It stops with me

The Australian Independent Media Network

bullyracism              sexual harrassment

The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.”

When I heard Chief of Army, David Morrison, utter these words about incidents of sexual harassment in the Australian Armed Forces, I stood up and cheered.  These are words that truly resonated with me and that we must all heed.  It is time for everyone to take personal responsibility, not for the economic reasons being thrown at us, but for a far greater cause – that of humanity.

I listened to Anne Summers give the Human Rights and Social Justice lecture at Newcastle University in 2012 where she shone a light on the political bullying of our first female Prime Minister.  We have all heard the clips, read the quotes, and seen the posters, but are you aware that, for many months, cartoonist and conman Larry Pickering bombarded not just Julia but every member of…

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What’s it got to do with me?


July 15, 2013

Sam de Brito

All Men are Liars

Sam de Brito takes the pulse of Aussie manhood.

Lovin’ those no shared borders.

After the Adam Goodes/Eddie McGuire fiasco kicked off last month, I heard the return of one of my favourite White Person Excuses: “I didn’t kill any Aborigines or take their land, what’s it got to do with me?”

It’s kinda sweet Aussies have retained this live-and-let-live attitude because it’s one that’d see you in a teensy bit of trouble in thousands of different parts of the world.

As of this moment, Australia and the good ole’ bustling Arctic are the only two places where there’s not some kind of ongoing territorial dispute between a national or sub-national entity.

The majority of these disputes are non-violent but most of them are also old; older than tall ships, muskets and keeping Indigenous Australians in pet collars.

It seems to be a universal human trait – when someone steals your land and kills your relatives, you remember it for a long, long time.

The Middle East and Balkans are handy reminders of the elephantine memories people have for atrocities committed against their forebears.

History is not linear in many cultures: the repression of the Hazara people – who often end up on Australian naval vessels as refugees from Afghanistan – dates back to them sharing too much blood with the Mongols, who killed everybody they could get their hands on in Afghanistan and Persia 800 years ago.

Of course, in places like Syria, Sudan, Mali, Pakistan, Iraq and Egypt, things are even more heated and what you did or did not do makes as little difference as what your great-grandparents did or did not do.

There are vicious square-ups happening in those countries right at this moment dating back hundreds of years and in others (thanks to the Shiite/Sunni divide) over a thousand.

So, whenever I hear “what’s it got to do with me?”, I suggest we’re kind of a special case here in Australia because …

1. We’ve no shared borders with expansionist neighbours with whom we have long-standing bad blood and …

2. We reduced the Indigenous population to a numerical minority that struggles to insist we rethink history from their point of view.

Of course, the other side of the “what’s it’s got to do with me”? coin is our shared human heritage.

You might just as well ask “what does electricity have to do with me?” as you open your fridge. Or agriculture? Or aspirin? Or numbers and letters?

Every newborn inherits an immense body of knowledge, delivered via a struggle that’s dragged humanity up the ladder from supernatural to legendary and now scientific explanations of the world and, frankly, that’s also got nothing to do with you.

You didn’t invent democracy, currency, navigation, hygiene, law and order or shower heads – but you benefit from them every day.

It’s simple humility to respect the debt we owe billions of great minds, soldiers and civilians for where we are now in history.

It’s also common decency to recognise that with the good, we also should accept responsibility for the bad.

When that comes to Indigenous Australians, a humble acknowledgement of past injustices is a nice place to start.


The Pantograph Punch – Aping Intolerance

by Matt Harnett

On 24 May, the Sydney Swans smashed the Collingwood Magpies at the MCG, winning by 47 points in an historic blow out. The game was part of the Indigenous Round, when the Australian Football League recognises the contribution Indigenous Australian players have made to the game and its culture. It was therefore unthinkable that a 13 year old Collingwood fan sitting near the pitch should single out Adam Goodes, a Sydney player of Indigenous descent who was having the game of his life, and yell “Ape!”

Goodes had his back to the girl. “When I turned around, I just saw this young face and I was just, it was just sad…” He stood stock still for a moment, then pointed at her. “It just hit me, that’s why I had to leave the arena, it just broke my heart.” He retired before full time to the team’s changing rooms. He’d never in his career played so well. He was a grown man, but a 13 year old girl had looked at him and in a moment of rabid thoughtlessness screamed something hateful, and he was done. The girl was kicked out of the stadium, and subsequently apologised. You can’t say that sort of thing in public and expect to get away with it, not any more.

Goodes gave an excellent press conference the next day, explaining his reaction and why he had to leave the field. “I felt I was in high school again, being bullied, being called all these names because of my appearance. I didn’t stand up for myself in high school. I’m a lot more confident, I’m a lot more proud about who I am and my culture, and I decided to stand up last night.” An Australian website posted an interesting etymology of the insult.

