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Home » Australian Politics » How dare you question my Saxonality? Or George Brandis and our right to be bigots

How dare you question my Saxonality? Or George Brandis and our right to be bigots

 

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.

Cheers Comrades

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28 Comments

  1. Ray Dixon says:

    Simple test, Iain: What harm is the Act that Brandis et al want to change/water down actually doing? What harm will be done if it goes?

  2. Iain Hall says:

    Funny you should bring the notion of harm into the equation Ray because it surely follows that any restriction upon free speech should only be predicated upon preventing actual harm rather than just “hurt feelings”

  3. Ray Dixon says:

    That’s semantics, Iain. The question is one of how are we being impinged, hindered, oppressed or infringed by the existing law. And how the altered law would be of any worthwhile & tangible benefit. Your answer?

  4. Iain Hall says:

    Ray
    I argue that the problem with 18c is that there is no objective measure of actual harm and it has a tipping point that is far too low, make it more like our statutes about defamation where the plaintiff has to demonstrate real harm from the particular utterances and it would be fairer for all parties .

  5. Ray Dixon says:

    That’s not really answering my question(s), Iain. Please explain how the current law makes us worse off. Likewise, how the proposed change will make us better off. Exactly how, not just a general statement about ‘freedom of speech’, I would like to know how you think this law makes life any more difficult and for whom? Likewise, how would the changes benefit anyone to any worthwhile degree?

  6. Jeff G. says:

    I am a bit divided on this issue.

    Personally I think 18c is a fairly redundant law. We should have laws to stop racial hatred or inciting violence. I’m not sure that one covering hurt feelings is necessary.

    While I think that Bolt was “guilty” under the law as it stands, I didn’t think hauling him into court was the way to go. Personally I think that Bolt is a clown. He also likes to be the center of the news and paint himself as the victim of left wing thought police. This just played right into his hands.

    What I find interesting is Brandis’s rush to repeal this law. It is hardly used and to my knowledge hasn’t done any damage to anyone except Bolt (who deserved it anyway). Why the urgency to get rid of it? Oh that’s right, Andrew Bolt is the coalition’s number one trumpet player. Better look after him and soothe his hurt feelings.

    All a bit of a storm in a teacup but three things are revealed. The 18c part of the law is unnecessary. Andrew Bolt is a gigantic goose. And the coalition government looks after its mates first and fore most.

  7. Iain Hall says:

    Jeff
    Given the Bolt case occured well before the change of government its hardly a “rush to change the law” its doing something about this law when the time is available in the legislative schedule, Oh yeah and you get brownie points for your opening gambit :

    “Personally I think 18c is a fairly redundant law. We should have laws to stop racial hatred or inciting violence. I’m not sure that one covering hurt feelings is necessary. “.

  8. Ray Dixon says:

    It just doesn’t rate as a priority, Iain (thanks for NOT answering my questions, btw). That’s the whole point; why is this Govt, – after just 6 months in power – rushing to change this law when, in reality, the only person who has been impacted by it is one Andrew Bolt? And even then, the impact on him amounted to no more than a slap on the wrist. Do you get my point yet, Iain? That this is a f*cking ridiculous matter for your Coalition retrogrades to make a priority.

  9. Jeff G. says:

    It wasn’t that long ago Iain. Bolt’s court judgement was late 2011. He kept bellowing about it for months afterward. And the Libs joined in the chorus and promised they would immediately change it. As for the government not being in a hurry to change the law, well it’s only taken them six months, which is not a long time in legislative terms.

    I wasn’t looking for your “brownie points”. It’s a bad law. In Bolt’s case it nailed the right target. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a bad law, because it is. Most media commentators (including many from the biased (according to you and GD) ABC, said so at the time.

    On another note, I see that Tony Abbott is going to bring back knights and dames. A sparkling bit of policy reform that one! Any chance of him doing something that benefits everyone, instead of those who attend his dinner parties?

  10. GD says:

    Most media commentators (including many from the biased (according to you and GD) ABC, said so at the time.

    Have you any links for that recollection? The ABC applauded and gloated over the result of the Bolt case. I don’t remember any ABC journos acknowledging that it was a bad law.

