No Clean Feed - Stop Internet Censorship in Australia

Apologies and the law: Alan Jones again

By Legal Eagle

one thing I don’t need
is any more apologies
i got sorry greetin me at my front door
you can keep yrs
i don’t know what to do wit em
they don’t open doors
or bring the sun back
they don’t make me happy
or get a mornin paper
didn’t nobody stop usin my tears to wash cars
cuz a sorry.

Ntozake Shange, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that a court has ordered that controversial Sydney broadcaster Alan Jones must apologise on-air for certain comments made in 2005 in relation to persons of Lebanese Muslim origin:

The Administrative Decisions Tribunal has ordered Jones to apologise on his 2GB radio show between 8am and 8.30am any day next week over the comments he made on-air in April 2005.

It comes two months after Jones lost a lengthy legal bid to overturn the 2009 decision, which found he incited hatred, serious contempt and severe ridicule of Lebanese Muslims.

The case was taken against him by Sydney-based Lebanese-born Muslim leader, Keysar Trad.

In its latest decision handed down on Wednesday, the tribunal rejected a submission that an apology made by Jones on December 6 was “an adequate acknowledgment of wrongdoing”.

Instead it ordered him to read out the following apology any day next week from December 17:

“On 28 April 2005 on my breakfast program on Radio 2GB, I broadcast comments about Lebanese males including Lebanese Muslims.

“The comments were made following a Channel Nine television current affairs show about the conduct of young Lebanese men in Hickson Road at the Rocks.

“The Administrative Decisions Tribunal has found that my comments incited serious contempt of Lebanese males including Lebanese Muslims.

“Those comments were in breach of the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act.

“I apologise for making those comments which I recognise were unlawful.

“I also apologise on behalf of Radio 2GB.”

The original complaint related to comments he made on April 28 about a Nine Network current affairs story reportedly showing young men of Lebanese origin taunting police.

“If ever there was a clear example that Lebanese males in their vast numbers not only hate our country and our heritage, this was it,” Jones said.

Referring to the men as “vermin” and “mongrels”, he added: “They simply rape, pillage and plunder a nation that’s taken them in.

Jones is no stranger to the need to apologise: he recently had to apologise for comments in relation to Julia Gillard’s deceased father.

As it happens, one of the topics we considered in Remedies this semester was the notion of an apology as a legal remedy. When a court issues an ‘apology order’, a defendant can be forced to issue an apology to the plaintiff. Professor Robyn Carroll has noted:

 One perspective is that the law has not role to pay because the apology is a moral act that will have no worth or value if it is offered as a legal requirement or for legal purposes. Another perspective, more instrumental in nature, is that the law has a role to play in creating opportunities for apologies to be offered that achieve some social or psychological benefit.[1]

Readers may remember the Eatock v Bolt case, where newspaper columnist Andrew Bolt was found to have contravened s 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) (I’ve written about it here and here). The plaintiffs sought an apology order, but Bromberg J refused to make such an order, saying at [465]–[468]:

 There is force in the contention of HWT that an apology should not be compelled by an order of the Court because that compels a person to articulate a sentiment that is not genuinely held. An apology is one means of achieving the public vindication of those that have been injured by a contravention of s 18C. The power granted to the Court to require a respondent to redress any loss or damage is a wide power. There are other means by which public vindication may be achieved.

Public vindication is important. It will go some way to redressing the hurt felt by those injured. It will serve to restore the esteem and social standing which has been lost as a consequence of the contravention. It will serve to inform those influenced by the contravening conduct of the wrongdoing involved. It may help to negate the dissemination of racial prejudice.

Whilst I will not order HWT to apologise, in the absence of an appropriate apology, I am minded to make an order which fulfils the purposes which I have identified.

My preliminary view is that a corrective order should be made which would require HWT to publish a notice in the Herald Sun in print and online. The terms of the notice would include an introduction which referred to this proceeding and the order requiring its publication and set out the declaration made by the Court. In order to give the publication of the corrective notice a prominence and frequency commensurate with the publication of the Newspaper Articles and to facilitate it being communicated to those likely to have read the Newspaper Articles, I have in mind that the corrective order would require the publication of the notice in the Herald Sun newspaper and online, on two separate occasions in a prominent place immediately adjacent to Mr Bolt’s regular column.

It was interesting when we debated this case in class. Precisely the divide Carroll describes emerged in class discussion. Some thought it was beneficial to force people to apologise because it vindicated the rights of the wronged party; others thought a forced apology was no apology at all, and that it was unduly coercive to force people to apologise. On balance, I tend to the latter view, but then one clever student said to me, “I bet you force your kids to say sorry when they don’t mean it, don’t you?” I had to uncomfortably concede that I do, and moreover, I conceded that I’d forced my son to apologise to my daughter that very morning (argh! sprung!). However, I decided that was different because that was in the context of a close familial relationship, they are kids and I am their mother, and it’s quite different when the State forces an adult to say sorry by the coercive machinery of the law. That being said, I’m all for the law allowing more space for defendants to apologise if they want to, which has not traditionally been seen as a function of law, but which may be more common. For example, s 47J of the Wrongs Act 1958 (Vic) now provides that an apology is not evidence of tortious behaviour, meaning that a tortfeasor is far more likely to apologise for any injury to the plaintiff.

