On the 3rd of January 2018, a prominent conservative Australian radio station ran a segment about an ‘African Gang Crime’ problem in Australia. It featured the Federal Minister for Home Affairs at the time, Peter Dutton whose controversial statements were publicly broadcast.
“If they (Africans) have 10 or 12-year-olds wandering the streets at night committing these offences,Peter Dutton, LNP Minister for Home Affairs 2018
deport them where we can.”
The segment was unethical in allowing the public broadcast of the minister’s controversial statements on the possibility of deporting minority migrants and their families, based on the behavior of young children.
A more ethical public broadcaster would have alternatively framed the issue by focusing on using a more appropriate description, such as ‘Youth Crime in Australia.’ This would have generated more appropriate awareness about the limitations of the Australian education system in a utilitarian way, addressing the specific needs of individual community members and the changes of traditional standards of upbringing, regarding parental guidance/assistance.
“People are scared to go out to restaurants at night time because they are followed home by these gangs, home invasions and cars being stolen.”Peter Dutton, LNP Minister for Home Affairs 2018
“We just need to call it for what it is. Of course, it’s African gang violence.”
The public broadcast continued to highlight more controversial statements from the Federal Member for Dickson, particularly exacerbating community fear. His statements peddled an egoistic narrative about the issue at hand.
“The identification that when people are driven by selfish desire, it is a “good” for an individual’s self-interest and a “bad” in terms of what an individual may oppose.”Thomas Hobbes
The broadcast of egoistic perspectives perpetuated a “good” self-interest to mischievously increase ratings and public support by purposely altering audience perception. The goal was to achieve a biased outcome for more responses from local councils, government and public calls for more action regarding security from police.
Alarmingly, it contributed to a distorted sense of actual safety to the public, resulting in members of Melbourne’s Sudanese-Australian community, voicing their concerns about how the media had made the public fear ‘them.’
“Present news accurately and impartially.”Commercial Radio Code of Practice 3.1.1
By stating “African Gang Violence,” Peter Dutton created a public narrative of inaccurately blaming the entire continent of Africa, which consists of 54 unique countries with multiple ethnicities and languages. His targeted, dehumanising, objectifying and blatantly racist statements, failed to accurately identify and ethically categorise specific perpetrators during a public broadcast.
“Report and interpret honestly, striving for accuracy, fairness and disclosure of all essential facts.”MEAA Journalist Code of Ethics
Biased media representations of Melanin people, particularly from the African and South Asian Continents as well as Indigenous Australians, have been inaccurately presented as being members of a homogeneous single community, with no ethnic or linguistic boundaries identified and acknowledged.
“Australia’s long history with racism has been particularly targeted towards First Nations’ people from the very first act of racism – the declaration of Terra Nullius – a blatant lie that was predicated upon ethnocentrism.”Natalie Cromb, SBS
Being assigned to a stereotype on the basis of a melanin appearance, occurs because of discriminatory ignorance from a hegemonic, inter-generational and privileged bias by the perceptions of an uncouth and unhinged society.
“Act only according to that maxim (a rule or principle of action) by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.”Immanuel Kant’s Categorical Imperative of Universal Law
Satyanshu Mukherjee, Australian Institute of Criminology, found that a person’s physical appearance being predicated on ethnicity, has no determination on the likelihood of being involved in violent crime. The misrepresentation of a migrant melanin community with an association of violence, was deemed unethical as per Immanuel Kant’s Categorical Imperative of Universal Law.
Evidently, the broadcast contained the ‘maxim’ to ostracise a migrant melanin community with fear-mongering and stereotyping with an association of violence. The minister’s statements placed a targeted emphasis on a community’s physical appearance, being an attribute where melanin is present, where it is particularly noticeable, emphasised and identified in a discriminatory manner with the label of a non-Australian identity.
Biased media coverage of crime consequentially distorts the public’s perception of the specific details about the crime.
Intense coverage of particularly violent crimes, although rare in real life, may appear to be occurring everywhere. An excess of biased media coverage regarding violent crime generates fear and a distorted sense of actual safety.
Consequentially, this alters the public perception and puts pressure on security responses from local councils, government and calls for more policing. The concerning depiction of migrant melanin communities in crime reporting tends to expand and heighten the fear and impact of media coverage beyond standard crime reporting. When the media reinforces the public’s perception about crime by using stereotypes of Melanin people, these perceptions manifest into a heightened state of fear.
Threats of deportations under character test grounds are forms of punishment.
Biased media coverage, both online and offline, has bolstered anti-immigration sentiment and has fed, in no small part, the rise of centre-right and fringe far-right anti-immigration groups as well as lone-wolf white-supremacist individuals with terrifying consequences.
Alternative framing of controversial issues, an active focus on less generalised labels and descriptions and greater contextual awareness of important issues can achieve a better presentation of information without unethical discrepancies.
People are NOT Colours. People ARE Nationalities and Ethnicities.
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