Black Day for free speech in Australia: Bolt loses case

Bolt loses and so do all whites, aboriginals, and every citizen of Australia.

News: The ABC

Andrew Bolt has been found guilty of causing “offense”.

Journalist and political commentator Andrew Bolt has been found guilty of breaching the Racial Discrimination Act over two articles he wrote in 2009.

Bolt was being sued in the Federal Court by nine Aboriginal people including former ATSIC chairman Geoff Clark, academic Professor Larissa Behrendt, activist Pat Eatock, photographer Bindi Cole, author Anita Heiss, health worker Leeanne Enoch, native title expert Graham Atkinson, academic Wayne Atkinson, and lawyer Mark McMillan.

I now know that I can’t speak freely on some topics, even if I thought what I said — uncovering unspoken truths or awkward facts — would help that minority group. Aboriginal people face many challenges. How can their lot be helped by shutting down discussion?

If drawing attention to problems, to try and find a solution “offends” some Aboriginal people, by law, now it must not be spoken. Aboriginal people who struggle are thus more likely to continue to suffer if the answer to their pain involves speaking some truth that doesn’t make 100% of them happy. What a curse to bestow upon any people. If part of their problems were worsened by a minority group within the minority, no one outside that minority is allowed to point that out, lest it cause pain to the group who may be harming the rest of their group.

Outsiders cannot share their wisdom.

There is no mind-reading way of knowing the motivations of a speaker, no way of knowing if their “intent” was to help or hurt. Legislation based on the unknowable and unmeasurable  is a tool of tyranny — just a tool for selective enforcement against people the bureaucracy or government do not like.

(The Racial Discrimination Act).

The legislation applies to any public place, but how do you define a public place?

a“public place” includes any place to which the public have access as of right or by invitation, whether express or implied and whether or not a charge is made for admission to the place.

Does this mean an open invitation to a child’s birthday party if the invitation for it was posted at school, online or on twitter? If so, you’d need be careful what you say in your own home, lest it be overheard at a party by someone who may be offended.

There is also no clear cut line between races, but a shades-of-grey-genetic-border that makes a mockery of any legislation that tries to define or discriminate on “race”. Any legislation which treats races differently — is by its nature, abhorrently racist.

If Australian citizens are poor, homeless, or malnourished, why does it matter what their skin color is or who their ancestors were? We should help people based on need, not on race. All Australians should be equal under the law.

They alleged two articles written by Bolt for his employer, the Herald and Weekly Times, implied light-skinned people who identified as Aboriginal did so for personal gain.

I cannot suggest [snip].

Where is the outrage from the conservative or libertarian citizens of Australia?

I can’t allow comments about it either. (A first for this site in 620 posts).


The ABC news story on this spent a lot of time discussing the factual errors in Bolt’s reporting, but did not point out that these have nothing to do with “racial villification”, which was the point of the current case. The ABC allowed people to argue falsely that this legal result would “improve journalistic standards”, when defamation cases are already available to do just that. Instead the real issue here is about the implications of a ruling that speech that causes “offense” is not allowed — that’s the real threat to free speech. I saw no evidence in the ABC reporting that the editors understood why free speech is  important, and why this case was a legal precedent. Confounding the two issues of defamation and racial vilification does not help.

UPDATE: See Delingpole on this

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