Interlude – Editorial

Given the robust discussion which has blown up in the comments section to my last post, and the requests for my opinion (as if I need a request before I give my opinion on something) I thought it would be best to set out my thoughts on Yassmin Abdel-Magied  in a separate post.

That will free up space in the last post for comments about my gamebook equipment selection.

In theory.


Some background.

On April 25, 2017, Yassmin Abdel-Magied, a private Australian citizen, made a seven word post on her personal Facebook page.  The post said :

“LEST.WE.FORGET. (Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine…)”

For those of non-Australian background, Manus and Nauru are two Pacific Islands which contain detention centres where people who have arrived at Australia by boat seeking refugee status are imprisoned.  This imprisonment is pursuant to a policy of the Australian government which has both passionate advocates and opponents.

The references to Syria and Palestine are, I think, self-explanatory.

Ms Abdel-Magied received significant criticism for this post and, literally hours later, removed the last four words from the post and posted an apology which read thus :

“It was brought to my attention that my last post was disrespectful, and for that, I apologise unreservedly.”

The above are facts which I don’t think could fairly be disputed in any way.

Hardly a massive news story, right?


Alright, everything from here on is opinion.

It is hard to imagine a more perfect storm of easy targets for the Australian right-wing media and politicians.  Ms Abdel-Magied is :

  • An immigrant (she arrived in Australia with her family at the age of two).
  • Born in the country of Sudan,  at a time when Sudanese immigrants have been a particular target of tabloid vitriol.
  • A woman
  • A person of colour.
  • Among other roles, is a part-time employee of the ABC, the government-funded television station.

The NewsCorp family of newspapers, controlled by Rupert  Murdoch (of Fox News infamy)  WENT NUTS.

This brief comment was, apparently, FRONT PAGE NEWS as being the ULTIMATE INSULT.


A search of Ms Abdel-Magied’s name at the Daily Telegraph page (but covering the stable of papers gives 133,000 results.  Admittedly, some of those are historical but…..wow.

Members of the conservative government, almost drooling at this easy target, have variously called for the ABC (which is EXTREMELY unpopular with the government, since the easy ride enjoyed from right-wing commercial television is SLIGHTLY less easy on the ABC) to have its funding cut, for Ms Abde-Magied to be fired from her role on various advisory boards and television roles and for other forms of public censure.

Less restrained commenters and Facebook and Twitter have demanded that she be deported, fired, fined, publicly shamed, and, of course, raped and killed.

Let’s talk about ‘freedom of speech’.

Freedom of speech, as traditionally understood, does NOT mean ‘freedom from criticism’.  It does NOT mean that you can scream abuse at someone while working at expect to keep your job.  It does NOT mean, using the cliched legal standard, that you can ‘yell “fire” in a crowded theater’.  It does NOT mean that you are free from sanctions under such legal torts as libel and slander.

It DOES mean that you should never suffer government sanction for saying something the government doesn’t agree with.  It DOES mean that expressing a political view should not mean you lose your employment simply because your employer holds a different political view. It DOES mean that expressing a minority view does not lessen the potential validity of that view.

Was it reasonable that the original post was subject to criticism?


Was it reasonable that the original post, clearly referencing refugees resulting from wars, was a valid way of acknowledging Anzac Day, a day for remembering and considering victims of war?


Was the reaction to this post disproportionate?

Of course.

Was much of the over-reaction driven by the identity and background of the speaker?


Aside : On this point, it is impossible for anyone to rationally deny the racist and sexist component of the criticism.

This article points out the previous contradictory opinions of conservatives on speech which they agreed with, and the comparative lack of outrage over such things as Anzac Day (I kid you not) wet T-shirt contests.

With regard to Ms Abdel-Magied personally, the idea that she is some ignorant buffoon, coasting on sweet, sweet taxpayer welfare, is just absurd.  This is a woman who, at age 26, was school vice-captain, first in her class, has received an Engineering Degree with First Class Honours, and has worked as an engineer, on the board of the Queensland Museum and has published a memoir.  I’ll tell you one thing – she works harder than most of the Members of Parliament criticising her.

Am I building up to a particular conclusion?  Not especially.  Although a private citizen, Ms Abdel-Magied is a public figure, and as a published author and television presenter, must be aware that her public statements are open to praise and criticism as people see fit.

Having said that, the abuse which has been hurled in the last couple of days has been bewildering and vile.  The anonymity afforded by a keyboard certainly serves to give a certain type of person the perceived license to abuse and threaten others, when in person they were alternate between being terrified and sycophantic.

