Monday 4 October 2010

Allies to Free Speech - the event at City Place

Last Tuesday evening at City Place, Cairns, around 50 people purposely attended a rally to support Cairns Blogger Michael Moore, who is being sued for $350,000 for defamation by Cairns Regional Councillor Alan Blake.

Rally organiser Bryan Law writes...

The purpose of this rally was for people who had an interest in local Cairns politics to exercise their own freedom of speech, and to discuss the harmful effect of defamation suits on free political discussion.

Councillors Rob Pyne and Di Forsyth both gave important speeches about the role of free speech in a democratic society, and expressed their personal belief that Councillor Blake’s suit was excessive and uncalled for.

Tony Hillier (editor of the now defunct Barfly), Dr Timothy Bottoms (writer of the yet to be
published History of Cairns), Colin Riddell (Dugong preservation campaigner), Ross Parisi (former Mulgrave Shire Councillor and President of Friends of 4CCR), and Bryan Law (serial pest, rent-a-crowd wannabe, and shameless self-publicist) spoke about the role CairnsBlog plays in providing a forum for non-commercial politics, and the threat posed to that forum by Councillor Blake’s lawsuit.
Among the audience were half a dozen blog site operators from Cairns who are closely following proceedings.

The Cairns Post was conspicuously absent from the scene, which is probably just as well because their own behaviour and attitude was critically discussed. Several mentions were made of the paper’s long and very personal campaign against Mayor Val Schier, a campaign in which age and hairstyle are held out as the chief determinant of civic administration. More than one speaker noted with approval that Val’s refusal to engage in litigation over these matters showed a political maturity we could use more of.

TV channels 7 News and WIN 9 sent crews to record the proceedings, and broadcast fairly balanced and accurate stories.

While the broader publicity is useful in keeping the issues before the public, the best achievement of this rally was both to affirm Michael Moore for his efforts, and to affirm all the attendees that free speech is more than just a slogan – that free speech has in Cairns a community of practitioners that can be relied upon to support the practice, irrespective of personal politics. We had folks from the left, the right, the centre, and all points in between.

We had four people who support Alan Blake in his action, one of whom asked some penetrating questions about the balance between free speech and personal reputation, and who seemed to question whether “our side” was genuine in its search for a more respectful and inclusive political culture in our town, and in our country.

You’ll see reports elsewhere on this blog about the legal case, which plods along. Councillor Blake’s lawyers are taking full advantage of the imbalance in expertise, and seem intent on wringing immediate costs out of an unrepresented litigant.

Michael Moore is showing remarkable courage in persisting with his defence, and relying on the truth to show through and constitute a successful defence. He needs help.

For all the “real and pragmatic” commenters who say Mike is naive and about to be fucked over, I’ve got to ask how our society got to the situation where honest comment in political discussion can lead to the loss of house and livelihood for those who dare to speak out. Don’t we remember where the hypocrisies of 19th and 20th century “manners” took us? Wars, Genocide, and the oppression of women, gays and blacks! Why do we want a return to those atrocities.

This matter will be mentioned in the Supreme Court in Cairns on 29th October 2010, and Allies to Free Speech will conduct an event on that day to further debate the issues involved. Stay tuned.

Here's the TV News coverage...

7 News Cairns



Coner the Librarian said...

Yes, we need a Bill of Rights adding to our constitution to guarantee things like freedom of speech, association, religion etc.
At the moment we do NOT have those rights guaranteed, as Blake's lawsuit clearly demonstrates.

Even if the blogger is right, it costs a fortune to defend it in court.

We are still operating under a penal colony mentality, where badmouthing the authorities carries a severe penalty, and the law is all their way. (Except Bryan Law, of course!)

Leigh Dall'Osto said...

I have to wonder where the line is drawn between an offensive comment and a defamatory one? Surely it is ridiculously petulant and slightly arrogant to place as much worth in your reputation as Blake appears to have done?

:Kevin-John: Morgan. said...

Whilst I agree with the idea of a Bill of Rights in any country's Constitution, it would be really interesting to see an actual Constitution for this country!
The Commonwealth Constitution Act 1901(UK) is a British Constitution ACT, for British subjects only!
WE, are NOT British subjects, and those who believe they are, should get a grip. If you wish to be a British subject, then piss off back to your own country, and take that insane, troublesome, force-fed-fiction-language you call English, with you! Then bury it!
I am NOT a British subject!
The AEC have already proven this at the last election, on paper!
There IS a new Constitution for all Australians, it IS registered, and it IS available for viewing, however, I have very much doubt as to who in this country will ever be able to actually read it!
The new Constitution for each of the 250 tribes of the country of Gondwanna (Australia) is also soon to be ratified by the UN.
I know these facts, because I am involved in the delivery of said documents, which are available for viewing at my residence, at my discretion, however, you will reqire certain ID to do so (not my rules).

