To the Editor
Tony Abbott has bemoaned the fact that 'our Parliament prefers to tolerate over-the-top prosecutions than to upset thin-skinned activists' (The Age - 'Reflective Abbott reopens racial hate-speech debate', 13/8). Also regrettable is the lack of concern in ordinary, thoughtful Australians over the fact that honourable and informed dissidents can be wrongfully attacked under the present law. This in turn is perhaps an aspect of a greater problem here: the growing selfishness of individuals, which seems clearly linked to the diminution of religious observance.
Protecting disadvantaged persons from malicious abuse can be achieved without infringement of free speech. However, another roadblock to reform is the fear of both major political parties that they will lose key votes from minority groups if they defend free speech and that this could cause them to lose an election. The remedy to this situation is more outspokenness from citizens generally to defend dissident speech.
NJ, Belgrave Victoria