Category: Australian Politics
Back in 2005, the New South Wales Labor government attempted to bring in a religious hate speech law. Former MR contributor Steve Edwards joined the campaign to thwart the plan with this article. It was published in Policy, the journal of the right-liberal Centre for Independent Studies.
The campaign was successful, though Steve took the opportunity to write a further piece for Policy six months later, this time on the Danish Cartoons Affair.
The hate-speechers went away to lick their wounds. But they are believers in the political ratchet, and they didn’t give up. Now the proposal is back, prompting Steve to return once more to the pages of Policy. Here is his new article.
THE TROUBLE WITH RELIGIOUS HATRED LAWS
Religions and their followers should receive no special protection from spoken hostility, argues Steve Edwards
reedom of speech and conscience are invaluable and timeless principles. Thomas Paine summarised them crisply in the eighteenth century, in the introduction to The Age of Reason:
Governments should play very little or no role in determining what people are allowed to say and hear, regardless of whether this may be ‘offensive’ to the traditional enemies of liberty—primarily religious fanatics—or to those of a weaker ‘moderate’ disposition who would passively give up ‘their’ freedom (and ours too) to buy a little peace and quiet. Yet today there are few legal or moral principles that have come under greater sustained attack.
Under the guise of maintaining ‘religious harmony,’ Western governments are being pressured by a worldwide coalition of United Nations bureaucrats, third-world tyrannies, and ‘progressive’ academics and think tanks into passing legislation with the aim of criminalising the ‘vilification’ and even ‘defamation’ of religions—mainly Islam—and their followers. The instigators of this global confederacy are not arguing for anything particularly new or interesting, yet their goal would reverse hundreds of years of intellectual development in the pursuit of an unnecessary and unattainable ‘social peace,’ signed on the terms of theist zealots. As freedom of speech and conscience arguably provided and still provide the foundations of limited, anti-despotic government—and indeed the necessary breathing space for some of the most important social advances in the past two centuries, with entire nations and even civilisations climbing out of obscurantism and penury—it could be argued that the Enlightenment legacy itself is now under threat.
The list of people who have been prosecuted or censored for various speech crimes against religion and religious believers has grown at an impressive clip in recent years.
In 2005 and 2006, British National Party leader Nick Griffin was twice placed on trial, at great expense to himself and to British taxpayers, for ‘inciting racial hatred’ through comments he made in a speech that Islam was ‘a wicked, vicious faith.’ In the wake of Griffin’s subsequent acquittal, then-chancellor Gordon Brown said ‘mainstream opinion in this country will be offended by some of the statements that they have heard made,’ and called for a tightening of Britain’s ‘racial hatred’ laws.(1)
In 2006, the Swedish foreign minister, Laila Freivalds, resigned after it was discovered that her department had pressured a web-hosting company into shutting down a site that was about to display a set of anti-Muhammad cartoons.(2)
In 2007, a demonstration planned to take place in Brussels to promote the ‘single aim of preventing Islam becoming a dominant political force in Europe’ was banned by the city mayor, Freddy Thielemans, on the pretext that to allow the rally, organised by a coalition called Stop the Islamisation of Europe, to go ahead would ‘disturb public order.’(3)
It was too much even for the journalist from the Melbourne Age:
Confused? Well, yes. Were the Vietnamese choir and African dancers supposed to represent Victoria or Scotland or something else altogether? And what if Tanzania and Vietnam were to sign such an agreement. Would they mark the occasion with a bagpipe rendition of Waltzing Matilda?
Preachers of hate were targeting vulnerable young Muslim men, posing serious problems for Australia, the federal Liberal frontbencher responsible for multiculturalism said yesterday. Throwing strong support behind Peter Costello’s call to Muslim Australians to obey domestic laws or else, Andrew Robb said only education and jobs would stop the young male Muslims from falling prey to extremists. Responding to angry retorts that Mr Costello’s comments reflected an anti-Muslim bias, he said the Islamic community should not ignore its problems.
