Here’s an unexpected ‘beef-story’ from the Australian political landscape, only this time you won’t know who to back! Itinerant shock-jock Kyle Sandilands has been cleared of any wrongdoing by telecommunications authority ACMA. The initial complaint related to on-air comments made by Mr. Sandilands regarding Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce.
After it was revealed that Mr. Joyce was pushing for actor Johnny Depp’s dogs to be removed from the country following a breach of customs law, the radio personality subjected the Minister to a truly abrasive interview on Sydney’s KISS 106.5. During the awkward exchange, Mr. Sandilands referred to the minister as “an insensitive wanker”, “a gerbil of a thing”, “a loser”, “an idiot”, and even “an absolute clown”!
ACMA agreed the interview was disrespectful, but failed to breach broadcasting standard. Addressing the word ‘wanker’, ACMA defended the shock-jock’s freedom to offend. “In this sense, the use of the word, while again disrespectful, does not constitute a breach of the decency provision within the context of a robust political debate on a controversial topic where apparently heated statements were made by both participants,” ACMA stated.
And how about the ‘gerbil’ comment? “This was a reference to a small mammal and nothing more,” they concluded. “This did not include any depiction or description that was sexual in nature, nor any sexual connotation.”
Speaking on ABC’s PM radio program, Mr. Joyce expressed his discontent at the ruling. “What do you need to say to a person before it’s beyond the pale?” he asked. “If that’s all OK then what could possibly be not OK?”
“What he said was completely and utterly 180 degrees away from what other people would say was a decent way that one human being talks to another,” Mr. Joyce explained. “He is a public figure, he’s not a person off the street, he’s a public figure who makes his money by reason of the granting of a public licence. If this is taken to be the standard norm on how one person talks to another person, then what do we do when we say to people in the classroom, you can’t talk to your teacher like that? … How do we have this sort of world where it’s alright in one area but it’s not alright in the other?”
It’s called freedom of speech, Barnaby. We thought you understood how it worked, given your previously established penchant for political and social invective of the highest order.
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