Even though Andrew Bolt lost his race discrimination case in the Federal Court this morning, who actually won?

The nine “fair-skinned Aborigines” took action against Bolt and the Herald Sun for stories and blog entries they claimed had offended them because the articles suggested they identified as Aborigines in order to gain career or other advantage.

Legally they win. But in going to court to enforce their rights in an area where free speech butts up hard against the Racial Discrimination Act, they have also succeeded in attracting a great deal of unfortunate attention that hardly helps their cause. And, given this verdict, will probably let too many racist views off the leash.

If today’s judgment turns Bolt into some kind of martyr — as it surely will among his coterie of like-minded supporters, including many in the populist media who will rally to him like moths to a flame — he may turn out to be the courtroom loser who wins the propaganda war.

The right legal decision may turn out to be really bad for the cause it attempts to serve.

Peter Fray

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