Its worse than you think. There is some serious astroturfing going on, and you don’t need to look further than the usual suspects, (more on that later)
Here’s the link to make yourself heard, the letters are prepared. Â All you have to do is sent them off. This is about our survival folks, please get behind this!
Freedom of speech in Australia is under attack.
Andrew Bolt was hauled before the courts because articles he wrote “offended” a group of people. Julia Gillard said that a critical media company she doesn’t like has “questions to answer” and set up a media inquiry to try to force them to give those answers.1Â And Bob Brown wants governments to “licence” journalists.2
Alarmingly, Reporters Without Borders dropped Australia from 18th to 30th in the world for freedom of the press in 2011.
Section 18C of theÂ Racial Discrimination ActÂ goes to the heart of this new anti-free speech climate.
This law says you cannot say anything which is “reasonably likely … to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people” because of their “race, colour or national or ethnic origin”.Â [Read the full text of 18C]
It is this section of the legislation which silenced Andrew Bolt. And it could silence you.
But freedom of speech sometimes means people will be offended. The right not to be offended should never trump the right to express your views.
Federal parliament must repeal these laws before more Australians have their free speech trampled on.
And we need your voice to make it happen.
Write to Julia Gillard, Bob Brown or Tony Abbott to tell them you value freedom of speech and you expect them to repeal this law.
We need you to email your political leaders right now by clicking on one of the buttons below. We must make them understand that Australians value our freedom of speech â€“ and show them that we won’t let them take it away.
1Â “News Ltd has questions to answer, PM says”,Â ABC News, 20 July 2011
2Â “Brown calls for state control of media and licences for journos”,Â The Australian, 3 October 2011
Andrew Bolt â€“ Monday, March 05, 12
THE Gillard Government’s media inquiry threatens not only our freedom to speak, but to hear and decide for ourselves.Â But why?
Its report last week, by retired judge Ray Finkelstein, proposes a super media-cop, funded by government, to police all that’s said and written in the media.
It would even have the power to disappear you – or, rather, your words – by requiring offending artilces to removed from the Internet, never to be read again.
But what suddenly happened that free speech is thought a threat, needing even more oppressive controls?
Finkelstein offers five “striking instances” of “wrongful harm” caused by “unreliable or inaccurate reporting, breach of privacy, and the failure to properly take into account the defenceless”.
Its list is astonishingly thin.
“A minister of the Crown has his homosexuality exposed. He is forced to resign.”
(The NSW minister was found visiting a bath house, is not “defenceless” and was not forced to resign, but chose to.)
“A chief commissioner of police is the victim of false accusations about his job performance fed to the news media by a ministerial adviser … He is forced to resign.”
(Victorian chief commissioner Simon Overland, not “defenceless”, chose to resign after largely valid criticisms of, among other things, his decision to sack his deputy and his release of incomplete crime statistics.)
“Nude photographs said to be of a female politician contesting a seat in a state election are published with no checking of their veracity. The photographs are fakes.”
(The paper which ran the fake pictures of Pauline Hanson, who isn’t “defenceless”, apologised, paid damages and was caned by its readers. What more should have been done?)
The report cites two other alleged media sins – a teenager victimised over her sexual relationship with a sportsman, and a mother wrongly implicated in the deaths of her children.
Were these sins not properly punished? We are not told.
Or does Finkelstein think his News Media Council would terrorise journalists into never making mistakes in the first place?
I say that because of this bizarre claim:
“Most newspapers steadfastly maintain that there is no need to strengthen the means by which they are to be held publicly accountable …
“(But) many who made submissions to the inquiry also think the press is not perfect, and argued that its performance was often wanting. Both claims cannot be correct.”
Actually, they can, if you accept mistakes are inevitable, but punishments already exist.
They can, if you realise that more punishments won’t stop mistakes, but will chill debate.
They can, if you realise the real threat isn’t free speech, but more laws to control it.