Freedom’s just another word …

From the address to the National Press Club by Human Rights Commissioner, Tim Wilson, 18th February 2015. I’ve indicated by my much beloved ellipses where I have chosen to leave words out.

Recent tragic events in Paris and Copenhagen are a reminder that “free speech” is not a slogan; it is a principle to be defended even if expressions cross the line of social acceptability …

I know the objective of this law is not to take subjects off the table. That’s part of the problem. The intention of the law doesn’t match its wording.

I understand why some communities feel the maintenance of this law is essential to their sense of security in our society, but for many of us so is the freedom of speech to defend ourselves.

Race, culture and religion regularly overlap …

No group should be able to use law as a shield from criticism. That’s why 18C is neither fair, nor just, and should be repealed.

Australians continuously raise their concerns with me about the current wording of 18C. Most want reform.

It is utterly inconsistent with human rights that some legal privileges are afforded to some, and not others.

Many ask why their identity group doesn’t enjoy the same legal privilege.

It’s that question that demonstrates the absurdity of the law. Subjective tests such as “offend”, “insult” or “humiliate” are not justifiable restrictions on free speech: whatever the subject.

If the same standard were applied to all identity groups we’d be a straightjacket society unable to discuss controversial topics.

From listening to communities, the law doesn’t reflect the mischief advocates even want to address:

  •  Anti-Semitic slogans targeting school children on buses.
  • Anti-Islamic abuse toward women wearing Niqabs.
  • Threats of violence against Asian-Australians on public transport.
  • Homophobic and transphobic bullying.
  • Deliberately degrading Aboriginal Australians.

No one disputes the human consequences of invasive and abusive public harassment …

If the law is re-orientated toward addressing public harassment it would enjoy far more public confidence across the community than it does today …

But we must seek reform because free speech goes to the heart of everyone’s individual autonomy and dignity.

You can read the whole speech <HERE>. You may be surprised.

Je suis …

Well, me, je suis me.

I’m glad I’m not Charlie, I have an aversion to being shot (and for the record, decapitated as well).

The barbarity exhibited in Paris in recent days has brought a massive response. Consciousnesses have certainly been raised.

The people, the politicians and the cartoonists have led the way.

Let’s have a look at them in a slightly different order. Monsieur Hollande has been quick to reassure France that the French way of life will endure and that this is nothing to do with Islam. Mark Steyn was not impressed

Yeah, right. I would use my standard line on these occasions – “Allahu Akbar” is Arabic for “Nothing to see here” – but it’s not quite as funny when the streets are full of cowards, phonies and opportunists waving candles and pencils and chanting “Je suis Charlie.” Because if you really were Charlie, if you really were one of the 17 Frenchmen and women slaughtered in the name of Allah in little more than 48 hours, you’d utterly despise a man who could stand up in public and utter those words.

The louder the perpetrators yell “Allahu Akbar” and rejoice that the Prophet has been avenged, the louder M Hollande and David Cameron and Barack Obama and John Kerry and the other A-list infidels insist there’s no Islam to see here. M le Président seems to believe he can champion France’s commitment to freedom of expression by conscripting the entire nation in his monstrous lie.

Is he just pandering? There are, supposedly, six million Muslims in France, and he got 93 per cent of their vote last time round. Or is he afraid of the forces that might be unleashed if the Official Lie were not wholeheartedly upheld? Stéphane Charbonnier said he’d rather die standing than live on his knees; M Hollande thinks he can get by with a furtive crouch.

Harsh words, sadly entirely fair. Standing shoulder to shoulder with the leader of the surrender monkeys, Barack Obama. Such were the forcefulness of his words I almost expected him to draw another line in the sand. Our very own Tony Abbott had a few platitudes to mouth. They ring hollow whilst section 18c remains on the books.

And the cartoonists and their employers, praising the courage of their fallen comrades, there were a couple I liked …

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… and one that M. Hollande would have preferred, what we might call the ABC approach …


… it’s all about the backlash.

Guardian Australia cartoonist Andrew Marlton was in no hurry to offend his Muslim audience. As he explained last week …

I don’t depict Muhammad because it’s probably racist and also I don’t get to put my family and my coworkers at risk of being firebombed.

Tim Blair’s turn to be unimpressed …

Now, I’m not particularly against Marlton’s gutlessness over the non-drawing of old Mo, which regrettably has become an industry-wide standard – although his line about racism is interesting (what race is he talking about?).

Instead, Marlton is awarded the yellow sash for the second part of his statement – that he fears his family or the Guardian‘s office will be firebombed if Marlton upsets Muslims.

This is a fellow who makes his living frequently ridiculing what he depicts as an exaggerated fear of Islamic terrorism and who routinely describes as bigots and idiots those who condemn Islamic terrorism. While his leftist fans just lap that stuff up, it now emerges that Marlton himself believes he is just one cartoon away from the possibility of fiery death.

Notably absent from the main stream press were the Charlie Hebdo cartoons themselves. If you need to see what the fuss was about you can find a collection <HERE>. At least one of them would be truly offensive to Muslims, much in the way that putting a crucifix in a jar of urine would be to a christian.

The people’s response was spontaneous and in many ways quite nice. Je suis Charlie, we care, we stand united against barbarism. Charlie’s next edition will happen and it will be a sellout and that is all good. And then they will go back to work and to school and then … what?

Well we wouldn’t want to overreact. Here in Melbourne, Victoria we certainly won’t. Today’s news

Khodr Moustafa Taha, 35, from Brunswick, allegedly tweeted Victoria Police with the chilling message: “I’m going to hurt your officers.”

Police raided his home and allegedly discovered ammunition and three swords.

