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Keep socialist blog En Passant going - donate now
If you want to keep a blog that makes the arguments every day against the ravages of capitalism going and keeps alive the flame of democracy and community, make a donation to help cover my costs. And of course keep reading the blog. To donate click here. Keep socialist blog En Passant going. More... (4)

Sprouting sh*t for almost nothing
You can prove my 2 ex-comrades wrong by donating to my blog En Passant at BSB: 062914 Account: 1067 5257, the Commonwealth Bank in Tuggeranong, ACT. More... (12)

My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/18-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-g20-meeting-age-of-enttilement-engineers-attack-of-austerity-hardship-on-civilians.mp3 (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2014/02/11/john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-2/ (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/4-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-end-of-the-age-of-entitlement-for-the-needy-but-pandering-to-the-lusts-of-the-greedy.mp3 (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole
(0)

Sick kids and paying upfront

(0)

Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2013/12/03/john-passant-australian-national-university-8/ (0)

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It’s just a joke

‘It’s just a joke.’ It is a common response, especially from right-wingers trying to cover or apologise for their racism, sexism or homophobia.

When I wrote Evidently right wing hate is OK and criticised among others the Curtin Capitalist Society at the University of Curtin for putting ‘Better dead than red’ stickers over Left Action election posters there was a torrent of replies arguing it was just a joke and I should lighten up.

They failed to see the death threat in the stickers, understand its Nazi history or to take account of what the people they were targeting might feel and how they might respond.

The excuse we are being offered about the 2 Day FM interview by Mel Greig and Michael Christian with a nurse at the exclusive King Edward VII hospital where Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, was being treated for morning sickness is similar.

The argument goes something like this:

It was just a prank call whose results – the suicide of Jacintha Saldanha, the woman who took the call and put the 2 Australian DJs through to one of the nurses looking after Kate  – could not have been foreseen.

Prank calls have a long history in Australian radio. They are evidently important for some listeners and boost ratings. Certainly 2Day FM and its owner, Southern Cross Austereo, would have hoped for that with the initial success of this fake call. 

Prank calls reinforce a sense of superiority among middle class listeners over the mainly working class targets. They allow an alienated often working class audience the ability to laugh at and hence feel superior to those other workers who have been pranked. A sort of jocular racism without the race, the logic of  refugee bashing transferred to ‘dumb’ workers …

The victims of prank calls are invariably working class people. Jacintha Saldanha answered phones at  an exclusive hospital. The nurse Mel Greig and Michael Christian spoke to? Another worker at the hospital.

Sometimes, like the Chaser, the targets of the send ups or pranks are the ruling class or their politicians. Fair enough.  They are exploiting us. They are in the public eye. They can expect such ‘investigation’.

And the point, sometimes, about the Chaser, is that it exposes the hypocrisy of the ruling class and its hanger on politicians. I can never forget their fake security car getting within 100 metres of George Bush’s hotel in Sydney during an APEC meeting, despite the fact they had fake passes and a rather obvious Osama bin Laden look alike in the dodgy car.  They trashed APEC security.

Radio stations like 2Day FM find it easier and cheaper, and presumably more ratings worthy, to target workers rather than the rich and powerful.

Greig and Christian, radio workers, are victims too of the vicious and cut throat drive for profit and more and more outrageous pranks, stunts and comments to attract a bigger audience driven by the 2 Day FM business model of outrage and controversy, of pranks and set-ups.

Certainly Greig and Christian made the call. They did not approve its publication. Any fault is not theirs, but the station’s management and ownership.

Workers who abuse other workers as part of their job under the influence of a narrow minded business driven only by profit openly at the expense of people and their feelings are to be pitied not pilloried.

When the money model of pranking turns ugly, as in this case, then the workers carrying out the activity, and now under incredible pressure, should be supported by their employer, just as Jacintha Saldanha should have been supported.  

Now we have the regulatory body, the Australian Communication and Media Authority, talking about investigating the incident.

There has been some talk that the call breached both Commonwealth and state laws. If that is so, then 2 Day FM would not be alone. Has there been any instance in which prank calls by radio announcers which may have breached communications and other laws ever been investigated by police, let alone ACMA? Has there ever been any prosecution of broadcasters or their bosses under these laws? If not, why not? The lack of police investigation and ACMA enforcement stands as tacit approval.

Article 6 of the Radio Codes of Practice and Guidelines (drawn up by the radio stations) says:

The purpose of this Code is to prevent the unauthorised broadcast of statements by identifiable persons.

