RE: Submission on Proposed Amendments to the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (FREEDOM OF SPEECH (REPEAL OF S. 18C) BILL 2014)
I endorse this proposed change to the legislation, and give it my full support.
The Bolt prosecution was a deliberate attempt to stifle debate on a series of issues critical to our understanding of Australian identity today. We need the freedom to discuss and debate issues of race, socioeconomic privilege and ethnic identity. These are all powerful and enriching aspects of modern Australian culture.
What is less enriching – for most of us – is the use of these factors to obtain privileged access to taxpayer-funded largesse. Those who currently enjoy this privileged access have been very quick to try to shut these debates down, for obvious financial reasons.
Existing defamation laws can take care of any attack on personal reputation. Existing laws against incitement to violence, stalking and other forms of harassment can take care of any other potential damage. People like me – open supporters of the State of Israel – are also quite happy to defend the Jewish community here and abroad against any re-emerging anti-Semitism. (I am proud to be on the public record as having done so when I saw an Israeli-owned business being targeted by anti-Semitic demonstrators at a local shopping centre.)
I note with interest that on 16 March 2014, Newcastle Trades Hall Council secretary Gary Kennedy told a public meeting that a gay man, Alan Joyce, should be shot in the back of the head for making mistakes in corporate leadership. He has since been forced to apologise for this comment, and for offensive and misogynist remarks about other business leaders.
This is what we do in a civilised and free society when someone does something as obviously crude and bigoted as this – we give them the freedom to show their bigotry, and then we shine a powerful light on it and refute it. Everyone has a chance to see how small-minded and ignorant people like Gary Kennedy are, and this is why they should not be denied their moment in the limelight.
I look forward to both Houses of Parliament showing their commitment to true freedom by taking a strong stance against bigotry and injustice, and passing this Bill.