Self-described sex god and often light-hearted Fairfax columnist Sam de Brito has finally injected some common sense into the “terrorists on the ABC” debate. Yes, we were also surprised that his would be the voice of reason in this whole preposterous mess, but he used his column yesterday to issue a heartfelt cri de coeur on behalf of free speech. And, as he might say in other circumstances, he absolutely nailed it.
The column mentions both lefty outrage over Fred Nile’s appearance on Q&A special “gay episode” last week and the government (and its News Corp mouthpieces) going apoplectic about Zaky Mallah’s appearance on Monday. De Brito writes:
“What’s far more disturbing than the predictable outrage every Tuesday morning, is how large sections of Australia seem to flirt with the idea people like Nile or Zaky Mallah should be silenced.
“This is not to say trickheads like either of these men should be given their own syndicated radio show, but is Australia’s moral psychology really so fragile it can’t resist the occasional late-night cameo from the fringes of pluralist society?”
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Good on you, de Brito. We could not have said it better ourselves. If our Prime Minister seriously thinks that the only thing keeping hordes of Australians from upping sticks to Syria is that they have never heard of the possibility of joining up with Islamic State, then our democracy (and the Australian moral character) is very fragile indeed. We say the foundation of a free and open society is freedom to express beliefs we might find abhorrent. De Brito ends his well thought-out treatise by paraphrasing John Milton, but we’ll just quote directly:
“Though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously, by licensing and prohibiting, to misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter?”
— Cassidy Knowlton