Free speech

Mark Steyn is right. There is only one fundamental human right – free speech. The campaign by the IPA is therefore a step in the right direction. We are at an historic moment where free speech could be extinguished in the name of the protection of so-called collective rights not to be offended. It is not enough for the Coalition to mutter noises about the risks of the Finkelstein’s inquiry. The right to free speech should be protected beyond all others, and a referendum to amend the Constitution is required. In this, the founding fathers of the United States of America offer the perfect wording:

Congress Parliament shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Australia does not need a charter of rights. It does need protection of free speech. While the common law tradition has sided with free speech for centuries, parliamentary sovereignty has allowed liberty hating politicians and activist judges to abridge our right to free speech. Only a constitutional amendment can reverse this trend.

About Samuel J

Samuel J has an economics background and is a part-time consultant
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44 Responses to Free speech

  1. Abu Chowdah

    Steyn – FIXED thanks Abu

  2. Biota

    People need to harden up a bit, just getting altogether too delicate. When I went to school it was drummed into us that sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me. Or variations thereon. Our pet trolls are living examples, roundly worded upon but always back for more. Although hammy might not have survived :(

  3. Brett

    <blockquote While the common law tradition has sided with free speech for centuries, parliamentary sovereignty has allowed liberty hating politicians and activist judges to abridge our right to free speech.

    Really; it was the High Court that found the implied right to freedom of political communication in Theophanous v Herald & Weekly Times Ltd. Not all judges agree with the sins of Pinkie Finkie.

  4. Winston Smith

    Breaking news on the Hammy self termination. He kept his head in the oven, but failed to realise it was electric, not gas.
    He still has his wretched exisence, but no eyebrows or hair.

  5. Milton Von Smith

    “There is only one fundamental human right – free speech”

    Wrong. Private property rights are fundamental. Everything else derives from those.

  6. Milton Von Smith

    You had me at “Parliament shall make no law”

  7. John Mc

    Surely the right to life is pretty fundamental as well!

  8. Splatacrobat

    It won’t be long before the courts impose six months in a “reeducation” camp.

    Shades of 1984 and Farenheit 451

  9. JJP

    Yeah, it was activist judges in the Mason court who read into the Constitution the right to free political communication in the Lange v Australian Capital Television case alongside others.

    I have to say that I am fearful of how this amendment to the constitution would backfire if it were rejected at referrendum…

  10. John Mc

    I have to say that I am fearful of how this amendment to the constitution would backfire if it were rejected at referendum…

    We get the government (and the law) we deserve.

  11. TerjeP

    Australian citizens have a right to free speech. To exercise it they merely need to join a political party, gain preselection, stand for at an election, win, get on an airplane, fly to Canberra, go the parliament house, wait till parliament is in session, enter the chamber and they are then completely free to say anything they want. Unless they get expelled from the chamber. It’s called parliamentary privaledge and you too can enjoy it if you just put in a little more effort.

  12. JJP

    Well, on the other hand, how do we argue against a bill of rights and simultaneously seek to campaign for a right to free speech?

    The political realities of this are a bit more complex…

  13. Samuel J

    No JJP, the political realities are not so complicated. The bedrock of liberty is free speech. If our politicians and judges won’t defend free speech who will? All other so-called rights are derivative to free speech. One shouldn’t have the right to not be offended.

  14. dover_beach

    How is the right of free assembly or the right to own and dispose of one’s property derived from free speech? They just aren’t and the former are certainly as fundamental to our freedom as the latter is suggested.

  15. JC

    I think you have it about right, Steve. Without free spech we’re nothing. The fucking arsehole and he is by the way and there’s no equivocation, the arsehole Finkelstein and the rest of the scum that support restrictions should be reminded of what they did even on their death bed.

    That applies to every single ALP and Greenslimer currently in the parliament.

  16. Rococo Liberal

    Any constitutional guarantee of free speech or other rights could be in the fom you suggest, because Parliament does not pass laws, the Monarch approves of them.

    I think we would need to have a provision that stated that no law will be enacted that diminishes the said right. This important because we must admit that the right is ours to give up, not the State’s to grant to us.

    WHat the State should be saying is that “we agree not to interfere with your natural rights to free speech, private propoerty, assembly etc.

