As Cats and others who pay attention to news in Australia will know, there have been some horrible (alleged) child abuse incidents in the Northern Territory recently reported. Spartacus has long wanted to write something on the matter but has been put off by the risks posed by Section 18C of the Race Discrimination Act. Spartacus will write something on the subject later, but it will will not be what Spartacus really wants to write. Not because Spartacus was wanting to write something racist, but because someone, a single person somewhere out in the ether might be offended.
And for those who think that 18C is not a plague on speech in Australia, you are either ignorant or idiotic. As John Courtney Murray said in 1961, yes 1961:
I suggest that the real enemy within the gates of the city is not the Communist, but the idiot. Here I am using the word “idiot” not in its customary, contemporary vernacular usage of one who is mentally deficient. No, I am going back to the primitive Greek usage; the “idiot” meant, first of all, the private person, and then came to mean the man who does not possess the public philosophy, the man who is not master of the knowledge and the skills that underlie the life of the civilized city. The idiot, to the Greek, was just one stage removed from the barbarian. He is the man who is ignorant of the meaning of the word “civility.”
The system of speech supervision that has flowed from Section 18C and its administration by the Human Rights Commission has created a model of asymmetric costs and benefits. There are almost no costs (economic or reputational) for lodging an 18C related complaint, and in fact, a complainant’s identity can be protected. On the other hand, the costs (economic or reputational) for having an 18C related complaint lodged against you are enormous (reference Bill Leek).
The Human Rights Commission also claims to act as an impartial arbiter of complains, but unlike a Court of Law is not bound by proper administrative processes (reference QUT students). Further, unlike a Court of Law, the Human Rights Commission does not make costs order against complainants where the complaint is spurious, is withdrawn or fails.
Coupled with the Human Rights Commission “touting for business” and its bureaucratic incentive to have as many complaints as possible so as to maximise its budget and importance, this creates a system that is biased against speech. Basically, heads speech is punished, tails no speech occurs.
And for what? For causing offence or insult.
The barbarians are not at the gate. They are inside the city and the agents of the citizenry (our Government) are holding the gates open.