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The Forum > Article Comments > Wanted - new financial backers > Comments

Wanted - new financial backers : Comments

By Graham Young, published 7/2/2011

This very Australian site which strives for tolerance and civility and better community understanding is under threat because of the bigotry of some entrenched interests and the weakness of some corporates both masquerading under the banner of values.

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I agree with Ho-Hum. I would add that there would appear to be a fine line between 'informed opinion' and out and out propaganda. I do not regard Herr Bill's article as 'informed' - so I don't see how it made the cut in the first place. One has to ask...if we replaced the word 'gay' with 'jew' or 'black' in Herr Bill's diatribe...would you still have published it? If the answer to that question is 'no'...then...I can only shrug. I was grossly offended by the article in the same way as I would have been if it had been laden with racist generalisations.

I consider you a friend and I admire your hard work and dedication to OLO, and the beautiful part of you publishing your letter is that I know you would welcome ALL feedback, negative or positive. As the saying goes, I don't believe in your opinion, but I will defend to the death your right to express it.

It's hard to stick your head up above the parapet...but in publishing this article, I feel you may have jumped right out of the foxhole, and run the gauntlet, arms outstretched, Kevin Costner/Dances with Wolves-style. Herr Bill's article distressed me greatly. Last year was declared an International Year of Action on the subject of gay marriage. I believe the Mardi Gras sponsors did what they had to do - on principal. You feel it could only be for 'the pink dollar'. We both want to believe in the greater good - but somehow our views are vastly different on this - and possibly they are equally naive.

To me, the word 'sponsorship' is coupled with 'endorsement' and regardless of your ideals, one always has to compromise one's principals as an artist, when money is involved. You need to seek sponsors who have no vested interests in anything other than open debate. I truly wish you luck with that. I so admire your your spirit Graham. I hope this upheaval heralds the beginning a new and better deal for OLO
Posted by Rose C, Monday, 7 February 2011 1:14:06 PM
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Jeremy, I reject plenty of pieces. Our criteria depend on who you are and the quality of the piece. To explain, if you are the Prime Minister of Australia, we would publish whatever you sent us - you have earned that right. If you are a budding freelance journalist without a single published article, then we will look very closely at what you have written. You haven't earned the right and you don't have presumed standing in the debate.

Bill Muhlenbergh has standing in the debate. The piece is well-enough written and it represents opinions held by a lot of people. It therefore has a right to be published.

Of course I'm not going to publish an article saying the world is flat. As a matter of fact it isn't. But it is an opinion site, not a fact site and there are rarely clear cut right and wrong answers when it comes to opinions.

I'm also not going to publish a piece disputing that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. Because it is a fact that it is. But I will publish pieces that argue about the consequences, or the non-settled facts about how it operates.

Clive Hamilton hasn't even done the work to understand those issues and criticises me because I have and can make intelligent judgements about what to publish. Hamilton's not a good example of intellectual probity in this area.
Posted by GrahamY, Monday, 7 February 2011 1:24:21 PM
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Dear Graham,
I am delighted that you have brought this situation out into the public arena. I have already put in my penny's worth with the ANZ for what it is worth. To me it stinks that, in effect, large corporations can stifle free speech on the whim of a member of their public relations or communications staff who have been scared into political correctness. I have seen how much you have invested personally into this site as well as financially and I would be very dismayed to see it have to fold. I love the concept and what the site stands for. ANZ and IBM should collectively hang their heads in shame.
I also know that it is run on probably the tightest financial model of any site in this genre. What we managed to achieve for the outlay is truly remarkable. There is certainly no wasted resources at OLO. I would encourage readers to donate - they will certainly be getting value for money!
Regards
Susan Prior
Former editor of OLO
Posted by SusanP, Monday, 7 February 2011 1:26:27 PM
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Graham, these days the word tolerance seems to demand affirmation and agreement of the 'other' viewpoint, not just the right of another to hold their opinion. That's not tolerance at all.
Keep up the good work.
Posted by steam, Monday, 7 February 2011 1:27:05 PM
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Just because I'm not like some of the commenters on the post does not give them the right to refer to me, my partner, my life as a perversion.

It's not acceptable to use derogatory language about people. In everyday interactions and on online blogs.

As Young has rightly pointed out, I don't have a problem with Muehlenberg having his opinion, and actively encourage the debate. The comments in question added nothing to the debate, and I asked that they be removed under the policy for comments. i.e. Vulgar, obscene and profane, may harass or cause distress, may incite hatred.

I asked that Young play by his own rules, and had several email exchanges with him.

Targeting advertisers is a legitimate form of protest. I've seen it plenty of times with people of Christian persuasion black-banning TV shows and talking with the advertisers. It clearly does have an impact.

The solution was always within Young's own ability. I made a formal complaint, based on the rules of the site and he failed to take my complaint seriously and dismissed me out of hand.

Language that is offensive, hateful and potentially harmful should be moderated, Young should have moderated them, and he did not. This isn't about free speech, this is about acceptable behaviour by the commenters on the site.

Companies that have active polices about diversity, acceptance and tolerance are able to specify where their advertising money is spent. If the publication of an article goes against their policy, then sure, they should withdraw the funding.

I wrote to every advertiser I could find on the site, and in true fashion, most didnít bother to respond, some responded and dismissed my complaint, others said the editorial decision was up to the site, and some withdrew their funding.

I'm not an 'activist' I'm a citizen of Australia, and I don't like being considered a second class citizen. I am respectful of others, I do my best to play by the rules and refute any notion that this is my fault, Young needs to accept the responsibility for his inaction.
Posted by gp_, Monday, 7 February 2011 2:06:44 PM
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Dear Graham,

Corporations are not interested in free speech. I was thinking of writing an article putting forth the case that legal persons such as corporations should not have all the rights that living human people have. If you printed it, it could possibly hurt you. However, the actions you mention is another reason that corporations should not have the same rights as a real person.

Have you approached overseas advertisers who want to get into the Australian market?

I would be happy to:

1. Distribute brochures about olo and tell people about olo in places I go to.

2. Pay for a membership in olo.

Olo means a great deal to me.
Posted by david f, Monday, 7 February 2011 2:10:00 PM
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