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.

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’.
  Among other things, Mr Bashful talks about New Age scams,  resilience and happiness myths, and why we should burn the Mona Lisa. He has presented an Ockham’s Razor talk on the ABC’s Radio National. He also created the fun site with quizzes to help people learn how to look after a dog.

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 but now he heckles the other speakers. He is a fervent atheist scathing of the Catholic Church, and 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.

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.

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 93, 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.


Vale Arthur Knight.

In News for Speakers' Corner on September 26, 2018 at 12:05 pm

Dear Arthur Knight has died peacefully at the age of 95.

We can divide people into two groups: there are the extroverts and the introverts, there are the cruel and the kind, there are those who barrack for Collingwood and those who don’t, . . .  and there are those who care, and those who don’t care.

Arthur Knight cared. He had strong views and at Speakers’ Corner he fervently expressed them. That made him interesting and his visits to Speakers’ Corner, colourful. He will be missed.

Thank you, Arthur, for keeping us “informed” and entertained. You did well.

And thank you, Jacquie, for regularly bringing your father along to Speakers’ Corner. Much appreciated.

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 23rd September

In News for Speakers' Corner on September 24, 2018 at 12:07 pm

“I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.” 
Mary Oliver, poet.

1. Lovely in the sun; a refrigerator in the shade. A good day overall with a steady crowd and numerous speakers.

It was nice to see Angela arrive late in the day. Angela is a past speaker, and today she brought her wheelchair with her. (Presumably her broom is out of order.)

Today’s speakers were Helmut, Tommy, Steve, Ray, Mirko, Mark the Grinner and Mr B. We hope Maria joins us soon. The last time this scribe spoke to Maria she had bronchitis and sounded like Death itself.

Mr B began with two stories about a king and his subjects. Then he changed the topic, showing us a drawing he figured was scary. What do you think? Do you think it’s scary?

Each rectangle represents a week of your life, assuming you live to the age of ninety.

2. Ray sent this to your young and spritely scribe. It made me smile.

3. Mr B gave us a new fourth answer to the question ‘What is the Meaning of Life’ and it turned out to be a metaphor using the cheesecake he brought with him and shared.

Regarding the cheesecake, Mr B, next time make it firmer and less crummy.

Later on he gave versions Number 1 and Number 2 for the Meaning of Life, but this time he and his grasshopper worked it out together.

Version Number 3 had the day off.

Here’s yet another version:

4. The cheesecake was handy because coincidentally, it was also Mark the Grinner’s birthday. For some reason Mr B kept calling him Mr Heinz. Why? We don’t know.

Mr Heinz’s first topic was about how unimpressed he is with the warnings television stations give viewers before the program begins. He had a few tart things to say about that, and about the people who require them.

P.S. This scribe requires them.

5. While trying to make a point, Tommy on the Ladder of Knowledge mentioned that 2 + 2 will always equal 4. Naturally, Mr B put up his hand to kindly explain why Tommy was wrong. This scribe would like to say that Tommy was suitably impressed with Mr B’s explanation, but that would be an outright lie.

6. Last week Mr B and a deeply religious man talked about Islam. This week the man turned up again and somehow the discussion resumed, with the origin of the universe being the focal point. They got nowhere, of course. But here again are two memes representiing both sides of the divide.


7. Someone called Mr B a guru. Mind you, it was Tommy. Tommy is not always as reverential as he bloody-well should be. The fact is, Mr B is indeed a guru. He completed this course late last year.

8. A man in the audience informed Mr B that there is no such thing as a stupid question. Mr B said the man should come to Speakers’ Corner more often; he’ll hear hundreds of them. Besides, if there were no such thing as a stupid question, what sort of questions would stupid people ask?

9. Tommy asked Mr B, “Why shouldn’t we try to succeed?” Mr B promptly told him. Mr B also explained why we shouldn’t try to reach our full potential.

10. Tommy excelled as a speaker again today because he said provocative things and said them well. One complaint he made was about the people who claim they can’t shape their future because of what happened to them in the past. He received plenty of flak for that. But does he have a point?

11. In our Unusual Creature Series, our Facebook page has never before featured the Central and South American Purple harlequin toad, and it never will again.




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