Free Speech 'Bigots' vs Anti Free Speech 'Philosophers'

Mark Steyn:

In Australia, they’re trying to get rid of Section 18c. The Aussie campaign is not going well.

What’s going on? Well, in the western world today, there are far more lobby groups for censorship – under polite euphemisms such as “diversity”, “human rights”, “hate speech” – than there are for freedom of expression.

If you attempt to roll back a law like Section 18c, you’ll be opposed by the aboriginal lobby, the Muslim lobby, the Jewish lobby, the LGBT lobby, the higher-education lobby…. And you’ll be supported by …hardly anyone, save for me and Andrew Bolt and the usual suspects.

Support Mark Steyn’s battle against Michael “Hockey Stick” Mann. Go here.

Leftoids and special interest groups threaten to derail Tony Abbots promise to restore free speech DownUnder:

Act of uncertainty

The right to call someone a Balmain basket weaver is not curtailed by section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. Balmain residents are not defined as an ethnic group, at least not according to law.

UnknownAs  (Australia’s one and only anti-free speech “philosopher”)  Race Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane assured readers of The Age recently:

The law only covers acts with a clear racial basis. It doesn’t extend to trivial slights.

Yet the legal definition of racism is not clear cut, as the recent judgment  of Whiteoak v State of New South Wales demonstrated. The NSW Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 states:

‘race’ includes colour, nationality, descent and ethnic, ethno-religous or national origin.

It the Whiteoak matter, the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal treats the terms citizenship and nationality as synonymous:

The Tribunal is satisfied that the Applicant’s citizenship of the United Kingdom is an aspect of race for the purposes of ss 7 and 19 of the AD Act.

The ruling creates problems, not least for the anti-discrimination industry itself, as I explore in The Australian today.

Should we be surprised about the intensity of the debate over the abolition of 18C when we find it difficult to agree what race or racism actually mean? The Race Commissioner only adds to the confusion by introducing the concept of casual racism. In The Age last August, Soutphommasane wrote

We all know the sort of racism I’m talking about.

Do we really? As Soutphommasane writes in Don’t Go Back to Where You Came From, there is considerable dispute about whether race identity must have a genetic component or if it is merely an expression of shared cultural identity. He writes:

We may all recognise that racism constitutes a significant harm, but determining what must count as racism isn’t always easy. The notion of cultural racism complicates things. Admittedly, what sociologists call cultural racism could be more helpfully  labeled as cultural intolerance or cultural bigotry. For if racism can assume a cultural as well as biological form, this appears to imply that all cultural identities must be entitled to equal respect and recognition.

Now we’re getting somewhere. Defining race as cultural, as well as biological, drives the debate into difficult ground, as Soutphommasane acknowledges:

Clearly, there must be limits to what we should recognise as cultural identity worthy of our respect and endorsement. If not, a community would find it impossible to object to some cultural practices, including those that run counter to fundamental liberal democratic values. Consider, for example, the case of a member of an immigrant community who argues that the practice of polygynist marriage is necessary for the maintenance of their religious or ethnic culture… Would objecting to such a cultural practice amount to an expression of ‘cultural racism’?

Soutphommasane’s helpful exploration of these difficult issues was cut short by his appointment to the Human Rights Commission. He has now become an intransigent defender of flawed legislation that attempts to put legal boundaries around a poorly-defined form of intolerance.

Tim Wilson: yes, our laws against free speech are broken

Andrew Bolt

Tim Wilson on the need to reform our laws against free speech:

Recently, the head of the Prime Minister’s indigenous council, Warren Mundine, criticised the proposed changes, but recognised “there is no doubt we need to amend the act and make sure it’s focused”.

The NSW Rabbinical Council acknowledged the laws make it hard for rabbis to “get up and make a pronouncement on certain moral issues (because they) … might insult (someone)”.

Similarly, Jewish community leader Mark Leibler has said “there is a possibility of working out a solution which will be a ­sensible compromise” while ­arguing for minimal change.

The question is not if the law should be changed, but how.


How many on the Left have betrayed principle for advantage in this debate?

ABC1’s Q & A, Monday:

VAN Badham: Is it so important to the future of Australia that a handful of extremists are given a position by which they can belittle, humiliate, denigrate, vilify, harass and intimidate people who exist within minority communities or traditionally oppressed ethnic communities? … As a journalist, I do not feel that my free speech is limited by my obligation to show respect and decency to diversity in my community?

Respect. Badham tweets, April 21:


Respect. Badham tweets, April 5:

SOME totally batshit-bananaland trolling from Liberal party twatkvists on #wavotes …

Badham tweets, March 25:

DEAR Tony Abbott, If you wish to redesign Australia into a bloody aristocracy, I personally will start to build the guillotine. X Van.

Badham, ABC1’s Q & A, Monday:

TODAY is international day of ­remembrance for the Holocaust and I want everybody to consider what the day of remembrance means in the context of a potential future scenario where those protections are gone and what that means to the families of Holocaust survivors and everybody who was touched by institutional racism.

Respect? Badham tweets, December 18:

SO how’s everyone feeling about a right-wing party like the LNP moving to make anti-Semitism perfectly legal? Does that ever turn out well … You know, last time we have a failed artist from (sic) the Right telling people it was OK to hate Jews… #TimWilson …

Alan Dershowitz, The Australian, April 2:

DEMOCRACY can endure the coarsening and painful effects of ­bigoted speech. It cannot survive a regime of governmental censorship.