Already a spirited discussion has taken place on my Facebook page about the Jones case. (I do hope the participants will come here and continue the discussion!) Unlike my class, I think we were mostly agreed that an order to apologise is inappropriate and fruitless. To me, it’s important that Jones will not genuinely believe a word of his apology. Nor is it likely to increase his or his listeners’ tolerance for young Lebanese men. Rather it is likely to increase their perception that the politically correct are attempting to police their views and suppress their freedom to discuss things which concern them, and to respond to that with anger. Moreover, we were also broadly agreed that the law should be very wary of coercing someone to say something they do not want to say. The response to this by those who favour an order to apologise might be that the apology is vindicatory for young Lebanese men, and that it will make them feel less aggrieved when they see Jones being forced to apologise. Maybe it will, but I suspect it will also fan the grievances of his supporters.

The main argument we were having on Facebook was whether Jones was at least partly responsible for fanning the flames of the Cronulla Riots with his comments later in 2005. My own opinion (as I have documented in this post here) is that Jones sailed pretty close to the wind of incitement – he read out texts and messages which suggested violence was an appropriate course towards Lebanese men in the days before the Cronulla Riots broke out. Incitement of violence is one area where I personally think the law can legitimately step in and regulate speech to prevent physical harm to others. At one point, Jones read out a text message suggesting that people who wanted to bash ‘Lebs’ and ‘Wogs’ should meet on a particular date and place, but then qualified this by saying, ‘[b]oys, don’t get down there and come at this nonsense, this will only make things worse. The police are genuinely concerned now that the SMS is going to inflame things even further and we’ll – we’re talking about vigilante retribution.’ But when a later caller tried to insert some balance into the discussion by saying that both Lebanese Muslim and Anglo-Saxon rabble rousers were equally responsible for egging each other on, the caller was told ‘[y]eah, let’s not get too carried away…we don’t have Anglo-Saxon kids out there raping women in Western Sydney. So let’s not get carried away with all this mealy-mouthed talk about there being two sides.’

What then about the ‘vermin’ and ‘mongrels’ comment for which Jones is presently being forced to apologise? It must be said that these comments have some pretty unpleasant historical echoes to my ears, and could perhaps be thought to border on incitement in the light of those echoes. Calling people vermin is a short way of saying that they are dirty and dangerous and (as befits vermin) they need to be exterminated. Hitler described the Jews as “pests”, “dangerous viruses” and “vermin” in the lead up to the Holocaust, and Hutu leaders described the Tutsi as inyenzi (cockroaches) in the lead up to the Rwandan genocide. It’s pretty hardcore stuff, even if Jones didn’t mean it to be.

That being said, I’m sure that people have less sympathy for the case in relation to the ‘vermin’ and ‘mongrels’ comment because it has been brought by Keysar Trad, a Lebanese Australian man and former advisor to Sheikh Hilally. Trad is perhaps Jones’s Lebanese Australian counterpart in terms of inflaming tension and making offensive comments. In a defamation proceeding Trad brought against 2GB a few years back (described in a post here), the trial judge decided that the defamatory imputations made by 2GB about Trad could be defended on the basis that they were truthful because:

  • Trad had expressed opinions in which he had condoned the view that female victims of sexual assault and rape were to blame rather than the male perpetrators;
  • Trad had defended the views of Sheikh Hillaly that child martyrdom in war was honourable and that suicide bombing was a legitimate tool;
  • Trad had included links to Mein Kampf and the Protocols of Zion in his website, encouraging beliefs that Jewish people intend to take over the world, which have been a driving force for acts of violence against Jewish people;
  • Trad had publically called for Hezbollah to be delisted as a terrorist organisation;
  • Trad had said that homosexuals were depraved perverts who should be likened to cancer, and that the appropriate punishment for those who undertook homosexual activities was to be stoned to death;
  • Trad described Anglo-Irish inhabitants of Australia as “criminal dregs” and Hindus as “cow worshippers”, generally denigrating these groups of people; and
  • Trad sought to defend Sheikh Hillaly’s failure to condemn the September 11 attacks, and questioned whether Muslims were responsible for those attacks.

(The case went all the way up to the High Court: see Harbour Radio Pty Ltd v Trad [2012] HCA 44 where Trad lost, and has now been remitted back to the New South Wales Court of Appeal for decision).

As you can see, Trad is as instrumental in inflaming tensions in the Sydney community as Jones is. I’m sure that this doesn’t help matters with this kind of a case – dare I say that Trad is a pot calling the kettle black – but that still doesn’t mean Jones’s comments are okay.

