ABC’s Secret Life of Us


ABC has recently released its new editorial guidance note on “Hate Speech, Terrorism and Mass Killing”. While the document is rich in comedic possibilities, one part of it in particular caught my attention, being a member of a minority myself:

OK, being a white, European, male, straight, Christian (bad) migrant from a non-English speaking background I’m probably considered just as bad as your average Australian-born Anglo oppressor, but to hell with you – I get to decide if I’m a minority or not. I certainly identify as one, so there.

So – “Do not speak of ‘us’ or ‘our values’ in ways that exclude minorities”. What an interesting instruction to journalists at the “national broadcaster”. And how many questions it brings up. Including, for starters, doesn’t “national broadcaster” exclude those who don’t consider themselves part of the nation?

How could speaking of “us” – by which I presume the guidance note means “us, Australians” – or “our values” – again, I assume “our Australian values” – possibly exclude minorities unless they don’t see themselves as Australians and don’t share Australian values? In which case, what has attracted them to Australia instead and why do they choose to suffer down here instead of living somewhere else that more closely accords with their identity and ideas?

Which of “our values” could possibly exclude minorities – democracy? rule of law? separation of church and state? legal equality? freedoms, including of conscience, speech and association? fair go? mateship? tolerance? Do any of those alienate any particular religious or ethnic groups? If so, isn’t that concerning? And doesn’t that make them exclude themselves from our community rather than us excluding them?

Why would “us” exclude anyone? Aren’t minorities also us, Australians? Don’t they consider themselves so? But if they don’t, shouldn’t they?

Maybe the next edition of the editorial guidance note will clarify for us. Sorry, I meant everyone.