Land of the free

Brendan O’Neill has revealed himself as the 21st century’s Joseph Banks, reporting back to England on the flora and fauna that inhabits Australia’s strange cultural landscape. He writes in Spiked:

Australia contains what must surely count as the most exotic, rarely sighted creature of the twenty-first century: a politician who believes in freedom of speech. Extinct in Europe, seriously endangered in America, this most hunted of the modern era’s political beasts still survives Down Under, and it goes by the name of George Brandis.

In an interview with O’Neill, the Attorney-General stood by his statement on the rights of bigots.

‘I don’t regret saying that because in this debate, sooner or later – and better sooner than later – somebody had to make the Voltaire point; somebody had to make the point [about] defending the right to free speech of people with whom you profoundly disagree.’

Brandis told O’Neill that  Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, which he intends to repeal, expands the authority of state into the realm of

‘There is a deeper question here, about the role of the state. To what extent should the state be the arbiter of what people can think? Now of course, the state is the arbiter of what people can do. The state, to use the most straightforward example imaginable, prohibits murder. It is the role of government to protect the weak from the strong. But this is about whether it is the role of government to tell people what they may think. In my view, freedom of speech, by which I mean the freedom to express and articulate beliefs and opinions, is a necessary and essential precondition of political freedom.’

O’Neill is in Australia as scholar in residence at the Centre for Independent Studies. He and I will be discussing The Age of Endarkenment on Thursday, May 1 in Sydney.  Many thanks to Bill Leak for his apt illustration.

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37 Responses to Land of the free

  1. Zean

    He’s on Q&A next Monday as well, so this is encouraging!

  2. Alfonso

    ” a politician who believes in freedom of speech….goes by the name of George Brandis.”
    Dream on Brendan, make up more stuff. George saw value in S18 in Opposition.
    George has already stated he will not be repealing S18 completely, a few words maybe, eliminating “offence” maybe. He fell over genuflecting to special privilege groups who wish their dogmas to remain undiscussed and therefore unassailable. There will be much free speech posturing by the Libs as they slip away from the fight with a whimper.

  3. .

    Correct, Alfonso.

    If he had any real friggin’ heart he’d be repealing all kinds of positive rights laws.

  4. CatAttack

    Looking forward to Brendan on Q&A one of my favourite panelists. He articulately espouses what are sometimes unpopular views on freedom of speech.

  5. C.L.

    Australia contains what must surely count as the most exotic, rarely sighted creature of the twenty-first century: a politician who believes in freedom of speech. Extinct in Europe, seriously endangered in America, this most hunted of the modern era’s political beasts still survives Down Under, and it goes by the name of George Brandis.

    Yes and no.

    If he had any true balls, he’d abolish the HRC star chamber altogether.

  6. Cato the Elder

    If he had any true balls, he’d abolish the HRC star chamber altogether.

    Yeah, no. Politics, to quote Bismark, is the art of the possible. Let’s see how it plays out.

  7. sabrina

    Apologies to digress..
    The Good Friday appeal for children is on at: https://www.goodfridayappeal.com.au.

    Please donate if you can for this wonderful cause.

  8. Anne

    special privilege groups

    What do you mean Alfonso? Who?

  9. Tel

    What do you mean Alfonso? Who?

    Shhhh! Can’t mention.

  10. Alfonso

    S18 has chilled my speech, any mention of tail wagging dog groups might cause individuals to feel threatened, offended, insulted ……and expose me to prosecution under the still valid law.

  11. Anne

    Oh…you mean white people who demand to be seen as black people and black people who demand you don’t say they are black people.

    Gotta go..there are men at the door and black helicopters over my house. Wonder what that’s all about??

  12. Tom

    Brandis quotes J.S.Mill:

    ‘He said the only limitation on the freedom of the individual should be when he causes harm to others. Hearing views that you find offensive or outrageous or insulting is not a form of harm. If it is admitted to be a form of harm, then freedom of speech, freedom of discourse, intellectual freedom and political freedom become impossible.’

    I’m more optimistic than others here. Brandis is resolute. But there may well be another showdown as when Albo eventually called off the dogs Gillard had unleashed on the press a year ago. All those pants-wetters in the LNP partyroom need to understand that victory is never enough for the feral left — the Greenfilth and most of the modern ALP. The howler monkeys will keep going until Australia is a gulag where no-one can lawfully discuss anything the left does not approve, bearing in mind, as O’Neill writes, the post-modern left is a totalitarian inversion of the freedom-fighting left of the 1970s and 1980s.

  13. Alfonso has pretty much seen the truth – the Libs talk up a storm before an election, then reveal they are a centre left party after.

  14. Tom

    From the CIS spiel:

    Humans have never had it so good. We are wealthier, happier and more comfortable than any previous generation thanks to the march of science and technology.

    So why have we become so gloomy about the modern world and so pessimistic about the future? Why have we convinced ourselves that earth’s bounty is about to run out and why have we lost faith in the capacity of mankind to find solutions to our problems?

    Do I win a prize for supplying the correct answer?

    Post-Christian guilt-induced self-hatred.

    How dare we defend the most successful civilisation in the history of the human race that has enriched us, culturally and financially, beyond our wildest dreams? The current regression, where we’re having to listen daily to a screeching jealous mooching minority demanding we hand over our taxes for their favourite causes, is the phase that uncontrollable 13-year-old girls go through.

  15. Anne

    Well they are a centre left party Winston. Isn’t a Liberal Democracy centre left by definition?