Jones’s comments have very unpleasant connotations if you follow the historical echoes. Nonetheless, I stand by my conclusion that making Jones apologise is not going to ease tensions between Lebanese Australians and Anglo-Celtic Australians, and that it is problematic to coerce people to apologise in principle and from a pragmatic point of view. I understand that the law has an important vindicatory function, but I think that a court simply saying that Jones’s comments were inappropriate is enough to vindicate the rights of those wronged by Jones’s statement. I’d rather leave more room in the law for people to apologise if they choose to do so, because to my mind, a genuine apology must be a matter of choice.


[1] Robyn Carroll, ‘Beyond Compensation: Apology as a Private Law Remedy’ in Jeff Berryman and Rick Bigwood (eds), The Law of Remedies: New Directions in the Common Law (Irwin Law Inc, Toronto, 2010) 323, 329.


  1. Posted December 13, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    the apology part may not be appropriate, and useless (unless, as mentioned tongue in cheek elsewhere, fMRI says he means it) but an order to make a public announcement of the finding of wrongdoing, perhaps limiting the capacity to do further damage by making audiences aware that his words are frequently counterfactual or found objectionable would be useful. For broadcasters, if recalcitrant and repeat offenders, it would be worth ordering, for a period of months, at the beginning and end of a broadcast show, or top and bottom of written article, something like “I have been found by courts and tribunals as the number X most inaccurate/offensive media person in the countr, so readers/listeners should bear that in mind”

  2. Mel
    Posted December 13, 2012 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    Maybe Keysar Trad and Alan Jones should be handcuffed together and left in a cell for 48 hours ;)

    I like forced apologies because they involve public humiliation, which is a punishment in itself regardless of its sincerity or any wider consequences.

  3. Mary Lougher
    Posted December 14, 2012 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    What happened to our right to freedom of speech?
    When the Lebanese youths who taunted, harassed and abused our Police force, apologise, for their disgusting, disrespectful behaviour , then by all means, ask Alan Jones to apologise, but not until then. WHY are our authorities allowing Keysar Trad and Sheikh Hillaly to make a mockery of our justice system and our democratic right for media to expose the facts of islamists and cultural hate toward Australians?

  4. Posted December 14, 2012 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    Maybe Keysar Trad and Alan Jones should be handcuffed together and left in a cell for 48 hours ;)

    Thank you, Mel, for pinching my line.

    A dispute between two well-used kitchen appliances, methinks.

  5. Moz noes nuffink
    Posted December 14, 2012 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    I tend to agree with Mel – this is about punishing the person being forced to apologise, not about rehabilitating them. In a way it doesn’t matter what the forced speech is, so much as it matters that it is forced speech. It’s about saying “we make the rules. You, willing or not, will obey them”.

    I think the broader argument about how the particular incident that led to the punishment fits into a system which arrogates the label “justice” is more interesting. There’s no direct link between incitement several years ago and anything said by any party today. As you point out, we have had the riots, the rioters have served their sentences, and the events have become history.

    To be useful, what happens now has to be focussed on the “don’t do that again” side. It’s probably better thought of as social engineering rather than personal justice. How do we discourage public figures from inciting antisocial behaviour? How can we group, but also distinguish, people and events like Philip Morris’ enthusiasm for killing people, rantback radio’s “make people angry” strategy for attracting viewers and the political “tough on crime” vote-winner? All harm society in similar but subtly different ways, and all are hard to write hard guidelines around. But they’re partly on a similar continuum of “communicating ideas to the public that reduce or counter social goods”. That makes the law of defamation seem pretty simple by comparison, unfortunately.

  6. Gianna
    Posted December 14, 2012 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    All those morally superior people eliciting apologies from an easy target, must feel ever so good with their 100% clear consciences, and knowing they’ve beaten another poor sucker into submission.
    Yes, let us all now start wearing unisex, navy overalls , cast our eyes downwards, and…NEVER NEVER speak our thoughts aloud for fear of committing yet another offence in the name of free speech.

  7. Tom Isaac
    Posted December 14, 2012 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    What has happened to the democratic rights of free speech?
    There is a vast difference between what is legal and what is lawful.
    If any man or woman is forced, coerced, demanded or ordered to do any action under duress then it does not count.
    Proves the Australian Corporate Courts have put another nail in the coffin of Australian’s Democratic Rights and free speech.

  8. Tom Isaac
    Posted December 14, 2012 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    It is the onus and responsibility of any person or entity claiming government status to prove they act for as a legitimate public servant of the de-jure Government of the Commonwealth of Australia. Any instrument including but not limited to Acts and amendments must be proven valid as defined within an Act to Constitute the Commonwealth of Australia 1900 (UK) Any attempt to force or coerce any action including the removal of copyright material must prove prior lawfully binding agreement between the parties, absent any such action will conform to the author’s terms and conditions.
    Australian Courts now operate as Corporations and are in complete denial of Chapter 3 of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution 1900 (UK)

  9. Posted December 14, 2012 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Jones, being someone I only recently discovered is no longer the national football coach, is not someone easy to like.
    But Keysar Trad is in an entirely different league of distaste.

