What a strange thing to say

Reaction to the 18c announcement is all over the media this morning. The Australian is broadly supportive and Fairfax – as predicted – is in shell shock. Tim Wilson has an op-ed in The Australian that sets out supporting arguments for the proposed amendment – yet contains this very jarring statement:

Free speech is not absolute, and no one is arguing it is. There is a point where it comes into conflict with other rights and should be legally curtailed.

Far too much compromise contained in those two sentences.

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140 Responses to What a strange thing to say

  1. Free speech is not absolute, and no one is arguing it is. There is a point where it comes into conflict with other rights and should be legally curtailed.

    That is a statement of common sense, and an acknowledgement of reality.
    Pure uncompromising ideology is extremely dangerous.
    Remember Pol Pot.

  2. Sinclair Davidson

    Anyone who thinks that all that stands between Australia and mass genocide is 18c is a fucking moron.

  3. Anyone who thinks that all that stands between Australia and mass genocide is 18c is a fucking moron.

    What a funny thing to say.
    And you said it, I didn’t.

  4. Samuel J

    I hope Tim hasn’t been captured by the HRC already. He has previously argued that free speech is the most important right – dominating all others.

  5. Samuel J

    You’re an idiot numbers.

  6. nerblnob

    It is strange from a supposed proponent of free speech. But since I haven’t bothered to subscribe, I can’t see what his examples would be.

    It’s also strange to see how far “the left”, who in my young days in the 1960s, were the champions of free speech, have become so backward and reactionary on the topic.

    I suppose that’s what happens when rebels gain the ascendancy. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Except worse.

  7. A Lurker

    If I might mix metaphors – small steps so as not to frighten the horses.

    I think there now needs to be public debate on the concept of Freedom of Speech, and especially public debate on various issues that the Left have effectively managed to Shut-Up the public about discussing. Australians used to be a people who called a spade a bloody spade, who didn’t go in fear of having their words used against them in a court of law, and who loved robust debate. This is the Australia we need to return to – and sad to say that it will take time and small steps before people feel confident about being able to publically speak their minds again.

  8. Joe Goodacre

    Defamation, restrictions against inciting hatred, calling ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre or trafficking paedophilic material are all restrictions on free speech.

    I haven’t thought enough personally about whether they are legitimate, however those would represent commonly understood restrictions. What’s controversial about Wilson conceding what is commonly understood?

  9. Tom

    Out come the totalitarians of the left demanding that freedom of speech be cancelled in the interests of collectivist harmony. It’s a protracted argument that needs to be had. I hope the LNP has the bottle to keep going, but I fear not. Most people — and that excludes fringe extremists like our troll — have a healthy instinctive distrust of government.

    I’m sure Tim Wilson doesn’t think he has run up the white flag, but that’s how the left will portray it today. Fascists — that is, radical authoritarian nationalists — infest all levels of government in this country. Hence, their absolute refusal to accept their loss of control of the parliamentary democracy (the only branch of government they don’t control) last September.

    Here’s a tactical hint for the LNP: this is about whether Australians want Big Brother telling them what they can say and think.

  10. [Comment deleted. Thread derailment in progress. Sinc]

  11. nerblnob

    Defamation, restrictions against inciting hatred, calling ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre or trafficking paedophilic material are all restrictions on free speech.

    The fact that laws exist isn’t proof that they should exist.

  12. Sinclair Davidson

    Defamation, restrictions against inciting hatred, calling ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre or trafficking paedophilic material are all restrictions on free speech.

    I don;t see these as free speech restrictions at all. They are all about property rights.

  13. Samuel J

    Free speech is not absolute, and no one is arguing it is.

    I argue that free speech should be absolute. Am I no one?

    Millions of Americans subscribe to the right of free speech being absolute. Every one who swears to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States – such as in citizenship ceremonies – swear to defend the absolute right to free speech.

    Congress 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

    That, my friends, is the text of an absolute right to free speech.

  14. Cato the Elder

    Defamation, restrictions against inciting hatred, calling ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre or trafficking paedophilic material are all restrictions on free speech.

    I don;t see these as free speech restrictions at all. They are all about property rights.

    How so? Defamation I can see, if reputation is property (which I think debatable), but how so the others?

  15. Aristogeiton

    Sinc, this will cause confusion. For the moonbats here, “property” describes those interests which you expropriate by force and squander.

  16. I don;t see these as free speech restrictions at all. They are all about property rights.

    I’m beginning to understand how you see the world, Sinclair, and what a weird and wonderful view it is.
    Everything is seen through the narrow prism of materialism.
    That’s limiting and reductivist.
    The world is wide – take a break from sterile academia and check it out.
    You might enjoy it.

    By the way, am I allowed to say that I don’t trust government, so long as I don’t explain why?

    [We all know why you hate the Coalition. Sinc]

  17. Aristogeiton

    Further, Sinc, since Numbers does not want his free speech, can he be Fisked from whence he came?

  18. Mater

    Let the community deal with individuals whos statements or actions unreasonably trample the ‘other’ rights of other individuals. With the repeal of these incidious laws, the community will also have the right to ostracise, ignore and even mock such individuals for their actions. This invokes the law of natural consequences and it doesn’t need legislation. Let such individuals speak freely. I, for one, would rather know who they are and what they are thinking. It is a natural defence against the great mistakes of the past.
    More importantly though, it naturally allows people’s words and actions to be judged against the standards and expectations of the wider community, rather than an ensconced and easily offended minority.
    Sunshine is the best disinfectant.

  19. lotocoti

    What’s controversial about Wilson conceding what is commonly understood?

    It’s having to tip toe through the caveats when what is commonly understood becomes the domain of those who shout the loudest.

  20. Further, Sinc, since Numbers does not want his free speech, can he be Fisked from whence he came?

    I can’t believe you don’t see the irony in this.
    Ever considered stand-up comedy?

