September 28, 2011

Andrew Bolt: Guilty

Class action against columnist Andrew Bolt succeeds in Federal Court … here.

But the Judge was very precise in his ruling, which could be read to suggest that minus the inflammatory language and inclusion of an iota of good faith, Bolt, or others, may question matters of racial identification without undue fear of being dragged to court.  Seems reasonable.   It also seems that the judgment could just as easily have gone the other way.  A suitable penalty is pending, with a possible appeal to the High Court, if the boss is prepared to continue to pick up Bolt's legal bill. 
Justice Mordy Bromberg found Bolt and the Herald and Weekly Times contravened the Racial Discrimination Act by publishing two articles on racial identity which contained "errors in fact, distortions of the truth and inflammatory and provocative language".

Justice Bromberg said it was important to note his judgment did not forbid debate or articles on racial identity issues if done "reasonably and in good faith in the making or publishing of a fair comment".
"Nothing in the orders I make should suggest that it is unlawful for a publication to deal with racial identification, including by challenging the genuineness of the identification of a group of people," Justice Bromberg said.
Fairfax takes a different tack, declaring that Bolt has been delivered a “stinging judgment”.  Meh.  Not really. 

The Age does a happy dance over Bolt loss 


  1. Bolt's guilty of hurting some feelings.

  2. Jacob7:49 PM

    Screaming banner headlines on the front page of the Herald Sun of Bolt claiming he's been 'silenced'... So when's he going to STFU?

  3. It was a pretty mild judgment.

    Not as though Bolt doesn't know what he's doing when he sets out to be provocative.

    Almost worth the effort to have had the Act tested, although, unfortunately, it was a judgment about semantics, choice and placement of words.

    While we have NO rights to freedom of speech in Australia (why do Australians persist in believing we operate under the first amendment of the constitution of the USA? must be the same people who dial 999 in an emergency ...), this case has not imposed limits, and importantly doesn't suggest any new gags be placed on public discussion.

    Bolt will continue to huff and puff, but it's not a bad outcome per se.

    Of course, if the court suggests that he retract and apologise, that might be interesting.

  4. Anonymous10:02 PM

    Probably more about manners than free fucking shitty @#$% speech.

    But moi doesn't have a clue cause moi didn't pay attention to the issue at hand.

    I don't think I missed much.


  5. It was indeed mild, overall. Though I imagine Mr Bolt might have felt a bit lacerated by the part of Bromberg's ruling that said his offending articles "contained errors of fact, distortions of the truth," etc. But that's still fairly mild compared to the judgement against him in the 2002/3 defamation case.

    Overall though, this whole latest episode is just wrong. It was arguably the wrong law to go after him with, when a defamation action could have given the applicants the remedy they, in all probability, deserved. And Bolt himself is just the wrong guy to be elevated to 'hero of free speech' (entertaining though it all is at some level).

  6. Anonymous9:36 PM

    11.48pm - Thursday:

    I agree with kae.

    Found guilty of hurting some people's feelings and ordered to say he's sorry. What is this? Little lunchtime? This is horseshit. They are all in the public arena. It's a fair enough subject for public scrutiny. Is this what we want? Look at the possibilities. What about BDS for instance?


    I'm sure I'm not the first to have that thought.


  7. "What is this? Little lunchtime?"

    Hee hee.

    Yes, apparently it is!

    Even Geoff Clarke, who is an unsavory person, had nothing more forceful to say today than, basically, Bolt has been taught a lesson ... in future don't write stuff that might upset people.


    This was always an interesting 'test', if for no other reason than that there is unlikely to be many people who haven't, at one time or another, thought pretty much what Bolt wrote ... so when some journalists bleat about this being a ruling against all of us, they're not really talking about free speech, they're talking about fairly ordinary thoughts that any of us have or say or write.

    It was a poor case to take to court and that's been shown with the response to the ruling - feigned outrage (Bolt and other journo's) and a great deal of mockery by the rest of us.

    I take some heart from the latter: the average man and woman isn't as stupid as they sometimes seem, and don't always acquiesce to authority figures.

    Hope remains.