Tony Abbott and George Brandis – champions of “freedom of speech” hate speech

Flushed with the recent victory of its owner Rupert Murdoch in the Federal elections, The Australian decided to highlight what it obviously considers as a triumph for the new regime and a number one priority.

Budget cuts announced? Talks with regional partners? Business taxes? Education?

No folks, it was this (paywall).

NB If you type the article title into the Google search box you will be able to read the whole article

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Some highlights (or lowlights) of the article

TONY Abbott plans to roll back Labor’s laws that limit free speech on the basis of not “giving offence”, defend religious freedom and reform the Australian Human Rights Commission.

When conservatives use the word “reform” it inevitably means a backward step. So until we hear otherwise it no doubt means that that the AHRC is going to be stifled, its powers reduced and its individual commissioners cut in number.

This would involve amending the Racial Discrimination Act, which prohibits remarks that offend others on grounds of race or ethnicity. This was the provision used to prosecute newspaper columnist Andrew Bolt.

So rabble-rousing second-rate hacks and aggro shock jocks, along with the bogotariat in the ‘burbs we deal with here will be given open slather to hate and vilify.

The text of the Act is here

Quote from Abbott:

” ….then we’ve got to allow people to say things that are unsayable in polite company

So Abbott is not only sanctioning the race to the bottom, he is happy to stand there with the starter pistol.

Tony Abbott explores the bottom

Mr Abbott’s stance on championing the right of free speech also involves support for the position of Senator Brandis that the Human Rights Commission Act may need to be amended to guarantee reform in its outlook and its promotion of traditional democratic freedoms.

In other words the AHRC, the main national safeguard against defamation and vilification of minorities, a body whose reach retired MP and former Attorney-General Nicola Roxon was hoping to strengthen and extend, is to be totally gutted – all in the name of protecting and nurturing those shonks who do not need protection.

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Senator Brandis has attacked the Human Rights Commission as “an anti-discrimination commission” with little attachment to classical human rights.

Well hey George, how do you intend to go about protecting the rights of the vulnerable and the powerless….oh wait…?

Back in March we foreshadowed such changes to the Racial Discrimination Act on this blog. We can probably say that vilified minorities will have no choice in seeking remedies but to submit to the expensive and long process of civil court litigation.

Or, as is no doubt hoped by Brandis, they will silently endure defamation, harassment and vilification to keep happy all of those pure-at-heart libertarians, including members of his own party.

So is Brandis going to abolish the protected status MPs and Senators enjoy under parliamentary privilege? Like Liberals Corey Bernardi and Luke Simpkins for instance?

In fact the appalling far right stink think tank Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), a frat boy grooming club and finishing school for future Coalition pollies, has suggested that “market forces” will punish discrimination.

Yeah right…

Courts are generally rightly concerned about the impacts of racism and bigotry and sympathetic towards its unfortunate victims. However successful litigation costs money. Minorities do not have the money, sometimes do not have the language skills to easily describe their distress and sometimes do not have the experience to successfully navigate the system.

The landmark findings against anti-Semitic vilification Gutnick v Dow Jones & Company Inc, upheld later on appeal, came firstly from a case mounted by an individual with considerable personal resources and secondly from an aggrieved Jewish organisation.

The second matter resulted in contempt charges against the defendant who refused to remove anti-Semitic material from a website.

More recently a case was brought against Andrew Bolt by nine prominent Indigenous people disgusted by Bolt’s references to their ancestry and skin colour.  Mike Carlton outlines its results here. The point of the case was not so much that these prominent people necessarily felt personally humiliated by the sneeringly patronising venal remarks made by Bolt. They would not have been surprised because like us they know full well that Bolt is an ignorant boofhead kept on a chain in Murdoch’s stable specifically to stir up those stupid enough to read his drivel.

The point was that not only were they appearing in court for themselves but they represented people who would have been aggrieved and hurt but who would not necessarily have had the wherewithal or the power to pursue such a case.

It would be desirable that all those demeaned and vilified by racists and bigots could easily and affordably access legal remedies, and that the law was enabling such access.

However it looks like the Coalition is keen to close off one of these avenues, so keen that it was one of its first announcements after what has been a puzzling policy vacuum.

The Coalition and those it protects will find out that letting the dogs loose works both ways

Read more

Senator George Brandis wants you offended and insulted

Andrew Bolt: his rights, our freedom reblogged by us here

Nuts come out after the truth has bolted

Senator George Brandis wants you offended and insulted

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.”

Brandis wants you insulted

Source

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:

Batty and the Muslim race

Anti-Indigenous

Adolf Nationalist

Peter Murphy hate speech

supremerat

Uplifting stuff for sure…

Freedom of speech