From the comfortable, well-paid and powerful position he holds in the Federal Parliament, Senator George Brandis, Coalition Shadow Attorney-General, Senior Counsel (SC) and long-serving Parliamentarian intoned:
“Offensive and insulting words are part of the robust democratic process which is essential to a free country.”
Now we know that Parliament is a tough and robust environment in Australia. We know that both sides attack each other with vigour in the Parliament and expect the other side to respond in kind. That’s why both Houses have presiding officers and Standing Orders to ensure that debate does not descend into defamation. We expect our Parliamentarians to both strongly represent us and to be thick-skinned enough to withstand a fair amount of invective, often confected.
However the situation enjoyed by the privileged men and women who sit in Parliament does not represent the situation faced by vilified minorities out in the community, who have neither the platform to speak out from nor the public reach of their vilifiers.
Hence, up until the Bolt case provided a (temporary) pause, shock jocks, trash media and tabloid TV have been able to create an environment where it seems any idiot can get into the comments section of newspapers, onto talkback radio and into social media and parade their hatred and freely defame Indigenous people, ethnic and religious minorities, refugees and asylum seekers, as well as GLBTI people and women.
Perhaps as George Brandis enjoys his comfortable office, his generous salary and working conditions, his ability to have his views readily heard and published and his community respect and prestige he may like to ponder the following – just a small sample from our files:
Uplifting stuff for sure…