Sky News’ Rita Panahi Spreads Lies About Victoria Anti-Conversion Bill

08/02/2021

Like all other Sky News’ hosts, Rita Panahi is a textbook example of how vacuous sycophants will reject and oppose anything so long as they get paid large enough sums to do so. The more outrage and clicks it can generate, the better – facts and science be damned. Yesterday, she rambled (and on occasion stumbled) on about how the “radical left” can fool the “apathetic masses” by using ostensibly pure naming to “[ram] through radical policies”. Antifa, BLM, the Labor Victorian government – surely, she’ll consider all the facts on hand!

Heh.

Let’s go through some points.

“Groups such as Black Lives Matter and Antifa have names we all agree with, but their violent, divisive antics and Marxist ideology are a different matter entirely.”

Another dash on the tally board for “conservative” commentator misunderstanding and misusing the term Marxist. Nothing about the Black Lives Matter movement is inherently Marxist. Recognising the systemic racism that exists in the US (and here in Australia), acknowledging the scourge of police violence that primarily targets black communities and individuals, and supporting efforts to improve these conditions is not “Marxist”. I also doubt anyone on Sky News realise what is meant by “defund the police”, or that the protests and civil unrest last year in the wake of George Floyd’s murder weren’t actually organised by the Black Lives Matter group.

Antifa, even if you choose to overlook the fact that it is not actually a group but a decentralised movement – anyone can be “antifa” – it literally just means antifascist. Antifascist should be the default position, does not imply violence, and can include anyone to the “left” of, you can guess – fascism. This effort to try and portray antifa as some kind of coordinated group instigating riots and pushing some kind of “Marxist ideology” is pure fabrication.

By using these “wholesome names”, Panahi argues, the “left” can sugar-coat whatever “divisive agenda” it might have to enforce their views and implement policies. They also label anyone who dissents as bigots. For the life of me I cannot remember where I saw it, but the definition of “bigot” I saw as most apt was the usual dictionary definition –

“a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices

especially: one who regards or treats the members of a group (such as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance”

Mirriam Webster

with the addition of supporting or actively pursuing political outcomes to intentionally marginalise the group in question. With that in mind, yes, the word bigot certainly applies in many of the cases Panahi appears offended by its use.

For some Australian examples, she takes aim at the Safe Schools program the recent anti-conversation bill (Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill) in Victoria. Without going into any detail, Panahi claims that these dangerous “gender ideology” policies are damaging, particularly to women and children – because Sky News cares so much about women and children, with all those male hosts defending rapists and abusers.

She says that “it’s little wonder that doctors and psychiatrists are deeply concerned” about the Bill passed in Victoria, which only had 9 votes against it (still a damningly high number, although Panahi later called the Liberal opposition “spineless” for backing down out of apparent fear). The two organisations she cites are the National Association of Practicing Psychiatrists (NAPP) and The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP).

With a bit of digging, NAPP’s current President, Philip Morris, appears to be quite religious, including a post on his blog in support of “religious freedom” legislation (the legislation put forward by the Coalition that would essentially give religious organisations the right to discriminate without repercussions). His post on the NAPP site about managing gender dysphoria is also questionable, with many of the references focussing mostly on stories of people who have de-transitioned, and a number near the bottom straight from Reddit, Tumblr, and a YouTube video by an LGB “activist” (bit more on that below).

I’d take the NAPP criticisms with a hint of scepticism.

The RANZCP actually supported the Bill, as expressed by Dr Kerryn Rubin on their own website:

“Despite our concerns regarding the broad wording of the legislation, we acknowledge and welcome the important step it represents in reducing the impacts of prejudice and discrimination on the mental health and general wellbeing of LGBTIQ+ people.”

Sky News does briefly display a different source, however, that they do not say the name of out loud or link – the LGB Alliance. The organisation is basically just a front for transphobic rhetoric, such as the above mentioned TERFs (J.K Rowling is the most prominent example). They are known for making many spurious or outright false claims regarding trans people and gender, as well as using legitimate statistics to push hyperbolic fearmongering (such as the increase in the number of children in England presenting with gender dysphoria).

Interestingly, briefly looking through the above LGB document, Philip Morris is referenced.

So two of the sources they cite (one discreetly) are arguably not credible when discussing the topic at hand, and the other actually supported the Bill with some general concerns about the language used, a fact Sky News omits. Panahi later references the AMA through a headline to the Australian saying it backs Morris on the issue of medication for trans teenagers. As it is behind a paywall, I can’t read it, but I imagine the AMA take would be a bit more nuanced than Panahi portrays it to be. As it is, she introduces them by doing a theatrical scoff and calling them the “normally woke AMA”.

Anyone who uses the word “woke” can immediately be regarded as arguing or speaking in bad faith.

As is usually the case with any of Murdoch’s media giants, Sky News puts such a mindboggling slant on everything they say that it is almost surprising they have so much influence. They also have no issue misrepresenting facts and positions, or completely fabricating them to fit the narrative they are trying to sell. At least the rest of the mainstream media (the “woke” stuff, I guess) can generally stick to the facts, even if there is some omission or bias to dig through.

Alas, blatant falsehoods and manufactured outrage are the speciality at one of Australia’s largest media conglomerates.

Liked this? Read Outsourcing Deliberation: Political Misinformation Online

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