On liberty …

… jealously guarding the liberties bequeathed by the founding fathers and the English common law.

The Australian has published the very fine speech by Daniel Ward given at his graduation. Presently it is peaking out from behind the paywall <HERE>. I would urge you to read it while you may.

Some excerpts …

The danger is Australian lawyers will get comfortable with authoritarianism. There is a risk we will subconsciously make a thousand tiny concessions to illiberalism, and allow it to insinuate itself into our psyche. We might come to tolerate affronts to the rule of law. In short, commercial opportunity threatens to hypnotise us, turning us into well-meaning Manchurian candidates.

… mental gymnastics that can also lead to this …

In 2010, the University of Sydney Senate approved a document called “Harassment and Discrimination Prevention Policy and Resolution Procedure”. It purports to ban, across all areas of university life, something called “unlawful harassment”. The policy defines that term as behaviour that offends, insults, humiliates or intimidates a person, and could reasonably have been expected to do so. It goes on to identify the grounds on which it is forbidden to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate. These grounds include things like race, sex and disability.

Astonishingly, though, they also include the following: “political belief, lack of a political belief, lack of a particular political belief (including trade union activity or lack of it, and student association activity or lack of it), religious belief, lack of a religious belief, and/or lack of a particular religious belief”.

It is nothing if not comprehensive.

If university has become a place where we can’t offend people on the grounds of their political or religious beliefs, then God help us all (and of course I say that without wishing to offend any atheists). What has university come to, if a jackbooted socialist can’t go up to a Young Liberal and hurl all the abuse his limited imagination can muster? What has it come to, if we have to think twice before aping a former Labor prime minister and labelling our opponents “desiccated coconuts” or “mangy maggots”? Surely university is the last place in the country where we should see a policy like this. Because it is precisely the place where debate should be at its most vigorous and, yes, at times, offensive, insulting and even humiliating.

Good on ya, Daniel …

One thought on “On liberty …

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