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News Opinion/Commentary

Anti -hate speech laws may broaden in Victoria

Woman with white tape over mouth
Image: iStock

Anti – hate speech legislation has been debated in Victoria. However, any further movement is postponed until next year due to religious freedom legislation the Coalition government wants to pass.

Should hate speech laws be extended?

I’m really uncomfortable with laws that are deemed censorship. This is the problem with legislation like Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975.

Do I want racism, bigotry against religions, homophobia and transphobia to increase? Of course not! It infuriates me when people, especially those with a massive media presence, make derogatory (and almost always false) comments against racial minorities and the LGBTQ+ community. But censorship has been proven to be a heartache, for both accusers and the accused.

Case: Eatock vs Bolt

In 2011, Newscorp columnist, Andrew Bolt was taken to the Federal Court of Australia and sued for two articles Bolt wrote in Melbourne’s Herald Sun and At the time, Judge Mordecai Bromberg concluded thar Bolt was in breach of 18C. The articles were forbidden to be republished. The Herald Sun was forced to apologise for publishing the articles and take them down.

 

I never read the articles. I’ve only the headings and snippets quoted in other articles. I have also heard and read Bolt’s defences in the aftermath.

The reason why I think the Eatock vs Bolt case has put 18C in a bad light is because of the affect it has had, even years later. Andrew Bolt has had a target on his back since 2011.

Bolt has been treated like a pariah in much of the media. He has written about serious abuse against him that’s been published on social media (which I vehemently condemned at the time), he has received threats that were deemed so serious, he and his family had to be escorted from their home for their safety.

Then, in 2017, Bolt was physically attacked by alleged Antifa members in Carlton, Melbourne. Unknown liquid was thrown on his head. Luckily for Bolt, he fought back. While many described the substance as merely glitter, Bolt insisted that the substance hurt his eyes.

Case: Cindy Price vs Queensland University of Technology

In my opinion, this is a tragic case.

In 2013, former Queensland of Technology students Alex Wood, Calum Thwaites and Jackson Powell, along with other students were sued by QUT administrator, Cindy Prior for racial abuse, citing 18C. Two students paid settlements to avoid court.

The event happened in 2013. The students were asked to leave the a computer lab that Prior said was reserved for Aboriginal students.

Thwaites, Wood and Powell made Facebook posts protesting “segregation”, and sarcastically asked where “the white supremacist computer lab” was.

Thwaites was also accused of using the word “ni**ers on the post. He always denied this and it was never proven.

The case was thrown out of the Federal Court in 2016. There were no real winners. Cindy Prior lost the case. She was ordered to pay all the court costs. She later filed for bankruptcy.

Although the judge ruled in their favour, Calum Thwaites, Alex Wood and Jackson Powell didn’t escape unscathed.

Arguments against broadening ‘hate – speech laws’

In the lead up to this year’s federal election, Labor proposed extending the RDA a similar way that Victoria Labor has.

On the surface, this may seem like a good idea. However, I think the Bolt and Prior cases show how badly things can go.

The laws end up causing division. They also cause people to have less empathy for racial, religious minorities and the LGBTQ+ community, not more. Talking about LGBTQ+ people, we had the marriage debate for a number of years. We had the Israel Folau religious freedom fiasco. I don’t think we need another culture war. We don’t need another ‘I told you so. I told you we shouldn’t have had same – sex marriage’.

A better way

Late last year, I wrote that the U.S’s First Amendment was admirable. The reason why I thought it worked, was because the U.S. had an independent media that is big enough to have an impact.

I love how Kyle Kulinski (Secular Talk), David Pakman (The David Pakman Show) and Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian (both The Young Turks) stand up and are often willing to stand against the status quo. They stand up for justice and accountability. Having a variety of voices and people willing to stand up for justice and accountability in the media is better than censorship.

Do you think anti – hate speech laws be broadened to protect religious minorities and the LGBTQ+ community? Should those sort of laws (i.e. like 18C of RDA) exist at all? Let me know what you think in the comments.

Categories
Opinion/Commentary

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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Opinion/Commentary Uncategorized

Patreon defends Sargon of Akkad ban

Patreon home page

Patreon responded to backlash after banning YouTuber, Sargon of Akkad (Carl Benjamin).

