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.

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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.

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’.
  Among other things, Mr Bashful talks about New Age scams,  happiness myths, and why we should burn the Mona Lisa. He has presented an Ockham’s Razor talk on Radio National.
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.

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 on the third Sunday of every month, 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 lad.


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 the Sunday passers-by, 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 and is a fervent atheist 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.
Tony now heckles the other speakers.

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.

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.

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.

Mark the Grinner (occasional speaker)


Mark regularly gets a hearty laugh from the crowd with his meticulously crafted questions. Plus, his serious comments are  insightful. His companion, Sue, is less vocal, but she has no trouble speaking her mind when she has something to say. Click here to hear why Mark 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.

Philip Feinstein

Philip occasionally speaks and is the founder of Music For Refugees. He also runs the Smokenders program, to help people give up smoking.


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 92, 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 15th July.

In News for Speakers' Corner on July 16, 2018 at 9:18 am

“Tolerance is the only real test of civilizations.” 
Arthur Helps.

1. It’s not every day you turn 70, but today that happened to Uncle Pete. However, dear reader, he is not slowing down. He was vociferous as ever, and he didn’t hold back when a young woman bravely stood on The Ladder of Knowledge and spoke her mind. He “et her know clearly that he didn’t agree with what she was saying.

As it happened, that young woman did a great job, and her name is Maggie. Maggie spoke about attitudes and belief systems. She is writing her PhD on the subject and she wasn’t just interesting, she was inspiring. Yes, admittedly, Uncle Pete did disagree with something she said, but then, Uncle Pete sometimes disagrees with Mirko, so we can’t take him too seriously.

Here is Maggie up on the Ladder of Knowledge.

2. Mr B admitted that when he hears of women being raped, and reads about the high rate of domestic violence, he feels a little guilty about being male, even though logic tells him he shouldn’t feel that way.

If he sometimes feels that way, how many other men feel that way?

And why in almost every television situation comedy is the man of the house a boofhead? What message is that sending, and to whom?

Women are quite rightly speaking up about being harassed, but are men beginning to feel defensive? If so, can that partly explain the problems we are having when both men and women feel they aren’t being heard?

3. Other subjects discussed:
– Henry Dudeney’s Wheel Paradox.

– Last week, Mr B presented to his grasshoppers the infinite monkey theorem, and this week Uncle Pete responded. Laurence, our very own hermit crab, gave him a hard time.

– On the Ladder of Knowledge Mirko did a fine job of consistently contradicting himself. He does it purposely, of course, because he likes to play with our heads.

– Should women take responsibility for how vulnerable they make themselves to rape? Or should they insist on being able to do what they want, and demand that men act with honour?

– ‘The Last Leaf’ by O Henry. With a word of advice at the end.

– The Americans have been complaining that the Russians have been interfering with their elections for president. Mr B idly wondered if the Americans have ever interfered with the elections and governments of other nations. The response he received was unequivocal.

– Collective Consciousness. Usually it’s Albert that brings this topic up, but this time Mr B touched on it. With the help of his grasshoppers he listed the professions that were necessary in order to bring the 13 Thai boys from the caves. The point being: it was a joint effort of many professions, and as a species we really can work together when we choose to.

– Yesterday it was Wuthering Heights Day. In Sydney Park more than 300 participants dressed up as Kate Bush and sang the song. Mr B enjoyed the spectacle so much he felt the need to tell us all about it.

4. In our Unusual Animal Series we have a Mishmi Takin (a goat-antelope found in the Himalayas). This particular Mishmi Takin doesn’t know we have a Facebook page.




News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 8th July.

In News for Speakers' Corner on July 9, 2018 at 9:57 am

“When the eagles are silent the parrots begin to jabber.” 
Winston Churchill.

1. Last week this scribe suggested we ban dissent at Speakers’ Corner after poor Mr B had to endure tons of it. Mr B must have thought it was a good idea, because today he instituted the ban. He was tired of people disagreeing with him, so he banned dissent.

One grasshopper took the advice on board and agreed with that idea, fine fellow. (Though was that a smirk?) As for the rest of Mr B’s grasshoppers and garden gnomes, no one took any notice of the ban. For the rest of the day there was perpetual dissent. Sigh.

Your thoughtful scribe suggests that you share this meme on social media to ensure everyone is informed of the ban.

2. The Infinite Monkey Theorem. Do you remember the old chestnut about the monkey randomly tapping on a typewriter? That if you gave it an infinite amount of time it would eventually type a work of Shakespeare’s? Mr B suggested that would happen, given that a finite task must be completed when there is infinite time in which to perform it. “But if that is the reason”, he continued, “that would suggest two plays were possible, because that’s also a finite task. And so on. A whole library, even! Provided the number of books was finite, then the task would eventually be completed because there is infinite time in which to do it. Finite task with infinite time. True or false?”

As you would expect, Mr B’s brain-dead garden gnomes had trouble grappling with the idea. “The universe couldn’t exist for that long,” said one. “Waddaya mean by ‘time’?” asked another. Holy moly.

One thing is obvious: the monkey would have a better chance of writing a decent play than any of the hecklers.

Uncle Pete promises that next week he will explain why the monkey cannot complete the finite task in infinite time. Oh dear.

3. Do Androids dream of electric sheep? Today Mr B answered that question, first posed by writer Philip K Dick. However, Mr B “forgot” to acknowledge that he “borrowed” the answer from a radio play called ‘Ruby The Galactic Gumshoe‘.

4. Other topics discussed:
– Should we be judged on what we have done in our life, or on the person we have become?

– Idiot judges, who give an offender more time in jail because they ‘want to send a message’. And other idiot judges who say stupid things like, ‘The community should be ashamed.’

– Mr B made two requests:
(i) would the three idiot musketeers (the two Peters and Helmut) please develop some insight, so that they become aware of the forces behind their stupid bloody infuriating antics.
(ii) Would Helmut please speak elsewhere and take the two remaining idiot musketeers with him? And take with him Ben the Whisperer and any other dissastisfied garden gnome who feels compelled to interrupt poor Mr B?
(I don’t fancy his chances that they’ll comply with his request.)

– Mirko excelled himself today by being even more “unorthodox” than usual. If you have heard MIrko speak then you will realise that’s quite a feat.

– Ray, Steve and Helmut spoke as well, but this scribe doesn’t know what they said because he was too absorbed in what Mr B was saying.

– The story of the lemon tree.

5. These giant isopods feature in our unusual creature series. The one on the left recently unsubscribed from our Facebook page for reasons unclear. If you’re not a subscriber you can take its place.



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