    Labor was just a little left of that left but got dragged off to Socalist la la land by the Gaia worshipers.

    It’s about time Australia had an alternative right wing ‘Freedom and Prosperity” party, you know, as a safe guard, from becoming Europe.

    How do we do that?

  16. A Lurker

    It’s about time Australia had an alternative right wing ‘Freedom and Prosperity” party, you know, as a safe guard, from becoming Europe.

    A proper mainstream Conservative party would do me. Wake me up when we have one to vote for.

  17. Anne

    Humans have never had it so good. We are wealthier, happier and more comfortable than any previous generation thanks to the march of science and technology.

    Can someone point out that it was the entrepreneurial spirit of individuals that delivered such gifts.

    “Science” may be a left wing captive currently, they may argue that without science Jobs would not have been able to bring us our iPads. True, Jobs may have found a seed in his hand but it was his idea to stick it in the dirt and add water.

  18. .

    The LDP exists for libertarians, some conservatives and classical liberals.

    The TEA Party of Aus wants to get up and running soon. Perhaps the “real conservative party” y’all ‘ve been looking for?

    It would be great if the LDP and TEA Party got serious numbers in all houses of our legislatures and councils across the land.

  19. Anne

    I live in a State and Federal blue ribbon Liberal seat but I have a Green Council.

    How the hell does that happen?

  20. stackja

    .
    #1269695, posted on April 18, 2014 at 12:06 pm
    The LDP exists for libertarians, some conservatives and classical liberals.
    The TEA Party of Aus wants to get up and running soon. Perhaps the “real conservative party” y’all ‘ve been looking for?
    It would be great if the LDP and TEA Party got serious numbers in all houses of our legislatures and councils across the land.

    It took Menzies a long time to get the Liberal Party going.

  21. .

    Damn.

    It took the LDP 12 years to get two Councillors and one Senator elect.

  22. egg_

    Funny thing re the Earth Hour link – I’ll bet that the inner city vegans will never entertain the notion of conducting Earth Hour in the dead of Winter – far too much realism for the poor diddums…

  23. egg_

    Can someone point out that it was the entrepreneurial spirit of individuals that delivered such gifts.

    “Science” may be a left wing captive currently, they may argue that without science Jobs would not have been able to bring us our iPads. True, Jobs may have found a seed in his hand but it was his idea to stick it in the dirt and add water.

    Most R&D innovations occur ‘on the job’/shop floor, not top-down BS.

  24. Anne

    Not sure if you’re agreeing with my point about individuals Egg or saying its BS because I used Jobs as an example.

  25. egg_

    Anne
    #1269810, posted on April 18, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    Obliquely agreeing Anne. :)

  26. Anne

    The second paragraph was an inelegant mental sidebar I should have left out.

    I’ll try harder. ;-)

  27. srr

    Come on Cats, at least give George credit for stirring The Age into trying to tell us why he’s wrong to say we should be free to speak -

    http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/climate-change-proponents-using-mediaeval-tactics-george-brandis-20140418-zqwfc.html

  28. srr

    So, at 3:34 PM today, Fairfax’s on line version of The Age posted, as their main, lead story, George Brandis’ Spiked interview.

    Could The Cat scratching George has got here, from among the very few who’ve cared to comment at all, what emboldened Fairfax to try to go for a killer slash?

    And, is it really, deep down and bubbling to the surface, the Leftist dogma they want to kill off, so they can go back to being a serious newspaper?

    After all, they included quotes like -

    Senator Brandis said there had been a shift in Australian politics, claiming it was now the “Tory point of view”, rather than the left, that fell on the side of liberation and free speech.

    “Now, the left has adopted a reasonably comprehensive secular morality of its own, which it now seeks to impose upon society,” he said.

    “And it’s prepared to impose that secular morality on society at the cost of the freedom of speech which it once espoused.”

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/climate-change-proponents-using-mediaeval-tactics-george-brandis-20140418-zqwfc.html#ixzz2zDazyGMO

  29. Anne

    And, is it really, deep down and bubbling to the surface…

    I had to laugh at the advertisement above that article Srr…

    “Cat fans love UrineFree”.

  30. 1234

    Is this the same party that went to such lengths to stop discussion on euthanasia? Until that law is overturned Brandis can only be said to be chasing cheers and not really serious.

  31. Bons

    I have followed Spiked for a long time – often not agreeing but enjoying the passionate rejection of elites. But, it amuses me that when he first started being noticed in Oz he was dismissed on this Blog as just an old Trot. Now he is a hero – funny world!

  32. Bons

    How the hell does that happen?
    Tiger Mums; most dangerous predators on earth.

  33. Rococo Liberal

    The left never favoured free speech or freedom of any kind. They only wanted the right to do what they wanted. The long term plan is to reduce the people to completely controlled members of the collective state whilst giving them the illusion of freedom based on consumer goods and sexual licence.

  34. C.L.

    Politics, to quote Bismark, is the art of the possible.

    It’s impossible to abolish the HRC?

    Bullshit.

    That’s precisely the Stockholm Syndrome thinking that stops the left’s programme from being overturned.

  35. jupes

    The LDP exists for libertarians, some conservatives and classical liberals.

    The TEA Party of Aus wants to get up and running soon. Perhaps the “real conservative party” y’all ‘ve been looking for?

    From the little I know of UKIP they have the best common sense policies of any party. If they changed their anti-EU policy to an anti-UN one, I believe they’d get a good following in Oz. I’d certainly vote for them.

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