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.

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.

Click here to see their 2015 highlights.
Click here to see their 2014 highlights.
Click here to see their 2013 highlights.

Find past posts  on our Archives site.

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The Speakers and Hecklers.

Steve Maxwell, historian and political commentator.

Steve Maxwell

Steve Maxwell, legend.

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.

Helmut Cerncic, metaphysicist.

Helmut 4

Helmut used to be a professional wrestler going by the name of Helmut Rommel. He took on the likes of Killer Karl Kox, Mario Milano and Spiros Orion. And, he once beat Arnold Schwartzenegger in a body building contest.
More importantly, Helmut knows a lot about metaphysics (more than Arnold Schwartzenegger and Killer Karl Kox combined), and he is happy to explain why Isaac Newton was an ignoramus.
His battles with hecklers are fun. He 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?’.

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.

Mark the Grinner.

As a heckler, Mark regularly gets a hearty 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.

Click here to hear why Mark comes to Speakers’ Corner.

His companion, Sue, is less vocal, but she has no trouble speaking her mind when she has something to say.

Mr Bashful, epiphany specialist.

Epiphany specialist Mr Bashful tells us he is the spiritual advisor to the Dalai Lama, though that’s yet to be verified. He calls his listeners his ‘grasshoppers’ and his foes ‘garden gnomes’.
  Mr Bashful’s favourite topic is his evolutionary approach to happiness and resilience, but he ends up talking about almost anything else.  He has presented an Ockham’s Razor talk on ABC Radio National and believes we should burn the Mona Lisa.

One thing he isn’t, is bashful.

To learn more about him and see videos of him in action, click here.

He now has a Facebook page but rarely contributes to it.

John August (Occasional speaker)

John speaks earnestly on a wide range of subjects, and if you’re in Sydney you can listen to his radio program 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.


Uncle Pete (heckler and occasional speaker)

Peter - best

During the week Uncle Pete teaches students, and if he teaches them with the same verve he has for Speakers’ Corner, they are lucky students indeed. Click here for a few highlights. For more videos of Uncle Pete, go to the archives site.

Tony, atheist.

New-Zealand born Tony used to be a speaker but now he heckles the other speakers.  In this video  Tony expresses a few of his well considered opinions. For more videos of Tony click here.

Max (Quiet listener)

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

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.

Peter the Younger


The well-read Peter knows an awful lot about many subjects, and in particular: geo-politics and U.S. shenanigans.  Click here to hear why Pete comes to Speakers’ Corner.


Howard is always polite and reasonable, yet despite that he fits in well at Speakers’ Corner. His contributions are appreciated by all. Click here to hear why he comes to Speakers’ Corner.

Ben the Whisperer

Although Ben is softly spoken, when he does speak, people listen. Click here to hear why he likes Speakers’ Corner.


Click here to hear why Kieron likes Speakers’ Corner.


Jean 2

Jean tries so hard to be feisty, but she’s just a big softie. Click here to hear why she comes to Speakers’ Corner.
Her husband Albert is below. Both of them are excellent value at Speakers’ Corner.


Albert 3

Albert may be 94, but he is as alert as anyone, and fit. When he helps Mr B unload the chairs he carries six at a time.
Albert wrote an absorbing book titled, ‘Civilisation Hijacked’. It explains how good men are persuaded to do bad things.

If  you would like to buy a copy ($20) email Albert:
Albert is the husband of Jean.


News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 16th June

In News for Speakers' Corner on June 17, 2019 at 11:53 am

“Stories are data with a soul.”
Brené Brown

1. Although it rained heavily for most of the morning, not one drop of water fell in the afternoon. That allowed the three speakers who turned up: the forthright Mr B, the earnest Ray, and the indignant Helmut , to hold just one meeting together for the first hour or so. It was a vibrant meeting and many people contributed, including regulars Ben the Whisperer and Uncle Pete.

Then Mr B and Helmut held their own successful meetings. At 5.20pm they packed up and went home.

It was a good day.

The speakers talked about many things, but because Ray was present, the topic of religion received a fair going over. Your fairminded scribe presents two memes representing both sides of the discussion.

The top one is from the postsecret website.

2. One topic was a fun one involving tricks of infinity.

– Thompson’s Lamp: A one-minute experiment. Switch it on. After 30 seconds switch it off. After 15 seconds switch it on. After 7.5 seconds switch it off. And so on. When the minute has elapsed, will the lamp be on or off?

– A building has an infinite number of storeys above it. If each storey is half the height of the one directly below it, the structure can only be two storeys high. But how can it have a roof?

– Adolf Grunbaum’s Pi machine will print the entire number Pi on one line of a page. How? Each integer is printed in half the time it takes to print the preceding one, and is half the width of the one before it.
Mr Bashful intends to commission Mirko into making a working model.

– For eternity, Bill is in a red room and Ann is in a blue room. Once a year, just for a day, they swap rooms before returning to their own room. Question: who spends more time in the red room?
(Answer: they both spend the same amount of time in the red room.)

