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Bolt and the right to be a bigot

March 24th, 2014

The ABC News report on the government’s legislation to repeal section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, motivated by the Bolt case, makes interesting reading. Foreshadowing the legislation designed to prevent future cases of this kind, AG George Brandis notes that it defends “the right to be a bigot“.

Brandis didn’t draw the obvious implication, but he didn’t have to. Bolt has made a career out of pandering to the bigotry of his audience. As with others in the crowded field of rightwing journamalism, it’s not clear whether Bolt himself is a bigot, or whether he just plays one on the Internet, but the act is loud enough to please his ignorant and bigoted readers, and skilful enough to earn him plenty of friends among people who should know enough to be ashamed of themselves.

I don’t have a fixed view on the legislation in question, but my feeling is that racial bigotry should, at the least, be an aggravating factor in cases of individual defamation. If that rule were applied, the plaintiffs in the Bolt case would almost certainly have received substantial damages in individual defamation actions, given the findings that Bolt’s racially loaded claims about them were factually false and “not made reasonably and in good faith”.

Update I should have mentioned that “bigot” is a euphemism for the R-word, which our defenders of free speech insist must never be applied to anyone, with the exception of one person who is excluded here by virtue of Godwin’s Law.

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  1. Ikonoclast
    March 24th, 2014 at 17:06 | #1

    Brandis states it is a right to be a bigot and that this right begins with speech. He doesn’t say the right ends with speech. So where does it end? With the written word? Signs? Actions? Speech is so often the precursor to action. People speak to test and modify what is socially permissible. Where they find open permission for spoken biogotry they will feel emboldened to act. Permitting blatant bigoted speech is the fast track to blatant bigoted actions. It starts with speech, it ends with bashings and shootings.

  2. Benjamin O’Donnell
    March 24th, 2014 at 17:19 | #2

    So, on Ikonoclast’s logic, was the Menzies government right to ban the Communist party? Was the High Court and the Australian electorate at the subsequent referendum wrong to have stopped them from doing so? After all, the link between Communist words and violent overthrow of the State is far more explicit and direct than the link between Bolt’s slimy pandering to racist setiment and any sort of racial violence…

  3. Benjamin O’Donnell
    March 24th, 2014 at 17:23 | #3

    I have to admit I find myself almost agreeing with Brandis on this one (and yes, I do suddenly feeling like I want to shower). While I’m implacably against laws banning religious vilification (religions are ideas and all ideas must be subject to criticism and even abuse), I do see the case for racial vilification laws (people can’t choose their race). However, my default position is free speech and so I do find my support for even racial vilification laws a little uncomfortable. Part of me would prefer the racists in our midst out themselves and be ostracised than be silenced and pass amongst us unknown.

    What worries me is that we often forget that the most important speech to protect and encourage is the “negative” speech, by which I mean criticism of other speech. It’s criticism (including mockery and ridicule) that drives bad ideas out of the public discourse. It’s ridicule that made racism and sexism so embarrassing for racists or sexists that they now have to twist themselves into pretzels trying to portray their views as not racist or sexist – and this is a good thing. Part of me wants the racists to come forward and say racists things – so we can all mock and ridicule and shun and ostracise them for doing so. It’s primarily criticism (including mockery and ridicule) that disciplines public discourse, and I think in most cases, rather than resort to the violence of state power – we should leave it to criticism to perform that disciplining function.

    Having said that, I agree that Bolt should really have gone down for good old fashioned defamation rather than the compromised and dubious provision he did lose on. And yes, I do thing racist humiliation should be a factor that sounds in damages for that defamation. But the key thing that distinguishes Bolt’s case was that his claims were *untrue*.

  4. Benjamin O’Donnell
    March 24th, 2014 at 17:25 | #4

    And I also wish John’s comments had an edit function. My typing, spelling and grammar are hopeless today!

  5. George Montgomery
    March 24th, 2014 at 17:41 | #5

    George Brandis is exercising his “right to be a fool” which doesn’t need any federal or state legislation. What he hasn’t thought about is the unintended consequences of “the right to be a bigot”.
    On another issue, what does the Australian Constitution have to say about this – possibly nothing? In which case, how will the High Court view a legal challenge to any legislation introduced by Brandis to allow people the “right to be a bigot”? My understanding is that in the event of the Australian Constitution being unclear on “bigotry”, the High Court has to, in effect, interpret what it thinks is the ‘will of the people’ in order to pass judgement.
    What if the States (or one of the States) challenge the right of the Commonwealth to legislate on “the right to be a bigot” on the grounds that bigotry is a State responsibility? And how will the “right to be a bigot” affect Australian sport with its across-sports bans on “racial vilification” by competitors and spectators?
    Will the “right to be a bigot” cause problems for Australia with regard to some international agreement or convention to which Australia is already a signatory? Are the Liberals floating this idea to gauge the public’s response or to distract them from other issues? So many questions!
    With his “right to be a bigot”, it would appear that George Brandis got stuck on the bottom of one too many rucks in his rugby union playing days.

  6. Phil
    March 24th, 2014 at 17:57 | #6

    @Benjamin O’Donnell Yes, I remember that time when ridicule and laughter stopped climate deniers from the folly of their ideas, saving the planet from certain disaster.

  7. March 24th, 2014 at 18:27 | #7

    British Columbia has a hate speech law that prohibits the publication of any statement that “indicates” discrimination or is “likely” to expose a person or group or class of persons to hatred or contempt.

    Professor Sunera Thobani of the University of British Columbia faced a hate crimes investigation after she delivered a vicious diatribe against American foreign policy. Thobani remarked that Americans are “bloodthirsty, vengeful and calling for blood.”

    The Canadian hate-crimes law was created to protect minority groups from hate speech.
    But in this case, it was invoked to protect Americans from racial hatred.

    Who will the speech police come for next?

  8. Benjamin O’Donnell
    March 24th, 2014 at 18:27 | #8

    @George Montgomery All Parliament is doing here is scaling back existing legislation. I can’t see any scope for a High Court challenge.

    Indeed, the difficult (but soon to be academic) question was whether the legislation Brandis is repealing was constitutionally valid in the first place. It was passed under the external affairs power (because Australia is a party to the UN convention against racial discrimination), but there was always a nagging question in my mind of whether the law infringed the implied freedom of political communication…

  9. Benjamin O’Donnell
    March 24th, 2014 at 18:29 | #9

    @Jim Rose [innocent whistle] Out of interest, what was the result of that case? [/innocent whistle]

  10. Benjamin O’Donnell
    March 24th, 2014 at 18:30 | #10

    @Phil Well, as a liberal (SMALL “l”), I think them’s the breaks in a democracy. If my side (you know, science, the enlightenment, basic sanity) can’t get its act together sufficiently to win the public argument, then we deserved to lose.

