The biggest media story of the week began on Monday morning on Network 10’s Studio 10 program when fill in panelist Yumi Stynes decided to call permanent panelist and Logie Hall of Fame recipient Kerri-Anne Kennerley a racist.
This was for Kennerley suggesting that Invasion Day protestors should focus their energy on addressing the high levels of violence and sexual abuse in Aboriginal communities, rather than the symbolic change the date campaign.
The leftist social media outrage brigade, and their friends in the media jumped in to also smear Kennerley as a racist. There was even a protest made up of 30 Aboriginal activists outside Network 10 on the Tuesday morning demanding Kennerley be sacked for her ‘racism’. The Sydney Morning Herald’s article on the snap protest labelled her ‘Kerri-Anne KKKennerley’.
Yumi Stynes after creating the media storm and attacks on Kennerley the previous day failed to turn up Tuesday morning for her scheduled appearance. She posted on her Instagram “I’m not coming in because I really urgently want to lie around and do nothing. It’s very important” but maintained “This is not because of what happened today between Kerri-Anne and I”.
Tuesday morning’s Studio 10 panel featured a follow up discussion of Aboriginal disadvantage with Country Liberal Party candidate for Lingiari and Alice Springs Councillor Jacinta Price and former state Greens MP for Northcote Lidia Thorpe, both of Aboriginal descent.
Price who has been a long time campaigner against violence and sexual abuse in Aboriginal communities invited Thorpe who is based in inner Melbourne to visit these communities to asses the accuracy of Kennerley comments for herself. Thorpe responded “I’ve been to those camps. And I will do that if Kerri-Anne, you give up some of your white privilege and understand what that is”.
Price called Thorpe’s assertion that Kennerley had white privilege as “racist” which Thorpe snapped back “That’s not racism. It’s actually understanding the privilege you walk around with” and said to Kennerley “You come with us, Kerri-Anne.” which she responded “I will. I’d very, very happy to do that”.
Lidia Thorpe also spoke with Neil Mitchell on Melbourne’s 3AW to criticize Kennerly’s comments. She went onto claim that violence and sexual abuse in Aboriginal communities can be linked to colonialism suggesting if “Someone comes into your home, they tell you you have to leave, they tell you you’re not allowed to speak the language that you know, they take your children away and they lock the rest of your family up” it “would make your family dysfunctional, would it not?”
She went onto say we cannot talk about these specific issues of Aboriginal disadvantage until a treaty between Aboriginal Australians and white Australia is negotiated “A treaty is the only way we can come together. Talking about rape and murder in our communities is a diversion from what the real issue really is.”
While much of the mainstream media sought comment from Aboriginal activists who were willing to criticize Kennerley, there were many who backed her comments as fair and accurate. In addition to Jacinta Price Liberal candidate for Gilmore Warren Mundine welcomed her contribution to the discussion “I know exactly where Kennerley was coming from and many indigenous people are in the same boat”.
Aboriginal academic Anthony Dillon has written for LibertyWorks about his frustration “that we just can’t talk about some problems facing Aboriginal people – unless of course we are prepared to be called racists (whitefellas) or sellouts (blackfellas)” and Kennerley comments about Aboriginal rape was “a legitimate question”.
Jacinta Price being the most prominent conservative Aboriginal activist has been subjected to years of social media abuse and slurs. She received an increase in this abuse for defending Kennerley, both on Studio 10 and in an opinion piece for the Australian. Price decided to publish some of this abuse on her Facebook page to publicly shame those sending it.
For this Price copped a 24 hour ban on her personal Facebook profile and from posting on her public page for violating Facebook’s community standards on harassment. Price said of Facebook’s action “I was treated like the bully.”
Price applied to have the decision by Facebook reviewed and after media attention Facebook restored her account with a spokesperson telling the Australian “One post was incorrectly removed as it included screenshots of private messages between individuals on Messenger” but “we understand that Ms Price was sharing these screenshots to raise awareness and condemn the behaviour of individuals contacting her”.
Meanwhile Yumi Stynes is still in hiding, not willing to defend her ‘racism’ slur against ‘Kennerly’ on television since Monday. In fact she is playing the victim claiming she is being unfairly targeted.
The latest being even though she is public figure, made a career out of generating controversy, and having created the media firestorm this week claim she was intimidated because a photographer wanted to take a photo of her.
If anyone publishes those photos of myself and my son they are contributing to this intimidation of me and my family. You’ll know the pictures because I was wearing this exact outfit. pic.twitter.com/vP9FtTOfoA— Yumi Stynes (@yumichild) 30 January 2019
Thankfully though after the dust has settled on this controversy, Kerri-Anne Kennerley has come out on top. She has stood by her initial comments, not apologizing in any capacity stating “Whoever you are, just help and find a solution to rape, which can lead to suicide in some of the most vulnerable people”.
Network 10 to its credit has stood by Kennerley, she has appeared on Studio 10 every day this week, while it Stynes who has ran away and will not come back. They have not caved into protestors demanding she be sacked and no advertiser has threatened to withdraw their ads from Studio 10.
For once the social media outrage brigade failed. We can after all still have discussions about sensitive and important public issues and crisis in Australia, and someone crying racist does not shut it down.