The Australian 12:00AM March 27, 2017
After a long winter of stultifying centrism, Australia has regained its two-party system. The left’s political persecution of artist Bill Leak and his untimely death have shocked the Liberal Party into resurrecting its founding principle of freedom. Labor has responded to the Prime Minister’s plea for freedom by revealing its intent to censor the people and the free press.
In the fashion of 21st-century totalitarians, the left is using race and human rights as rhetorical weapons against liberty and civil society. The Liberal Party is emerging once more as the party of freedom, fairness and democracy. It begs the question: what’s left of the left?
In the midst of World War II, sociologist Robert Nisbet warned that we would not be able to detect the return of totalitarianism by searching for political absolutism in the form of an autocratic state. Rather, the rise of totalitarianism would become apparent by the gradual encroachment of the state into all areas of life traditionally assigned to society: family, friendships and secular faith.
The object of totalitarian contempt is civil society because the ties that bind us in friendship, family and faith also effect our independence from the state. The animating principle of civil society is free speech and we learn to master it by exercising public reason. As a result, the most distinctive feature of liberal democratic states is the protection of free speech and public reason from state coercion and control.
The Western left seems capable of discerning the totalitarian threat, but only when it comes dressed like an enemy. Thus, its members might criticise Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for suppressing free speech, or Vladimir Putin for punishing dissidents, but celebrate the silencing of fellow citizens deemed politically incorrect by state censors.
In the modern West, the most popular and effective rhetorical device to erode free speech has been race. Communists used class as a weapon to depict state censorship of dissenters as victory for the proletariat. In the 21st century, the left uses race as a weapon to shame and silence dissenters from the PC party line. State censorship of dissidents is marketed as victory for state-designated minority groups. In the West, however, these minority groups are rarely genuine political minorities. Under affirmative action laws, they are given superior rights to other citizens. They are usually numerical minorities granted a range of unearned privileges under law.
As a woman, I am one of the fake minorities singled out for special privileges under discrimination law and I have come to resent it. I believe in formal equality, not inequality and I dislike intensely any attempt to create hostility between people on the basis of biological traits. As history shows, a ruling class often comprises a numerical minority awarded political, legal and economic privileges that are denied other citizens. It is the meaning of systemic inequality and a reliable predictor of social unrest.
The Liberal Party seeks equality for all Australians under law. It wants to restore speech equality by reforming section 18C so that every citizen enjoys an equal right to freedom of thought and speech without fear of persecution by common slanderers, or the state. The Labor Party champions speech inequality by defending 18C. Under Labor, the people and the press are denied the right to speak freely.
Those who insist on free speech are often targeted for abuse by false accusers wielding the rhetorical weapon of race. As we saw in the persecution of Bill Leak by Islamist and PC censors, and the three-year-long case against QUT students, section 18C empowers a type of fraud. In its current form, the Racial Discrimination Act enables what I would call race fraud; the use of race to deceive/defraud Australians by means of false accusation and political persecution. The beneficiaries of race fraud include vexatious claimants, ambulance-chasing lawyers, race-baiting activists and establishment backers of 18C.
Section 18C is big business, as legal affairs editor Chris Merritt has revealed. Since 2010, respondents in race discrimination complaints handled by the AHRC have paid almost $1 million to avoid going to court. The complainant in the QUT case, Cindy Prior, sought $250,000 in damages from students over Facebook posts. Some of the biggest payouts have come from government departments, which means that once again, the taxpayer is funding the harmful PC industry.
Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane invited people online to complain about Leak’s cartoon. Soutphommasane was appointed in 2013 by then Labor attorney-general Mark Dreyfus. During a panel hosted by the Jewish Community Council of Victoria last week, Dreyfus outlined plans that could result in the application of 18C to a growing list of protected attributes. According to Merritt, Dreyfus indicated that: “A Labor government hoped to consolidate all federal anti-discrimination legislation and would consider … a general standard for the type of speech that would attract liability.” Dreyfus plans on “consolidating the five anti-discrimination statutes when we are next in government” and establishing “a standard about speech generally”.
When last in office, Labor launched the most totalitarian assault on freedom of speech I have seen in the 21st century West. The Green-Left’s attack on free speech and the independent media was categorically anti-democratic. Combined with a proposed meta-regulator of the media, Labor’s human rights and anti-discrimination bill would have ushered in state control of free speech under the guise of social justice. The bill created a raft of new protected attributes including immigrant status, nationality or citizenship, and social origin. They would have been protected from “unfavourable treatment”, defined as “conduct that offends, insults or intimidates”.
Labor’s doomed bill was supported by the AHRC. The Liberal Party warned it would reverse the onus of proof, thereby destroying the presumption of innocence in Australian law. However, AHRC President Gillian Triggs contended that shifting the onus of proof to the accused was needed because complainants were “vulnerable”.
The ethos of Australian equality and mateship is protected by formal equality. We should seek a state where speech equality is guaranteed by ensuring all Australians can speak freely without fear of political persecution under 18C.
Every child comes from and needs BOTH a mother and a father. Same-sex "marriage" intentionally keeps either a mother or a father from the child. Government should protect the child through upholding traditional marriage.
There is “a time to be silent, and a time to speak”. (Ecclesiastes 3:7). Now is the time to speak, so please speak up and defend children, truth and freedom. Craig Manners
“What the world needs most is a voice that courageously speaks the truth, not when the world is right, but a voice that speaks the truth when the world is wrong.” Fulton Sheen