  11. zoot
    March 24th, 2014 at 18:31 | #11

    @Phil
    Puts me in mind of Peter Cook and “those wonderful Berlin cabarets which did so much to stop the rise of Hitler and prevent the outbreak of the Second World War”.

  12. Benjamin O’Donnell
    March 24th, 2014 at 18:48 | #12

    @zoot Given centuries of Christian anti-Jewish propaganda, an economy devastated first by war, then by hyperinflation and then by austerity, I seriously doubt a suite of anti-vilification laws would have saved the Weimar Republic…

    Oh yes, and I call Godwin.

  13. jungney
    March 24th, 2014 at 19:00 | #13

    I think there’s a whole new concept available here that I’ve already raised with the local tourist bureau which is the promotion of small hamlets and down and out country towns as ‘free speech zones’ where every bigot is welcome. I think it’ll knock Tidy Towns out of the competition.

  14. Tim Macknay
    March 24th, 2014 at 19:14 | #14

    @Benjamin O’Donnell

    Out of interest, what was the result of that case?

    The investigation was dropped.

  15. March 24th, 2014 at 19:22 | #15

    Deleted in line with previous warnings

  16. Tony Lynch
    March 24th, 2014 at 20:17 | #16

    Hi Benjamin,

    Nice to hear from you so often.

  17. Benjamin O’Donnell
    March 24th, 2014 at 20:26 | #17

    I assume Jack Strocchi has a long history of provocations? Because the post I saw, while silly, didn’t seem banhammer-worthy in itself. But, not only do I not know the history, this is Professor Q’s party and he can fry who he wants to…

  18. yuri
    March 24th, 2014 at 20:42 | #18

    @Phil
    Silly. Do try and use the blue pencil before you let your thought bubbles loose.

  19. Collin Street
    March 24th, 2014 at 20:52 | #19

    Free speech is a means to an end, not an end in itself: we want better answers, and we want it that nothing useful or conducive or possibly-conducive to building better answers is excluded.

    But bigotry is by-definition unthinking, thus implicitly of no use in generating better answers. Speech that is bigoted is ipso-facto no loss: speech that has been reliably determined to be bigoted is likewise reliably determined to be useless for the purpose of getting better understandings. We don’t lose anything we might possibly want by excluding bigotry: we might lose things-that-are-wrongly-classified-as-bigotry-but-aren’t, “chilling effect” and the related, but that’s not what Brandis is arguing here.

  20. yuri
    March 24th, 2014 at 21:07 | #20

    @George Montgomery
    Good stuff, especially the point that defamation actions should have been brought for the one or two plaintiffs that would have succeeded. (Separate actions of course because each person has his/her separate reputation and doesn’t have to team up with the likes of Geoff Clark). But you might reasonably have dealt too with the critical word “offend” which is so bizarre that it is a prime exhibit for those who decry what they call the “nanny state”.

  21. TerjeP
    March 24th, 2014 at 21:09 | #21

    I should have mentioned that “bigot” is a euphemism for the R-word,

    In normal conversation racism means racial bigot. So I would say “racist” is a euphemism for “racial bigot” rather than the other way around. The term bigot can be used more generally than just racial bigots. There are religious bigots who hate Catholics and regard them as inferior in some regards. Sexuality bigots who regard homosexuals as less worthy. etc. In terms if racism it is not the mere observation or articulation of racial differences that should upset people. It is bigotry that should concern us. So I’d be careful in how you mince the terms.

    I don’t think hating people should be illegal. And if hating certain types of people isn’t a crime then admitting to it certainly shouldn’t be either.

  22. March 24th, 2014 at 21:15 | #22

    Statutory Interpretation is usually a whole subject in law degrees, but as a general rule it requires only reasonably simple comprehension skills.

    The relevant sections of the Act are not terribly complicated. The whole thing reeks of the same tactics used against “Land Rights” after “Mabo” when we were supposed to believe “they” (nudge, nudge, wink, wink – “we” know who “they” are) were coming to take our backyards from us.

    This is similar BS – unsurprisingly coming from the same quarters.

    Read the parts of the existing Act and decide whether you are being oppressed (and have been since 1975 without realising it!):

    RACIAL DISCRIMINATION ACT 1975 – SECT 18B
    Reason for doing an act
    If:
    (a) an act is done for 2 or more reasons; and

    (b) one of the reasons is the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of a person (whether or not it is the dominant reason or a substantial reason for doing the act);

    then, for the purposes of this Part, the act is taken to be done because of the person’s race, colour or national or ethnic origin.

    SECT 18C
    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.

    Note: Subsection (1) makes certain acts unlawful. Section 46P of the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 allows people to make complaints to the Australian Human Rights Commission about unlawful acts. However, an unlawful act is not necessarily a criminal offence. Section 26 says that this Act does not make it an offence to do an act that is unlawful because of this Part, unless Part IV expressly says that the act is an offence.

    (2) For the purposes of subsection (1), an act is taken not to be done in private if it:

    (a) causes words, sounds, images or writing to be communicated to the public; or

    (b) is done in a public place; or

    (c) is done in the sight or hearing of people who are in a public place.

    (3) In this section:

    “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.

    SECT 18D
    Exemptions
    Section 18C does not render unlawful anything said or done reasonably and in good faith:

    (a) in the performance, exhibition or distribution of an artistic work; or

    (b) in the course of any statement, publication, discussion or debate made or held for any genuine academic, artistic or scientific purpose or any other genuine purpose in the public interest; or

    (c) in making or publishing:

    (i) a fair and accurate report of any event or matter of public interest; or

    (ii) a fair comment on any event or matter of public interest if the comment is an expression of a genuine belief held by the person making the comment.

  23. Lt. Fred
    March 24th, 2014 at 21:20 | #23

    To those who are entertaining the idea that these laws are a problematic restriction of free speech, I point out that they’re far less stringent than normal defamation law. Do you believe that defamation law ought to be done away with? How do you believe 18c substantively differs from normal defamation law? As it does not, is your opposition to these laws perhaps hypocritical, or based in your contempt for ethnic minorities?

  24. March 24th, 2014 at 21:21 | #24

    The trouble with rules on freedom of speech is that its up to the courts to decide when you’ve gone too far. Someone who deliberately whips up ill feeling against an ethnic group, with the obvious aim of getting others to attack or victimise that group, should probably be fined or jailed. But if you offer an honest opinion on some aspect of a particular culture, for example on Indian attitudes to sexual assault, should you be in trouble if people take offense?

    Which doesn’t alter the fact that Andrew Bolt is a dickhead.

  25. TerjeP
    March 24th, 2014 at 21:31 | #25

    Do you believe that defamation law ought to be done away with?

    Yes.

  26. Robert
    March 24th, 2014 at 21:42 | #26

    John, your update is incorrect. Free speech defenders also think it’s OK to suggest that people complaining about racism are the real racists.

  27. faust
    March 24th, 2014 at 22:08 | #27

    I disagree with Bolt on fair-skinned Aborigines but I agree that free speech is under threat with the current legislation in place.

    Who is a bigot? Some people like Marcia Langdon would claim that Bolt is a bigot then apologises to him on air. She even claimed that Professor Tim Flannery was a racist! If bigotry is in the eye of the beholder than we as a nation are stuffed! Some people want to see offence and pressure groups rewrite what is appropriate and not. This law was misapplied with Bolt but how long will it take until it shuts down robust discussion because a person was “offended” even if they are looking to play the victim. It is an insidious erosion of civil liberties.

  28. zoot
    March 24th, 2014 at 22:26 | #28

    @Benjamin O’Donnell
    Either your understanding of Godwin’s law or your comprehension is faulty. Good thing we all believe in freedom speech.

  29. Lt. Fred
    March 24th, 2014 at 22:26 | #29

    Fair enough then. I think you’re wrong, but at least you’re consistent, unlike Andrew Bolt.
    @TerjeP

  30. jungney
    March 24th, 2014 at 23:52 | #30

    After many hours at the Shearer’s Armpit, just this arvo, during which I did participant observation research on the issue of free speech, I conclude that most people objecting to impediments to free speech would feel much less aggrieved if Australia had half way decent dental health care. In other words, the Coalition represents the toothless hillbilly vote. Now, that’s a scary thought. Almost one in two of your fellow citizens is a throwback.

  31. Fran Barlow
    March 25th, 2014 at 00:01 | #31

    Benjamin @2

    Your analogy between the proposed CP Dissolution Bill and s18C is silly. Nobody was taking any of Bolt’s assets — not even the civil plaintiffs, whereas the Dissolution Bill sought actively to destroy a political organisation and to render their activity criminal. Bolt was merely sooking be ause his employer had to apologise on his behalf. Also, as you should know, S18D offers an affirmative defence — which test Bolt failed because his post was merely a collection of racially framed slanders rather than an attempt either at fact-free racist opinionating about non specific people he didn’t like, or specific people who had done something wrong.

    More broadly, no country in the world has untrammelled free speech. Every country restricts it in some way. Some of the restrictions are reasonable, so the question becomes “what is reasonable?” That entails examining comparatively the harm of the imposition and the benefit associated with the constraint.

    Here, the arguments for keeping 18C and 18D are strong, because the imposition is trifling and the benefits significant. Nothing prevents Bolt from being as bigoted as he pleases. He must show good faith though and if he has simply made up stuff that can be checked, people might be misled into buying his drivel.

    That seems a reasonable balance to me. The right of free speech, if it exists at all only requires that the state should not persecute you, or suffer anyone else to do so, on the strength merely of one’s opinions. It doesn’t restrain people from seeking legal redress if you’ve made up rubbish about them to defame an entire class of people.

    People do have the right (if that is the correct term in a jurisdiction where codified human rights are absent) to be bigoted. Others of course have the right to call them bigots and to discourage people from giving them the time of day. It is interesting though that the only human right Brandis is willing to recognise is the right to vent your hate and fear of your fellow human beings and your disgust that they be getting some advantage that is denied to you.

  32. March 25th, 2014 at 00:34 | #32

    @TerjeP

    I’ve put this to you at least once before and you never answer:

    “Libertarians believe that you should be able to do whatever you want as long as it doesn’t adversely affect someone else. Therefore how can you advocate for the ‘right’ to destroy someone’s character, reputation, integrity, business through telling lies about them without any recourse against the person or organisation that destroyed them?”

    If I remember correctly, you run some kind of small business. If that is like most small businesses you have only one thing of true value – your reputation.

    If someone maliciously destroys your reputation and that of your business (not by telling the truth but by deliberately telling lies about you and your business) I would expect that person to be subject to a legal process where they would have to make good to you for destroying your business and reputation.

    As I understand it, you couldn’t care less should someone do that.

    If someone decides that they should be at liberty to steal your car and burn down your office would you do a little libertarian dance of joy? (that last bit is sarc by the way, but you get the point?).

  33. March 25th, 2014 at 00:45 | #33

    @Megan

    Yeah, but as Libertarianism is a fantasy land, why argue about how its residents should behave?

  34. March 25th, 2014 at 01:18 | #34

    @John Brookes

    Because their friends in “neo-con land” keep breaking out and infiltrating the real world and dictating to us how our world should be run.

    They might appear harmless and silly to you, but I am terrified of them and their fascist agenda.

  35. TerjeP
    March 25th, 2014 at 01:46 | #35

    Megan,

    As much as we value our reputation, and should if we are wise seek to protect it, I don’t think we own it. Your reputation is a set of thoughts and opinions that reside in other people’s brains and the thoughts in somebodies brain belongs to them not you. Of course somebody who spreads untruth does create a cost to society and the person who the untruth is about is probably best placed to seek remedy or undertake punitive action be it legal or otherwise. But that does not amount to reputation being owned. In other words there may still be a utilitarian case for defamation law but it does not in my opinion flow logically from property right concepts.

    In any case under Australian law people may be dissuaded from defaming me by the threat of litigation but they are entirely at liberty to defame my business. A corporation can not sue for defamation. But it’s reputation, or good will, is often what buyers of the business would value.

    One of the worst things that can happen to your reputation is a criminal conviction. But merely being charged for certain types of crime will carry a social penalty. If a man is charged with rape for example that will impact his reputation. If acquitted should that man then be free to sue the state? Should he be free to sue those that accused him and any witnesses that testified against him? Typically such people are protected by legal privilege. And of course politicians in parliament can say anything they want.

