Section 18 C: Heating Up so put a “Fire” Under the Pollies by Ian Wilson LL. B.
The great section 18 C (Racial Discrimination Act) debate continues, with The Australian newspaper publishing some very good critical articles, almost every day. And this is all very good, as there is a renewed push to amend the Act, with Liberal Senator Dean Smith, co-sponsoring a bill with Cory Bernardi, which in Bernardi’s words aims to protect us against “totalitarian Newspeak,”and to defend “a fundamental freedom that should apply to all.” (The Australian, August 18, 2016, p. 7)
Justice Sackville has also been quoted in the media as supporting reform of section 18 C, in terms of moving to an objective test based on community standards, rather than the existing subjective test, that is, how the comments would affect a reasonable representative of those who lodged the complaint. (The Weekend Australian, August 20-21, 2016, p.10) This proposal would make it easier for courts to deal with cases, but it does not address the fundamental issues about freedom of speech raised by others.
The need for free speech about matters that the progressive Left may not like, is a theme running through a large number of articles published in The Australian over the last few weeks. It is worthwhile documenting this debate here, before it all drains down the memory hole.
According to Brendan O’Neil, “censorship merely drives the racists underground.” (The Australian, August 22, 2016, p. 12). Section 18 C thus needs to be “killed” to “combat racism.” The “racists,” a term never defined, need to be exposed, and then refuted. Will the Left buy that? Of course not, they are not about open debate, because, the “racists” just might defeat them in the public arena. Hence, they like repression. But, a nice try Brendan.
Oh, according to Gerard Henderson’s piece (The Weekend Australian, August 27-28, 2016, p. 22), O’Neil made a valiant attempt to communicate to the Left on the set of the ABC’s Q&A program. Predictably, his sensible request for a civilised liberal debate was met by the Left with anger, laughter and the usual sort of abuse that these shows can dish out, with no respect for his carefully reasoned arguments
The O’Neil approach doesn’t address the core issues, as noted by Janet Albrechtsen (The Australian, August 17, 2016, p. 12), Nick Cater (The Australian, August 23, 2016, p. 12) and Chris Kenny (The Weekend Australian, August 27-28, 2016, that use of section 18 C is out of control, and that it is being used as a political weapon by the Left to shut down “frank discussion.”
Section 18 C has become a symbol of the “great divide” in Australian society:
“The great divide in Australia is not the mountain range stretching along our eastern seaboard but the boundary between those prepared to say what they think and those who deign to keep debate within confined parameters.
The country is divided between the political/media class who set and abide by the rules of political correctness, and the mainstream and mavericks who dare to talk outside this artificial range of acceptability.
Climate change, Islamic extremism and immigration are the issues most affected, although discussions on gay marriage, gender and indigenous affairs are similarly constrained. Ask Bill Leak.
Incredibly, in this information age, it is not only certain opinions that are frowned on but unpalatable facts as well.
Evidence and data are shunned in favour of the views preferred by the so-called elites, or the group Robert Manne self-identified as the “permanent oppositional moral political community.”
This community commands establishment strongholds in academe, media, political parties and, increasingly, even big business.
From these positions of privilege its members seek to define themselves by opposition to what may be mainstream views. Others who express angst or scepticism about the totemic issues are derided and mocked as racists, sexists, homophobes, Islamophobes and climate deniers.”
Greg Craven (The Australian, August, 26, 2016, p. 12), is right to say that the erosion of free speech means the undermining of the foundations of liberal democratic society, with no right to a political view, and no freedom of religion. There is some “free” speech, but that is only for progressive ideals. Obviously Craven views these developments with great concern, as indeed all lovers of freedom should.
It is necessary for ordinary folk to get off their butts and campaign against what the Left has done. There needs to be tens of thousands of people demanding an end to section 18 C. Scream it out, just like the Left has done over the years for their agendas. Use all the legal means available to you.
The Left will counter-protest, but that’s their right. Bring it on, for the more the merrier.
Good men have continued to do nothing for too long, and the foundations of our civilisation are cracking.
Time to move yourselves! Exercise your democratic rights before you have none. If section 18 C is not reformed in the life of this parliament, then there must be a nation-wide campaign against all those who call themselves representatives in Parliament House Canberra.