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87 responses to “What's Sam got to do with it?”

  1. Ambigulous

    Channel 9: sack Sam.
    No ifs, no buts, no maybes, no “counselling”. Just sack the sick bastard.

  2. Robert Merkel

    Darlene, while the fact is that Sam Newman is an offensive git whose continued presence on Channel Nine is an embarrassment to that network, Ms. Wriedt’s difficulties would be big news regardless, at least in Tasmania.

  3. Darlene

    At least in Tasmania is the crucial point there, Robert.

    I know what you’re saying. It would have been big news in Tasmania and lesser news elsewhere. Sam’s idiot comments made it big news everywhere.

    There used to be a time when the media didn’t report on such things, or at least reported on them with some delicacy. Of course, that was a double-edged sword for people suffering from certain disorders.

    “Channel 9: sack Sam.
    No ifs, no buts, no maybes, no “counselling”. Just sack the sick bastard.”

    Well said, Ambigulous. They won’t, of course. In twenty years time, Sam will still be on the TV making dickhead comments. Talk about lacking self-awareness.

  4. Aussiesmurf

    Newman is starting to cost Channel Nine dollars, rather than make them dollars. That will always be the crucial factor here.

    One of the big commercial pluses of the Footy Show in the late 1990s was that, unlike many other AFL-oriented programs, it had a significant female support base.

    That base will be significantly dwindling primarily due to Newman’s pathetic schtick.

  5. Darlene

    Good point, Aussiesmurf.

    The (former) female support base for the show would make it stand in contrast to, for example, the rugby league version in Queensland. Surely the support base for the Qld show has always been 99.9% male (unless female footy fans find blokes dressed in frocks hilarious). Of course, they also have the more serious rugby league show as well.

    Newman’s personifies old hat masculinity that nobody has got the guts to put out of its misery.

  6. David

    You’d think that Sam would start acting like an adult, given he’d be about 60.

    On reflection, he probably richly deserved the broken leg he got from one of his girlfriends a few years ago.

  7. TimT

    When I read The Age article about the whole incident a few days ago, it seemed to me that Newman’s comment about Paula Wriedt could have been just a slip of the tongue. It makes sense in the context of the program and conversation.

  8. Helen

    it seemed to me that Newman’s comment about Paula Wriedt could have been just a slip of the tongue. It makes sense in the context of the program and conversation.

    In the context of his past behaviour, it doesn’t.

    Laura’s comment was pretty pertinent:

    Where is Kevin Rudd, and all his ample, authoritative capacity for being absolutely revolted, when we actually need him?

    Not that I think he really should comment on cultural matters, but yeah.

  9. Katz

    Sam Newman is a tosser, but a member of the Wriedt family has opined that his comments have nothing to do with Ms Wriedt’s health issues.

    However, Newman’s verbal ejaculations may have something to do with his health issues.

  10. Desipis

    Judging from the clip I’ve seen on youtube, it seems pretty clear that it was meant in a sexual way.

    It’s probably due to this football/sexism issue being in the news, but I couldn’t help but notice a segment on the radio this morning that was solely and blatantly devoted to sexually objectifying football players. Double standards I guess.

  11. Darlene

    Sam was born in 1945 so he’s 62 (going on 12), David.

    TimT, I like the way you try to be balanced. It’s a good thing 🙂 However, Newman’s track record speaks for itself.

    Yes, Katz, the family have said that, which makes the media’s reference to it all the more annoying. And yes, certain thought patterns and lifestyles aren’t conducive to positive health. If only Sam would be a positive role model for other old blokes.

    Footy players have been sexually objectified in some ways (e.g posing for calendars in nothing but their short shorts and a smile – and a footy). It’s dopey, but I don’t think it’s equal to the hatred Newman spews towards women. After all, footy players have a lot of social status in our society.

  12. Don Wigan

    Desipis is right. It’s pretty clear what he meant. Half of what passes for his humor is the slipping out of sexual double-entendres.

    The family was right to mention that Sam had nothing to do with Paula’s current stresses.

    … Besides, Sam is more likely to inspire murderous ideas than suicide.

  13. boynton

    At 62, no amount of work can disguise your inner sleaze. Sad.

    Sans Sam, The Footy Show is blokey, but ok.

  14. Tony T.

    I don’t know about dooble-ontonders. Sam had only one meaning as far as I could see. There is no doubt whatsoever he was being smutty. I even heard someone trying to push a line about a comma between the on and the her. What a load of bullsh1t. Slip of the tongue? Balls! Anyone trying that on is either a complete imbecile, or a bare faced liar.

  15. Helen

    Slip of the tongue? Balls!

    Careful you don’t get the crowd from the Bianca & Big Brother thread over here with their double-entendre-thon, Tony!

  16. Darlene

    “… Besides, Sam is more likely to inspire murderous ideas than suicide.”