  21. Joe Goodacre

    Sinclair,

    I don’t see these as free speech restrictions at all. They are all about property rights.

    Unless one was to argue that those above categories aren’t speech at all, aren’t you conceding Wilson’s point that free speech can conflict with other rights – whether they are described as property rights or otherwise?

  22. Joe Goodacre

    Samuel J,

    Do you think that state intervention is justified to prevent the traffic of paedophilic material?

  23. Mater

    Do you think that state intervention is justified to prevent the traffic of paedophilic material?

    And the connection to free speech is?

  24. Sinclair Davidson

    Joe Goodacre – No. Not at all.

    The argument about porn is about self-ownership. Adults can sell the image of themselves to anyone at any time. Children may not sell their image. This is consistent with the general view that children cannot enter into binding contracts. Any adult who has kiddy porn is in possession of stolen goods. This is not a restriction on free speech, it is a restriction on contract.

  25. nerblnob

    [Comment deleted. Thread derailment. Sinc. This also answers your question.]

  26. Joe Goodacre

    Speech is broadly defined – i.e. restrictions on campaign finance are arguably in breach of the right to free speech.

    Photographs, art etc are forms of speech – hence my question regarding paedophilic material. Not knowing the answer to the question, I’m interested in others opinion – particulary Samuel J’s as he is arguing for no restrictions to free speech.

  27. Aristogeiton

    Defamation protects the proprietary interest one has in reputation. Schenck, the case from which Holmes’ dicta comes, was overturned in Brandenburg v. Ohio, and concerns the First Amendment. I am not sure what trafficking in paedophilic material means to imply, but mere possession is unlawful. This is justified chiefly on moral grounds, consequentialist grounds due to the near impossibility of detecting the original offence, and based upon some rickety logic by which the possession of the material is said to encourage its own production (see R v Jones).

  28. Cato the Elder

    The argument about porn is about self-ownership. Adults can sell the image of themselves to anyone at any time. Children may not sell their image.

    What is your response to cases where the person in loco parentis , who normally gets to contract on behalf of the child, takes and sells the images?

  29. Aristogeiton

    Cato the Elder
    #1239381, posted on March 26, 2014 at 8:31 am
    The argument about porn is about self-ownership. Adults can sell the image of themselves to anyone at any time. Children may not sell their image.

    What is your response to cases where the person in loco parentis , who normally gets to contract on behalf of the child, takes and sells the images?

    The contract is void as contra bonos mores. The parent commits a criminal offence.

  30. Sinclair Davidson

    Cato – easy. Parents may not sell the image either. The restriction on contract is absolute. In the same why that parents may not expropriate assets the child may own through inheritance or working as a child actor etc.

  31. Bribie John

    When the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was stated and adopted in 1948, it said:
    “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

    What is needed is a respectful, mature, circumspect society which can differentiate between ” opinion and expression”, and malicious comment intended to harm.

    Any laws that limit that freedom will lead to the destruction 
of 
democracy,
and is th most important aspect of the protection
 of 
all 
human 
rights,
and , although not apparent to those who would limit this freedom, is the underlying principle 

 to 
human
 dignity, which separates us from automatons.

    Robotic adherence to the limitations some would have applied are very much what the enemies of free speeach have in mind, a totalitarian state of the Orwellian kind.

  32. Aristogeiton

    Bribie John
    #1239385, posted on March 26, 2014 at 8:35 am
    [...]
    Robotic adherence to the limitations some would have applied are very much what the enemies of free speeach have in mind, a totalitarian state of the Orwellian kind.

    You forgot the “Kafkaesque” to complete your cliche sandwich.

  33. Derp

    I can’t believe you don’t see the irony in this.

    I can’t believe you do.
    You have as much free speech on a privately owned blog as you do in someone’s home.
    Act the abusive raw prawn and you get shown the door.
    Simples.

  34. Ant

    Relax. Tim’s throwing the chooks some scraps.

  35. Sinclair Davidson

    Nah. Those chooks belong on the chopping block.

  36. Mater

    Must all be rosters…they make an awful lot of noise!

  37. Joe Goodacre

    Thank you Sinclair,

    The argument about porn is about self-ownership

    This line of reasoning would presumably justify laws against distribution of amatuer pornography – as receipt of stolen property?

    I’m undecided on the ability of children to enter into binding contracts – i.e. they may want a job. I lean towards allowing them to be able to with society placing expectations on parents to supervise. This gets into questions of whether children can consent to nude modelling… Bill Henson certainly seems to think so – http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2010/s2971651.htm

    Regarding defamation, inciting hatred and calling fire in a crowded theatre – I’m unsure how these don’t relate to free speech. It seems an arbitary distinction.

  38. Act the abusive raw prawn and you get shown the door.

    You’ve got to be kidding.
    I get abused routinely and regularly.
    It doesn’t bother me, but the abusers are allowed to remain in this “home”.
    That’s OK – but post reality, not fiction.

    Back to the thread:
    This issue has absolutely nothing to do with freedom of speech.
    It’s all about ideology and political posturing.
    None of the changes will make any difference one way or another to public discussion.
    The notion that any “right” should hold absolutely without consideration of context is totalitarian nonsense.

  39. Tapdog

    lotocoti
    #1239360, posted on March 26, 2014 at 8:14 am

    What’s controversial about Wilson conceding what is commonly understood?

    It’s having to tip toe through the caveats when what is commonly understood becomes the domain of those who shout the loudest.

    Maybe that’s an implemenation problem but not a theoretical one. Is your argument Sinc that we should have no defamation law ?

  40. Aristogeiton

    Joe Goodacre
    #1239402, posted on March 26, 2014 at 8:49 am

    Children can enter contracts for necessaries. The “shouting fire” example is an hypothetical from a US case dealing with the ambit of the First Amendment. You would be liable in negligence and under the criminal law for committing such and act if it resulted in death or injury.

  41. Derp

    Numbers, it’s not my house so don’t plead tu coque to me.

