Soapbox Speakers

What is Speakers’ Corner?

In Speakers and hecklers. on March 8, 2015 at 11:51 pm

“I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief.” 
Gerry Spence.

‘To be absolutely certain about something, one must know everything or nothing about it.’
Olin Miller

Every Sunday, from 2pm until 5pm, people gather in Sydney’s beautiful Domain park to discuss matters. The ones standing on ladders are ‘the speakers’, and they believe it’s their job to educate  their ‘grasshoppers’ or ‘groundlings’.  The ones sitting in chairs believe it’s their job to point out why the speaker is wrong, and to heckle. Both parties are kept busy.

This sums up the relationship between the speakers and the hecklers.

This sums up the relationship between the speakers and the hecklers.

‘It’s good to have an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out.’
Carl Sagan

Find past posts  on our Archives site.

The Speakers and Hecklers.

Steve Maxwell, historian and political commentator.

Steve Maxwell is the world authority on Speakers’ Corners and soapbox speakers. He has written a book on the subject, travelled to many Speakers’ Corners throughout the world (and participated), he is the author of ‘Steve Maxwell’s Passing Parade‘, and Steve’s Domain Diary, and he has spoken at Sydney’s Speakers’ Corner for yonks. We are very fortunate to have him.

In various personas, but always engaging, Steve talks about religion, Australian history and politics. Click here for highlights. To see more videos of Steve, go to the archives site. From his book, ‘Soapbox Oratory‘ Steve writes: ‘In a modern city, there must be a place where strangers can meet and discuss the issues of the day without fear of persecution; where the right to retain one’s individuality is allowed.

Ray, Christian.

Ray is concerned about your soul.

Ray is passionate about spreading the word of God. He takes the task seriously but isn’t confronting. He is a gentle man, willing to answer your questions. Here are a few highlights. For more videos of Ray, go to the archives site.


Vladimir has a wide range of contemporary topics. He talks about the dangers of cancel-culture and the expansion of the ‘nanny state’. He says both are inhibiting free speech and eroding our civil liberties. He also sinks his boot into companies like Facebook, for the shenanigans they get up to.
Further, he examines the ways we meet one another and treat one another. Do we speak openly and honestly, or so vaguely that people have to guess what we are saying? Is our society condoning mysandry?
The fact that his material is interesting and well presented is a bonus. Come along and hear what he has to say, and if you disagree with him, tell him!

Helmut Cerncic, metaphysicist  (occasional speaker)

Helmut 4

Helmut once beat Arnold Schwartzenegger in a body building contest and in Sydney worked as the professional wrestler, Helmut Rommel.
More importantly, Helmut knows a lot about metaphysics, and is happy to explain why Isaac Newton was an ignoramus.
Helmut calls his listeners his ‘groundlings’. Here are some highlights.
For more videos of Helmut, go to the archives site and to his own site, Is Science the New Religion?’.

Mark the Grinner, (occasional speaker)

As a heckler, Mark regularly gets a laugh from the crowd with his meticulously crafted questions. As a speaker his humour is still there, but his talks have substance. He comments on human behaviour and attitudes, and he doesn’t hold back. To see Mark in action click here. Mark’s  companion, Sue, is less vocal, but she has no trouble speaking her mind when she has something to say.

John August (occasional speaker)

John speaks earnestly on a wide range of subjects, and hosts his own show on Radio Skid Row, 88.9 FM every Tuesday, from noon until 2pm.

John is an active member of the Pirate Party, which is a serious political party devoted to making Australia more democratic. He and other pirates speak at the Domain now and then about their policies and other topical matters. (That’s ‘topical’, not ‘tropical’.)

To see videos of John performing at Speakers’ Corner go to his Youtube channel.
John also has a website in which he comments upon current affairs, both here and abroad.
He is a busy man.

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 19th September, 2021

In Uncategorized on September 20, 2021 at 10:32 am

Alternative medicine and Faith healing.
If the condition improves, the treatment is effective.

If the condition stabilises, the treatment has arrested the course of the illness.
If the patient becomes worse, the treatment was either sought too late and/or the patient’s faith is lacking.
If the patient dies, the treatment is overdue. 

