I am annoyed at the hypocrisy of Eric Abetz and other right wing creatures who claim to believe in free speech when they want to defend the right of racists to use abusive and insulting language to create division in Australian society.
These self proclaimed defendants of free speech who were totally silent when the conservative government made it a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment for anyone including medical professionals to disclose the physical and psychological abuse that the government imposed upon the asylum seekers in prison camps established by that Government in Manus and Nauru.
If Abetz & Co. really believed in free speech they would have opposed that legislation.
The function of free speech in a democracy is to make it possible to have a rational discussion about political ideas and the actions of government.
The Government abuse of people it has imprisoned is a matter of public importance and to criminalise comments on that abuse is a blatant and indefensible breach of freedom of speech.
Racially based insults is not an exercise in free speech but simply indulging in bad manners.
It should be noted that the Anti-Discrimination Legislation provides defences to the offence of racial vilification the same way that the Defamation Act provides defences to defamatory statements so that there is a balance between the right to freedom of speech and the need to preserve an individual’s reputation from lying vilification.
The Anti-Discrimination Legislation preserves a similar balance between the need to prevent racial vilification and the right to freedom of speech.
*John Green is a recently retired barrister. His parents were working class, but not very politically active. He joined the ALP when he was at uni. He is still a member, but a rather disillusioned one. He was an ALP member for Denison in the State Parliament from about 1974 to1980.