    Good one, Don. 🙂

    It’s the blasted media who are beating up the Newman link.

    Obviously Newman takes the Footy Show to a different (lower) level. Nobody is expecting it to be a program of deep analysis about the male mind. If I was a footy fan, I’d expect more thoughtful analysis about footy, though.

    Double entrendes are too sophisticated for Sam.

  17. Margo

    the question is, did Darlene have this condition before Sam opened his mouth, or did his remark cause her to to whatever (as reported). Poor woman, she must be in such a state at the moment and to think it will take time for her to get better, makes us wonder what is really the matter. Do hope she recovers soon and gets back into the swing of things. Does sound bad though. Sam needs another job somewhere as he has lost it.

  18. Pavlov's Cat

    There is no doubt whatsoever he was being smutty.

    No, of course there’s no doubt. But I am utterly floored by the stupidity of the people trying to make us believe there is.

    Eddie McGuire seems strangely silent, however, or have I just not read enough links to the various rags?

  19. Darlene

    Hi Margo, I think you meant to say Paula, but that’s okay.

    Apparently she had a range of concerns, however, I don’t think the Newman crap would’ve helped. Wouldn’t have been the cause.

    It’s terribly sad, and we wish her all the best in her recovery.

    Good point about McGuire. Although he is probably still smarting over the drunk driving incident.

  20. margo

    Thank you Darlene. So Paula had a range of concerns – yes, what was said certainly wouldn’t have helped.

  21. Liam, Boobs & Balls Thread Refugee

    Half of what passes for his humor is the slipping out of sexual double-entendres.

    You say that like it’s a bad thing, Don. The problem with Sam’s humour isn’t that it’s sexual, it’s that it’s shit, and makes you embarassed to call yourself a fan of the same code of football. I mean seriously, the man makes Phil Gould, Fatty Vautin and Blocker Roach look like a bunch of SNAGs.
    That said, Darlene, I’m not entirely sure what possible purpose a thread like this can serve—obviously Paula Wriedt is having a seriously bad time, and it sounds like Newman is at best incidental to that bad time.
    Can we wish well for one, and ill on the other, and settle it there?

  22. Darlene

    Liam, I take your point. Sometimes one writes posts because of the annoyance or whatever one feels in the moment. I thought it was offensive that Paula’s sitation was being reported in relation to Newman.

    I guess the point of the thread was to point to the way the media feeds the Newman “myth” (whatever that is). Newman is a tired old sexist, but he gets plenty of coverage down here in Melbourne town.

    ShouId also annoys the bejesus out of me that Kennett has had things to say about her plight. Kennett who has recently put his foot in his mouth once again in relation to queer issues. If someone can offer a good reason why such an insensitive clod is involved with a group dealing with mental health issues, it’d be good to hear it.

    I agree with your last sentence.

  23. Pavlov's Cat

    I don’t even wish ill to Newman, who is quite obviously not well. But I condemn Channel 9 for being too stupid to take him off TV and keep him off.

  24. Desipis

    Footy players have been sexually objectified in some ways (e.g posing for calendars in nothing but their short shorts and a smile – and a footy).

    The specific show goes beyond targeting those who place themselves in the spot light. The idea, as far as I caught it, was one of the female djs had no interest in football, and decided to rate the players on the basis of who was sexiest rather than who played the best. Can you imagine the fuss that would be made if a male presenter did the same to say, the women in the national netball competition?

    It’s dopey, but I don’t think it’s equal to the hatred Newman spews towards women.

    I don’t usually pay attention to the guy, but based on this latest comment I see how what he says is inappropriate, but I don’t see how it’s hatred.

    After all, footy players have a lot of social status in our society.

    So do politicians. Are you trying to say sexual objectification is OK if the person has social status?

  25. Darlene

    Channel 9 have been feeding the Newman ego (and enjoying the benefits of his many controversies) for a long time, however, Newman is a grown man so I think he needs to take responsibility for his behaviour.

    Yes, Depsis, but women netballers struggle to get exposure for their sport. Indeed, women’s sport is often not taken seriously at all. So I still think there’s a difference between those women rating the sexiness of male footy players and the sort of sexism that’s directed at female sportswoman. Not saying I agree with the objectification of anyone, status or no status. However, the ojectification of somebody without status is going to be more harmful than for somebody with status.

  26. Ambigulous

    Funny thing about our Sam is, he has such a long history of smut and make-fun-of-the-unfortunate, and smut and dirty jokes and double entendre (did I mention smut?) that the audience is probably constantly on the lookout for the schmutzig. And does he play up to that? You bet.

  27. David

    Dunno why everyone keeps using “Sam Newman” and “double entendre” in the same sentence. The stupid prick can’t even manage a single entendre with any grace or style.

