Either speech matters or it doesn’t. It can’t be both

Computer keyboard with a ‘_hate’ key
Image: iStock

Finger pointing has been relentless since the Christchurch massacre last month. It’s become a Left vs conservative argument crap fight, starting less than a week after the atrocities. I wrote about this at the time, expressing my disgust and dismay.

Well, it didn’t stop there

First, it was David Koch and Derryn Hinch vs. One Nation’s Pauline Hanson on Sunrise. This was less than a week after the attack. Pauline Hanson was ambushed. She has had very controversial views in the past around immigration, starting in 1996 when John Howard was Prime Minister. Koch claimed that the mastermind’s manifesto “almost reads like One Nation migration and Muslim policy”.

 

Another spat was between Greens’ leader Richard DiNatali and Andrew Bolt on The Bolt Report. DiNatali attacked Bolt for nearly twenty minutes, then Bolt tried to defend himself. What about the victims?

Blame games continued. Also free speech as an absolute, has been tested.

Christchurch attack and debate about speech

On Monday (April 1), Andrew Bolt slammed the ABC for episodes of the comedy skit show Get Krack!n. Bolt accused the. show of trying to stir up racial hatred after Nakkiah Lui pretended to defecate on a cushion with a white woman’s face on it.

So, is that type of hatred dangerous? Is it possible that a skit like this could provoke dangerous hatred toward Caucasian people?

if you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then you understand why people oppose reversing 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975.

If you answered ‘yes’, then you understand why some people of colour and Muslims (including white converts) have appeared on the ABC slamming people who they see as marginalising them.

If some speech is dangerous, (apart from actually advocating or threatening violence), is absolute free speech just too dangerous? Now, I have been on both sides of this debate. The problem I have with Section 18C and attempts to shut down speech is that it never gets anywhere. 18C doesn’t create empathy towards people of colour. In fact, it’s doing the opposite. It’s creating apathy towards people of colour, especially Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

I think American commentator and talk show host, Dave Rubin has it right (at least in theory). A ‘battle of ideas’ is the best way to go. That includes hearing people of colour and Muslims talking about their own experiences, even if it’s hard to hear. Then, people like Andrew Bolt and Rita Panahi can challenge those assumptions. Neither side should be accused of inspiring tragedies like what happened in Christchurch last month.

 

UPDATE:

Rugby ball in front of goal posts
Image: iStock

This post has taken so long to write. Sorry about that. On the topic of free speech today, (11 April 2019), Rugby star, Israel Folau has come under fire again for reinforcing his beliefs about homosexuality on social media. He repeated a modern interpretation of 1 Corinthians 6:9. Rugby Australia is planning on not renewing Folau’s contract with the Wallabies.

My stance is the same as last year. Rugby Australia should not penalise Folau. People, especially in the LGBTQ+ community, would never hear the end of it and Folau will look like a martyr. Debate is the only way.

 

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