Remember the headlines about the death of free speech. Remember the editorials? The Herald-Sun saw it thus:
“But should there be a law to protect people from being offended? Gagging people from fairly and legitimately held opinions is censorship. It is a basic denial of freedom of speech, which was pointed out by Attorney-General George Brandis in front of a hostile panel and audience on Q&A on ABC television on Monday night.
“The discussion on the repeal of Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act turned into an attack on Bolt. An opinion as to some people using their ethnicity to their advantage might have been offensive to some, but should that have prevented Bolt from saying as much? The Herald Sun says the answer to this is an emphatic “no’’…
“But calling on the Government to adjudicate in a debate is to diminish people’s right to voice their opinions, blunt as they might be.
“Senator Brandis said in his option Bolt is “no racist’’ and brought some sense to the Q&A tirade by pointing out that, in his opinion, a failure to repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act in its current form is to say “political censorship is OK”. No, it’s not, and the Racial Discrimination Act, Section 18C, is an Act too far.”
And remember how terribly Mr Bolt suffered after he lost the case. Ok, he didn’t do jail time and he wasn’t fined, but the judge found that many of the claims he made were factually inaccurate, and if a journalist like Andrew is restricted to making accurate statements, it’d only be a matter of time before he lost his job. Luckily 18C only applies to certain areas so Mr Bolt has been able to happily continue to write the world has been cooling for the past seventeen years in spite of record temperatures.
No, the terrible treatment he suffered was that he was found to have breached the law. I imagine it must be very hard for him trying to speak to members of the Coalition. “We can’t work with that man,” they must be saying. I know, I know, it’s an “unjust law”. We all should be able to say whatever we like without the need to stick the facts… I mean, if it’s good enough for the President of the United States, then surely…
Anyway, the Coalition must surely be shunning Bolt as the man was found to have broken the law. I’ve been trying to find the condemnation, but it must have been removed from the internet because they were all inaccurately calling him South African or something, and therefore it offended him and breached 18C Not that being called “South African” is insulting per se, it’s just that as he was born in Australia to a Dutch parent and therefore still has the trace of some strange accent… And by strange I wouldn’t want to insult or offend anybody, whether Dutch, South African or Boltish… or even Baltic…
Whatever, I’m sure that the right wing must have really got stuck into Andrew, given their condemnation of Sally McManus for merely suggesting that where laws are unjust – such as illegal walk-offs when safety is breached – then she’d support unions who took action . “We can’t work with her,” said Turnbull. (I guess they won’t be able to work with Adani now either.) Christopher Pyne said that there’d be chaos if Australians failed to follow the law. Michaelia Cash said that it was an “extraordinary admission” that McManus thought that unions could pick and choose when they broke the law and when they didn’t. (Actually, I suspect that everybody “picks and chooses” when they break the law, then it’s up to the police to “choose” to find us and arrest or fine us!) And George Brandis, the chief law officer of the land, said nothing… probably because he’s too busy preparing the diary that the court ordered him to release it six months ago.
So if that’s how the Coalition reacted to someone who merely said that she’d support unions who broke unjust laws, imagine how they must have treated poor Andrew Bolt who actually breached a law! He must be a complete person non grata in Liberal-land.
Or is it a case of all laws are equal but we didn’t write all of them, so some laws are more unjust than others?