Letter to The Editor
To THE AUSTRALIAN
Henry Herzog claims (5-6/11) that restricting 'hate speech' under section 18C is not an attack on free speech, but, alas, it has often proved to be so. The term's vagueness and subjectivity are conducive to its misuse; and significant elements in the Jewish community, for which Herzog speaks, have had it unjustly applied to the writings of revisionist historians, thus achieving censorship while pretending that no such affront to free speech has occurred.
A recent decision of the NSW Court of Appeal illustrates the problem ('Toben denied day in court to deny Holocaust', 5-6/11). It is alarming to read that a judge has upheld a finding that Fredrick Toben may not express in court 'banned views on Jews and the Holocaust'. His views are controversial and may be partly or wholly wrong; but in principle historical dissidents should not be prevented by government or the judicial system from publishing their views. Nor do such views necessarily proceed from or promote hatred.
NJ, Belgrave, Vic