The fundamental bedrock non-negotiable principle of the way we live

Look at the video below and answer the following question: which of the people shown should be prosecuted:

  1. The speaker
  2. The man who left the meeting
  3. Both
  4. Neither
  5. I don’t understand the question

Which leads me to the column today in The Australian by Professor Gillian Triggs, the president of the Australian Human Rights Commission. She is concerned about this:

Many of these commentators have been particularly concerned with the 1995 law making racial vilification an offence under the Racial Discrimination Act. The offence applies to conduct likely to ‘offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate’ a person on the grounds of race.

I have my doubts about whether there are very many concerned about this at all although there may be some doubts about judicial interpretation of the Act. As I wrote at Quadrant Online:

Free speech is about open debate about every single political issue. I agree that personal statements, individual to individual, can be a danger to social cohesion and may therefore in certain circumstances be unacceptable. There may well be a need to have limits on such personal remarks where they are made merely to wound someone else. These kinds of limitations should be very carefully identified and the social utility of limiting this kind of free speech should be broadly discussed and consensus of some kind reached. It should only be personal statements, those directed at individuals, and there should be no ambiguity about what is illegal since the law should be very precise about such matters. I am not fully convinced of this but there is certainly a case to be made.

Abusing individuals for any of those matters found in the international covenants she has discussed is wrong and there need to be protections against such forms of abuse. But that needs to be distinguished from this, which is also part of that same Quadrant Online article:

But [abusing individuals] is not what we are talking about. We are here talking about the right to discuss politically charged issues in a public space, issues that often are part of our parliamentary debates, and these should be as open to free a discussion as it is possible to have. That is what freedom of speech means and absolutely nothing else will do.

The example Professor Triggs gives is about someone who had denied the holocaust. Put it out there, I say, have people say it in public if that’s what they think. Since we live in a post-modernist world where every form of idiocy is believed by someone, the only form of protection we have – and I stress this, it is the only form of protection we have – is allowing such views to be stated in public so that others can put their contrary views in public as well. She doesn’t say what the outcome of the case was when the HRC came across this particular Holocaust denier – although it does seem clear that this chap was convicted of something – but if they prosecuted and worse, if they won the case, freedom of speech in Australia suffered a major setback. I wonder if Professor Triggs can understand why that is.

And to repeat, it’s not that I think free speech is a guarantor of truth. Nothing is, and when I hear some of the ideas spoken of today, it terrifies me to think which of these might become mainstream over the next 50 to 100 years. You never really do know. But the only hope we have of keeping the open society we have is by maintaining an open society, and to maintain an open society as the fundamental bedrock non-negotiable principle of the way we live.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

47 Responses to The fundamental bedrock non-negotiable principle of the way we live

  1. Jannie

    Looks great to me. Galloway demonstrates he is a mindless totalitarian, nothing new, but its a useful reminder.

  2. Jannie

    Oh yeah. I vote 5. I Dont understand the question.

  3. This is a genuinely courageous and highly principled position to take, that’s never going to work out well I suspect.

  4. Infidel tiger

    Not debating Israelis is highly principled?

  5. Huckleberry Chunkwot

    Unless we are moving into Orwellian thought crimes, I don’t understand why anyone in the video would be prosecuted, so my answer would be option 4.

  6. No idiot … this.

    Put it out there, I say, have people say it in public if that’s what they think. Since we live in a post-modernist world where every form of idiocy is believed by someone, the only form of protection we have – and I stress this, it is the only form of protection we have – is allowing such views to be stated in public so that others can put their contrary views in public as well.

  7. C.L.

    The left hates Jews and backs the exterminationists who want to wipe them out…

    News at 11.

  8. Gab

    This is a genuinely courageous and highly principled position to take,

    lol yeah becuase the Jews are going to go after him with a death warrant. Funny, Wilders is hounded as a racist (as though Islam is a race), is on the jihad list to be murdered for his opinions, but Galloway, who said he doesn’t not recognise an Israeli as worthy of debating, is applauded as a hero. No, no hypocrisy there.

  9. Gab

    he left hates Jews and backs the exterminationists who want to wipe them out…

    Well they won’t have long to wait.

    Global population Muslim 22.74%

    Global population Jewish 0.22%

  10. Splatacrobat

    The cameraman for using carriage service to menace,harass,and offend.

    Not for recording Galloway’s remarks but training the lens on the arse of the brunette who walked out just after Galloway.

    We need to teach these misogynists a lesson!

  11. e-girl

    Option 4.

    A while back, the midst of a pleasant chat, which included the Middle East, one of the other parties who disagreed with me asked if I was a Jew. Questions are marvelous things, largely for their underrated capacity to reveal more about the person asking them than they could ever hope to learn from a response. Sadly, Galloway’s views are common. Quite apart from the particulars of that now infamous exchange, the fact that so many people resort to personal attacks and vilification based on real or assumed facts about others is distressing.