No matter what, the healing method is never proven wrong.
(Source lost.)

1. With Speakers’ Corner closed your scribe has had time to reflect. I have come to the conclusion that for some time now, Speakers’ Corner has been letting the public down.

Traditionally, speakers are supposed to be wackos, or Looney Tunes, harping on about why the Earth is shaped like a tractor, or how the World Trade Centre was blown up by dispirited vegans. They are supposed to be telling us that we will soon become technicolor robots when vaccinated with the 5G vaccine, and that not only was there no moon landing, there is no moon. But the speakers are not like that. They actually seem sensible.

For example, Steve Maxwell’s views on Australian history and politics are insightful, not wacky. And Helmut might be stretching it when he says Sir Isaac Newton was an imbecile, but Helmut’s heart is in the right place, as small as it is. In general, he focuses on presenting science, not New-Age rubbish. Vladimir is sensible too, even if he uses terms not understood by the dinosaurs at Speakers’ Corner, such as ‘cancel culture’. And, ex-speaker Mr Bashful’s wackiest moment was when he said schools should teach kids life skills. Yes, that’s wacky, but it’s not wacky enough, Mr B! Where is your imagination?!

Only Ray,  our fundamentalist Christian, presents truly wacky ideas. For example, he thinks two echidnas walked all the way to the Middle East to get on board Noah’s ark. Good work, Ray! So yes, Ray is doing his duty and keeping the spirit of Speakers’ Corner alive, but he is the only one. The others are not pulling their weight.

I recommend that our speakers constructively use this lockdown time to walk into their bathroom, look at their bathroom mirror, give it a good clean, and then take a long hard look at themselves. And, when they see clearly how they have let us all down, they can then ask themselves, ‘what wacky ideas can I begin to believe, so that I can be a true and proper whacko when Speakers’ Corner resumes?’

Hopefully, the speakers will convince themselves that, say, people from Atlantis have hypnotised us into not seeing their vast city, or that the Chieftains of the New World Order will soon be pulling the plug out of the bottom of mariana Trench and draining all the oceans. Or some such nonsense. And when the speakers have convinced themselves, they will be ready to convince us. Then, and only then, will they be upholding the time honoured tradition of Speakers’ Corner, where the speakers are idiots.

Gentlemen speakers, get cracking.

And ladies, where have you been? Your sex has proven that it can be just as wacky as the fellas. We need to hear from you, too.
What’s that you say? You don’t think women can be wackos? Take a look at these examples.


This woman can’t be right in the head.


This woman has to be off with the fairies. She would be an entertaining speaker.


I bet this poor woman has had a lobotomy. But that should not stop her from becoming a speaker. (It didn’t stop Helmut.)

2. If you want to read the same rubbish on our Facebook page, then you’re not quite right in the head either. You would be welcome at Speakers’ Corner when it resumes!



News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 12th September 2021

In Uncategorized on September 13, 2021 at 11:48 am

“Millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.”
Suzan Ertz.

1. It won’t be long before Speakers’ Corner resumes. And when it does, there is a chance that the police will do spot requests for attendees to show proof of vaccination. Just saying.

Meanwhile, here are answers to questions you may have.

Q1. I am not vaccinated. If I catch the virus, what is my chance of dying?
According to the Worldometer site, up until 31st December, 2020 (that’s before we had vaccinations) there had been 28,405 Covid 19 cases reported in Australia, and 909 deaths. If those figures were true that would mean every person who contracted the virus had a 1 in 31 chance of dying. However, those figures are inaccurate because there would have been many more cases of Covid not reported. So, let’s assume there were not 28,405 cases, but 100,000 cases. That would mean that the chance of an infected person dying would be closer to 1 in 110.
   (Yes, rubbery figures I know, but you get the idea. If there had been 50,000 cases the figure would be 1 in 55 and if there had been 200,000 cases the figure would be 1 in 220.)
   But even if that 100,000 guess is accurate, the death rate figures are not. That’s because the virus kills mainly those who are old or crook. From the graph below (from the Department of Health, 10th September, 2021)  we can ascertain that 96% of the Covid deaths were 60 years of age or over.