  42. johanna

    You can call “fire” in a crowded theatre as long as it is on fire, moron.

    If it is not on fire, you risk damaging the property of the owner, and the safety of the patrons. That is what is at stake here – it has nothing to do with “free speech.”

  43. Sinclair Davidson

    Bill Henson had a right to trial by jury and it is my opinion that the state should have afforded him that right.

  44. C.L.

    Free speech is not absolute, and no one is arguing it is. There is a point where it comes into conflict with other rights and should be legally curtailed.

    - Free speech is absolute.

    - We are arguing it is.

    - It doesn’t “conflict” with other rights.

    - It should not be legally curtailed.

  45. Derp

    Fiction? Hmmm “home” is your choice of word Principal, not mine.
    I compared privileges.

    I actually agree with Tim Wilson’s op-ed but am curious how an exhortation to his critics to remember Pol Pot applies. Or was that just a rhetorical flourish, a ninja smoke bomb to hide your escape?

  46. Cato the Elder

    Defamation, restrictions against inciting hatred, calling ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre or trafficking paedophilic material are all restrictions on free speech.

    I don;t see these as free speech restrictions at all. They are all about property rights.

    OK, I understand the arguments about defamation, kiddie p0rn and shouting fire. How is inciting hatred a property matter?

  47. Sinclair Davidson

    How is inciting hatred a property matter?

    It isn’t. Inciting violence is a crime against person and property. To the extent that inciting hatred leads to violence the government has a role to play. How much of a role? That is another question.

  48. Joe Goodacre

    johanna,

    You can call “fire” in a crowded theatre as long as it is on fire, moron. If it is not on fire, you risk damaging the property of the owner, and the safety of the patrons. That is what is at stake here – it has nothing to do with “free speech.”

    I don’t think that this is a robust explanation.

    There are plenty of instances where misstatements may result in damage to property or life. Take the people advocating about global warming catastrophism. In the view of many, they are calling fire in a crowded theatre and the proposed responses will cause much harm to life and property. Would you advocate for them to be silenced?

    If free speech is only justified in instances of truth then that doesn’t sound like free speech at all.

  49. I actually agree with Tim Wilson’s op-ed but am curious how an exhortation to his critics to remember Pol Pot applies.

    Pol Pot’s regime was an example of the absolutist application of an ideology.
    Arguing that a right to free speech is absolute is cut from the same cloth.
    History clearly demonstrates that the application of pure ideology kills people.
    We’re a long way from genocide in this country, and removing 18D won’t take us down that road, but when politicians use pure ideology to justify legislation, beware.

  50. Tom

    Freedom is a dangerous ideology, according to the fascists.

  51. Aristogeiton

    Already explained above Joe. We have criminal and civil laws, each with their own justification, which deal with several of these issues (negligence, manslaughter, tortious interference &c). Speech is not ‘justified’, it is free. You are engaging in the fallacy of distribution.

  52. Joe Goodacre

    Sinclair,

    It isn’t. Inciting violence is a crime against person and property. To the extent that inciting hatred leads to violence the government has a role to play. How much of a role? That is another question.

    This comes back to my point that freedom of speech is best addressed from the perspective of freedom to hear things. If there’s an undercurrent of hate out there, let’s hear it. Make the actual violence illegal, not inciting.

  53. Aristogeiton

    I love how these moonbats mouth ‘ideology’, and then it’s Q.E.D. Perhaps if they had a consistent set of political or moral beliefs, the idea would not scare them so much.

  54. cynical1

    Millions of Americans subscribe to the right of free speech being absolute. Every one who swears to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States – such as in citizenship ceremonies – swear to defend the absolute right to free speech.

    Meh.

    Try and criticise Obambi without being smeared as a racist…

    Or be conservative in Hollywood.

    Free speech ain’t free…

  55. James

    The government has a difficult job to persuade the disinterested public about the need to change.

    As the only prominent case is Bolt, his enemies would gladly say the change is all for him and not for anyone else.

    The case should be argued in terms where it matters to the public

    For instance, the minority groups think they are always victims to be protected by the law, hence, they see the change in the law as threatening their protection.

    Using practical examples of how the existing law can be interpreted, the minority groups should be made aware how they can end up being the accused with no right of defense, since the terms “insult”, “offend” and “humiliate” are all based on emotive feelings and subjective interpretation. Under the Bolt verdict, the judge can simply rule based on “tone of voice” rather than actual words used.

    There are always some precious princesses that offend people by claiming to be offended. With the design of the existing law, it is up to a third party to take one side against another. The one in the incorrect race always loses and is largely constrained in putting forth their arguments.

    Since the legislation is now under consultation, expect further changes to accommodate community input.

    The difference between the Abbott government and its predecessors is that the Gillard government would happily combined forces with the Greens and ram everything down our throats for their quick political wins. The Abbott government has to convince the new senate of community support for the changes in order to get it passed.

    The tricky bit is how to draw the line between willful misinformation and attacks and genuine debate of diverse views.

  56. Aristogeiton

    Joe Goodacre
    #1239444, posted on March 26, 2014 at 9:35 am
    [...]
    freedom of speech is best addressed from the perspective of freedom to hear things.

    Great. We don’t even own our person or our words anymore. It is all for the benefit of others! Good god, man.

  57. Joe Goodacre

    Aristogeiton,

    Civil and criminal law are two sides of the same coin – state interference in the affairs of people.

    It would appear to me that they both have to have a consistent principle otherwise they are arbitary.

    Take defamation – when the state can punish speech on the basis that it is false and damaged someone’s reputation, it is based on the principle that there is no responsibility on the general public to discern the truth of those defammatory statements. I don’t think that’s a good principle.

  58. James

    Make the actual violence illegal, not inciting.

    If inciting violence is illegal, the Muslim rioters and March the Marchers would be all put to jail for simply turning up with a sign.

    Do people really want to go down that path? That everyone should only follow one acceptable view and others punished by law? Something like Egypt?

