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Tag Archives: Racial vilification

Hate Speech Is Not Free Speech!

After proposing then abandoning a raft of manifestly unpopular changes to section 18C of Australia’s racial vilification laws last year, certain members of the LNP have recently relaunched their attack on 18C, under the rather disingenuous pretext of championing free speech.

In the wake of the Charlie Hedbo attacks Cory Bernardi has been out there again, calling for the LNP’s precious 18C amendments to be put back on the table.

Like pit bulls with lock jaw, a gang of radical right wing MP’s including Cory Bernardi, George Brandis, Dean Smith, liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm, and Family First’s Bob Day have been lobbying hard to ensure we Aussies have the right to engage in hate speech.

cory-bernardi-the-conservative-revolution

Just for clarity, lets take a closer look at what it is they want to change. Specifically they want to have the words “offend, insult and humiliate” removed from the act.

RACIAL DISCRIMINATION ACT 1975 – SECT 18C

Offensive behaviour because of race, colour or national or ethnic origin

(1) It is unlawful for a person to do an act, otherwise than in private, if:

(a) the act is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people; and

(b) 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 in effect what they are proposing is that it would just fine to PUBLICLY “offend, insult and humiliate” someone based on their race, colour or national or ethnic origin, so long as you don’t “intimidate” them.

I think it’s fairly safe to say that most people would find public insult and humiliation somewhat intimidating; so we can assume that the interpretation to be given to the word “intimidate” under the proposed amendments would be “to directly physically threaten”, rather than “to emotionally threaten”.

If these changes were ushered in then theoretically it would be OK if I were to call Tony Abbott filthy, unwashed, lazy, whinging, snaggle toothed, imperialist, stuck up, limey British scum? And that would be totally OK, because I am all I am doing is using racial stereotypes to abuse him, but I am not actually threatening to do him any harm. Of course the truth is that most British people work hard, wash regularly, visit dentists, aren’t seeking to expand their empire, and complain in relatively appropriate measure..:-), but hey why let the truth get in the way of good story.

wp-egg

Unfortunately what these right wing warriors are failing to understand is that the Racial Discrimination Act is not really about protecting the feelings of “white people”. It was drafted in the knowledge that there are ethnic groups in this country that really suffer as a result of constant racial abuse and the negative stereo types that such abuse fosters.

no racist

To our shame there are many Australians, (most notedly our indigenous brothers and sisters, followed closely by those of African or “middle eastern appearance”) that regularly suffer systemic discrimination in housing and employment on the basis of their race. They are the same Australians that regularly suffer physical abuse in public spaces, and higher rates of detention and incarceration on account of their race. So please let’s not minimise this, these are real consequences, for real people!

Free speech is a noble ideal, but in order for something to be truly free it must come without a cost. Just because hate mongers like Andrew Bolt, Alan Jones and the oh so white fleet of right wing MP’s don’t personally pay the price for their racist tirades doesn’t mean someone isn’t picking up the tab. And too frequently those picking up the tab are the among the poorest and most marginalised members of our Australian family.

andrew-bolt-2

If you happen to belong to one of those oft targeted minorities the Racial Discrimination Act may not offer a lot of protection, but it is the thin end of a very important wedge. It is a line in the sand that says NO, we as Australians do NOT want a society where racial vilification and negative racial stereotypes are permitted to fester and stew in the public sphere. We want an Australia that says racists need to be ashamed, knowing that they are on the wrong side of what is morally decent, and on the wrong side of the law. We want an Australia where vile hate speech does land Andrew Bolt in court and up on charges. Mostly we want an Australia that is for the fair go for everyone regardless of race, colour or creed.

AFL call out

So Mr Bernadi, I say this to you on behalf of all decent, fair minded Australians….. GET BACK IN YOUR BOX!!!, we don’t want the hate you are peddling!!!

 

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The erosion of our democratic system

Unless you own a newspaper or a mining company, or are happy to turn a blind eye to the erosion of our democratic values then it would be difficult to get an argument from you that the Abbott Government continues to go from bad to worse.

But one of worse characteristics of this government, and one that receives little attention, is its determination to silence any dissent. It is this silencing of dissent and the erosion of our democratic values that prompted ‘Joe W’ to write this letter to The AIMN:

I’m sick of being called anti-democratic, or a ‘sore loser’ (among other insults) over the election result and told to swallow this government’s lies whole. My response to this incorrect assertion and attempt to silence me is as follows: My complaint is not over the election result, rather how the election was won and that the Abbott Coalition is using this result as justification for the erosion of our democratic system. Here are a few examples off the top of my head from the few short months under the Abbottocracy:

1. Disbanding of expert governmental panels that give government best scientific and economic advice from which to enact policy, which is a way of not being held to account for their decision in the public forum e.g. Climate Council.

2. The disbanding of committees representing the people and front line workers of industries and peak bodies giving voice to policy debate – across the board – silencing the voice of the people in their respective fields e.g. law reform committee, alcohol and other drugs council.

3. The aggressive and threatening rhetoric directed towards the workers of Australian public agencies and expert committees, backed up by severe cuts and summary disbandment and sackings. Clearly designed to silence any dissent, even where it may be in the best interest of the Australian people, adhere to scientific reason and well-founded economic rationale e.g. latest example being the marine park authority.

4. The stacking of governmental panels with members with clear bias or conflict of interest, thus ensuring predetermined outcomes of the governments design. This is not democracy, it is exercise in the sanitation of dictatorship e.g. a panel of review into renewables headed by a fervent opponent of wind generated energy, yet another review into education dismissing the findings of Gonski and headed by an avowed critic of our open and secular curriculum, the head of the audit of budget being a representative of big business with a myriad of vested interest in privatization and corporate expansion.

5. Attacks upon the press, not just the unfounded accusations and threats leveled against the ABC but also mainstream commercial media, who are often derided into silence.

6. The attacks upon unions, which like it or not, represent the interests of Australian workers and their families – many whom have lost their jobs since the Coalition came to power e.g. setting up a royal commission against unions, bringing back tough Howard era restrictions and sanctions against union activities and members.

7. Increase costs to FOIs, increasing barriers for the press and individual citizens to be able to gain information on governmental action.

8. The increasingly secretive process of negotiations towards the TPP – signing over our nation’s sovereign rights to the interests of multinational corporations with no proper Senate oversight or representation in these negotiations for representatives for the interests of the Australian people.

9. Massive cuts to legal aid services. Equality before the law being a basic principal of democracy and expert representation essential to the rule of impartiality.

10. The undermining of international law and institutions designed to protect our freedoms, support peaceful, cohesive and productive relations, and to give forum to international negotiation and efforts towards constructive and sustainable objectives e.g. snubbing international climate change forum, dissing international conventions and siding with the perpetrators of the most blatant breaches against liberty.

11. Refusing to make government papers available to opposition parties (representative of the people) an act of refusal not once seen by the previous government, despite the numerous requests and attacks of Australia’s most aggressive opposition.

12. The labeling of any dissent or questioning as unpatriotic and insinuation of alignment with an ‘enemy’. The usage of the rhetoric of war in a time of peace as means of shutting down inquiry. The vilification of peoples, groups and attacks upon the right to protest and public assembly. The framing of discussion in terms of us and them and manipulation towards siding citizens against a common enemy. Fear mongering and the fanning of the flames of hate. The examples here being too numerous to mention but clearly designed to create a climate of fear over threats to our way of life and orchestrating a divisiveness preventing a reasoned examination of issues facing our nation.

Democracy encompasses more than one vote per person every 3 years. The points listed above clearly demonstrate the aggressive silencing of the people and an erosion of the institutions of democracy designed to give a voice to represent the interests of all Australian citizens.

 

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