The death of free speech in Australia


True. Andrew Bolt didn’t incite any “racial vilification or racial hatred”, and the nine “aboriginal” plaintiffs agree. Their ridiculous court case, however, and in particular their “win” is really a marker of when yet another bit of what made Australia great has been eroded away essentially, by thought police.

Freedom of speech means people get to say what you or I might not like. It’s an integeral part of a healthy democracy. A healthy democracy cannot exist without rigorous debate.

HERALD Sun columnist Andrew Bolt has lost an action brought in the Federal Court in which the columnist was accused of breaching the Racial Discrimination Act.
Bolt was found to have contravened Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

Nine aboriginal applicants brought a class-action against Bolt and the Herald and Weekly Times claiming Bolt wrote they sought professional advantage from the colour of their skin.

There were cheers and applause in the court when Justice Mordecai Bromberg read out his verdict.

He found that “fair-skinned Aboriginal people (or some of them) were reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to have been offended, insulted, humiliated or intimidated by the imputations conveyed in the newspaper articles published in the Herald Sun.

In a brief statement outside the Melbourne court after the judgment, Bolt said “This is a terrible day for freedom of speech in this country.”

“It is particularly a restriction on the freedom of all Australians to discuss multiculturalism and how people identify themselves,” he said.

“I argued then and I argue now that we should not insist on differences between us but focus instead on what unites us as human beings.”

Well said. And this court case has brought nothing but division on our nation.

Enjoy your “win”, losers. You’ve just successfully hammered in an other nail to the coffin of freedom and democracy.

UPDATE

THE Racial Discrimination Act should be reviewed following today’s court decision against Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt, civil libertarians say.

Federal Court Justice Mordy Bromberg found that fair-skinned Aboriginal people were reasonably likely to have been “offended, insulted, humiliated or intimidated by the imputations conveyed” in two articles written by Mr Bolt.

Justice Bromberg found the articles, published by the Herald Sun, contravened the Racial Discrimination Act.

But Liberty Victoria president Spencer Zifcak said that the Racial Discrimination Act was too broad. “In a public discourse people should be able to express themselves in a political and public debate that may from time to time insult or offend someone,” he said.

Mr Zifcak said the Racial Discrimination Act could be unconstitutional. “The constitutional question is yet to be resolved,” he said.

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    • Sean of Deer Park
    • September 28th, 2011

    I can not understand how the court come to this judgement. It’s hard to fathom respect for our legal system with outcomes that do not reflect the views and opinions of a society, but pander to the sensibilities of minority opinion using flaky tacked-on laws that undermine the democratic process and attack freedom of speech. I hope Andrew knows and understands most people in this Country will be shocked at this verdict.

    I pity the ‘winners’ in this case. Given the plights and real hardships faced by many people in Australia, this case has done those people no favours. Infact, I feel they have succeeded in alienating further, the very people the law was trying to protect. A sad day, indeed.

    A ‘can of worms’ has just been opened and it will be interesting to see what happens next.

      • Sean of Deer Park
      • September 28th, 2011

      PS. The title of the thread should have been: Kangaroo Court

    • The Wizard of WOZ
    • September 28th, 2011

    He should have just called them coconuts. Or does that only work if you’re a protester and not a journo?

  1. Courts and governments may try to stop me calling Geoff Clark “an abusive, light-skinned bozo” or “a buffoon draped in a possum-skin, masquerading as an Aboriginal” but they can’t ban irony; accordingly, I say that the nine plaintiffs are NOT corrupt, totalitarian-minded, freedom-threatening, professional aborigines living large at the expense of real, impoverished indigenous people, whilst pretending to feel insulted, after being exposed as the frauds they are.

    • mabba
    • September 29th, 2011

    Let’s hope the law gets thoroughly reviewed. I don’t have the precise wording, but I understand from reports that if the ‘victim’ is offended (& the victim determines this), then racial discrimination has occurred & is illegal. I also don’t understand the judgment about ‘intent’ – how can somebody’s ‘intent’ be decided, short of mind reading?
    An appeal’s probably not much use with the law as it stands, since judges can only interpret the law, & if it’s badly constructed…

  2. Now Prof. Robert Manne has spoken against free speech: only orthodox experts, he declares, should be allowed to speak on scientific issues.

  1. October 8th, 2011

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