  59. Infidel Tiger

    Sack the fat leftist swine now.

  60. Aristogeiton

    Joe Goodacre
    #1239457, posted on March 26, 2014 at 9:45 am
    Aristogeiton,

    Civil and criminal law are two sides of the same coin – state interference in the affairs of people.

    It would appear to me that they both have to have a consistent principle otherwise they are arbitary.

    Where to begin in this reductionist mess. So laws allowing a person to enforce contractual rights are just ‘state interference in the affairs of people’? Take defamation. The State does not punish speech; the aggrieved individual seeks to recover the damage to the interest in their reputation (punitive damages were abolished, and in any event they were not directed to the interest of the State). You repeatedly lead yourself into error by presenting false dichotomies. And again, you are muddying the waters; we are talking about free speech and suddenly you have a new and ridiculous unified theory of law – what has homicide to do with free speech?

  61. Squirrel

    Tim had to say something like that – it anticipates one of the major scare tactics which will be used against the proposed changes.

  62. manalive

    terms “insult”, “offend” and “humiliate” are all based on emotive feelings and subjective interpretation …

    Exactly.
    For example to many maybe most Muslims the very idea of homosexuality, let alone the mention of it, is profoundly offensive while Islamic teaching and punishment of homosexuality is profoundly offensive to homosexuals and I guess most non-Muslims.
    As Mark Steyn has entertainingly pointed out feelings of offence humiliation insult are subjective and have no place in the law.

    Restrictions on free speech should be confined to threats of demonstrable objective physical harm to an individual or his/her property.

  63. johanna

    Joe, why do you keep muddying up the discussion with non-sequiturs?

    There is a legitimate scientific debate underway about climate science, which is far from settled. Then there is another debate about climate policy underway, which is also not settled. In broad terms, neither scientific nor policy debates are ever “settled” – the former because science is always developing, and occasionally there are major paradigm shifts as well as minor, incremental changes. For the latter, because as long as humans continue to be unique individuals, they will disagree about aspects of policy.

    The fact that you disagree with someone about science or policy, however vehemently, has no bearing on whether or not shouting “fire” in a crowded theatre is acceptable in the circumstances. Either there really is a fire (or you sincerely and reasonably believe that there is one), or you are just doing it to make mischief, with potentially damaging consequences. In neither case does it have anything to do with free speech.

  64. candy

    A very difficult thing to change this legislation as most people don’t see any issue with free speech anyway, and the amendment had to be handled so carefully.

    But George Brandis stuffed the campaign up by saying we “had the right to be bigots”. It’s downhill from here on in. Unbelievably daft thing to say. They may as well quietly withdraw the whole amendment until they get a workable Senate (if).

  65. Cato the Elder

    Candy

    The “green light to racism” argument was always going to be first cab off the rank. Let Brandis play it out, he’s a pretty canny fellow.

  66. Cato the Elder

    Inciting violence is a crime against person and property.

    OK, that makes sense.

  67. Toiling Mass

    Perhaps I am just reading it all wrong, but isn’t Sinc saying that whatever is said cannot, as far as simply saying it is concerned, be restricted. It is a separate issue that it may breach other laws, and punishment meted out should be solely on the basis of those laws. No speech can be prohibited in itself.

    Say what you like. Defame someone and be hauled up before the beak for defamation. Or not – in which case nothing happens. It is not the words that are a crime.

    What people are taking here as restrictions on speech are actually a person’s concern to avoid breaching laws for which they would be liable.

  68. Milton Von Smith

    Sinc, is it really just a question of contract?

    For example, what if there is no contract? ie parents give away pictures of their kids for free, or if kids give away pictures of themselves for free?

    According to your logic, would that be permissible?

  69. Aristogeiton

    Toiling Mass
    #1239504, posted on March 26, 2014 at 10:33 am
    Perhaps I am just reading it all wrong, but isn’t Sinc saying that whatever is said cannot, as far as simply saying it is concerned, be restricted. It is a separate issue that it may breach other laws, and punishment meted out should be solely on the basis of those laws. No speech can be prohibited in itself.

    Say what you like. Defame someone and be hauled up before the beak for defamation. Or not – in which case nothing happens. It is not the words that are a crime.

    What people are taking here as restrictions on speech are actually a person’s concern to avoid breaching laws for which they would be liable.

    This is precisely the problem. The laws of defamation, negligence and crime &c all have different justifications. These justifications have, in the main, nothing to do with speech. But those arguing for further censorship say, aha!, some speech is limited, so all must be up for grabs. Instead of advancing the justification for a new criminal or civil law, they conceit to collapse these manifold areas of law into the one: ‘restrictions on free speech’. Defamation is no more a law concerned primarily with speech as negligence is with driving or swinging a hammer. It may involve speech, but that is besides the point. “Racial vilification” involves speech, but is justified by identifying a unique interest, to be “free from hurt feelings”.

  70. Cold-Hands

    They may as well quietly withdraw the whole amendment until they get a workable Senate (if).

    No Candy, tactically, it needs to be presented to this Senate. If knocked back (and it will be), it can be put up again and then becomes another Double Dissolution trigger.

  71. Cato the Elder

    According to your logic, would that be permissible?

    No. See up-thread. The concept is that there are some things that a parent may NOT do to their children and one of those things is to take and distribute kiddie-p0rn, whether or not the images are sold. As extreme examples, parents may not sell their children into slavery, or harvest their organs.

    Sinc appears to view the issue through the prism of “self-ownership”

  72. Yohan

    Sinclair, how can you expect posters on this thread (even those who support you) to even begin to comprehend your statement on freedom of speech being reducible to property rights, when you have gone out of your way to ignore LRC and the Mises Institute on your link roll?

    You ignore the very institutions that are the most effective intellectual opponents of interventionism, and yet instead want to promote Hayek social democratic bloggers, and then complain that Tim Wilson is not being consistent about free speech (he just spent time reading JS Mill, so we should forgive him for being confused and inconsistent).

