Terror hysteria: Herald Sun plays judge, jury and executioner
What do you get when you cross a blatant disregard for facts and legal due process with a “feral Andrew Bolt column”? The Herald Sun, of course.
Regular Herald Sun readers can now breathe easy,
secure in the knowledge that an 18-year-old-man has been found guilty of
terrorism by the newspaper and is now buried six feet under the ground.
For the past week, the tabloid of choice for Victoria’s McDonald’s
patrons to spill their special sauce on has been running a campaign
against Numan Haider, his family, their friends and anyone deemed to
share their faith.
Haider did stab two police officers before being shot dead.
He likely had his passport cancelled and was suspected of being involved
in activities that, had he carried them out, might have been found by a
court to have breached the provisions of anti-terror laws.
In the real world, he had not been charged, let alone
convicted. No evidence against him was brought before a properly
constituted court. But as far as the Hun was concerned, all
this is legal mumbo jumbo. Haider was a terrorist who planned to
assassinate the Prime Minister, even if police denied there was ever
such a plot.
The coverage, the allegations, the group responsibility and the hysteria was relentless. The cover of the Hun
on Wednesday, September 24, carried the words “DEADLY THREAT TO
ABBOTT”, and the deceased was described on page 2 as “A TEEN terror
suspect under investigation for making threats against Prime Minister
Tony Abbott”. Following this allegation were 11 paragraphs citing a
midnight police press conference after Haider’s shooting, during which
no mention was made of a plot to kill the PM. One wonders how the five
reporters (Angus Thompson, Anthony Dowsley, Wes Hosking, David Hurley
and Simon Benson) could not cite a single source for their allegation.
The headline of Thursday, September 25 screamed “JIHAD
REVENGE FEARS” and spoke of “terror reprisals”. The following eight
pages ended with a feral Andrew Bolt column arguing that the fault for
terrorism inevitably is with the 1400-year-old set of religious
traditions shared by almost one-quarter of humanity.
The front page of Friday, September 26 featured a man
visiting the grieving Haider family holding what appeared to be prayer
beads and a cup of coffee in one hand while throwing a stone with the
other. “ANGER ERUPTS AS FAMILY PREPARE FOR FUNERAL” screamed the
headline. Sensitive choice of photo to match such delicate journalism.
More allegations were made including “DEAD TERRORIST GOOGLED PM’S
MELBOURNE TRIPS” and allegations the deceased and his friends planned to
ambush police at Hungry Jack’s.
On Saturday, September 27, on page 5, the headline read:
“Tears for teenage terrorist lost to hate”. The story commenced with the
words: “Numan Haider will be remembered as a teenage terrorist”. The
cover page showed a young man attending the funeral wearing a hoodie, a
black beanie and a black cloth to cover his face. The headline screamed
out “DEATH STARE” followed by “MOURNER WEARS PROVOCATIVE MASK TO
FUNERAL” and “RAW EMOTION AS FAMILY BURY DEAD TERRORIST”. Yep, they’re a
scary lot when they bury terrorists.
Provocative mask, you say? Given Fairfax newspapers
plastered the wrong kid on its front cover and described him as a
terrorist, and given the tabloid hysteria leading to hate crimes, who could blame the young man?
On Monday, Hun columnist Rita Panahi
argued that the actions of a fictitious uniform entity called “the
Muslim community” was behaving in a manner that “threatens to turn
inclusive Australians into frightened xenophobes”. Perhaps she imagines
all inclusive non-Muslim Australians read her newspaper.
She then says Muslim leaders need to “finally dissociate the
Muslim community from the extremist scourge”. As if they haven’t done
so already. But two can play that game. I’ll dissociate myself from
pseudo-religious nutcases whose actions I have no control over if you
dissociate yourself and your buddies from the disgusting criminal
actions of your colleagues that led to the closing of the News Of The World and the imprisonment of a number of its staff. Deal?
The Hun can count its lucky stars young Numan
Haider is no longer with us. Imagine if he survived the gunshot wounds.
Imagine if he were put on trial and convicted of a serious criminal
offence that was not terrorism-related. Defamation lawyers
would be queuing up to represent him. Andrew Bolt wouldn’t be able to
cry freedom of speech then. And he’d look like a right royal fool if he