Those who are jumping on the bandwagon and directing their fury at a couple of giggly radio hosts over the tragic but unforeseeable death of a troubled British nurse should ask themselves a couple of questions.
The first is whether their rage is in any way approximate to the actions of this pair, who if they had any idea of the consequences of their light-hearted joke would surely never have gone down that path.
The second is whether the extent of this rage – more than 21,000 emails, many of them hateful and even violent, have now been sent to their radio station – is so over the top that it could even help generate the same kind of psychological pressure which saw this poor nurse take her own life.
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There was only so much the Australian Communications and Media Authority could do to sanction 2DayFM over Kyle Sandilands’s sledge against news.com.au journalist Alison Stephenson.
But I’m most interested in what Southern Cross Austereo CEO Rhys Holleran had to say in response to ACMA this morning. Essentially Sandilands’s boss reckons it’s “unworkable” for 2DayFM to comply with ACMA’s ruling it refrain from broadcasting material that “offends generally-accepted standards of decency, demeans or is likely to demean women or girls, places undue emphasis on gender, uses overt sexual references in relation to a woman’s physical characteristics, and/or condones or incites violence against women.”
Holleran said: “Our difficulty with the proposed licence condition is that terms such as ‘decency, ‘demeaning’ and ‘undue emphasis on gender’ are broad and ambiguous and mean different things to different people.”
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Kyle Sandilands is such an inconsequential waste of space that I would normally be reluctant to expend a single millilitre of ink or pixel of web space on his unfortunate existence.
This week I made an exception, in the first instance because of the remarkably vile nature of his attack on one of our young female staff, a sexually threatening rant where he called her “a fat slag”, talked about her breasts and her hair, and issued the creepy pledge: “Watch your mouth girl, or I will hunt you down”. All this because she wrote a completely unremarkable news piece about the unpopularity of his new TV show.
I’ve decided to saddle up again today because there is an interesting broader lesson from the Sandilands episode. Not to put too fine a point on it, the long-overdue commercial destruction of Kyle Sandilands shows that it is no longer OK to be an abusive, hate-filled arsehole without facing serious consequences.
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Why is Kyle Sandilands’s toxic sludge allowed to leak out of radio speakers at breakfast?
He’s a cretin, a hate-filled belligerent whose talent is in inverse proportion to his offensiveness. As Penbo pointed out yesterday, he’s a dead-set, rolled-gold, card-carrying dickhead.
Dickheads are a dime a dozen. Why is this one given a voice?
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Just a few years ago I ended up in Warsaw on a business trip to Poland where my former boss Eric Dodd had been invited to talk to top government officials about reforms to Poland’s embryonic private health system.
As a journo and an amateur student of history, I was astonished to learn that our hotel in Warsaw was located on what was previously the Jewish Ghetto in World War II from which tends of thousands were shipped to their deaths.
And just a matter of a few hours drive away was the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp where hundreds of thousands of Jews and gypsies were imprisoned in the most horrific conditions and slaughtered in the gas chambers.
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Kyle Sandilands is not expected to return to the airwaves for Austereo. That’s the assessment in Sydney radio circles where insiders say that his latest tasteless joke - where he suggested that comedian Magda Szubanski, whose father fought in the Polish resistance, could lose more weight if she were in a concentration camp - will see the network blackbanned by advertisers should he return.
Sandilands has again demonstrated that he’s achieved world’s best practice in his chosen field of stupidity with his “apology” over the remarks - a classic case of “if people were offended by what I said then I’m sorry.”
His comments show how Sandilands is ill-equipped to recognise poor behaviour on his own part and put his hand up - regarding the outrage he causes as some external event that simply happens to him, where the preciousness of the community turns him into a martyr.
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Confined to a wheelchair and wearing a pith helmet and an American flag fashioned into a nappy, shouting obscenities at the justices of the United States Supreme Court, pornographer Larry Flynt was a massively flawed hero for the cause of free speech.
This morally bankrupt hillbilly was famously sued for defamation by the Reverend Jerry Falwell, who in a fake advertisement for Campari published by Flynt’s Hustler magazine recalled how he lost his virginity by sleeping with his own mother in an outside toilet on the family pig farm.
It’s hard to imagine a more egregious slur. Nor a more unbelievable one, which is one of the reasons Flynt ultimately won his defamation battle, reinforcing the free speech protections afforded by the First Amendment.
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UPDATE 3/8/09, 5pm : Ten has just announced that Kyle has been sacked as Idol judge. Here’s what Emma wrote last night…
The decision of Austereo to suspend Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O from the morning show will now put pressure on the producers of Australian Idol and Channel Ten to decide whether he should stay as a judge on the popular TV program.
On Saturday Channel Ten was quoted in The Age as saying Kyle “will obviously be in the audition episodes as they were filmed some time ago.”
“But Idol is a family program, we consider this a very serious incident and our executives will continue discussions over the weekend to come to a decision regarding his future on Idol.”
Considering Australian Idol premiers next Sunday, they will have to announce this week whether they are standing by or punting the controversial personality.
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Kyle and Jackie O have been taken off air indefinitely as a result of the massive backlash against last Wednesday’s rape debacle, where a 14-year-old girl revealed on air that she had been the victim of sexual assault. And Sandilands has said through his management that he is “unable to perform his duties on-air at this time”, without elaborating.
The announcement follows five days’ condemnation of the program and Austereo for even airing a segment where an underage girl was fitted to a lie detector machine in front of her mother and quizzed on her sexual habits - let alone with the horrifying consequence of revealing that she had been raped when she was 12, and that her Mum knew all about it.
The network’s decision is an extraordinary demonstration of the power of public opinion, with websites, talkback radio and Twitter being consumed with the issue over this past few day. The comments ran overwhelmingly against Kyle and Jackie O and Austereo, not to mention the girl’s mother, who is being investigated by the Department of Community Services. The Austereo statement says:
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