Monday, 1 October 2012

Alan Jones, Free Speech and the Things They Have To Do With Each Other

You've all heard it by now. Alan Jones said, whilst unaware that he was being recorded, that the Prime Minister's father died of shame because his daughter is a liar. Disgusting, right?

Most of Australia thinks so.

Most of Australia is happy to tell him so.

Alan Jones himself acknowledged, in his own weaseling way, that what he said was wrong and shouldn't have been said.

Many people were not content with this and began campaigning to have companies that advertise with 2GB pull their sponsorship. If enough of them do, 2GB may be obliged to remove Alan Jones from air lest their station begin losing money faster than it can pay its debts.

At no point did the Government step in and arrest Alan Jones. At no point did the government direct any advertisers to remove their ads from 2GB. At no point will they insist that any advertisers remain at 2GB.

What I have just described is the process of Freedom of Speech and Capitalism working in perfect harmony, exactly the way it should.

There is nothing about what I've said that involves limiting anybody's free speech, nobody has been 'silenced' in any way, and absolutely nothing untoward has occurred with regard to transparency of the legal process or intervention from government agencies.

I can't say it any more clearly.

The system is working perfectly.


Alas, no matter how many times one goes to the effort of pointing out the process of free speech in action, there will always be people lining up ready to completely miss the point. Some examples:

In case anyone has forgotten, free speech is sacred in this country, and Nicola Roxon, Bob Carr and Craig Emerson should certainly look towards their own attitudes....

...the most disturbing thing about the incident is the readiness of government ministers and leftists to attempt to shut down free speech by demanding that 2GB sack him.

If 2GB sacks him, it will be another nail in the coffin of free speech. 

WHETHER or not we like what Alan Jones said, I believe that according to the principles of free speech he had the right to say it... If we were to silence everyone that might make "unacceptable" comments, no one would be able to say anything.

[All excerpts from comments found here].

It can't be said any more clearly. If 2GB decides to sack Alan Jones (which they most likely won't), it will be a commercial decision. That commercial decision will have come about because thousands of people, dissatisfied with the nature of Jones' comments, made their voices heard to the people who have the power to make a difference. The public exercised its freedom of speech right back at Alan Jones, who was exercising his right in the first place.

If Jones is removed from 2GB, it will be an incredible victory for free speech. An example of the system working exactly as it should work. Being told that you're costing a radio station more money than you're making and being shown the door has nothing to do with limiting freedom of speech and everything to do with the commercial nature of the media.

I don't get to say that, because this blog post isn't being broadcast to an audience of thousands by a popular radio station that operates on the basis of profit, that my free speech is being limited. Nor does Alan Jones. Easy, right?

Well apparently not, according to this article. The most telling quote from which is as follows:

The second aspect, which cuts the other way, is the extent to which free speech in Australia remains negotiable against what is deemed acceptable by a political correctness brigade now fortified with social media.

Don't listen to this kind of attitude. Anybody that would discount social media as a single entity with an agenda does not understand social media. Social media is simply a means for thousands of people to exercise their freedom of speech in a way that actually impacts on people such as Alan Jones - something that he, and clearly his listenership and cheer squads, are not used to.

Welcome to the world of real freedom of speech, where everyone has a chance to make their voice heard. Nobody is entitled to 'more' free speech than anyone else. It's not a shield from criticism anymore. If people don't like what you say, they will let you know about it.

And the system will carry on working like it's supposed to.