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Bolt faces the State Censor

The trial of the country’s most popular columnist, Andrew Bolt, is due to complete hearings today.  Andrew has “offended” a group of white-skinned part-aboriginal activists, and they are asking the federal court to impose a lifetime ban on him ever hurting their feelings again. State-suppression of speech and ideas, pure and simple. The activists have selected one of several weapons from the Australian PC enforcement kit, the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, as amended by Paul Keating in 1995 to make it unlawful to cause offence to anybody where the offending act “is done because of the race, colour or ethnic origin” of the other person.

The surreal twist in this case is that Bolt’s whole hypothesis in his “offending” newspaper columns from 2009 is that we should be utterly blind to race, colour or ethnic origin. He defends this colour-blindness as one of “the deepest humanist ideals” and in one column challenges those who keep harping on about racial difference:

“Let’s go beyond racial pride. Beyond black and white. Let’s be proud only of being human beings set on this land together, determined to find what unites us and not to invent such racist and trivial excuses to divide. Deal?”

So it has come to this: a call for utter indifference to racial division is prosecuted as racial vilification! Satirical prodding of strong, successful figures in the white-aboriginal world – such as certain Celtic-looking lawyers and artists involved in the class-action against Bolt – for taking prizes and scholarships that poorer, more obviously aboriginal candidates missed out on, is an actionable offense! As Bolt commented in his trial, “I didn’t know satire was a crime”.

Superb criticism of this litigious culture of ‘being offended’  in The Australian today, by law professor at UQ, James Allan:

The only valuable sort of freedom of speech is the sort that allows people to do or to say what others find wrong-headed, offensive, distasteful and intolerant. Being free to say and do what everyone else wants you to say and do is not a liberty or freedom you will ever have to fight for; it will make little difference to anything. .. I think any good, well-functioning democracy requires its citizens to man up and grow a thick skin. If you’re offended, tell us why the speaker is wrong. Don’t ask for a court-ordered apology and some two-bit declaration.

Professor Allan is right: speech that offends nobody needs no defending. It is controversial speech, the type that inevitably offends, that needs liberty if a society is to resist totalitarian creep.

Mark Steyn points out that this right of  ‘strikingly pasty-faced Australians’ not to be offended differs only in degree, not kind, from the Muslim demand that we not offend their religious sensibilties – or be murdered if we do.

Increasingly, in Canada, Australia, Britain, the Netherlands, France, Austria, Scandinavia, the human right not to be offended trumps all. This is disastrous. It puts free societies on the same continuum as the ululating savages of Mazar e-Sharif. They were also “offended” – by some no-name pastor on the other side of the planet burning a book. The Taliban’s idea of due process is less protracted than the Australians’, but operates on the same basic principle – that the right not to be offended is sacred.

Confronted by this deepening disaster, the duty of every elected representative of a free people is to hack away the strangle-vines of vilification laws, sack the ‘human rights’ thought-police, and reclaim our right to argue as fellow citizens and be inevitably offensive. As Prof Allen concludes, re the Racial Discrimination Act: “It’s time to repeal it. Now.”

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