Photoshopped Bolt

Not wanting the facts to get in the way of a dramatic phrase, Brendan O’Neill (“Silence of the illiberal lambs”, The Australian, 5/10) claims the Bolt case “censored everyone else in Australia by ruling that…[Bolt’s] words must be purged, like those generals who found themselves scrubbed from group photographs with Stalin”. This would be nothing unusual for defamatory material, but in fact the articles are freely available on the Herald Sun’s website.

You don’t look it

Barry Cohen is disingenuous when he asks “why many people, who don’t appear to be Aborigines are treated…as if they were” (“Does it all boil down to a question of colour?”, The Australian, 4/10). Race is a fuzzy cultural notion which does not withstand scientific scrutiny. Racism hangs its hat on skin colour or eye shape, but it is fundamentally about one culture dominating another. Where there is no visible trigger, religion or language will do just as well.

We are not bound to our cultures by genes, but by social bonds and formative experiences. We cannot choose our culture as if it were a shirt.

By way of comparison, many Jews have little genetic connection to the ancient Middle East, many are not religious, many “don’t appear to be” Jewish. Should their cultural identity questioned?

More pertinently, do we publish our doubts about someone’s identity as fact, as Andrew Bolt did, with brutal disregard for truth, reputation and feelings, and expect to get away with it?

Shortcut to flexibility

It’s a pity The Australian seems to have have missed the story everyone else is covering about Qantas’s involvement in drafting union-banning laws for the Fiji government, as it suggests a shortcut to the “labour market flexibility” sought by Qantas and favoured by The Australian’s commentariat: just install a military dictatorship.

Plot lost

In recent weeks, The Australian has unsurprisingly resisted any scrutiny of media monopolies as an assault on press freedom. But now they suggest a government clampdown on the ABC because – wait for it – one of its drama series has flopped (“Sticking to the script at Aunty”, 28/9). In calling for the ABC to “stick to the script”, I fear The Australian has lost the plot.

Once was warrior

Janet Albrechtsen laments the Liberal Party’s abandonment of compulsory individual contracts as a retreat from a “philosophical battle” (“Tony Abbott, a warrior is not afraid to come out fighting”, The Australian, 28/9). She needs to accept that this battle is lost: the Liberals have finally been “dragged to the centre” by the people’s wisdom. Voters have already rejected the absurd notion that an individual can negotiate on an equal footing with a corporation. Had it persisted with this extreme ideology, the Liberal Party, not Labor, would have found itself “on the wrong side of history”.

More poison is the antidote

In defence of free-market capitalism, The Australian contends that European social democracies are slow to recover from the GFC because they have “interventionist” governments, unlike the US, “where open markets have assisted stability”. (“Capitalism to save social democrats from debt trap”, 25/9). This conveniently glosses over the fact that these very US markets triggered the crisis in the first place. The related suggestion that Australia survived not because of, but in spite of an “ill-considered” and “over-egged” stimulus, defies the opinions of most economists.

To maintain the view that economic problems are solved by doing nothing – in the face of massive, sustained evidence to the contrary – The Australian makes the mystical “invisible hand” into an irrefutable hypothesis: the market unerringly seeks efficiency, where efficiency is defined as whatever the market seeks, and can only fail because of interference, where interference is defined as whatever causes the market to fail.

This recursive logic leads to the prescription of more poison as the antidote.