    This is the intellectual bed you have sown here by having Hayek 101 as the model, instead of Mises as the champion of property rights.

  73. C.L.

    Pol Pot’s regime …

    Which was fully supported by the Australian left and infamous bigot, Gough Whitlam.

    In a paper delivered at the Australian National University in September, 1978, Whitlam said he doubted “all the stories that appear in the newspapers about the treatment of people in Cambodia”. In other words, three years after Pol Pot’s killing fields began operations, Whitlam remained unconvinced that the communist Khmer Rouge regime was into mass murder – in the face of all evidence.

  74. .

    Sinclair, how can you expect posters on this thread (even those who support you) to even begin to comprehend your statement on freedom of speech being reducible to property rights, when you have gone out of your way to ignore LRC and the Mises Institute on your link roll?

    Blasphemy. Burn him, he’s a warlock!

    Mises.org is brilliant. LRC goes off the rail a bit but the esoteric information you can get on history etc is wonderful.

    You ignore the very institutions that are the most effective intellectual opponents of interventionism, and yet instead want to promote Hayek social democratic bloggers, and then complain that Tim Wilson is not being consistent about free speech (he just spent time reading JS Mill, so we should forgive him for being confused and inconsistent).

    Soon was from the ALP originally but very good.

    This is the intellectual bed you have sown here by having Hayek 101 as the model, instead of Mises as the champion of property rights.

    There is some criticism of the Coaseian solution on Mises.org – I tend to agree with it that insisting everyone takes a side payment may be considered socialist.

  75. .

    [Dot - no. That isn't what I said. Sinc]

  76. Gab

    Free speech is sacred.

    Yes, it is and it includes those ferals with protest signs calling for Abbott to be killed.

  77. C.L.

    Should Whitlam be charged for vilifying Vietnamese, Cambodians and East Timorese?

  78. Bruce

    [Let's keep the thread on track. Sinc]

  79. candy

    Yes, it is and it includes those ferals with protest signs calling for Abbott to be killed.

    I disagree with that Gab. He’s being villified and protestors should be held accountable, like the assassinate Tony Abbott website. There’s got to be a point of not acceptable somewhere.

  80. .

    Free speech is sacred.

    This cannot be forgotten.

  81. Cato the Elder

    There’s got to be a point of not acceptable somewhere.

    Where?

    And who decides?

  82. Demosthenes

    Millions of Americans subscribe to the right of free speech being absolute. Every one who swears to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States – such as in citizenship ceremonies – swear to defend the absolute right to free speech.

    Mr J, that’s patently false. Commercial speech is limited, IP laws limit free speech, and threats (which are not hyperbole or boycotts) are not protected by the Constitution.

  83. Yohan

    There is some criticism of the Coaseian solution on Mises.org – I tend to agree with it that insisting everyone takes a side payment may be considered socialist.

    I’m not that well versed in that debate, but from what I can see the Chicago School, such as Coase, Alchian, and Posner e.t.c attempt to distribute property rights not by voluntary contract, but by calculating efficiency and social utility. Of course, there is no non-arbitrary way of measuring, weighing, and aggregating individual utilities that result from a given allocation of property rights.

    It ultimately becomes pseudo-science in service of social engineering and interventionism.

  84. Gab

    He’s being villified and protestors should be held accountable, like the assassinate Tony Abbott website. There’s got to be a point of not acceptable somewhere.

    I disagree. However unpalatable it is, they have a right to their opinions and to voice that opinion. Silencing them via punitive means is no different to the Nazis silencing those who opposed the regime.

  85. Cato the Elder

    Pure uncompromising ideology is extremely dangerous.
    Remember Pol Pot.

    Says the numbered one. Interesting choice of comparison. Try these instead Numbers:

    Pure uncompromising ideology is extremely dangerous.
    Remember pink bats

    Pure uncompromising ideology is extremely dangerous.
    Remember the ALP/Green asylum seeker policy

    Of course, it must be different when they do it.

  86. Sinclair Davidson

    Sinclair, how can you expect posters on this thread (even those who support you) to even begin to comprehend your statement on freedom of speech being reducible to property rights, when you have gone out of your way to ignore LRC and the Mises Institute on your link roll?

    What?

  87. Derp

    Agreed Gab.
    Same as flag burners et al

  88. harrys on the boat

    Demanding a person be killed is a crime, and has nothing to do with free speech.

  89. .

    “Jeff Kennett must die”

    Was ruled to be legal and not a death threat, IIRC.

  90. Gab

    Demanding a person be killed is a crime

    Under which law?

  91. stackja

    Liberty Quotes
    When the far Left was a global force, the mainstream liberal Left had to draw dividing lines and defend itself from its attacks. Now that the far Left threatens no one, the borders have gone. The media would hound from public life any conservative who shared platforms with members of a neo-Nazi group. But respectable leftists can now associate with those who would once have been regarded as poisonous extremists — and no one notices.
    — Nick Cohen

  92. harrys on the boat

    Incitement to violence?

  93. candy

    Where?
    And who decides?

    If someone you’d disagreed with stuck a sign on themselves saying “Kill ….” with your name on it, and walked around the streets, or started a website along those lines, you’d want the police to pick them up pretty smartly.

  94. Gab

    Incitement to violence?

    An amendment proposed by Roxon but only on the grounds of race or religion.

  95. Demanding a person be killed is a crime

    Under which law?

    Tasmania’s Criminal Code:

    298. Inciting to commit crimes
    Any person who incites another to commit a crime is guilty of a crime.
    Charge: Inciting to commit [specify particular crime].

  96. Aristogeiton

    In Queensland we have a crime of threat to murder in documents. There are also the Commonwealth “using a carriage service” type crimes.