And in the mainstream media, that was the end of that.

Like Adam Goodes, Luke Damon is a keen footy player. He’s not quite in the same class: he plays for a little local club, the Chelsea Seagulls. They’re based on the Mornington Peninsula, south of Melbourne. He works for a company called Ja & Ja Concreting, and went to Mt Erin Secondary College. He’s got blue eyes and an attractive partner. A dog, too – a beautiful chocolate Labrador.

I know all this because Luke doesn’t know how to use Facebook.

Should we give Luke the benefit of the doubt? Does his ‘Who am I????’ belie legitimate existential angst, or even self-loathing? I suspect it does not. My suspicion was shared by Luke’s mum, a woman of striking sense and punctuation:

I’m not sure how long Luke kept the post up before some neurons fired and he deleted it or someone reported it, but it’s gone now. Gone from Facebook, anyway. Unfortunately for Luke, the internet doesn’t forget. I didn’t catch wind of his galling racism by feverishly refreshing his entirely-open Facebook profile in hope of documenting some indiscretion; I saw it on the antibogan.

The antibogan is an Australian website that shames people who promulgate racist, sexist or homophobic points of view on social media. It’s also a platform for occasional writing on race and gender in Australian society, and often features commentary after particularly ugly incidents. They usually manage to post something new every day or two – pretty good for a team of six with other jobs.

Much of the website’s content feels deliberately incisive and confrontational, at odds with the typical liberal impulse to pause and engage in a quiet, meaningful dialogue with political incorrectness. Sometimes it feels nasty – a sense of righteous outrage more usually attributed to the right of the political spectrum. You get an impression that the people who run the site are genuinely angry at some of the things that are broadcast online, a feeling of seething frustration that people could be so stupid. It shares these characteristics with another site I follow, the American STFU Conservatives, but it’s much more explicit in the naming of those it says “abuse Aussie freedom of speech.” As you can see in its story on Luke Damon, it even tracked down a news article about him, and suggested outraged readers get in contact with his employers and footy club.

I like their moxie. A lot.

I asked one of the site’s admins, Ed, a few questions via email. I was especially interested in their filtering process – do they ever decide to take things down after they’ve been posted?

“Not usually. We have no obligation to remove a post but generally do if the person has shown remorse or apologised. There was a guy who posted some disgusting racist rants recently that allegedly had a mild form of Aspergers. Even though the claim has not been confirmed, we still felt it necessary to remove that post in respect to the legitimately mentally disabled.”

Similarly, if that girl had written her slur instead of shouting it, she wouldn’t have been featured on the site: “Minors are out and if there are minors in photos of people that we obtain, we blur them out. Other than that – anything goes. If a person is pictured (publicly) with a partner and we obtain that photograph, we don’t usually blur the partner out. We believe that the offending person needs to do some explaining to all parties involved and consequently hurt.”

I wondered though whether the site might have an opposite effect than the one intended – that racists or homophobes or whoever would see other people like themselves appearing on the antibogan, realise that their point of view was shared by others, and feel encouraged. An echo-chamber that accidentally legitimised hate speech, effectively. Ed’s answer surprised me: “Yeah, that’s a problem, but we all believe that the overwhelming majority of society are completely against it.”

The antibogan works on a centrally optimistic principle, even if that’s sometimes hard to see past the screeds of wearying, rote viciousness. It works because it realises the people who mount these attacks already feel a sense of comfortable entitlement, feel like they’re coming from a position where people mainly agree with them, and so see nothing wrong with saying what everyone’s thinking. Their self-conceived privileged centre gets quickly marginalized when it’s scrutinized by a group outside their regular associates: the general public. Ed doesn’t have to change the mind of every shithead on the internet; he simply has to rely on a fundamentally decent society being fair-minded enough to object to them.

As he says, “Our website doesn’t exist to stamp out racism – it exists to highlight its appalling and ignorant nature. It also exists so that when employers, family members and partners Google search these idiots, our site is one of the top hits.”

Maybe it’s tempting to cry foul on the how the antibogan obtains its material. “People are messaging us and writing on the wall all the time… people are constantly sending emails with screenshots and links.” Friends of friends, people like Luke with wide-open profiles: fair game. One of the admins “looks after content passed on via Twitter and the rest monitor Facebook and infiltrate bigoted groups and pages, screenshotting as they go.”

