Cory Bernardi's Petition: Managed Dissent or a Step in the Right Direction? by Ian Wilson LL.B.
Most of us are aware that Senator Cory Bernardi has an on-line petition, "Free Speech Petition" at http://www.corybernardi.com/18c_petition.
The petition seeks for parliament to remove the most troubling words from section 18 C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, the words being "offend" and "insult". This would still leave the words "humiliate" and "intimidate" in the section, which would operate as before.
Is this a step forward, or this this managed dissent?
The answer is: both. It is a step forward, as eliminating these words would knock down almost all of the problematic cases from the Bolt case to the University student ones. It is thus worth supporting for that reason.
However, there is weighty opinion that has been made repeatedly in The Australian by legal commentators, that the entire section needs to go. A good book arguing for more comprehensive reforms, especially to defences, is No Offence Intended: Why Section 18 C is Wrong (2016).
I think the presently "offended" ethnics will only now claim that they are "humiliated." There is only a thin line between being offended and being humiliated, and today, all those offended will say that they are also humiliated, and naturally intimidated, because the bar is very low in the politically correct landscape.
Also, there is a low threshold about feeling "intimidated" as well - recall that uber-liberal/Democrat students in the United States have cried about being "intimidated' by old Donny Trump, and mere chalk marks on the pavement have sent them flying to their "safe spaces."
Probably without completely junking the section, the main concerns will be replicated using an alternative strategy. Then we will have to go through all of this nonsense again, and again, and again. Like Groundhog Day (1993).
Time for a spring cleaning of all the politically correct rubbish
What we should be pushing for is an amendment to the Constitution to enshrine a right of free speech, as, or more powerful than the American First Amendment:
Parliament shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
How about that one Pauline?
This point needs to be made to Bernardi, who is most likely trying to give a compromise so Liberals are not confronted with facing their worst nightmare: the ulta-powerful ethnic/multicult lobby.