    Jones at least has, & has always had a job.
    Trad is a parasaite, with a long record of freeloading off the public.

    Jones has a history of saying things that some people, generally freeloaders, don’t like him saying. Tactful he ain’t.
    Trad’s history .. er… shall we say, plumbs the depths a little more.

    I struggle to think why Jones used that terminology in the first place. As one who’s spent plenty of time among Lebanese I’d describe them as “hot-headed lunatics”.

  10. Holden Caulfield
    Posted December 14, 2012 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Anyone want to start a petition to put Nicola Roxon in the stocks? Sign me up!

  11. Posted December 14, 2012 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    I wonder to what extent allowing people to throw tomatoes would help discharge the emotions felt over, lower the desire to otherwise strike out to further inflame the situation and enable a clearer, more rational discussion of the politics to follow. It seems like a stint in the stocks could achieve more than a faux apology.

  12. Holden Caulfield
    Posted December 14, 2012 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    LE, I’m well up for that as well. But can’t we have both? Surely, stocks can’t be all that expensive? I don’t mind forking out for them.

  13. Posted December 14, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    If we’re talking of putting people in stocks, it isn’t too late to do Keating. (Just saying).

  14. Posted December 14, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    Stocks work a lot better in small village communities, where there are natural restraining factors (such as you or yours might be in the stocks someday, you have to live with these folks …) than in large anonymous cities.

    Also, the use of the generic term “Lebanese” tends to be highly misleading. Christian Lebanese are one of the best integrated non-Anglo groups in the country (producing a Victorian Premier, a NSW Governor and a Sydney Lord Mayor, among others). Muslim Lebanese, a somewhat different matter.

  15. Moz noes nuffink
    Posted December 14, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    I suspect stocks would just maintain the rage and further incite violence. I’d much rather see the various defamers and inciters dragged into parliament when it’s being televised and forced to say things for our amusement. That would humiliate the speaker and entertain the populace. Both laudible goals. It’s also answering speech with speech to some degree, helping get us around the “free speech” issues (which, even in the US, is anything but an absolute right).

  16. TerjeP
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 5:24 am | Permalink

    Rather it is likely to increase their perception that the politically correct are attempting to police their views and suppress their freedom to discuss things which concern them, and to respond to that with anger.

    The phrase “increase their perception” in way too soft a choice of words. Try a word like “confirm” or “prove”. If you think there isn’t a concerted attack on free speech going on in this country then you’re not paying attention. The law has been crafted and marshalled to play it’s part in this process. As is often the case the law is an arse.

    As for the suggestion that Jones incited violence this is just stupid. How can you be inciting violence when you specifically and repeatedly tell people not to be violent and never once suggest or recommend any violent act.

    Inciting hatred is not inciting violence. I hate Julie Gillard. I think she is a liar and a manipulator and she is a destructive influence on our nation. I think the ALP caucus is a pile of vermin. I encourage others to form the same view. However I don’t endorse violence. If you’re thinking of commiting violence then I think you should calm down.

    What I did in my last paragraph is akin to what Alan Jones did. However I’m happy to stand by my last paragraph. It’s the truth. If you can’t handle the truth stay in bed and hide under the blankets.

  17. Mary Lougher
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    .Has the world gone mad? Read it and weep!
    Swagman and jumbuck vindicated at last

    PUBLISHED: 7 hours 42 MINUTES AGO | UPDATE: 5 hours 28 MINUTES AGO PUBLISHED: 15 Dec 2012PRINT EDITION: 15 Dec 2012

    14 December 2012

    Rowan Dean

    In a landmark court decision today, the estate of the late A. B. “Banjo” Paterson was forced to pay an undisclosed sum in damages awarded in favour of a class action launched by aggrieved members of the Australian public.

    Under Section 19(2)(b) of the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill recently introduced to Parliament by Attorney-General Nicola Roxon, the now-disgraced poet was found guilty of “causing offence in extremis”. Under Labor’s new laws his descendants were guilty if they failed to prove that no offence had been intended in his now-banned publication Waltzing Matilda.

    The court further ordered that bookshops and libraries destroy all copies of the publication.

    Speaking on behalf of the plaintiffs, a jubilant spokesperson shed tears of joy on the courtroom steps while speaking to the waiting media throng. “There is hardly a single person in Australia who has not been offended by this vile, disgusting, elitist, racist, sexist, misogynist, animalist piece of work,” the spokesperson said.

    In particular, the judges singled out such divisive terminology as “swagman” and “squatter” as referring to social origins in a derogatory context.