  97. LordAzrael

    Tim is correct from a classical understanding of rights. You cannot have the existence of multiple absolute rights. Use as an example the blacksmith who made both an unbreakable shield and an unstoppable sword. Both claims cannot be correct – what happens when you use the unstoppable sword against the unbreakable shield ?

    As others has said, defamation is the balancing of a property right in your reputation against the right of freedom of speech. Incitation to violence is the restriction of the right of freedom of speech against the right to be free from physical harm.

    S18C requires the creation of a right to freedom from being offended, which is not regarded by classical theorists as a right at all. Thus it cannot be justified on classical grounds.

  98. Gab

    Any person who incites another to commit a crime is guilty of a crime.

    Prove how holding a protest sign is a crime.

  99. Max

    Without Inciting violence how would have George Washington have raised the Armies to ultimately win the revolutionary way and form the United States of America?

  100. johanna

    IIRC, the Kennett sign was deemed to be not a death threat because of the use of the passive voice. It did not threaten to kill him, or ask anyone else to. It just said “He must die”, which is objectively quite correct – we all must die eventually.

    Not pleasant, but not a threat either, strictly speaking.

  101. harrys on the boat

    There’s always been an incitement to violence law against an individual, it was amended to include races and religion.

  102. “KillAbbott?” is not an incitement, I submit, but a rather rude question. “Jeff Kennet must die” is not an incitement but a robust statement of belief. A sign bearing the command, “Behead all unbelievers”, however, sure looks like it would constitute an offence of inciting to commit murder (or—worse!—a religious hate-crime), and a bearer of such a sign ought to be prosecuted, I say.

  103. harrys on the boat

    Exactly, Deadman.

    Some unwashed deranged socialist holding up a crayoned protest sign, needs to be mocked and ridiculed with maximum prejudice, ala Tim Blairs sterling work.

  104. Gab

    There’s always been an incitement to violence law against an individual

    I think you’re confusing conspiracy to commit murder with anti-terrorism laws.

  105. In Queensland we have a crime of threat to murder in documents.

    The Tasmanian offence in the Criminal Code is:

    162. Written threat to murder
    Any person who, knowing the contents thereof, wilfully, and with intent thereby to intimidate or influence any person, causes such person to receive any writing threatening to kill him or any other person, is guilty of a crime.
    Charge: Threatening to murder.

  106. harrys on the boat

    No, I’m not.

  107. Gab

    162. Written threat to murder
    Any person who, knowing the contents thereof, wilfully, and with intent thereby to intimidate or influence any person, causes such person to receive any writing threatening to kill him or any other person, is guilty of a crime.
    Charge: Threatening to murder.

    An Imam declaring to his flock that they should kill Abbott, wheter in writting or in a sermon, is not the same as a bunch of protestors holding signs and banners expressing their opinions. One would have to prove intent in the latter case.

  108. .

    You cannot have the existence of multiple absolute rights.

    You can if they flow from one source.

    I have an inalienable right to privacy and free speech. You may not agree but they do not conflict.

  109. And now, in the spirit of Rabz, I pronounce:

    Shut. It. Down.
    Fire. Them. All.

    There.

  110. Louis Hissink

    All speech is simply the vocal expression of a thought. Therefore limiting free speech is tantamount to limiting thought, and that is simply violence. One may think anything, but it’s the possession of manners that limits the vocal expression of those thoughts. Regulating manners then becomes the issue and that leads to a potential nightmare. (All human action is preceded by a thought).

    What was Tim Wilson thinking of ? He has seriously erred on this.

  111. LordAzrael

    .

    #1239687, posted on March 26, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    You cannot have the existence of multiple absolute rights.

    You can if they flow from one source.

    I have an inalienable right to privacy and free speech. You may not agree but they do not conflict.

    Dot – your example as a little wrong. The conflict is between your right to privacy and someone else’s right to free speech. For instance I want to discuss your personal life in public (freedom of speech) will conflict with your right to privacy.

    This is generally resolved by the individual acknowledging the obligations that come with rights, and restricting their speech to matters that hold a public interest where there are conflicts with privacy.

    Obviously an individual’s rights don’t conflict with themselves (or at least cause a dilemna they can’t resolve). Its one individuals rights conflicting against another individual’s rights.

  112. .

    For instance I want to discuss your personal life in public (freedom of speech) will conflict with your right to privacy.

    Not necessarily.

    This is generally resolved by the individual acknowledging the obligations that come with rights, and restricting their speech to matters that hold a public interest where there are conflicts with privacy.

    In fascist societies, yes.

  113. Demosthenes

    I’ve always wondered, is it an infringement on free speech if you can talk, but others are prevented from hearing you due to an intervening loud noise?

  114. Baldrick

    Philippa Martyr
    #1239708, posted on March 26, 2014 at 12:31 pm
    And now, in the spirit of Rabz, I pronounce:

    Shut. It. Down.
    Fire. Them. All.

    Shut. It. Down.
    Fire. Them. All.
    ©

    There, fixed.

  115. Baldrick

    Free speech is not absolute, and no one is arguing it is. There is a point where it comes into conflict with other rights and should be legally curtailed.

    I’m sure Tim meant to say …

    Free speech is an absolute, and everyone should argue it is. At no point does it come into conflict with other rights and therefore cannot not be legally curtailed.

    If that’s not what he meant to say, then I’m flabbergasted.

  116. Nanuestalker

    Sinc -

    What a strange fucking stupid thing to say but I defend your right to say it

    FTFY. Please amend thread title accordingly.

  117. Cato the Elder

    If someone you’d disagreed with stuck a sign on themselves saying “Kill ….” with your name on it, and walked around the streets, or started a website along those lines, you’d want the police to pick them up pretty smartly.

    Umm. No I wouldn’t. I’d laugh, take photos and ridicule them endlessly.

    The main reason why no-one gets arrested for incitement to violence after one of these demonstrations is that no one takes them seriously, not even themselves. They are polemicists, not assassins – they are all talk and no action; and even they know it.

    Now a threat from Al-Quaeda , on the other hand, would be credible.

