As the Woodford Folk Festival story hits the Brisbane Times and goes international, I think it's time for a reminder.
Many commentators speaking on the topic of Meryl Dorey's upcoming appearance at Woodford Folk Festival have raised the spectre of free speech. It is time to put that spectre to rest.
Let us lay aside the fact that Australia has no statutory right to free speech.
Let us lay aside the commonly understood principle of falsely yelling "fire!" in a crowded theatre.
The Woodford scandal - and it has become a scandal - is not about free speech. It is about privileged speech, and specifically the implicit endorsement of, and provision of a platform to, demonstrably false information.
Everyone in Australia has the same rights to freedom of expression. Every random nut on the street is as free to state his opinion as any other. But that does not mean we should hand them a megaphone, especially a megaphone which is in part provided from the public purse.
And we certainly shouldn't put up a banner which says "we the sponsors endorse these views". And that's what an appearance at the festival implies, however much the organisers try to deny it.
Meryl Dorey is, in all likelihood, the most debunked woman in Australia. A simple Google search, of the kind Bill Hauritz is so fond of, would have turned up hundreds of examples of places where she has lied, prevaricated, misinformed, mangled and generally made a spectacle of herself. Future dictionaries will list the word "dorey" as "the antonym of 'expert'". She is manifestly incompetent to speak on her chosen topic.
So she should not be given the privilege of a free, government sponsored platform to promote her view.
Hand her a soapbox and let her stand on the sidelines, sure.
Don't give her a microphone.
posted @ Wednesday, December 14, 2011 10:27 AM