Imagine if you wrote something meant for a small circle of friends, and the next day found yourself at the centre of a campaign of vilification, with calls being made to your employer. That’s bullshit, of course, but it reveals a cognitive dissonance we tend to carry around – somehow yelling ‘ape!’ in a crowd is a contemptible offence, but being called out for telling the whole world a racist joke is creepy and invasive. Though the forum differs, the intentionality behind the act is the same. Complaints that the site exploits people unfamiliar with social media’s privacy settings miss the point. It’s as if a man were unable to control the volume of his voice, and accidentally screamed a sexist insult at a woman walking down the street, rather than muttering it under his breath as he’d intended. We wouldn’t sympathise with his modulation issues, we’d rightly condemn him for being a sexist prick in the first place.

Ed obviously agrees. “People who harbour these thoughts and intend on broadcasting these views to even 10 people deserve to be shamed. Fair enough – some people harbour hatred and resentment, but when such hatred and resentment is irrational and unfounded – and then made public – they need to feel the consequences. We don’t phone tap private conversations or write fabricated stories, we just republish what has been made public.”

Not everyone sees it that way, least of all the people who find their faces and phone numbers on a website visited by thousands weekly. “I personally haven’t received any threats, nor have the majority of the current admin team. But several of the previous operators copped a lot from the fanatical right wingers. Death threats, phone calls, publishing of private details and photos of family members/partners.”

The last thing I asked Ed was if he could ever see himself giving up the project entirely – if the unceasing tide of hate speech might eventually render him fatalistically inert, as the sea slowly wears down stones. “Of course,” he replied. “None of us are overwhelmingly satisfied with what progress we make with the site. It is a necessary service though, and until any of us comes up with anything better, it will push on.”

I’ve talked to a few (white) friends in Melbourne, and they’re not shy about labelling their country racist. They’ll readily admit that some of their fellows harbour deep and nasty resentments against minorities, but they’ll usually also insist that the people espousing these views live elsewhere – up north, or in the country, or rural towns. They’ll name entire states ‘especially bad’ offenders, and possibly list a few structural inequalities that prevent Indigenous Australians, say, from equal participation in society. But that 13 year old girl was shouting from Melbourne, Victoria, and so was Luke Damon. Like charity, racism begins at home. We’re quick to malign Australia as a land of xenophobes, but then we publish things like this in our newspapers and our Race Relations Commissioner says there’s nothing racist about it:

Perhaps the antibogan’s not the perfect solution to combating online hate speech, but it’s a start. Every redacted status or deleted tweet is one fewer reason for a potentially vulnerable person to feel unsafe or discriminated against on the internet. Shame’s a powerful weapon.

I wondered recently if Nisbet were to republish his cartoons via social media, whether the antibogan might devote a post to him. After all, you can’t say that sort of thing on Facebook and expect to get away with it – not any more.

Matt Harnett is a New Zealand blogger


Adam Goodes cops another serve from Adelaide Memes



It’s an “ongoing issue” because jerks like you keep posting idiotic mashups like that.

And Adam Loader gets the award for the dumbest comment of the day as he whines “remember its ok to b racist… unless ur white”


We think Chantel means “calling” not “being” – but with bogots one cannot be sure.


Goodes is no more hairy than most men. And calling an Indigenous man an “ape” is not just a reference to the amount of male body hair. It carries with it the baggage of three centuries of pseudo-science  coupled with white supremacy.


A beard makes you look like an ape? Someone tell Kyle Sandilands. Or Derryn Hinch. Or Santa Claus.

Now the Adelaide Memes Anthropology Team, probably coming to the realisation that they might actually be accused of being racist, scrambles aboard to justify their fake movie poster.

Fair dinkum!


So Andrew wants someone (presumably Adam Goodes) to “suck it up” while Vikki wanders around looking for hairy men to insult.

Adam Johanson then tries but fails to give us all a lesson in prehistory.


And the word “ape” wasn’t descriptive. It was racist.

You can see more here

Racism in sport – it’s there in black and white


  • Saturday, 08 June 2013 08:32
  • Written by 

I have been trying to understand what would motivate a 13 year old girl to call an indigenous man “ape”.

What thought process had to go through her brain for the word ape to be her word of choice?

And it was a choice. It was a choice influenced by upbringing, adult influence and lack of education.

During the opening match of the AFL Indigenous Round, no less.

In the following days the media was awash with both people rightfully supporting the stand taken by Adam Goodes and those who dismissed the story as being political correctness gone mad, clearly unable to make the obvious connection that being called “ape” is a racial slur.

It only takes a small amount of exposure to those on the wrong side of this argument – the “I’m not racist, but…….” elements in society – to realise their ignorance is what holds back the eradication of racism.