  28. Darlene

    Ambigulous, if it wasn’t for the audidence Sam wouldn’t be where he is. Yep, he plays up to it.

    I don’t think Sam could manage any sort of entrende. He is just not funny, he’s cruel. Now some funny comedy does have cruel elements to it, but it redeems itself by allowing its subjects to be human or to get up after slipping on that banana skin etc.

  29. tigtog

    Further to your point about status and objectification above, Darlene: it’s notable that Newman only got into real trouble when he made smutty remarks about women of high social status – those on the football administration bodies and this MP. As long as he was confining his sexist schtick to women of lower social status everyone was just “boys will be boys” about it.

  30. Darlene

    Tigtog, that’s a very important point to make and one that’s worth thinking about more.

    That is, the way that women with lower social status are seen as easy (deserving?) targets.

    Unless the media and the general public get upset about Newman’s comments about women in general (lower or higher social status), we can be assured that the “boys will be boys” b/s will continue.

  31. Paul Burns

    I’m never one to support the idiotic excesses of footballers or ex-footballers, especially as they end up being terribly bad role-models for younger males and perpetuate a culture of violence, sexual sleaze, etc etc.
    I always found Newman highly offensive, and the various Footy Shows puerile, to be polite about them.
    But Newman has just come through a serious cancer operation, the side effects of which, which I won’t go into in all their scatological detail, can be extremely unpleasant, let alone the assault such an operation imposes on the male psychology. He’s probably too ill to be working. But you never knbow …

  32. Darlene

    Thanks for that info, Paul.

    Good on Newman for being open about his illness. Hopefully that will encourage other men to get tested.

    I do think his nastiness and sexism has been a long-term affliction.

  33. Pavlov's Cat

    Sorry, Darlene, I thought that both the prostate surgery (Newman’s specifically) and the effects of prostate surgery (in general), which frequently include impotence and incontinence temporary or permanent, were common knowledge — when I said at #23 that he was ‘quite obviously not well’ I was referring to his post-surgical psychological state, not just hurling abuse. And that’s why I was Loudly Condemning Channel 9 — they should be aware of this and be acting accordingly, because I doubt whether, at the moment, he’s fully responsible for either his words or his actions.

    I know he’s always been unpleasant and sexist (and I reckon there’s a Cultural Studies PhD in him and Wayne Carey, their clubs, their fans and their behaviour), but the nature of the attacks on Caroline Wilson and now poor Paula Wriedt are much nastier, and much more barking, than anything he has ever done before.

  34. Darlene

    Thanks, PC. Yes, I knew you weren’t just hurling abuse. Was aware (sort of) of Newman’s health difficulties. Wasn’t particularly aware of the effects of his condition.

    Sounds like he needs to take time out and care for himself rather than feeding the machine and creating stress for himself and others. I agree with your analysis of Channel 9.

  35. Graeme

    We’re all numbats for jumping on this wagon. NineMSN played this for all it’s worth, pumping up the story about Dirty Old Sam, with polls and so on. They are happy for him to play the d**head devil, and attract attention to the footy show.

  36. Darlene

    I will own up to being a numbat, but Newman is a popular and famous figure. What he says surely says something about the broader society. It seems Channel 9/NineMSN don’t really care about him so long as he’s bringing in the bucks.

  37. Adrien

    Footy players have been sexually objectified in some ways (e.g posing for calendars in nothing but their short shorts and a smile – and a footy). It’s dopey, but I don’t think it’s equal to the hatred Newman spews towards women.

    One thing doesn’t have much to do with the other. Newman reminds me of the sort of blokes you’d see on TV in the 80s – all named something ‘o’: Robbo, Gibbo, Davo whatever.
    .
    You wouldn’t see this level of bile back then however: not in public. I guess it’s not strictly correspondant but it reminds me of a friend of mine’s comment viz the machismo of the 70s soul mac daddy persona and his b-boy hip hop descendant. She said something to the effect that the Mac Daddy was sexist in a the old-fashioned macho way but not misogynist like the gangsta rappers: there was no hatred.
    .
    At least publically.
    .
    Popular culture seems awash with misogynist hatred at the moment. Some of it really … nuts. I don’t watch TV and didn’t watch the Footy Show when I did but what I’ve read of Newman’s antics seem to go beyond some stupid yobbo dickhead joke and encroach on pathology.
    .
    Sexual objectification – ie looking at spunky people and liking it is not intriniscally linked however with hatred or contempt. But naturally I’m wrong.

  38. Darlene

    What do you mean, naturally you’re wrong? Come on, Adrien, that sounds a bit negative.

    People like to look at other people (spunky is in the eye of the beholder of course). That’s part of human nature.

    However, that’s different to the persistent objectification (and denigration) of the female body. Newman seems to be to be engaging in a kind of retarded masculinity, which is absolutely of no benefit to women or men.

