After being refused a visa to come to Australia, US anti-choice extremist Troy Newman yesterday was allowed to board a plane to Melbourne anyway — or more correctly, he claimed that God had allowed him onto the plane — to attempt to enter the country despite the government’s decision. Newman is now fighting his deportation (he’s filed an injunction in the Federal Court).

After Crikey broke the story of Newman’s visit on Monday, Labor MP Terri Butler wrote to Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to ask that Newman’s visa to enter Australia be reconsidered, given he has, among other inflammatory statements such as comparing women who have abortions to murderers, called for the execution of doctors who provide abortions. Dutton and his department correctly decided to cancel his visa.

That decision has nothing to do with freedom of speech: the protections afforded freedom of speech do not extend to speech that urges or incites violence against others. Calling for abortion providers to be executed is, per se, an incitement to violence. Australia would not permit a Muslim hate preacher who has called for governments to execute those who don’t follow his own sect’s views to enter the country; a Christian extremist advocating the execution of those who don’t follow his sect’s views should not be permitted either.

Newman’s views are also reckless. Even if he purports to reject vigilante violence, calling for the execution of abortion providers, and comparing women who have abortions to murderers, is the kind of inflammatory rhetoric that legitimises violence in the minds of extremists.

There has been a number of murders of abortion providers in the United States. In Australia, we witnessed the tragic 2001 murder of Stephen Rogers, an abortion clinic security guard, by Christian terrorist Peter Knight, who planned to murder everyone inside the clinic. The likes of Knight do not need any further legitimisation of their dangerous views.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey