Â Too many speech police for our safety
Earlier this week I arguedÂ the Australian Human Rights Commission – agitating for tougher controls on free speech – should be scrappedÂ and its functions devolved to the many state commissions doing much the same anti-discrimination work.
Save money, preserve our freedoms.
Professor Patrick Parkinson now givesÂ further evidence that a whole layer of “anti discrimination” bossiness could be removedÂ for little cost and much gain.
He says the Gillard Government’s proposed Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill isn’t just an appalling attack on free speech but massive and oppressive duplication:
The proposed law contained 18 different grounds on which someone could complain of discrimination and sue in court if mediation failed. In addition, the Fair Work Act 2008 provides that an employer must not take adverse action against an employee or prospective employee “because of the person’s race, colour, sex, sexual preference, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, family or carer’s responsibilities, pregnancy, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin”. The states and territories have comprehensive anti-discrimination laws as well. Tasmania has 20 different grounds on which you can sue for discrimination.
No one in government seems to have asked whether we actually need all these laws and why the federal parliament and the states have to compete in demonstrating who is more committed to “equality”.
Read it all. Parkinson is surely right about the bill’s astonishingly impertinent attempt to control the free speech of most of us:
Hitherto, federal anti-discrimination laws mainly prohibited discrimination by persons possessing responsibility, authority or power in areas such as employment and education. The draft bill …did not just apply to the normal domains of paid employment, education and the provision of goods and services but to membership of and the activities of clubs and associations. That even included informal groups gathering for social and literary purposes… The bill also applied to “participation in sporting activities (including umpiring, coaching and administration)” and to voluntary and unpaid work. Neighbours who help one another are volunteers. Stay-at-home mothers do unpaid work.
The sheer arrogance of Labor wanting to give officials such power over what we say and do. It is utterly disgraceful.
End blasphemy laws threatening minorities: UN faith expert
This is an interesting development. Resistance is scarce, so far, but will gain momentum, which is crucial if we seek to uphold free speech.
GENEVA – Countries should repeal all laws punishing blasphemy and people who leave a faith, the United Nations’ top expert on freedom of religion said on Wednesday, thrusting himself into a debate between many in the Muslim world and the West.
Legislation outlawing apostasyâ€”the act of changing religious affiliationâ€”and insults against religious figures could be used to violate the rights of minorities, Heiner Bielefeld said in a report to the UN Human Rights Council.
The comments from the United Nations’ special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief came amid heightened focus on faith-based laws in countries like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, where blasphemy carries the death penalty.
“States should repeal any criminal law provisions that penalize apostasy, blasphemy and proselytism, as they may prevent persons belonging to religious or belief minorities from fully enjoying their freedom of religion or belief,” he said in the report.
Rights campaigners say the blasphemy law in Pakistan is widely used against religious minorities, including Christians, Ahmadis and more recently Shiah Muslims, usually on flimsy pretexts.
The posting of an amateurish US-made video mocking the Prophet Mohammad, and the publication of caricatures of him in France last year led to violent protests and renewed calls from the Muslim world for a global law against blasphemy.
Speaking on the fringes of the rights council on Wednesday, Bielefeld said criminalizing concepts like blasphemy was dangerous for free speech because there could be no common definition of what it was.
Although a handful of Western countries have blasphemy laws, originally introduced to bar attacks on Christianity, they have largely fallen into disuse. Some Muslim groups in Europe call for their reactivation.
In once strongly Catholic Ireland, where blasphemy is banned under the 1937 constitution, new legislation introduced in 2010â€”partly in response to appeals from the small Muslim communityâ€”set a hefty fine for offending religious belief.
But Irish officials say that law, now being reconsidered by a special commission, seems likely to be withdrawn as an obstruction to free speech.
Bielefeld does not speak for the UN but was taken on as an independent official to report regularly on how freedom of religion was respected across the world.Â â€”Reuters