From John Ray's shorter notes
April 05, 2014
18C -- Australian hate speech law
This report concerns what is a hot political issue in Australia at the moment: An attempt to tone down Federal hate-speech legislation.
Michael Danby (below) has a good point: With the moderation that is characteristic of Australians, the existing law was enforced for many years with very little controversy. It is when the law got into the hands of an immoderate judge that it delivered an atrocious outcome -- which the Parliament is now trying to prevent for the future
The obnoxious verdict was delivered by Jewish judge Mordecai Bromberg. As a Jew, his great sensitivity to any hint of racism is readily understood. But he should not have allowed that sensitivity to warp his verdict. He should have recused himself from the case. It is he who has made the existing law untenable.
THE Caulfield South-based Jewish Community Council of Victoria says it is “deeply concerned” about proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act.
In a statement, it says it wants protections against hate speech maintained and is making a submission to the Attorney-General.
The Abbott Government is proposing to water down the Act in the name of free speech.
The JCCV, however, says freedom of speech is a “very important right but not an absolute right’’. President Nina Bassat AM said “hate speech based on race, ethnicity or religion should be deplored and all members of society should be protected from it’’.
“Just as freedom of speech should be valued, so should the right of people to be part of a free and fair society without suffering the emotional and mental damage caused by hate speech.
“We believe that the Racial Discrimination Act as it stands has been working well and is effective in creating an environment that supports multiculturalism and a harmonious Victorian community.”
She further said it was not just a Jewish issue or an Aboriginal issue, but an issue for all members of society.
Melbourne Ports federal Labor MP Michael Danby has been critical of the proposed changes, telling Parliament on March 27 that Australians would be “scratching their heads’’.
“Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act existed for the 11 years of the Howard government. It worked very well,’’ he said.
“There were 1650 complaints, 500 of those dealt with conciliation and most of the rest were dropped — very few went to court. If it was good enough for John Howard for all of those years, I cannot understand what is not good enough for this government.’’
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