Canadian psychologist, Jordan Peterson posted screenshots of Patreon’s defence of Benjamin’s ban on Twitter.

Jordan Peterson shares Patreon’s statement amid backlash after Sargon of Akkad ban

The above explanation from Patreon begins by reinforcing its condemnation of hate speech. (which is stated in their Community Guidelines. They allege that Akkad used racial and homophobic slurs when addressing the group.

After reading the statement, here is my conclusion. While Akkad used slurs against white supremacists (and, quite possibly homophobes, too), in using the slurs, Akkad, possibly unintentionally reinforced the idea that people of colour and the LGBTQ+ community are inferior.

Was Sargon of Akkad really guilty of hate speech?

When I first heard about Akaad’s ban, the exact reason why wasn’t clear to me. Now that I know a little context, here is my take. If Akkad was expressong agreement with the white supremacists, then yes, that would be appalling. However, if the statements were ironic and Akkad was simply using their bigotry against the white supremacists, then Patreon jumped the gun.

Should Akkad have had his account pulled?

Should’ve Patreon shut down Sargon of Akkad? Here’s why it’s a concern. Free speech aside, Patreon has become a way in which independent vloggers, artists and writers, etc can potentially make a living from their work. So, the question becomes, does Patreon have the right to cut a revenue stream from one of their creators? Therefore, the question becomes, a person’s career be thrown under the bus ecause of one piece of content when the intention is questionable?

Wouldn’t it be better to let patrons protest by pulling their support? Honestly, I think it’d be a better way.

Aside from potential patrons, as I said in a previous post, one thing I’ve comw to admire about the U.S. is how their First Amendment has created a culture of debate, especially on YouTube. I have no doubt that Kyle Kulinski or The Young Turks or David Pakman would smack down any bigoted or otherwise outrageous claims.

Backlash against Patreon continues

A number of Patreon creators have revolted and voluntarily closed down their accounts in revolt. Sam Harris and Jordan Peterson have left Patreon and used other means of raising revenue, such as Bitcoin.

Will this controversy cause Patreon to backtrack, like they did after introducing fees? Only time will tell.

Psssst. Self promotion alert! If you like my blog, you can support me on Patreon. patreon.com/glycerinequeenmedia. You will be acknowledged and thanked on a future post. 😀


Categories
Opinion/Commentary

Free speech: one thing U.S. has right

Censored sign
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 Americans get a number of stereotypes: their ignorant about the world, they’re highly religious, etc. I find it hard to get my head around their attitudes towards guns (the leaders and opponents of change, anyway), especially when mass shootings seem to be frequently covered in the media. But one thing I am starting to admire the U.S. for is the First Amendment of their constitution. I can see why people, Australians included, may envy that, especially when we have 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975.1

18C and its impact on free speech

The RDA became a hot topic after two highly publicised court cases. One of them was Eatock vs. Bolt, where Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt, was sued under the Racial Discrimination Act for articles about Aboriginal identity. The court ruled in favour of the plaintiffs and the two articles were permanently banned. For the record, I didn’t read the articles, but from what I’ve read about the aftermath, frankly, I find the repercussions against Bolt, heartbreaking. It’s made him a pariah in some circles, with vile abuse written about him on social media, to death threats against his family  that were so severe that his children were removed by police from the family home.

Another case that hit the media involved Cindy Price and three students: Alex Wood, Callum Thwaite and Jackson Powell of Queensland University of Technology (QUT). A number of students made private settlements to avoid court. The court case ruled against Prior, ordering her to repay A$200,000. The students didn’t leave the case unscathed, with one student abandoning his plans of ironically, teaching Aboriginal children due to the stigma of the court case.

What are people concerned about

One of the arguments against changing the RDA is the fear of lack of protections for Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander people and other racial minorities. Last year, Labor Government suggested that theLGBTQ+ should also be protected.

Some proponents of changing or scrapping Section 18C haven’t helped the cause. A classic example was George Brandis’ infamous claim that ‘people have a right to be bigots in 2014.

There needs to be more to free speech than that. The reason why the U.S. has it right is, yes, people have the right to be bigots, but… other people willingly bite back. 

Put aside Google’s ‘ad pocalypse’, YouTube has proven to be a space that sparks debate and accountability for politicians and media personalities alike.

