Those once guilty of aggressively pushing cancel-culture had suddenly become unwavering defenders of free thought.
It started, most brazenly, with Greens politicians likening our late Queen as a racist, or at the very least, responsibly for racism in general.
And on the ABC, it eventually evolved into convoluted arguments that one should be free to refer to Her Majesty as a “dumb dog”, as that is simply “political speech”.
You might think that is a difficult argument to construct but yet the majority of ABC presenter Stan Grant’s stacked Q+A panel agreed Newcastle Knights NRLW player Caitlin Moran should face no repercussions for making the slur.
Moran was suspended for a match for her comments and the ABC’s guests were not happy.
South African-Australian writer Sisonke Msimang told ABC audiences criticisms of Moran were only so fierce because she is an Indigenous woman.
“It is actually political speech and insisting on taking her words too literally is a sort of pretense, it is pretending a certain innocence about why it might be that someone would use such language to describe the queen,” she said.
“It is definitely political speech and therefore it should be protect and I think it is absolutely shameful that they have come down on her like this.
“It speaks to a double standard I think there is no question that part of why they have come down so hard on her is she is a First Nations woman. I think that where the speech comes from matters almost as much as what it is that the person is saying.”
The Ethics Centre Executive Director Simon Longstaff said he interpreted Moran’s comments to be about the Queen’s role, not the Queen herself.
“What she was doing was expressing her view through social media, and there is absolutely no duty on a person not respect an individual’s role, and I think she was talking about an institutional role here rather than the actual person which is a fundamental distinction I think we have to make.
“I think it is very disappointing she was punished as she has been for simply expressing an opinion about the Queen.”
That’s a bit of a stretch.
However, this writer does agree that Moran should not be canceled for expressing an opinion.
But I wonder if any of those guests presented a similar defense of footballer Israel Folau when his religious commentary hindered his sporting career?
If you only defend your own way of thinking, the debate will quickly become insular and shallow.
And one ABC radio host took that idea a step further, arguing that the left should be able to say the most inflammatory and insane things, but then if you rebuke their comments, you are bullying.
Patricia Karvelas penned an opinion piece complaining that people criticised an Indigenous twitter account which described the Queen as an architect of colonialism, very soon after her death.
“I’m not here to lampoon the crown or the queen,” Australian academic Sandy O’Sullivan wrote through the account.
“Though I thoroughly support those who are — it’s an important act of resistance. But what I will do is hold the mirror up to the crown and to the queen. She was the one who maintained a colonial rule, her boot on us.”
Karvelas disliked that O’ Sullivan has been rightly criticised for her commentary and formed this argument.
“Is this comment controversial? Absolutely, no doubt. But does it deserve to be met with vitriol and bullying? No way,” she wrote on the ABC’s website.
“Social media doesn’t do nuance very well. In fact, nuance is close to non-existent. We can all be guilty of that.
“And so, we are at a particular juncture where we need to have some hard conversations about what space we are prepared to make for perspectives that challenge our dominant narratives, both online and in our broader world.”
The last sentence seems to be lost on Karvelas herself.
Hard conversations mean people will not always agree with your discourse.
If you mischaracterise the legacy of a woman who presided over the greatest period of de-colonization the world has ever known, you are going to get criticized.
And if you do so with inflammatory and aggressive language, people will respond in kind.
But I for one welcome the ABC’s newfound defense of speech. I just look forward to the day when that same defense is presented for those opinions the journalist disagrees with.
Unfortunately, on the ABC, most journalists seem to think: “free speech for me but not for thee”.
Jack Houghton is the host of The Media Show and tonight at 8pm he will tackle this issue and the biggest media stories of the week. Watch live or on-demand on Foxtel or Englishheadline on Flash.