    And why delete religion? Just because American jurists are too stupid to realise that the prohibition was against any form of state Christianity, no other religion existing in the US when the COnstitution was written, doesn’t mean that our freedom to worship whomsoever we like shouldn’t be afforded protection.

  17. Milton Von Smith

    You don’t have the right to free speech in my house – I can tell you to leave my property. Private property rights trump free speech.

  18. papachango

    surely the right to liberty is one of only three fundamental rights (the other two being property and life).

    Freedom of speech is contained within the right of liberty. At least it should be, but I suppose we’ll have to spell it out for these censorious nutbags.

  19. Capitalist Piggy

    Milton is right, private property rights trump freedom of speech. I am free to say whatever I like on my own property, but not on someone else’s.

  20. dover_beach

    Look, let’s not be silly. Do private property rights trump the right to life? No, they don’t. None of these rights are enjoyed in an unqualified manner.

  21. Capitalist Piggy

    “Do private property rights trump the right to life?”

    You are assuming that there is a conflict here, there isn’t. What is a person’s life if not their private property?

  22. Well, on the other hand, how do we argue against a bill of rights and simultaneously seek to campaign for a right to free speech?

    The problem with most modern Bills of Rights set forth by progressives is that they entail the State granting specific rights to citizens – as though the citizen has no rights save that which the State specifically grants them.

    The American governmental philopsophy is based on the premise that all men are endowed by their Creator (not the State) with certain natural rights, and then it goes on to specifically outline the ones which the State may not abridge.

    The US Bill of Rights is all about the people telling the State what it may not do. Modern post-Christian ‘progressive’ Bills of Rights are all about the State telling its citizens what they may do.

    Do you believe that your rights as a citizen and a human being are granted to you by an all-powerful State, or by an all-powerful Creator? There’s your starting point right there.

  23. surely the right to liberty is one of only three fundamental rights (the other two being property and life)

    The rights to Life and to Liberty are the two main unalienable rights bestowed on human beings by their Creator, according to the US Declaration of Independence.

    Wouldn’t you say the right to private property flows from the right to liberty, as does the right to freedom of speech and free assembly?

  24. Gab

    This belongs here.

    I receive an email from SBS:

    It’s xxx xxx from the Living Black program on SBS TV.

    We are running a story on Anita Heiss and her memoir ‘Am I Black Enough For You?‘, on this Sundays (sic) program.

    Large parts of the book are about the trial.

    I would like to give you right of reply, is it possible to get comment on camera about your reaction to the book and thoughts on the content?

    My response:

    You may have missed it, but I am not free to express my opinion. Ms Heiss was part of a legal action to silence me.

    So when she asks her question, it’s odd that she expects me to answer. Sadly, you are wrong to presume I have a right to reply…

    (No comments, sorry.)

    http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/bloody_cheek/

    Jeez, hope nobody gets offended Bolt titled the post “Bloody Cheek”.

  25. Peter Patton

    The rights to Life and to Liberty are the two main unalienable rights bestowed on human beings by their Creator, according to the US Declaration of Independence.

    This is the most incoherent sentence I have read in a while. Think about it. In particular, focus on the verbs.

  26. The little buggers who censored Bolt should be muzzled likewise for a time and then dragged in front of a court and told why: “This is what you did to Bolt – now you know how it feels to have it done to you. Don’t do it again.”

    If so much as one of them tries, then it should be bread and water behind bars for life for the lot.

  27. wreckage

    According to as acknowledged by. FIFY Pete.

  28. St Hubbins

    The rights to Life and to Liberty are the two main unalienable rights bestowed on human beings by their Creator, according to the US Declaration of Independence.

    This is the most incoherent sentence I have read in a while. Think about it. In particular, focus on the verbs.

    Why is it incoherent? Seems pretty clear to me. What is the problem with the verbs in that statement? I can only find three verb forms in that sentence: are; bestowed; according.

    All seem to make sense to me. What’s the problem?

  29. sdog

    If my grammar wasn’t exactly up to your high standards, Mr Patton, I still expect that you understood what I was getting at.

  30. sdog

    All seem to make sense to me. What’s the problem?

    Just pissy for some reason, seems like.

    Should consider himself lucky I haven’t inflicted upon him the double models of my Southern youth. A “might should oughta” or two might could explode his head.

  31. sdog

    models = modAls… damned autocorrect :-/

  32. dover_beach

    CP:
    You are assuming that there is a conflict here, there isn’t.

