Are We Entitled to be Bigots?

1 Apr

We are but grains of sand, and just like a grain of sand, we are made up of a conglomerate of smaller things come together to form the whole.

Image

Sand from Pismo Beach, California.

The proposed changes to RDA 18c, d, e are very much about one case, a lost case, lost on ‘gross inaccuracies’ and Andrew Bolt. Whilst I am against, without exception, the repeal or watering down of the RDA, I also welcome a broad discussion on ‘free speech’ – which could have happened without the intention or the supposed urgency of repealing RDA 18c.

I am firmly of the view that a safer and more reliable source for discerning Mr Bolt’s true motivation is to be found in the contents of the Newspaper Articles themselves rather than in the evidence that Mr Bolt gave, including the denials made by him as to his motivation. Justice Bromberg, High Court of Australia

Free speech is a fine thing, and to be welcomed and with enthusiasm. However, as with all things worthwhile, it cannot come carte blanche. Anything of value, of freedom and democracy, must also come bearing responsibility; otherwise it becomes other than freedom, other than democracy. Free speech – which is not free thought, that is a given and is internal, bearing no consequence to others whilst remaining internal – is to discuss, debate, opine vigorously on all subjects: it is not, however, the right to open one’s mouth and say whatever one thinks or worse, feels, without any care or responsibility for the consequences. It is akin to what we teach our very young as they learn to understand and manage their emotions, i.e., ‘socialise’ them.

A country with free speech, with true democracy, is at its base a civil society, a community, made up of a diversity of people. Even a community made up of people with, say, the same colour skin, are diverse in attitudes, thoughts, beliefs, etc. We are and can be and should be all different; yet we remain the same throughout it all, regardless of ethnic origin, because we are all human. We share the same human needs, concerns, strengths and frailties as each other. It is this commonality which we all must acknowledge and draw on to frame our free speech.

Free speech is not and never should be personal to the other, but about the idea/s, the issue/s, the politics, the action/s, the consequence/s, the breadth and length of what makes up society.

As for Brandis declaring, on the Hansard record, that ‘we all have the right to be bigots (you know);’ I say some, many, are burdened by being bigots, it is true. They never have the right to any expression of their bigotry outside their own mind, outside their own solitude. Such is the protection provided by RDA 18c, d, and e. Removing that protection is akin to removing a foot soldier’s uniform and sending them into battle against a battalion of tanks.

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