– Why is 0.999 . . .   the same as 1?
Answer: 1/3 = 0.333 . . .     3 X 0.333 . . . = 0.999 . . .    3 X 1/3 = one. Therefore, 0.999 . . . = 1.

Uncle Pete generously offered to tutor Mr B on the nature of infinity. What next?! Will Mirko be offering to teach basic arithmetic to Warren Buffett? Will Mr B be schooling Gene Simmons on how to meet women?

3. This week’s creature in our Unusual Creature Series is the Sarcastic fringehead, a fish found in the Pacific Ocean but not on dinner plates. This particular specimen has made sarcastic comments about our Facebook page.




News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 9th June

In News for Speakers' Corner on June 10, 2019 at 10:28 am

‘Just like a bear is helpless but to behave like a bear, a murderer is helpless but to behave like a murderer. I have no doubt that if we changed variables in these people’s past (their childhood, their influences, their parents, the media the were exposed to, or even their DNA) they would be radically different people, perhaps even the best among us. Conversely, if you were to alter variables in your own past, you could be become indistinguishable from those you deplore the most. In some sense, everyone else is an alternate version of you. If you had the experiences and the biology of another, you would literally be them.’
Sashin, in his blog, Sashinexists

1. For a few weeks we have the restaurant with us while renovations are being made. That, and big crowds, gave the place an almost carnival atmosphere today.

Ray took this photo last Monday. Thanks, Ray.

2. Mr B was critical of the ABC’s response to the raid on them by the Australian Federal Police. He pointed out that their current affairs programs (The Drum and Insiders, so far) had not one person on their panels taking a contrary view. And anyway, if the ABC wants to disagree with the AFP’s actions they can issue a press statement like everyone else. To use their flagship programs to unabashedly spruik their case is a strong conflict of interest.

Mr B said that media organisations do what they can to get the viewer’s eyeballs. Weasil-like, they hide their nefarious practices under the banner of Freedom of Speech. Under that banner they get away with photoshopping lies, cruel hounding and breaches of privacy from the paparazzi, unnecessary snapshots not in the public interest (remember Kevin Rudd eating his earwax?), publishing leaked private correspondence that is no one’s business but the sender’s and the recipient’s (eg. Israel Folau), and their never-ending search for the ‘gotcha’ moment that has eradicated any chance of getting straight talk from our politicians.

The media are a disgrace. For a long time they have repeatedly violated the trust we give them and the ethics expected of them, and now they stand like innocent souls, indignant that they could be questioned.

Ho hum.

That’s Mr B’s take on the matter, anyway. Your dear scribe thinks Mr B is wrong, because what the ABC tells me indicates he’s wrong.

3. Question: do you win your point when you purposly yell so loudly the other person can’t speak?

Uncle Pete . . . Belligerent Pete was up to his old tricks again.

4. Passer-by Mikayla got up onto the Ladder of Knowledge and spoke about Art and its expression. She held the crowd until it was dusk and time to pack up. Even then she kept gabbing with a couple of listeners. Good work, Mikayla!


5. Other topics discussed:
– Steve Maxwell explored the claim that the Angus Taylor (now Energy Minister) set up an account in the tax haven Caymans for an $80m water buyback.

– Ray spoke directly acrosss from the new restaurant’s seated patrons. Therefore, not only did those lucky souls get to consume their food and drink, they also had the opportunity to learn about God’s boundless and merciful love, and the hell awaiting them if they don’t accept it.

– We lose our appetite when we are sick. Why can’t the science boffins understand what’s going on in that instance, and replicate that effect with a pill, to help people lose weight?

– One passer-by had a lot to say, but her laryngitis had other plans. It was very funny. Her sk8ter boi companion answered Mr B’s question when no one else could. For that he deserves a medal. Unfortunately, Sk8ter boi will  have to forge that medal himself, but he can rest assured that it is well deserved.
What was the question only Sk8ter boi could answer to Mr B’s satisfaction? “Why does no drug addicted thief return the money they stole after they are free of their addiction?” (Sk8ter boi answered the question by supplying one (close enough) example in which it did happen.)

– The mindfulness gurus suggest we live in the present. “But should we?”, asked Mr B. “Why is it wrong to lose ourselves reminiscing about the past and pondering the future, and thinking about ideas, instead of being in the present and focusing on what’s around us?”, Mr B wanted to know. “If we’re surrounded by boring old grass and trees, we’re stuffed. There is only so much ‘That is a leaf; gosh, look at its structure‘ we can take.”
Mr B said he’d much rather listen to the radio while he’s washing the dishes than waste his time observing the soapy water sloshing about his hands.
Sometimes he is not quite with it, that Mr B.

6. In our Unusual Critter Series we feature the East Asian raccoon dog, which is not a raccoon. This particular specimen says our Facebook page is subversive. It’s about time someone noticed.



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