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The Forum > Article Comments > The Voltaire shtick > Comments

The Voltaire shtick : Comments

By Helen Pringle, published 7/5/2014

What is so very bizarre is that this conversation about Voltaire-Mill has nothing at all to do with defending those with whom Senator Brandis profoundly disagrees

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Nice piece, Ms Pringle.

A neat exposť on the cant and hypocrisy that passes for political discourse these days.

While my own views on the free speech tend towards freedom, the posturing of the Brandis of this world does nothing to advance its cause. In lieu of a sober debate on the issue of thin-skinned victimhood vs. deliberate misanthropic bigotry, we have nothing but polarized duckspeak.
Posted by Pericles, Wednesday, 7 May 2014 8:11:42 AM
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I'm not quite sure what this article is about. Inasmuch as I think I do understand it, the key point for me is not whether Voltaire said something or didn't (I'm pretty sure that the aphorism was the invention of his biographer, as she claimed). The dreadful problem about freedom of speech is that it means nothing if one wants simply to speak in favour of the current political correctness, whatever it is. It is only meaningful when the free speech challenges the orthodoxy.

I'm not much in favour of the current orthodoxy, especially the bit that says that we somehow have a right not be offended by others. It is a mechanism to shut people up. For what it's worth I wasn't much in favour of the orthodoxy when it was all about anti-Communism, either.

My two-bobs' worth on this subject can be seen at www.donaitkin.com
Posted by Don Aitkin, Wednesday, 7 May 2014 10:35:25 AM
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Helen, I have heard something similar, which seems to have originated from an American senator, and was reported as; I disagree with everything you say, but would lay down my life to protect your right to say it, when arguing for the fifth amendment?
I can't remember the name of the senator, given it was something I heard in part of a dramatized documentary decades ago.
Perhaps it is just one of those sayings, which someone heard somewhere and then sort to own it?
It does have shtick, and a good place to locate our right to freedom of expression, or retain the right to offend.
Offense is often that which can be misunderstood in one culture, and just passing the time of day inquiry in another!?
Or a misunderstanding between Billionaires?
I believe Andrew Bolt had a right to question the Aboriginal origins of the women he was drawing unwanted personal attention to?
And what he said is something any reasonable but outspoken person might have also said?
I believe it's really not too different in interpretation, than a person claiming a military history, when they were just weekend warriors, who never fired a shot in anger?
Or people collecting disability support, when still patently able bodied.
Should we have a right to report, when they were seen loading very heavy furniture or some such? Or marching with a chest covered in bogus medals?
They could claim as many might do, they felt injured, courtesy of a temporary mental deficiency? Or felt like real bona fida soldiers?
And that could be a legitimate defense, in these hypothetical cases, given the precedent now created?
I believe the women highlighted, perhaps unfairly, could clear this matter up for all time, with a simple DNA test!
Perhaps Andrew Bolt's employer would stump up any reasonable costs involved!
And should that DNA test validate the Ladies' claims, Andrew Bolt could make a front page Mia Culpa apology and spend a couple of weekends cutting the grass of aged disabled pensioners!
Rhrosty.
Posted by Rhrosty, Wednesday, 7 May 2014 11:10:01 AM
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Who the !*(# cares whether it was Voltaire or not.
It's the *meaning* that matters.

As usual the Looney Leftist completely misses the point.
Posted by Shockadelic, Wednesday, 7 May 2014 12:12:46 PM
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Dr Pringle. Your flashy intellect seems to have placed ex-VC Aitkin and several retired professors at a disadvantage; and confused one respondent into mistaking you as a looney lefty. Could you please enlighten us, and explain in one sentence your attitude to 18C and free speech.
Posted by Leslie, Wednesday, 7 May 2014 12:56:01 PM
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I agree with Brandis. In a free society a person has a right to have any opinion and to express any opinion with few limits. One limit is when it creates a clear and present danger such as inciting a lynch mob. That type of speech is an offense under common law as it is incitement. Harassment is also an offense under common law. police should be trained to recognise instances of incitement and harassment.

However, I favour repeal of all defamation and antivilification legislation. Libel laws recognise truth as a defense against accusations of libel, and libel laws can be reasonable. Truth is not a defense against accusations of defamation, and defamation laws are not reasonable.

No one should be able to shut somebody up solely on the grounds that they are offended by someone else's speech. I am offended by many of the sentiments expressed on olo. However, I should not have the right to shut anybody up because I am offended. I have the right to ignore, answer, complain to Graham or leave. Since this is a private forum Graham has the right to limit people's speech. In a public forum no one should have that right except in cases of incitement and harassment.
Posted by david f, Wednesday, 7 May 2014 12:58:55 PM
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