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Planned changes to Australian law banning racial slurs spark bigotry fears

15 Comments

Ethnic minorities warned Wednesday that changes to an Australian law banning racial slights could give license to bigotry and stir tensions, as community consultation on the proposal closed.

The government plans to repeal a section of the Racial Discrimination Act that makes it illegal to "offend, insult or humiliate another" because of their race, saying it should not be used to stifle free speech.

It proposes inserting a new clause into the law to ban racial vilification -- defined as inciting hatred against racial groups -- rather than simply offending them.

"It will give license to racism," Kirstie Parker, from the indigenous group National Congress of Australia's First Peoples, told Sky News. "We believe people will think it's open slather."

The Arab Council of Australia's Randa Kattan also views the proposal with deep concern, saying it threatens social inclusion and the government's relations with the Arab-Australian community.

"We've all seen what happened during the Cronulla riots -- it doesn't take much to stir racism but it takes a long time to put it out," she said, referring to the ugly race riots between white and Lebanese Australians at Sydney's Cronulla Beach in 2005.

"So when the government says it's okay that people have the right to be bigots ... and then we follow up with these pretty severe changes to the Racial Discrimination Act, it's quite concerning."

Tri Vo, President of the Vietnamese Community in Australia, said the changes would put the country back 20 years.

"Instead of going ahead and with international communities and all that, living harmoniously with each other, we're going backwards," he told the ABC.

Attorney-General George Brandis has said he wants Australia to remain a fair, free and tolerant society where racism has no place, but has also defended the right of Australians to "be bigots".

"People do have a right to be bigots, you know," he told parliament in March. "In a free country, people do have rights to say things that other people find insulting or offensive or bigoted."

Brandis is expected to develop a draft bill for the cabinet in coming weeks.

© (c) 2014 AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

15 Comments
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I am glad to see some people are still cognizant of the value of free-speech, and so saddened that certain minority groups don't (even though the reason they are living a reasonably decent existence is to a great extent because of liberal exponents among the "power" group - that is, Whites, whether we like it or not).

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Really. People aren't go to change the way they speak just because of some obscure law. I think what the ruling party wants is to ban 'hate speech' used by one racial group against another.And that can be Arab - white, white -> Arab, white -> Chinese, take your pick. Authorities in the main are concerned that certain radical islamic groups are inciting hatred against other groups which may further incite violence and terrorism. However as a lot of this 'racial' speech and commentary is on You-Tube and other web sites it's hard to know who and how to prosecute. The Cronulla riots have been documented as a bunch of drugged up, obnoxious, slanderous gangs of 'youths of middle-eastern appearance' making themselves total a_holes at a public beach, Cronulla, over a long period. Locals finally had enough and attacked the youths, then redneck white supremacists and god-knows-who-else joined in and you got the Cronulla riots.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

(even though the reason they are living a reasonably decent existence is to a great extent because of liberal exponents among the "power" group - that is, Whites, whether we like it or not).

Your comment would have more effect if you left this value judgement out.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

a section of the Racial Discrimination Act that makes it illegal to “offend, insult or humiliate another” because of their race, saying it should not be used to stifle free speech.

Yuck. Up next in the works is the Body Type Discrimination act, which makes it illegal to offend, insult or humiliate another because of their weight.

It's not up to the governments to tell the people what is and is not OK to say.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Why would any normal person want to insult someone from another race anyway? That should have died out in the 70s. As for this comment:

Up next in the works is the Body Type Discrimination act, which makes it illegal to offend, insult or humiliate another because of their weight.

It should be bloody illegal. If you're the kind of person who enjoys slagging off fat or thin people then you're a bit of a bully anyway.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Freedom of speech means you should have the right to say you like or dislike something or even someone if you feel the need to say it.

You don't like fat people that's fine, you don't like white people that's fine too, if you are that sensitive to be bothered about what some one else likes or dislikes then you have bigger issues to deal with personally.