What everyone can agree on is that Eddie McGuire is an experienced broadcaster. He is Eddie Everywhere. He has an Honorary Doctorate of Communication from RMIT and promotes indigenous football through his chairmanship of the Michael Long Learning and Leadership Centre.

Despite his media profile and experience in the public domain, McGuire thought his audience would appreciate an obviously racist joke about Adam Goodes. This says a lot about the level on which he thinks his audience operates.

His back-pedalling only made the situation worse. When called to account, he issued a non-apology from the Alan Jones Apology Instruction Manual and blamed a slip of the tongue or fatigue or some other weak excuse.

What Eddie McGuire did was confuse larrikinism and racism.

He though his blokey charm would let him get away with making a joke which he must at the time have thought was perfectly acceptable. Those Aussie larrikins down at the footy ground would be splitting their sides laughing, surely.

Again, sections of the public came out in defence of free speech and stuck up for Eddie and his “slip of the tongue”, even attacking Goodes for not being able to handle a joke.

What these ignorant sections of the community don’t get is that these types of remarks are racist and hurtful. Sport gives the people who peddle these remarks an outlet for their racism, whether it’s on the field, in the stands or behind the microphone.

Take the incident several weeks ago of ABC Radio sports commentator David Morrow – he of 30 years’ broadcasting experience – thinking his microphone was off and making a racist joke at the expense of indigenous inhabitants of Darwin.

Again the apologies were issued. But doesn’t this show the true character of the person, revealing deeper prejudices when at their most comfortable?

Morrow was temporarily suspended and will be back at work before too long.

Three years ago, the NRL was deep in a scandal involving league ‘legend’ Andrew Johns racially vilifying players during State of Origin training. Again apologies were issued; he kept his jobs with Channel Nine and News Limited and went on to be a star witness in the Waterhouse/Singleton imbroglio.

More recently, the sacking of ARL Indigenous Council chairman Percy Knight during their All Stars Week lead him to remark “There is rampant racism within the NRL’s administration and it is very toxic.”

Former player Larry Corowa took the NRL to task over its lack of consultation with the Indigenous Council, even over the All Stars Game. He suggested the ARL Indigenous Council was simply used as a marketing tool (read PR gimmick).

FIFA, the world governing body of football, has recently voted for tough new powers to relegate or expel teams for serious offences of racism. This follows several recent incidents of racial slurs between players and between spectators and players.

Jeffrey Webb, head of FIFA’s anti-racism task force is quoted as saying “We’ve got to take action so that when we look to the next 20 or 50 years this will be the defining time that we took action against racism and discrimination.”

This will hopefully be more than window dressing and lead to meaningful progress.

The Federal Government put a different spin on racism in sport this week when Immigration Minister Brendon O’Connor introduced a bill in to parliament to amend the Citizen Act to allow a Pakistani born failed refugee to be promptly issued an Australian passport – because he is a talented cricket player.

Too bad if you are a doctor or surgeon, you can stay in the ‘queue’. Sports star? Step this way.

Perhaps we could fast track more teachers through immigration. Then they could teach those uneducated boors what it feels like to be thought of as less than human because of the colour of your skin.


Australia – Can racism be funny ?


Racism was certainly a subject I had planned to write about in this blog. The recent events around racial comments aimed at Adam Goodes have caused A LOT of debate in Australia, some arguments are very heartfelt and true, some of it.. are rather stupid and unproductive.
I won’t even go into the comments itself, they have been discussed in depth on tv, in newspapers, online, certainly also in homes of many people in Australia.

Both comments were racist without doubt; both comments, I believe, were impulse-driven and thoughtless. No intend to actually harm? Probably. It certainly could be (and was) discussed if  “it wasn’t meant racist” or “I meant the opposite” are a acceptable excuses from a 13yo and from a public personality like Eddie McGuire. 

But what is more saddening is that these comments and the aftermath were triggers to a debate that showed a very UGLY face…

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Kicking Against The Pricks

A slightly different take on Eddie McGuire’s comments


Like many others I awoke to the news that Eddie McGuire did not need to take the “phone a friend” option to say something stupid.

I won’t repeat what Eddie said as it was stupid and foolish, and clearly many people took offense at it. Although it’s available all though the press, and you’ve probably heard it anyway.

I will however say some things in Eddie’s defence if I may.

In the context of how it they were used, his words were clearly meant as a joke. Now I know that is not an excuse, however I think the line with jokes comes down to intent.

I don’t believe Eddie had a malicious intent when he uttered the words he is clearly now regretting. He now seems genuinely upset that he has foolishly caused offense.

He has however done the right thing so far, he has fronted up and…

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