6.1 A licensee must not broadcast the words of an identifiable person unless:

(a) that person has been informed in advance or a reasonable person would be aware that the words may be broadcast; or

(b) in the case of words which have been recorded without the knowledge of the person, that person has subsequently, but prior to the broadcast, expressed consent to the broadcast of the words.

To me it looks like a pretty open and shut case of a breach of that provision by 2 Day FM.  Sophistry about whether Jacintha Saldanha was an identifiable person will not do and only compounds the view that here is a big business gaming the system first to make more money and then when it goes wrong to avoid culpability.

 All this for a few laughs and some notoriety/increased audience. So what can ACMA do about this possible breach? Clause 7 of the Radio Codes of Practice will shake radio stations to their boots. Not.

It says:

The purpose of this Code is to promote compliance with the requirements of these Codes of Practice.

7.1 Licensees must comply with the Codes, but a failure to comply will not be a breach of the Codes if that failure is due to:

(a) material being broadcast which the licensee believed on reasonable grounds did not breach the Codes; or

(b) a reasonable mistake; or

(c) reasonable reliance on information supplied by another person; or

(d) an act or default of another person, or to an accident or some other cause beyond the licensee‟s control and the licensee took reasonable precautions and exercised due diligence to avoid the failure.

Penalties? What penalties?

So all is well now, isn’t it, that ACMA is possibly investigating? Well, not really.

2Day FM already has form. Kyle Sandilands questioned a 14 year old girl strapped to a lie detector about her sexual experiences. She revealed she had been raped when she was 12. Is that your only sexual experience he asked. Sandilands also called a journalist critical of the station a fat slag and a piece of shit on air. ACMA has imposed weak condition on the station about protecting children and appropriate standards of civility. Even then, 2Day FM appealed against the decency condition.

So ACMA’s ‘regulatory’ approach to 2Day FM has worked well, hasn’t it?

Maybe the Sandilands episodes indicate a station which courts controversy for ratings and the Kate prank is just another example of this?

The ACMA is looking inadequate in its previous dealings with 2Day FM.

But it has other history which doesn’t augur well either. Could this be the same ACMA which investigated Alan Jones? Yes. Five times on radio he made some reference to putting the Prime Minister in a chaff bag and dumping her at sea.

ACMA found the comments disparaging and disrespectful but said they did not incite violence or brutality.

In response to a listener’s criticism of Gillard, Jones replied “Yeah, that’s it. Bring back the guillotine”. Yes, Jones called for the PM to be beheaded. The police didn’t carry out dawn raids or turn up to the studio with dogs and capsicum spray. Instead, when complaints were made about Jones’s comments, the toothless ACMA exonerated him.

This is the same Alan Jones who on radio in the lead up to the Cronulla riot said: ‘This Sunday every Aussie in the Shire get down to North Cronulla to support the Leb and wog bashing day.’

The heaviest penalty imposed on Jones has been to force him to get a fact checker. Beating him with a feather eh? Oh, and to apologise for calling Lebanese Muslims vermin. That order comes not from ACMA but the courts.

So don’t expect too much from ACMA. It may administer a token penalty to 2Day FM and Southern Cross Austereo for its business model of pranking working people and bugger the consequences. They are only workers.

ACMA certainly won’t cancel 2Day FM’s licence. Since workers’ livelihoods depend on the station continuing, that would be a disproportionate response.

But fining the directors and managers? Why not do that? Max Moore Wilton is the chairman of Southern Cross Austereo and earns a reputed $250,000 a year. A fine of 2 years’ salary or earnings seems appropriate, along with similar fines for all the directors, upper management and significant shareholders.

ACMA’s power don’t extend that far.

So there will be calls for more self regulation and even state regulation. Facile comments about a free press will fill the air from the people in charge of governments keen to tighten control over the speech and action of ordinary working people in their unions and the like.

The very people who criminalise Julian Assange will defend 2 Day FM.

I think the state regulatory approach misses the point. The decline of the media as an institution of information and even entertainment corresponds to the decline of the media unions.

The best way to regulate media offerings would be for unions like the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance to fight for and win greater power – with union house committees making decisions about production and the like to guard against the very attacks on workers that pranks inherently are.

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Comments

Comment from Michael Karadjis
Time December 10, 2012 at 9:22 pm

John, while all your points are excellent, it seems to me much more important is the horrendous British “culture” in which it is even conceivable for this woman, a nurse who looks after people as her profession, someone who had two teenage children at home, to take her own life due to some kind of offense to that bunch of feudal parasites, the “royals.” 2Day FM are idiots to be sure, and have violated the law, but it really is not the thing that gets me worked up here. Frankly I wish the whole bloody lot of those royal rubbish had committed collective suicide rather than this reportedly wonderful human being losing her life due to a slight to them. I’m horrified behind description that such a thing could happen.