What ever happened to sticks n stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me ? That's what we were taught when were kids in the 50s n 60s now its all PC cotton wool huggy feely cr@p, harden up for crying out loud.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

One of my husbands favorite stories is all about how much racial abuse he suffered during his time in Australia. But mention the discrimination in Japan and he wont have it, no way, doesnt exist, must be mistaken.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

StormR: freedom of speech does allow psychological or moral aggression (hate speech), just the same as you are not allowed to physically punch somebody because you disagree with his/her opinion.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

So next time an Aussie calls me a "whinging Pom" I can have them arrested :-)

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

We are seeing in all the European outposts countries the same trend, which is basically give them back the right to be outwardly racist and nasty to people. Those who think it's just words should consider that words lead to actions, like last week in America with the KKK guy shooting 3 dead outside of the Jewish center. No one should be surprised at the Anglo Australian position on freedom of speech, when coupled with it's freedom of action on the indigenous Australians. Internet and social network sites are encouraging some of the most vile racism possible, so once being given the right to openly express such sentiments become the norm, we'll have some ugly interesting events ahead of us. Notable will be the reaction of the few places where Whites are the minority, I wonder if they'll want this right extended to the rest of society, to be treated as non Whites are treated globally ? As we know Europeans have some sacred cows will they also be in open season ? Australia is now boasting trade agreements with China and other nations in the region, maybe once the coming behavior hits business they'll soon reconsider.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

basically give them back the right to be outwardly racist and nasty to people.

No. Consider the recent U.S. case of the NBA team owner being a very nasty, racist person. He broke no laws, yet he is currently being subjected to millions of dollar in fines from the NBA, and will very likely lose ownership of the team. This is because it has not been socially acceptable in the United States for at least the last 30 years to be outwardly racist.

The only reason these laws would ever be needed is if the society that implemented them was hopelessly backwards and immature. Racism is a social issue, and should be dealt with socially.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

bfg4987

It has been for a while and is still socially acceptable to be racist against whites in America, especially white males. A black or Hispanic person can say terrible things against a white person but if the otehr way around the white person would be in trouble. Do i care about this? No. America is a divided nation by race and this is what the elite made and continue to make.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Hate speech must not go unchallenged. There is a difference between free speech and the verbal assaults that harm people as much as cruel sexual harassment does

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Freedom of speech is the foundation of democracy. That means tolerating hateful speech while at the same time not tolerating hateful actions. There used to be a time when people supported and understood this distinction. Now these concepts have become one and the same. The result is oppression and ever increasing restrictions on individual freedoms. That said I do have a problem with harassment directed at individuals using racial slurs or any language or tactics of this sort as a means of intimidation and limiting another persons freedoms. Unfortunately people have been increasingly unwilling to distinguish between politically incorrect speech and criminal acts as is seen by reaction to this policy change.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Hate speech must not go unchallenged. There is a difference between free speech and the verbal assaults that harm people as much as cruel sexual harassment does

CrazyJoe- Well said, well said indeed.

Wolfpack- You nailed it there, intolerance from the majority who rather apply blanket rulings.

I had lived in Australia for a mere 4 years, in my opinion, the Aussies are great bunch to deal with when foreigners (Poms being the easiest) attempt to blend in. Tension starts to brew when unfamiliar faces or race doesn't respond to friendly gesture due to whatever cultural or upbringing issues, which gave rise to the thoughts among locals that "if you're not happy to mingle, don't come to our country".

However, if you look at the intellectual and maturity level of the younger group, evidently from lots of petty crimes around, such as public vandalism, household break-ins, weekend drunken violence and hoon (reckless driver in Aus/NZ), in addition to my personal experience of witnessing some of the most uncalled for racial slurs on a weekend night out in the city. The targeted group is usually unsuspecting Asian or South Asian looking tourists. Those were the moments you wish there's a stronger law enforcement to serve justice on this misconstrued freedom of speech or expressions.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

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