An example of this I found recently was David Pakman (The Dave Pakman Show) when he attacked Dave Rubin (Rubin Report) for not challenging Lebanese – born Islam critic, Gabriel Brigitte for her false claims she about George Sorros.

Another channel that gives freedom of speech a great name is Secular Talk. Host Kyle Kulinski is a fierce defender of free speech. In August, Kulinski criticised Apple, Spotify and YouTube for removing some of his content and permanently banning him. 

Kyle Kulinski criticised the boycot against controversial podcaster, Alex Jones.

Does that mean that Kulinski agreed with everything Jones said or did? Hell no! Next time you’re on YouTube, go and check out the Secular Talk channel and look at some of his rebuttals against Jones (andcountless others). They’re pretty awesome.

 ‘But loosening 18C will only embolden haters.’ critics of the suggestion claim. While I’m sympathetic to the to the fear, I am starting to see that there is a better way.

Section 18C of the RDA should be replaced by a culture of robust debate and having various voices heard. I think we need a thriving media industry that goes beyond the ABC/ Newscorp duopoly. 

What do you think about free speech in Australia? Do you think we have enough or should acts like 18C of RDA be scrapped? Let me knpw your thoughts in the comments below. 

Categories
Media Social media

Free speech, the media and social media: Should all platforms be absolutist on content they allow or publish?

(From top left): Instagram icon, Twitter, Facebook, PInterest
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Controversial right – wing radio presenter and conspiracy theorist of Infowars, Alex Jones has reportedly been banned from Faceboook and YouTube. Apparently some of his podcasts have also been pulled by Apple and Spotify.

Jones is infamous for calling 2012’s Sandy Hook school massacre a hoax and claiming that the September 11 attacks were staged.

Facebook has defended it’s decision, accusing Jones of ‘glorifying violence’, and using ‘dehumanising language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants’.

Somewhat surprisingly, Twitter hasn’t followed YouTube’s and Facebook’s footsteps. Jones’ official Twitter account is still active.

Social media, traditional media and free speech

Did Facebook and Google/ YouTube violate freedom of speech as protected in the US Constitution? No. The First Amendment of the US Constitution:

…protects the right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression from government interference.  (emphasis mine).

The First Amendment of the US Constitution specifically prohibits any government restricting any US citizen’s right to freedom of expression and also prohibits the US government from creating a theocracy and allow citizens freed9m to make up their own minds about belief. It also protects freedom of association. This doesn’t mean that companies like Google/ YouTube and Facebook can’t set standards on what can and can’t be uploaded or published on those platforms. I believe that media and social media platforms have the right to protect their brand by not allowing what they consider extremism, advocating for jihad, etc.

I’m going to talk about this by referring back to the Sky News Australia controversy last Sunday, when far – Right extremist, Blair Cottrell was given free reign on The Adam Giles’ Show. Sky News Australia’s decision to allow Cottrell to express extremist views largely unchallenged caused some brands such as Specsavers and Huggies to pull their sponsorship in revolt, despite condemnation from presenters such as Andrew Bolt, Laura Jayes and David Speers and the regret expressed by the – then Sky News Australia News Director, Greg Byrnes.

This is why, while I do get the arguments for a lack of restrictions in free speech in the legal sense, I also support the right for companies, especially in the media and social media, to maintain certain standards and limits on what can be said on their programs and platforms. What they allow, I believe, can affect their branding, either positively or negatively.

However, I do think companies like Facebook and YouTube should be consistent. Facebook in particular has come under fire in the past for allegedly silencing conservative posts, while not deleting antisemitic or other hate comments, posts or pages. They have also come under fire for allowing violent or sexual content that should be prohibited in their Community Standards, while deleting images of women breastfeeding their babies. Consistency needs to be key.

Should a platform simply ban speech because of clashing political views? Well, I argue again, that legally, there’s nothing stopping them, but I don’t think it’s a good idea. Last year during the same – sex marriage debate in Australia, Facebook was attacked for pulling down posts and disabling the account of one of the founders of FamilyVoice Australia. This, in my view, was a stupid move by Facebook. They reversed the decision after presenters from Sky News Australia confronted them about it. To my knowledge, after that, all the original content was put back and all associated accounts were active.