  39. Adrien

    What do you mean, naturally you’re wrong?

    I’m being sarcastic Darlene in furtherance to my view that ‘sexual objectification’ is not always a bad thing. I think there is ‘sexual objectification’ as in using sexual imagery to render the subject or, say, women in general, less than human. But a lot of the time it’s just checking foxy people out.

    Newman seems to be to be engaging in a kind of retarded masculinity, which is absolutely of no benefit to women or men.

    That’s not true Newman benefits us all. He benefits women by demonstrating clearly what men you want to avoid look like. And he makes almost all guys look good in comparison.

  40. Ambigulous

    PC included: “but the nature of the attacks on Caroline Wilson and now poor Paula Wriedt are much nastier,”

    Yes, Caroline Wilson may not be a high status woman, but is a very prominent footy journalist at “The Age” – which broadsheet has been relatively restrained in its coverage of Sam’s crudity concerning her.

    He also has had a line in make-fun-of-the-handicapped, the poor, the inarticulate, for many years; this can’t all have been due to his recent illness. Strangely, viewers don’t seem so upset by his sallies into cruel buffoonery with the unwashed.

  41. Darlene

    “I’m being sarcastic Darlene in furtherance to my view that ’sexual objectification’ is not always a bad thing. I think there is ’sexual objectification’ as in using sexual imagery to render the subject or, say, women in general, less than human. But a lot of the time it’s just checking foxy people out.”

    Mmmm, I’d say it’s the other way around (as a woman one is aware of the constant objectification of women – a quick visit to the newsagency is enough to prove it).

    I’m just about to watch my Flight of the Conchords DVD. Now, Jemaine and Bret are easy on the eye, but saying that is different to reducing them to nothing but their bodies and manhood. Also, Murray the manager rocks my world. He’s so cool.

    “He also has had a line in make-fun-of-the-handicapped, the poor, the inarticulate, for many years; this can’t all have been due to his recent illness. Strangely, viewers don’t seem so upset by his sallies into cruel buffoonery with the unwashed.”

    Seems he makes fun of everyone except white males. Pathetic.

  42. Jenny

    OK, here we go. To defend the apparently indefensible.

    I think most of you have missed the point of Sam Newman’s role on the footy show. What he is deliberately doing is presenting a parody of a mysoginist. And most of the time it is enjoyable and yes, funny. That’s because despite necessarily pushing the limits of his comedy genre, most of the time he does it with impeccable taste. I wouldn’t defend for a moment his comments about Paula Wriedt or the Caroline Wilson antics, but over a decade he’s been far more often funny than offensive. I suggest it takes considerable humour, care and skill to do his job and a few mistakes are bound to happen.

    My main point: Sam is not promoting male chauvinism. He’s putting it up as something to be lampooned. Deliberately.

  43. Darlene

    Thanks for your perspective, Jenny. Always good to have different views about these things.

    Not sure that it’s that easy to see Newman as a gender satirist. Where is the irony in his work? Do fans of The Footy Show generally get the gag (if it is a gag)? Where is the evidence of Sam opposing sexism when not in “buffoon” mode?

    Mmmm, Sam Newman as the Lenny Bruce of Australia?????????????

  44. Pavlov's Cat

    I think most of you have missed the point of Sam Newman’s role on the footy show. What he is deliberately doing is presenting a parody of a mysoginist. … Sam is not promoting male chauvinism. He’s putting it up as something to be lampooned. Deliberately.

    Jenny, can I ask how you know this? Do you have some kind of insider knowledge, or is it just your personal opinion?

  45. Lines penned for Troy Buswell

    The audience reaction (inside the studio) doesn’t seem to bear out your hypothesis, Jenny. I second Pavlov’s – not that she needs it.

  46. Jenny

    Pavlov’s Cat says:

    Jenny, can I ask how you know this? Do you have some kind of insider knowledge, or is it just your personal opinion?

    Personal opinion. But I’m right. In my opinion.

  47. Katz

    If Newman’s is an act, then it is an acting tour de force. He has maintained this guise absolutely and seamlessly for more than a decade.

    Even Barry Humphrey allows Dame Edna to drop out of character often enough to allow the audience a glimpse at the mechanics of irony.

  48. Darlene

    “If Newman’s is an act, then it is an acting tour de force. He has maintained this guise absolutely and seamlessly for more than a decade.”

    Yes, who would have thought Newman was that talented. More than a decade of Newman lampooning misogyny. He must be a comic genius. More than a decade of searing indictments of sexism from Sam Newman.

    Sam, we feminists should thank you for taking up our cause, even though we didn’t have a clue you were (feminists obviously not getting humour and all that).

  49. Nick

    An example of Sam’s impeccable taste, Jenny?

  50. Adrien

    My main point: Sam is not promoting male chauvinism. He’s putting it up as something to be lampooned. Deliberately.

