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AUDIO: “Above all liberties” – and the Q&A anti-Bolt debacle


Senator George Brandis on Q&A: a rock of liberty amidst a swamp of lefties

Having just watched Q&A with federal Attorney-General Brandis urging the need to allow all opinions to be heard as part of robust public argument, while the other panellists urged him to  silence any unacceptable and offensive opinion, I have decided to post the audio of the talk I gave this weekend to the NCC Queensland conference.

I do it as a mark of respect for the firm resolve of the AG last night, and in particular for the ongoing courage of journalist Andrew Bolt – the person the other Q&A panellists felt free to vilify in the same breath as they decried the mildest “vilification” of anyone else. Note Andrew’s response on his Blog tonight, keeping his dignity in the face of such bile:

The (anti-vilification) law being defended seems designed not to protect people from abuse but ideas from challenge… The politics of race is a cancer on free speech and debate.

So is the politics of homosexual “marriage” and of political Islam, both of which one side of the debate attempts to silence using anti-vilification laws.

Free speech means ‘free argument’ about matters of public importance. To intimidate free argument is to emasculate a free society. And yet that is what we are experiencing. It remains to be seen whether a conservative government under the most free-speech-minded Prime Minister any of us is likely to see, has the will to break the python squeeze of the left on this most fundamental civic liberty. For now, thanks to Senator Brandis for being steadfast.

UPDATE: 12/3

The ABC, Q&A and T. Jones are out of control. If Jones does not apologise next week for facilitating such a vicious, baseless attack on Bolt, he voids all respect and should be removed from his taxpayer-funded  job. This in The Australian today:

IN Q&A land, you should never let the facts get in the way of a racist smear.

ABC1’s Q&A, Monday:

MARCIA Langton: In my opinion, the articles that (Andrew) Bolt wrote about several Aboriginal people were far from the subject of politics and simply abusive. Now, just to take one instance, there was a young woman who was the victim of his abuse … Dr Misty Jenkins … the victim of foul abuse from Bolt now, nothing that he said about her was political. It was simply racial abuse. He argued that she had no right to claim that she was Aboriginal and, like most fools who put this argument in public, we are expected to deny our parents and our grandparents because somebody believes in race theories. So, I absolutely refute … that this has to do with … (the) suppression of political debate.

Foul abuse? Andrew Bolt, Herald Sun, May 21, 2008:

MELBOURNE University has a record that illustrates my theory that state-funded institutions tend to lean to the cultural Left … Read the latest issue of … the university’s alumni magazine … the cover story argues that the mainly black murderers (in the Deep South) … are victims … Page two promotes Kevin Rudd’s apology … Page three announces that Davis has picked … global warming alarmist Ross Garnaut, as one of his Vice-Chancellor’s Fellows. Page four has a feature on Dr Misty Jenkins, a blonde and pale science PhD who calls herself Aboriginal and enthuses: “I was able to watch the coverage of Kevin Rudd’s (sorry) speech with tears rolling down my cheeks … Recognition of the atrocities caused by Australian government policies was well overdue.” “Independent”? “Nonpartisan”? Pages six and seven boast that the university hosted Rudd’s “first major policy conference” … There are even … pictures of Rudd … Wayne Swan, Nicola Roxon and Kim Carr. “Independent”? “Nonpartisan”? You get the message.

ABC1’s Q&A, Monday:

LANGTON: (Dr Jenkins) as a result of that case, withdrew from public life. She used to speak to students.

Women in Science Fellowships, August 12, 2013:

MISTY … Jenkins serves as a motivational speaker to students, especially young women, at schools and universities.

Jenkins, Engaging Women, September 1, 2013:

I DO a lot of work with high school students and indigenous students … I encourage them to stay at school.

Australian Science Communicators Conference, February 2-5 this year:

IN addition to her successful research career, Misty is a passionate and engaging public speaker …

Is it because you’re white? ABC1’s Q&A, Monday:

TONY Jones: (George Brandis) Just if I could just get you to address what Marcia Langton specifically said about that woman who has withdrawn from public life because of the depth of the offence that she took from those comments, are you sympathetic with people who are so deeply offended that they withdraw from public life?

Brandis: Well, I don’t know anything about the facts of that lady’s particular case …

Lisa Wilkinson: Do you think part of the reason why you can’t sympathise … (or) seem to understand how that would cause enormous discomfort for somebody and they would withdraw from public life … (is) because you are a white, able-bodied, heterosexual male?

Misty Jenkins, indigenous scholarships website:

. . . I DO acknowledge that because of my paler skin, I was not subject to the physical discrimination that many of my cousins were.


Incisive editorial yesterday from the Australian:

… Defend the current law or defend Bolt; it is a phony choice. The point of this debate is that even people who strongly disagree with Bolt’s words can defend his freedom to publish them. What makes this sad debate even more pitiful is that argue as you might about Bolt’s provocative tone and strong words, but his “offending” articles were actually a passionate argument against racial discrimination of any kind. Yet the words are banned — erased from websites. This is the perverse effect of section 18C — a liberal democracy bans articles in which a commentator shares honestly held views against race-based preferment.         

… Not to cause offence or insult is too low a bar to place on public debate. We have laws protecting citizens from defamation and incitement to violence, and we have other encumbrances on free speech. Yet, of course, offending or insulting people on racial grounds is intolerable in civil society. The way to combat such malice is to overcome it out with more acceptable and intelligent points of view.

Also: you might have heard this messy exchange between Andrew and Professor Langton on 2BG last night. What a shabby performance by this academic. Nevertheless she did acknowledge that she had spoken wrongly of Andrew on Q&A and apologised.


And see how viciously the self-righteous can hate: authentic incitement to violence and defamation by known activists and artists, calling for Bolt to be beaten, maimed, killed.  Such filth.

These are the people to be restrained by our laws, not a fair-minded cultural critic like Bolt.




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