Soapbox Speakers

Speakers’ Corner news for Sunday, 17th May.

In The News From Speakers' Corner. on May 16, 2015 at 11:52 pm

1. The Debate went well! Steve Maxwell acted as Chair, and the two lads, Peter the Heckler and Helmut the Heckled, discussed the merit of Sir Isaac Newton’s contribution to science. Helmut looked fantastic in his flash shirt, tie and suit. He looked like a million dollars, as you can see in the photo.

Helmut 1

Peter the Heckler also looked like a million dollars, though in small change.

It is not clear who won the debate, but it was so popular the two men will debate again next meeting. The topic: God is Energy.

2. The battle of the geriatrics, Al versus Al!
Albert is 90 but darts about the place like a blue-arsed fly. He helps carry the 25 chairs from Mr B’s car, carrying six at a time. He is stronger and fitter than most teenagers, and for sixty-five years has been happily married to his gorgeous wife, Jean. Albert is a meat eater.

Alfred is 92. He is a self-confessed ladies’ man who still actively propositions female passers-by. (To his credit, he retracts his invitations when he discovers the woman’s husband standing next to her. You can’t get fairer than that.) Alfred has never been sick, nor been to a doctor (he says), and has for most of his life been a vegetarian.

In the upcoming meeting this Sunday at Speakers’ Corner we will persuade the two men to settle an age-old question: Should humans eat meat or be vegetarian?  We already have a debate planned for that day, so the two men can determine who is right with an arm wrestle.

If you hear the sound of a twig snapping . . .

3. For your interest, Alfred the vegetarian believes that it is a terrible thing that tigers and lions eat zebras. (We will ignore the fact that there are no tigers in Africa.) Alfred thinks it’s cruel. When asked what he would prefer: lions eating zebras, or lions starving to death, he answered, ‘The lions should starve. It’s cruel to eat zebras.’  Go figure.
Peter the Heckler asked Alfred if lions should be expected to eat salad. Your scribe doesn’t know how Alfred responded, but it’s pretty obvious that no one should have to eat salad.

4. Speaking of vegetarians . . .

Don't eat veges

5. There were a few questions about capitalism. This picture provides an answer.


Here is one of Steve Maxwell’s chapters from his Passing Parade:

Voiceless Memorial by Steve Maxwell.

For many years Sydney’s Speakers’ Corner in the Domain had no memorial to acknowledge the historical and contemporary importance of the area as a site of public oratory.   That all changed in the year 2000.

To celebrate a centenary of federation, The Federal and State governments funded Sydney Sculpture Walk, which was a major City of Sydney Council initiative consisting of five artworks.  
One of those artworks was created by Debra Phillips, a well known Sydney sculptor and art teacher. Her work was called Viva Voce, and it was placed in the middle of the Domain – an area where public speakers once gathered.  Her installation consists of a red stepladder (modelled on Charlie King’s red ladder) and five marble-clad soapboxes arranged amongst the trees.

Viva Voca was opened by Sydney’s Lord Mayor, Clover Moore.
 If my memory serves me correctly, “The Wizard ” of  New Zealand (Ian Channell, formerly a popular university lecturer and Domain soapboxer) cursed the Nazi party from the Viva Voce on the same day it was opened. Apparently the leader of the Nazi party had proclaimed himself Wizard of Australia. Ian hated the Nazis and said there was room for only one Wizard. He thereupon cursed the leader of the Nazis to thenceforth utter nothing but nonsense, which Ian believed the Nazis already did.

The area where Viva Voce stands was a natural gathering place for speakers, but due to a long drought, garden water sprinklers were automatically turned on every afternoon at 2 pm. The speakers found a place closer to the Art Gallery where the water sprinklers could not reach them.   

Then on Sunday 20th March 2011, another tribute to the soapboxers was opened in the Domain, directly opposite the Art Gallery: the Speaker’ Corner Memorial. It was opened by Dr Tim Entwisle, Director of the Botanical Gardens. The memorial is a large platform with a photographic plaque depicting Anne Duffy-Lindsay, a popular socialist speaker. It celebrates over 130 years of impassioned free speech and public debate in the Sydney Domain. The speakers on the day were the Rev. Bill Crews, Jack Mundey and myself. It was a wet day but, undaunted by the rain, the regular Domain speakers and hecklers were on hand. 

The Memorial is used by the speakers on Sunday afternoon. 

For more stories about the history of Speakers’ Corners around the world, check out ‘Steve Maxwell’s Passing Parade‘.

The speakers and hecklers!

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.

Some people say the speakers at Speakers’ Corner are a little eccentric. There might be a skerrick of merit in that point of view. Whatever the case, they’re an entertaining bunch.
Click here to see their 2014 highlights.
Click here to see their 2013 highlights.

The Speakers and Hecklers.

Steve Maxwell, historian and political commentator.

Steve Maxwell In various personas, but always engaging, Steve talks about 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.

Helmut Cerncic, metaphysicist.

Helmut 4

Helmut once beat Arnold Schwartzenegger in a body building contest. He knows a lot about metaphysics, (more than Arnold Schwartzenegger), and is happy to explain why Isaac Newton was an ignoramus. But his battles with hecklers are fun. Here are some highlights. For more videos of Helmut, go to the archives site and to his own site, ‘Is Science the New Religion?’.

Peter, Commentator.

Peter - best

During the week Peter teaches students, and if he teaches them with the same verve he has for the Sunday passers-by, they are lucky students indeed. Click here for a few highlights. For more videos of Peter, go to the archives site.

Mirko Terzic, 21st Century inventor.


