No point getting in a debate with someone whose only argument is “Shut up – or else.”

DEMOCRACY’S HEALTHIEST ILLNESS

Tim Blair, The Daily Telegraph

tim-tosspot

Our $300,000 per year Mr Manners is having us on.

The Australian Race Discrimination Commissioner is now claiming that the Human Rights Commission’s legal action against Bill Leak is merely “a matter of public debate”:

Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane has denied prejudging a racial vilification complaint against The Australian’s cartoonist Bill Leak, rejecting suggestions that public debate is being “shut down” by the Racial Discrimination Act …

Interrogating the commissioner at a Senate estimates hearing in Canberra, Liberal senator David Fawcett suggested Leak’s depiction of an Aboriginal policeman “clearly sober, in authority, taking a very reasonable action” was in fact a “very positive portrayal”.

Dr Soutphommasane answered: “Cartoons will be subject to all matter of public debate. It’s a healthy part of our democracy that we have that debate.”

Sure, Dr Tim. All public debates involve demands for explanation, warring legal teams and potential Federal Court appearances. As it happens, Mark Steyn only a few hours earlier anticipated – and demolished – exactly this line of argument:

Mr Leak’s opponents are not attempting to engage him in debate; they’re attempting to close down the debate. And there’s no point getting in a debate with someone whose only argument is “Shut up – or else.”

In that sense, the Australian “human rights” regime and the Charlie Hebdo killers are merely different points on the same continuum: They’re both in the shut-up business, and they shut you up pour encourager les autres. They know that, for every cartoonist they silence, a thousand more will never peep up in the first place.

So this isn’t a debate about aboriginal policy or Islamic imperialism or anything else. It’s a debate about whether we’re free to debate. I take the view that the Australian state, like the Canadian state, should not be in the shut-up business. And, when they are, it’s they who are the issue, not you. When it’s a contest between a book or cartoon, on the one hand, and, on the other, a guy who says, “You can’t say that!”, it’s the latter who’s on trial. If you’re on the side that’s saying “Shut up!”, you’re on the wrong side.

Also on the wrong side are journalists who won’t speak up – which, by the way, is most of them:

Liberal MP Andrew Hastie has called on journalists to speak out against the Human Rights Commission’s ­investigation of cartoonist Bill Leak, while predicting a fresh push to amend or repeal section 18C of the ­Racial Discrimination Act …

“I’d call on Fairfax and the ABC and The Guardian and ­others not to leave a comrade on the battlefield; I haven’t heard a lot from them and they should be defending him,” the former SAS commander said. “Politicians have a job to do but it shouldn’t just be upon politicians to resolve this issue — where are the other voices in the public square?”

Further from Jennifer Oriel:

Freethinker Bill Leak is a victim of prejudice so entrenched in our legal and political system it is spar­king anti-establishment ­revolt across the West. It is the conversion of the human rights movement into a bigot rights ­industry.

And it costs us $25 million every year.

UPDATE. The real victim in all of this, of course, is Gillian Triggs:

Andrew Bolt has more:

Steyn: where are the Liberals to defend Leak?

The great Mark Steyn is appalled that Liberals -even those who say they’re his fans – now won’t defend the free speech of Bill Leak.

It was a sad day for me when Tony Abbott, the then ­Australian prime minister; George Brandis, the current ­Attorney-General; and Julie Bishop, the current Foreign Minister (all of whom had been enthusiastic attenders of my Aussie appearances, and one of whom is a big fan of my book on musicals, Broadway Babies Say Goodnight) abandoned their commitment to amend section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. To me, that disgusting “hate speech” ersatz-law is an utter embarrassment to a supposedly free society; to Abbott’s ministry, free speech was merely an “unnecessary complication”.

Well, it’s certainly “complicating” Bill Leak’s life. The Australian’s cartoonist is the latest to be ensnared by section 18C, for the cartoon that appears on this page.

As a previous target, Andrew Bolt, writes: “First two of my own articles were banned. Then seven Queensland students were sued by a staffer at their university for complaining that Aboriginal-only computers were racist. And now cartoonist Bill Leak is being ­attacked under this same wicked Racial Discrimination Act. When will the Turnbull government get the guts to at least try to scrap this wicked law?”