    So who then really benefits from defamation law. A select few. And given they don’t own their reputation the question is whether defamation law offers society a net benefit. In other words do the benefits exceed the costs. I my view they don’t. Defamation law may dissuade some fibs but in practice not so much. And it definitely puts a chill on robust public debate as JQ indicated by the fact that he felt legally vulnerable (even if merely the hassle and cost of a potential legal defence) during some of his more robust debates with Andrew Bolt.

  36. Julie Thomas
    March 25th, 2014 at 07:40 | #36

    Terje “As much as we value our reputation, and should if we are wise seek to protect it, I don’t think we own it.”

    So who does *own* your reputation? For a libertarian everything is property. I thought.

  37. John Goss
    March 25th, 2014 at 08:11 | #37

    I presume the R-word is ‘Redhead’ or ‘Ranga’!!

  38. March 25th, 2014 at 08:24 | #38

    Shrillness is common-place is political discourse as is ignorance and ill-manners.

    In the 1980s, the cartoonists went a search for Ronald Reagan’s brain.

    You lot and Jerry Falwell ought to get together and discuss hurtful political rhetoric.

    There is a good discussion of political manners is in the Supreme Court judgment on Larry Flynt–Jerry Falwell case, which included a 200 year history of American political cartoons. The Court held that

    “Debate on public issues will not be uninhibited if the speaker must run the risk that it will be proved in court that he spoke out of hatred; even if he did speak out of hatred, utterances honestly believed contribute to the free interchange of ideas and the ascertainment of truth.”

    More than a few times was anti-Catholic spite and bile hurled at Tony Abbott. Who complained here? Who ran to his defence here?

  39. Ikonoclast
    March 25th, 2014 at 08:31 | #39

    @Fran Barlow

    Thanks for the reply, Fran. The two cases were so un-analogous I had a “Why bother?” moment.

  40. Julie Thomas
    March 25th, 2014 at 08:41 | #40

    Jim Rose, lol “You lot and Jerry Falwell ought to get together and discuss hurtful political rhetoric.”

    You lot? So unlike Terje who is an unaligned individual who identifies as a libertarian and not a member of a tribe, you are claiming to be a member of ‘the other’ tribe? Or am I using the wrong style of rationalising?

    Who is Jerry Falwell? I must be an ignorant member of the ‘you lot’.

    The way I, and a lot of lefties I know are looking at and trying to understand hurtful political rhetoric and other nasty behaviour that human beings are noted for, is to understand how the human brain works and what makes us the same and also different from each other.

    It is a more rational way to look at the problem surely?

  41. Fran Barlow
    March 25th, 2014 at 09:45 | #41

    @Ikonoclast

    Not a problem. It was a huge stretch, even by internet false equivalence standards.And while suppressing the free speech of ostnsible commun|sts may have been an objective, the CP Dissolution Bill was aimed primarily at curtailing freedom of association — an entirely different right. One might also have spoken, were this the US, of the Fourth Amendment — which affords protection against unlawful search and seizure and so forth.

  42. Megan
    March 25th, 2014 at 09:48 | #42

    @TerjeP

    Who mentioned “property”? As I said, this is about being “free” to maliciously destroy a person’s livelihood.

    A company can sue for defamation if it has less than 10 employees.

    The other problem with your examples, apart from the fact that privilege quite rightly applies to court proceedings, is truth.

    So you are quite happy for someone – even a powerful member of the elite with a megaphone – to destroy your reputation by spreading lies about you?

    PS: Jim Rose: Can you please provide a couple of examples from this site of “anti-Catholic spite and bile hurled at Tony Abbott”? I don’t remember any.

  43. March 25th, 2014 at 10:42 | #43

    I have no problem with people being bigots, as long as they recognise they have an obligation (legally enforceable, if needed) to just STFU and not bother the rest of us.

  44. jungney
    March 25th, 2014 at 12:39 | #44

    DI (nr), in an ideal world that is exactly what we could expect; be a bigot but don’t do that trash talk where I can hear it or see it.

    It seems Brandis is going to do ‘community consultation’ on the matter. I’m thinking of making a submission of all of the race based epithets and slurs that I have been unfree to use since the rise of the nanny state. A celebratory declaration of my rights to express bigotry. Think that’ll help?

  45. TerjeP
    March 25th, 2014 at 13:28 | #45

    David – I’d rather bigots were open about their hatred. Much easier to ostracise them and keep them away from positions of power and influence if they are open about their outlook.

  46. TerjeP
    March 25th, 2014 at 13:32 | #46

    Who mentioned “property”?

    You drew a comparison between an individuals reputation and their car. So I thought you were leveraging notions of property and ownership. If somebody destroys a car that I don’t own then baring extenuating circumstances I’m hardly due compensation or the ability to launch punitive action.

  47. sunshine
    March 25th, 2014 at 14:02 | #47

    Free speech for all individuals is a naturally worthy goal, and less rules always seems better (all other things being equal). One simple rule – ‘free speech’ for all . I would also like free actions too -I would like to be able to do to others whatever I like. First I would find mr Bolt. Its not that simple tho. I’m not sure about 18c in particular but i dont think it is necessarily a problem if rules are complicated and sometimes ambiguous as that is the way the real world is .

    Everyone accepts limits on physical actions but I dont think the distinction between speech and actions is so clear .Im pretty thick skinned myself but even I know that words can sometimes hurt much more than physical actions -it could be better to be given a shove than to be verbally assaulted. Words have caused people to end their own lives or lash out at others .Words cause physical changes in the recipients brain -then they may become depressed and lose weight .Words can cause enormous physical violence to follow . Words are closely related to action in the physical world -If I say ‘people are inherently selfish ‘ until everyone believes it, then over time the world will become different physically .

    Any society needs protections from physical and verbal violence -the real world is a messy place so the rules may be messy too. Bolt got in trouble because he visited high level violence on his victims repeatedly.

  48. March 25th, 2014 at 14:25 | #48

    @Julie Thomas In the 1980s, a top cartoonist went in search for Ronald Reagan’s brain. Was that hateful and bigoted?

    More than a few hate capitalism and speak in unflattering tones of the successful and other class enemies. Mises explained the youthful allure of socialism thus:

    It promises a Paradise on earth, a Land of Heart’s Desire full of happiness and enjoyment, and—sweeter still to the losers in life’s game—humiliation of all who are stronger and better than the multitude…

    Liberalism and capitalism address themselves to the cool, well-balanced mind. They proceed by strict logic, eliminating any appeal to the emotions.

