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.