Good luck with that. Among the more fatuous observations of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in recent months was this: “It (repealing section 18C) is not going to create an extra job, it is not going to ensure your listeners will get to work, or school, or get around their business any sooner, it’s not going to build an extra road.”

The tinny sound of a hollow pseudo-technocrat unmoored from the core principles of liberty.

And Steyn is right: Leak should not defend the rightness of his cartoon but attack the foulness of those wanting to shut him up.

I hope The Australian won’t compound that mistake by vigorously defending the cartoon on its merits. When Maclean’s and I ran afoul of the equivalent Canadian law — Section 13 — over a book excerpt from America Alone, the most important decision we made was not to defend the content of the piece: the facts, the quotes, the statistics, the conclusions, etc.

Our opponents were not disputing our position; they were disputing our right to have a position. Likewise, Leak’s opponents are not attempting to engage him in debate; they’re attempting to close down the debate.

And there’s no point getting in a debate with someone whose only argument is “Shut up — or else.”

In that sense, the Australian “human rights” regime and the Charlie Hebdo killers are merely different points on the same continuum: They’re both in the shut-up business, and they shut you up pour encourager les autres.

They know that, for every cartoonist they silence, a thousand more will never peep up in the first place.

So this isn’t a debate about Aboriginal policy or Islamic imperialism or anything else. It’s a debate about whether we’re free to debate.

I take the view that the Australian state, like the Canadian state, should not be in the shut-up business. And, when they are, it’s they who are the issue, not you. When it’s a contest between a book or cartoon, on the one hand, and on the other a guy who says, “You can’t say that!”, it’s the latter who’s on trial. If you’re on the side that’s saying “Shut up!”, you’re on the wrong side…

The likes of [Race Discrimination] commissar Soutphommasane are not interested in a debate with you; they’re interested in eliminating you from the debate, banishing you from public discourse, and shrivelling that discourse to the ever tighter bounds of a state ideology.

I hope Leak and The Australian fight this outrageous system not through narrow lawyerly arguments but out in the open — shining a bright cleansing sunlight on an ugly regime that cannot withstand exposure to the light of day.

I made the same point – less eloquently – to Leak in our interview this week:

8 thoughts on “No point getting in a debate with someone whose only argument is “Shut up – or else.””

  1. Return the world to a beautiful state …
    Purge Gillian Triggs
    Purge Thinethavone Soutphommasane

    Purge everything islam … <b<"Globally“ !

    (There can Never be enough fitnah … ever !)
    Fitnah is the Qur’anic word for what has been dubbed Islamophobia in the REAL non-Islamic world.

  2. ALL “Hate-Speech Laws” ARE CRIMES!

    “Progressive” criminals – who like all criminals desire an equality of outcome over a true equality of opportunity, and to get it will always try to socially engineer ever-more rights and ever-less responsibilities for them selves, by offloading their responsibilities onto their victims by stealing their victims’ rights – pretend to hold submissive masochism as the highest virtue (for their victims to hold, not them) and the ultimate crime to be causing offense and hurting other people’s (criminal’s) feelings, (i.e: by accusing them of their crimes).

    So they want to make it illegal to accuse criminals of their crimes, since that might hurt their feelings and in offending them with the often-painful truth, “make” them commit even more crimes!

    Is there anything which really ought to qualify as hate speech and be banned?

    NO – not because it’s “hateful” (because that sort of nonsense is only making subjective assessments based on emotions;) and “HATE” is really only the perfectly natural human response of perpetual anger towards ongoing crimes (like islam); without ‘hate’ we would never bother to accuse criminals of their crimes in order to stop those crimes.

    Unreasonable false displays of hatred and anger on the other hand, are what the Left is good at – but that’s already illegal, not because of the anger displayed – that’s just the outrageous holier-than-thou virtue-signalling packaging used to disguise their preposterous extortion attempts – but because it’s fraudulent slander.

    Such criminal leftists who try to make “hate” into a crime, only ever make it ‘illegal’ to hate crime itself!

    Speech which is already disallowed is incitement of immediate violence and death-threats … and even those aren’t illegal, if say they call for the police to use violence to counter ongoing mob violence and looting, or call for the death-penalty for murderers!

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