Saffron Howden April 12, 2012
Andrew Bolt ... link to Amazon. Photo: Justin McManus
A complaint to the Australian Press Council about this article was upheld. Read the full adjudication here.
RACIST comments published on US book retailer website Amazon about an Aboriginal author have reignited debate surrounding News Ltd columnist Andrew Bolt's writings on indigenous people and drawn fire from Aboriginal groups.
Bolt, who was found guilty last year of offences under the Racial Discrimination Act, wrote a blog this week titled ''Are we censored enough for you?'' in response to Anita Heiss' book, Am I Black Enough for You?
Heiss was one of nine Aboriginal people who took Bolt and his publisher to court over articles that implied light-skinned indigenous people chose to be black for personal gain.
In a post on the Herald Sun website on Tuesday, Bolt included a link to US-based Amazon.com on which almost 80 ''reviews'' of Heiss' book had been published by last night, some openly racist. Some attacked Heiss personally and referred to a perceived lack of freedom of speech in Australia that prevented the writers from expressing their views here.
Bolt's blog linked to the webpage, stating: ''Only in America, it seems, is an open debate on this Australian issue able to be had. That should embarrass us.''
He said Random House and the ABC had deleted and ''censored'' comments on their websites about Heiss' book.
Bolt's writings this week and the ensuing publicity in social media and the wider news media prompted the National Congress of Australia's First Peoples to issue a strong statement - which did not name individuals or publications.
''Much of this 'debate' has become a thinly veiled platform for racists to peddle their tired, ill-informed, racist rhetoric,'' Congress co-chairwoman Jody Broun, said.
''Racism lies just beneath the surface and it bubbles out when Aboriginal identity is discussed.
''Let's be clear, Aboriginal identity is defined by us, no one else. We are a diverse peoples reflecting the contemporary Australia we all inhabit.''
Heiss, whose memoir is partly a response to Bolt, did not want to comment last night and Amazon.com in the US had not responded last night.
Australia's Race Discrimination Commissioner, Helen Szoke, said racist views published outside Australia but accessible here posed a growing - and challenging - problem.