Prime Minister John Howard has defended Treasurer Peter Costello’s comments about Islamic extremism that have angered the Muslim community. In a speech to the Sydney Institute last night, Mr Costello said anyone not prepared to accept Australian values, and who had citizenship of another country, should not remain an Australian citizen. He said anyone who believed Islamic sharia law could co-exist with Australian law should move to a country where they felt more comfortable.
There are a lot of young Australian expats - about 10% of Australians aged 18 to 35 live overseas. Why? The reasons are looked at in a new book by 25-year-old Ryan Heath, an extract of which was printed in The Age this morning.
Some of the expats he interviews come across as profoundly narcissistic. For instance, Jo Fox, now living in London complains that,
Yes, Jo, it’s tough not being able to start out at the top.
In a fascinating development yesterday, prominent Federal Liberal parliamentarian, Danna Vale, has drawn public attention to the possibility that the prevalence of abortion in Australia could lead to the destruction of our cultural identity.
It will be interesting to see if Mrs Vale’s comments provoke a wider debate about Australia’s identity and whether Australians have the right to self-determination of the demographic make-up of their own country. If, as will be affirmed by numerous media commentators, Australians do not have the right to avoid becoming an Islamic-majority (or any other non-European majority) nation in future, or to even publicly discuss the idea, it surely follows that we have no rights at all, and we should cease pretending to be a “free” country in any meaningful sense.
More information has come to light about the latest beach violence in Sydney. Predictably it began when some local men defended two teenage girls who were being harrassed by three men “of Middle Eastern appearance”. The Lebanese men left but returned armed with knives a few minutes later. What happened next is vividly described here.
Readers might be interested in this comment from a Sydneysider at an Australian site:
It was Australia Day today. The Melbourne Age marked the occasion with a special front page item: a message to the nation by cartoonist Michael Leunig.
The message was a contemplation on “our precious diversity”. According to Leunig, tolerance is not enough and “the richer possibility is that Australia can actually embrace and enjoy its glorious detail and diversity”.
“Perhaps,” continues Leunig “more than tolerance we need openness, which is a type of innocence and a type of strength. And beyond xenophobia, fear of strangers, we might contemplate the wisdom and pleasure that could flow from another Greek word, filoxenos – love of stranger.”
“Innocent friendliness is a sentimental concept to some, yet surely it refers to a rare quality of openness that we sometimes dreamed had curiously emerged in this land. Surely the real living treasure of this country could be simple friendliness.”
And on and on it goes. I expect we’ve all heard this type of thing before. I have a word I use to refer to such platitudinous speeches, marked by politically correct pieties divorced from reality: guff. And Leunig is a first rate “guffer”.
We’ve had another little riot here in Melbourne. A life guard at a suburban swimming pool tried to eject a patron. As a result, the four life guards (one female) were set upon and bashed by a mob of 30 youths, the attack lasting until police arrived. One of the staff members was taken to hospital with a smashed cheek.
The events happened at Oak Park, one of the more multicultural of Melbourne’s suburbs (yet another proud moment for “diversity”).
It’s interesting that the reporting of the event has followed a typical pattern in which more is revealed in the internet version of the story than in the print version.
The internet article has a sentence in which a witness says of the mob that “They all appeared to be Middle-Eastern youths”. The print version is exactly the same as the internet article, except that this information has been removed.
I suppose the reasoning of the sub-editor is that fewer people are likely to read the internet version and that the information is too sensitive to release to a mass audience.
I was running a Google News search for sanity amongst the media flotsam concerning Cronulla and came across a few reader reaction articles.
Aussies just don’t seem to have gotten the memo on How Things Are Done*:
All week I have been asking people I know this question: Why were convoys of Lebanese men allowed to drive into Cronulla and other Sydney suburbs smashing cars and shops and bashing local residents? Surely, these large convoys must have been noticed by the police. Why weren’t they stopped?
