Apr 11, 2014

Freedom of speech should not trump freedom from humiliation

The changes to the Racial Discrimination Act are not only bad policy, they are unfair, write Giri Sivaraman from Maurice Blackburn Lawyers and Macquarie University's Jessica McLean.

Recent proposed amendments to the Racial Discrimination Act  have once again starkly highlighted that debate in Australia on racism not only remains alive, it sadly still clings to insecurities over nationhood and a desire by many to perpetuate the notion that we live in a monocultural society.


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10 thoughts on “Freedom of speech should not trump freedom from humiliation

  1. Patriot

    Australia is made up of over 270 different cultures, speaking more than 260 languages and practising over 100 different faiths.

    So what? The ultimate minority is the individual. It’s plain to see why lefty lawyers are keen on this. No doubt they think chasing white aboriginals is better business than chasing ambulances.

  2. Blue Lady Orchid

    Changing the Anti- Discrimination Act that allows comments made by Andrew Bolt permissible and unaccountable is irresponsible and totally unacceptable. Australia has progressed as a Nation so lets not wind back the clock to an era when racial discrimination made any individual with a difference ‘fair’ game.

  3. Dan B

    Humiliation, insult etc. are all emotional byproducts of words. Providing those who feel vilified are not physically harmed, they need to grow thicker skin.
    The repeal of s18C simply frees up the courts that have been choked to death by individuals and or groups abusing a politically correct cancer called racial discrimination.
    Harden up. Accept who you are. Be proud of who you are. Then you are invincible to bloody words.
    You lefties cry discrimination at everything, yet when it comes time to “inform the public” carefully select your content to avoid big reasons why Australia has a society that is largely perceived to be racist.
    Take for instance a recent Magistrate ruling in Geelong regarding an Afghan immigrant, still suckling the Government tit, who is a registered sex offender and who was just cleared of any wrong doing by a person who cited “cultural differences”. You and your ilk constantly blame Australians for their lack of racial tolerance while remaining deathly quiet about other forms of racial discrimination – Australia’s. In actuality, this magistrate just inferred that Afghan culture accepts peadophelia. Something the Afghan Government has publicly refuted forever. So his ruling is racially discriminative, right? It is, absolutely, on two fronts. To Australians and to Afghans. Nothing has been said about this in the mainstream. You have to trawl the web for it.
    The whole racist topic is farcical. We have muslim protests where children are photographed holding signs saying “behead those who insult islam”. The media – too timid to give it widest dissemination, and condemn it for what it is – inciting hatred. And those few who did were told “oh I don’t speak English, I didn’t know what it said” – and swallow it. Give me a break.
    You only report one side of this ridiculous subject, and wonder why there are many speaking out against minorities. Simply put, it is because you won’t do it.
    Harden the hell up..

  4. Rais

    Dan B would be a white Anglo Saxon, right?

  5. Rais

    Every report about racism has its quota of people who have never experienced racial abuse as a member of a relatively helpless minority, trying to dictate from a lofty height what should be regarded as racism and what should not. Or telling the said helpless minority to “harden up.” Yeah right. You won’t like it if we do. My son was called a “black bastard” while shopping with his mother and he approached the abuser hoping to be hit so he could smash him citing self defence. Is that the hardening up you want?

  6. Michael Jones

    Allowing Racial vilification is a suppression of freedom of speech. Most well-off white people don’t get this, because we can’t imagine how hard it is to speak out after being barraged with that kind of abuse.

    Abusive, Racist language serves a role in keeping people invisible and unable to speak out. It is about intimidation, and driving people out of the public discussion.

    It’s no coincidence that one of the pieces Bolt was called to task for, was basically him telling a bunch of indigenous people to shut up and go away.

  7. Glen Laslett

    I think that the challenge is to draw boundaries around the principle. That is, should humiliating someone because of their weight or gender be proscribed by law? More importantly, should humiliating someone because of their political views be prohibited by legislation? I’m old enough to remember the “bad old days” of absolutely outrageous racism and that has (thankfully) largely passed. However, proscribing speech with respect to one group or genre invites proscribing it for others and then we step onto a slippery slope.

  8. Uncle Mareko

    I belong to a racial minority and am bemused by those who, like Giri and Jessica purport to speak on behalf of others who may be offended by something said publicly by someone else. Of course, here in Australia they have every right to hear it, and to be offended because here we enjoy free speech. Yet, underlying their concern is a fallacial conflation racism and free speech.
    Racism is quite distinct from free speech. It occurs whether or not free speech exists. It seems to me that racism is more deeply entrenched in societies where free speech is not allowed. Theocracies and dictatorships come readily to mind.
    In free societies it occurs too, but not because citizens of free societies, who, by definition, enjoy the right to say what they want.
    The best response to racism is ridicule, especially the offensive biting sarcasm that ridicules people who hold or express racist views. For that to occur requires that section 18C be removed.

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