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September 28, 2011

PC Gone Amok In Australia: Writer Andrew Bolt Convicted Of Race-Crime For Knocking... White People

You might think that might represent some kind of equal-opportunity to abuse the law in a perverse field, but it doesn't, really.

Free speech loses.

THE assumed right of unfettered freedom of speech was trumped by laws protecting against racial vilification this morning after the Federal Court delivered its decision on the controversial "white Aborigines" case of Pat Eatock v Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt.

Justice Mordy Bromberg found Bolt and the Herald and Weekly Times contravened the Racial Discrimination Act by publishing two articles on racial identity which contained "errors in fact, distortions of the truth and inflammatory and provocative language".

Speaking outside court, Bolt said it was "a terrible day for free speech in this country".

"It is particularly a restriction on the freedom of all Australians to discusss multiculturalism and how people identify themselves," Bolt said.

Often these free-speech cases arise from someone saying something vile, and we must rise to defend the principle of free speech, even if we have some doubts as to the manner in which free speech was deployed in the instant case.

Not so here. In Australia, there are laws which grant Aboriginals special privileges. The court found Bolt guilty of "racial vilification" for noting that some people claiming the status of "Aboriginal," and therefore eligible for grants and set-asides, were sort of... white.

Here is the column it is now officially illegal to pen in Australia.

White Fellas in the Black

AS you see, the two men [below] are from a tribe of people who face terrible racism just because of the colour of their skin.

So you'll be thrilled that both have won a rare opportunity - one offered to their race alone to end such injustice.

The man to the right, Sydney arts academic Danie Mellor, this week won our richest prize for Aboriginal artists - the $40,000 Telstra Award.

And the man to the left, Sydney law academic Mark McMillan, has won one of our richest prizes for Aboriginal students - the Fulbright Indigenous Scholarship.

If, studying the faces of these two "Aboriginal" men you think this is surely the most amazing stretch of definition, you're wrong.

McMillan has gone one better still: he's also won the Black Women's Action in Education Foundation Scholarship, originally intended to help educate black women, not white men.

The white dude won a scholarship dedicated to black... women? I can see his argument (sort of...) about the race thing, but the gender thing?

McMillan wrote (according to Bolt) this Testimony about his discrimination:

"I am a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, fair-skinned Aboriginal Australian . . .

"As a child, I grew up expecting everyone to be like me, to look like me - with the blonde hair and blue eyes.

"Clearly, my naive ideas about how Aboriginal people were 'supposed' to look were wrong. But being Aboriginal and fair and blonde was normal to me and I grew up in a world where I was treated 'normally' . . .

"Impeding my growth from that young person into the adult I wanted to become was the profound issue of identity. I was a white black man . . . I was becoming a victim."

As near as I can tell: He seems to be saying he was shocked to learn that Aboriginals were largely black (???), and since he was now self-identifying as Aboriginal, the fact that he wasn't black was causing him some kind of painful identity crisis, which makes him a "victim."

Bolt ridicules this absurd situation -- and, incidentally, argues implicitly that black women ought to receive scholarships reserved for black women, which is generally considered (in the racial/sexual spoils system) "pro-black-woman" -- and is convicted of a Racial Hate Crime for doing so.

BTW: The racial vilification law in question contains a safe-harbor for free speech:

Section 18D exempts from being unlawful, conduct which has been done reasonably and in good faith for particular specified purposes, including the making of a fair comment in a newspaper. It is a provision which, broadly speaking, seeks to balance the objectives of section 18C with the need to protect justifiable freedom of expression.

And apparently the Court just nullified that section, because if this doesn't qualify what on earth would?

The Court rejects the idea that this is a fair comment by (as far as I can tell) claiming that the "imputation" of Bolt that white people were seeking this classification for "ulterior motives" (benefits) is, apparently by law, illegal to utter, and just outside of the safe harbor exemption because he thinks it is. He goes into a whole semantic discussion of "statements of fact" versus "statements of opinion," and finds Bolt's "imputation" to be a "statement of fact," and that fact is wrong!!!! (according to the law), so no safe harbor.

The Court finds that the plaintiff (actually a Ms. Eatock, another white person seeking Aboriginal status) suffered the following horrors:

The trepidation in her reaction will likely have been sharpened by the stinging tone and language utilised by Mr Bolt. The mockery, derision, sarcasm and disrespectful way in which Mr Bolt attacked the subjects of the Newspaper Articles will resonate with her. There is a real chance that pressure will have been imposed to negate her identity. She may now think twice about asserting her Aboriginal identity in public generally or in particular public settings. That will be particularly the case, if she is young or otherwise vulnerable in relation to challenges to her Aboriginal identity. Vulnerability in relation to identity will not be out of the ordinary for people like her.

Oh dear. The law must surely provide a recourse to this woman, or else what good is the law at all?

The ruling is here.


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posted by Ace at 10:21 AM

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