    I don’t know ’cause I’ve never seen it but this is a possibility. It’s also quite possible to bring your own irony into the situation and se it that way even if he doesn’t. I would wonder why he persists if he’s being misunderstood and this misunderstanding is causing problems.
    .
    However, unpleasant tho’ it is, there is misogyny, racial animosity and all sorts of other social tension in the world. Banning comedians doesn’t make it go away. It drives underground and amplifies it.
    .
    The old adage of free speech is: if you don’t like it, don’t watch.
    .
    Assuming that Newman and The Footy Show cast are the same bunch of blubberheaded, women-hating yobbo dickheads I’m familiar with from my days dealing with such in boarding school what is to be gained by prohibition? They’ll still be there. And they’ll still say what they say. If I was inclined to hit back I’d do it with comedy. Fire with fire and all that.

  51. Pavlov's Cat

    Whatever else, I’m quite sure he sees himself as a contrarian, valiantly battling PC* wherever he thinks he finds it.

    *Not me, the other kind. (Although he would really hate me.)

  52. Helen

    I saw the Footy Show after the Caroline Wilson incident. No way was he satirising himself, although I did see some kind of weak attempt at being a “character” / “larrikin”. The man has the nastiest face on television. Those eyes are just cold and full of complete misanthropy. He gives me the shivers. His whole facial expression and body language betray a distaste for human-, but especially woman-kind.

    How would you explain the “women aren’t suitable to be on Boards” remark a s joke? it plainly wasn’t meant that way.

  53. Lines Penned for Troy Buswell

    Nick, from your linked piece:
    “The corrugated, studded, fibreglass walls on the park facade are lined with pink bats, which in the morning sun, glow with a pink fleshy tone .”

    There you go, Darlene. Sam not only champions women’s rights, he has taken the trouble to catch a whole lot of bats and have them PAINTED PINK, the poor little nocturnal darlings. Such public declaration of feminine sympathies. What other evidence do you need of his deep humanitarianism, his subtle understanding of gendered symbolism? He has PINK BATS in his fibreglass walls. The Defence rests its case, m’lud.

  54. Darlene

    🙂

    Good one, Mr Lines. Made me chuckle.

    I guess the really good thing about free speech, Adrian, is that we are also free to say that’s Sam humour is pathetic, sad and about as ironic as least ironic thing in the world. Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert he ain’t. Sorry, the notion that Sam’s taking the piss is just so laughable (more laughable than Sam’s jokes).

    Helen’s analysis rings true. His eyes reveal what’s in his soul and it ain’t pretty, for him or for the audience. One could easily feel sad for him (for more reasons than his illness or the way he is being treated by Channel 9).

    PC, Christ knows what’d he say about a pack of women like us.

  55. Nick

    Yeah, it seems clear that appearing as the Devil on his comeback show was designed to satirise his detractors, rather than himself.

    Don’t think I’ve ever heard him truly make a joke at his own expense, without seeking to imply it’s ‘you’ who are the humourless moron.

    Pink bats 🙂 I did wonder on reading what’s supposed to be attractive about pink fibreglass. That horrible tone isn’t exactly fleshy. Ah well, as the Pink Batts website cryptically says, “Get in the pink…”

  56. Pavlov's Cat

    Regarding the eyes, some of that effect is the plastic surgery. I was still watching the Footy Show occasionally when he turned up one week looking completely different (around the eyes) from the way he’d looked the last time I’d seen him. It wasn’t any kind of improvement, although at least he didn’t have that terribly-startled look that Warren Beatty and Robert Redford have been dumb enough to get done.

    On the principle of free speech — which not all of us valorise above all other considerations in any case, or think that acts of hate speech should be protected by — it’s not so much about watching or not watching as it is about vicious attacks in the public arena involving a form of highly sexualised verbal and (in the case of Wilson) visually symbolic violence. Which we then have shoved under our noses as headline “news” by the press.

    walls on the park facade are lined with pink bats, which in the morning sun, glow with a pink fleshy tone

    Sound like what you saw would depend on how heavy a night you’d had.

  57. Ambigulous

    I think there’s one other medical condition that’s relevant. Several years ago, Sam apparently had Bell’s palsey. I think thev press covered it at the time. This can paralyse one’s face, or one side of your face (my Mum had it). A person’s expression can therefore become somewhat wooden.

    I don’t know whether he’s also had plastic surgery.

    Frankly, I don’t care. It’s his words, his “skits”, his “Street Talk” field trips which hold up to widespread ridicule some unfortunate people, that get my goat. I’m a bloke. Sam has been offensive often enough to merit sacking.

    Channel 9: show some spine. Obtain some decorum; if necessary, buy some.