    As for Prof. Trigg’s hypothetical, I would still choose option 4, then proceed with a point by point evisceration of everything such a person said.

  12. DrBeauGan

    There is no case whatever for protection by law against personal insults. Threats yes, insults no. If someone insults you insult them back or laugh at them. If you don’t know how,learn. The state does not exist to save you from the trauma of growing up.

  13. candy

    “The fact that so many people resort to personal attacks and vilification based on real or assumed facts about others is distressing.”

    That’s for sure, sometimes it’s better not to express an opinion than risk being abused for it.

  14. Cold-Hands

    Galloway should be held up for ridicule but clearly, other than being guilty of being pompous, stupidly intolerant and part of the problem and not the solution, no crime has been committed. I hope his opponent debated the empty chair and made Galloway look the complete fool.

  15. The fact that so many people resort to personal attacks and vilification based on real or assumed facts about others is distressing.

    It’s standard operating procedure for the trolls that inhabit this blog!

  16. Cato the Elder

    The best thing about the video was the way the audience scoffed and laughed after Galloway left. That’s the way to deal with his sort.

    And it’s clearly a 4. I wish it could be a 5 but unfortunately I do understand that some (such as Triggs and her cavalcade of buffoons) might like to see a prosecutable “offence”. It doesn’t make sense; but then it doesn’t have to, does it?

  17. Huckleberry Chunkwot

    I was first with option 4, do I get a prize for being first with the correct answer?

  18. Cato the Elder

    It’s standard operating procedure for the trolls that inhabit this blog!

    And this is relevant to the thread exactly how?

  19. Gab

    Under Triggs and Roxon, the answer would be 2 but only if he were a non-muslim.

  20. Gab

    error….but only if he were a non-muslim Jew or Christian or conservative.

  21. Cato the Elder

    I was first with option 4, do I get a prize for being first with the correct answer?

    Dream on. But you can poke fun at NGD if you like.

  22. Do it, prove me right. What are you waiting for?

  23. Paul

    “It’s standard operating procedure for the trolls that inhabit this blog!” Oh give it a rest!

    I’m impressed with the work done by the Israelis and their little media helpers in getting love of all things Israel into the codex of Conservative mandatory beliefs. It took a few years didn’t it guys.

  24. GP

    George Galloway – the career vote hustler – was pandering to his current constituents.

  25. Grey

    George Galloway – the career vote hustler – was pandering to his current constituents.

    Oh my, an MP taking positions that his constituents support – that really is a pander.

    With Jones v Toben – I am not sure the HRC had any role apart from delivering an initial finding that was subsequently upheld by a court. Toben spent some months in prison, although not for what he published but for refusing to obey court orders to take material down.

    I don’t think he was found to have indulged in racial vilification just because he denied the Holocaust, but rather the manner in which he did it (you can view his website if you google Adelaide Institute). Most people would find the tone rather offensive beyond simple holocaust denial.
    There is a difference between saying:
    1. The gas chambers of Auschwitz were originally bakeries that were retrofitted by the Soviets to appear like gas chambers versus
    2. A race of hook-nosed parasites who crucified our savior (thats not the best behavior) and cause all the wars faked the gas chambers in order to get an endless stream of gentile cash into their pockets.

    You could get away with the first one under Australian law (I think), the 2nd would be racial vilification. Toben was a practitioner of the 2nd style of Holocaust denial.

  26. Pedro

    Greg, given bolt got in trouble for saying some pretty white looking aboriginees were selecting disadvantage for profit, I think you can do less than the full protocols of the elders of zion to get a smack under the current law.

    Even if you go the full aryan nation I think it’s a free country and the worst you should suffer is being abused by right minded people.

  27. Piett

    The only form of protection we have – and I stress this, it is the only form of protection we have – is allowing such views to be stated in public so that others can put their contrary views in public as well.

    Well then, I think it’s time for this site to kiss and make up with the Great Avian.

    Pucker up Sinc, Graeme is at the door.

  28. Rabz

    Well then, I think it’s time for this site to kiss and make up with the Great Avian.

    You know it makes sense!

    :)

  29. JohnA

    Prosecute? In which court, under which law?

    In an Australian Court under the anti-discrimination laws, 4 aka nobody

    In the open court of public opinion (already commenced via the laughter which followed): 2 and the person of femaie gender (who is no lady) who also left at the same time, apparently prompted by the same reply.

  30. cohenite

    Galloway is a muslim and his action is typical of islamist attitudes towards Israel.

    The woman following him may be his next muslim wife; it is unlikely she is a current wife because of her dress.

  31. Jim Rose

    Back in the day, when the French were testing their nuclear deterrent on the other side of the Pacific, the anti-nukes movements called for a boycott of French goods,

    A few weeks later, we were dinning a great little French restaurant in Canberra.

    My friend, who was far more gauche than I, asked the waiter if the anti-French boycott was affecting their trade.

    He said business was down 20%. They might have to close

    The local Greenpeace group felt apologetic about this collateral damage and held a dinner there, booking out the restaurant.

