Bill Leak is a cartoonist, who did a cartoon highlighting the dismal state of some dysfunctional familes in central Australia. I can’t show you that cartoon and we can’t discuss appalling crime statistics nor why “women of a certain ethnic group are 30 times (or 80 times) more likely to be beaten and hospitalized.” Two women die every week but we can’t talk about the problem of people who stomp on someone else’s head because words might offend someone.)
Steyn points out that some Australians think that there are higher priorities than removing 18C, but I’m with him, all freedoms start with free speech. Until we get rid of 18C we can’t even discuss other problems.
The Human Rights Commission (HRC) takes $25 million dollars a year from Australians to stop people talking.
Steyn — The point of the HRC is to shut people up. His advice is not to defend or debate the forbidden topic, but to make the HRC the topic:
I hope The Australian won’t compound that mistake by vigorously defending the cartoon on its merits. When Maclean’s and I ran afoul of the equivalent Canadian law – Section 13 – over a book excerpt from America Alone, the most important decision we made was not to defend the content of the piece: the facts, the quotes, the statistics, the conclusions, etc. Our opponents were not disputing our position; they were disputing our right to have a position.
Likewise, Mr Leak’s opponents are not attempting to engage him in debate; they’re attempting to close down the debate. And there’s no point getting in a debate with someone whose only argument is “Shut up – or else.”
In that sense, the Australian “human rights” regime and the Charlie Hebdo killers are merely different points on the same continuum: They’re both in the shut-up business, and they shut you up pour encourager les autres. They know that, for every cartoonist they silence, a thousand more will never peep up in the first place.
So this isn’t a debate about aboriginal policy or Islamic imperialism or anything else. It’s a debate about whether we’re free to debate. I take the view that the Australian state, like the Canadian state, should not be in the shut-up business. And, when they are, it’s they who are the issue, not you. When it’s a contest between a book or cartoon, on the one hand, and, on the other, a guy who says, “You can’t say that!”, it’s the latter who’s on trial. If you’re on the side that’s saying “Shut up!”, you’re on the wrong side.
[UPDATE: The sleazy tone-deaf Australian “Race Discrimination” Commissar, Tim Soutphommasane, confirms my point with the usual bland evasions of his totalitarian bureaucracy:
Cartoons will be subject to all matter of public debate. It’s a healthy part of our democracy that we have that debate.
Sorry. A legal action is not a “debate”. Mr Leak is being “subject to” not debate but state thought-policing. Because ideological enforcers like Soutphommasane find debate too tiresome and its results too unpredictable. Which is why he gets a third of a million a year from Australian taxpayers to prevent debate.]
The likes of Commissar Soutphommasane are not interested in a debate with you; they’re interested in eliminating you from the debate…
I am, unfortunately, not being satirical when I say we can’t discuss the deadly and dismal problems affecting certain ethnic groups. Please in comments, be mindful, that this post is about Section 18C.
The law reads:
Offensive behaviour because of race, colour or national or ethnic origin
(1) It is unlawful for a person to do an act, otherwise than in private, if:
- (a) the act is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people; and
- (b) the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person or of some or all of the people in the group.
The Human Rights Commission helpful explains here with examples just how vague, arbitrary, and subjective this law is. No Australian can know in advance if they are acting illegally unless they say nothing about anything, and that’s the point. No matter how honest you are and despite your good intentions or even if you speak the truth someone else gets paid to decide if a phrase is “likely” to offend, and to judge whether the same words might be legal or illegal if they are art, or you are trying to be funny. Are you a licensed artist? Is your intent “comedic”. The HRC will whip out the Funny-0-meter, the Mind-reader, and Their Lens of Artisticiness.
The IPA wants to repeal 18C. It should take five minutes in parliament to get rid of the words “insult” and “offend”.
Some thoughts that are used in debate,
May fall foul of an arm of the state,
And one can’t, by the way,
Suggest thoughts we can’t say,
As to do so invites a court date.