  118. Shut. It. Down.
    Fire. Them. All. ©

    There, fixed.

    Thank you. I stand corrected.

  119. manalive

    Demanding a person be killed is a crime
    Under which law?

    In Victoria the Crimes Act and in other states similar legislation no doubt.
    Which illustrates the absurdity of the Bolt case when compared to Kennedy, at a meeting of angry unionists, calling for Joyce to be shot in the back of the head.
    I understand Kennedy was spoken to by the police and no doubt strongly advised to recant.

  120. Tom

    Shut. It. Down.
    Fire. Them. All. ©

    Can’t say it too often.

  121. Gab

    In Victoria the Crimes Act and in other states similar legislation no doubt.

    Yes there are incitement laws, such as the Commonwealth CRIMINAL CODE ACT 1995. But there are no laws stipulating that protestors holding signs saying “kill Abbott” is against the law. Although some on here would argue that that should be the case.

  122. Which illustrates the absurdity of the Bolt case when compared to Kennedy, at a meeting of angry unionists, calling for Joyce to be shot in the back of the head.
    I understand Kennedy was spoken to by the police and no doubt strongly advised to recant.

    And Joyce is gay, which automatically makes it homophobia, too.

    (You know – like criticising a certain female PM is misogyny.)

  123. DrBeauGan

    Declaring free speech sacred is not an argument, it just means you want it a lot. So do I, but I feel it would be good to offer a reason to persuade those who don’t value it as much as I do.
    Free speech is central to a free society. The alternative is various degrees of slavery, and not at all appealing except to slave owners, and not all of them. Any governmental encroachment on our liberties is a step towards a slave state. As the lady said, it won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.
    The short term argument is more convincing to the historically challenged: it is worth knowing who the bigots and nutters are. Letting the march marchers display their signs is a big positive. We get to see the enemy and deduce he is dumb as a box of rocks and voters see it too. Racists and antisemites should be encouraged to spew their bile. Then they can be taken down publicly. Yes, sunlight is the best disinfectant. Fiat lux!

  124. Jessie

    Warren Mundine is displeased with the proposal. Why does he, the PMs advisor, deny the right to an opinion or question and to have the freedom to speak this? Mundine is projecting his artful collectivism over a very broad range of persons. One day he may allow people to freely speak as individuals, the individuals that in reality, they are.

    Mr Mundine has been talking to Mr Abbott for years, but a friendship between the two men blossomed in 2008 when Mr Mundine was asked by Jenny Macklin to negotiate with Mr Abbott over the reintroduction of the Racial Discrimination Act in the Northern Territory.

    “I bitterly disagreed with his Tory politics in the beginning,” Mr Mundine said.

    “And what has happened with him, and also with me, we’ve actually both grown in this area about how we approach indigenous affairs.

    “We don’t isolate indigenous affairs from the wider Australian community. We see indigenous people as Australians, part of the economy of Australia and part of the social fabric of Australia.

    “What Australians expect to be done in a non-indigenous community they should expect to be done in an indigenous community. We always condemn people in the past for putting indigenous people on the fringe, and putting them in reserves. What we have essentially done is repeated that.

    “We’ve put them on the fringe economically and socially, educationally and health-wise, with good intentions. But the outcomes have been the same. In fact, the outcomes are worse.”

    ref: The Australian May 18th 2013

  125. Joe Goodacre

    Aristogeiton,

    So laws allowing a person to enforce contractual rights are just ‘state interference in the affairs of people’?

    Yes. These laws and rules are ultimately backed by government and the use of force.

    Take defamation. The State does not punish speech; the aggrieved individual seeks to recover the damage to the interest in their reputation (punitive damages were abolished, and in any event they were not directed to the interest of the State).

    Two things:

    a) any payment of damages will ultimately be backed by the use of force by government if damages aren’t voluntarily paid (hence both civil and criminal ultimately are state interventions).

    b) A person’s reputation in my view, is inappropriately characterised as the victim’s property.

    Our reputation is what others think about us. If others are easily led, or believe false claims then that reputation is based on weak foundations. If A says B is corrupt and C believes A regardless of evidence, that is a reflection on C not A. Defamation law artifically makes the opinions of C the property of B – I fail to see why that is an appropriate intrusion of government into our lives. If we have a right to offend, why do we not have a right to tell lies about others people.

    And again, you are muddying the waters; we are talking about free speech and suddenly you have a new and ridiculous unified theory of law – what has homicide to do with free speech?

    The Left believes that rights are a gift from government and can be arbitrarily defined (i.e. we can have a right to housing, food or healthcare). The Right believes that rights are restrictions on to what extent our lives can be interferred with. If two people can possess the same rights equally, that right is consistent with rights as viewed from the Right. For instance, your right to free speech, doesn’t affect my right to free speech. We can both exercise that simultaneously. Your right to life doesn’t affect my right to life – again we can both exercise that right simultaneously. In contrast if you have a right to food, that implies an obligation of somenone else. Your right to food is unable to exist without someone losing their right to their produce. That is why free speech and homicide laws are related – they are derived from the same theory of rights as proposed by Bastiat, or more specifically what constitutes a moral law.

  126. Joe Goodacre

    Aristogeiton,

    Great. We don’t even own our person or our words anymore. It is all for the benefit of others! Good god, man.

    I have not said that we don’t own our person or words and neither would I.

    You are projecting my views on what is the best political approach to this issue to my philosophical views. These are not the same since in a democracy we have to convince or discuss these issues with people that may not share the same philosophy.

  127. Joe Goodacre

    johanna,

    There is a legitimate scientific debate underway about climate science, which is far from settled

    Agreed – I’m not referring to this aspect of the debate.

    I’m referring to those who use climate alarmism regardless of the truth to push an ulterior agenda of either:

    a) increasing government control in our lives; and
    b) pushing a religious view that sees animals and humans as equal.