    I wonder if calls to boycott the goods of countries will be lawful in the future.

  32. Jim Rose

    see http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/mahmood-naji/george-galloway-israel-debate_b_2750167.html?utm_hp_ref=uk from the event organiser.

    the organiser did not know the nationality of the debator. why should he.

  33. Jim Rose

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/02/22/the-embarrassment-that-is-george-galloway.html imaging how far out you there you must be for

    The Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) Movement felt compelled yesterday to release a statement making it clear they did not promote personal boycotts, distancing themselves from Galloway’s remarks.

  34. Samuel J

    Who’s paying Galloway now that Saddam is dead (apart from the UK taxpayer that is)?

  35. William Bragg

    Good to see that Kates too recognises that free speech is not an absolute right, thus joining Alfonso, comrade Chowdah and a few other, less unintelligent Libertarians – and Dotty, by accident – in recognising at least one aspect of reality.

  36. 2dogs

    If Galloway considers it immoral to even talk to Israel, how does he imagine that peace will ever be obtained? Clearly, his answer could not be for peace by negotiation.

  37. Jim Rose

    2dogs, it is called the blackmailer’s paradox. See http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/9585#.UKdVRGdSQ9M for how the “Blackmailer’s Paradox” in game theory is happening in the Arab-Israeli conflict as explained by Robert Aumann

    At each stage of negotiation, the Arabs present impossible, unacceptable starting positions. They act sure of themselves and make it clear to Israel that there is no chance of their backing down. even sitting to talk requires concessions.

    Israel agrees to their blackmailing demands because otherwise she will leave the room empty handed, which is important to them and known to Hamas and others.

    For there to be peace, Israel must start talking about the “painful concessions” it will require of the Palestinians.

    Only then will both sides negotiate because they know that Israel is willing to walk away and perhaps not come back for a long time unless it gets reasonable offers that will be binding.

    Robert Aumann argues that “If you are ready for war, you will not need to fight. If you cry ‘peace, peace,’ you will end up fighting… What brings war is that you signal weakness and concessions”

  38. 2dogs

    Jim, even the blackmailer’s paradox has some negotiation. Galloay’s positionis worse than that.

    To him, Israelis are like vermin infesting one’s house; you don’t negotiate with them, you simply destroy them.

    Even the nutjobs at the BDS condemned this behaviour.

    This, from a democratically elected politician in a first world country.

  39. Dan

    Thanks 2dogs, what the hell is that guy going on about? An Israeli complaining that BDS is run by Israelis and that it urgently needs to be removed of Israeli influence? Gee there are some characters out there.

    And Grey:
    “Most people would find the tone rather offensive beyond simple holocaust denial.”
    Yes but offensiveness reflects on the speaker not the subject. The speaker should be condemned by his own words, not the court.
    I’m ffrom a Jewish Holocaust survivor family and don’t see a need to prosecute offensive people. In fact I was invited to spend an afternoon with a neo-Nazi once and we managed to both survive the experience, our society has become frightened of its own shadows.

  40. Infidel tiger

    . In fact I was invited to spend an afternoon with a neo-Nazi once and we managed to both survive the experience, our society has become frightened of its own shadows.

    What did you and Nicola Roxon talk about?

  41. .

    Good to see that Kates too recognises that free speech is not an absolute right, thus joining Alfonso, comrade Chowdah and a few other, less unintelligent Libertarians – and Dotty, by accident – in recognising at least one aspect of reality.

    No Bragg, free speech is an absolute right, I’d rather get hanged with piano wire than give into self loving sociopaths such as yourself.

    Of course we should take you seriously. After all, you told us blood donor recipients were ‘free riders’.

  42. kevin

    Professor Triggs is the wrong peron to hold that job.
    She only believes in freedom of speech for the left aznd minorities.

  43. kevin

    Very difficult to find anything on Triggs early political background.
    One can only guess.

  44. dan

    What did you and Nicola Roxon talk about?

    I was too taken aback by her pit bull terrier and Doc Martens to speak very much.

    However she looked much much sexier with all that hair finally shaven off. I thought shampoo would have been easier though.

  45. William Bragg

    Oh goody, more Dotty Pinatta.

    No Bragg, free speech is an absolute right, I’d rather get hanged with piano wire than give into self loving sociopaths such as yourself.

    The problem you’ve got, Dotty, is that at 12.31 on the 16th on this thread, you already acknowledged the veracity of my point. So there’s no issue of you giving in, because the game’s already over.

    Of course we should take you seriously. After all, you told us blood donor recipients were ‘free riders’.

    And in other breaking news, on Sunday I said that it’s Sunday!

    Now, we all know you have problems, Dotty, distinguishing self-evidently nonsensical statements from sensible ones. Still, and although you’ve raised it about a dozen times now as if it were an example of the former, the statement that blood recipients are free riders is not actually that strange.

    Keep digging if you want though, Dotty: you really are the gift that keeps on giving.

Comments are closed.