David Leyonhjelm on the wrong kind of diversity

If you have been watching TV lately, you will have noticed that many advertisements include at least one black or brown person. Some of the family scenes, such as a black and white couple with kids that are clearly unrelated to either, are artificial to the point of absurdity. Actors with black or brown faces must be getting plenty of work.

Increasing sales is not the only purpose of these ads though; what they are doing is virtue signalling about diversity. It is the same reason there are many more black and brown presenters at the ABC and SBS.

Diversity is a bit like equality – despite multiple definitions, everyone thinks they know what it means. The definition driving certain advertisers and the ABC and SBS is racial diversity. That is, diversity based on race.

Discrimination based on race was once the definition of racism. I spent some months living and working in South Africa during the apartheid era and saw that up close: separate bus stops, separate queues at the post office, different rules for blacks, whites and coloureds. It was utterly obnoxious.

Some now say racism does not include discrimination in favour of non-white people, and that it includes Islamophobia, despite Islam being a religion which, like Christianity, is practised by many different races. I disagree; dealing with people based on the colour of their skin will always be racism and totally obnoxious. And signalling about it is certainly not virtuous.

That said, diversity itself is not the issue. As a country of immigrants Australia is incredibly diverse, something we might expect to see in our media. It is not healthy for either our democracy or civil society if people assume we all think the same because they never hear alternative views.

And that’s the point – it’s what we think that matters, not what we look like. Focusing on race, particularly the appearance of race, does not reflect our diversity. We should be hearing and seeing diversity of views.

This is particularly lacking at both the ABC and SBS, where viewpoints are only tolerated within narrow parameters. You might hear a range of views about how to redistribute wealth, whether Trump is worse than Hitler, or if climate change is a moral or an environmental crisis. But you are not likely to hear diverse views on privatising health services, female initiated domestic violence or restrictions on smoking.

And notwithstanding the brown and black faces, you also won’t hear such things as Indian immigrants discussing the merits of Australian coal exports to their former country, Aborigines debating how private enterprise can close the gap, or why so many Christian immigrants voted against same sex marriage.

Nor is that likely to change; there are no conservative hosts on TV or radio news or current affairs on the ABC or SBS, and their producers typically invite guests whose views conform to their own. They’d rather have a brown face than a contrary viewpoint.

In fairness, both the ABC’s former and current managing directors acknowledge the organisation lacks diversity of views, as does its Chairman, Ita Buttrose. But the ABC is not run by the MD or the Chairman – it is a workers’ collective. Nothing will change unless it is forced on them.

That begs the question: if the ABC and SBS were to commit to genuine non-racist diversity of views, what would it look like?

To start with, I suggest embracing the sentiments of the civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King, who said: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.” That should put a stop to virtue signalling based on what people look like.

They should then make it their mission to reflect the diverse views of the community, including those in the outer suburbs, regional towns and country areas.  If ten percent support Greens policies, let ten percent be reported instead of eighty percent. If thirty percent think the Prime Minister is incompetent, let’s hear that no more often. And of course, if sixty percent of people want more action on climate change, let’s also hear from the forty percent who don’t.

There is no single way to present diversity but focusing on views would be a lot more genuine than showing black and brown faces.

David Leyonhjelm is a former senator for the Liberal Democrats

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42 Responses to David Leyonhjelm on the wrong kind of diversity

  1. cuckoo

    And don’t forget the golden rule of token mixed-race couples in ads. It’s always black guy/white girl. Very often the girl is a redhead, I suppose because they’re as white as it gets. It’s equal parts virtue signalling and (they hope) indoctrination. Travelling in Poland recently I was amused to see that although there is effectively no immigration-of-colour to Poland, admen can’t resist fabricating these fantasy couples, which exist nowhere in the country.

    If they still made comedy shows on Australian tv, and I were writing for one, I’d do a running skit about a model/acting agency which specialises in minorities, and particularly girls in hijabs for all those government ads and photoshoots.

  2. We really need to fix this once and for all and remove all straight, white, men from all forms of media etc. Clearly the world will be a better place.

  3. Mother Lode

    The most obvious dichotomy between versions of diversity is normative versus positive.