    My boat sinks as I’m passing the island you own. Does your right to refuse me entry trump my right to rest and recuperate? I would have thought not. Still, I don’t think this means they are in conflict, only that these rights were never and cannot be thought of as unqualified rights.

    What is a person’s life if not their private property?

    I don’t think it’s particularly helpful to think of our right to life in terms of self-ownership, and there are certainly better ways of thinking about them.

    PP:
    This is the most incoherent sentence I have read in a while. Think about it. In particular, focus on the verbs.

    How is it incoherent?

  33. JJP

    Samuel, I don’t dispute that free speech is the basis for a free society. However, I worry that a rejected referendum would create the circumstances for a justification of more regressive measures whereas now we have the circumstances of a court which may be bound by precedent to observe our rights to free political communication.

    The other concern would be that if a right to free speech were to be referred to Parliament then it would become a vehicle for other ‘rights’ to be simultaneously referred and the process hijacked.

  34. john malpas

    come off it – even if you have to play with words – in general ‘might is right’ .
    Why else were castles, machine guns and tort law invented.

  35. Big Jim

    The problem with a free speech movement today is that the Left doesn’t even pretend to support it; while the Right tends to be all for it until someone yells the proverbial ‘David Irving’ in a crowded theatre. Then half the right goes to water.

  36. Gab

    Website promoting the Anita Heiss book Am I Black Enough For You? probably wasn’t expecting comments pointing out the absurdity. A Bolt reader notes:

    “People commenting here are saying much the same as Bolt got sued for”.

    Sample:

    What if the answer to your book title is “no”? Can we then move beyond looking for racists under every bed and start allocating welfare on the basis of need, not race? I can’t see this book being read outside the far left circle of political elites who frown on the rest of us from their position of moral superiority.

  37. Gab

    and this:

    Using an unjust law to silence a valid question for the Australian community to discuss is cowardly.

  38. Capitalist Piggy

    db

    My boat sinks as I’m passing the island you own. Does your right to refuse me entry trump my right to rest and recuperate? I would have thought not.

    That is where we disagree then. People passing my island do not have the right to enter it without my permission. Otherwise, in what sense is it “my island”?

    I don’t think it’s particularly helpful to think of our right to life in terms of self-ownership, and there are certainly better ways of thinking about them.

    Maybe so, but it seems reasonable to me. Again, if *I* do not own my own body, then who does?

  39. dover_beach

    People passing my island do not have the right to enter it without my permission.

    But they are not merely passing by your island in this example, their boat has sunk. It appears you would let them drown, or at least you think that is entirely within the prerogative of whoever owns that island to let them drown.

    Again, if *I* do not own my own body, then who does?

    But why bother asking the question? It’s not as if anyone is staking a claim to ownership of your body.

  40. 2dogs

    Given that SBS was probably applying non-bias rules in seeking the response which Bolt detailed in his “bloody cheek” post, I’d like to apply some maths:

    If a must equal b, and there are some circumstances when b must equal zero, then surely in those circumstances a must equal zero as well.

    I think the time has come to abandon the non bias rules in the SBS and ABC, since they are not working. Replace them with an “everybody gets a mouthpiece” rule (i.e. via multi-channelling), or just scrap the ABC and SBS altogether.

  41. Rabz

    It’s not as if anyone is staking a claim to ownership of your body.

    Ah yes – the feminayzees’ argument for abortion in the proverbial nutshell.

    Id est: You can’t tell me what to do with my body, you white, middle class, middle aged, conservative male, you!

  42. Rabz

    Ms heiss was part of…

    Bolt is way too polite to these *#@*s.

  43. Capitalist Piggy

    db

    The main topic here is freedom of speech, which is about government restriction of speech. To me, therefore, its really a debate about the proper role of the state, its not a debate on ethics. Thus choosing to not save someone’s life may be immoral, but I don’t believe it should be illegal. In the same way that many people think homosexuality is immoral, yet in this country (quite rightly) it is not illegal.

    In a socialist country, the govt owns everything, including the media, and thus it logically follows that in such a country there is no freedom of speech (except for the owner of all property, the govt). And so if we want freedom of speech, we must first demand that the govt respect private property rights. If it does that, then freedom of speech will naturally follow.

  44. selena 123

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JO7knUNlJso

    good old days of free speech..

    Blast from the past!!

    enjoy

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