In the strange furore surrounding right-wing columnist Andrew Bolt demanding an apology from the ABC over a guest on Q&A suggesting he was racist, it is Bolt's long-time readers and fans for whom I feel the most.
It must be something of a shock to see the strident opponent of “illegal boat people” and “fair-skinned” Aboriginal people, a man who refuses to even acknowledge the existence of the Stolen Generations, insist that he is not actually racist after all.
It must be akin to Catholics finding out the Pope is a secret Satanist or a NSW politician discovering a deal with an Eddie Obeid-linked company comes with no kickbacks.
What next? Bolt admitting he actually has no Southern Cross tattoo or is, in fact, a secret Greenie deeply involved in working on solutions to the impending climate catastrophe?
In a cruel betrayal of loyal readers, Bolt started banging on like a sensitive, new-age touchy-feely politically correct hippie about how “devastated” he was that Aboriginal academic Marcia Langton called him racist on Q&A on March 10.
I mean what on Earth could have made Langton think he was racist? Possibly the fact that in 2011, Bolt was found guilty in a court case of violating the Racial Discrimination Act for vilifying fair-skinned Aboriginal people.
Or possibly she just clicked on a random Bolt blog post — such as the one filled with such violent hatred of asylum seekers it celebrates the savage attacks on detainees on Manus Island in February that left 23-year-old Reza Berati dead.
Headlined “Detainees met a PNG police force that hits back”, the February 21 post featured a letter from “Reader Herb”, a “PNG resident of some time”, who gleefully told a story of witnessing PNG's Police Boi Riot Squad carry out brutal assaults, before concluding: “If the refugees fronted a Poice [sic] Boi riot squad anywhere near as disciplined … they would for sure clobber those thin middle eastern skulls.”
The comments published underneath the post ranged all the way from “couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch” to “can they come and train our coppers please”.
No doubt Bolt would respond this is not about “race” at all, but about people who have “illegally” sought to enter Australia.
But not only have desperate people like Berati committed no crime under Australian or international law in seeking asylum, there are tens of thousands people in Australia illegally — overwhelmingly people from Europe who've overstayed tourist visas. If caught, they are simply deported.
I'll believe that Bolt's vile glorifying of murderous assaults on asylum seekers is not racist when he publishes a blog post celebrating the brutal bashings of English backpackers without valid visas. (I refuse to believe he has never even thought about assaulting the odd English backpacker — he is human after all.)
The stunning thing is that Q&A host Tony Jones actually grovelled to Bolt and apologised — an apology Bolt refused to accept.
Personally, I think the correct response to Bolt would involve only two words, the first of which is four letters long, starts with “f” and ends with “uck”. And spells “fuck”. The second is “off”.
I might, if feeling generous, include a signed photograph of my middle finger.
The irony is severe. Bolt whined to anyone who would listen that being taken to court for, and found guilty of, violating the racial discrimination act was an attack on his right to free speech. But when someone calls out his racist abuse, he whines even louder that they shouldn't say such horrid things about him.
Poor Andrew. I mean, if only he had some sort of avenue in which to defend himself from all the nasty bullies out there calling him ugly names like “racist” just because he was found guilty of racial vilification. You know, I mean asides from his column in a major newspaper, frequent media appearances as a commentator and his own hour-long talk show every week on Channel 10.
In hypocrisy stakes, however, Bolt has a strong challenger in billionaire mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest. The February 25 Sydney Morning Herald reported: “Iron-ore magnate Andrew 'Twiggy' Forrest is fighting attempts to exploit the mineral wealth under his own cattle station in the Pilbara.
“Mr Forrest, 51, founder and executive chairman of Fortescue Metals Group, is suing to block attempts to search for uranium on his Minderoo Station and last month failed in an attempt to halt sand mining on the property.”
He doesn't want the sort of destructive mining practices that have made him rich taking place on his own land? Well, now he understands how the traditional owners feel.