Mr Taha, who is Australian-born of Lebanese heritage, was also accused­ of running several additional Twitter accounts­ posting material supporting Islamic State.

Another contained a ­profile picture of the al-Qaeda flag.

Police argued in Melbourne Magistrates Court last week that Mr Taha — suspected of brutally bashing his ­mother and attacking his ex-boss with a hammer — posed an unacceptable risk of reoffending.

But Deputy Chief Magistrate Jelena Popovic let him walk from court, ­

“I’ve taken a view, on ­balance, that any risk can be fixed by the (bail) ­conditions.

There’s a bad day coming folks, wrap yourself in copies of the Racial Discrimination Act and have your bail conditions ready. Be prepared for the next time you are caught in an Islamic massacre …

Get a life …

An old friend is back in the news today. The elaborately decorated Major-General Neville Donohue.

If your kids have ever told you to get a life it may have crossed your mind that a) you’ve already got one and b) where would you go to get another one. For any number of people the answer to b) is easy. You borrow one. And you don’t have to be an impoverished no-hoper to do it, take, for instance, Elizabeth Warren.

Liz borrowed a better life by ticking the Are you a native American box on the application form to various law schools. It worked wonders at Harvard, it needed to up its representation of native Americans. Apparently the former Obama Special Advisor to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and former Chairperson of the Congressional Oversight Panel later told the world that “I listed myself in the directory in the hopes that it might mean that I would be invited to a luncheon, a group, something that might happen with people who are like I am”.

The evidence for her American native heritage was her high cheek bones and some discussion at a family gathering. Cool.

It led to some controversy. This is a darling of the left and presidential candidate in waiting, just one Hilary heartbeat away. Serious evidence was needed. Good news, some was found.

With the impertinent jackanapes of the press querying the bona fides of Harvard Lore School’s first Native American female professor, the Warren campaign got to work and eventually turned up a great-great-great-grandmother designated as Cherokee in the online transcription of a marriage application of 1894.

Alas, the actual original marriage license does not list Great-Great-Great-Gran’ma as Cherokee, but let’s cut Elizabeth Fauxcahontas Crockagawea Warren some slack here. She couldn’t be black. She would if she could, but she couldn’t. But she could be 1/32nd Cherokee, and maybe get invited to a luncheon with others of her kind – “people who are like I am,” 31/32nds white – and they can all sit around celebrating their diversity together.

Fauxcahontas is not making so much of her Fauxhecan ancestry these days.

It might be possible to find some Australian examples, but there’s a law against it.

There is however a clear connection between the pathology that leads to fake racial identification and that which leads to fake medals.

You may remember that our Neville failed to appear in court last February to face charges of falsely claiming to be a war veteran and to wearing medals to which he was not entitled. On that occasion a letter from someone at the Alfred Hospital was furnished establishing beyond a shadow of doubt that he had terminal cancer and would die within weeks.

Thanks to the expert care for which the Alfred is renowned he has survived long enough to fail to appear several more times. The most recent occasion, in October, was his seventh failure to appear and this time he told reporters that it was because he was on active military service on the day. The Alfred will no doubt be using his photo in their advertising.


His next opportunity to fail to appear is at the Ringwood Magistrates’ Court in March when he can avoid answering an additional 17 charges of impersonating a public official, financial deceptions and the odd driving offense. I’d book a seat if I thought he would be there.

Promises, promises …

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.

“Oh Allah, count the Buddhists and the Hindus one by one. Oh Allah, count them and kill them to the very last one”. Sheikh Sharif Hussein.

The latest Fairfax-Nielsen poll finds that 88% of respondents thought section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act should be left alone. That’s probably because they think that the law is there to protect us from being the victims of people like Sheik Hussein. The good sheikh, however, has been investigated by the South Australian Police who find that no law has been broken. 18c doesn’t seem to be doing a real good job of protecting Hindus and Buddhists. On the other hand, a newspaper editorial dishing the same sentiments back to the Sheikh and his followers might well offend someone.

It’s fine to offend someone for their conservative values, they are probably dog fuckers anyway, it’s fine to offend rich, old, white men. It wouldn’t do, though to offend  young, white, aboriginal females.

A pox on 18C. Get rid of it George and lets just make it a level playing field. Let Adam Goodes berate me for the sins of my ancestors, let the Sheikh mouth off at the Buddhists, let Mona Eltahawy racially vilify me, I’m a pom, I’m used to it.

Just let me argue back without fear of losing my house.


Caution, offensive language …


Offensive behaviour because of race, colour or national or ethnic origin

(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.

Being offended is really a very easy thing to do. If, for instance, I was called a pom, which accurately describes my national or ethnic origin, I could take offense and give the lawyers a call. The assumption seems to be that we are all peculiarly sensitive about our race, colour or national or ethnic origin.

On the other hand we are expected to be extremely tolerant of offensive language and behaviour in every other aspect of our lives.

The former arbiter of good taste, our ABC, can see nothing wrong in designating one of its critics a dogfucker and photoshopping a picture of him thus engaged and offering it on national TV for the amusement of the masses. The same organisation showed considerably more sensitivity by not showing any of these pictures in its extensive coverage of March in March.

marchinmarch-protestors-600The Fuck Abbott t-shirts were originally designed and produced by Clementine Ford, an Age columnist (calumnist?) and promoted in the Age newspaper. You will be relieved to know that they are are ethically produced

It seems that there are a lot of people out there who are keen to speak freely, expect me to be very tolerant of their free speaking but are not happy to extend that courtesy to others.

As a foot note I do like Tim Blair’s explanation of March in March … because there isn’t a month called Stupid Whiny Bitching.