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Feel free to speak about whatever I want you to

Part A

In an address to the IPA titled “Freedom Wars”, Tony Abbott declared that it is his intention to repeal s18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, claiming that this section of the Act impacts upon Freedom of Speech. This ideal of freedom of speech is that which we should all aspire to, however, as a friend once stated: You mean the freedom to be an asshole. We will explore this later.

The text of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) can be found via Austlii.

Section C18 of the Act, that being which Tony Abbott so vehemently opposes concerns offensive behaviour because of race, colour or national or ethnic origin. That’s correct, it’s offensive behaviour, with the specifics being:

For an act to be unlawful it must fulfill the following criteria:

  • that the action causes words, sounds, images or writing to be communicated to the public; or that it is done in a public place.
  • that the act is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people.
  • that the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person or of some or all of the people in the group.

So let us consider that which is not considered unlawful under s18C of the Act.

It is not a group of friends in a public bar talking amongst themselves, even if the subject matter would offend and humilitate a person standing directly next to them. For example, racist jokes.

It is not public discussions for the purpose of information, education or analysis.

There is also the matter of intention plus “the reasonable person test” that is, would a reasonable person given an identical set of circumstances feel humiliated or intimidated. With regard to intent; for example a remark said in public about a person’s religion might offend that person, however if there was lack of intent on the first person’s part to cause offence, then it is not racial vilification.

Therefore, what we are dealing with is people who want the right to make statements in the public forum, and with the intention of causing offence and humiliation. Enter Andrew Bolt.

Is it nothing more than a sheer coincidence that Abbott announced his intention of changing the racial vilification section of the Racial Discrimination Act just prior to Bolt writing this one. How dare they try to censor this flyer.

Andrew Bolt:

Sadly, the ACT Government seems only too keen on the idea:

Attorney-General Simon Corbell said laws prohibiting religious vilification should be considered by a review of the act that is being conducted by the ACT Law Reform Advisory Council.

How dare these people presume to strip others of the right to speak? How dare they?

And . . . again, where Bolt once again attempts to defend freedom:

I make no comment on their opinion but on the principle.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott rightly calls the laws under which two of my articles on this matter were declared unlawful an offence against free speech, and says he will strip them back. But the Left is furious, and introduces absurd excuses for their excesses:

As reported in, Mr Abbott’s speech came after he wrote in The Australian that section 18C of the act was a “threat” to freedom of speech.

“Expression or advocacy should never be unlawful merely because it is offensive,” he wrote.

All well and good, but this is where it gets strange . . .

Part B

The parties that are advocating relaxation to the freedom of speech laws, nay, hysterically demanding it, are the ones who are in reality practicing the most rabid suppression of it. They want the freedom to be an asshole whilst limiting free speech on those who hold opposing views (to them). You’ll be able to racially vilify or abuse anyone whatsoever, but you will be silenced if any form of dissent, no matter how trivial, is directed towards them.

Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi provides us with a number of examples where he takes freedom of speech to mean exactly ‘freedom to be an asshole’. From his Facebook page:

His post “300 more illegal arrivals in the past three days. Labor’s border failures are costing us over $10 billion” attracted a large number of comments, mostly in support of what he said. Here are some of the responses:

I wonder how these lefties will feel when one of there family gets raped like the girl at Sydney uni by a so called legal asylum seeker. Then we have aids tripling in NT ,not to mention known terrorists being released into the community. I class left wing progressive socialists as much a threat to Australia as Islam.

Just what we need more Sudanese and samarlians they’ve settled well hear,NOT! There would have to be a very high likely hood they are connected to terrorist group alshabab,they would be the only ones with the money to get here.

Just think of all the radical muslim’s that are coming as well!

And his post “Here are some facts surrounding the convicted Egyptian jihadist living in the Adelaide Hills…and still this Government won’t admit their failure to protect our borders and our nation. For more of today’s bulletin go to” also attracted comments of support.

Just think of all the radical muslim’s that are coming as well!

We will never know how many other terrorists, murderers or people of disrepute have come into our country because of this Gov, and it’s loss of control of our boarders. We will never know who could be walking amongst us, or what threats could be awaiting our country. This Gov, has put our country in a very vulnerable situation because it has not done it’s job of protecting our boarders !!!!!!!!!!

We should start denying entry to muslims. Make it happen Cory! Fight the good Christian fight!

One terrorist detected….thousands go undetected. Big salaries being paid for incompetence. Stop muslim migration in Australia whether it be legal or illegal. Don’t let history repeat itself.

As much as I disagree with Bernardi’s opinion, or those who support it, I have no problem with their right to express it (however some of it borders on an incitement to racial hatred and should not have been published). Now here’s where it gets funny; where the freedom to be an asshole takes precedent over freedom of speech. I left a simple comment on his page:

Could you please point out why they are illegal arrivals?

