Free Speech

The problem with facts

In November the Oxford English Dictionary named, “post-truth” its word of year. Post-truth is defined as, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” The term post-truth along with the phrase ‘low information voter’ have gained popularity post Brexit and Donald Trump’s victory in the US Presidential election. This has led many in the Twitterati to quote John Maynard Keynes stating, “when the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, Sir?” Out of this has come the assumption that there are two types of people, those who believe in ‘facts’ and those who are led by the their emotions (low-information voters). However, few have asked, What are facts? How reliable are they? Or even, should facts be the primary basis of political decision making?

The simplest definition of a fact is: Read the rest

Hate speech laws are an unnecessary attack on free speech

Anti-hate laws across the world and in Australia are being used to restrict free speech. In Australia, LibertyWorks recently reported members of the United Patriots Front are facing charges under Victoria’s  Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001. Spiked-Online has reported that the European Union has unveiled a code of conduct for online platforms. Around the world contentious ideas are being driven underground right at the time when these issues need to be discussed the most.

In Britain, anti-hate group, ‘HOPE not hate’ is raising funds to sue Nigel Farage after he accused the widower of Jo Cox of having links with extremism because of his support of HOPE not hate. Now on their website HOPE not hate is requesting donations from its supporters saying, “Yesterday morning, on LBC radio, former UKIP leader Nigel Farage launched an outrageous attack on us, on Brendan Cox, husband of murdered MP Jo Cox, Read the rest

The Uniting Church’s racial vilification problem

In April 2014, the Uniting Church in Australia Assembly made a submission to the Attorney-General’s Department opposing the repeal of 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act stating that, “The Uniting Church in Australia is committed to positively contributing to a nationthat is inclusive and harmonious. We believe that diversity strengthens us: as individuals, in the life of our Church, and our society as a whole. We firmly reject the proposed amendments contained in the Bill as we believe they lessen the protections against racial vilification and have the potential to open the floodgates with regards to the production, dissemination and broadcast of materials that propagate racial hatred. When individuals are targets of racial vilification, their dignity is diminished; by our values, traditions and beliefs. We find this wholly unacceptable.”

So it must have come as quite a shock to discover that they themselves have had a complaint made against … Read the rest

Petition: Repeal section 18c and 18d of the Racial Discrimination Act

I am writing to formally submit to the Committee that Section 18C and 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act must be repealed in its entirety.

I believe 18c and 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act needs to repealed for the following reasons:

The Act reduces liberty

Freedom of speech is a fundamental right owned by all citizens and that the ability to exercise that right is crucial to intellectual discovery, learning, enlightenment, science, law, free trade and most aspects of a free society. The exercise of free speech breaches no individual’s common law rights nor can it be said to breach anyone else’s “natural rights”; their right to life, liberty and property.

In a free society, speech is moderated by custom, peer pressure, cultural norms and a variety of other social factors. In contrast, placing legislative limits on speech is a hallmark of of socialist, marxist, theocratic or fascists states … Read the rest

Identity politics, political correctness and section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act

On 4 November 2016, Judge Jarrett of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia dismissed a claim brought by Cindy Prior under section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) as a result of posts published on Facebook by students at the Queensland University of Technology that complained of being kicked out of an ‘Indigenous only’ computer lab. This ends a 3 year long legal saga and ordeal for the students concerned.

The facts

On 28 May 2013, some students were kicked out of a computer lab reserved for Aboriginal students.

QUT student Alex Wood posted the following comment on Facebook:

Just got kicked out of the unsigned indigenous students computer lab. QUT stopping segregation with segregation?

Another student named Jackson Powell joined in with this comment:

I wonder where the white supremacist computer lab is

A third student named Calum Thwaites denied making a Facebook post which referred to … Read the rest

Victoria Decapitates Free Speech

Three members of the United Patriot’s Front (UPF) have been charged after posting a video on Facebook depicting an alleged mock beheading in front of the Bendigo council offices. The video was filmed over a year ago and was made to protest a new mosque development in Bendigo. They face charges brought against them by the Victorian Police, including behaving in an offensive manner in public, and serious religious vilification under the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001. The Act makes it illegal to act in a way that incites or encourages hatred, serious contempt, revulsion or severe ridicule against another person or group of people because of their race and/or religion.They are due to appear in court in March and face maximum penalties of six months jail or a $6000 dollar fine.

The video shows three men beheading an effigy made of pillows that spouts fake blood, the Read the rest

18c and the cult of victimhood

In a shock turn of events, the hunter has become the hunted in the QUT 18C case. Cindy Prior having lost her case against three QUT students accused violating 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act has now been ordered to pay $200,000+ in legal costs. Cindy Prior who had been employed by QUT in its indigenous computer lab had accused several students of violating 18c when after being kicked out of the computer lab for not being indigenous they complained on a Facebook group saying, “QUT is fighting segregation with segregation”, “Where’s the white supremacist lab?” and “ITT niggers”. Since the incident, the complaint has gone to the Australian Human Rights Commission, several students settled the case paying $5000 each and Cindy Prior has been on stress leave from her job ever since. This case that continues three years after the initial complaint should demonstrate why the courts are not … Read the rest

LibertyWorks Submission to Joint Enquiry on Free Speech

9 December 2016

Committee Secretary
Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights
PO Box 6100,
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Dear Committee Members

Submission to enquiry on Freedom of Speech in Australia

LibertyWorks is a registered not-for-profit organisation headquartered in Queensland. We advocate for a reduction in government control over citizens liberty and have since our inception held grave concerns over the limitations that the Racial Discrimination Act and the procedures of the Australian Human Rights Commission (“AHRC”) places on free speech in Australia.

We refer to the Terms of Reference of the enquiry and call for the full repeal of Sections 18C and 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act (‘the Act”). Our rationale is as follows:

The Act reduces liberty

Freedom of speech is a fundamental right owned by all citizens and that the ability to exercise that right is crucial to intellectual discovery, learning, enlightenment, science, law, free Read the rest

The argument against anti-defamation laws

Most people accept anti-defamation laws as a legitimate restriction on free speech. For a starters, the laws have always existed so it just seems normal to keep them. If we remove them then society would be plunged into chaos as everybody accused everybody of being a paedophile, a thief, or a murderous nutcase… and if those rumours are believed then they could cause lots of damage to the victims, such as loss of work and/or loss of friends. And that’s just not fair.

Perhaps. But before we give up on fully free speech we should fully understand the arguments.

Defamation involves (1) somebody lying about you, leading to (2) other people holding a bad opinion about you, leading to (3) a bad outcome for you because of lack of trade. None of these things are nice. But they are all voluntary and, all else being equal, none of them should … Read the rest