Bloggers and moderators of news sites such as news.com.au, Herald Sun, and Mamamia should maintain the freedom to accept or reject any comments that they see fit. Arguably, this may be seen as limiting debate, but, honestly, it should be the moderators’ or creators’ prerogative. They do have a product and reputation to maintain.

To me, it boils down to this: while people shouldn’t be prosecuted for what they say (apart from libel or death threats), they should still be held accountable, at least in the public square. Not every opinion needs to be tolerated or given a platform, especially if an extremist view goes unchallenged.

What do you think of Google/ YouTube and Facebook’s decision to suspend Alex Jones from their platforms? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. 

Disclaimer:

In my blog post about Sky News Australia, I said that Newscorp owned Win and Ten. I was wrong. Ten was bought by US’s CBS late last year. If I remember correctly, when Ten started getting into financial trouble, there was talk about Murdoch/ Newscorp buying and trying to rescue it, but CBS bet them to it. Win is owned by Bruce Gordon. Their parent company is Oberon Broadcasters Pty Ltd.

Update: 

Here is a contrary view of what I said about the Alex Jones controversy. Sticking to his principles, Secular Talk’s Kyle Kulinski slammed Facebook’s, Google and the other platforms for de – platforming Jones.

I think Kulinski has a point, however, I can’t help but think that social media and media should be able to preserve their commercial reputation and limit the people who breach their standards, given that they are consistent. I’m not sure. I’d really like to know what you all think about this.

Categories
Opinion/Commentary Politics

The Left will get what they protest against

 

Violent protests broke out last week when Canadian commentator Lauren Southern and philosopher, Stephan Molyneux were speaking in Melbourne. According to Andrew Bolt, Victorian Police made a controversial move and billed Southern just under A$68,000 to keep protesters under control.

I’m not a great fan of Lauren Southern and I know she’s controversial. Her views on immigration and Islam in particular are seen by some as hate speech. It’s got to be said that Southern denies the accusation.

The more I see Secular Talk on YouTube, the more I buy the argument that free speech should  be (almost) absolute, (excluding threats of violence and defamation). To my knowledge, neither Southern, nor Molyneux have been guilty of any of those offences, either in Canada or anywhere else (feel free to prove me wrong).

 

There is something else.  Intimidation and violence are not only morally wrong, they are a sure – fire way to not get what you are supposedly fighting for. It won’t make people more empathetic towards refugees and asylum seekers. It didn’t make the US get Hillary Clinton as President. It could have destroyed any chance of Australia winning same – sex marriage, (luckily things picked up in the end).

It seems that everything the extreme Left touches turns to dust. Campaigns become unwinable. And history shows us that when there is retaliation against the extreme Left or Right, the pendulum almost always sways too far the other way. Extreme multiculturalists end up giving power to neo – Nazis. Islam sympathisers and the like achieve talks about the Qu’ran being banned as what was debated in Holland.

History has seen huge pendulum swings both ways, both often having deadly consequences. In the 20th century, Russia and Cuba have been two extreme examples. Maybe Iran could be mentioned to. In Europe, where immigration has exploded in recent years, there has been a worrying rise of far – Right and Neo – Nazi parties and groups. Australia hasn’t had such a backlash (yet), but a rise in Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party does suggest that people are unsatisfied with how things like immigration debate is going.

In 2016, the Left was sent a warning with Donald Trump becoming President of the United States and Republicans holding the power in both SCOTUS and the Congress. This set panic to many on the Left, with the Republicans being condemned for their stance on immigration and has also worried people  about LGBTQ+ rights. While no one in the Repulican Party has challenged or planned to back pedal SCOTUS’ ruling on nationwide legalisation of same – sex marriage (yet), the status of transgender and gender non – binary people, as well as same – sex couples and their right to access goods and services have been challenged. A number of the Republicans, like Sarah Huckabee – Sanders and Betty DeVoss are known for being behind banning transgender people from the US Forces and suggesting that Government – funded schools should be able to legally fire staff or expel students for being LGBTQ+.

 

UPDATE:

On Saturday, Andrew Bolt wrote a scathing attack on the New South Wales Police after they told Southern to move away from a mosque in Lakemba, Sydney in order to avoid a ‘breach of the peace’.

