18c: they just don’t get it

Jeremy Sammut

The notion that we cannot risk any changes to Section 18C is based on the idea that Australia always has been and always will be a fundamentally racist country, and on the idea that the legislative restrictions on ‘hate speech’ is the only thing keeping the country civil.

The failure by the Coalition-dominated parliamentary review to recommend changes to Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act is another sign that the political class is yet to learn the lessons of the electoral shocks of 2016.

To add injury to insult, Coalition members of the review appear to have caved in to a coordinated campaign by the taxpayer-funded multicultural industry.

The review was swamped by more than 12,000 submissions, many of which were from ethnic organisations that claimed that changes to Section 18C would unleash racist hate speech against ethnic communities.

The notion that we cannot risk any changes to Section 18C is based on the idea that Australia always has been and always will be a fundamentally racist country, and on the idea that the legislative restrictions on ‘hate speech’ is the only thing keeping the country civil.

This gets our history hopelessly wrong. The Racial Discrimination Act was legislated in 1975 – after the scrapping of the White Australia Policy and the creation of our non-racially discriminatory immigration policy.

We opened our doors to all comers because the success of the post-WWII immigration program proved that Australians could get on well and without social strife with immigrants from diverse backgrounds.

President Trump’s election victory, the Yes vote for Leave in the UK Brexit referendum, and the re-emergence of One Nation as at last July’s federal election, showed that the tide has turned against the politically correct idea that certain topics should not be publically discussed because ordinary people are incapable of discussing them in a civilised way.

The political revolt by voters included rejecting being scolded as ‘racist’ by so-called elites for wishing to debate legitimate issues, such as the size and character of immigration programs or the impact of Islam in a modern western nations.

The democratic principle of freedom of speech has been sacrificed by the federal politicians refusing to support the abolition of the anti-free speech provisions of the Racial Discrimination Act, which allows people to sue for hurt feelings if they don’t like what someone else has to say.

Decent Australians have a right to be angry about the use of their taxes to not only tell them to shut up but also to portray them as racists who must be muzzled for the sake of social harmony.

Our core belief that all Australians, regardless of caste, colour, and creed, should receive a fair go is what has made Australia the harmonious multi-racial society it is today – not the threat of legal action under the Racial Discrimination Act.

Australian politicians who have not learned the lessons of Trump and Brexit are repeating them. The parliamentary review’s support for muzzling ‘racist’ Australians, and its endorsement of the multicultural industry’s divisive disdain for ordinary Australians, will simply drive more voters into the arms of One Nation.

Jeremy Sammut is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies

Here’s another article that shows how the debate around 18C is being manipulated:

Fake news meets 18c

Earlier this month Professor Andrew Jakubowitz of the taxpayer-created Cyber Racism and Community Resilience Research Group attempted to debunk a poll commissioned by the IPA showing a plurality of Australians supported section 18C reform.

As I explained on Flat White, his argument that the IPA was pushing loaded questions fell apart when exposed to minimal scrutiny. Professor Jakubowitz’s CRaCR later commissioned Essential Research to conduct separate polling, culminating in this article by Jakubowitz, Professor Kevin Dunn and Rachel Sharples that appeared The Conversation on 17 February, arguing “an overwhelming majority of Australians support legislation that prevents insults on the basis of race, culture or religion.”

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights in its just-released report into 18C even mentioned this poll as a contrast to the IPA poll. But a deeper look at the polling data shows the survey wording to be fundamentally flawed (if not entirely disingenuous) and the conclusions drawn far-fetched. The Essential polling included four questions:

Q Do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

People should be free to offend someone on the basis of their race, culture or religion…

People should be free to insult someone on the basis of their race, culture or religion…

People should be free to humiliate someone on the basis of their race, culture or religion…

People should be free to intimidate someone on the basis of their race, culture or religion…

The pro-18C polling has a glaring omission: any reference to the “Racial Discrimination Act” or “Section 18C”. Despite being highly recognisable and a prominent feature of public debate for a number of years now, the omitted words are not actually used. On a question of public policy, which the article at The Conversation explains as being the reason for commissioning the poll in the first place, the failure to refer to the actual law itself makes any conclusions about section 18C highly questionable.

On a deeper level, saying “people should be free” is completely distinct from “it should be against the law”. Take for instance an employee who, as part of their contract of employment, agrees to refrain from making comments that bring their employer into disrepute. The employee may not be “free” to make certain comments, but it is not a government-imposed restriction on speech in the way that section 18C.

Surveying about opinions “race, culture or religion” is particularly bizarre in light of the fact the wording of section 18C refers to “race, colour or national or ethnic origin”. As even Professor Jakubowitz has explained in 2015, section 18C: “the Racial Discrimination Act does not cover religion. Never has, and clearly is very unlikely to in the future.” In an email, Professor Dunn wrote:

[18C] It does not currently cover with religion. Religious discrimination is defined as racism within social science. Attempts re-frame religious discrimination as not racism are nonsensical.

The “social sciences” may think race and religion are interchangeable, but social science isn’t the law.

In light of all this, one would be wary of using the CRaCR survey as an accurate indicator of public opinion about section 18C.

Enter Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane, who has tweeted several times to the poll story saying “Research indicates the vast majority of people support the RDA’s protections against racial hatred”, which was later tweeted by the Australian Human Rights Commission to its 45,000 followers. Our taxpayer-funded race commentator also referred to the poll when he appeared directly before the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights to argue that 18C should be retained:

[The poll] found that well over 75 per cent of those respondents in the survey supported making it unlawful to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate people on the basis of race.

And later:

I referred earlier to a recent survey done by academics at Western Sydney University and the University of Technology Sydney: namely, Professors Andrew Jakubowitz and Kevin Dunn, which found that there was robust public support for legal protections against racial vilification.

This is all classic goalpost shifting. Change the question to get the response you want, then present it as proof of the correctness of your position. It’s deceptive, and it’s all done at the taxpayer’s expense.

But there is a silver lining. When the pro-18C side of the debate will resort to doing this, there is no clearer sign that public opinion is moving against them.

Morgan Begg is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs

2 thoughts on “18c: they just don’t get it”

  1. Why is that Muslims are not pinged with 18C cases? They despise Australians as they despise all non-Muslims. I am called a kaffir and an infidel. How do I start proceedings!

  2. More criminally extortive slander ginned-up as a “law.”

    ‘Authorities,” like all criminals, are always “progressing” towards more rights and less responsibility.

    “Progressive” criminals want to ‘progress’ to having no laws apply to them at all.

    They want ever-more rights, and ever-less responsibilities, and of course for everyone else to have ever-less rights, and ever-more responsibilities – to them; even though they know this can only be achieved by offloading their own responsibilities onto others, by taking away their rights!

    Perpetual victim-blaming extortion (victimology) = slavery.

    All crimes are forms of theft, and all thefts are attacking (thereby innocent) other people first.

    It’s always an un-asked-for exchange.

    When you voted them into office, was being slandered and extorted as a racist part of the mandate you had chosen to endow them with?

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