  58. Pavlov's Cat

    Ambi, yes, I’d known that but forgotten about it. I don’t care whether he’s had plastic surgery either (though this will no doubt bring the wrath of the righteous down upon my head again, as per the marathon puppies thread) — I brought it up because of the way people were talking about his eyes. But yes, the change of look was quite a different effect from the Bell’s Palsy thing.

    Re Nine and its spine, I was actually quite flabbergasted that they brought him back so soon after ANZ withdrew sponsorship because of the Caroline Wilson episode (though not at all surprised at them bringing him back far too soon after the prostate surgery). I thought money was the only thing that talked at Nine, but it seems not.

    Oh and yes about the Street Talk segment, which has always been an abomination.

  59. Ambigulous

    Thanks Pavlov’s. I too thought that if folk were inclined to draw conclusions from his facial appearance, apropos his delivery of barbs, quips etc, then his Bell’s Palsey was possibly relevant. Cheers.

  60. Darlene

    Good points, PC and Ambigulous.

    There’s no wrath like the wrath of the righteous. I’m sure many of us have felt it and been guilty of it as well. Worth remembering that phrase before hitting submit.

  61. Paul Burns

    Never having watched any of the Footy Shows in any state, I’m only aware of thosew antics of Newman that get extended publicity. The problem with 9 is, these attitudes are not restricted to the Footy Show, they’re just not unleashed as brutally. The Today Show is a very good example (apart from it also being a propaganda tool for the Libs. I loved the way Rudd wiped the floor with Karl Stepanovic just before he left for the Olympics.)Subtle, and not that subltle misogyny abound day after day.

  62. j_p_z

    Dr. Cat: “On the principle of free speech — which not all of us valorise above all other considerations in any case, or think that acts of hate speech should be protected by —”

    Okay then. w/r/t “acts of hate speech”… define “hate.”

    SMASH CUT TO:

    Howdy, cellmate!

    See how fast that happens?

    Honestly, you’re smart enough to know better.

  63. Pavlov's Cat

    Honestly, you’re smart enough to know better.

    By ‘know better’, I take it you mean ‘agree with you’? Well, I’m smart enough to be familiar with the argument, it’s just that I don’t agree that it’s true. And I’d say that you are smart enough to know that that is an absurdly reductive little scenario. It happens “fast” only in the minds of the paranoid.

    Mr Godwin is going to lose me the argument on a technicality for this next bit, but wotthehellarchywotthehell:

    define “hate.”

    NO FAT CHICKS!

    WOG C*NTS GO HOME

    WHITES ONLY

    JUDEN VERBOTEN

    Etc.

  64. j_p_z

    “It happens “fast” only in the minds of the paranoid.”

    Oh, so if it merely happens more slowly, then you would rest content.

    Godwin isn’t losing you the argument here; the problem is, you’re not making an actual argument, merely expressing preferences.

    From a legal, policy-making point of view, in the political world in which we currently live, here is how I read your statement “not all of us… think that acts of hate speech should be protected…” It translates into, “The state shall have power to punish those who make speech acts which it regards as ‘hate speech’.” Which is why I asked you to define “hate”; eventually, some legislator would have to do so. And that legislator, I’m guessing, will not be either you nor meself. But I’m sure they’ll be extraordinarily wise, virtuous and prudent, as legislators invariably are.

    Like I say, Godwin is the least of your problems. In the end, your definition of “hate” amounts to a semi-random, and in practice limitless, list of “Stuff Dr. Cat doesn’t like.” (btw, the last two phrases on your list aren’t even ‘speech,’ they are policies.) I see you were even courteous enough to include the all-purpose “etc.” so that future lawmakers will have to expand the anti-hate legislation (and trust me, they’ll be expanding it) by attempting to read your mind.

    In the next episode, we’ll move on to “define tyranny.”

    FORTUNE: The Canadian Human Rights Commission Needs YOU!

  65. laura

    casuistry. and mean-spirited at that.

  66. j_p_z

    “and mean-spirited at that.”

    Well. That certainly didn’t take very long.

    An old Zen koan for you, laura: “What is the sound of one side losing?”

  67. Pavlov's Cat

    … here is how I read your statement “not all of us… think that acts of hate speech should be protected…” It translates into, “The state shall have power to punish those who make speech acts which it regards as ‘hate speech’.”

    Well, thank you at least for the qualifying ‘here is how I read …’, because Laura is right; it’s specious, nay, nonsensical reasoning. To say that “X should not be protected = X must be punished” is like saying that if it’s duck season then the whole of the citizenry is required to get out there in the marshes in their rubber boots at dawn and blam away at anything that walks like a duck.

    When I say ‘should not be protected’, what I mean is ‘should not be protected’. Protected, specifically, by the frenzied bleatings of WADDABOUT TEH FREE SPEECH?? (bleatings that that are themselves intended to silence the other party; oh the irony) every time anyone objects to hate speech.

