Free Speech

We Need To Take “Privilege” Out Of Our Public Policy Discourse

Writer Benjamin Law used the final Q&A for the year to claim discussion around 18C was just our privileged class claiming to be censored.

Among the chattering class, there is a prevailing belief that they are on the side of the disadvantaged and against entrenched privilege. A cursory glance of the major events of 2016 would tell you that that is no longer true. Nor can it be said that defence against 18C is a defence against the privileged.

The argument that 18C is needed to give power to the powerless has been blown out of the water with the QUT case. It saw a court case seven QUT students for comments they made on a Facebook forum about being kicked out of an indigenous only computer lab.

Four of the students settled out of court, but the three students — Alex Wood, Callum Thwaites and Jackson Powell — were Read the rest


Human Rights Commission delenda est.

The 2nd Century BC Roman senator Cato the Elder would end every speech with, ‘Carthago Delenda est.’. Its english translation is, ‘furthermore Carthage must be destroyed’. Rome had defeated Carthage in the two previous Punic Wars, but, both times Carthage quickly rebuilt its strength and continued to pose a threat to Rome. Plutarch wrote that, “Cato the Elder one time famously drop a Libyan fig in the Senate, as he shook out the folds of his toga, and then, as the senators admired its size and beauty, said that the country where it grew was only three days sail from Rome.” Cato the Elder’s campaign eventually lead to Rome destroying Carthage for the last and final time and as myth would have it salting the ground so nothing would grow there ever again.

Liberty loving Australians have been fighting their own war against a tyrannical empire of sorts – the Read the rest


QUT case dismissed: 18C not off the hook

The dismissal of Cindy Prior’s case against three QUT students on Thursday drew sighs of relief from freedom lovers across Australia. Justice Jarrett ruled that the Facebook comments made by the students did not represent a breach of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. Many though are taking this opportunity to say ‘look, the case has been dismissed, therefore 18C is reasonable and nothing to worry about’. But nothing could be farther from the truth. The dismissal of the case only highlights the problems inherent in 18C.

Even though ultimately the students have been exonerated of any wrongdoing in the eyes of the law, it took three years to get to this stage. In a long drawn out case like this one, the punishment is in the process, and these students and their families have had three long years of stress and worry over their financial futures, not Read the rest


Free Speech and Corporate Social Media Policies: Where to draw the line?

When the internet first began in early 90s one of its defining characteristics was anonymity. People created Hotmail, Yahoo and Aol accounts with usernames like sexysmuff1977 or surferdude12. The old internet was very private and had little connection with one’s private, professional or civil life. That era is over, since the rise of Facebook and smartphones the three spheres of a person’s life have merged. Never before has one’s employer had such a direct view into one’s private life. Over the same period of time, organisations have never been so conscious of their ‘corporate responsibility’. The same organisations that will shamelessly outsource jobs and make long term workers redundant are desperate to seem inclusive and diverse. Many of these organisations require their workers to sign social media policies that significantly restrict what their workers can say on social media. How do these policies affect free speech? And what are the Read the rest


Will you take The Red Pill?

In the The Matrix, the protagonist Neo is offered a choice of taking the red pill which will wake him up to painful reality or the blue pill which will allow him to remain in blissful ignorance. The movie ‘The Red Pill: a feminist’s journey into the Men’s Rights Movement’ uses this analogy to illustrate the filmmaker’s journey from ignorance about men’s rights issues to her waking up to the painful reality that men’s issues are not given much attention. Recently, a group of feminists has successfully lobbied for Melbourne’s Palace Cinemas to withdraw a screening of the film using a change.org petition. They managed to get 2,370 signatures and called for Palace Cinemas to “…not associate your cinema with the kind of people who teach men how to violate women physically and emotionally. Please stand with the women everywhere, and do not promote misogynistic hate.” They also focused Read the rest


Who is a reasonable person anyway?

What limited protection we have in Australia for free speech, is based on the concept of the ‘reasonable person’. In other words, when it comes down to the crunch, the courts rely on this fictitious ‘reasonable person’ to determine whether words have hurt somebody’s feelings enough to warrant some form of punishment. But who is this ‘reasonable person’ anyway?

A ‘reasonable person’ is a legal fiction created in order to help set an objective standard of behaviour against which we can all be equally judged. It stands to reason then that this ‘reasonable person’ is not an average person, but an ideal and a vague one at that. They are somebody who is risk averse, and who has the ability to assess the most prudent course of action in any set of circumstances. They must also have a moral viewpoint, a set of beliefs that would deem certain types of Read the rest


LibertyWorks Podcast Episode 1: Anthony Cappello of Connor Court Publishing

In first LibertyWorks Podcast, Justin Campbell interviews Anthony Cappello of Connor Court Publishing, who has just published David van Gend’s book Stealing From the Child – Injustice of marriage equality. Connor Court’s usual printer has refused to print the book due to its content. Justin discuss that with Anthony, as well as corporate responsibility and the publishing business.

Read the rest


David and the Rainbow Jihadists

David Van Gend recently did that most rare of things – he defended the freedom of his opponents. David’s book, Stealing from the child – the injustices of ‘marriage equality’ has courted controversy. In fact, the book proved so controversial that publisher Connor Court’s usual printer McPherson’s refused to print it. How did van Gend respond to this refusal to print? He defended their right to do so.

David van Gend justified his stance by saying, “It is a shock to find a commercial printer acting as a censor for the gay lobby. That has a chilling effect on free public argument in a free society. However it is within their right as a private company to discriminate against people like me on ideological grounds. I accept that. We are not like some people who would take anti-discrimination action. We do not think those sort of laws are worthy Read the rest


First they came for the racists

Look at the comments on any article on Free Speech, in particular Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, and you will find the inevitable:

‘If you’re not being racist you’ve got nothing to worry about’.

‘Just don’t be rude and offensive, simple!’

‘Typical, white men complaining about losing their right to be racist and bigoted.’

‘Listen to all the white people talking saying that racism isn’t a problem.’

And so on. What these comments reveal is a complete misunderstanding of the principles of free speech and why it is so important to a free and enlightened society.

One major misconception that is revealed time and time again is that standing up for free speech means supporting or agreeing with objectionable or bigoted opinions. The automatic response of some people when they hear arguments against laws that govern hate speech is that whoever is making those arguments is bigoted themselves. … Read the rest