    Lefty ex G-G Quentin Bryce is to be the first dame. I don’t suppose son-in-law Billy Shorten minds.

  11. GD says:

    A sparkling bit of policy reform that one! Any chance of him doing something that benefits everyone, instead of those who attend his dinner parties?

    Well, he’s doing a great job of stopping the boats full of illegal immigrants. This was one of his election promises and the majority of Australians who voted for the LNP would certainly approve.

    Another election promise was to get rid of the carbon tax and rein in outrageous spending on the global warming scam. Thus far he’s sacked Tim Flannery and the Climate Commission but has been stymied by Labor and the Greens in the Senate with regard to terminating the carbon tax. Give him time.

    The LNP are cutting needless red tape which will no doubt win much approval from small and medium business owners. Of course Gillard/Rudd Labor never understood SMEs, being that almost all of the cabinet was, and is, comprised of union hacks and bureaucrats.

    Those are three policy reforms that the majority of Australians who voted for the LNP will be most thankful for.

    Of course, if by ‘any chance of him doing something that benefits everyone’, you mean cash hand-outs and more hopelessly failed schemes such as the cash for clunkers, the fatal pink batts scheme and the many other of Labor’s misguided and attempts to ‘benefit everyone’, well, no, Tony Abbott won’t be doing that.

  12. Ray Dixon says:

    What a great list of ‘achievements’ that is, GD. Let’s look at them again:

    Stopped the boats: Yes, he has adopted the ‘If-you-arrive-in-Australia-by-boat-you-will-not-be-admitted’ policy that Rudd brought in last year and it’s working.

    Get rid of the Carbon Tax: He hasn’t done that yet but no doubt he will after July. The result of this will be negative to the Budget as it reduces Govt Revenue and increases Govt spending (on alternative climate change actions). And there will be no reduction in energy costs or other goods currently affected by the CT. That’s poor economic management, GD.

    Cutting red tape: Mate, ‘Red Tape Day’ was a PR exercise and nothing else. Those obscure changes make no difference whatsoever to small business. As one MP said, “It’s like cleaning out a room in your house that’s never used and saying ‘look what we’ve done for you’ …”

    Still to come: Abbott’s hopelessly unfunded and ridiculously excessive welfare-for-rich people scheme known as the PPL. I reckon he’ll ditch that one. Oh and he’ll repeal the Mining Tax because, you know, Gina isn’t making enough money. And that means less money for Govt too. Brilliant!

    And you reckon he’s not into handouts? He certainly is, as long you’re well off already he’ll give you more. If you’re not in the top end of earners though you’re going to get slugged one way or another. Most likely by a higher and/or wider GST. They’ll have to do that because Tony & Jo can’t bring down the deficit. Face it mate, there are only two Liberal front benchers with any real business experience. The first is Malcolm Turnbull, and look how they treat him – they don’t listen to him. And the other is someone called Sinodinos. Enough said.

  13. GD says:

    Looks like I hit a nerve..

    Get rid of the Carbon Tax: He hasn’t done that yet but no doubt he will after July. The result of this will be negative to the Budget as it reduces Govt Revenue and increases Govt spending (on alternative climate change actions). And there will be no reduction in energy costs or other goods currently affected by the CT. That’s poor economic management

    Ray, why then are SMEs and large corporations such as Qantas calling for an end to the carbon tax, if it’s such ‘poor economic management’?

  14. GD says:

    Face it mate, there are only two Liberal front benchers with any real business experience.

    There are no Labor MPs with any business experience, both in the Gillard/Rudd regime or now.

  15. GD says:

    Gina isn’t making enough money. And that means less money for Govt too

    Well, no, Gina is about to make even more money, pay more tax and create more jobs. You’d think leftists would be glad about this, but instead they prefer to tear the tall poppy down and grovel in government funded programs which do nothing but waste public money.

    Here’s another example of Labor’s misguided policies coming home to roost.

  16. richard ryan says:

    Sir Andrew Bolt—–is this an April Fools Joke?