    Socialism, on the contrary, works on the emotions, tries to violate logical considerations by rousing a sense of personal interest and to stifle the voice of reason by awakening primitive instincts.

  49. Megan
    March 25th, 2014 at 14:40 | #49

    @TerjeP

    OK, and now that you understand I wasn’t saying reputation and good fame are “property”, what about the rest of my question? (ie. destroying a person by telling lies about them without consequence)

  50. J-D
    March 25th, 2014 at 14:41 | #50

    I wonder how much thought went into the drafting of the phrase ‘offend, insult, humiliate, or intimidate’. The inclusion of all four words suggests awareness that they are not interchangeable.

    I find it easy to see why intimidating people should be against the law–in fact I expect it’s against the law independently of anything in the Racial Discrimination Act (and would be a little surprised to learn otherwise). I find it much, much harder to see why offending people should be against the law.

    Insults and humiliation are somewhere in-between. I’m going to think about those some more.

    What ‘offend’, ‘insult’, ‘humiliate’, and ‘intimidate’ do all have in common is that they are all _actions_, not states of being or traits. As things stand, it’s not against the law to be a bigot, or to be a racist, or to be bigoted, or, in short, to _be_ anything. It’s only things you _do_ that can be against the law. If there are any rights the law infringes, they can only be rights affecting what you do, not rights affecting what you are.

  51. Megan
    March 25th, 2014 at 14:42 | #51

    Brandis has released the proposed “Bolt’s Law”:

    Freedom of speech (Repeal of S. 18C) Bill 2014

    The Racial Discrimination Act 1975 is amended as follows:

    Section 18C is repealed.
    Sections 18B, 18D and 18E are also repealed.
    The following section is inserted:

    “ It is unlawful for a person to do an act, otherwise than in private, if:
    the act is reasonably likely:
    to vilify another person or a group of persons; or
    to intimidate another person or a group of persons,

    and
    the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of that person or that group of persons.
    For the purposes of this section:
    vilify means to incite hatred against a person or a group of persons;
    intimidate means to cause fear of physical harm:
    to a person; or
    to the property of a person; or
    to the members of a group of persons.
    Whether an act is reasonably likely to have the effect specified in sub-section (1)(a) is to be determined by the standards of an ordinary reasonable member of the Australian community, not by the standards of any particular group within the Australian community.
    This section does not apply to words, sounds, images or writing spoken, broadcast, published or otherwise communicated in the course of participating in the public discussion of any political, social, cultural, religious, artistic, academic or scientific matter.”

  52. Julie Thomas
    March 25th, 2014 at 14:57 | #52

    I am verry much *not* a youthful socialist Jim so why do you give me this silly quote? That quote that goes if you are not a socialist when you are young you do not have a heart but if you are still a socialist when you are old you do not have a brain. Sadly I must not have a brain. But I assure you I am not the sort of socialist that you imagine.

    And surely you do not believe that socialists are your enemy these days, not here not in Australia? That is bizzare. Truly bizzare.

    I have heard some good things about Mises but if your quote is the best he can do as a critique of Socialism I am not sorry I have not bothered to read any of his stuff. That paragraph is extraordinarily wrong. What logical considerations? How does it around a sense of personal interest? FFS a sense of personal interest is surely what Captialism relies on, no? So why is it wrong when socialism does it? Oh I am confused. No wonder I am not a rightie. Can’t keep up with the twisted and subtle reasoning.

    And then “primitive instincts”!! Good grief what year was this man writing?

    Why do cartoonists do anything Jim? Do you know any of these strange people? I don’t but I can’t imagine anyone more disgusting than Larry Pickering.

    I really fail to see what your point is but that is typical of your wanderings around the inside of your vacuous mind that is filled with self-serving irrationality – perhaps paranoid – and definitely filled with emotional arguments about how people who you refer to as ‘you lot’ are so mean to you poor righties, poor Jim and poor Ronald Reagan.

    Couldn’t you find any examples of the ýou lot’ people here being mean to Tony Abbott or are you still looking that up?

  53. Julie Thomas
    March 25th, 2014 at 14:58 | #53

    Terje I am very confused about your reputation not being your property. I thought that was important.

  54. TerjeP
    March 25th, 2014 at 15:00 | #54

    If they changed “vilify” from incitement of hatred to incitement of violence I would be okay with the Proposed Brandis version. As it is I think it is still too restrictive. But an improvement none the less.

  55. TerjeP
    March 25th, 2014 at 15:02 | #55

    p.s. I agree that intimidate should be illegal. Only the government should be allowed to intimidate. As in pay your taxes or we will put you in a cage. And even then it’s morality is very questionable.

  56. patrickb
    March 25th, 2014 at 15:34 | #56

    @Benjamin O’Donnell
    A rather glib empty comment that seems to ignore the fact that vested interest have the financial wherewithal to dominate the debate and aren’t constrained by things like facts.

  57. patrickb
    March 25th, 2014 at 15:44 | #57

    @Jim Rose
    “In the 1980s, a top cartoonist went in search for Ronald Reagan’s brain. Was that hateful and bigoted?”
    No, it was hilarious. Sometimes the right can be so humourless …

  58. March 25th, 2014 at 15:51 | #58

    @TerjeP
    I can sort of see what you’re getting at, Terje – we need to have a way to make bigots ashamed of themselves. I reckon making the expression of bigotry illegal (and, by extension, socially unacceptable) is probably more effective than pointing and laughing, though.

  59. J-D
    March 25th, 2014 at 15:52 | #59

    @Jim Rose
    In the 1980s Garry Trudeau drew a number of cartoons in which one of his regular Doonesbury characters, journalist Roland Hedley, was depicted as exploring Reagan’s brain (he wasn’t searching for it, he was trying to find out what was going on inside, on his second trip specifically in the context of Iran-Contra). It is relevant to note that the character was already established as a gullible narcissistic sensationalising buffoon: he was clearly not a simple mouthpiece for Trudeau.

    It is true that the cartoons implied scorn for and mockery of Reagan. But mockery is not the same thing as bigotry. Particularly in the context of Iran-Contra, mockery of Reagan was wholly appropriate.