I also think the collectively encouraged ‘groupthink’ about Anzac Day and soldiers is unhelpful and dangerous.  War is hell, and should always be a last resort.  The glorification of the military mindset has, ironically, increased as the number of war veterans is reduced.  The whole supposed ‘zinger’ of ‘soldiers fought for the freedom for you to say stupid things’ isn’t helpful, and comprises a logical fallacy.

As I close, I remember A.B. Facey’s extraordinary memoir, A Fortunate Life, where he, on returning wounded from World War I, says [paraphrased] :

“Many criticised the men who didn’t go to the war, but none of us [veterans] did.  We thought they had brains.”

Finally, you know what my parents tried to teach me?

“If you can’t say something positive about someone, maybe you shouldn’t say anything at all.”

Words to live by.

Except Paido.

Screw that guy.


19 thoughts on “Interlude – Editorial

  1. I can’t wait for the ABC to have their funding cut, they are funded by tax payers and should not align with any ideology, period.She breached ABC’s very own Social Media Policy, if you want a copy I can send it to you. It is as clear as the nose on your face, that they have a disproportionate left wing bias. I can’t even watch it anymore. Any thinking person that says Islam is the most feminist religion in the world, is suffering from cognitive dissonance.
    No surprise with the implication that many, who took exception to what she said, are from the bogan/, wet t shirt demographic.
    Would you put yours truly in that demographic too?
    I am not surprised with your reaction, it is what I expected.


    1. Sorry lghr but reading that ABC is covered.

      1) As its not an ABC site they don’t have to take responsibility for it.

      2) Staff ARE forbidden from saying anything even on their own “personal Facebook page” (Tim’s words) that brings ABC into “disrepute”, but what qualifies as disrepute is unclarified and the punishment isn’t “dismissal”, its “including possible termination of employment”.

      By contrast a friend of mine wrote the Online code of conduct for the company he’s in (he runs the online customer support department) and he said its “Please don’t put anything online you shouldn’t because we will know its you and we can (or will, I forget) fire you”.

      Btw, I do realise the ridiculousness of a booze shop worker discussing legal contracts on the blog of a Lawyer and with someone like your background.

      There’s another matter I HAVE to bring up but breaktime is over.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Interesting. Ok. I just went by the link you posted. Btw, management brought out a new handbook a few years ago which the Union refusef to accept. One arguement was the Social media section was so vague that we couldn’t trust it..


  2. In my usual fashion I shall skirt around the peripheries before working up the courage to go for the main point.

    1) Thank you for setting this up as a separate section and for both giving background us non-Aussies and expressing your opinions, actually I think it will pass quickly but that’s another matter

    2) While you highlight Y.AM’s colour, race etc it should be pointed out in fairness that those were not points that lghr herself attacked.

    3) Anzac wet tshirt competitions? Ireland’s too cold for that at Easter time. When Dave Barry did a book on Japan in 1993 he attended the Hiroshima commemoration and noted that some of the survivors avoid the commemoration because they don’t like the way its gone. Buried in the excess verbiage of my other post I deliberately said people are “celebrating The Celebration of”. I think this happens with all major festivals. People will shake their heads over it and try to have informed debate the other three hundred and sixty four but on the day

    4) “‘soldiers fought for the freedom for you to say stupid things’ isn’t helpful, and comprises a logical fallacy.” True that but I think you miss the point. I will continue to use that line if needed not because I think its logical, historical or sound but because when someone else is being stupidly beligerant over a nationalistic fantasy its a handy line to deflate their building up steam. Now if they’re willing to be reasonable after then we can talk, if not then I get the hell out of there. Again, the purpose of that line is to counter the stupid and maybe allow for informed debate, not to be part of informed debate.

    Main Point
    5) Lindus asked did you “did she choose the wrong day”. You acknowledge that her choice was open to criticism. That’s fair enough.

    6) Should she be sacked, deported etc and ABC shut down. Over one silly mistake? Well, I also admitted that I possibly outdid her in stupid (and insensitive and ..) on Wednesday and if we’re going to be honest on the Tuesday of last week also. But I didn’t do it on the net and hopefully it won’t go far. So I’m not going to say she should be sacked under these circumstances am I?

    Its part of human nature to do stupid things that we regret after, sometimes we just mess up bigger than other times. It’s often seemed to me that when there’s a frenzy demanding that someone be sacked for something they’re often angry at other things the person has done/is doing and this is being used as an excuse. Frankly I’ve never liked it and I don’t like it here even if I strongly disagree with much of what she says.