At first glance, I understood Bolt’s defence of Southern. Then, I read this comment:

Comment on Andrew Bolt’s blog regarding Lauren Southern’s interaction with NSW Police

The comment reads:

May I suggest that the police concern is not that Southern is a young woman, but that she is going to the mosque with a microphone, a camera crew and a ‘security detail’ in tow.

A couple of weeks ago, a male Daily Telegraph photographer went to a mall one (sic) his own and caused a breach of the peace. He picked out a target group purely on the basis of their appearance. This group had done nothing wrong and were behaving exactly as other groups of people the same age act, who were not considered worthy of media attention. But the group was black, and the photographer wanted a picture to go with a story on ‘African gangs’. A confrontation ensued, police were called and the photographer got and reported his story, never mentioning the part he played in producing it.

These kinds of confrontation narratives are self – fulfilling prophecies.

Comsider what Southern was wanting to achieve. People are peacefully attending a place of worship and a camera crew and reporter with a microphone (who describes herself as anti – Muslim) arrive and ask worshippers to justify themselves. These are more than a little tired of having to justify themselves to the media because of the actions of criminals who share their religion. There may well be a confrontation. That is what the police pfficer is trying to avoid.

I don’t know how much truth their is to this commenter’s narrative about one of the Daily Telegraph photographers, so I’ll leave that alone. I do get the person’s critique about Southern, though. Couldn’t she at least have given worshippers and imam a heads up and ask permission to be filmed or interviewed? Most libraries and community organisations, at least, have to ask permission and a signature of consent before taking and using images and footage of clients/ users and distributing them on social media. On one of my assessments in Certificate IV in Professional Writing and Editing, I had to seek consent and a signature before filming a discussion I needed to have for an assessment. If Southern didn’t, why not?

ANOTHER UPDATE:

Southern was on The Bolt Report tonight insisting that she wasn’t trying to cause a stir and that she had conducted similar interviews in the UK without any issue. Now I’m not sure what to think. Make up your own mind.

 

Categories
Culture Social media

YouTube in hot water after alleged censoring and demonetising channels

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Freelance journalist and Herald Sun contributor, Alice Clarke accused YouTube of restricting videos from LGBTQ+ YoutTubers, while not censoring straight users even though their content can be explicit. Ironically, conservative YouTubers, such as Infowars’ Paul Joseph Watson has condemned YouTube for demonetising conservative bloggers and drowning independent users out as they can’t compete with organisations such as CNN and The Young Turks.

 

I have a Google account and comment on videos, but I’m not a YouTuber myself. I’m quite happy doing my blog at the moment, so I’m not 100% sure what’s been going on or exactly their policies, etc. I will say this though; if YouTube are restricting videos by LGBTQ+ YouTubers in a way that they don’t censor or restrict straight YouTubers talking about a similar thing, then that’s not OK. Likewise, if they are trying to make it harder, if not impossible for independent YouTubers to make a living from their content, regardless of their socio – political persuasions, then that’s not OK…. unless all users know from the get – go that the platform is a conservative/ liberal – free zone. I mean, they can do that. They are a privately owned company.

 

What annoys me is how social media platforms, and, by the looks of it, YouTube as well. Due to children accessing platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, it makes sense that some content would be off limits altogether or, as in YouTube’s case, placed in restricted mode.Things like graphic violence, (Slayer’s clip to their song “Pride in Prejudice – trust me that’s gory), sexually explicit content and other content that’s not suitable for those under the age of eighteen should be restricted. Videos that promote or legitimise illegal activity should be banned, period. Unless a social media or video sharing platform is advertised and known  to only accept content from people of a certain religious or political persuasion, the platform should allow (legal/ non – graphic) content from all users, not just some.

And, be consistent! In the past, Facebook have been accused of unfair censorship when they took down pictures of women breastfeeding, while allowing graphic violent and explicit images and videos to be published on the platform. In response to some violent content (I think it may have been  ISIS related), they tried to argue that it was allowed because it stirred up debate. However,  after a public backlash, Facebook eventually took the offending content down. That’s not the only time that their “algorithms” have been scrutinised. I personally have reported memes that I thought promoted anti – LGBTQ+ violence, only to be told that the memes/ comments didn’t breach their standards. (Before anyone accuses me of censorship or being a “snowflake”, these memes I’m talking about actually advocated that men should use physical violence if trans – women use the female bathroom… only they had gross caricatures of them, rather than real ones, but you get my drift).

