The freedom of speech that allows scumbags to write the word “abo” is the same freedom of speech that allows the rest of us to expose and ridicule such comments and insist on equality for all.
It is only by defending their freedom to be obnoxious that we ensure our freedom to argue back and make a better society.
Section 18C must be scrapped. Not only because it is censorious, but because in treating minority groups as children requiring protection, it does more to insult, humiliate and offend them than any racist throwback ever could.
In April of 2017 I had the pleasure of being an invited speaker at the 5th ALS Friedman Conference. I want to thank the organisers of that conference – it was an excellent conference. This article roughly reflects and elaborates on my presentation. In a nutshell, it is about the controversy surrounding freedom of speech relating to Aboriginal people, and also about the hate some Aboriginal Australians inflict on other Aboriginal Australians who violate the pseudo-sacred tenets of political correctness. I have dedicated both my presentation and this article to my great mate Bill Leak. A link to my presentation (along with three other excellent speakers) is here, and a link to an article I wrote about Bill Leak is here. This article will provide some context that will possibly make my presentation clearer, given that my slides were not shown in the presentation.
Hate speech or inconvenient speech?
Say something that some Aboriginal people are not prepared to hear and you will sometimes be accused of ‘hate speech.’ But usually it’s not hate speech, it is simply ‘inconvenient speech.’ Raise topics like child abuse, violence, crime, rubbish-filled yards, and community dysfunction, all of which are serious problems facing some Aboriginal populations, and you can expect to be told you are spreading hate speech. Non-Aboriginal people have learnt to avoid these topics to save themselves from being branded as racist or accused of ‘stereotyping.’
I’m not suggesting for one minute that non-Aboriginal people don’t ever say things which are inappropriate or outright racist. Sure, this happens – though probably not to the extent that the social justice warriors, ‘ninja whinjas,’ and the PC camp would have you believe. But far too often, speech, opinions, and images that are definitely not racist are far too easily branded as racist or hate speech, when in fact they are just inconvenient. Sadly, too many delight in seeing racism where it is not – and too few see the damage this wreaks.
Consider what happens when an Aboriginal person says something which members of the Aboriginal victim brigade don’t wish to hear: you will see hate speech at its finest. From their inviolate glasshouses you can expect to hear shouts of: ‘Coconut,’ ‘Uncle Tom,’ ‘Sellout’ and a host of profanities just because they hear something that may be a bit too inconvenient for them. For example, Jacinta Price has been told by some of the ‘brothers’ that she’s “gonna get speared” and that she “needs a bullet.” And her ‘crime’ meriting these threats? She publicly expressed the inconvenient truth that she is tired of seeing friends and family (both adults and children) suffer in silence at the hands of their own, and that her people need to start taking some responsibility.
But those sorts of attacks are seen as okay in some Aboriginal circles – and I do emphasise some, as there are many Aboriginal people who see that such expressions of hate are detrimental to all Aboriginal people. I believe that the majority of Aboriginal people see themselves as family people and do not attack each other, but there is a loud and angry minority who spoil the image of the majority. Those Aboriginal people who think it is okay to threaten another Aboriginal person or publicly slander them are quick to yell “racism” whenever the white man says something that is not to their liking. They are quick to yell that their feelings have been hurt and run to hide behind the shield of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. Consider what happened to our good mate Bill Leak.
But for those like Jacinta, myself, Warren Mundine, Marcia Langton, Noel Pearson, and others who are disparaged by their ‘own,’ are there any hate speech laws available to us? Certainly some legal eagle might be able to interpret the law in a way that provides us protection, but in practice, such laws are not generally called upon. I’m not sure why. Maybe because the verbal abuse amongst Aboriginal people is normalized? Or maybe because it is excused on the grounds of it being ‘lateral violence’ which is alleged to have its roots in colonization, even in 2017? Or maybe it’s because the Aboriginal people I know who have been the targets of abuse from other Aboriginal people have embraced a truth spoken by Albert Einstein: “Arrows of hate have been shot at me too, but they never hit me, because somehow they belonged to another world with which I have no connection whatsoever.” We don’t need protection from the opinions of our opponents, because we recognise that they belong to the world of infantile insecurity.