Comment from Kay
Time December 11, 2012 at 8:29 am

A tad hypocritical I think! You quite rightly condemn this juvenile, uncaring ‘prank’ by 2Day FM (and I include 2Day FM management in my criticism as it was apparently OK’ed before it went to air), but you were obviously thrilled at the Chaser’s APEC ‘prank’.

Has it occurred to you that those responsible for APEC security on the ground are just workers too? For example, security workers, police officers, public servants etc. Or are these workers not worthy of concern?

Comment from Ross
Time December 11, 2012 at 8:32 pm

I’d say that this nurse who took the call from 2Day FM was under a lot of stress anyway.This was probably the last straw.

Let’s not blame individuals but the system that makes us all slaves to a few thousand elites who control the West via debt.

Comment from Denis L White
Time December 11, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Hi John
Thanks for another excellent summary. Its a pity there aren’t a lot more people with such clarity of thought. I read all of your contributions and rate them along side the works of Pilger, Chomsky, Klein etc. The actions of 2day FM were pathetic at best but for the messenger to take her own life was hardly forseeable and must be seen sadly, in the light of her own vulnerability. If Kate has any sensitivity this episode will remain as a cloud over the birth of her child for the rest of her days. If a sucessfull claim for damages is made by the royal family against the radio station it will only serve to reinforce the perception of the elitism of royalty and other members of that particular club. I am saddened by this unecessary episode but even more so by the knowledge of what American cluster bombs have done to the people of Iraq and Afganistan and so on. We all know there are many worse evils afoot on this planet. I digress as a matter of perspective.
Den71

Comment from John
Time December 12, 2012 at 6:57 am

There is a class difference between nurses and cops. Cops are on the side of the bourgeoisie; they protect them and their property from us. Cops are not part of the working class. Nurses are.

Comment from John
Time December 12, 2012 at 7:00 am

Thanks Michael. I wonder if this was an example of someone taking her own life because of offence to the royal parasites. I suspect this was just the final straw; that she didn’t receive adequate support from the Hospital, and that in fact the humiliation she felt about being broadcast around the world as someone who could be duped was the trigger. It seems to me for we Australians a better target than the royals is the nature of our ‘pranking’ society which makes this sort of money making activity in the eyes of some acceptable.

Comment from John
Time December 12, 2012 at 7:06 am

Thanks Den71. Pilger, Chomsky, Klein – high praise indeed, and not unfortunately true. I am just a modest socialist plugging away with some ideas which sometimes hit the spot and sometimes not. I agree about perspective – cluster bombs, Israel/Palestine, Syria etc, but I think this episode can help give us an insight into our own society and help explain for example in a round about way why we are in Afghanistan, why we support Israel etc etc. I might actually write about the links to make it clearer. Something like ‘From pranking to Afghanistan’ – thanks for prompting me to think about this.

Comment from John
Time December 12, 2012 at 7:07 am

I agree Ross about her probably already being under a lot of stress anyway. Let’s see if the Hospital then gave her adequate support. As you know I don’t subscribe to the control by debt argument.

Comment from Kay
Time December 12, 2012 at 11:52 am

John

Your fine distinction between different types of ‘workers’ is just plain ridiculous!

Police protect us – OUR lives – when required – as well as protect OUR property. As I have said before, it is the workers themselves who are most subject to theft and violence! The ‘bourgeoisie’ (what a ridiculous, old-fashioned meaningless term today) probably can afford to have better security all around – both personal and property – and hence call on the police for assistance far less than the poorer sectors of society!

Or are you happy for criminals to just have their way with us? Unfettered by a police presence? Are you quite content to be bashed in the street, or have your house robbed and trashed, and not expect any assistance from the police? I know I’m not – nor are other people!

Comment from jack
Time December 12, 2012 at 1:04 pm

looks like you only publish comments that agree with your out-dated commie views.
My post from yesterday is nowhere to be seen.
But why let the facts get in the way of your propaganda?
Maybe if I’d blame the ‘bourgeoisie’, I would have been printed.

Comment from Gary
Time December 12, 2012 at 3:11 pm

A good piece John, but then you spoilt it with a sweeping statement that police protect capital but nurses are working class.

There are police who are working class, who rescue people from cliffs, cut people out of cars, stop rapists and murderers, catch corporate frauds, arrest drug importers … just like there are nurses who work in exclusive clinics earning more than any police officer does; nurses who shun public health to assist with boob jobs and facelifts for millionaires.

I would say police are more working class than most professions and they protect more lives than ‘modest socialists’!