That means, with our 100,000 cases (of which only 28,405 were reported) then:
the chance of an infected person  under the age of 60 dying from Covid is roughly 2,800.
The chance of an inflected person 60 years of age or more dying from Covid is roughly 1 in 115.

If you are unvaccinated today, the figures would be roughly the same (depending on how many unreported cases there are). However,  you are more likely to catch the virus because the Delta Goodrem strain is far more contagious than the ‘friendlier’ one we had last year. (Though it has not yet been proven to be deadlier.)

Q2. Are Covid deaths truly Covid deaths?
From websites or memes you may have been told that most of the people who died from Covid 19 actually died from other illnesses, but because the patient had the virus in their system, the virus got the blame. The conclusion is that the figures are stacked, and that Covid is less dangerous than what we are led to believe.
  Hogwash. From my readings I have come to understand that when the doctors determine the cause of death, they look at what actually caused the death. If the patient died of heart disease, the doctors claim the cause of death was heart disease even if the person tested positive for the Covid virus. However, if it can be seen that the virus inflamed the diseased heart, for example, and led the patient to a premature death, then the cause of death is seen to be Covid.
 So, if anyone claims the Covid deaths are not really Covid deaths, they are either misinformed or manipulative.

Q3. Should young people take the AstraZenica vaccine if they can’t get the Pfizer one?
A young person may be hesitant to take the AZ vaccine if they have heard the guff from Idiots Anonymous. Even Queensland’s Chief Health Officer warned people against the AstraZenica vaccine.
  Yes, that AZ vaccine does kill about 1 person in a million, but according to accepted arithmetic, 1 in a million is fewer than 1 in 2,800.
And besides, taking the vaccine also helps the community.

Q4. Is the Covid death rate the only thing we should be concerned about?
(1) There is something called long-Covid. A small number of people (between 1% and 5%) who get really sick with the virus and recover, can end up having symptoms that just won’t go away. Eg. Extreme tiredness, chest pain, brain fog, changes to taste and smell, joint pain, and heaps of other symptoms. Some people have been affected for more than a year and are still affected. The boffins don’t yet know if some long-Covid cases will be permanent.

(2) Further, organ damage and/or an inflammatory syndrome may result. This is from the Mayo Clinic’s website.

(3) There are 17 variants of the Covid virus overseas. It is not yet known what trouble they will cause.

(4) When health services are over-stretched, the overall death rate increases. People suffering immediate traumas such as heart attacks, strokes, accidents and the like, may not get the full care they would otherwise normally receive. And, as a consequence, they are more likely to die.
  (Do you remember when Italy had makeshift hospital beds in the car park? Do you remember the hospitals that sprang up like mushrooms in China? What happens when you get the same over-worked staff trying to care for far more patients than they’re used to? Answer: you get more deaths.)

Q5. Is this virus as bad as the normal influenza we get in Australia? So far, only 1,080 people in Australia have died from the Covid virus in two years, but the influenza virus kills more people than that. Why don’t we make a big fuss of that virus?
We have a vaccine for it. We are prepared. Most of the people who are particularly susceptible to it have themselves vaccinated. In Aged-Care homes the vaccine is routine. Elderly people going to the doctor are offered the vaccine, and usually take it. Most of the people who die from the influenza virus are either unable to take the vaccine for health reasons or they don’t bother getting the vaccine.

Q6. Have the lockdowns been necessary?
Using our ‘100,000’ total case and ‘909 deaths’ figures, we have established that in our well developed nation (with good health care facilities) the virus kills about 1 in 110 unvaccinated people who have contracted the virus. The population in Australia is 25.36 million. That means: if there were no lockdown and no vaccine, and if everyone caught the virus (with the Delta Goodrem strain, that’s likely), then more than 230,000 people would die of the virus in Australia. That’s a lot more than the 4,000+ the influenza virus kills each year.
   And, it means that had there been no lockdown, lots of people would have stayed home anyway. Lots of businesses would have closed anyway. It would have been a de facto lockdown created by the people, not by the government.
  People are grumbling about the lockdowns because the lockdowns are working, to a large degree. Few people are dying, so it’s hard for some people – even for me – to see why the lockdowns are necessary. But they are.
  In short: with no vaccines and no lockdowns, eventually 230,000 people would die and de facto lockdowns would occur anyway. And businesses would fold anyway.
   We now have vaccines. So, are the lockdowns necessary now?
  It’s a juggling act. It depends on heaps of factors that I won’t try to list here. You decide. But bear in mind that when a designated proportion of people are vaccinated, the lockdowns will end.

