Tim Blair


New Criterion



Tuesday, August 26, 2003
AUNTIE'S DOUBLE-STANDARDS enforced with an axe.

I can imagine no clearer proof of the depth to which Radio National has sunk than the impending sacking of talented Auntie God-botherer, Stephen Crittenden by his boss, the Head of National Talk Radio, Mark Collier.

Crittenden's offence? He wrote an article, published in the Henny Herald of July 19-20, of which someone disapproved. I haven't read it but, since Crittenden has occasionally posed a question to the talents appearing on his Religion Report about the qualities of militant Islam, it is not hard to imagine who might have been offended. According to Henny today, Crittenden had commented on Samuel P. Huntington's "contentious" (equals 'controversial') book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order, which raises some hard questions about the political direction of Islam.

In case you're thinking that Crittenden was running some kind of bigot's circus at Auntie's expense, observe this interview with the moderate and modernising Islamic scholar Ziauddin Sardar.

As Henny recounts the tale (unwebbed, but on page 5), and none of the principal players are talking, Collier demanded to be shown a copy of the article before publication. Crittenden complied, but Collier declined to respond by the deadline for Henny's publication.

An internal enquiry into Crittenden's "serious misconduct" followed, Crittenden was suspended and will, apparently, be sacked unless higher management (which is what the ABC calls employees on higher salaries) decides to disagree with Collier.

So, ABC presenters require prior permission of their immediate bosses to speak publicly on "sensitive issues".

Where does that leave Philip Appropriator Adams, Pastor Terry Lane, and all the other presenters and serial commentators who appear regularly in print and in left pulpits around the land?

Untouched, brothers and sisters, protected species, sacred cows.

Gerard Henderson uses his column today to point out some of the wilder outbursts of hatred by the Gastropod and the Pastor that have, in effect, been endorsed by Mr Collier as a logical consequence of his sacking of Crittenden.

Henderson calls Auntie's conduct "timid and censorious", an evaluation so understated as to mislead.

This is now to be official ABC doctrine: to conduct jihad against the US, to hate liberal capitalism and the social values it has made possible, to call the great majority of your fellow countrymen racist bigots and to excuse their murder as politically reasonable, all this is permitted, both on the ABC and in other media. To question the role of Islamic values in Islamic terrorism is a sackable offence.

It's also OK to import into Auntie's schedules the outpouring of left-biased pulpits around the country. The ABC gives blanket coverage of all the non-stop fiestas of pc writing and left ideas that emerge, and allows her employees to play leading public roles at them. This week, for example, our Gastropod is filling his entire schedule with the product of theBrisbane 'Ideas at the Powerhouse Forum'.

Tonight you can listen to massacrist historian Henry Reynolds talk about the future of democracy. This afternoon there's the repeat of the views of a European human rights lawyer. On Thursday the Rev. Tim Costello joins in for a chat on multiculturalism. Then there's the views of activist Gary Foley. You get the idea? A good balanced program, if your purpose is to exclude anything right of left.

Uncle suggests you tell Mr Collier and his boss Sue Howard what you think about their politics, their idea of freedom of expression and their hypocrisy.

If you're too disgusted by all this to converse with these people, just ask Minister Alston why he's spending your money on it.

Later. As of today, Crittenden has been suspended for five weeks, without pay. If he were being paid at the Gastropod's rate that would buy him an apartment on Circular Quay.