  60. ChrisH
    March 25th, 2014 at 16:01 | #60

    The Attorney General has engaged in a ‘bait and switch’.
    Discussion of the draft change is likely to focus, as comment here seems to have done, on the limitation of s18C to racial vilification and racial intimidation. But the big change is in the removal of s18D and its replacement with complete protection of communication in the course of public discussion.
    The former provision applied to anything done reasonably and in good faith: Bolt could not and did not pass this threshold (in the racial discrimination act case he lost). Now he won’t have to.
    It is difficult to imagine any public communication – at a rally, in print, or in a blog – that would not be automatically protected by the new protection. It doesn’t matter if the communication is in bad faith: knowingly false: absurdly unfounded – like Bolt’s publications.
    If it is a form of public communication it must be in the course of public discussion, whether there is already a discussion along the lines it feeds or whether it initiates the discussion.
    The ‘blood libel’, and the master plan for world domination, can be put forward from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and offered as justification for eliminating the civil rights of Jews. And this would be absolutely protected, though no one nowadays could put forward the Protocols reasonably or in good faith.
    Accordingly the new proscriptions of racial vilification and racial intimidation will apply only to private or secret abuse: which will never be actionable unless someone happens to have recorded it legally (as with the public transport rants of recent memory).

  61. Will
    March 25th, 2014 at 16:44 | #61

    @ TerjeP

    Only the government should be allowed to intimidate. As in pay your taxes or we will put you in a cage. And even then it’s morality is very questionable.

    What drivel. Property rights (as per any philosophy you care to name) over the Australian continent was finalised in the years following the landing of the First Fleet. The Land belonged to the British Crown and their unwritten constitution at first before Federation in 1901 under the new Australian Constitution altered the ownership structure. As property owners the Constitution lays out the set of conditions for use of the Australian Governments property, i.e. exactly the same type of rights that libertarians hold so dear, except by some strange alchemy they arbitrarily dismiss the organisation known as the Australian Government’s ownership claim. We don’t live in a dictatorship, so there are two wholly feasible options: stay and abide by the rules as prescribed, or emigrate to somewhere where the rules are more to your liking. You don’t like taxes? Fine. But knock off the whole “woe is me, oppressed at gunpoint” crap.

  62. March 25th, 2014 at 17:39 | #62

    Someone who describes people as;

    ‘to please his [ignorant and bigoted] reader’

    or as;

    “people who should know enough to be ashamed of themselves.”

    is a person who is intolerant of any ideas other than his own.

    On another point;

    “the crowded field of rightwing journamalism”

    The statement should read:

    ‘the crowded field of leftwing journamalism’

    as a recent survey of Australian journalists found;

    “43.0% said they would give their first preference vote to Labor; 30.2% would vote for the Coalition; and 19.4% said they would choose the Greens – about twice the Australian average.”

  63. J-D
    March 25th, 2014 at 17:53 | #64

    @J-D
    Further on the subject of mockery: the weak, the poor, the lowly, the marginalised, the disadvantaged should not be mocked; regular mockery of Presidents, Prime Ministers, chief executives, judges, generals, admirals, archbishops, Ayatollahs, Directors-General, Vice-Chancellors, police commissioners, editors-in-chief, senior officers of all kinds, et hoc genus omne is essential.

  64. sunshine
    March 25th, 2014 at 18:33 | #65

    @Jim Rose
    Jim – I like your definition of Socialism -I like how it takes peoples feelings into account . Extreme capitalism has always seemed a bit ,as you say ,cold and hard.

  65. rog
    March 25th, 2014 at 18:39 | #66

    Bolt’s right to be a bigot shoud not exceed another’s right to not be villified.

  66. paul walter
    March 25th, 2014 at 18:42 | #67

    You probably don’t know you are a bigot, if you are ignorant and so lacking in self control as to be one.

    Brandis knows full-well that being a bigot has nothing to do with incendiary hate speech; you can spend you life hating other people all you want to if that is what you want or is an emotional desert you lack the wit to be able to escape. But when you behaviours impact on others through your incitement, that is a different story.

    They want to make bigotry normative, a worthy state from where you can portray rationality and rationally outlined dissent as sissy; a symptom of instability and abnormality.

    Since I am not allowed to employ recent European history as a source for an example, even after watching yet another doco on a specific instance on SBS last Friday night for an example of where this ends up leading,
    I will add no more.

  67. TerjeP
    March 25th, 2014 at 19:12 | #68
  68. SJ
    March 25th, 2014 at 21:51 | #69

    I watched the clip. Berg dumber and less articulate than even Terje is. Wow.

  69. Patrickb
    March 25th, 2014 at 23:23 | #70

    @SJ
    “I watched the clip”
    I think there’s a support group for people who have experienced Chris Berg. Sadly though some never recover …

  70. March 25th, 2014 at 23:40 | #71

    I’m in Germany so I’ve only just found out that, as well as amending the Act to protect Bolt and allow everyone to be bigots, Abbott is now also bringing back Knights and Dames.

    I leave the country for five minutes and look what happens!

  71. paul walter
    March 26th, 2014 at 00:20 | #72

    Val, as my nanna used to say,

    ” Things are crook in Tallarook
    and not much better back a’ Bourke”.

  72. paul walter
    March 26th, 2014 at 00:26 | #73

    Hmm.

    I sacrificed the first chance of all to go to Terje’s link.

    I sacrificed this opportunity for a stroll ’round the corner to the local where they were doing a blues open mike.

    Can you believe I was so stupid?

  73. March 26th, 2014 at 03:50 | #74

    @paul walter
    I hope you sang some blues Paul

  74. March 26th, 2014 at 04:11 | #75

    ‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’
    ‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’
    ‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.’

    …with apologies to Lewis Caroll

  75. rog
    March 26th, 2014 at 06:13 | #76

    @SJ Free speech and adultery – perfect bed partners.

  76. faust
    March 26th, 2014 at 07:22 | #77

    It is about disagreeing with someone but allowing them the right to be heard. Trying to shut someone up via the legal system because you find their views odious can result in matters not been properly dealt with by politicians and society and inevitably lead to an outburst similar to the One Nation phenomenon.

  77. Fran Barlow
    March 26th, 2014 at 08:16 | #78

    oh dear … the automod machine strikes again:

    On the question of the status of “free speech” in pluralistic societies …

    No society in the world

    A) defines free speech as untrammelled expression of ideas

    and

    B) protects that “free” speech

    Even the most liberal and pluralistic jurisdictions impose constraints on the exercise of expression based on their conception of “the public good”. It’s obvious why this must be so. Any legitimate expression of the sovereignty of the community must take into account what will best serve their common interest, and when the exercise of a given act of free expression causes more harm than it is worth, states curtail it.