My work colleagues gave me some unconvincing answers: that the police couldn’t be everywhere, or that the police could not have stopped the cars.
But now a different answer has surfaced. The Seven Network claims to have a police report instructing officers to stay away from Punchbowl Park where the convoy was gathering in order not to “antagonise” the young Lebanese men. The convoy then moved into Cronulla unimpeded by police.
I can only hope that the media pursues this incident vigorously. Who was responsible for the directive? What was the thinking behind it? It was a decision with serious consequences: it left the residents of Cronulla unprotected from a serious attack.
Police tactics will be different for this Sunday, though. A force of 1500 officers is being organised to patrol Cronulla and surrounds.
Meanwhile, there have been four attacks on churches in Sydney, the worst of which was an attack on a Catholic primary school during a Christmas carols service. Shots were fired into cars and parents abused.
Many readers will have already come across this famous statement by John Jay on the founding of the US:
According to John Ray it is a “grave misconception” to believe that Asian cultures are tribal.
Asians, John believes, do not show preference according to ethnicity, but will reciprocate any favours shown to them on an individual basis. As John himself puts it,
“I am not remotely of their tribe. They do not treat me well because of my tribe. They treat me as an individual and treat me unusually well because I treat them well.”
This, no doubt, is a comforting thought for John. It means that he can support mass Asian immigration but not worry that he might be discriminated against by the newer Asian population. He will continue to be treated well according to his individual merits.
A month or two ago, I warned of plans to merge Australia, New Zealand, PNG and a dozen smaller island nations into a Pacific Union. These plans have now been taken significantly further. The Australian Labor Party, one of the two major political parties here, has
released a policy paper
setting out the design of what they call a Pacific Community.
Kathe Boehringer, the Head of the Law Department at Macquarie University, has written a spirited defence of her colleague, Professor Andrew Fraser.
Here is part of what she has penned:
An update on events from this part of the world.
First, the New Zealand election result. The best party on offer was New Zealand First, which wants dramatically reduced immigration. The party received the third highest vote and won seven seats, but its leader lost his seat. The two main parties still dominate the vote, but both rely on the support of smaller parties to form office.
Second, there’s bad news on the Drew Fraser front. Deakin University has pulled his article from its law journal because of legal advice that it would contravene anti-discrimination laws. So even an academic, peer reviewed article is not allowed to be published because of such laws. Goodbye free speech.
Now Dr. Fraser faces a new attack. After the Deakin Law Review accepted an article he wrote defending the White Australia policy, a lawyer for Australia’s Sudanese community threatened to sue Deakin University for racial vilification if the journal published the article. (Follow Link for Details)
PS: Be nice - don’t follow my example.
In 2003, with little publicity, an Australian Senate committee made a momentous decision.
With support from all parties, the committee recommended the formation of a Pacific Economic and Political Community – the PEPC.
The committee summarised its final report as follows:
“In essence, it proposes a Pacific community which will eventually have one currency, one labour market, common strong budgetary and fiscal discipline, democratic and ethical governance, shared defence and security arrangements, common laws and resolve in fighting crime, and, health, welfare, education and environmental goals.”
Note that there would be a single currency and a single labour market. Sound familiar? It’s very much like the European Union, I think, except that the differences between the participating countries would be much greater.
Australia would effectively federate into a super-state, not only with New Zealand, but with Papua New Guinea and thirteen other Pacific Island nations.
AUSTRALIA will launch the biggest global recruitment drive for skilled migrants since the “ten pound pom” campaign in the 1950s and 60s, as the Howard Government tries to attract 20,000 workers from across Europe and Asia to rescue key industries from labour shortages. The Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs will next month begin a foray into the international jobs marketplace, with officials hold a series of expos in London, Berlin, Chennai and Amsterdam to spruik Australia’s culture and lifestyle to foreign workers. Tradespeople, engineers and doctors are believed to be among the most desperately needed. The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Australian Industry Group, the Business Council of Australia and the Australian Minerals and Mining Association have all been asked to nominate the occupations they consider the most in-demand. The Immigration Department plans to advertise in overseas newspapers from September, inviting prospective skilled migrants to meet employers and state and federal government representatives at the series of expos as part of a $3million skills road show where officials will present options for migration under recently relaxed regulations.
