Newspaper columnist Andrew Bolt attacked the self-respect and pride of fair skinned Aborigines in a series of “gratuitous, insulting and misleading” articles, a court has heard.
The News Limited columnist’s writings pulled down pillars of the Aboriginal community who were role models for young people, a barrister for nine Aborigines involved in a racial vilification case with Bolt has told the Federal Court.
The nine are seeking an apology from the Herald and Weekly Times over the articles and blogs written by Bolt which appeared in 2009 and 2010.
They include one headlined “White is the new black” and articles “It’s so hip to be black” and “White fellas in the black”.
The articles suggested the group were faking their Aboriginality and “rorting the system”, the court heard.
The group was seeking an apology from Bolt, but now only seek an apology from his publisher.
In closing submissions on Tuesday, Ron Merkel, QC, for the nine, said the articles attacked not only those mentioned in them but also young Aborigines who, because of “youth, inexperience or psychological vulnerability”, were vulnerable to attacks on them.
He said if young people had aspirations to be like those challenged in the articles, it would help solve the problems of Aboriginal disadvantage also highlighted by Bolt.
“So, it’s a double assault on this group,” Mr Merkel said.
“It’s an assault on their own self respect … their own pride, but it’s also an assault on how they will see others viewing them.
“What he has done in these articles, absolutely unintentionally, but the consequence of writing these articles is to pull down the kind of pillars that are the role models for the future.”
Another barrister for the nine, Herman Borenstein, SC, said the articles contained “insulting” and “demeaning” remarks about them.
He said the articles were misleading, false and misrepresented the positions of the group.
Mr Borenstein said it would be wrong to use freedom of speech as a cover for “gratuitous insults” like those in the articles.
The nine include former ATSIC chairman Geoff Clark, activist Pat Eatock and artist Bindi Cole.
Barristers for Bolt will make their final submissions to Justice Mordecai Bromberg when the trial resumes on Wednesday.