As anyone who has closely followed the 18C debate knows, the major secular Jewish communal bodies, particularly the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) and the Australia-Israel Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) have lobbied vigorously for the retention of 18C & 18D essentially in their current form. …

Read the Spectator article – March 11, 2017

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5 Comments

Steve Lieblich · August 23, 2017 at 8:00 am

Much of the public discourse in relation to proposed reforms to the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, including the article posted above, focus on a desire to the protect freedom of speech. However in no civil society is freedom of speech absolute. It is not a “black or white” question, but rather a matter of striking the right balance.
We already have legislation that makes the following unlawful:
• misleading and deceptive conduct in commerce;
• libel; and
• profanity; as well as
• racial discrimination.
The matter is not WHETHER, or not, there should be freedom of speech, but: WHERE should we place the boundary between free speech and speech that may harm our society?

Many Australians are within living memory of personal or family experience of inter-ethnic violence, murder and even genocide. Certainly many indigenous Australians and Jewish Australians have such fresh memories, as do members of other ethnic groups in Australia.

Psychological hurt should not be underestimated or belittled in comparison to violence or threats of violence. Survivors of the Holocaust who have witnessed the most horrific acts of violence imaginable, often describe the humiliation that they experienced as more destructive than the violence. The humiliation was often the cause of a loss of will to survive.

Australian Psychological Society president, Associate Professor Tim Hannan, has said there was compelling evidence that racial discrimination adversely affects people’s mental health and well-being. ”We have to balance the right to free speech with our obligation to protect the vulnerable from racial and ethnic prejudice,” he said. Studies have shown that people who experience racism have poorer self-esteem, higher levels of psychological distress, and conditions such as anxiety and depression.

A respected analysis (in Genocide Watch, 1998, by Gregory H. Stanton, President) indicates that Genocide is a process that develops in eight stages that are predictable but not inexorable. At each stage, preventive measures can stop it.
The first 3 of the 8 stages of genocide are CLASSIFICATION, SYMBOLIZATION, and DEHUMANIZATION. These are varying degrees of racial discrimination which, if allowed to prevail, can lead to ethnic violence and ultimately genocide. DENIAL (in the face of overwhelming evidence) is the eighth stage that always follows a genocide. It is among the surest indicators of a motivation to perpetrate further genocidal massacres. It is clearly imperative to nip in the bud any of these behaviours.

Racially-discriminatory public statements are therefore, to some Australians, reminiscent of events that are part of their most horrible memories. Their impassioned response, critical of the proposed reforms to the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 are motivated by a deep-seated fear that we may get the balance wrong (between freedom of speech and protection from racial discrimination) and therefore risk history being repeated.

To maintain community harmony and protect Australia’s freedom and openness, it is essential to have effective legislation in place to prevent divisiveness and hatred from being disseminated, and for Australia to get the balance right.

IT IS NOT A SIMPLE BLACK-AND-WHITE ISSUE!

    Andrew Lowy · September 5, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    Free speech is absolutely a black-and-white issue. Freedom to do anything is absolute construct, not a relative one. One can no more be “partially free” than partially pregnant. Once limits are placed on freedom of expression, the slope between such limits and sanctioned censorship is slippery and steep. Section 18(c) in effect provides legal justification for the “heckler’s veto” on speech, i.e. the prevention of speech that a complainant believes MAY insult their sensibilities BEFORE the fact. Witness the recent rejection of the application to build a synagogue in Bondi, because it deemed a “security risk” for local residents. Section 18(c) works in both directions, and has no place in a free and open society.

michael Burd · August 30, 2017 at 6:01 am

I am concerned we are heading in the same direction as Canada who has recently come out with Motion M103 which effectively prohibits any criticism of Islam whilst there is no similar Law /Motion to protect Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and other minority religions. Once again Islam is the exception to the rule and the protected minority.
Whilst I understand why Jews are so strongly supportive of 18 C it is the Jews [ many times via Israel] that are the most maligned, vilified and mostly by Muslims and their alt-Left allies.
Correct me if I am wrong if 18 C is such a preventative stick how come no Muslim has ever been prosecuted under 18 C?

michael Burd · August 30, 2017 at 7:17 am

It is quite understandable for Jews to hold onto 18c for dear life thinking it will save them from vilification and anti-Semitic language etc.
Considering most of this comes from Muslims and their alt leftist allies much of it using Israel as a way of getting around anti Semitism accusations I have never heard of a Muslim being sued or taken to court under this wonderful 18 C. Can some one please advise if they are aware of any of our Jewish communal organisations taking on any from the Islamic community?

I am afraid we will go down the same track as Canada where they have recently introduced a new law or motion namely M103 where it is illegal to criticise Islam. I don’t think Canada has a similar Motion/Law protecting Jews, Hindus, Buddhists or any other minority religions.Once again Islam is the specially protected species probably because none of the others would commit violence or intimidation when offended. Whilst Jews have had one significant win against a holocaust denier under 18 c which he Jewish community keep using as their mascot the real threat today is from Muslims vilifying, humiliating and offending Jews and they will keep this up because I hear the Jewish community are too afraid to take them on and spoil the fantasy of multiculturalism .

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