There is a darker aspect to this corporate virtue, and it concerns online leftist activists who pressure companies and politicians into severing ties with journalists and media organisations whose opinions they despise. Last weekend my colleague Janet Albrechtsen wrote extensively about one of these groups, the Sleeping Giants, whose followers obsessively target companies that advertise with conservative outlets, particularly Sky News.
These offence-taking aficionados monitor every utterance of presenters for so-called hate speech. Once identified the relevant excerpt is tweeted to companies that advertise on the program or publication. The followers of Sleeping Giants are likewise encouraged to inform these companies of damage to their “brand” by association.
You could say the activists convey a polite but menacing message that they would like to feel these companies are acceptable, respectable, and presentable. In other words, terminate your contract with the ”offending” media outlet or face a consumer backlash. Like most of those intent on repressing dissenting views, these activists will lie, deceive and manipulate to further that objective. …
Last weekend former Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane, a supposed champion of diversity, defended Sleeping Giants. Taking issue with Albrechtsen, he said she had “demonise[d] those who dare exercise their free speech against racism, bigotry and sexism”.
Leave aside for now Soutphommasane’s risible assertion that this, rather than control of narrative, is the aim of Sleeping Giants. What is not in issue is that he regards boycott movements, whether implied or otherwise, as an exercise in free speech. Yet in 2014 he condemned a social media campaign against halal certification businesses. It was, he said, a case of “anti-Islamic bullying”.
“Its currency is distortion and misrepresentation,” he said. “Bullying that aims to stimulate fear and divide Australians.” Yet now he defends a movement that revels in such tactics. That is hypocrisy. To hear the divisive and censorious Soutphommasane suddenly champion free speech is nauseating. …
Writing last weekend about 2GB broadcaster Alan Jones, Fairfax columnist Peter FitzSimons described Sleeping Giants as “social justice warriors” who were “pursuing Jones’s sponsors online over being associated with his brand of bigotry, racism, misogyny and bullying”.
“Does that, then mean the definite end of Jones on the Sydney airwaves, or at least those of 2GB” asked FitzSimons, yet again falling victim to his infatuation with superfluous commas. “Hopefully,” he added. Perhaps Bandana Man needs reminding that only last year he hectored and bullied the elderly tennis legend Margaret Court over her public opposition to same-sex marriage. “Does Melbourne Park really want to have an arena named after someone who stands so firmly against such inclusiveness, who is becoming a byword for bigot,” wrote FitzSimons, calling for it to be renamed.