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FREE SPEECH IN AUSTRALIA FURTHER JEOPARDISED - The Cancellation of David Icke’s Entry Visa By Nigel Jackson

     On 20th February The Australian published a substantial news report under the headline: ‘Australia “top pick for hate preachers”’. We learned that two Jews, Dvir Abramovich, chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission, and Josh Burns, the preselected Labor candidate for the Melbourne seat of Macnamara, had appealed to Immigration Minister David Coleman to ban British writer David Icke from entry into Australia. Icke is a voluminous writer in the ‘alternative history’ field, some of whose work I looked at many years ago and decided was significantly unreliable. He struck me as comparable to that other extraordinary but deluded man, L. Ron Hubbard. I carry no flag for Icke’s work. His proposed tour was titled ‘Everything you need to know’, which suggests self-inflation.

     However, The Australian began its report by labelling him a ‘Holocaust denier.’ It stated that he has campaigned to have ‘Holocaust denial’ taught in schools, that he claims that the Rothschild family are among the leaders of an ‘Illuminati’ that runs the world, that he believes that ‘a small Jewish clique’ helped cause various disasters including both the world wars, the Bolshevik revolution, the global financial crisis in 2008 and the September 11 attacks. He may not be entirely wrong in all of that; and these are topics which may require open discussion if we are to make some sense of contemporary politics, national and international. The fact that an unreliable egoist holds forth on them does not justify excluding them or him from our public forums. The scare campaign started by Burns and Abramovich looks to contain gross exaggeration; and a Jewish demand to curtail criticism of Jews appears to be special pleading.

     I at once wrote the following letter to The Australian:  ‘David Icke's views that we are subject to control by an alien "lizard people" does not instil confidence in his rationality, but he should be allowed to visit Australia ("Australia 'top pick for hate preachers'", 20/2). This is because we should firmly protect the principle of authentic free speech in our nation. Nor, for the same reason, should terms like "Holocaust denial" or "anti-Semitic hate preachers" be used to close down dissident arguments about the Nazi period of German history. Not all revisionist historians are neo-Nazis or lovers of authoritarian and militaristic governments; and some of their published research appears to have value. Jewish groups would be wiser to avoid inflamed language and concentrate on calling for careful and gracious discussion of matters that affect their interests and on which they are justified in calling for decent and fair-minded commentary rather than rabble-rousing.’ This letter did not appear. In any case, it was too late, for the very next day, 21st February, The Australian published a report under the headline ‘Jewish genocide denier’s visa axed.’ We learned that his visa had been cancelled ‘just hours before’ he was to board a flight for Australia. Abramovich was quoted as calling the cancellation a ‘defining moment for who we are as a nation’ and a declaration ‘that anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers will never find a home in Australia.’

     This last minute government decision met with approval from a contributor to the Letters column next day, Rod Steed from Booragoon in Western Australia, who wrote: ‘It was with great delight that I was able to read yesterday that this obnoxious individual has been denied entry to Australia. My thanks to the powers responsible for stopping Icke in his tracks.’ In response to Steed I submitted the following letter to the paper, which did not appear: ‘I wonder if Rod Steed realizes, while he applauds the cancellation of an entry visa to Australia for controversialist David Icke (22/2), that he is dancing on the grave of free speech.  The last minute refusal is not a "defining moment for who we are as a nation" as Dver Abramovich stated ("Jewish genocide denier's visa axed", 21/2), but follows on from the mistreatment of historian David Irving in the 1990's. Both cases regrettably display a federal government abandoning principle in order to please a financially powerful lobby.’

The Age in Melbourne also reported the ban on Icke on 21st February under the headline ‘Ban on conspiracy theorist Icke’, but did not publish the following letter, which I submitted on the 22nd. ‘The "bizarre claims" of English controversialist David Icke are unlikely to gain much support in our land ("Ban on conspiracy theorist Icke", 21/2), and the last minute cancellation of his visa is hardly "a defining moment for who we are as a nation", as Dver Abramovitch has claimed. However, some of Icke's reported views, which clearly offend a powerful lobby, deserve open discussion. It is a pity that, as with the treatment of David Irving in the 1990s, our government has sacrificed the principle of free speech to placate that lobby.’ To date (27th February) neither paper has been willing to publish any letter of opposition to this ban. I find this a horrifying betrayal of the principle of free speech.     So did Eve Fisher, a former journalist with The Age, who now works for The Geelong Advertiser. On 22nd February she published online an opinion piece entitled ‘The day Australian freedom died’. This is an extraordinary statement from someone working within Australian journalism. Fisher reported that ‘Media outlets won’t touch this piece’, one ‘major group’ claiming that there was no room to run it online! Another such group claimed that it was too polemical.

     Fisher pointed out that the government ban is indubitably an attack on the principle of free speech. She noted: ‘We take it for granted that we can say what we like, as long as we are not encouraging people to hurt others, or, indeed, themselves. Inciting violence is not the same as enjoying freedom of speech. Being hateful is also not inciting violence; it’s being nasty. There’s a difference and knowing this difference is the defining line between those who believe in the fundamental tenets of freedom of speech and those who believe in it as long as it suits their politically correct, pandering agenda.’ She castigated Coleman’s act of cancelling the visa as ‘malicious’ and added: ‘There was no warning – despite the speaking-tour visa being approved in September – and its timing was obviously designed to cause maximum disruption.’ That, or (one might suggest) the government had suddenly been subjected to extreme pressure or inducement.

     Apparently Coleman stated that Icke’s views on ‘Zionism, vaccination and global warming’ meant that he was no longer a suitable candidate to be espousing his views here. Fisher, who is Jewish herself, added that ‘contrary to popular belief, Icke is neither a Holocaust denier nor a Jew-hater’, but that he ‘takes issue with Zionism as a political organisation, not Jews.’ She denounced the hypocrisy implicit in the ban. ‘I’m seeing a pattern here. Icke coins it the totalitarian tiptoe, the slow erosion of our freedom in the name of so-called progressive protectionism that ultimately indulges the few at the expense of the many.’ Fisher also noted that Icke has been here ten times before ‘and never once has he preached hate or violence, nor have there been any incidents at, or in relation to, any of his events. Fisher deserves high praise for the courage she has shown in defending the principle of free speech. Australians generally need to ensure that this deplorable piece of censorship remains publicly unacceptable and is not used to further erode public discussion on controversial topics, including those affecting Jewish interests.



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