  17. Iain Hall says:

    Richard refresh your browser to see may new post 😉

  18. Iain Hall says:

    Freedom of speech (Repeal of S. 18C) Bill 2014
    The Racial Discrimination Act 1975 is amended as follows:
    1. Section 18C is repealed.
    2. Sections 18B, 18D and 18E are also repealed.
    3. The following section is inserted:

    1. “ It is unlawful for a person to do an act, otherwise than in private, if:
    a. the act is reasonably likely:
    i. to vilify another person or a group of persons; or
    ii. to intimidate another person or a group of persons,
    and
    b. the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of that person or that group of persons.
    2. For the purposes of this section:
    a. vilify means to incite hatred against a person or a group of persons;
    b. intimidate means to cause fear of physical harm:
    1. to a person; or
    2. to the property of a person; or
    3. to the members of a group of persons.
    3. Whether an act is reasonably likely to have the effect specified in sub-section (1)(a) is to be determined by the standards of an ordinary reasonable member of the Australian community, not by the standards of any particular group within the Australian community.
    4. This section does not apply to words, sounds, images or writing spoken, broadcast, published or otherwise communicated in the course of participating in the public discussion of any political, social, cultural, religious, artistic, academic or scientific matter.”

  19. Ray Dixon says:

    “This section does not apply to words, sounds, images or writing spoken, broadcast, published or otherwise communicated in the course of participating in the public discussion of any political, social, cultural, religious, artistic, academic or scientific matter.”

    There’s the ‘get out’ clause. It’s open slather.

  20. Ray Dixon says:

    why then are SMEs and large corporations such as Qantas calling for an end to the carbon tax, if it’s such ‘poor economic management’?

    I was referring to the economic management of the budget and you’ve once again quoted me out of context, GD. Businesses don’t want the carbon tax because it’d be good for them to reduce costs. All businesses want to pay less. Maybe the Govt should introduce a zero tax rate – you’d probably call that ‘good management’!!! Do you know anything about economics at all or are you being willfully obtuse?

    And Gina would be paying even more tax if she hadn’t delayed or deferred profit to after when she estimates Abbott will repeal the mining tax. Are you a business person, GD? Do you carefully manage your tax affairs to reduce tax? Or does all this go over your head?

  21. GD says:

    Leave the personal out of it Ray. As for economic management of the budget, well, Labor were really on top of that weren’t they?

  22. Ray Dixon says:

    What’s “personal” about that, GD? You misquoted me (or made my quote out to mean something else) and then put up a dumb reply a response that indicated you didn’t understand economics and business. I’ll call you on that every time.

  23. GD says:

    There’s the ‘get out’ clause. It’s open slather.

    Not at all. As a learned columnist has written today, ” we are not children who need to be silenced or monsters who need to be gagged”.

  24. Ray Dixon says:

    This will cause problems in our society, GD.

  25. Ray Dixon says:

    Iain said (on another thread):

    ” ….. about 18c out there in voter-land there is a great deal of disgust about that clause and how it has been by self seeking loud mouths to support their ethnic vanities.”

    Iain, that’s plain wrong. People aren’t exactly marching in the streets demanding this change. There’s been no public ground swell of opinion driving these proposed amendments and only Bolt and his supporters are in favour of it. So this Govt jumps to Bolt’s call does it?

  26. Ray Dixon says:

    And it’s interesting that there are rumblings in Cabinet that Brandis has gone too far:

    One minister said: ”George has really drunk the right-wing Kool-Aid.”

    Love it.

  27. Iain Hall says:

    Why am I at all surprised that you should cite that Fairfax piece? the reality is that all legislation goes through cabinet and that all bills and their wording is subject to a process where all within that room explore the way to achieve the desired goal. To suggest as You and Fairfax that Brandis has been “rolled” grossly exaggerates the situation.

  28. Jeff G. says:

    He hasn’t got his way, which means his proposals have indeed been rolled. More concerning for the Libs is the fact that Cabinet is leaking to the press and that some in the LNP are standing up to the hard right. Fortunately there are some smart moderates in the Coalition, not just Bolt worshippers (most of the “right wing kool aid” is coming from him.) Even Abbott I don’t see as being that far right, given his proposals to recognize indigenous people in the constitution. Or maybe he wants to be seen as a racial reformer, like Keating and Rudd? Who knows.

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