Allowing that the Voice referendum produces the big ‘No’ pollsters are predicting, amongst the most interesting reactions to that defeat will be those of Yes23’s most ardent advocates. Take Marcia Langton, for instance, who has further established that the once revered Lancet will publish just about any tommyrot that suits the leftoid narrative of the moment. Then wonder about Noel Pearson, who put an aggrieved truculence on display this week during an on-air chat with 3AW’s Neil Mitchell.
Not that we should be surprised. The Lancet has been acquiring some very ugly blots on its escutcheon of late, as anyone who followed the Covid-19 saga would be aware, the journal having memorably rushed to press with a study which concluded treating the infection with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine “were each independently associated with an increased risk of in-hospital mortality.” As it emerged, the Indian researchers were extensively funded by Big Parma which — need it be said? — had a keen interest in suppressing the use of cheap and readily available remedies. That the researchers also declined to share their data with peer reviewers apparently raised no alarms. So the findings went to press and remained the stated opinion of Big Science’s cookie-cutter Covid establishment until, eventually, the paper was found to be more flaws than facts, leading to its belated retraction.
Keith Windschuttle: Post-Referendum Politics
The Lancet was no more cautious in leaping to decry the suspicion that Covid-19 was engineered in, and escaped from, the Wuhan bio lab. That the first cases occurred near two subway stops either side of the lab — the first at the infamous wet market and the second at a military base — failed to spark the editors’ informed surmise. Instead the journal went to press with a group letter adamantly rejecting the possibility that the virus could ever have escaped from the lab:
The rapid, open, and transparent sharing of data on this outbreak is now being threatened by rumours and misinformation around its origins. We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin.
What made the publication of this assertion so egregious is that Lancet editor Dr Richard Horton knew for a fact that researcher Peter Drazak, who organised the letter, was a Wuhan lab associate. This did not emerge until 16 months later, by which time the mainstream media’s useful idiots were very nearly as one in declaring the lab-leak theory so far fetched that only those whose preferred headgear is the tinfoil hat could possibly believe it. Locally, reporters-cum-stenographers, especially at the Silly Morning Herald and other Nine rags, went all-in defending the Wuhan lab. For a laugh and a window on the mind and model of the modern journalist, spare a minute or two to read Silly science roundsman Liam Mannix, who issued an unintentional invitation for readers to peek through the ideological lens that makes so much of modern journalism not worth the paper or pixels on which it appears. As Mannix puts it in defence of boffindom feeding him lines for subsequent regurgitation:
Journalism fell into a trap with the climate crisis. By balancing the arguments of scientists and deniers early on, the media gave the public a distorted view of the expert consensus.
I worry much of the media is doing the same with the lab leak hypothesis. I worry the very scientists in Wuhan who tried to warn us, for years, about the threat posed by bat coronavirus pandemics are now being blamed.
We have explored the issue in this in-depth feature and in this story, but I worry elsewhere the arguments are being presented as competing when one of them – the lab leak – is viewed as far less likely than the other by most experts.
Where would be without newsrooms’ RoloDexes of rent-a-quote ‘experts’ to encourage faith in orthodoxy and its further propagation? Considerably better informed, for starters.
Given The Lancet‘s reign of error and political partisanship, Ms Langton and her fellow authors (Ian Anderson, Yin Paradies, Ray Lovett and Tom Calma, who wrote the Voice blueprint with co-author Langton) picked the right vehicle. Some samples:
The Yes campaign points out that Australian governments have shut down Indigenous advisory bodies when their proposals were at odds with government interests or policy.
Lancet readers might benefit from knowing a little about ATSIC, its corruption and the joint decision by Labor and the Coalition to wind it up before further millions of dollars could be misspent, stolen and generally squandered.
The No campaign argues that a Voice to Parliament will be racially divisive. They argue it will be racist as it confers special privileges on Indigenous Australians.
This argument is factually incorrect. There are many business bodies, trade unions, and statutory bodies—representing a range of interests across the Australian community—that regularly provide advice to the Government.
Yes, they can and do lobby the government. But none are so arrogant as to demand that the right to express a view through normal channels — available to all Australians, be they black, white or green with purple spots — needs to engraved in the Constitution.
Nonetheless, there is also a progressive No campaign that argues an Indigenous Voice to Parliament is not sufficient to effect real change in outcomes. Citing past government failures to respect Indigenous self-determination and sovereignty, these campaigners are concerned that the proposal does not go far enough. They are calling for stronger forms of self-determination, such as designated Indigenous seats in Parliament.
Ms Langton & Co., are tossing a conciliatory bone to Lidia Thorpe et al.
Since the referendum was announced, there has been a substantial rise in threats, abuse, vilification, and hate speech against Indigenous peoples, both in person and online.
And the evidence of that alleged epidemic of vilification is…
The Australian e-Safety Commission reported in late May, 2023, that there had been more than a 10% rise in the proportion of complaints made by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples about online cyber abuse, threats, and harassment.
Disagree with a Voice supporter and your interlocutor can file an entirely subjective appraisal of your racist motive and intent. Collecting complaints is the stock in trade of the eSafety Commission, which is building a bureaucratic empire complete with a budget large enough to funnel grants and funds to allied and supportive organisations. These include the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health, which recently picked up a handy $536,359, and a further $413,000 to First Nations Media. In regard to online abuse, which the eSafety Commission reckons to be especially rife, expressions of offence are keenly sought, as the agency’s website explains:
…us mob can often experience racism and hate speech online.
This happens to First Nations Community more than it does to many other people, especially if Community members identify as being different in other ways.
Racism and hate speech are just as wrong online as in person, but there is something you can do about it….
Yes, you can complain to the eSafety Commission, which will have a swollen ledger of alleged online racism at hand when it comes time for the agency’s next round of budget funding to be allocated.
Back now to The Lancet, where we find this …
…the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria (FPAV) has gone from blocking two people a day for racist abuse on social media to blocking about 50 people, citing the national debate on an Indigenous Voice as the reason for this escalation.
“Abuse”, it seems, is in the eye of the beholder. As FPAV laments on its website, that purported deluge of online cross-burners didn’t cut the mustard with Facebook, which rejected specific requests to take down disagreeable comments, posts and content. Given the social media platform’s much-reported hair-trigger in spiking posts, including the odd link to innocuous Quadrant stories, just how offensive could those “racist” posts have been?
Speculating on the post-referendum situation: a No vote will have a profoundly negative effect on those in the Indigenous world who have walked a journey of reconciliation with politicians, business leaders, and Australian communities for nearly two decades.
Read the above paragraph slowly and carefully. What the authors are presenting is the assertion that while Aborigines have been the picture of sweet and patient reasonableness on their “journey of reconciliation”, the rest of Australia is somewhat schizophrenic by remaining callously deaf to indigenous anguish while dedicating some $39-billion-plus per year to alleviate it.
We are further left to wonder what is meant and implied by that forecast of “profoundly negative effect”. Does it suggest heartbroken directors of the Aborigine Industry sobbing in quiet corners about lost opportunities (not least, a cycnic might add, to access the power and perks which a Voice would grant)? Or is it hinting at a promise that we’ll see further blockades of Flinders and Swanston streets at peak hour, plus other outbreaks of anger, protests and disruption?
Now listen to 3AW’s interview with a bristling Noel Pearson. It would seem the second question is the more relevant.