That comment was removed and I was subsequently blocked from commenting on his page again. Yes, they love freedom of speech, don’t they? They can vilify anybody who is non-white or non-Christian but but you can’t question their ‘right’ to do so.

There are a number of other examples across social media that confirm the hypocrisy of these right-wing fundamentalists. Let’s also look at Andrew Laming (a politician fond of composing racist tweets), courtesy of Michael White:

Federal Liberal MP Andrew Laming went on a trolling warpath earlier this month in regards to his perception that the National Broadband Network (NBN) was being rolled out in the Brisbane area on a politico-geographic agenda.

“The cold, hard reality in Brisbane is that households in Labor seats are eight times more likely to get the NBN than those in Coalition seats.”

“Worse, the odds are around 50 per cent better if your Labor MP is a minister. This is a save-the-political-furniture strategy. They are not targeting marginal seats here. They are just trying to survive.”

Of course, there are many reasons why his position was completely wrong, as I highlighted in my article last week on how the Coalition – (deliberately or otherwise) – manage to get their facts on the NBN completely wrong.


At the time of his rant – (spread throughout the media over several days) – myself, @CameronWatt and @Gwyntaglaw engaged in a terse dialogue on Twitter with Laming, pointing out clear, well documented facts in regards to the NBN and its rollout schedule, that were contrary to Laming’s own beliefs on the matter.

He ably demonstrated his inability to grasp even the basic concepts of how the NBN works, how it connects together, and how technical matters – (in most cases) – dictate which parts of the network are rolled out first.

He clearly didn’t like being shown up as being wrong about it.

In fact, he hated it.

How much did he hate it? Well, he blocked me on Twitter, a fact I discovered when putting together the aforementioned article last week.

They really do get precious about freedom of speech when it’s not engaged under their rules. They raise their preciousness to the point of being ridiculous. Here is one that definitely ranks as ridiculous:

Andrew Nikolic, a Liberal Party candidate in Tasmania has threatened to contact the employers of Facebook users who “liked” a satirical article posted about him online.

Mr Nikolic informed the New Examiner last week that if the offending article was not taken down he would write to the employers of all the individuals who had “liked” the story.

“I hope the employers and influencers of your satirical group will be amused by the formal letters of complaint I will now send them on this issue,” wrote Mr Nikolic in a Facebook comment that has since been deleted.

Joe Hockey is another who denies free speech to those who have any semblence of opinions that differ from his own.

Yesterday I discovered that Joe Hockey had called me a troll and blocked me on twitter. My dastardly crime that had caused Joe Hockey to call me a Labor Troll was the reposting of one of his own tweets.

I will say that again, my trollish crime was re-posting one of Joe Hockey’s own tweets.

Oh dear Joe Hockey, Oh deary dear. Is this what our politicians have come to? Reduced to name calling and public hissy fits because a member of the public questions their own words.

It was your own words I was responding to Joe, not Labors words, not a PR piece or a smear campaign designed to discredit you, but your own words, Joe Hockey.

Now go back and read Part A again. Do you see two parallel worlds?

If time permits, also do a Google search and you’ll find dozens of instances where Coalition politicians have blocked people for exercising their freedom of speech; for reasons none other than having a different opinion. It really is a case of freedom to be an asshole. You can vilify, say, Aborigines or Muslims in their brave new world, but you can’t ask them to justify it.

Their reaction to the few examples I’ve revealed in Part B certainly do make their intentions in Part A nothing but Freedom of speech LNP style: Feel free to speak about whatever I want you to.

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  1. Cool Pete

    More like freedom to be an a**hole than freedom of speech. These clowns want freedom of speech for racists, but if you dare tackle them, you get blocked. I got blocked from Bernardi’s page for that very reason.

  2. Michael Taylor

    Cool Peter, congratulations. Join the club. It’s a ribbon we wear with pride.

  3. CMMC

    Twitter and Fakebook are perfect ecosystems for trolling and controlling the narrative, don’t know why people expect them to be worthwile venues for discussion.

  4. Michael Taylor

    But these were on social media sites run by members of the opposition, CMMC.

  5. czerni

    “Don’t let history repeat itself” ..?
    That’s already happening.
    I lived in Germany in the 80/90s.
    Remember what happened in Rostock, Lichtenhagen.
    Constant public hate speech and the right-winged distortion of a debate about asylum seekers were responsible for those and other events.

  6. mindmadeup

    Reblogged this on you said it… and commented:
    This is such an important article we are reblogging it in full.

  7. Paul

    It doesn’t stop at Politicians. Ever tried to disagree with a News Ltd Journalist?

  8. Glenancer

    Banning freedom of speech is already happening here in Qld. Right now the Newman LNP government is sneaking extreme new laws into Parliament that will shut down your right to free speech.

  9. Möbius Ecko

    And it goes beyond the right wing politicians, for you can see exactly the same dogma in the right wing media, from radio shock jocks to today’s what are laughingly called journalists and through to media organisations themselves.