    “This court believes that the publication deliberately seeks to promote class-based conflict in our enlightened, progressive society,” the judges said. “The depiction of the swagman – clearly a recently unemployed welfare recipient – as a thief who treats animals cruelly is an unimaginable slur on such vulnerable sections of society. Furthermore, the assumption by the ‘squatter’ that both the land and the animal in question automatically belong to him is hugely offensive to all who care not only about native title but also animal rights.”

    The judges cited the grievous offence taken by an indigenous billabong collective that Mr Paterson was clearly encouraging non-indigenous trespassers to ride across their spiritual homeland without paying due respect, in the form of a welcome to country, to the billabong’s original owners.

    Feminist groups have long taken exception to the poet’s depiction of a misogynist, patriarchal society in which the sole function of women is to dance for the perverse pleasure of men.

    An association that offers support to the victims of police brutality also welcomed the judgment. “Mr Paterson is clearly advocating the use of three heavily armed police officers to deal with the desperate actions of a starving man, who clearly fears for his life,” an association spokesperson said. “To make light of such brutality is a cruel insult to the growing number of taser victims.”

    Charitable welfare groups also praised the verdict. “The idea that the only way to escape life’s problems is to jump into a pond and drown yourself is hugely insulting to the relatives of suicide victims,” they said. “Depression is a serious illness. Boasting ‘you’ll never catch me alive’ is not only irresponsible, but also demeaning.”

    A key plank in the defendants argument was the question of haste and speed, with the estate of Banjo Paterson arguing that the actions described were clearly spontaneous and so any consequences – including causing offence – were not intended, the entire saga occurring “in the time it takes to boil a billy”.

    The question of animal welfare and dignity loomed large in the lengthy trial, with the defendants attempting to prove via a re-enactment in the courtroom that there’s nothing degrading about placing a sheep in a large hessian bag. However, lawyers for the prosecution were able to demonstrate that in the event of the sheep being of a sturdy build, the likely result of “shoving” it into a “tucker bag” would not only be undignified, but could lead to bone and ligament damage, or asphyxiation. In a setback for the Banjo case, the judges determined the phrase “jolly jumbuck” denigrated overweight sheep.

    Reacting to the verdict, a delighted Ms Roxon told The Australian Financial Review that “Tony Abbott and the nay sayers have been proved wrong. The legislation works precisely as intended – to help everyone understand what behaviour is expected of them.”

    Responding to criticism from former chief justice Jim Spigelman that the new laws were even worse than the nanny state he had warned of, Ms Roxon retorted: “Jim who?”

    Mr Spigelman was dumped from his position as ABC chairman in early 2012 for offending Ms Roxon by describing her proposed legislation as “an insult to free speech”.

    Follow Rowan Dean on twitter @rowandean

    The Australian Financial Review

  18. TerjeP
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    I don’t see the word attack in that quotation anywhere. But let’s just make stuff up.

  19. TerjeP
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    When the police go onto the streets in numbers in what is sometimes described as a “show of force” should I start claiming that they are attacking people? A show of force in the face of thugs threatening violence is not an attack. It is sanity. And if the authorities won’t do it then clearly it does fall to other members of society. Showing your muscles can be a perfectly valid way of stopping violence. A friend of mine avoided a fight once by flashing a knife to the would be mugger (who then ran away). Would you say he attacked the mugger?

  20. TerjeP
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    My father in law witnessed the later rampage at Maroubra. He described the police in terms that fit with the above label of “impotent”. They stood back whilst a bunch of youths went about kicking down letter boxes and destroying property.

  21. Posted December 15, 2012 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Indeed, the standing aside whilst hordes of thugs took over the streets was not the NSW police force’s finest hour.

  22. Posted December 15, 2012 at 11:31 am | Permalink


    I don’t see the word attack in that quotation anywhere.

    The word isn’t. The meaning clearly is.

    A show of force in the face of thugs threatening violence is not an attack. It is sanity. And if the authorities won’t do it then clearly it does fall to other members of society.

    A “show of force” by “other members of society” sounds an awful lot like it’s just other “thugs threatening violence”, and is something that will just further a cycle of violence and not establish “sanity”.

    They stood back whilst a bunch of youths went about kicking down letter boxes and destroying property.

    What do you expect them to have do, mow the youths down with a machine gun? Start a melee that would have raised emotions and increased casualties on both sides? Their role is to restore order as quickly as possible, not to escalate the violence to satisfy gun ho lunatics.

  23. Mel
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    TerjeP: ” I hate Julie Gillard. I think she is a liar and a manipulator and she is a destructive influence on our nation. I think the ALP caucus is a pile of vermin. I encourage others to form the same view. However I don’t endorse violence. If you’re thinking of commiting violence then I think you should calm down.”

