This blog is not a dedicated travel blog although I really do enjoy writing about my journeys and whenever I do the blog picks up a bunch of new followers. This is the case again with the Madagascar series that I have started and will resume. So welcome to those of you that have just come on board. Some of you are from the USA and given that freedom of speech is guaranteed by your constitution you are going to be surprised to find that Australians enjoy no such privilege. It is no where enshrined in our constitution so for us it is a case of eternal vigilance …
It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.” — John Philpot Curran, 1790.
Debate in Australia is often vigorous, sometimes abusive and I think that all to the good. But, with the best intentions I’m sure, a past government thought that with regard to some aspects of our little selves we are so weak, so insecure, such shrinking violets that we must be protected from anything that might cause us offense. We have a public broadcaster that thinks it is fine to put to air a depiction of a critic having sex with a dog and label him, on screen “dog fucker” but …
(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.
It is the easiest thing in the world to take offense, and being thus offended shut down debate on any subject that touches on race. We have a welfare system that is different for indiginous Australians than for the rest of Australians. Discussing it might cause offense. Let’s not discuss it here.
The recently elected government led by Tony Abbott promised to rid us of this constraint on free speech. Today it has announced that it will break that promise. I am deeply offended.