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Mar 21, 2017

What 18C is, and isn't, about (and it's not free speech)

Section 18C is a problematic section of the Racial Discrimination Act -- but changing it has little to do with free speech and everything to do with the sense of grievance of powerful white people.

You’ll hear the phrase “free speech” a lot in the context of the government’s acrimonious internal debate about changing the Racial Discrimination Act. In fact, it has virtually nothing to do with free speech, and everything to do with the peculiar sense of victimhood that lurks on the right in Australia.

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33 thoughts on “What 18C is, and isn’t, about (and it’s not free speech)

  1. Shane Tremble

    “failed politician and failed broadcaster Ross Cameron” – don’t forget failed faithful husband

    1. Charlie Chaplin

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe only 5% of complaints made under the RDA 18C ever make it to court. Of that handful, literally 5 have been successfully prosecuted in the 20 or so years 18C has existed, yet everyone has an opinion on why RDA 18C must be changed or preferably abolished. You can’t get away from it; it’s on the TV news, it’s on talkback radio, it’s in the papers- digital and actual. It serves parliamentarians beautifully; they can rave on and on about it for months on end. It gives them the appearance of doing something dreadfully important while in reality doing sweet FA. What would happen if the media starved it of oxygen instead of enabling politicians to present it as the number one issue of the day?

      I don’t include Crikey in my condemnation of the media on this issue as Crikey has produced contextual articles on the RDA and 18C and D to inform the public how small an issue it actually is.

      I despair of the Australian public sometimes. We are such a stupid people. Terrible things are happening right under our noses, nobody notices, but everyone can tell you what’s wrong with the subclause of a piece of legislation that has successfully prosecuted a whopping 5 people in more than 20 years.

      Thank god the native born aren’t compelled to swear an oath of allegiance to Australia. I couldn’t. I’m ashamed of us most of the time.

  2. Electric Lardyland

    Announcing a proposed change to 18C: seems an odd way to spend Harmony Day?

  3. stephen@feneleyandco

    Well said, Bernard. That Turnbull has surrendered to the hard right on this when Abbott (for all his own personal loathing of 18C) stepped back from amending it, says everything about Turnbull’s impotence.

  4. Dave Black

    Changing 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA) has absolutely nothing to do with ‘white privilege’. This is all about the zionist Rupert Murdoch’s attempt to twist his papers into something approaching the French, so-called ‘satirical’ magazine, ‘Charlie Hebdo’. Don’t underestimate what is going on in Australia. Its nothing less than State Capture – which requires:
    1. money
    2. public influence, and
    3. political power (ie parliamentary representation)
    With Murdoch’s newspaper coverage of 70% of the market (incl. his free weekly suburbans), SKY Australia, 10% of Channel 10, his minion Michelle Guthrie gutting the ABC from the inside out (as we speak), Foxtel and with 6 Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) representatives in Federal Parliament & a sprinkling of others in state parliaments, and with control of Channel 9 by CVC Group (a spin off of Citigroup) with former treasurer Peter Costello as Chairman and the Big 4 Aussie banks majority-owned by the Wall St banks – from the perspective of national sovereignty, Australia is in a perilous situation.

    So why is State Capture so dangerous, I hear you ask. Well its much more effective than just good ol’ fashioned corruption – as it can *guarantee outcomes!

  5. graybul

    Bernard, your second last para says it all.

    1. Itsarort

      Agreed, especially the last sentence in that aforementioned paragraph.

  6. Steve Davis

    The problem with allowing the inclusion of “harass” is that it will allow open slather for one-off attacks. Harassment involves repetition.

  7. klewso

    Is there anyone more elite than this boxed mob – lunging for more unfettered rein, to be able speak what’s left of their minds without being held to account?

  8. drsmithy

    In fact, it has virtually nothing to do with free speech, and everything to do with the peculiar sense of victimhood that lurks on the right in Australia.

    There’s nothing peculiar about it. It’s standard Conservative Persecution Syndrome, and you will find it the world over.

  9. mike westerman

    One can only that just as Workchoices was a misplaced hypocritical bit of overreach that led to a momentous backlash in IR, so might this do the same and spur a backlash against defamation laws and media concentration.

    1. Charlie Chaplin

      Well Mike, I didn’t hear anything about the FWC’s penalty rates decision tonight on the TV news where most people still get their current affairs information. The news was chockas with the RDA and 18c, though. Turnbull demanding change or abolition, others demanding it be strengthened and as I said in another comment here, the RDA 18c has had FA impact here in the real world. Five successful prosecutions in more than twenty years, yet apparently it’s THE issue of the day. (smh) Am I the only one who can’t comprehend the column inches and air time given to it? The only one who thinks it’s idiot wind to distract the electorate.

  10. Nudiefish

    It is always amusing when those who can, and do, slander people under parliamentary privilege, and those media companies who buy ink by the barrel, wail about the loss of “free speech”.

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