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Letter to ABC re John Safran

Once upon a time the ABC and indeed the BBC were considered the elite of air ways and screen. A listener or viewer could rely on high standards in programming, accurate and honest reporting of the news, intellectual and cultural excellence and good wholesome entertainment. Today, some ABC programs maintain these standards and others fall way short of them. It only takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch. No matter the standard of excellence of some ABC programs legitimacy overall is compromised and tarnished by flagrantly immoral standards of programming at other times.

Marieke Hardy a talented, mostly amusing and intelligent columnist chose as her subject in the Age Green Guide November 5th, John Safran's new series "Race Relations" (Wednesday, 9.30 pm, ABC1). She comments that this program which began "but three short weeks ago and has generated more column centimeters than Malcolm Turnbull's leadership "issues", is not a feat to be sniffed at." Reading between the lines and following Ms. Hardy's argument to the end she seems to be saying that controversy is good for its own sake, is an art form regardless of its vulgarity and that "moral decency" is something only of concern to philistines. Read her closing lines if you find this view somewhat incongruous and to say the least a little confused. Ms. Hardy is that what you meant to say?

Would the ABC agree with Ms. Hardy's review of the controversial series "Race Relation"? Is publicity of any sort what the ABC desires? Does media response of any kind automatically bring in the viewers and by osmosis ABC revenue? It seems to me that Ms. Hardy has represented the new ABC voice quite accurately. It is all about making money.

I have grave and serious concerns regarding our well being and survival as a human race should we not rise up in one voice and condemn that which offends against the universal tenets of moral decency. We as the viewing public should have an inalienable right not to be visually assaulted and verbally insulted by disgusting and degrading material. Our children and teenagers are entitled to retain their innocence. Once upon a time a child or teenager could be given free access to any ABC program, not today.

The immoralist argues we live in a Democracy which is founded on the freedom of speech and if the viewer doesn't like what is on television he can just turn it off. Decent citizen's hands are tied. Material that has no regard for racial, religious or humane sensitivities surely needs policing. Democracy is also founded on the premise that human dignity is paramount, that man is supposed to act in a civilized manner. That is why we set up law courts because in a Democracy no person is lawfully allowed to damage another.  

On the subject of damaging other people, the ABC is guilty of colluding with and further damaging John Safran, a talented but emotionally unstable young man, by encouraging him to ever further debase himself in public. The ABC is guilty of publicly destroying the dignity of Mr. Safron. It is a crime not unlike a pack rape of a mentally disabled person. Even were a person to agree to be "pack raped", if that person is not of sound mind, then the act in my book would still be "rape".

The ABC is guilty of offending decent people of the viewing public with the material produced in the program “Race Relations”. The ABC is guilty of corrupting decent society without regard to the dignity of difference among us either in race or religion. In a more ignorant and barbaric time than ours people used to visit a mental Asylumn to laugh at the poor wretched inmates who were neglected and abused in other ways as well. My hope for John Safron is that there is a healing for him sometime in the future and he flees the spotlight.


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Yes, the programme is offensive and yes, in parts it"s funny and Safran does come across as an idiotic shlemeel. He certainly ain"t the Woody Allen he probably aspires to be. His programme does however, provide some useful insights. I was discussing it with a friend who mentioned the scene in the West Bank sperm bank where Safran was filmed in the act of ... ahem ... donating his Jewish sperm to the Palestinians. It was all a bad joke but my friend picked up on the fact that he had previously considered the Palestinan territories as a third world backwater. What he saw on film was anything but third world. Anyone ever see a reasonably modern sperm bank in Botswana? The thing is, that"s not a joke. I explained that even during the GFC the economy on the West Bank was growing by 7% thanks to the co-operation between the locals, the Israelis and western countries. He came away from this understanding that the Israelis aren"t nasty oppressors and that the propaganda of groups like Australians for Palestine is just that - all thanks to an offensive shlemeel like Safran.

Posted by Jack Chrapot on 2009-11-17 20:06:02 GMT


I think we have to be really careful about such concepts as "moral decency" -- what offend you may not offend me and vice versa. For instance, I"m offended by little girls being "married" to old Yemeni (and other) men. WHereas those old men would be offended at my short skirt. Offence must damage a person, not his or her belief system, which could be extremely faulty and in need of critical attack.

Posted by Gabrielle on 2009-11-16 22:04:41 GMT


The ICJS reader believes that we could be forgiven for thinking Safran is not in possession of all his faculties, and he is unable to see that HE HIMSELF has been set up for ridicule by the ABC, not to mention his ethnic roots.

Posted by the ICJS reader on 2009-11-15 01:24:05 GMT