Soapbox Speakers

Speakers’ Corner news for Sunday, 22nd November

In The News on November 22, 2015 at 8:30 pm

1. Who knows Peter Cuffe?  Peter is a guy in his 50s. He is homeless, well educated, well-spoken, and he used to be a frequent visitor to Speakers’ Corner. Oh, and he is now incredibly rich. A private investigator is trying to find Peter to inform him that his father has died and left him a considerable fortune.

This scribe thought stuff like this was for movie scripts, but this is real. If you know anything about Peter’s whereabouts please phone Steve Maxwell: 0404009294.

2. Today there was a police helicopter hovering over Speakers’ Corner, making it difficult for the speakers to be heard. Presumably they found our gentle Domain more interesting than the ‘Reclaim Australia’ rally in Martin Place nearby.

Thankfully, there were no unpleasant incidents with the helicopter, like the time when the Irish helicopter pilot crashed after switching the fan off.

3. A question was asked about eternal life. The question couldn’t be answered because of the helicopter noise. This scribe hopes the picture below helps the man who asked.

Living forever

4. ‘Success’ was also a topic discussed: (Click to enlarge)

Success 1

As well:

planet doesn't need

5. The Middle East was discussed at length as well. Coincidentally, this scribe was emailed this article tonight. I hope it helps. For that matter, I hope it’s accurate. The author is unknown.

A briefing document on Syria……

President Assad (who is bad) is a nasty guy who got so nasty his people rebelled and the Rebels (who are good) started winning.

But then some of the rebels turned a bit nasty and are now called Islamic State (who are definitely bad) and some continued to support democracy (who are still good).

So the Americans (who are good) started bombing Islamic State (who are bad) and giving arms to the Syrian Rebels (who are good) so they could fight Assad (who is still bad) which was good.

By the way, there is a breakaway state in the north run by the Kurds who want to fight IS (which is a good thing) but the Turkish authorities think they are bad, so we have to say they are bad whilst secretly thinking they’re good and giving them guns to fight IS (which is good) but that is another matter.

Getting back to Syria. President Putin (bad, as he invaded Crimea and the Ukraine and killed lots of folks including that nice Russian man in London with polonium) has decided to back Assad (who is still bad) by attacking IS (who are also bad) which is sort of a good thing?

But Putin (still bad) thinks the Syrian Rebels (who are good) are also bad, and so he bombs them too, much to the annoyance of the Americans (who are good) who are busy backing and arming the rebels (who are also good).

Now Iran (who used to be bad, but now they have agreed not to build any nuclear weapons and bomb Israel are now good) are going to provide ground troops to support Assad (still bad) as are the Russians (bad) who now have ground troops and aircraft in Syria.
So a Coalition of Assad (still bad) Putin (extra bad) and the Iranians (good, but in a bad sort of way) are going to attack IS (who are bad) which is a good thing, but also the Syrian Rebels (who are good) which is bad.

Now the British (obviously good, except Corbyn who is probably bad) and the Americans (also good) cannot attack Assad (still bad) for fear of upsetting Putin (bad) and Iran (good / bad) and now they have to accept that Assad might not be that bad after all compared to IS (who are super bad).

So Assad (bad) is now probably good, being better than IS (no real choice there) and since Putin and Iran are also fighting IS that may now make them good. America (still good) will find it hard to arm a group of rebels being attacked by the Russians for fear of upsetting Mr Putin (now good) and that mad ayatollah in Iran (also good) and so they may be forced to say that the Rebels are now bad, or at the very least abandon them to their fate. This will lead most of them to flee to Turkey and on to Europe or join IS (still the only constantly bad group).

To Sunni Muslims, an attack by Shia Muslims (Assad and Iran) backed by Russians will be seen as something of a Holy War, and the ranks of IS will now be seen by the Sunnis as the only Jihadis fighting in the Holy War and hence many Muslims will now see IS as good (doh!).

Sunni Muslims will also see the lack of action by Britain and America in support of their Sunni rebel brothers as something of a betrayal (might have a point) and hence we will be seen as bad.

So now we have America (now bad) and Britain (also bad) providing limited support to Sunni Rebels (bad) many of whom are looking to IS (good / bad) for support against Assad (now good) who, along with Iran (also good) and Putin (also, now, unbelievably, good ) are attempting to retake the country Assad used to run before all this started?