The problem with 18c
If we were to lift the hood of section 18C and strip away its legal and political baggage, we would see that the engine driving it was “Your ideas that I don’t like, whether they be expressed in a cartoon, opinion, or criticism, cause my feelings to be hurt.” This basically translates to “Others have more power over my feelings than I have over them myself” proceeding from the poisonous internalised message: “I am so fragile that I need to be protected from the words and opinions of others.” This is something I have written on before, so will discuss it only briefly here.
We hear the claims “What you said hurt me” or “You hurt my feelings” or “You’ve offended me.” We’ve all said things like this before because we grew up watching the adults in our world do it and we copied it. Such claims only communicate to ourselves and onlookers that others have control over our emotional wellbeing. Is that helpful?
Actually, other people’s words and opinions don’t directly hurt us. There may be some emotional hurt involved, but it is learnt, not caused. Believing we are directly hurt by words and opinions would be like me believing that living next door to a fast food café directly causes me to get fat. It does not. It simply provides me with an opportunity to choose food that is not good for my waistline. However, if a word is uttered, or an idea presented, or even a cartoon drawn that someone does not like, it is so easy to take offence and assume that the offence has been caused rather than taken. Instead of acknowledging that an image or word simply may be presenting an uncomfortable truth, it is much more convenient to label it as racism, or hate speech and proclaim that it has wounded us emotionally.
Proponents of 18C use the pathetic argument of: “White privileged males shouldn’t be allowed to push their racist agendas.” I would respond with: “People who are so fragile that they need to claim being offended as a way of silencing those who express ideas they don’t like, should not be allowed to be society’s thought police.” If it was not for freedom of speech, minority groups would be far worse off today. Consider for example that at one time, groups like Aboriginal people, women, and LGBQT people, were seen as having far lesser rights than what they are entitled to today. It was only by challenging the prevailing orthodoxies through freedom of speech that such prejudices were dispelled.
Claiming offence is just a convenient way of silencing those who speak inconvenient truths or challenge cherished beliefs. For the Aboriginal victim brigade, I present some of these cherished beliefs in the next section.
What are some cherished beliefs?
What follows are some cherished beliefs held by some members of the Aboriginal victim brigade. I know from experience that if these beliefs are challenged, the victim brigade will lash out, slander, rant, and use every trick in the book to destroy anyone who dares to challenge their prejudices, which are broadly as follows:
- only Aboriginal people can understand or help other Aboriginal people;
- Aboriginal people are a vastly different race of people from other Australians;
- Aboriginal people are likely to thrive on the ‘Homelands’ and ‘on Country;’
- embracing modernity is assimilation;
- Aboriginal people are best served by separate governance and services;
- the (white) government is the problem;
- those Aboriginal people who suffer today do so because they are victims of colonisation (or the invasion if you prefer);
- racism is rampant;
- more emphasis upon cultural specialness and difference is the solution;
- focusing any attention upon personal responsibility is ‘blaming the victim’;
- being Aboriginal is more about ‘feeling the vibe’ than Aboriginal ancestry;
- pointing out any problem that is more prominent in the Aboriginal population is ‘strereotyping’;
- Aboriginal people in custody are more likely to die than non-Aboriginal people in custody.
Perhaps rather than continually chanting about their special connection with the land, those Aboriginal who are quick to silence and abuse other Aboriginal people should start acknowledging their connection with each other. I’m not suggesting that Aboriginal people need to always agree with each other, but they could at least show a bit of tolerance and understanding when hearing views they may not like or agree with.
Perhaps instead of creating and spreading images like the one below, the Aboriginal victim brigade could focus their energy on addressing those problems that prevent too many Aboriginal people from living the sorts of lives most of us take for granted.
I opened with a quote and I will finish with one:
The most important argument against the censorship of expressions of hate is that it restricts legitimate speech and the freedom of expression. Throughout history, human progress has depended on the freedom to express dangerous and what were initially often perceived as offensive ideas. Hate speech laws not only constrain freedom but also treat citizens as immature children who lack the moral resources to hear hateful opinions and not be swayed by them. From the standpoint of an enlightened democracy, the censoring of hate is a far worse evil than the expression of hate. Why? Because it prevents people from judging and evaluating for themselves how to respond to the views — however prejudiced — of their fellow citizens.
(Frank Furedi, The Australian, 25 March 2017)