    Sometimes states overstep of course, overstating the harms associated with particular speech acts and/or out of malice or some other anti-social cause, but there can be no doubt that there is a line beyond which the permission to freely express a given thought would subvert legitimate community interests. The conclusion is forced: free speech is not an absolute right or one that can inevitably vitiate other rights or legitimate interests, but rather, one that is simply part of a mix of broader claims to freedom people have.

    It is fair to say that the right to express ideas without legal or extra-legal harassment is an important indicator of the degree of freedom in a given society and therewith the legitimacy of governments issuing from the political processes obtaining, but to fet|shise it as many in the right do when it suits them is pure cant.

    These folk aren’t troubled at all by defamation laws, laws against publication of prur|ent material involving children, insider trading, industrial and military espionage, contempt of court or violation of privacy, publication of addresses of people in the w|tness protection program and probably one or two other things I haven’t mentioned.

    Such laws seek to reconcile other interests the community has with the broader desire not to be imposed upon by the state. People want freedom, but most realise that unless some freedoms are curtailed, in practice their total freedom will be prejudiced.

    So the question becomes not a boolean — free speech or not? — but rather, a more complex set of questions — which curtailments and by which parties in what circumstances and with what sanctions serve the public interest? The question of the public interest goes to the heart of good faith defences in cases such as the Bolt matter.

    Sections 18C and 18D seem to strike this balance pretty well. One can support these while still claiming at a minimum to support the quality of free speech that obtains in many jurisdictions that most would regard as “free societies”.

  78. Fran Barlow
    March 26th, 2014 at 08:18 | #79

    Ah. forgot that the machine deprecates the term “mal|ce” with an “i”. Please delete last two

    On the question of the status of “free speech” in pluralistic societies …

    No society in the world

    A) defines free speech as untrammelled expression of ideas

    and

    B) protects that “free” speech

    Even the most liberal and pluralistic jurisdictions impose constraints on the exercise of expression based on their conception of “the public good”. It’s obvious why this must be so. Any legitimate expression of the sovereignty of the community must take into account what will best serve their common interest, and when the exercise of a given act of free expression causes more harm than it is worth, states curtail it.

    Sometimes states overstep of course, overstating the harms associated with particular speech acts and/or out of mal|ce or some other anti-social cause, but there can be no doubt that there is a line beyond which the permission to freely express a given thought would subvert legitimate community interests. The conclusion is forced: free speech is not an absolute right or one that can inevitably vitiate other rights or legitimate interests, but rather, one that is simply part of a mix of broader claims to freedom people have.

    It is fair to say that the right to express ideas without legal or extra-legal harassment is an important indicator of the degree of freedom in a given society and therewith the legitimacy of governments issuing from the political processes obtaining, but to fetishise it as many in the right do when it suits them is pure cant.

    These folk aren’t troubled at all by defamation laws, laws against publication of prurient material involving children, insider trading, industrial and military espionage, contempt of court or violation of privacy, publication of addresses of people in the witness protection program and probably one or two other things I haven’t mentioned.

    Such laws seek to reconcile other interests the community has with the broader desire not to be imposed upon by the state. People want freedom, but most realise that unless some freedoms are curtailed, in practice their total freedom will be prejudiced.

    So the question becomes not a boolean — free speech or not? — but rather, a more complex set of questions — which curtailments and by which parties in what circumstances and with what sanctions serve the public interest? The question of the public interest goes to the heart of good faith defences in cases such as the Bolt matter.

    Sections 18C and 18D seem to strike this balance pretty well. One can support these while still claiming at a minimum to support the quality of free speech that obtains in many jurisdictions that most would regard as “free societies”.

  79. J-D
    March 26th, 2014 at 09:31 | #80

    @faust
    According to you, if we make efforts to discourage people from saying hateful things, the effect will be to encourage people to say hateful things. Therefore, if you are right, every possible course of action leads to people saying hateful things.

    This would be a congenial conclusion for you, as somebody who in another recent comment indicated that you regarded riling people as a reasonable or even a commendable motivation for government action.

    This vicious attitude of yours is part of the problem, and this makes it regrettably necessary to treat anything you have to say about coping with the problem as if it is irretrievably dishonest.

    So you have nothing of value to contribute to this particular discussion. Please leave it alone.

  80. Simn MUsgrave
    March 26th, 2014 at 09:54 | #81

    SECT 18D
    Exemptions
    Section 18C does not render unlawful anything said or done reasonably and in good faith:

    (a) in the performance, exhibition or distribution of an artistic work; or

    (b) in the course of any statement, publication, discussion or debate made or held for any genuine academic, artistic or scientific purpose or any other genuine purpose in the public interest; or

    (c) in making or publishing:

    (i) a fair and accurate report of any event or matter of public interest; or

    (ii) a fair comment on any event or matter of public interest if the comment is an expression of a genuine belief held by the person making the comment.

    Brandis et al seem to only talk about 18C – I would be very interested to know whether anyone has put forward a reasonable argument that 18D blocks any contribution which is legitimately part of public discourse.

    One possible argument might be that 18D places the onus on the person or people complained against to show that they can meet the standard. But that doesn’t seem too much of a problem – it if makes someone stop and think before making a statement, is that a bad thing?

    In the absence of argument that 18D does not adequately protect debate, then Brandis’s position seems to imply that being offensive for the sake of being offensive should be part of public discourse. And I don’t buy that.

  81. rog
    March 26th, 2014 at 09:55 | #82

    @faust Its fairly obvious that the ruling class are happy with the current laws regarding slander, libel and defamation and unhappy that their rights to bigotry are limited.

  82. March 26th, 2014 at 10:05 | #83

    I suppose half the country would never have heard of Bolt but for the attempt to censor him. I had never heard of him before.

  83. J-D
    March 26th, 2014 at 10:18 | #84

    @Jim Rose
    If more people get to hear of Andrew Bolt, would you regard that as a good thing or a bad thing?

  84. Fran Barlow
    March 26th, 2014 at 10:45 | #85

    @J-D

    Not that it matters much but I’d be astonished if Jim Rose had not heard of Bolt prior to the RDA matter. Rose is regularly cites texts far more obscure and far less contemporary than Bolt and it’s counter-intuitive to think someone as prominent in public space would not have been raised with him by someone who shares his evident interest in public affairs.