Syd Walker said...

Good report. Great to see the video clips... quite fair TV coverage.

I think it's sad an end hasn't already been negotiated to this affair. Surely the terms of an apology can be negotiated - and that would suffice?

If Alan Blake pushes this case it will likely draw national scrutiny. In that event, I suspect he may soon become one of the most reviled local politicians in the country.

Every day we hear politicians and mainstream journalists making accusations of dishonesty and worse. Perhaps political discourse shouldn't be like that, but it is.

What type of politician tries to bankrupt a critic and silence an appreciated indepdendent media outlet? Not a politician who wants to be popular, that's for sure.

Thank god you ain't mine said...

Leigh dall'osto your husband must be a hen pecked pussy or he has gone.
You write on everthing in cairns do you do any housework or do you have a nanny ?

KitchenSlut said...

Has Leigh's hen pecked hubby gone? Wow can I come visit coz i think she's cute and will do my own share of housework or bring my own nanny!

KS fan (and a feminist as well) said...


You do it for me, any, every and any how time, KS.

spell checker said...

"you will reqire certain ID to do so (not my rules)."
kevin john morgan you have hung shit on every one that cannot spell and claim no laywer can .
And this is the second time in a week you stuffed up.
And you promised a week ago "it would never happen again" /
What a goose .

Thank god you ain't mine said...

Kitcheb slut are you into ellen degenres as well I like women mate.

:Kevin-John: Morgan. said...

SOMEBODY out there is at least taking notice of what we're doing, pity that you're too frightened to reveal your true identity, you may be a good asset!
The textbook for ALL students of the "Universal Legal Technology", or Now-Time-Syntax, contains many spelling, punctuation, grammar, procedural and technical mistakes, on EVERY single page.
These mistakes are deliberate!
As teachers of this Technology, it is our job, to point out how, and why, nobody can see an Article in any written language, neither can they see or recognise a Preposition
or an Adverb.
Most people who use computers for correspondence are very lazy and use spell-checkers when writing, for obvious reasons, because they don't know or care how to spell, and they also forget certain rules from English classes.
For these reasons, they have never learned to gain a command over the language, and therefore should NEVER put pen to paper, never send texts or emails, or sign anything.
Sorry for being so blunt there "spellchecker", but I deal with people every day, who have such bad paperwork from the police, the prosecutors, and also the lawyers, who charge $100 per page for BS!
Whenever we write our language to these people, we prove beyond the shadow of a doubt, they cannot read, cannot write, and they never write back!

:Kevin-John: Morgan. said...

Excuse me, spellchecker, but I also forgot to mention this fact:
If anybody, anywhere, is prepared to stand up and name themselves in the correct written manner, at least have the decency to get it right and return the favour when replying.
You're NOT the only one getting it wrong, which also proves our point every time it happens, Mr Keating was absolutely correct!
Now the knowledge is out there, I choose to be a FACT(Noun), and not to be an Adjective/Pronoun, or an Adjective/Adjective/Pronoun.
One day you will begin correcting things yourself, and I don't just mean spelling!
The AEC and the nedia have a lot to answer for.

Leigh Dall'Osto said...

I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to my poor hen-pecked husband for marrying a woman (and sharing three kids with her) who is outspoken in political arenas rather than an avid watcher of Ellen, Dr Phil and Oprah. I am sincerely sorry that I only have time in my day today to bake a coconut/lime syrup cake, wash your uniforms for work, go to Playgroup with the little ones, head off to a meeting at school regarding the eldest child, cook steak and veg for dinner and go to a meeting tonight to try and affect some much needed changes in the community. Unfortunately, due to my hour each day (usually split into 15 min increments) spent writing my blog, reading and commenting on this one and reading the paper, I have neglected to finish folding the washing...although I have fed the chooks and cat, the kids are healthy and happy and the rest of the house is passable. I hope this is sufficient to your needs but will try to do better.

Yours Sincerely.....wifey.

Michael Hyams said...

Well, Mr.know-all. Does it give you some perverse inner satisfaction to post your spite ladened invective on the blog. You know about whom I write, without my having to spell-check it out for you. By the way, if your knowledge of language is so vast, how many languages do you speak, or even have you ever attempted to learn, ApArt from the perverted type of English that seems to pass for understandable vernacular in the Antipodes. Take a bit of advice from someone who is certainly older, but not necessarily wiser than you : "butt-out" until you have something constructive and pro-active to contribute to the debate in question. Michael Moore would I feel sure be glad of any help he can get in fighting Cllr.Blake's mean lawsuit. Trying to demean some well intentioned blogger with your insults, try DOING something that will help Michael. A good start would beto get off your high horse about grammar.