Andrew Bolt controversy on what defines “aboriginality”

Hi Everyone,

Andrew Bolt is a columnist for the Melbourne Herald-Sun newspaper and is known for stirring up a lot of controversy. In an article in 2009 he claimed that fair-skinned people claimed to be Aboriginal for political or financial gain.

This touches on issues we have discussed in Topic 6 of our unit this year, about what it means to be Aboriginal, whether it requires, as fellow student Judith Peen suggested, three criteria be met: 1) self-identification, 2) acceptance by an Aboriginal community, and 3) you have Aboriginal genes (be of Aboriginal descent). I myself don’t think we need to use such a legalistic approach to the matter and am sure there are people who fit two of the criteria but not all three (adopted or removed children who are not part of any Aboriginal community, despite having Aboriginal parents and feeling themselves to be Aboriginal, for example).

Still, it must be extremely distressing for people who meet these criteria to have someone like Andrew Bolt say, “None of that means anything, because you don’t appear to me to be Aboriginal.” Bolt was taken to court by some of the people he specifically besmirched in his column, and he lost the case. Details follow at the links below.

Michael James BARROW Ling366, 2012.

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