A neo-Nazi group has not only admitted waging a race-hate campaign against African refugees in Toowoomba, but warned that it will be intensified in the Queensland city and elsewhere in Australia.
White Pride Coalition spokesman Terry Davis said his members had plastered Toowoomba and the nearby town of Crows Nest with posters and distributed brochures describing white women as the “world’s most endangered species”. “Our Queensland branch has been rather active, I’m pleased to say,” Mr Davis said.
How do you like this for a double standard.
In yesterday’s Melbourne Age Professor Andrew Jakubowicz defended the policy of multiculturalism. In his article he assumed that mass immigration was inevitable, leaving a choice between assimilation of migrants or the fostering of many different ethnic communities.
Having limited debate to these options, Jakubowicz claimed that attempts at assimilation hadn’t worked because, “immigrants didn’t enjoy being told they had to abandon everything that had been their soul and being”.
So for migrants, ethnic identity is their soul and being. But what about the locals? Is their ethnic identity also defended in this way by the professor?
Steve Edwards, an occasional visitor to this site, has come up with a brilliant new Australian flag design.
(You need to know Paul Keating to really get this one.)
It looks like you don’t have to send all the immigrants home to get a population increase:
“The Federal Government’s $3000 baby bonus has helped to reverse the nation’s declining birth rate, with new statistics revealing an increase for the first time in a decade. Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show the number of babies per woman rose to 1.77 last year, breaking a forty year decline, it was reported. The birth rate is the highest it has reached in seven years and is the first time it has increased significantly since 1961 when it peaked at 3.55. The Howard Government’s $3000 baby bonus for every baby born in 2004 played a significant role in halting the nation’s declining fertility rate, the Australian National University’s head of demography, professor Peter McDonald said. Prof McDonald predicted the fertility rate would rise to 1.8 in 2005 as the baby bonus starts having an effect. The bonus will increase to $4000 from July 1 this year”.
I’m sometimes bemused when I hear people talk of Australia as being a possible last holdout for Europeans. It’s true, as John Ray likes to point out, that we have a stricter control over illegal immigration than America or even Britain.
But this is only to ensure that the massive legal migration programme continues undisturbed.
Look, for instance, at what we poor Melbournians had to wake up to this morning. Our Labor Party Premier, Steve Bracks, wants to make immigration the “centre of government policy” (the centre of state government policy, when the state government is not even responsible for migration).
He wants to use immigration to add an extra 700,000 residents to Melbourne to overtake Sydney’s size, and an extra 1,300,000 over the next 20 years to take the state’s population to 6,000,000.
The cause of the month in Australia is refugees. The left are pulling no punches in their latest campaign. Over 300 activists have descended on the private home of the immigration minister, Amanda Vanstone, in Adelaide, and there have been violent protests outside the Baxter detention facility in the north of South Australia.
Which makes me wonder if any of these left-wing protesters are aware of what happened in Paris earlier this month. The left there organised a large protest by high school students against education reforms. But things didn’t go according to plan.
The student protest turned violent ... when up to 1000 young immigrants showed up, some with clubs, to beat up and rob the protesters. One young Tunisian immigrant admitted “I didn’t go for the protest but to take cell phones and hit people. There were little groups running, agitating the crowd. And in the middle of these clowns, little Frenchies looking like victims” (see here and here for some very interesting reports).
The racist contempt the “casseurs” showed for the French student protesters, and their willingness to violently disrupt a left-wing protest, might be something for the Australian left to consider as they agitate on behalf of illegal immigrants.
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