    7) “Was it reasonable that the original post, clearly referencing refugees resulting from wars, was a valid way of acknowledging Anzac Day” That is YOUR opinion and “soldiers fought for the right for you to say” that. 😉

    I also want’ to reply to lghr directly but will have to do so later, son’s sports day.


    1. Thanks Fen, I can always count on you to defend me.

      The reality is that if it was you or I, that said what she did and we were employed by the ABC, we would be out on our ear ( as White Catholics/Christian).

      She falls into few of the protected categories, so she can do and say whatever she wants, even though she blatantly breached their own Social Media Policy.

      I will say it again, I will defend her right to free speech but this was a very snide and calculated move on her part. She politicized the sentiments of the day for her own agenda. I think only people who have lost loved ones, or who have family that serve, truly understand how hurtful and dismissive her remarks were.
      My Aunt in Canberra (my Dad’s sister) has 2 sons serving at the moment and she is really upset at what she said.

      The Left in this country, the “elite intelligentsia”, like to sneer at us lesser mortals hence the reference to bogans and wet t shirt comps. I have never in my life participated in a wet t shirt comp and I don’t know many “bogans” who went to a Convent School.
      “Bogan” is a derogatory Australian slang term, I am sure Tim can give you a very comprehensive definition.
      Despite what Tim said, I would gladly tell her to her face, what I think of her politics. I do not hide behind a keyboard. I have had to muster more courage in the last few years than I have ever had to in all my life and I am no ones sycophant.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Lghr, believe it or not but I got a Euro coin with the Maltese Cross on it today, they’re unusual but tied in with your recent comments on Malta.

        I’ll just say I looked up “bogans”, we’ve lots of names for them too. In fairness Tim doesn’t use that word but … I can see why you’re upset.

        What I wanted to ask you were two things.

        1) If someone who didn’t claim Sharia Law is a good thing or encourage more women to become Muslims (or asking for advise from organisations that say anyone who stops being a Muslim should be killed) would you still have been as upset over those words?

        2) If she’d had the decency to wait a day ot two before making her comment (perhaps with a reference to Anzac day being past) would you still have been as upset at those words?

        3) When you said you could be expelled from this forum for your words was that in any way a test to see if Tim would call for Tolerating YAM’s words but not yours?

        I know that’s three questions, I make things up as I go along.

        Btw, do you mind if I say why I don’t like Islam, I hope Aussiesmurf will tolerate this expression. Islam claims to be the fulfillment/whatever of Judaism and Christianity. But in both of those God is portrayed as a loving Father who cares for his children. In Islam its down in writing that God is not our father, its claimed he positively rejects such a relationship and to claim it is blasphemy. Its an entire religion acting like playground bullies telling children that their parents are not really their parents and never really wanted them.

        Next I’m gleefullygoing to read Aussiesmurf’s next Lone Wolf installment.


      2. Hi Fen
        If you ever get a chance, go and visit Malta.
        It has the most fascinating history.

        1. The woman we are talking about regularly seeks counsel from an Islamic group that endorse domestic violence. It is a fact. That is why I am so shocked thatcTim is sticking up for her. This hurts me on a very personal level.

        2. If she had waited..it never would have caused the same furore but still would have pissed people off.

        3. Muhammed took a wife that was 9 years old. Enough said


        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thanks for answering my question in point two.

        We had a holiday in Malta as children, for a long time after my younger sister kept wanting mum to “buy us tickets to Moto”.

        Re 1) I try to talk to Muslims about the Bible (I used to have very nice monthly chats with a Pakistani Psychiatrist before his studies took him to away, it was an education). Hizb-ut-Tahrir says if any of these people chose to change their religion they should be executed. You can imagine how I feel about them, but hey, they’ve done plenty to get lots of people’s backs up. I must ask though, Wikipedia implies YAM has only talked to HuT once and even the Daily Mail only had on incident, you say she regularly talks to them, is this confirmed?

        Biblical note, the Pharisees were a misogynistic, self-righteous, racist, classist group. They were helped into power by a woman named Salome Alexandra. I always find history fascinating.

        But I consider myself less sharp than a butter knife, I got a headache trying to go through the implications of the different decisions Tim could make.


