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Politically Correct Culture is “Muzzling” Free Speech (Whoever Would Have Thought That?) by Ian Wilson LL.B.
Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, the Alice Springs councillor and daughter of former Aboriginal MP Bess Price, recently had this to say about section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act and the culture of political correctness:
“Political correctness is a set of rules that governs the way in which we use language about, or towards, minority groups so as not to offend them. Oddly, people of Caucasian backgrounds are exempt from this protection. They are fair game... .
If a non-Aboriginal person attempts to address any of these issues [of Aboriginal poverty and dysfunction] and an Aboriginal person is offended, they can simply call out “racist” and the debate is shut down...
What, then, are the non-Aboriginal people to do in order to address any issues their Aboriginal or ethnic loved ones are facing? How are they supposed to deal with the issues causing incredible suffering to their fellow Australians who happen not to be white?
I believe 18C invalidates the idea that we are all human and hold differing opinions. It denies basic human nature that allows us critical thinking and the means to learn and grow. It is absurd that 18C ever became legislation...
The Racial Discrimination Act has made many who identify as indigenous believe they are exempt from its provisions. That they can’t be racist and therefore they feel free to insult, offend and humiliate whomever they please. They do it to white people and they do it to other Aboriginal people who refuse to follow the “party line”.
In Alice Springs a member of the public is far more likely to be randomly assaulted, physically or verbally, if they are perceived as “white” rather than “black”. Grossly offensive racist insults are used liberally in the streets of Alice Springs against white people. I have walked the streets of this town with my white friends to protect them from this sort of thing. But there have been no complaints under 18C, which is not seen as a protection of the rights of Australians generally. White Australians feel intimidated, not protected, by this act.
Both my mother (a senior Warlpiri woman and former minister of the crown) and I have been vilified in obscene sexist and racist terms by somebody who described themselves as an indigenous activist, because we refuse to be told what to think and say. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been called a coconut and much worse.
We have not once been insulted in racist terms by white people, not as far as we know. And if that happens we know how to defend ourselves. We aren’t victims, we aren’t afraid to stand up for our people and ourselves.
Our people are suffering and their problems are daunting and complex. We will not find the answers if we are denied the right to take part in an open and honest debate.
We can’t do that without offending those who are ideologically committed to the party line that has been laid down by the activists of the eastern cities and their white allies.
They are educated, speak English and know how to use the system against anybody with whom they disagree. We speak for the most marginalised, those whom the education system has failed, who are often illiterate and don’t speak standard English.
It is not just the white people who are closed down, it’s also the most marginalised and least powerful of the Aboriginal population who are denied a voice by the self-appointed spokespeople who know nothing of the circumstances in which they live. The agenda is controlled by an English-speaking Aboriginal middle class ignorant of the values and issues of those who live remotely.
The Racial Discrimination Act’s 18C treats us Aboriginal Australians as infants who can’t speak or stand up for ourselves. It treats non-Aboriginal people as if they have no right to hold an opinion about anything that relates to us, especially the problems of our own making that are killing us.
White people are not game to speak out. That should never be allowed to happen in a democracy.
The way to beat racism is through debate, not the closing down of debate.
We have an absolute right to find our own solutions, to find our own way forward out of this misery without being vilified by those who claim to be on our side and claim to speak for us.”
Concerns that political correctness are “muzzling” free speech, have also been recently made by the chairman leading the parliamentary inquiry into freedom of speech. (The Australian, January 31, 2017, p. 1) The committee has also been given polling by Galaxy Research, commissioned by the Institute of Public Affairs, which shows that 48 percent of people surveyed approve of a change to section 18C which removes the words “insult’ and “offend.”
At present, a minority of people, 36 percent, are opposed to the change. There, predictably enough, is a gender difference, with 52 percent of men, and 44 percent of women, approving the change. Women have tended to support progressive and liberal causes more than men: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-hidden-agenda-the-political-mind/201411/why-do-women-and-men-vote-differently.
I now strongly believe that we need to fight for a constitutional change enshrining a right to freedom of speech in our enabling document as the courts no longer defend our fundamental rights.