimum should be backed up by very solid evidence, rather than unleashed as a casual slur in one of the most widely read publications in the country.

The book touches on this episode, but is also about wider issues. You can read this story to get a bit more about it. Or to get a better idea about her ideas and activities, check out her website and her blog.

In a stark example of his willingness to subvert reality to his propaganda purposes, despite being the guilty party in this episode, Andrew Bolt and his cheer squad regularly portray him as the victim, including perpetrating the ridiculous notion that he and others are not free to express their own opinion or to disagree with Heiss.

I must admit I used to find Andrew Bolt somewhat interesting.  The guy is obviously intelligent and can write well, and understood far better than most mainstream media writers how online interaction with readers can work. In the earlier days of his writing career, I used to find some of his stuff interesting to read, partly on the basis that reading well written arguments putting forward views I disagree with can be a good way to test one’s own views and ensure they are robust.  But somewhere along the way he obviously discovered it was easier just to take on a provocateur role and be controversial and provoke outrage for its own sake – something which is both very destructive socially and very boring (and lazy) intellectually.

The fact that he continues to use his position of influence to deliberately provoke expressions of hate and racism shows the so-called constraints on his freedom of speech are minimal.

Meanwhile, I recommend checking out Anita Heiss’ book, and some of her other material.  She is a passionate and positive person with some valuable ideas and messages.

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  1. Its called freedom of speech, what your championing, are you for it or not? or are you just argumentative for the sake of it? please tell me where I got my facts wrong like bolt did? thats the reason he got done, you and I know he could write the same story without untruths and its fine, but gee it would be one boring read, bolt would never write for free, his chasing money, thats why his able to lie to his wife about being engaged before they meet, and make his sister feel she must defend herself from her own brother, without all his sensationalism his a boring writer, his not a journalist as they present facts, opinion pieces are as worthy as graffiti or “opinions” written on toilet walls, bolt got done for very sloopy fact checking, something a professional does as standard, he flunked out of journalism school and jumped straight into being a cub reporter, Wheres his training?

    after seeing the interview and reply to bolt from Anita Hess.on living black yesterday.
    also after completing a common law course .
    i now understand her stand and totally agree with her .

    we have the right to freedom of speech

    we also have the right not to be vilified ,

    Anita Hess was exersizing her right not to be vilified .

    i also understand her stand was to make it know that under common law everyone has the right not to be vilified no mater who they are .and it was not about money .

    bolt should have known better .

    the govt dose not need to make any new laws on this subject and even if .any Australian govt repeals or waters down racial discrimination laws in Australia it will make no difference at all (they know this ) the laws were written way before even our own constitution or any other laws on this subject by any Australian govt since

    i find if very interesting that none of the well educated ppl on this site had not pointed out these facts in the beginning .

    it is a very simple case of Anita Hess exersizing her right as an Australian citizen under common law the Australian constitution and several other laws that predate even them .

    that we ALL have the right not to be vilified .

    simple .

    question why did you not point this out Andrew.

  3. The judge examining the case wasn’t examining whether Andrew Bolt’s article was an expression of a free opinion. The issue being considered was whether the things he said were true.

    The judge’s key finding was that “in relation to most of the individuals concerned, the facts asserted in the Newspaper Articles that the people dealt with chose to identify as Aboriginal have been substantially proven to be untrue”.

    For example, Bolt wrote that Anita Heiss had won “plum jobs reserved for Aborigines” at Koori Radio, at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board and at Macquarie University. The Koori Radio job was a voluntary unpaid position. Neither the arts board position nor the university job was reserved for indigenous applicants, and the previous person holding the uni job held by Anita was not Indigenous. She won her jobs in her own right.

    Although the judge found that Bolt was telling lies, his newspaper continued to misrepresent the findings as being about freedom of speech. The case was about a journalist who tells lies to provoke untrue views about Indigenous people, and these lies needed to be challenged.

    It’s interesting to note that Anita Heiss was not asked to speak by Andrew Bolt’s lawyer when she arrived at the court. The view held by those there was that she so clearly has Aboriginal features, that Bolt’s lawyer may have advised that it wouldn’t help Bolt’s case at all.

  4. I just read the “It’s so hip to be black” article.

    The offensiveness and lack of logical flow is making my head spin.

    Bolt’s article consists essentially of a list of people who he claims are not physically black enough to be aboriginal. He also suggests that they have chosen to identify as aboriginal for career opportunities or financial gain (the offensive part).

    It reminds me from a quote from the Simpsons “The disadvantaged get all the breaks!”

    He also uses the phase “political Aborigine”, as if no proper aborigine would be involved in politics, which of course is the sole province of white Australia (!)

    Bizarrely the comments Bolt makes throughout the article contradict the attacks he makes on those people mentioned

    Bolt-“I think it sad if we keep harping on about differences and rights based on trivial inflections of race.”

    -“It’s also divisive, feeding a new movement to stress pointless or even invented racial differences we once swore to overcome. What happened to wanting us all to become colour blind?”

    Umm, who was the one that brought this up in the first place?

    In the next sentence he writes “the white Aborigine… is not new.”

    It reads like an article that has had moderate views written buy some-else inserted into it.

    How does someone even write an article like that?!

  5. A male friend now has a part-aboriginal woman in her 40s living with him as a boarder. She has a long history of drug abuse, and also living with a succession of abusive aboriginal males. She has 7 children with various fathers, most of whom have been raised in the foster care system.

    Her youngest daughter is 8 years old and looks just as white as my own grandchildren. My friend has helped the woman rescue her daughter from an abusive foster family in the same lower socio-economic area in which I once resided myself. Because this little girl kept pushing her aboriginality with the other school children, she has been treated very badly.

    My friend and I have found that the mother wants to access as many free services as possible when, from our observation, her daughter would be better off just being treated as an ordinary Australian. This is not to say that she shouldn’t also be in touch with aboriginal culture. My friend has changed his hours of work so the mother has some chance of keeping her daughter living with her, as they are both shift workers.

    An update on my grandchildren’s part-aboriginal cousin: At age 15, she left her white father’s care and went to live with her drug addicted mother in the aboriginal community in Canberra, where she finished up on drugs and was found barely alive on the kitchen floor. Her mother also has a long track record of not ensuring her dietary intake was carefully monitored. The girl has recently given birth to her own baby daughter at age 18.

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