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The Racial Hatred Act: Case study 4

 case study4I don't know what I can laugh at anymore


  • comedy and censorship


  • Radio National's Breakfast Program reporter Chris Bullock's story
    on the censorship of a racist joke from RN's The Boxseat comedy program


  • Chris Bullock on
    why the breakfast program team aired the joke when The Boxseat program
    team chose not to.

Please note that none of the reports in the case studies have been the
subject of complaints or queries under the Racial Hatred Act.


"Everybody else thinks it, we
say it"

Australian comedian George Smilovich on


In July 1996 Radio National's breakfast program ran a special report
on comedy and censorship by journalist Chris Bullock. The report looked
at structural censorship through legislation such as the copyright and
defamation laws. It also discussed the increasing trend towards self-censorship
by the media and comedians around the world in response to changing social

The following excerpts from Bullock's report provide insight into the
deliberations of a radio production team over whether or not to include
a racist joke in their comedy program, The Box Seat.

The Box Seat production team decided that, without the context
of the venue, the joke was misplaced and offended cultural sensitivities.

Chris Bullock, however, included the joke in his report for the breakfast
program. He comments on the deliberations of the breakfast program production
team over airing the joke and says that his team concluded that they had
a responsibility to cover the range of attitudes and entertainment in the
community, even those with blatant racist overtones.

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