    Yes, Terje, but you are an insignificant and uncharismatic blog commenter and your comments are mostly unread and elicit little more than a yawn and deep regret among those few of us who do read them. Jones on the other hand, is a venerated right wing opinion leader with an audience of many thousands of people and he clearly made comments of a kind that could incite people to violence in the right context, such as the heated environment that existed in the lead up to the Cronulla riots.

    Read this and tell me there was no incitement.

  24. TerjeP
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    I read it and I remain of the view that there was no incitement to violence. I don’t know what drugs you guys are on but inciting violence, at least in so far as a meaningful legal concept, ought to entail suggesting that people initiate violence.

    If a rabble is headed towards your house and I say to you that you and the neighbours should get your baseball bats and stare them down this is not an incitement to violence. It is an incitement to vigalence. If I remind you that hitting a bully back will often cause the bully to run away this is not an incitement of violence it is a logical statement of cause and effect. If I tell you all to assemble at the corner of York and King and to punch ever Indian in sight then that IS an incitement to violence. If you can’t see any distinction then try harder.

    For a discussion on the law the tendency here to infer all manner of intent, without evidence, seems pretty sloppy.

  25. kvd
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    So, one of the reasons I’ve got no problem with you calling Julia Gillard vermin in this context on this blog

    Sorry LE, but I do.

    And also, I fail to see how there is any connection in law between Jones’ comments and his accusor’s (Trad) history. That’s a bit like saying my defence for running over a child is because others have also done it.

    I hate Julie Gillard. I think she is a liar and a manipulator and she is a destructive influence on our nation. I think the ALP caucus is a pile of vermin.

    Get a grip TP. You are starting to sound quite unhinged. LE’s point about incitement is quite valid. Does “will no-one rid me of this troublesome priest ?” ring any bells?

  26. Mel
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    From my above link:

    When John called on Tuesday to bluntly recommend vigilante action — “If the police can’t do the job, the next tier is us” — Jones did not dissent. “Yeh. Good on you, John.” And when he then offered a maxim his father had picked up during the war — “Shoot one, the rest will run” — the broadcaster roared with laughter. “No, you don’t play Queensberry’s rules. Good on you, John.”

    That’s a smoking gun.

  27. Mel
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Also, I’ve been trying to find some empirical research that seeks to determine if a link exists between violence and inflammatory speech. The best I could come up with was this study on the Rwanda Genocide and Radio RTLM. The answer is an emphatic and convincing yes and the researcher estimated that radio hate speech incited about 50,000 extra persons to engage in genocidal vioilence.

    Now of course I’m not saying Jones emulated Rwanda’s right-wing Radio RTLM. For starters, Radio RTLM labelled all Tutsis cockroaches whereas Jones labelled Lebanese and Middle Eastern persons scum and grubs respectively. Moreover, Radio RTLM complained of Tutsi men raping Hutu women whereas Alan Jones merely stated as a helpful aside that women in Sydney’s western suburbs aren’t being raped by Anglo-Saxons. As you can see, there is absolutely no similarity ….

  28. TerjeP
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    One does not have to use the word “attack” to incite violence, Terje. One only has to suggest that it would be a good idea if certain people were dealt with or humiliated by force.

    Sure, unless the force is in self defence. However showing muscle, in numbers, weapons or strength, so that any attacker is aware that you are ready to defend yourself is not an act of violence. And suggesting that people should show their muscle in numbers or weapons or strength is not an incitement to violence.

    When the police march in the streets in riot gear this is not of itself an act of violence. It is an act of intimidation. It is intended to display an ability. It is a possible precursor to violence but not violence itself.

    When a nation conducts military manoeuvres or military parades it may be intended to remind others of the nations capacity to defend itself but it is not of itself an act of violence.

    If I sit in a rocking chair on my front porch with a shotgun and a steely gaze this is not an act of violence.

    When I flex my chest muscle, clench my fists, raise my chin and lean forward in the presence of a noisy troublemaker this is not an act of violence. It is a behavioural display of confidence and a willingness to stand ground and fight.

    To be sure displays of violent capability can be provocative. And to be sure caution and wisdom ought to be exercised. However if you want to accuse somebody of inciting violence then in my book you should be able to point to examples where they suggest that violence should be initiated.

    If you use coded language to send your message then yes the context needs to be interpreted. However there is still an onus on the accuser to show there was a clear intent to say violence should be initiated.

  29. TerjeP
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    KVD – what do you mean by “unhinged”?

  30. kvd
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Permalink


    Sorry, should have been more polite.


  31. TerjeP
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    I see.

  32. kvd
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    I see

    Well I really hope you do TP, because I’ve otherwise most always found your comments thoughtful.

    It’s just that after LE quite clearly set a context for the use of ‘vermin’ in her original post, it was quite disappointing to see you invoke the very same term in your comment@19 in relation to a democratically elected government which, despite its many failings, has somehow managed to get us, thus far, through fairly troubled waters.

    Happy to read your opinion that they ‘could do better’. Bemused that you feel so much more strongly.

