'Twas an interesting night out on Thursday at Readings on Lygon Street for the launch of Margo Kingston's new book, Not Happy John. The event was scheduled to start at 6:30, got under way at about 6:32, and the Israel-bashing had commenced in earnest by 6:44. It was courtesy of Antony Lowenstein, one of Kingston's contributers, who informed us of how brave he was to be challenging Israel (a room full of true believing lefties and an attack on Israel... real brave, Antony, real brave) and Colin Rubenstein's "hegemony" over Jewish opinion in this country. Of course, we heard about Israel - the apartheid state (y'know, the one which upholds freedom of religion) and the evil Jewish plot to crush dissent vis the Hanan Ashrawi affair. Not sure if Protocols of the Elders is a big seller at Readings, but you never know...
Anyhow, Margo was the feature act whom the crowd had come to see. Those who want to read the book will read the book, but the snippets shared on the night were interesting.
- Margo claims to have approached Robert Menzies' daughter and asked her to launch the book. Ms Menzies was supportive of Kingston's defence of an independant public service as envisaged by her father, and was, from Kingston's report, not happy (John) with the way Howard had politicised it. In the end, for obvious reasons, Menzies didn't end up launching it.
- Penguin, the publishers, initially wanted to present Kingston as the "Michael Moore of Australia" and build a profile for her in that way. Kingston rejected the offer, arguing that "she didn't have a sense of humour." After hearing and reading some of her work, the self-deprecation misses the mark.
- Federal Police have apparently still failed to interview H-S columnist Andrew Bolt over the source of the leak of the Andrew Wilkie document. While most eyes turn to Downer's office, only Bolt can confirm or deny. Much as it hurts to be defending Bolt, the right of a journalist to protect their sources is imperative, and an AFP interview is not likely to reveal much. Still, given Bolt's defence of Abu Ghraib, a rather sinister thought about the interigation comes to mind. Bolt could probably provide his own hood.