    Mann was motivated by reasons other than science when he misrepesented and disregarded data in the Hockey Stick to create the impression as if recent trends were abnormal. That in my opinion is yelling ‘fire’, without checking for smoke. Though I would disagree with this behaviour, I don’t think government should be policing this. Do you?

  128. Joe Goodacre

    Cato the Elder and Sinclair

    Inciting violence is a crime against person and property.

    Why is that the case?

    There is clear harm if someone commits violence – where is the harm otherwise?

    If we can dismiss causing offense on the grounds that people should toughen up because they don’t have a right over what others say, why can’t we dismiss inciting violence on the grounds of people toughening up again, because no violence is actually done and we are talking about mere words again.

    If we accept the presumption that speech in itself can cause harm to a person’s mental state (even where no violence exists), I fail to see how we can be allowed to cause offence since that also involves the use of speech which can cause mental harm.

  129. Senile Old Guy

    Defamation law artificially makes the opinions of C the property of B – I fail to see why that is an appropriate intrusion of government into our lives. If we have a right to offend, why do we not have a right to tell lies about others people.

    If other people believe the lies, then B may suffer loss of liberty or livelihood; similar to the situation when someone steals from B.

  130. johanna

    Iago:
    Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
    Is the immediate jewel of their souls.
    Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;
    ‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
    But he that filches from me my good name
    Robs me of that which not enriches him,
    And makes me poor indeed.
    Othello Act 3, scene 3, 155–161

    If Shakespeare understood that centuries ago, it is a mystery why one particularly obstuse person here doesn’t get it today.

    And you seem to have shifted your ground (what a surprise) on climate change debates. Can’t be bothered arguing with goalpost-shifters.

  131. Joe Goodacre

    Senile Old Guy,

    If other people believe the lies, then B may suffer loss of liberty or livelihood; similar to the situation when someone steals from B.

    The operative words are ‘if other people believe’ – the property in question (reputation) is other people’s beliefs.

    What theory of property justifies owning other people’s beliefs?

    One could argue that the things that we do cultivate what others believe, however this doesn’t appear to be a causative link. Tony Abbott would be a good example of this; appearing to be a good guy doesn’t stop people hating him. If our actions can’t control how others perceive us, why should we have a claim on how they perceive us based upon words from a third party?

    It seems to me to be similar to the absence of logic behind gun control laws (if guns don’t kill people, people kill people). It is not the speech that causes the damage to the reputation, but that the people whose beliefs form that reputation are making their decision on incorrect information. It’s a strange construction of property law that claims ownership for the mental processes that an unknown person uses to form their judgement as to the reputation of the aggrieved party.

  132. Joe Goodacre

    johanna,

    The Othello quote is eloquent but presumes that which is in question – why should the state recognise a claim of ownership of the beliefs of others?

    If we own their opinion of us (which being their own thoughts, would presumably be their own property), on what basis would you distinguish other claims for the property of others? For instance, if we appear to own opinions of theirs which benefit us (a good reputation), why can’t we own other thoughts that they have which benefit us – i.e. the intellectual property in something that they invent.

    It appears to me that we either recognise that a person owns their own opinions and the subject of those opinions has no claim on them or we recognise that other appropriations of peoples thoughts are possible on the same logic.

    And you seem to have shifted your ground (what a surprise) on climate change debates. Can’t be bothered arguing with goalpost-shifters.

    I’ve suggested over a number of comments that we are responsible and own our own thoughts. I don’t believe the principle (or goal posts) have shifted.

    The person who is offended, has control of their state of mind and is responsible for their own state of mind. It is not a recognisable category of harm because the ‘victim’ with the appropriate mental state can choose not to be harmed.

    The person who believes without question the word ‘fire’ has a responsibility for their own state of mind. It is not a recognisable category of harm to panic when the state of panic is preventable.

    The person who believes that violence is being incited against them has a responsibility for their own state of mind. It is not a recognisable category of harm to panic when the state of panic is preventable.

    The person who believes they are being stalked or bullied has a responsibility for their own state of mind. It is not a recognisable category of harm again to panic when the state of panic is preventable.

    The person who believes lies regarding a third person has a responsibility for verifying the accuracy of their own beliefs. They are not harmed by being deceived, because this deception was preventable. The subject of the lie is not harmed because they never owned the beliefs of the recipient of the lie.

    These categories are distinguished from physical violence which is harm that we have no control over.

    All of these statements hold people accountable for their own state of mind which is anti a ‘playing the victim’ mentality. Holding people responsible for things that they can control is normally a distinguishing characteristic I would associate with the Right. Happy to be corrected of course.

    And you seem to have shifted your ground (what a surprise) on climate change debates. Can’t be bothered arguing with goalpost-shifters.

  133. Joe Goodacre

    Please ignore the last two lines of the comment above, which mistakenly double up on your quote.

  134. johanna

    It’s OK, Joe. I’m ignoring the whole thing.

  135. Yohan

    Thinking we have property rights in our reputation is the most common confusion of what is a tangible and intangible property right.

    What is a reputation, but thoughts that exist in another persons head? To say we have a right to reputation is to say we own another persons thoughts.

    Society would be better off without this. For starters we would be more likely to take anything claimed about another with a grain of salt. Look at the internet, we are already there, and only a few politically motivated cased ever go to court. The realm of reputation is self regulating.

  136. Pusnip

    Like free love and free markets, free speech is not actually ‘free’. It comes at a cost. Recognising that fact, societies should grant the right to speak freely up to the point at which the marginal benefits meet the marginal costs.
    Absolutists will be appalled at the thought of such a trade-off, as ‘compromise’ as Sinclair’s called it. How strange that Tim Wilson would show more sense on this matter than him.

  137. Joe Goodacre

    Yohan,

    Society would be better off without this. For starters we would be more likely to take anything claimed about another with a grain of salt. Look at the internet, we are already there, and only a few politically motivated cased ever go to court. The realm of reputation is self regulating.

    Well said.

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