  33. kvd
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    I hate Julie Gillard. I think she is a liar and a manipulator and she is a destructive influence on our nation. I think the ALP caucus is a pile of vermin.

    Unhinged. Stupid. Silly.

    That ok LE? And if you would defend the right to state such opinions, I would politely insist upon my equivalent right to call them for what they are.

  34. TerjeP
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    KVD – feel free to call me unhinged or stupid if that is what you really think. However if you do you risk being asked to explain your outlook. Although I wasn’t overly inclined to ask on this occasion.

    LE – My hate of Gillard is more along the lines of how some people hate broccoli. They usually aren’t angry at broccoli. They just hate it. Sustained anger is too much work.

  35. TerjeP
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    p.s. On reflection I’m content to stick with using the term “vermin” to describe the ALP caucus.

  36. kvd
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    TP@41 why should I be required to “explain my outlook”? You are the one making what I would suggest are quite extravagent claims.

    The wider issue is about the fair use of free speech. LE has just defended your right to make foolish outlandish statements, yet cautioned me for expressing an alternate moderate opinion. I don’t thank her for that.

    Freedom of speech. Who knew that’s what it meant.

  37. TerjeP
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    KVD – I didn’t say you were required to explain your outlook. I said you risked being asked to explain it.

  38. Posted December 15, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Permalink
    They stood back whilst a bunch of youths went about kicking down letter boxes and destroying property.

    What do you expect them to have do, mow the youths down with a machine gun? Start a melee that would have raised emotions and increased casualties on both sides? Their role is to restore order as quickly as possible, not to escalate the violence to satisfy gun ho lunatics.

    Of course they are supposed to shoot them – if a baton charge & water cannon & rubber bullets didn’t work, then yes shooting is the accepted & historically effective method of quelling riots.

    The police are there to keep the peace, protect life & property, and to arrest law breakers, they are not there to watch a mob smash the property of law abiding citizens, then after the mob is gone move in to “restore order”.

    Shoot-rioters-dead. (If need be).

  39. Mel
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    “Of course they are supposed to shoot them …”

    That sounds like pub talk.

  40. Posted December 15, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    peace, protect life & property

    It’s important to get those in the right order. If rioters are posing a direct and immediate threat to someone else’s life then sure, it’s appropriate for the police to use lethal force to intervene. I’m sure glad we live in a civilised society where we don’t kill people over a few smashed up cars.

    Why is it, that those who trust the government the least, are the most eager to see government agents given the wide discretion to use lethal force?

  41. Posted December 15, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    And I’m disgusted to live in a society where police stand & watch while thugs go on a smashing rampage in people’s houseyard, then do nothing about it afterward.

    If we are to be protected/policed by such pussys, then I want a vickers gun.

    Mel: It is the talk of one who prefers to not have his house & home threatened/smashed by a mob, while the police stand & watch.

    You fellers go & get yourselves protected by some brokeback mountain police service.
    I’ll settle for real cops, if we have such a force left in this country.

  42. Mel
    Posted December 15, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    D 49: “Why is it, that those who trust the government the least, are the most eager to see government agents given the wide discretion to use lethal force?”

    Glad to see I’m not the only one to notice the dissonance.

    Steve ATP: “Pussys … vickers gun … brokeback mountain … real men”

    Sounds like you have short dick syndrome. Too bad its incurable.

  43. Posted December 15, 2012 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

    Why do gun control crazies have a fixation with short penises?

    One of the laws of the internet (along with Godwin’s, Blair’s, & others) is the closer a thread on gun control gets to 50 posts, the more likely a gun control advocate will divert the discussion to one about penis length. (Usually done when realisation sets in that they are losing the discussion)

  44. Posted December 16, 2012 at 12:24 am | Permalink

    SATP, I think it was more your use of language that demonstrated a focus your membership of some mythically superior class of ‘real’ men, and the inference that you have some feelings of inadequacy about your masculinity (a small penis being the symbolic cause). Of course it could also be a indication of habitualised dehumanisation of various classes of people as part of the cognitive dissonance caused by being xenophobic in a cosmopolitan society.

    If we are to be protected/policed by such pussys, then I want a vickers gun.

    What’s stopping you?

  45. Posted December 16, 2012 at 2:45 am | Permalink

    Desipis, you have the urge to discuss penis size? (Sigh, here we go again with the betas being uncomfortable with talk of masculinity or lack thereof).
    On a thread that is supposed to be about shotgun apologies?

  46. Posted December 16, 2012 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    (…after that…) Back on Topic!

    Were I to be ordered to make a shotgun apology, and the words supplied to me, I’d read it alright, but it would be very clear to listeners that a few things were missing:
    Contrition, remorse, regret, acknowledgement of wrongdoing, & so on.

    Furthermore the clayton’s apology would be delivered in such a manner that rather than discrediting the original (allegedly offensive) message would actually be reinforced.

    Then again, I don’t go around calling people “vermin” & such like.

