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The Forum > Article Comments > Revising the Racial Discrimination Act > Comments

Revising the Racial Discrimination Act : Comments

By Eric Porter, published 30/8/2016

Democracy requires a public sphere in which people can participate and speak without fear of humiliation, intimidation and offense.

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Maybe Iím thick but I find it difficult to distil a clear message here. Let me try to make it easy.

To my mind, the issue with 18c is simple, practical and logical, though the logic probably does need to rest on a threshold premise, that freedom of speech is intrinsically valuable.

I value free speech. I want the law to allow someone to offend me with their words, even though it might hurt. I demand the law allows me to respond. One doesnít need too much imagination to devise examples where the statute that makes their words unlawful will make my responses unlawful too. I wonít offer examples because they will likely be unlawful in themselves. What kind of a law is that?

So the simple message is, the law must allow us to fight words with words. Itís simple, practical and logical. Letís get this fixed
Posted by Tombee, Tuesday, 30 August 2016 9:05:43 AM
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I'm not sure anyone is actually prevented in saying it like it is by 18C? Nor am I sure we are prevented by at times, offending a few legitimately with satire, humor and just taking the piss?

Even there, some folk will be immensely offended by terminology like angry white male, elderly white male, rich white male with a permenant suntan? And so on.

None of that stuff is even marginally offensive, whereas deliberate abusive invective is, whether or not it is racially motivated, or the last resort of scoundrels unable to match wits with more rational minds?

That said, we've had 18C for some years and moderated by, I believe, 18D? That being so, I believe, it's a case of, if it ain't broke don't fix it! Or if amendments are proposed, leave it until after the promised plebiscite!

The are dozens of far more pressing first order issues that need to be tackled first!? Or put another way, it's the economy stupid!
Alan B.
Posted by Alan B., Tuesday, 30 August 2016 10:26:50 AM
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18C needs to be amended, and quickly. We don't need to read long-winded pieces to know this. 18C, along with the HRC kangaroo court, is a festering sore of suppression in a country which was once a democracy, but is no longer because of the Abbotts, Turnbulls, Shortens, di Natales and Xenophons in our rotten political cabal. We, the voters, could have seize freedom of speech back, but we don't have the guts, the brains or the interest to do so. The adage they we get the politicians we deserve has never been truer in Australia.
Posted by ttbn, Tuesday, 30 August 2016 11:13:44 AM
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Yes, the author is right that Andrew Bolt slightly missed the real point. Of course, Indigenous people can be fair-skinned and still entitled to benefits. The questions are: who benefits, who knows about possible benefits, benefits in what form, and how much ?

To illustrate: many years ago, say 2001, I somehow (I conveniently have forgotten exactly how) was able to peruse documents relating to one university's Indigenous program's management of scholarship funds, thousands of dollars p.a. per person. The scholarship selection committee was made up of most of the Indigenous staff at the university. Lo and behold ! - year after year, they chose fellow-staff-members to receive the scholarships.

In following years, the lucky recipients were in turn on the selection committee, other staff going off it and - would you believe ?! - THEY then received scholarships. Year after year, staff gained scholarships, not students or anybody outside the charmed circle. It's called 'self-determination'.

On another occasion, an Indigenous staff member at a university was given the duty to select a candidate for a lucrative PH. D. scholarship. After very careful and impartial deliberation, she chose herself.

Some Indigenous people know about scholarships and other benefits and how to apply for them; many don't. The intention behind most benefits is that they go to the most needy, the most disadvantaged, one would think. Not to those who are already on the inside, and doing pretty well.

And that may be what Bolt was on about. Maybe we should both do time, for sarcasm.

Joe
Posted by Loudmouth, Tuesday, 30 August 2016 11:32:06 AM
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As mentioned before I feel very conflicted with this. However I think the real problem is not so much 18C it's how it is applied.

the general perception is 18C and other laws like it seem to be used to protect very body except white Anglo-Saxon males.
They have the effect
that the only culture that can be openly criticized is Western culture.
The only religion that can be criticized is Western Christianity.
Only males are sexist.
Only white people can be racist.

Now there are lots of problems in Western culture, but it is by far the freest, the fairest and the most democratic, the most compassionate.
That simple fact is the reason why most people in the world want to live within it and it has been enriched by those people. But it's creators must be able to argue for it.
The flaws in other cultures must be able to be spoken about.

but I think above all else you must remember you can not have a rational conversation about anything of substance on tweeter.
Posted by Cobber the hound, Tuesday, 30 August 2016 12:05:38 PM
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18 C hasn't prevented investigative journalism nor exposure of fraud real or imagined? Nor exposure of racially motivated nepotism or the huge comparative and quite extraordinary cost of housing inside some communities, managed exclusively, it would seem, by an elder elite?

And if 18C in ny way inhibits that exposure, or nefarious criminal fraud, then there is a clear cut case for amendment! Particularly if any fraud can be legitimately sheeted home to, too clever by half European white collar crime!
Alan B.
Posted by Alan B., Tuesday, 30 August 2016 12:11:24 PM
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