Comment from John
Time December 12, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Jack, maybe neo-nazis should find more appropriate sites for their racist rubbish.

Comment from Gary
Time December 12, 2012 at 8:34 pm

What is neo-nazi about talking about the jobs nurses and police officers do? Where does this come from John? I just wrote that your piece was good but I think police work is very much working class and for that i’m a neo-nazi?

Totally lost by your response, which makes no sense.

When I disgree with you I’m a rubbished (fair enough, that’s what a debate is all about) and when I agree with you I’m a nazi.

You only have a few people who bother to read your articles and post responses … if you keep calling us nazi’s you’re going to end up with an audience of two: you and Ross the Debt Crazed Conspiracy Theorist.

Comment from John
Time December 12, 2012 at 9:23 pm

It was a response to Jack, not you. As it says on my board – in reply to Jack.

Comment from John
Time December 12, 2012 at 9:27 pm

Police aren’t working class.Tthey come from the working class, mainly, but there role is to protect the state and property and its institutions. Just like professionals in the defence forces, who also have the role of imposing Western imperialism on recalcitrant countries.

Comment from Kay
Time December 13, 2012 at 6:03 am

John

You insist on twisting the ordinary worker’s experience into some sort of socialist construct! You make completely unsupported statements about just about everything, including your ridiculous: “Police aren’t working class”. I think you will find most ordinary workers consider the police to be workers like themselves, just there to help enforce the law on those not prepared to abide by it – an example being to investigate a home burglary or street bashing. And even when the police take such action as controlling street demonstrations, they do so only to prevent damage to other people’s private property and to intervene if a demonstration becomes violent – action fully supported by the general community.

No wonder you have so few members – probably mainly inexperienced idealistic students or ‘chip on the shoulder’/conspiracy theory types. You call for a ‘workers’ revolution’ yet are so fussy as to who belongs to your definition of ‘worker’ that there wouldn’t be enough of your sort of ‘worker’ to do anything! But that’s good for you really – you will never have to experience such an uprising – so you can continue spruiking your socialist ideology unabated. And if the ‘revolution’ ever came to pass, you would probably be considered some elite, upper-class superannuated academic, not really part of the revolution’s definition of a ‘worker’ anyway.

BTW when you post replies to other bloggers, there is no indication as to who you are replying to – hence Gary’s response to you. The same thing has happened to me. Maybe you can see who you are responding to on your master version of the Blog, but to us it is not visible.

Comment from John
Time December 13, 2012 at 7:53 am

Kay, thanks for this. You say ‘BTW when you post replies to other bloggers, there is no indication as to who you are replying to – hence Gary’s response to you. The same thing has happened to me. Maybe you can see who you are responding to on your master version of the Blog, but to us it is not visible.’ I should be more explicit in replying by including the name of the person to whom I am replying. On my version my comments are shaded In reply to ABC….So I will make it clearer in future. My apologies to Gary then. Jack had posted another disturbing comment which I did not publish, then he accused me of not publishing material I disagreed with and I replied to him (I thought) about neo-nazis.

Police are not the friends of workers. They perform a role of protecting capitalism; the system; its property and so forth. The ‘crime’ prevention or ‘solving’ ignores the real question – most crime is against property or victimless. Changes to drug laws and a more equitable and just society would remove the driver for ‘crime’ – poverty or drug addiction.

Police day in day out defend that system of inequality which produces ‘crime’. Muc of their ‘crime solving’ isn’t successful because of them but because of others, eg witnesses.

Their training and indoctrination beat out any pro-working class sympathies they might have.

Comment from John
Time December 13, 2012 at 7:56 am

Gary, I have edited my reply to make it clear I was responding to Jack. In future I will be more specific about my replies. In the past I thought the thread indicated if a comment was a reply to someone. It does on my version, but evidently that isn’t carried over into the public arena. My apologies.

Comment from jack
Time December 13, 2012 at 4:48 pm

John, you think I’m a neo-nazi because I compared your outrage at ‘just a joke’ to the police saying that the mother of the kid in Sydney with the ‘behead all those who insult the prophet’ sign might have thought it was a ‘giggle’. What’s neo-nazi about that?
Grow somw balls and publish my comment this time and come up with a sensible reply.

Comment from John
Time December 13, 2012 at 5:11 pm

This nonsense from the man, Jack, who also wrote to the effect that the only good Muslim is a dead one. The sign was reactionary, reflecting the possibility that the oppressed can slip in to right wing positions if the left isn’t big enough to put more appropriate arguments. Notice too how Jack denigrates women by telling me to grow some balls. It indicates he is a sexist and a misogynist too.