    I’m extremely offensive to gypsies & traffic police, a skill honed & refined through experience. But even though they are left seething, there isn’t anything they can complain about aloud.

    In my very first industrial relations case I was ordered to write a statement (not an apology, but bordering on it). I refused & said I’d go to jail before I’d put my signature to something that wasn’t true.

  47. Posted December 16, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Reading what Jones said, I am not surprised he got done. “Revenge” and “show of force” are inciting language.

    Forced apologies strike me as being about making the victims feel better, setting boundaries and demonstrating authority. But I would be fine with an “opt out fine” (i.e. apologise or pay X amount in lieu).

  48. Posted December 16, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    I’m not intending to discuss guns, or penises. I’m trying to discuss the motivations of people who engage in sadistic speech that divides society and contributes to an environment of hostility. I figure it’s something that might be useful in understanding the usefulness of a forced apology.

  49. Adrien
    Posted December 16, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Mandating an apology from a powerful media figure is simply pissweak and futile.

    There’s a widespread behaviourism consequent of lifelong leeches, inconsiderate oafs and people who make a career of being (sorry there’s no other word) arseholes – they believe that sorry is a magic word. Act like a jerk and whenever some rare specimen confronts them on their extreme discourtesy or outrageous selfishness simply say ‘sorry’ usually whilst raising eyes to Heaven or with a click of the tongue or both.

    It’s a bureaucrat’s solution to force Jones to read such conference friendly ‘remorse’. If he wants to describe Lebanese men as ratbags let him. If he incites violence against them prosecute his arse and throw it in jail. This apology is nothing more than a bit of tit-tat for Trad who is every bit as unpleasant as Jones.

  50. Posted December 16, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    I’ll go with Adrien #59 Bang on the money.

  51. derrida derider
    Posted December 16, 2012 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    Some pretty ugly words are being discussed here (for that matter, there are some pretty ugly words in some of the comments too). But its pretty clear that legislative cures for such ugliness tend to be worse than the disease.

    However, I think there is always value in ensuring the market is informed as to the reliability of whatever product a vendor is pushing – so shock jocks who are found to have lied in disgraceful ways should be made to inform their listeners of exactly how they have lied. Call that an apology if you will.

    BTW while I have nothing but contempt for that hypocrite Jones there’s no way he contributed to those riots, simply because the rioters are not part of his audience. His audience is overwhelmingly old bigots, not young ones – there are lots of plugs for retirement homes and funeral plans on his show.

  52. kvd
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Just an update as the result of yet another morning drivetime in my car. The SMH article referenced by LE in her post was 13 Dec and stated that Mr Jones was to air an apology ‘next week’ – which would be this week.

    I was not sure of the facts at the time, so tuned in briefly this morning to confirm. In fact, Mr Jones went off-air on Friday last, with his program slot now in summer mode, and being hosted by some other lesser light whose name I forget, but whose ‘tone’ is the same.

    Dunno what happened to the apology? Perhaps held over till Jones’ return late January, February?

    LE, I hope the packing is the most stressful part of your holiday. I wish you safe and happy travels.

  53. Posted December 17, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    kvd, any day this week. So probably whatever day has the least listeners; at a guess I’d put this as Friday.

  54. Jolly
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    “Sorry”. Yes that is a magic word. We teach our children both in homes and in schools to utter the word “sorry” and that all will be forgiven. Then they continue their merry old ways. Sorry has no meaning. Jones, Bolt are a reflection of our society.

    That we have an obligation to be decent, to be respectful and to curb our impulses are often rejected in the name of ‘freedom’. A truly free society can only function if we are also responsible for our words and actions. No responsibility, no freedom.

    When I despair about the lack of civility, the fear of ‘others’ and our lack of real compassion towards those seeking refuge, I remind myself that we have actually come a long way from our penal colony status. We are still a young nation, crude, sometimes xenophobic, anti establishment, love pranks and express raw emotions as is. We think that we are a free people, but the truth is we are still shackled to our unenlightened thoughts. I am hopeful as time is on our side. Given time, we may yet evolve.

  55. TerjeP
    Posted December 17, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    No responsibility, no freedom.

    Let me fix that for you;

    No freedom, no responsibility.

  56. kvd
    Posted December 19, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Stuff LE might miss thru travelling:

    The ABC reported Mr Jones’ 34 second directed statement/apology was aired this morning.

    The fellow charged after a child drowning death in Armidale has had manslaughter charges dropped.

  57. kvd
    Posted December 19, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Oh, and yesterday the lady who was injured in the course of sex whilst on a (unrelated?) work assignment won her case on appeal.

    Or should that be “the lady who was injured in the course of work whilst having (unrelated?) sex” has won her appeal?.

    That is all.

One Trackback

  1. [...] Skepticlawyer » Apologies and the law: Alan Jones again. Like this:LikeBe the first to like this. [...]

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *