September 03, 2014 | Graham

Living with the hypocrites – showing on SBS

Imagine my surprise to see Gregory Storer and Michael Barnett starring in the first instalment of SBS’s Living with the Enemy. These are the two gay activists who tried to put On Line Opinion out of business four years ago costing us tens of thousands of dollars, editor Susan Prior her job, and now me my early mornings as I edit it in my own time, all because we dared to publish some articles critical of gay marriage.

Particularly this one by Bill Muehlenberg.

Yet there they were on TV pretending to engage with an Anglican priest opposed to gay marriage.

Perhaps they might be prepared to donate their appearance fees to repairing the damage that they caused?

You’ll forgive me for the profanities that I uttered at the TV.

A quick recap for those not familiar with the case.

At the time Julia Gillard was prime minister and had told her backbench to go out and find out what their electors thought.

We received an article by gay activist Rodney Croome and decided to help her out, starting with Rodney’s offering. All in all we published 20 something articles on the subject, with 75% in favour.

That wasn’t enough for Storer and his partner Barnett, trading under the name of Mikey Bear. They demanded withdrawal of Muehlenberg’s article as well as some comments.

I properly refused.

They then lobbied all of our sponsors, and our major advertisers. The sponsors stayed, but fearing gay reprisals, the advertisers left, including the ANZ and IBM. Our $50,000 worth of annual advertising almost entirely evaporated over night. You can read my account at the time here.

We received considerable support, including from Christopher Pearson, himself gay, at The Australian. Unfortunately little of the support was monetary.

It also led to us falling out with some of the blogs we had worked with, particularly Larvatus Prodeo, where Mark Bahnisch personally, and via a sock puppet, made it clear that he had a limited understanding of the concept of freedom of speech.

So, after having laid waste to Australia’s longest running online attempt to foster dialogue between opposing viewpoints, here they are, exposing themselves in an SBS program that attempts to foster dialogue between opposing viewpoints.

One wonders what the difference is.

Perhaps 4 years has mellowed them.

Or is it that they want to be the centre of attention?

One thing is sure. Rewarding vandals like this with further publicity is not the way to foster greater understanding and tolerance in society. SBS should have done their homework better before using them as the centrepiece of their doco.




Posted by Graham at 10:12 pm | Comments (8) |


  1. Of all the people advocating a fair go and equal treatment. You’d think the alluded to Gay activists would be at the top of the list.
    But patently at the bottom, when it comes to practicing what they preach.
    Yes sometimes it can be hard to make a go of it in business, but particularly when you’re honest as the day is long, with a moral compass still working perfectly!
    This what has gotten you where you are today, and will pay dividends in the future; thanks to a deserved reputation.
    Remain who and what you are mate and fair dinkum.
    Even when others are not.
    Pigeons will always come home to roost, what go around comes around, and you always win when you can stay true to your own values.
    The most important person in your life is the man in the mirror, and when you can win his respect an admiration, that’s the highest honour of all; and at the end of the day, all that really matters!
    I mightn’t always agree, but that doesn’t mean I don’t admire and respect someone who is as inherently decent and fair minded.
    And in the long run is what will turn this and other similar situations around.
    Publications do best via reader/viewer loyalty, and it seems to me, your readership grows with your reputation for even-handed fair-mindedness.
    And at then end of the day, that’s what will grow the advertising budget!
    Hang in their mate and don’t let the bar stewards get you down!
    From little things big things grow!
    Alan B. Goulding.

    Comment by Alan B. Goulding — September 4, 2014 @ 9:19 am

  2. Graham,

    It’s not so unusual that the victims of intolerance are not so tolerant themselves.
    When the pressure is on, you discover who your supporters really are–the sponsors.
    OLO is one of the few blogs that allow a wide range of opinions, it’s essential that it survives.


    I don’t agree with you in regard to advertisers, they’re very nervous beasts and they panic easily, OLO will have to survive on the goodwill of sponsors.

    Comment by RussellW — September 4, 2014 @ 2:04 pm

  3. Sorry Russel:
    Retail business succeeds with volume and foot traffic; foot traffic being the most important of all. Take away a few parking spaces, and returns can nosedive, and by thirty-forty percent, virtually overnight.
    And similarly advertising returns has always been reliant on readership numbers, [online foot traffic.]

    Comment by Alan B. Goulding — September 4, 2014 @ 3:24 pm

  4. Alan,

    That was my point, advertisers avoid controversy, particularly when they’re afraid of losing a particular demographic.

    Comment by RussellW — September 4, 2014 @ 3:44 pm

  5. 1. Can reprisal loss of income be insured against, and how much would subs have to be to cover the premiums?
    2. How much would subs have to be to self-insure OLO against episodes of reprisal loss of income?
    3. How much would subs have to be to keep the show on the road without depending on ads at all, so that scoring an ad would be a bonus and possibly short-term?

    OK I’m asking for wild guesses, but as one of very many beneficiaries of Graham’s work I would like to see some sort of recurring suggestion of how much we all should be kicking in. Perhaps (dare I suggest it?) the amount could be per foot of exposure of our individual commentaries! We don’t write things to do OLO a favour, we do so because we have things we would like the opportunity to say to others. A charge for it might even prompt everyone to really have something to argue rather than trot out boring primary-schoolyard cyberbullying gibes at other commenters.

    Comment by Dion Giles — September 5, 2014 @ 12:56 pm

  6. There is a difference between robust debate, cyber bullying and satire/black humor. And for my money Graham is a pretty fair judge of both/needs no help there!
    Charge by the foot?
    Why stop with the dumbing down there Dion, when inches beckon.
    And what about all those posters who’s knowledge on almost any subject is last century, or barely negligible, or are limited to just knowing all the reasons it can’t be done?
    Put a big enough charge, (gag debate) and hey presto, only the privileged/Murdoch readers, will have a say?
    And if that were to occur, most of the intelligent debate would disappear? Along with at least half the readership?
    And with them would go the advertising? You think the privileged will spend more?
    I mean, as Russell points out, advertisers are a very nervous bunch; and well, Graham is already financially hurt enough?
    Insure against reprisals?
    What a novel idea!
    Perhaps you could find one or two insurance companies, who would underwrite that?
    I just don’t think his business adversaries need any additional, if well meant help!
    Alan B. Goulding

    Comment by Alan B. Goulding — September 5, 2014 @ 5:42 pm

  7. It seems every man Jack sues for loss of income, there should be some way to claim for your unfair treatment.
    Is the absence of a constitutional right to free speech a factor?

    Comment by Ronda Jambe — September 6, 2014 @ 12:21 am

  8. “Is the absence of a constitutional right to free speech a factor?”

    I doubt it Ronda, there are many similar instances in the US where panicky advertisers have withdrawn support for ‘controversial’ publications when they were concerned about losing market share. I don’t think it’s a free speech issue.

    Comment by RussellW — September 6, 2014 @ 8:48 am

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