      4. Fen, this is a woman that says that Islam “is the most feminist religion in the world” . As well as that, she is a hypocrite. She wears the head scarf which is supposed to denote modesty, yet she wears a full face of makeup (very well done may I add) and wears nothing but high fashion and high heels. Her head wear is nothing but a gimmick, so she can peddle her books etc. She is regularly featured in some of Australia’s most fashionable magazines ( bogans don’t read these publications by the way) like Australian Vogue. She is a hypocrite. Oh and : http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/feminist-activist-yassmin-abdelmagied-sought-advice-from-hizb-uttahrir/news-story/8fb7d208cfac65646173cc3a4180c1a2


  3. I have no opinion on the incident being discussed, as I am not Australian and not familiar with it. But the Islam bashing is getting to me (yes, I am a Muslim woman, should I even say this on the internet anymore?). Please stop. You don’t have to agree with her that “Islam is the most feminist religion in the world” but I can see where she is coming from (the whole culture vs. religion thing, and theory vs. actual unfortunate reality). I’m cool if you don’t like Islam, honest. But can we get back to Lone Wolf now, where we can all agree (or not) in a much more friendly way? Pretty please?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is frustrating to me, as the creator of this page, that my attempt (by moving discussion re this issue to this separate post) to prevent derailing of Lone Wolf posts has seemed to foster only greater derailing.

      The comments by some on this blog speak for themselves. It is revealing that the actual (brief) comment by the woman in question has merited minimal attention, while the clear focus of the bulk of criticism (on this blog and elsewhere) has been directed at her religion, country of origin, historical comments, makeup (yes, really), employment and clothing.

      I dislike wielding the heavy hand of editor and comment moderator, but when things are getting to the point that regular readers are forced to plead for a reversion to talking about gamebooks, then I have to give those factors significant consideration.

      I consider that one of the difficulties that has arisen has resulted from certain commenters and provocateurs responding to statements on my (admittedly opinionated) twitter feed by making comments on this blog.

      New rule – If you want to respond to my twitter comments, respond on twitter, through public responses or direct messages. As moderator of the blog, I reserve the ability (though am loathe to use it) to remove or edit comments made here which abuse third parties or significantly derail discussions.

      I also say that as the administrator and creator of this web-page, I accept responsibility for all content, including comments by others, and apologise to you, Julie (and any other silent reader), if you have felt unwelcome or threatened.

      That is all.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you Tim and also sorry. I went over the line as well in my publuc comments as I viewed this section as separate from the rest.

        Thank you also for the clarifying on the comment on Twitter rule. Unfortunately we need rules because people can be stupid 🙋. Looking forward to continuing with Lone Wolf and hope you get destress time with your family.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Julie, I sincerely apologise for things I said that upset you. I foolishly forgot that others would read what I said.

      Visiting family in India I had to bring my mother in law to hospital so we travelled to a different state (with a different language). While in the hospital I asked one man where the toilet was and after he brought me there I said “Shukran” as he was Muslim and its polite to say “Thank you” in someone’s language. Well we had to pay our way through the different departments of the hospital but when we’d finished he saw us waiting to buy medicine ( the hospitals prescribe the medicine’s they carry in their shop). He came over, turns out he’s a physiotherapist and mum in law had neck pain. Of his OWN TIME he looked at the xrays and the prescription and he explained everything to us. But then he turned to mum in law, called her “Umma” (mother in Malayalam), and in her own language gently explained everything to her and even gave her some exercises she could do. So not only did he speak at least Arabic, English, Kanada and Malayalam but he freely gave what would have cost us a chunk of money to get.

      We have a Syrian family who sell food in my shopping centre every wendnesday. We always say, Salaam Alickam, and finish with Shukran and Ma Salaam. They know I get Baklava for my deteriating mother and carefully pick out good pieces for her.

      As alao mentioned I regularly met a very respectful
      Pakistani psychiatrist, Even though we have WIDELY different religious views we are always united in our respect for God and his word. I’ve also seen he’s a loving father and husband teaching his children right and wrong and supports his wive in her college course.

      Those are the sort of Muslim’s I’ve met or worked with, people. Frankly some of what I believe is blasphemy to you and really thats fine. Here we’re united in enjoying Lone Wolf and Aussiesmurf’s writing.

      Again my apologies. I said some things publicly I should not have, sorry.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You didn’t upset me, Fenrir, don’t worry! 🙂 I assume that people follow their religions because they think the others are wrong somehow and I don’t mind them saying so. I don’t take it personally. We’re cool.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Whew! Thank you Julie, I’ve been annoying enough people lately. Mind you, it has to be admitted that I also think that Paido, when he’s not trying to put something in his mouth or running away, is a useful companion and thats definitely blasphemy in Aussiesmurf’s eyes!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I will not make any comment on the debated topic, but I admire your decision to give people this space to talk about something that has nothing to do with your blog. And like you, I regret that ‘freedom of speech’ is so often devoid of its true meaning when brandished by some as a justification.

    Keep up the Lone Wolf quest; I must admit as a child I always thought Paido was kinda cool. It is somewhat consterning to see that, as an adult, eh… you do have a point 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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