    Progressives are very much into the normative version – what it should be. If the law is such that people of all colour, creed and species are equally entitled to something but they do not avail themselves in the same proportion that they exist in the general population then they will be forced – all because a progressive has formed an ill-informed superficial vision of equalidee.

  4. Chrism

    “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
    Herein lies the rub. Social progressives know they are right when they judge different views as wrong and see this as being, like MLKing says, ‘judged by the content of their character’.
    Dr King was making an appeal to improve the country of that time which had endemic skin-colour racism by stating, for those with ears to hear, that character – or morals – are the important thing, not skin colour.
    You pose that diversity of views is like skin colour, but it isn’t. Views have consequences, skin colour does not. So it could be justified for a social progressives (SPs) to exclude certain views on the MLK basis. Indeed almost all of us believe Nazism (to tempt Godwin’s law) should not get a platform. So we have a lesser claim that SPs in the luvvie media should not exclude/restrict alternative views – in ABC, SBS (public broadcasters) where such views are reasonably held, aren’t inciting violence or racial hatred, etc – which is eminently sensible. But there is such groupthink on climate change, govt policy, any many other contentious areas etc that the intellectual fortresses are impregnable. Probably the only sensible option is for the govt to fund separate media companies , with boards selected by each separate political party, ( each $ proportionate to the party vote), in order to foster ‘diversity’ of views. The Lib Dems get an internet radio station and a YouTube channel.

  5. MACK

    The continuing conundrum is why the coalition don’t do something about the rabid bias at the ABC and SBS. They can’t all be recalcitrant masochists.

  6. candy

    Perhaps the issue is that the people who work at the ABC may be actually nearly all Green supporters or at least quite Left.

    It would be very hard to get a program on say, why you may not accept climate change theories, simply because the workers themselves at the ABC are extremely personally invested in spreading climate change alarmism. They can’t go against their own principals and group beliefs. Just cannot do it.

  7. Bruce of Newcastle

    Advertising as a business is now terrifying.

    If you don’t tick the woke boxes an obnoxious lefty mob will turn up and glue themselves to your front door.

    If you advertise your wokedom too heavily the three quarters of the population who think wokeness is obnoxious will quietly not buy your stuff and you will go broke. Exhibit A: Gillette.

    My suggestion is to produce ads with no people in them. And no animals since PETA will nuke you. Just words on a screen. And make sure you are careful to exclude any words with a political tinge.

  8. Perhaps the issue is that the people who work at the ABC may be actually nearly all Green supporters or at least quite Left.

    It’s well known that both Their ABC and SBS are fully Left wing. It’s been pointed out numerous times that there are no conservative presenters at either organisation. If there are any conservative employees, they will be like conservative Hollywood actors, keeping things very quiet lest they lose their job. A conservative would have no chance winning an unfair dismissal case against Their ABC or SBS.

  9. Angus Black

    Get a grip, David.

    What isn’t compulsory thinking is forbidden in Australia.

  10. Gilas

    A conservative would have no chance winning an unfair dismissal case against Their ABC or SBS.

    Really?? Is there evidence of this?
    Has such a case gone before FWA?

    The greatest mistake I see people make is that they give up before trying, similar to the Niemöller principle.
    No wonder they lose!
    Just look at how the left prosecutes their insane beliefs… and learn!

  11. Roger

    The continuing conundrum is why the coalition don’t do something about the rabid bias at the ABC and SBS. They can’t all be recalcitrant masochists.

    Because those who aren’t recalcitrant masochists are snivelling cowards before the Left.

    With a couple of exceptions, who aren’t let anywhere near the Cabinet room.

  12. Really?? Is there evidence of this?
    Has such a case gone before FWA?

    Some of what I suggested was anecdotal, based on reports from various conservative outlets, and I do believe that there was at least one case that did go before a tribunal, but was unsuccessful.

    I can’t give you references as I didn’t keep these and nowadays it’s almost impossible to find such evidence via Google, as it truly is ‘hidden’ from easy access.

    It’s amazing how difficult it is to find stuff on Google nowadays, compared to say a decade or so ago.

  13. Kneel

    David, can only suggest you ask Dennis Jensen about his experience.
    Like you, he is also Sth African and left for Australia because of endemic racism.
    When a member of parliament, he suggested that skin colour is irrelevant to govt support – that it should be based on need, not race etc, that there shouldn’t ever be an inquiry into “black deaths in custody”, just “deaths in custody”. He was told – in all seriousness, I might add – that “If you don’t take skin colour into account, you’re a racist!”.
    That is what you’re up against – people who tell you hand on heart that to avoid being racist, you must treat people differently, depending on their race.

  14. C.L.

    Great post.
    I’ve noticed that only white women in ads have brown spouses. White men are rarely paired with a black wife or girlfriend.

  15. JC

    I have a theory on that. Black dudes as in African American, are generally better looking than their female sisters on the whole.

  16. Having spent the last 25+ years living in a number of Rural & Regional areas around Australia I am yet to be convinced as to why I need to pay for the viewing/listening choices of others? Let the freeloaders put their own hand in their own pocket for a change & then check the ratings? Why we still need a taxpayer-funded broadcaster behemoth in the 21st Century, particularly when there are a plethora of quality commercial outlets catering for most points of view. I have never had the need for the services of their ABC/SBS particularly when the local commercial papers/broadcasters are more likely to have more up to the minute news with their management & staff based locally & more in tune with the needs of locals.

    Also can we please stop playing their game by falsely referring to Socialists as progressives and call them for what they actually are Socialists, Communists or Regressives. No wonder the current generation has little understanding of the language when a small minority who are fixated on gaining power, want to corrupt it to serve the exact opposite of what it originally meant. The best description I have heard recently is “Democrat Socialists are just the new Bougeios Narcissists”

  17. Crazyoldranga

    And don’t forget the same sex couples with kids in these adverts. Whatever happened to showing a representative slice of life for the WHOLE community?

  18. Des Deskperson

    ‘A conservative would have no chance winning an unfair dismissal case against Their ABC or SBS.’

    Well, s 351(1) of the Fair Work Act 2009 prohibits an employer from taking adverse action against an employee on grounds that include ‘political opinion’.

    Whatever other cats might think of the Fair Work Commission, my experience is that it is generally professional. It is difficult to imagine any Commissioner or Commissioners supporting an organisation, even the ABC or SBS, that breached the FWA act – the Act the Commissioners are meant to enforce – by terminating an employee on the basis his/her political opinions.

  19. The BigBlueCat

    To start with, I suggest embracing the sentiments of the civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King, who said: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.” That should put a stop to virtue signalling based on what people look like.

    Except that it means you should care less about a person’s skin colour and be more concerned about what they say and how they comport themselves. Leyonhjelm seems to think the two are connected (might be true, but how would we know unless we see and hear?).

    Leyonhjelm quoting MLK is his own form of virtue signalling (“Look at me, I’m not racist, I’m quoting Martin Luther King and content of character”) yet he (Leyonhjelm) then bangs on about skin colour and his perceptions of lack of political diversity (which is an issue, but are skin colour and political diversity really connected? Where’s the data?).

    Leyonhjelm might very well be right about underrepresentation of non-coloured presenters on the national broadcaster and on ads (where are the stats?) – but he loses me when he quotes MLK and then complains about the skin colour of people in ads rather than “the content of their character”. By highlighting race as an issue, Leyonhjelm outs himself.

    Leyonhjelm should take notice of Morgan Freeman on race.

    Reality is, Australia is a nation of immigrants – every race has had to migrate here (even the First Australians whoever they might be). The sooner we stop dividing ourselves by race (and who was here first), the better off we’ll be. Political affiliation should be a separate issue.

  20. cuckoo

    Which is why I was surprised to see a large graphic in the window of my local McDonald’s, celebrating Australia Day. In cartoony style it shows people outdoors enjoying a barbecue. (Funnily enough, none of them are eating Macca’s.) But more significantly, there are no brown people and no women in hijabs. How did that get through?

  21. Tim Neilson

    If you have been watching TV lately, you will have noticed that many advertisements include at least one black or brown person. Some of the family scenes, such as a black and white couple with kids that are clearly unrelated to either, are artificial to the point of absurdity. Actors with black or brown faces must be getting plenty of work.

    There’s still one job in acting that can be done only by someone who clearly looks male, white and heterosexual.

    That’s the perpetrator in taxpayer-funded anti-domestic violence or anti-misogeneeeee advertisements.

    Show indigenous, !slamic or LGBTQ etc domestic violence or misogeneeeee? That would be be …phobic.

  22. Gyro Cadiz

    While I still have a TV it’s only connected to a computer so I can watch the odd old movie.

    I’ve not watched commercial TV or Tsentral’noye televideniye SSSR‘s Australian subsidiary in decades.

    By the sounds of it, I have missed nothing.

    Noticed this racist rubbish during my recent trips to the UK. Apparently, no British white women marry anyone but black guys. Even BJ’s ‘get Brexit done’ ad did this.

  23. Lee

    Show indigenous, !slamic or LGBTQ etc domestic violence or misogeneeeee? That would be be …phobic.

    And in actuality, I would bet dollars to donuts that domestic violence is just as high in those groups, and probable noticeably so.

  24. Iampeter

    Diversity is just collectivism.
    It needs to be opposed like any other collectivism and for the same reasons.
    But that requires knowledge of concepts that are an alternative to collectivism, specifically individual rights.
    Without this knowledge you can’t counter identity politics with anything other than your own version of identity politics.

    That’s how we end up with former senator’s for the Liberal Democrats who can’t even get the Folau issue correct…

  25. Shy Ted

    Plenty of those ads are actually gummint ads. Not selling chocolate bars or soap powders, just trying to persuade us, using our money, they’re a you beaut gummint.

  26. Kneel

    “Diversity is just collectivism.”

    Nope, diversity is fine and dandy – it’s enforced diversity that is the issue.

    “Making sure you have the right balance” is some sort of sick joke.
    If your products/services don’t sell well any more, perhaps you do need new blood.
    Perhaps you should get some diversity and make your workforce reflect general society.
    Maybe.
    Or maybe nobody wants your stuff because it’s crap since you off-shored your production to some “3rd world shit hole” that confuses “low cost” with “cheap”.

    Better – in the big picture – to let the market decide what is best for your industry and company, otherwise you might end up getting the gender balance perfect, only to discover selling tampons is really better done by women, and blacksmithing is better done by men (or whatever – just examples that are probably wildly wrong).

    FFS, just find good staff who know their stuff! Who cares what race, colour, creed, gender or sexual preferences that person has/is/was/wants to be – all that matters is they do the job well, keep the customer happy and make you plenty of profit with minimal headaches. Any other considerations are in third place (second is daylight – yes, those things really are that important, or should be).

  27. Titch

    So sad, that only 60 odd years since Martin Luther King asked for that human right, to be accepted for who you are, not for the colour of your skin, that the current “woke” brigade howl relentlessly about colour and race. Complete reversal in just over half a century. And the bitterness being generated to push this forward constantly, dividing society more than before. The reason? Not for the sake of the people of colour, no matter how the proponents paint the picture. ABC and SBS and all the other virtue signallers that infest our media have a lot to answer for. I now just turn off completely when they run ads with “diversity” as the hidden theme.

  28. Chris M

    If you have been watching TV lately…

    Nope, like a telex machine don’t own one. Don’t care what they put on it, dead medium.

  29. Muddy

    Richard JH
    #3293067, posted on January 15, 2020 at 1:30 pm

    …call them for what they actually are…

    I’ve been stating that need for freaking yonks, but many still continue to be enthusiastic propagandists for their opponents. (It’s like going to the footy and singing the other team’s song. Who the bleep does that? ).

  30. Squirrel

    For an organisation which never tires of talking about diversity (as defined by them), it is fascinating to observe that two of the absolute plum jobs on ABC TV have recently gone to white blokes – i.e. Hamish McDonald (Q&A) and David Speers (Insiders).

    Doubtless, they were chosen on merit alone – but when other organisations dare to use that excuse to explain a lack of diversity in senior roles, the ABC will always have lots to say about what’s wrong with their definition of merit and the application of it.

  31. Gilas

    Des Deskperson
    #3293087, posted on January 15, 2020 at 1:47 pm

    That is also my understanding, Des.
    It is essential that people stop cowering to the deranged threats of the regressives. As the Peter Ridd case shows (among others), there are strong legal provisions against bullying by management.

    Not all of us are LNP betas.

  32. Beachcomber

    ………. if the ABC and SBS were to commit to genuine non-racist diversity of views, what would it look like?

    Puhleese! This is meaningless. They insist that they are already doing this. They will never change. As has been said before:

    – SHUT IT DOWN
    – FIRE THEM ALL
    – MOUND OF SKULLS
    – SALT THE EARTH

  33. Nob

    JC
    #3293066, posted on January 15, 2020 at 1:30 pm
    I have a theory on that. Black dudes as in African American, are generally better looking than their female sisters on the whole

    There’s that and also the widespread belief among black men that black women are more feckless.

    It’s a known thing that both black and white men prefer white women.
    Some writers perform mental gymnastics trying to explain it, or overcome it.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00BOROFMC/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

    https://newstalkcleveland.com/421121/discussion-why-black-men-choose-white-women/

    This guy is more realistic. Worth reading:

    https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2010/03/jill-scott-on-black-men-who-marry-white-women/38140/

    for people who are really working at commitment, a relationship quickly ceases to be a political statement. There is certainly part of me that feels my partnership with a black woman says something about me. But I vacillate on precisely what. The problem is that no committed person goes to bed with black spouse or a white spouse. They go to bed with someone who does, or doesn’t, think it’s a bad idea to blow the rent-check on school clothes. They go to bed with someone who does, or doesn’t, think it’s a priority to keep the living room clean. They go to be bed with someone who does, or doesn’t, want children. In other words, they go to bed with an individual who (hopefully) has very specific idea about their life that go beyond whether the revolution will be televised, or not.

    I’m a black dude hooked up with a black woman–but I don’t sleep with “black people.” “Black people” don’t pay half of my rent. “Black people” didn’t take my son to tennis lessons this week. “Black people” didn’t support me while I was trying to make it a writer. An individual, with her own specific hopes, dreams and problems, did those things. Now it’s true that she’s black. But the qualities that allowed her to do those things–compassion, commitment, vision–are not “black” qualities.

    Again, I’m not trying to demean my folks. But we often take this abstract, hazy view of an institution that, like anything else worthwhile, is mostly about dirt, work and tedium. Relationships are not (anymore, at least) a collectivist act. They really come down to two individuals doing business in ways that we will never be privy to.

  34. BorisG,

    Black dudes as in African American, are generally better looking than their female sisters on the whole.

    Not to me sorry. Men do not look attractive to me.

  35. Iampeter
    #3293249, posted on January 15, 2020 at 4:15 pm

    That’s how we end up with former senator’s for the Liberal Democrats who can’t even get the Folau issue correct…

    Shut up you ill read arseclown.

  36. The Australia Day ads are about as representative of Australians generally as the Redfern branch of the NSW Greens.

    That is, not at all.

    “Oh look! A white family, some lesbians, some Aborigines, a RFS guy and some Indian migrants”

    The only place that would be close to that would be Woolgoolga & Byron Bay, minus everything else in between.

  37. Walter Plinge

    You can pick an imported US ad (e.g., Kmart) because there is always one white, one Hispanic and one black.

  38. As a country of immigrants Australia is incredibly diverse …

    There’s your mistake right there. Australia is not a country of immigrants; it was a British colony. Nations of immigrants don’t have White Australia Policies and the like. This lie completely neuters the rest of your argument. Until you get over it then you won’t get over the hump.

  39. Tel

    It’s token diversity.

    Remember: appearance is everything … think about the shallowness of your typical leftist troll on this site and apply that to an entire ideology. Intentions are more important than outcomes … optics are what wins elections … never think about how we got into this mess but just give me more authority so I can be your wonderful savior!

  40. Nob

    Adam
    #3294262, posted on January 16, 2020 at 3:42 pm
    Nations of immigrants don’t have White Australia Policies and the like.

    Yeah they do –
    USA with its Chinese exclusion Act and National Origins Formula and Canada with similar.

    Did you ever wonder why USA’s “give me your tired, etc yearning to be free” only resulted in European immigration?

  41. PB

    “I have a theory on that. Black dudes as in African American, are generally better looking than their female sisters on the whole.”

    They’ll tell you this themselves, but also, bagging a White woman is also seen as sticking it to ‘da man.

  42. Nob

    PB
    #3294692, posted on January 17, 2020 at 6:00 am
    bagging a White woman is also seen as sticking it to ‘da man.

    To a few political idiots.
    Most folk are the same anywhere, most looking for an attractive and reliable partner.
    And maybe a bit on the side note and then.

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