The Australian has two articles today that are must reading.
First an excellent piece by Alan RM Jones chastising Greg Sheridan for his support for data retention.
Liberty doesn’t come cheaply.
There are many ways police powers can be boosted to stymie the malevolent by curtailing liberty. Free societies such as Australia’s should resist that temptation and the Coalition of the Weird should reject them in parliament.
Then there is an appalling piece by Gillian Triggs – president of the so-called Australian Human Rights Commission:
FREEDOM of speech is alive and well in Australia but, with respect to Voltaire, we will not defend to the death those who abuse this right by vilifying others on the ground of race.
It is at this point that the balance needs to be found between the right to say whatever you please, and the right not to be vilified on the grounds of your skin colour.
It seems she wants to pick and choose her freedoms. Triggs is doing precisely want George Brandis argued she cannot do:
Senator BRANDIS: I will just be a few more minutes, Madam Chair. But, Professor Triggs, that is the problem. You are not meant to be the agency that warns about the limitations of freedom. You are meant to be the agency that advocates for freedom.
Senator PRATT: Balance, Senator Brandis.
Senator BRANDIS: No! There is nothing in the act or the covenant that talks about balance. You are meant to be the agency that advocates for freedom, just as you are meant to be the agency that advocates for egalitarian rights as well. Let the political process and public discussion find where the balance is, but it seems to me, with respect, that you go into this discussion with one hand willingly tied behind your back, not as the advocates of freedom but as the discussants of freedom.
You are not meant to be the discussants. You are meant to be the advocates. That is your statutory charter.
Whereas your commission is a dedicated and committed advocate of antidiscrimination principles, I do not see the commission being a dedicated and committed advocate of freedom principles. You have think tanks, like in the Institute of Public Affairs, which has something called a ‘freedom project’. I do not see a freedom project in the Human Rights Commission.
All up Triggs has done the great smear – anyone who supports free speech is clearly a racist.
That brings me to her comments on Geert Wilders. Triggs says:
Recent events have stimulated an important public discussion about the limits to free speech in Australia. Visiting Dutch politician Geert Wilders is a very controversial figure. Yet the Immigration Minister granted him a visa to speak about his views on Islam, offensive though they may be to many. This amply demonstrates that freedom of speech is flourishing in this country.
The government gave permission for someone to have controversial views. That is the extent of our freedom of speech.