From my appearance with a (now greying) red beard, blond hair and blue eyes its pretty obvious that I have some measure of Anglo Saxon blood in my veins, thanks to the period of English history when the Saxons were ascendant . What would people think if I were to begin to insist that I am a Saxon? Or if my children were to do the same and therefore ignoring the fact that their Opa was a Dutchman from Rotterdam? Or that their Grandmother’s family were all good Irish Catholics? Under the way of thinking of those who sued Andrew Bolt I or my children should forever be unquestioned were we to insist that we are Saxons (even though my daughter has dark hair and hazel eyes ) if my family insisting that we are Saxons is a shallow a conceit, and one that I could insist upon would it make someone a bigot if they were to question that conceit? I might certainly dislike my conceits being questioned, I might even feel offended , insulted even a bit intimidated because I have had something as fundamental as they way that I ethically self identify but would it mean that those who ask those uncomfortable questions are “bigots” ?
Yesterday in the senate our Attorney General said in answer to a question that “every Australian has the right to be a bigot” it was a nicely put argument that has got the latte sippers choking on their milky brews because I gather that many on the left are rather certain that being a bigot is about the worst thing that its possible to be unless you are an adult with an unhealthy interest in the contents of a child’s underpants which is of course just a (little) bit worse. Strangely enough Pat Condell published a vid yesterday in which bigotry is quite cleverly considered, its only a short rant so please consider this:
What Condell’s rant tells us with some clever wit is that the politically correct want to control the way that people speak , often for rather noble reasons, but noble reasons or not the result is more toxic than the intemperate speech that the PC police would have silenced. Which brings us back to the clause in the racial vilification act that the government proposes to seriously amend.
The problem that our friends from the left far too often use a claim of bigotry as a sort of universal shut up when there is a truth that they find uncomfortable, a certain learned gentleman of this blogs acquaintance was very fond of insisting that anyone who thinks that marriage should only be between one man and one woman is a bigot. Our learned friend is obviously wishing to see the standing of homosexuals in our society raised and more respected. Likewise our own Ray Dixon is extremely sensitive about the way that Muslims and Aboriginals are perceived in our society he has the most noble motives in his desire to see multiculturalism work and to ensure that those from outside the majority are do not have to endure any kind of prejudicial treatment. The problem with wanting to enforce any sort of superficial niceness is that the result is a sort of bullying that Pat Condell so eloquently rails against in his video it ends up protecting that which, in a civil society, should be free to explore ventilate and maybe reconsider. Thus when 18c was used to shut Andrew Bolt up so that the notion of self selected ethnic identity by those who sued him under 18c would remain unconsidered, our society lost a good opportunity to take a long hard look at ourselves and just what it means to have any sort of ethnic identity. Some who harshly ventilate their own feelings or beliefs of such issues may certainly meet the definition of bigotry but the way to counter such views is not with the blunt instrument of a widely cast law but by their fellows convincing them that the prejudice is both wrong and more importantly unproductive and unlikely to “win friends or influence people”.
What George Brandis was saying is an iteration of the famous Voltaire aphorism , namely “I utterly disagree with what you are saying but I will defend, to the death, your right to say it” its not a principle that we should disavow at all if we want to enjoy a truly free and pluralistic society but its a sad reflection of of friends from the left who are both very keen to be the champions of free speech and to enforce”niceness” is it any wonder that they are being called hypocrite?
So lets defend free speech and encourage niceness in social discourse because, to cite another aphorism you can lead a horse to water but you can’t force him to drink.