 

As debate over 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 has raged, I’ve become more and more in favour of as little restriction as possible. We should be able to debate ideas and laws shouldn’t be implemented to destroy people’s livelihoods unjustly. I’m starting to think that censorship maybe the thing that stops people from supporting groups such as the LGBTQ+ community, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander or other ethnic – minority communities. Unless specified, social media, blogging and video – sharing platforms should be places where there is as little restriction as possible and also everyone should be treated the same and be placed under the same restrictions.

 

It is now easier than ever for people to have their say… or at least theoretically it is. If social media platforms start having consistent policies, it can continue in the future.

Have you had any issues in regard to how a social media platform or YouTube censor or ignore certain content? Let me know your experiences.

Categories
Politics

If One Nation wants to represent all Australians, that includes single – parents and the LGBTQ+ community

It seems like Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party can’t stay away from controversy for very long. It’s not Hanson’s fault. To her credit, she has dealt with some of the cases I’m about to talk about. The thing is, it seems to be happening again and again.

First, Senator for Ipswich, Queensland, Shan Ju Lin was sacked after it was revealed that she falsely claimed that two men who were cleared of sexual abuse of young children committed the crimes because of their sexuality. She didn’t apologise for those comments, but instead doubled down.

Next Glasshouse, Queensland candidate, Tracey Bell – Hensellin, made a number of anti – gay comments on her Facebook page, accusing the LGBTQ+ community of “grooming” after a number of  children’s shirts displayed pro – gay messages and claiming that they set out to “destroy families”. Now, this time, according to “The Courier Mail”, Hanson stood by the candidate, arguing that the comments weren’t anti – gay.

Wait, I’m not finished yet. There’s another one.

Third candidate to come in the spotlight is member for Pilbara, Western Australia, David Archibald. He’s dealt two major blows. Archibald labelled single mothers “too lazy” to attract a partner. He’s no ally to the LGBTQ+ community either, claiming that homosexuality was an “acceptable loss” and that only a “degenerate culture” would legalise same – sex marriage.

 

Australia, this has been a part of your Senate for nearly a year and a half.

Pauline Hanson says again and again that she represents the people of Australia. Well, frankly she should have picked her candidates better, because SURPRISE, “Australian society includes single parents (both mothers and fathers) and members of the LGBTQ+ community. Sure, Archibald, Ju Lin and Bell – Hensellin aren’t alone in their disparaging views against LGBTQ+ people or single parents. But surely politicians should be held to a higher standard. Surely, they can have a little respect for all people in their electorate. That includes single parents – both mothers and fathers and members of the LGBTQ+ community.

 

I’m personally sick of the LGBTQ+ community in particular being attacked. I’m also sick of people getting away with it – well – at least for the most part. And, this even goes on in the Parliament. The people who are meant to represent ALL Australians. I hope that the next three or so years are not just full of  anti – LGBTQ+ abuse spewed by Parliamentarians, often without consequences. I also hope that single parents aren’t so stigmatised that domestic violence victims feel ashamed for leaving their abuser and fear being labelled unfairly. No one knows the personal circumstances of a single parent, so don’t assume and stigmatise. Is that so hard?

 

Now, I can imagine people protesting right now – but what about free – speech? Well, sure they have the right to say what they want without too much government interference, as we all do. Well, maybe that’s debatable since we have 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975… that’s for another post for another day. But generally, we have free speech in this country. However, I do not think that “free speech” should not mean free from criticism and consequences. It does not mean that someone can’t or shouldn’t be sacked because of what they say, including on social media. It does not mean that you can be unapologetic when you get something gravely wrong, especially when it has the potential to cause harm. Also, LGBTQ+ people, ethnic minorities, single parents, etc shouldn’t have to grin and stay silent when being stigmatised.

 

Parliamentarians should be held to a high standard in conduct, including on – line. Also, I’d ask, how much do minorities need to put up with? How many times do LGBTQ people have to be likened to “predators” and “mentally ill” before we can protest? I’ve had it!