Q7. Will we soon be back to normal?
It’s unlikely. You may hear the figure 70%, but for the vaccine to be effective for the population, the rate has to be closer to 90% to 95%.
You might also hear the term, ‘No deaths are acceptable.‘ That’s the term politicians use  to avoid looking heartless, but they don’t mean it.  Our society is constantly balancing costs with death. (The 60km speed limit is a balance. The limit cannot be 5kms or nothing would get done. So, some deaths are acceptable.)  When the lockdown is lifted there will be more contagion and more deaths. That’s just how it is. Get vaccinated.

Q8. Why do people who have been double vaccinated need to wear a mask and take other precautions?
Because even though you may be vaccinated, you can still catch the virus. However, you are:
1. far less likely to catch it,
2. far less likely to get very sick if you do catch it,
3. extremely less likely to get long-Covid,
4. and far less likely to pass it on to someone else.
  It’s like a seatbelt, which is not 100% effective, but if you are wearing one in a car accident you will significantly mitigate the damage to yourself and to others. (People not wearing seatbelts tend to injure, and even kill, other passengers.)

Q9. In some places, a big proportion of the people going into hospital with Covid have been vaccinated. What’s going on?
The vaccinations are about 96% effective, so let’s try a thought experiment: let’s pretend for a moment that 100% of a population has been vaccinated. If the vaccine is 96% effective, that means 4% will still get sick if they catch the virus. If a few of those people end up in hospital, a toxic spreader of misinformation would cry, ‘Don’t take the vaccine! Everyone in the hospital with the virus was vaccinated!’
Can you see the fault in that conclusion? Can you see why there will be a growing proportion of vaccinated Covid sufferers going to hospital?
Toxic spreaders of misinformation try to mislead us. And the gullible listen to them.
  (That thought experiment is flawed, but you get the idea. It’s flawed because if 100% of the population were vaccinated, the virus could not spread, so the 4% who are not helped by the vaccine would not catch the virus anyway. That’s why a high vaccination rate is important – the virus struggles to spread when most people are vaccinated, and then it dies.)

Q10. Are you being too hard on the people with alternate views?
If you carefully examine the words they use and how they use statistics, you can see they are not misguided; rather, they are aiming to manipulate. I would give examples but I don’t want to further their message. Consider three hospitals in a modern city:

Hospital A has a death rate of 13%
Hospital B has a death rate of 8%
Hospital C has a death rate of  4%.
Your health is in dire straits, so which hospital would you like to be taken to?

If you chose Hospital A you made the right choice! Most likely, that hospital is the best hospital. Why? Because it accepts the hardest cases. It takes the cases the other hospitals can’t handle.
  Can you see how a toxic manipulator might know that, yet happily create a meme with those figures, and warn people to avoid Hospital A? Their facts might sometimes be right, but the way they interpret those facts is toxic.
  That’s what they do. They distort.
  We have a duty to ourselves to not let them fool us.

Q11. Has this scribe been paid to spread the vaccine message? Or coerced? Is he part of some Illuminati plan?
I wish.

Q12. Why should we close the country with lockdowns to save mostly old farts who will be dying soon anyway?
1. Without a lockdown there would have been lots of over-worked health workers who would have caught the virus and died (Or suffered long-Covid or organ damage). It’s not fair on them. They are not soldiers; they didn’t become doctors and nurses with the aim of risking their lives.

2. With our health services over-stretched, lots of people with other afflictions – of all ages – would die unnecessarily.

3. As explained, the high number of deaths would have kept people at home anyway.  We would have a de facto lockdown.

4. The old farts are harmless. The world is overpopulated, so the ones we want dying are the breeders!


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