    I have this image of someone talking with Rose in real life pre-Eatock about Bolt, describing his flaws and Rose throwing up his hands and saying “who?”

    I pay no attention to football but even I’ve heard of James Hird. ;-)

  85. March 26th, 2014 at 10:58 | #86

    TerjeP:

    Only the government should be allowed to intimidate. As in pay your taxes respect other people’s property rights or we will put you in a cage. And even then it’s morality is very questionable.

    Very questionable.

  86. paul walter
    March 26th, 2014 at 11:49 | #87

    I was wailing the blues.. very therapeutic in the end. They were old bastards most of them.. then I looked in the mirror in the dunny…@Val

  87. TerjeP
    March 26th, 2014 at 13:26 | #88

    Desipis – let me reword what I said and see if it makes things clearer.

    Verbal intimidation should be illegal for all parties and persons with the following exceptions:-

    i) in cases of self defence. eg get out or my house or I’ll hit you with this chair.
    ii) in cases of referral to government. eg get out of my house or I’ll call the police.
    iii) where undertaken by the government but within the constraints of law. eg get out of this mans house or we will arrest you.

    Saying at a public rally that Alan Joyce is a bad CEO and that somebody should hence put a bullet through the back of his head ought to see you charged for inciting violence. Even if you later say sorry. And even if that’s how your mates in the union movement like to talk.

  88. J-D
    March 26th, 2014 at 13:28 | #89

    @Fran Barlow
    I’ve never heard of James Hird.

    But what I was wondering about was not how much knowledge Jim Rose might have personally of Andrew Bolt.

    If it’s true that the complaint drew more attention to Bolt, that would seem to have the following implications:

    if attention to Bolt is evaluated positively, the complaint could be as well;
    if attention to Bolt is evaluated negatively, the complaint could be as well;
    if attention to Bolt is not automatically evaluated either as positive or as negative, that also applies to the complaint.

    Somebody who makes an issue of this might be thinking that people who supported the making of the complaint don’t want attention drawn to Bolt. But that doesn’t have to be the case. How people feel about attention being drawn to Bolt probably depends on what kind of attention it is.

    Since Jim Rose was the one who made an issue of this, it seemed reasonable enough to ask about he felt about attention being drawn to Bolt.

    It’s also worth drawing attention to the rhetorical strategy.

    A complains about X; B says ‘complaining only draws attention to X’. B in fact sympathises with X but is strategically avoiding admitting it. A may have no problem with the drawing of attention to X, depending on what kind of attention it is; pointing this out is an appropriate strategic riposte. B’s tactic depends on the hidden assumption ‘you don’t want to draw attention to X’; A may be tricked into accepting this assumption so long as it remains hidden, so dragging it out into the open and examining it is just the thing to do.

  89. March 26th, 2014 at 13:52 | #90

    John, with your permission?

    Fran, I have not lived in Australia for coming on 20-years.

    Unless Bolt wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald I would have not piked up on him.

    Most newspapers worth reading are behind pay-walls now, so my ignorance can only increase.

  90. Fran Barlow
    March 26th, 2014 at 13:59 | #91

    @Jim Rose

    OK then, so what you’re saying is that in the case of folk who have been outside the country for 20 years and who only look at the SMH, drawing attention to him might have lifted his profile.

    It’s not really much of a claim then as presumably, what most here are interested in is his impact on those who do live here.

    I still find it surprising that you’d not have heard of him until fairly recently, but if you say so then I accept that.

  91. March 26th, 2014 at 14:05 | #92

    TerjeP,

    I was poking fun at your propertarianism in that comment; not your views on free speech. Although I do wonder if you would include drowning a Prime Minister as an incitement to violence so as to be consistent with your inclusion of shooting a CEO.

  92. Fran Barlow
    March 26th, 2014 at 14:39 | #93

    Although I do wonder if you would include drowning a Prime Minister {and the leader of another party} as an incitement to violence so as to be consistent with your inclusion of shooting a CEO.

    Let’s not forget Bob Brown …

  93. rog
    March 26th, 2014 at 16:09 | #94

    This is attributed to the late Justice Lionel Murphy ‘free speech is only what is left over after due weight has been accorded to the laws relating to defamation, blasphemy, copyright, sedition, obscenity, use of insulting words, official secrecy, contempt of court and parliament, incitement and censorship’.

    If Brandis was genuine he would be tackling the bigger impediments to free speech (it was Howard who brought in sedition laws).

  94. TerjeP
    March 27th, 2014 at 06:03 | #95

    Desipis – yes Jones comments about Gillard were inappropriate and probably warranted at least a police cautioning. Although the union official that suggested a bullet for the back of Joyce’s head was a more potent and graphic example.

  95. TerjeP
    March 27th, 2014 at 06:05 | #96

    rog – I thought the sedition laws had a sunset clause and no longer applied. I’d be keen to know.

  96. rog
    March 27th, 2014 at 06:29 | #97

    @TergeP

    Amended into National Security Legislation Amendment Act 2010

    Treason and Urging Violence.

  97. Ernestine Gross
    March 29th, 2014 at 10:29 | #98

    @Benjamin O’Donnell

    “I agree that Bolt should really have gone down for good old fashioned defamation rather than ..”

    In a sense I agree with you.

    The trouble is, defamation actions tend to be very expensive, relative to the income of most people. Furthermore, defamation relates to individuals and not to groups (please correct me if I am wrong).

    As a casual observer, it seems to me legislation, enforceable via civil law, tends to be framed without considering the relative cost (relative to an individual’s income or wealth) of enforcement. Similarly, some discussions of the merit of legislation tend to ignore the relative cost (again relative to an individual’s income or wealth) of enforcement. Alternatively put, wealth distribution matters for justice for all.

  98. March 29th, 2014 at 17:25 | #99

    When the Nazis came for the communists,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a communist.

    When they locked up the social democrats,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a social democrat.

    When they came for the trade unionists,
    I did not speak out;
    I was not a trade unionist.

    When they came for the Jews,
    I remained silent;
    I wasn’t a Jew.

    When they came for me,
    there was no one left to speak out

    Martin Niemöller

  99. Megan
    March 29th, 2014 at 19:17 | #100

    “When they began to attack the aborigines,
    I remained silent;
    I wasn’t an aborigine….”

    As an aside, I’ve noticed that ‘Godwin’s Law’ doesn’t seem to apply to the establishment media and political class when vilifying Putin/Russia for some reason.

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