I hope that this clears it all up for you.

6. For past posts, go to the archives.

Steve Maxwell’s Passing Parade.

FRANK BARNES, by Steve Maxwell.
Frank Barnes was a runaway child from the country. His father, a religious man, proved to have a hypocritical nature. When Frank’s father burnt down his own property for the insurance money, Frank ran away to Sydney, supporting himself by doing odd jobs for the prostitutes of the inner city who took him in.

He later worked on the waterfront. Unlike many street kids he did not turn to crime but educated himself through the Workers’ Education Association, libraries, and by listening to the speakers in the Domain.

Frank Barnes married and lived in Balmain, which was then a working class suburb of Sydney.

He spoke at the Domain regularly to raise money for the first Police Boys’ Club in Balmain. Every Sunday he lectured from his platform at Speakers Corner. His cause soon became a Rationalist one, against superstition. He would have a bag of bones (relics) and a baptismal basin of holy water (“ordinary water with hell boiled out of it”). There were times when he would dress up as a bishop, with a string of frankfurters around his neck to represent rosary beads. He was often arrested for blasphemy.

Frank quickly became a legend on the Domain. He was described as “short in stature, with an impish face and mischievous look ”. He was known to be the best speaker at Speakers’ Corner; speaking forcefully and with eloquence.

Frank was a strong supporter of the New York magazine “Truth Seeker” which he sold on the Domain. His political ideas reflected a left-wing world view. He looked forward to a world without the humbug of religious sentimentality hanging around the necks of the people.

His platform was situated towards St. Mary’s Catholic Cathedral, at the end of the Domain. He had a clear view of St. Mary’s many lighting conductors. He would point to the TNG building across the road where there were no lighting conductors and say in a loud voice that there was proof the Catholics where indeed the target of God’s wrath!

Running jokes about Noah’s Ark and St Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, prompted the ‘Catholic Action’ group to lobby the police to stop his blasphemy. In spite of numerous arrests and warnings by police, he continued and never gave up.

He made fun of all churches, including the Salvation Army. The Salvos in revenge would play a brass band late into Sunday night in front of his flat in Balmain. Frank, who had a hard day’s work waiting for him the next day, was at his wits end. Until he hit upon a solution! Using a pair of pliers, he heated a few pennies on the gas stove, and threw the pennies out the window to the Salvos in the street. The Salvation Army band stopped playing in front of his flat.

He continued speaking for nearly forty years until his health gave way in the 1960’s. His battle with diabetes got the better of him and he was hospitalised. He died in 1967.

For more episodes of Steve Maxwell’s Passing Parade click here. 

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.



Max is one of the gentler regular visitors. Says little, but when he does speak it’s sensible. A pleasant change for Speakers’ Corner. Click here to discover why he visits Speakers’ Corner.

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 2, 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.


Norm 5

Norm invited questions from the audience and proceeded to ignore them. He did a good job. Click here.



Nikola dropped by and spoke with feeling, compassion and insight. Click here.



Deluxe is homeless by choice. He believes there are plenty of facilities to look after the homeless. The real problem is the decisions people make. Click here.

Deluxe also explains why the minimum wage should not be lowered. His ideas would also apply to the proposed reduction of penalty rates. Click here.



This young fellow gave an exciting recitation of a Jeanne Willis poem. We only filmed the last of it, unfortunately. Click here.


Donny Dodd

Aboriginal ex-speaker Donny returned to Speakers’ Corner. He was asked if Adam Goodes’ war dance was legitimate. Click here.


Catriona 1

This remarkable woman is raising her kids to respect our indigenous people and become helpful, responsible and compassionate human beings. All three children run a charity. Click here for the video.
Indigo: ‘Indigo Express
Saxon: ‘Kids in Philanthropy
Hunter: ‘Foundation for Young Australians



Dr Karen has studied the coal and gas industry for thirty years, and she has a warning for us all. Click here.



This fellow is gravely concerned about the big influx of immigrants into Europe. Click here.


Phil 2

Phil turned up with a few mates and debated Norm on the subject of capital punishment. Click here.


Dave Allen

Dave talks about the doubling of our trillion dollar debt. Click here to hear him speak.


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.


Philip had a good word to say about refugees. Click here.
Here is his link to ‘Music for Refugees‘.



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.

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