    And yes, ‘hate’ is what I said and meant. What else would you call the emotion that informs every one of the examples I gave? (All of which, incidentally, although in fact ‘hate speech’ is not a purely literal term — I refer you in particular to the second sentence of the first paragraph there — I have at some point heard said or shouted, either live or in documentary recordings.) ‘Hate speech’ is an accepted and widely used term; I’m not going to stop using it just because it’s one of the things JPZ doesn’t like.

  68. j_p_z

    If you’re not talking about the power of the state to proscribe and punish, then I have no quarrel with you. But in the (political/legal) world of rights, “protected” to my mind (and I believe to the minds of many) is ironically not understood as active, it’s passive; “protected” is our natural state, in which we conserve all rights not expressly delegated to control by the state, with our consent thereto. It’s a deficiency of the way the English language is used. Difference between rights and privileges and so forth. Caryl Churchill does a nice sharp riff on it in “Light Shining in Buckinghamshire,” if I recall.

    “When I say ’should not be protected’, what I mean is ’should not be protected’. Protected, specifically, by the frenzied bleatings of WADDABOUT TEH FREE SPEECH?? (bleatings that that are themselves intended to silence the other party; oh the irony) every time anyone objects to hate speech.”

    Then I don’t really know what you’re talking about. Either you have used the word “protected” idiosyncratically, or else you are simply calling for more (and critical) speech in response to hate speech, which is the right thing to do. Neither of these issues are a bee in my particular bonnet, so, perhaps we are arguing about nothing.

  69. Mark

    Well, who is the bearer or subject of these “rights”? Hate speech is both a speaking position and an assertion of privilege, and the two are intertwined to the degree that it’s predicated on privilege.

    Conflicts of rights are common. But only if they’re seen purely in the abstract and in some false universality. And that’s how they have to be seen if the “right” to hate speech is to be protected. Because in the concrete, there’s no conflict of rights but an assertion of power.

  70. Mark

    I should add that the point of hate speech is precisely to deprive the other of the “right” to articulate or speak their identity. For themselves.

    I’ll just recommend the rather lucid work of Judith Butler on this topic, then run away because it will, I predict, be impossible to have a sensible conversation with some people after mentioning the very overdetermined phrase “Judith Butler”.

  71. j_p_z

    Mark: you’re headed down the road to totalitarianism by suggesting that these things are materially or situationally conditional. (Who sets the conditions? Ipsos custodes, and so forth: entry-level, dude.) There is no “right to hate speech”; there is only a right to speak freely, and if what you speak is hateful, well, them’s just the breaks. Maybe somebody else will speak freely right back at you, and clear you up from your delusions. If we decide pre-emptively that we already “know” (because we just DO!, dammit! we studied with the right people!!) what ought and ought not to be spoken, well…

    I can’t believe I still have to argue this stuff with grown-up, educated adults. Doesn’t this sort of thing get washed out in junior-high civics class? “predicated on privilege”?! What are you, smoking crack?

    “I’ll just recommend the rather lucid work of Judith Butler on this topic…”

    Well, you stick with your Butler, and I’ll hang onto my James Madison, and we’ll see who rots in a gulag first.

  72. Mark

    It would be really nice if what you just wrote about “totalitarianism” and “gulag” was meant to be funny, j_p_z, but I guess it isn’t.

  73. Mark

    Just in terms of situational and/or conditional “rights”, though, j_p_z, let me just point out that there is no general right to free speech in either Australian constitutional or statute or common law. Now, perhaps, you’d like to assert that there are nevertheless universal human rights to free speech, which Australian law is too dumb to recognise. But then I’d counter by pointing out that Americans have a very different conception – culturally and therefore also practically – of what might constitute “freedom of speech” than I think Australians – on the whole – do.

    As for my other points, obviously I hold those truths to be self-evident. 😉

  74. Pavlov's Cat

    “predicated on privilege”?! What are you, smoking crack?

    Wow, way to descend to playground abuse. I can’t work out whether you mean you deny such speech is predicated on privilege, or whether you don’t know / can’t see what he means (said blindness to privilege being a classic symptom of it).

    I can’t believe I still have to argue this stuff with grown-up, educated adults.

    Shorter JPZ: they cross me, therefore they are ignorant children.

  75. Leigh

    I think we are confusing disaproval of speech with hate speech.(Sorry about the typos)

  76. Mark

    I’ll also hasten to point out that “them’s the breaks” and “well, you can talk back…” assume no privilege and indeed no disparity in power or difference in point of enunciation.

  77. j_p_z

    Mark, I wish I was being funny. Maybe this news is just too obscure and isn’t going around the traps in Australia, but bloggers are being arrested in Western Europe for writing things that some people find vaguely unpleasant; Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant were dragged in front of a kangaroo court in Canada of all places, for “inciting anti-Islamic hatred” by quoting/printing the literal remarks of an imam in Europe. Ezra Levant, the publisher of the magazine in which Steyn’s book-excerpt appeared, was taken to court after he refused a group of Muslims who demanded –demanded!– the right to publish their own [un-edited] reply in a magazine which was of course private property.

    This is your blog. Imagine if you deleted one of my comments, for whatever reason that you felt appropriate (and you rightly reserve the right to make such judgments), but then I sued you for inciting hatred against whatever zany nonsense I had commented about in the first place. It’s ridiculous, right? Guess what, that sort of hooey is starting to happen.

    I agree with you, “it would be nice” if what I said was in jest.

  78. laura

    jpz did you know that Victoria has anti-vilification legislation?

  79. Mark

    Oh, yes, jpz, we’ve heard all about Mark Steyn in these parts. Janet Albrechtsen devoted column after column, none of which I read. Any acquaintance I had with Steyn’s writing suggests that he’s someone who is incapable of making a responsible argument either through stupidity or cupidity, and someone addicted to vicious hyperbole. So I’m not surprised that someone may have taken exception to something he wrote, and I don’t know the context, but I really don’t think he’s much of a poster boy for responsible speech.

    In Australian law, if I defame you, and you sue me successfully, I have to publish a retraction. I’d also suggest that you might be more attached to “property rights” than many folks in this country (except for the alleged libertarians who are very selective in their love). It would be easy to make an argument in principle that where people are misrepresented and vilified they should have a right to reply to the same audience who’s read the offensive article.

  80. j_p_z

    Mark — are you saying that because you don’t like/disagree with Mark Steyn, he therefore has no right to speak or publish, except at the discretion of the state?

    On matters of Australian law, I must defer, since obviously different countries have different codes. Some of them worry me more than others, but unlike Mr. Bush, I don’t think it’s my brief to transform all humanity. We seem to be straying into a fundamental difference of conception of liberty between Australian and American law, and since those are uncharted waters for me, I can go no further.

    laura — what’s your point? (or as a character in a Dashiell Hammett book might say, Is that a threat?)

  81. Leigh

    Mark he gave a Muslim sitcom a bad revue you did the same thing the other day HRC for you?

  82. Mark

    Oh dear. No, I don’t think much of Mark Steyn’s writing. I have said nothing, absolutely nothing about the merits or otherwise of his case, or of the law, because I have insufficient information to comment in an informed way about either. But it is absolutely wrong to infer from what I have said what has been inferred.

    I made it clear that I do not believe there should be an unconstrained right to free speech, if the intent and effect of that speech is to vilify and demean others particularly if they have less power and in particular less power to respond. That has nothing to do with “the free circulation of ideas” or whether arguments can and should be challenged on their logic (and their apparent motivation and context) – and note I don’t use the metaphor of the market. It should be very clear why I adopt this position from the comments I’ve previously made and that I do not accept the framing of speech in terms of rights – at least not without some understanding that such rights are contextual. Debate and argument are to be encouraged and facilitated but there are much better frameworks for so doing than rights claims.

    Nothing in what I have written implies any desire that the state should be arbiter in these matters, though in some limited circumstances it may be desirable that it should be. It’s too late at night, I’m sorry, for me to be prepared to explain further or argue this out.

  83. Mark

    And btw, Leigh, I’m not aware of ever having reviewed a Muslim sitcom. Whatever that may be!

  84. Frank Calabrese

    [And btw, Leigh, I’m not aware of ever having reviewed a Muslim sitcom. Whatever that may be!]

    I think she’s referring to the Salam Cafe discussion on one of the Saturday Salons’

    http://larvatusprodeo.net/2008/05/10/saturday-salon-139/

  85. laura

    my point is a question jpz. Do you know anything about the legal situation here in Australia, and about how it differs in the different states, and about the recent case where somebody tried to use it for exactly the sort of ‘hooey’ you sketched at 77, and which was duly thrown out of court.

  86. Leigh

    Little Mosque on the Parrie is one of the things MS is being fronted for.

  87. Mark

    Thanks, Frank. That must have been someone else, I think. I’ve only ever watched Salaam Cafe for about 10 mins, though from what I saw it looked like maybe I should have watched more.

    Leigh, I don’t know what that is. As I said, I wouldn’t make a judgement on Mark Steyn’s case unless I knew the full context. I mentioned that I hadn’t read any of Albrechtsen’s columns and I saw a few posts in my greader but didn’t read them either. I’m not prepared to offer a view unless I understood the context, and I really think I’d be wasting valuable moments of my life if I spent them reading anything Mark Steyn wrote. But, again, I don’t hold the position that any speech in any context is defensible at all times under the claim of a right. As I said, that should be fairly clear from what I wrote above.