Two recent articles in the journal New Matilda demonstrate that the censorious lunacy of “no platforming” is alive and well in Australia.
In one piece, Germaine Greer is excommunicated from feminism – by someone called Timothy, no less. Tim’s main point is that he supports Greer being “no-platformed” by a UK University for once saying something that he disagrees with on a subject that she wasn’t even going to speak about during her appearance at the university (which she has now cancelled). By implication, his article suggests that he would also support Greer being banned from speaking at any tertiary institution. Presumably this would include Melbourne University, where he is employed to teach (could there have been any doubt) “cultural studies”. His laughable justification for this is that in his view Greer’s comments about transgender people are not supported by objective evidence and that this means denying her the right to speak at an academic institution is not censorship because it’s no different from giving a student a “fail” mark. He should hope that our tertiary education bean counters don’t start applying his logic to cultural studies lecturers.
In a second piece, Amy Macquire slanders the ABC journalist and television presenter Annabel Crabb as “being more interested in propping up power” than “speaking truth to it”. Crabb’s apparent offence is that, as well as being one of the country’s more astute political commentators, she is versatile and talented enough to create and front a lifestyle program, Kitchen Cabinet, in which she interviews politicians and doesn’t stick to the party line on…pretty much anything.
Macquire misses the point that one of the beauties of Kitchen Cabinet is that Crabb is able to highlight, without comment, the incongruity between the professed personal beliefs of politicians like Scott Morrison and his behaviour as a politician. The way that she does this is subtle, not to everyone’s taste and is not the main purpose of the program. But when it does happen, it potentially has more impact than if the politician were grilled by the sort of hardline political commissar that MacQuire would approve of. MacQuire also misses the point that the ABC already provides much greater exposure for marginalised voices and causes than any other mainstream media organisation. More important though, is her arrogant assumption that a publicly funded broadcaster should tailor its programming to reflect her view about the politics of the people whom Crabb interviews. I happen to agree with some of the things that MacQuire says about Morrison, but millions of Australians don’t and it’s not the job of any ABC journalist or presenter to use a publicly funded platform to tell them that they’re wrong.
MacQuire also besmirches Jenny Macklin, a long time member of the Labor left and dedicated campaigner against social and economic disadvantage, of participating in “the greatest human rights abuse in Indigenous affairs in modern history”, (as she characterises the Northern Territory Intervention). She further alleges, without citing any evidence, that the intervention “led to a quadrupling in self-harm and suicide rates” with the implication that Macklin bears responsibility for this. In a bizarre denouement (facilitated by an egregious lapse by New Matilda’s editor), MacQuire complains that Macklin once “walked out in a huff from an interview with one of my closest friends” (what is this, high school?).
The common thread of the 2 pieces (and others in similar vein that have appeared in New Matilda recently) is the desire to shut down views that don’t have the seal of approval of a narrow cabal of self-appointed far left censors. The editor and owners of New Matilda, and its contributors, are entitled to their views. They should afford others the same courtesy.