Freedom of Speech downunder is about to take another hit. Australia just barely survived G-Lard, KRudd and Conroy, but can we expect Abbott’s Â phoney Liberals to restore Free Speech? Or will PC and special interest groups take us closer to the abyss?
NSW Solicitor-General Michael Sexton is worriedÂ – as am I – that many “leaders” of the Jewish community are fighting to preserve the parts of the Racial Discrimination Act that stifle free speech:
The notions of offence, insult and humiliation … involve hurt to feelings. This is always unattractive for the subject of the verbal attack but these shock tactics have always been legitimate tools of debate on questions of politics and public interest.
Sometimes these attacks are totally unreasonable. But there should be no place in a federal or state statute for a prohibition on their use in public discussion of social and economic issue… The right response to speech that one finds offensive is one’s own speech, not suppression….
It would, however, be a pity if representatives of the Jewish community in Australia allowed themselves to be used as part of a campaign to stop the repeal of section 18C. In the long run they have the same interest in freedom of speech as everyone else. As the American jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes said more than a century ago: “We should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expressions of opinions we loathe.”
Do Jewish leaders really want to be seen on the side of oppression? On the side of authoritarianism? Do they really fear their ability to succeed in a free debate?
No one in the mainstream media has argued more strongly for Jewish causes than have I, and I say that Jewish representatives who trash free speech are trashing their best defence – and the strength of their best defenders.
Australia needs a “race discrimination commissioner” like a hole in the head:
A very bruising attempt to get another article published means I will not comment directly on this very unfortunate development and risk inflicting yet more legal expenses on my long-suffering employer:
WARREN Mundine, the head of Tony Abbott’s indigenous council, has directly advised the Prime Minister to reverse his government’s plans to repeal a key section of the Racial Discrimination Act, saying he has the backing of the council.
But it is a good day toÂ read this, fromÂ The Australian:
A FREE and robust exchange of ideas is essential to democracy, especially in academe where open-minded inquiry is paramount. There is no doubt, as visiting Hebrew University political scientist Dan Avnon said on Tuesday, that Sydney University academic Jake Lynch deserves a “red card” for refusing to sponsor him out of support for the nefarious Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel.
Professor Lynch’s stance has eroded the credibility of Sydney University’s so-called Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies…
A vital principle – upholding the free exchange of views – lies at the heart of the row over Professor Lynch’s objectionable behaviour. The same principle should also apply in the community, which is why supporters of the restrictive Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, including the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, would be wise to think again…
Such legislative and judicial overkill, as Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson argues, has shut down public debate for no better reason than “someone’s tone could be deemed inappropriate”. It is understandable that community leaders support laws they believe protect their communities. The safety, opportunities and reputations of all Australians, however, are well protected by criminal, defamation and discrimination laws.
The concept of free speech has been grounded in Enlightenment principles for more than 300 years. It covers not only those with whom we agree, but those with whom we disagree, often vehemently…
Free speech serves the interests of all, especially those at risk of racism. As champions of democracy, Jewish leaders who stood up for Professor Avnon’s rights would take a valuable lead if they broadened their defence of free speech.
It is astonishing – and profoundly depressing – that this argument needs to be made today.Â And in Australia, of all places.
I cannot believe Australia is the vicious country described by our Race Discrimination Commissioner, a former Labor staffer:
Soutphommasane warned in a speech this week that repealing Section 18C might “unleash a darker, even violent, side of our humanity”.
Actually, the “darker … side of our humanity” is the urge to control the thoughts and speech of others.
What is really being protected by these laws against free speech is not people but an ideology.
That an Islam apologist likeÂ Soutphommasane sells himself as a pontificating moral guardian and “philosopher” is an insult to every Australian.