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Moral support for Andrew Bolt

Institute of Public Affairs dinner 20/6/2011

Great to see the support for Andrew Bolt at the IPA dinner in Melbourne in his honour last night.

Andrew is the test case for whether free men and women in our country still have the right to argue their case in the public square.

As I said back in April re Andrew’s political show-trial:

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.

How good, then, to read union boss Paul Howes in yesterday’s Australian.

I suspect I will always disagree with Bolt. On most things.  I will always fear his persuasive powers as an advocate of ideas that I will never agree with; but I will always be ready to meet him in vigorous debate over things that shape our country’s future.

And I will always defend his democratic right, as a member of a free society, to say what he will, to exercise that privilege of dissent that has defined, since Federation, the Australia we all belong to, and all, with varying shades of caveat, believe in and remain proud of, a free Australia.

Our freedom of speech should remain unmitigated by this new quavering cowardice that some would impose.

Howes was one of the speakers at the dinnner last night – as was mark Steyn, beamed in via video from the US. And also James Allan, Garrick Professor of Law at UQ, whose article in today’s Australian is a rallying call for politicians to rid us of these orwellian thought-crime laws. It is an absolute top priority for any concerned citizen. 

I think that in any well-functioning democracy it is incumbent on all citizens to grow a thick skin. If you’re offended, tell us why the speaker is wrong. Tell us why he or she is misguided or has defective moral antennae. Don’t go to court and seek a court-ordered apology, or orders prohibiting publication of views you find offensive, or some two-bit judicial declaration.

And as a legislator under no circumstances pass statutes that allow for the creation of this mutant, half-baked right not to be offended. The very fact that people can be dragged through the courts – whatever the ultimate outcome – has a massive chilling effect on free speech. I know it. You know it. And our legislators ought to know it too, and do something about repealing this terrible piece of legislation.

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