Australia: Channel Seven loses legal battle after ‘racist portrayal’ of Brazilian tribe

Suruwaha tribe

Channel Seven has lost a three-year legal battle with broadcasting authorities over a current affairs program it aired in 2011 which was deemed to be an inaccurate and racist portrayal of a Brazilian tribe who lived in the Amazon.

The battle to overturn the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s original ruling was lost last week when the full federal court dismissed Channel Seven’s appeal and ordered it to pay Acma’s costs.

The segment featured Seven video journalist Tim Noonan and writer and adventurer Paul Raffaele travelling through the Amazon jungle and meeting with the Suruwaha people, who Noonan described as having “disturbing practices”. “These lost tribes encourage the murder of disabled children,” he said.

Raffaele claimed that the Suruwaha believe that children born with birth defects or born to a single mother “are evil spirits and should be killed in the most gruesome way possible”.

“They take these poor little innocent babes out into the jungle to be eaten alive by the wild beasts or jaguars or they bury them alive, this is one of the worst human rights violations in the world,” he said.

In his federal court judgement Justice Buchanan backed Acma’s original report when he said he found the statements made by Noonan and Raffaele “would be likely to provoke or perpetuate intense dislike and serious contempt of and for the Suruwaha tribe and its members on account of their practices and beliefs”…

…The original complaint about the network’s Sunday Night program was made by Survival International, a lobby group for tribal peoples around the world. Survival’s director Stephen Corry described the Sunday Night segment as “freakshow TV at its very worst”.

“The Indians are made out to be cruel and inhuman monsters, in the spirit of 19th-century colonialist scorn for ‘primitive savages’,” Corry said in 2012. “It’s clearly designed to have the same effect – to suggest that they don’t deserve any rights. The idea that such nonsense is supposed to help tribal children is breathtaking”…

Score another one for the groups in denial about human nature. Anyone who has read ancient history knows that “exposing” unwanted children was perfectly acceptable at the time.

This is not something that is restricted to remote Brazilian tribes.  Other places and peoples have merely changed over the centuries. Early Christians and Jews opposed it.  One thing that Mohammed was said to have done was to put a stop to the infanticide of unwanted girls.  

Cultures can change, albeit slowly, and culture also influences people’s behaviour.  

Read more about it at Wikipedia. Indeed, some groups were even ritually sacrificing children.