Mirko has created a phonetic alphabet to be used world-wide, and it’s better than Esperento. He has solved the problem of perpetual motion and has diagrams explaining how to get free unlimited energy from hydropower. Mirko knows how to think outside the square. Here are a few highlights of Mirko. For more videos of Mirko go to the archives site.

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.

Mr Bashful, epiphany specialist.

Mr B 2

Mr Bashful, the epiphany specialist.

Mr Bashful calls his listeners his ‘grasshoppers’. (“You have much to learn, Grasshopper.”) Among other things, Mr Bashful talks about New Age scams,  happiness myths, and why we should burn the Mona Lisa. One thing he isn’t, is bashful.

Tony, atheist. (Speaker and  heckler)

Tony New-Zealander Tony is a fervent atheist and scathing of the Catholic Church. When he is not berating Christianity he is either sinking the boot into other religions, or supporting Palestine. In this video Tony expresses a few of his well considered opinions. For more videos of Tony click here.

Scott, heretic. (Occasional speaker)


Scott is a young man adept at independent thinking. Calm, thoughtful and considered, Scott takes commonly held views and turns them upside down – not for the sake of it, but because he seeks the truth.  Here are a few examples. For more videos of Scott go to the archives site.

Mitch: “All is consciousness” (Occasional speaker)

Mitch 2

Mitch claims everything is consciousness – even rocks and atoms. Mitch’s theory answers questions posed by Eastern religions, it resolves divine paradoxes, it addresses the mind/body problem and the free will problem, and it answers other philosophical dead-ends. Even acknowledging that everything is consciousness is a step towards Buddhist enlightenment, says Mitch, because we experience a different reality. For a glimpse of his theory click here. For a more detailed explanation go to the archives site.

 Jovo (occasional speaker)


 Jovo is a charismatic man, which may explain why he is also known as ‘Rasputin’ and ‘The Wild Man of Serbia’. Throughout the world he is envied by monks, yogis and gurus for his ability to tap into a stream of consciousness and verbalise it. 


Heckler highlights – 2013

Is it any wonder the speakers are a touch testy sometimes, with hecklers like these guys? Click here to see the heckler highlights for 2013.

Andrew, the exhibitionist. (Heckler.)

If you have any questions to ask of a flasher, Andrew is the guy to ask.

If you have any questions to ask of a flasher, Andrew is the guy to ask.

 Andrew used to be a speaker – he used to be the only flasher in the world prepared to stand up and talk about flashing, and support it. There are four entertaining videos of Andrew speaking.  Here is just one. For more videos of Andrew, go to the archives site. His award winning book about exhibitionism (flashing) is available on Amazon.

Arthur (Heckler)

 Arthur 1

Arthur is not what you call the shy type, and is generous with his opinion. I caught him searching for disciples.

David (heckler).

David is dead against any view supporting the existence of ghosts, telepathy, UFO’s, psychics, and any other new-age rubbish you might try to foist upon him, but when it comes to religion he is fervently agnostic. He leaves no stone unturned in his search for the truth.

John (Placid heckler.)

John is always gentle when debating his views.

John is always gentle when debating his views.

Philosopher, skeptic, atheist, and all around good guy, John makes his way to Speakers’ Corner just often enough to get a mention here.

Jack (Quiet observer)


“The old grey owl sat on an oak. The more he heard, the less he spoke. The less he spoke, the more he heard. Now, wasn’t he a wise old bird?”

Click here to hear a few words from Jack.

Kevin (visitor)

Kevin Kevin speaks out against forced medication with psychotropic drugs.



This column is for you, the passer-by!

In For the passers-by. on March 8, 2015 at 11:50 pm

At Speakers’ Corner all passers-by are invited to step up onto The Ladder of Knowledge and speak, and become a part of Speaker Corner history. The brave souls who take the opportunity are a diverse lot, and enrich Speakers’ Corner considerably. 

How about you? Will you stand on The Ladder of Knowledge and tell us what you think?

Click here to see the 2014 passers-by and heckler highlights and full videos.
Click here to see the 2013 passers-by highlights and full videos.
Click here to see the 2013 heckler highlights.
Click here to see the 2012 passers-by highlights and full videos.

2015 passers-by.


Taylor 1

Taylor didn’t like the way the atheists and the believers were treating each other, and he had the courage to stand up and say so. Click here.



On his website Doug lists 22 incidents in which we were all nearly annihilated in nuclear war. Here are a few words on the subject. For more information try his website:


Albert 2

Albert gives an example of why he doesn’t like the way some cultures impinge on others. He received an aggressive response for his trouble. Click here.
Albert has written a book, Civilisation Hijacked.



In normal circumstances some people have no trouble expressing their views, but when you point a camera at them . . . .   Poor Zoe.



Zoe’s friend, Delia, had the same awkward trouble finding something to speak about. Here is her effort.



Albert Morris has written a book, Civilisation Hijacked, in which he addresses questions like ‘Why do good people do bad things?‘  Click here to hear him speak.

Albert spoke twice. In this video he speaks about collective consciousness.



Annette lets her feelings about war be known. Click here.


Doug reminds us that at any moment we could all experience total annihilation in a nuclear war. He has a website,



It’s good to see that people still care about Australian politics. Click here to discover what Brian says.



This perceptive man praised highly the humble Mr B.



Jacob dropped by to talk about transsexuality.  Click here.



Ingrid tried to talk about women’s rights, but had to suffer an interminable question from Andrew Toth. Nevertheless, she did manage to make some sense. Click here.


Victoria 1

Lawyer Victoria talks about the difficulty of maintaining a work/life balance. Click here.


Norm 1

Two weeks earlier Norm had heckled a speaker, saying that universities were wasting money. Today he happened to be speaking on The Ladder of Knowledge and he was asked about that claim. Click here for his response.

%d bloggers like this: