Freedom of Speech

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Understanding free speech: going beyond the 18c debate
By James English – posted Monday, 11 August 2014

Any gathering of liberal thinkers will tell you that free speech is a fundamental human right. Free speech, they say, follows on from freedom of thought. In saying that, most people accept some reasonable curtailment on freedom of speech for the protection of othersadversely affected by that speech. Much of the recent debate on the freedom of speech in Australia has focused on section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (‘RDA’). This article discusses recent elements of that debate and goes on to discuss how we might better understand the freedom of speech according to a holistic view of human rights.

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Racial vilification laws: maybe we don’t need them
April 24, 2014 | Gay Alcorn

In May, 1997, I covered a One Nation meeting in Geelong. Protesters heckled and jostled the mostly older Australians who had come to form a branch of Pauline Hanson’s party. Two weeks before that, around 1000 protesters achieved their aim, storming the room, drowning out the speakers and shutting the meeting down. I found myself as disturbed by those convinced they had a right to stop someone from giving their political opinion than I was about Hanson’s views on Aboriginal “privilege”, the nation being “swamped by Asians” or her calls to scrap multiculturalism.

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Racial Discrimination Act amendments are either stupid or shameful
April 22, 2014 | Jonathan Holmes

“Stakeholders”, as the Attorney-General’s website calls them, have one more week to comment on the so-called “Exposure Draft” of the Freedom of Speech (Repeal of S. 18C) Bill 2014.

But we are all “stakeholders” in this matter. And we should grasp our stakes firmly, and drive them through the heart of the bill.

Not because its ostensible object, the revision of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, is necessarily wrong; but because in its current form, the bill will render the section of the act that deals with hate speech entirely meaningless.

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Attorney-General George Brandis: ‘People do have a right to be bigots’
March 24, 2014 | Dan Harrison, Jonathan Swan

Attorney-General George Brandis has defended the right of Australians to be ”bigots”.

Speaking in the Senate on Monday, Senator Brandis made the case for controversial changes to race hate laws, which News Corp columnist Andrew Bolt was in 2011 found to have breached in relation to two articles he wrote about fair-skinned aborigines.

The Coalition promised before the 2013 election to repeal section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act ”in its current form”, but indigenous Liberal MP Ken Wyatt has threatened to cross the floor to oppose the change.

Senator Brandis told the Senate on Monday he would soon be bringing forward an amendment that would ensure the Bolt case would never be repeated.

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IHEU attacks Islamic states over freedom of expression
National Secular Society, Wednesday 13 Mar 2013

International Ethical and Humanist Union representative Roy Brown has again reminded Islamic States of their responsibility to uphold the right to freedom of expression.

Mr Brown delivered the below statement this week at the 22nd regular session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Freedom of Expression and the OIC

Mr President,

Freedom of expression is once again under sustained attack from the member states of the OIC: In Saudi Arabia last week, two activists were sentenced to ten years in jail for exposing hundreds of cases of human rights abuse in the kingdom…

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Tom Elliott calls out the hypocrisy of Geert Wilders protesters
3AW 693, Ned Franklin | 25 February, 2013 – 6:21 PM

Controversial Imam Abdul Rahman al-Sudais is coming to Melbourne

The organiser of last week’s protest against anti-Islamic Dutch MP Geert Wilders has been accused of hypocrisy, selectivity and astonishing double-standards by 3AW Drive Presenter Tom Elliott.

After blockading and shoving spectators at Mr Wilders’ speech in Somerton, self-professed anti-capitalist Louise O’Shea and fellow protesters have decided not to target the Islamic Peace Conference next month in Melbourne, despite the conference hosting a number of radical Imams who publicly condemn Jews, advocate jihadist terrorism and encourage female genital mutilation and polygamy.

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