Tony Abbott continues to pursue his “conservative agenda”. The subtext is “the policy failures from my time as Prime Minister.” One of those, in his mind at least, was his failure to remove Section 18 C from the Racial Discrimination Act.
The section makes it unlawful to publicly “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people” on the basis of race. Opponents who include Abbott and a number of right-wing cross bench senators, say the measure restricts freedom of speech.
Senator Leyonhjelm wants to repeal section 18 C but is also prepared to use it against The Age columnist Mark Kenny.
Because I write a lot, I think freedom of expression is very important But I’m not particularly concerned about protecting my right to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate other people. Nor I think, should anybody else.
When people like Abbott, Leyonhjelm, Bernardi, Bolt and Hinch talk about defending freedom of speech, they are usually defending the right of people who have disproportionate access to the media, people like politicians and broadcasters to insult people they choose to demonise. It’s interesting that the bulk of the people who want to see section 18 C repealed are old, angry, white men.
We must remember that the measure of our humanity as society is the extent to which respect the most vulnerable and that includes not offending, insulting, humiliating or intimidating them.