    No media organisation decries the loss of freedom of speech more than Fox and News Corp, both who are owned by the same man. But heaven help anyone who dares pull them up or points out the failings of their owner, then their much beloved freedom of speech is thrown out the door and not only do they shut the culprit down but often engage in a pogrom of vilification and attack designed to not only shut the culprit’s freedom of speech down but anyone else who dares to practice any form of freedom of speech outside of the right wing warped definition of it.

    Time and again I keep coming back to one thing with the right wing, and that is their hypocrisy. More than anything else it’s what defines them and their followers.

  10. Waz

    It is not a group of friends in a public bar talking amongst themselves, even if the subject matter would offend and humilitate a person standing directly next to them. For example, racist jokes…….BS, under that section those people can be arrested and charged if the person standing near them hear it and is offended.i would prefer Politicians that make lies during an election campaign to be arrested because it offends me, but then again Juliar is being investigated in the union rorts investigation so may, please god, be arrested and jailed.

  11. Ricky (Tory Torcher)

    Free speech behind the Murdoch pay wall ? Or financed by Gina’s inheritance?. Australia seems to be on prozac in this race to the bottom they call an election.

    Ventured down the local Bolo the other day and met a couple of great mates. They were talking and this yocal pipes in and says to me, “did you read the telegraph today?”…blah blah blah, yada yada yada… yaba daba doo…

    “No mate I never read the telegraph”, to whit he I kid you not..
    “You must be ignorant then”….

    Well my mates were there stunned, blank stares, waiting for an explosive my response (they know me well) rags and all that palava.

    Ah the test, I thought to myself. Healing has taught me a great many things and breathing is one I am embracing…..Gulp gulp..OK think…ahh there we go…light bulb goes on…

    I just happened to be re-reading Orwells Animal farm…I grabbed it out of my bag and waved it at him like a sword…… here we go, showtime…

    “ignorance is truth” I calmly delivered…(from 1984 but still Orwellian)….

    He just just looked at me and said,
    “you think your strong because your ignorant?

    Putting my prop back in its holster…
    “No i think i’m strong because I think for myself, therefore I am”

    I think it was a little lost on him…like most “thinking” is on Australians…true story.

    No speech is free, everything has a cost as freedom is a state of mind that allows truth to prevail even to those shackled by ignorance.

    take care guys.

  12. Min

    Michael, on your topic and Abbott’s promise to repeal s18 of the Racial Discrimination Act. This statement was made as a direct response to Andrew Bolt’s conviction. That is, Bolt’s conviction was announced and Tony Abbott said I’ll repeal it (the section of the Act). Favours for mates? It would seem that shock jocks are far more deserving of *protection* than are the victims of racial vilification.

  13. Bill Morris

    Not that I think it should be but I don’t see that anti religious speech is considered offensive, or is that covered elsewhere?

    So is anti muslim speech illegal? It is a religion isn’t it? not a race.

    In the same vein is anti religious speech illegal? Anti atheist speech isn’t illegal, but then it’s not a religion is it?

    It used to be that if one was offended one had choices, ignore, turn the other cheek or clock them one, in even earlier times a slap of the glove and a duel was the way to go…….much simpler then.

  14. Fed up

    With every freedom, comes obligation.

    Yes, one does have freedom to express their views. One does not have the freedom to harm others.

    One is expected to stick to the truth.

  15. Waz

    Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me…..unless your an abo then a 13 year old girl will make you cry like a baby.

  16. CS still censored

    I’m going to write more on Michael’s ridiculous and hypocritical article later when I have time.

    But firstly – Waz, you want to critisize Adam Goodes for being over-sensitive, fine. You think it was a beatup on a 13-year-old girl, fine. But the “abo” talk makes you sound like a dickhead.

    Unlike the authoritarian lefties here, I’ll never endorse censoring you.

    But I will call you an arsehole without hesitation.

  17. raigos

    I found this a good ground point for reading this article – – do-we-have-the-right-to-freedom-of-speech-in-austr.asp

  18. regrev

    Poor form it might be, and setting a bad example, sure, but it’s still not a denial of your freedom of speech when they delete comments you made on their sites – so does it really make them hypocritical?

    On the other hand, if they came along and used coercive government power to shut down this site or block access to it (like China does), then you’d have something to talk about.

  19. Felix

    If journalists can’t make their point without insulting or offending people based on their racial background, then they are neither professional nor reasonable in their public comment. We expect more of them and certainly expect them to have an extensive vocabulary sufficiently adequate to make their point respectfully.

  20. Sarah

    Andrew Laming blocked me a couple of years ago for asking a very simple question. I will be searching my phones’ screenshots shortly.
    He’s not a very popular boy in the Redlands at the moment, for pulling a swift-y of lying to his constituents about building a university on crown land, but revealed recently in the budget that he sold it to developers.
    Also, in real life, he’s always sleaz-ing all over me, staring me up and down like predator, whenever he sees me in public, because he thinks I’m 20 years old (I’m almost forty.).

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