Friday, 1 February 2013
Proposed Legislation That Would Have Further Suppressed Free Speech in Australia Is, Fortunately, Modified

As reported by Simon Cullen for Australia's ABC on 31st January.

'Roxon climbs down on "offends and insults" law".

Just as well.  We all know who has the biggest chip on their shoulders: the members of the Religion of Perpetual Outrage.  They take full advantage of any laws that criminalise 'offence and insult".- CM

'Attorney-General Nicola Roxon has moved to scrap a controversial element o the Government's proposed anti-discrimination laws amid a public backlash over concerns it could limit free speech.

'Ms Roxon has asked her department to redraft sections of the legislation to remove a clause that would have prohibited conduct that "offends or insults".

Good. Looks like we've dodged a bullet, for now. Imagine if Muslims had been able to claim they felt 'offended and insulted' - and sue people -  if a woman walked past with a miniskirt on, in a street where Muslims live; or if they felt 'offended and insulted' by the sight of a cross on a church steeple, or the sound of church bells, or the presence of a pub or bottle shop, or the sight of somebody walking their pet dog in a park in an area that Muslims were busy colonising...Let alone if they'd been able to claim they were 'insulted' and 'offended' by anybody's publicly saying anything at all that could be construed as criticism of Mohammed, Islam, and / or the conduct and practices of Muslims. - CM

"It seems to me clear that there are better options than the one that's being proposed and we'll take it forward from there", Ms Roxon told AM.

Ms Roxon: although we do not have an explicit law protecting freedom of speech, such as the USA has, we have still, historically, enjoyed and practised an unwritten tradition of being able to 'take the mickey' - especially, of being able to 'take the mickey' out of anybody who behaves as if they think they have tickets on themselves (and today, Muslims are putting themselves in this category more and more) and we would like to preserve it, thank you very much. - CM

"There are different ways to consolidate this law and we certainly are not trying to encroach on existing protections for freedom of speech".

Strengthening those protections would be a good idea, not trying to find ways to weaken them, which is what the current proposed legislation, in its unmodified form, would have done. - CM

'The Government is trying to simplify the existing anti-discrimination laws by merging them into one bill, so that there is a clearer definition of what behaviour is considered unacceptable and how people can make complaints.

I don't see why existing laws to do with libel and slander (against which, truth is the traditional defence), and existing public order laws covering what a western country defines as disorderly conduct and obscene language, cannot be left alone to do their job.  Anything more than that is dangerously intrusive.  - CM

'But the exposure  draft legislation (should that be, 'the exposure of the draft legislation'? - CM) prompted widespread concern, including from Australian Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs, who suggested that particular elements had probably gone too far and should be dumped in order to protect the thrust of the remaining changes.

'A Senate committee looking into the proposal has received nearly 600 submissions and has already begun public hearings.

'Australia's largest media organisations, including the ABC, Fairfax and News Limited, made a joint submission to the inquiry arguing against the inclusion of material that "offends or insults" in the anti-discrimination provisions.  It said many media organisations publish or broadcast material that some members of the public will find offensive at times, ranging from satirical programming to political commentary.

Good to hear our mass media here in Oz standing up for freedom of speech. Now, let's write to every one of them - SBS, ABC, and the commercial TV channels - and ask each of them whether they would be prepared to broadcast  the whole of Theo Van Gogh's and Ayaan Hirsi Ali's short - and very arty, 'edgy' and intelligent - film "Submission"...and to do it either on Mardi Gras, or in early November on the anniversary of the sharia murder of Theo Van Gogh in a Dutch street in broad daylight.  With Ms Ali to be invited to introduce the film before it is aired, and speak about her murdered friend and colleague.  Let's see if they're prepared to exercise free speech and broadcast something that is guaranteed to be found 'offensive' by pious Muslims in Australia.  - CM

"Whilst these, and similar topics, may be offensive or insulting to some viewers, this does not make them discriminatory", the media organisations argued.  "Rather, the inclusion of such content within the national conversation is essential for fostering robust social and political debate and therefore to ensuring a healthy democracy".

Yes. Now, gentlemen, I must say that I have observed, in the past ten years or so, a significant degree of self-censoring in all your outlets, as regards a certain Religion of Peace; much more so than as regards any other subject.  So, now that you have proclaimed your commitment to freedom of speech - even as regards material considered 'offensive or insulting to some viewers' - can we expect to see a reduction in or even a complete end to that self-censoring, in future?  When Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders visits Australia later this month, I shall expect to see some prime-time interviews with him being aired, and any speeches he gives should be printed - or broadcast - in full, not in edited and 'framed' snippets. - CM

'Shadow attorney-general George Brandis said the proposed laws amounted to an attempt to shut down controversial debates.

'Fellow Coalition frontbencher Malcolm Turnbull has welcomed Ms Roxon's decision to back down on elements of the bill.

"I'm sure everyone who cares about free speech, which is almost all Australians (hmm...I like that careful 'almost'...and who might those be, who do not care about free speech?  I would hazard the guess that it comprises pretty nearly all the Muslims in this country. - CM) would be pleased that she's recognised that the bill that she was proposing was outrageous", Mr Turnbull told AM.

"We all are concerned to ensure that Australia is a harmonious society and that there isn't hate speech being perpetrated and so forth, but this was a very ill-considered piece of legislation".

Yes.  And I would add that 'harmony' is not served by sweeping unpleasant things under the carpet.  Best to have things out in the open where they can be seen and heard: the good, the bad and the ugly.  And there should not be a 'heckler's veto'. -  CM

'Ms Roxon says the proposed legislation was released for public consultation for the very purpose of making sure the changes were properly considered and appropriate.

'She says the Government never had any intention of extending the reach of existing anti-discrimination legislation".

Hmmm. I'm not so sure. A much better idea would be to have a good long look at the Bill of Rights in the USA, and to read Milton's Areopagitica, and then to think about how the right to free speech (free speech on all subjects, but right now, in particular, free speech on the subject of Islam, because Islam with its odious sharia law that prescribes death for 'blasphemy' , and its adherents' dismal track record of threatening and attacking all perceived critics, dissenters and questioners, is a massive threat to free speech worldwide) and freedom of expression may be strengthened, not lessened.  - CM

Posted on 02/01/2013 4:04 PM by Christina McIntosh
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