Reading through Friday's edition of The Australian, I saw that the Associate Editor Caroline Overington, found it necessary to defend resident racist Bill Leak, over ongoing disputes with regards certain cartoons and Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.
The link is provided, but I find it interesting that Ms Overington is calling for pugilists to apply for a fight in "the arena of ideas".
Come over here, and give us a good kicking, like those scallywags at Honi So it did with their satirical reworking of The Australian last week.
Don’t go running to the government. Come and join us in the arena of ideas.
- Caroline Overington, The Australian, 4th Nov 2016.
Okay then. I'll take that as an invitation.
Please explain why as Associate Editor, you think that your newspaper should have the right to publish whatever it likes; with absolute impunity? Presumably if you're so insistent on defending the rights of your staff, indeed this appears to be an ongoing issue within News Corp, then the only conclusion is that you enjoy the ability to publish racist material because you are in fact racist.
I didn't think that we were living in an area where people were judged on the basis of the colour of their skin but then again, I'm probably mistaken in my belief that all people are endowed with dignity that should be respected even if you happen to disagree with them.
Obviously a different culture exists at News Corporation, as evidenced by Caroline Overington's request for Bill Leak to refuse to produce evidence his cartoon was not racist to the The Human Rights Commission; also evidenced by Nikki Savva's casually racist remarks on ABC1's "Insiders" comment that “Anyone would think Malcolm Turnbull had killed a Chinaman.”
Alas, I open today's Australian to read that:
Cabinet ministers are pressing for action to defend free speech after the Federal Circuit Court threw out a racial hatred case that took years to decide, building support for a move this week to explore far-reaching reforms to the Racial Discrimination Act.
Malcolm Turnbull has been calling Coalition MPs to gauge their views on the controversial law ahead of a partyroom meeting tomorrow that could spark an internal brawl unless a deal is struck on a pathway to consider reforms.
- David Crowe, Rachel Baxendale, The Australian, 7th Nov 2016.
Gee, I wonder where on earth these "Cabinet ministers" got that idea. As News Corp's own website states:
The Australian website informs and leads public opinion on the issues that affect all Australians around the clock.
- The Australian wesbite as at 7th Nov 2016.
Now let's be perfectly honest here. I believe in the right to free speech but I also believe that the right to free speech should not be absolute. I am free to drive my motor car down the highway but that freedom is tempered by limits such as a speed limit which says that I can not exceed a certain speed, or a central line which limits my legal ability to stray into oncoming traffic. I would not for a second suggest that my life is significantly worse because my freedom drive my motor car has been tempered by road rules.
I would argue that all law to some degree limits some absolute freedom. Again, that does not mean for a second that our lives are worse for it. Speech which is hedged in by law does not make out lives significantly worse because it.
I shouldn't have to lecture to the people at The Australian that Racial Discrimination occurs when people are treated less favourably than others on the basis of their race, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin etc. This might have ramifications with regards doing normal things such as trying to rent a house, get a job or even just go about their lives. I also I shouldn't have to lecture to the people at The Australian that the level of power that certain groups has, is less than a multi-billion dollar media organisation which publishes daily newspapers and owns other media online and one televisio etc.
Apparently this is beyond the people at The Australian, and if it isn't beyond their ability to comprehend it, then maybe they are willfully negligent.
I seriously doubt whether the people at The Australian, or indeed News Corp generally can seriously argue that their right to free speech is being made significantly worse because of the existence of Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975. The only reason that they would even care about it is because they've run foul of it and don't want to admit negligence under the act.
The only conclusion that I can draw is that the reason why they want Section 18C repealed is that the people at The Australian are so monumentally inept a their job that they can't help but be racist, or perhaps they want Section 18C repealed because fundamentally, the organisation is packed full of racists. Why else would you want this removed?
Elsewhere, Jennifer Oriel even questions the very point of the Human Right Commission itself; arguing that:
The AHRC has become an activist body with no useful purpose.
No useful purpose? I can see how you might think that the Human Rights Commission has no useful purpose but only if you happen to believe that the idea of human rights is also not useful.
The thing about living in a society which is made up of many individuals, is that we are not independent and completely solitary beings. As people who live in a society, the very idea of human rights is to remind us that we have an obligation to respect the inherent dignity of other people and by doing so, prevent injury which might be caused by our actions.
Laws exist for instance, to prevent someone from punching someone else in the face, to prevent the injury of people. If you happen to enjoy punching people in the face, then maybe you might be in favour of repealing the law which prevents you from doing so.
Clearly News Corp in general and The Australian in particular, has an agenda to remove 18C and they won't stop until they get it. They have a very visible national media group from which they can broadcast their ideas and clearly if as Caroline Overington suggests, they are looking for a fight "in the arena of ideas", it is because they enjoy metaphorically punching people in the face and not having to be responsible for doing so.
Specifically, The Australian seems to have a problem with people on the basis of race but they don't want to have to admit that anything they do causes injury to others.