The curtailment of any practice of racial discrimination should not infringe on the freedom of speech which carries with it a sense of moral responsibility.
The issue that’s stirring up controversies pending the intent of the Abbott government to amend Section 18B, C and D of the Act drew outcries from various sectors of the populace.
The act was made to take effect in 1975 and has not since then ever been reviewed relative to the changes in migration, globalisation and Australia’s alliances with other nations.
To start with, consider that the cross section of the Australian society has evolved into open multiculturalism – a far cry from what it was half a century ago.
Although isolated geographically, Australia is not exempt from global economic interdependency with other nations and their societies with which it forged alliances.
Understandably, it promulgates multiculturalism within its territory as a result of its opening its doors to migration. Flowing from its migration policy, Australia has since held liberal tolerance and acceptance of diversity which form a part of its strength to a certain extent. This is so however only while its freedom of speech is not encumbered upon by the very tenet of liberalism on culture and diversity tolerance. Liberal tolerance breeds parochial protectionism and cultural community segregation.
Should the argument be that the repeal will result to weakening the protection against anti- racism, or that the proposed exemptions are broad that ‘they give a dangerous signal that bigotry comments are accepted in public discussion”, it is worth noting that Australia has strong anti-defamation, anti-libel, anti-harassment and anti-bullying laws which protect its citizens from being trampled upon.
I concede that the change to the Racial Discrimination Act lifts the encumbrances on the Freedom of Speech. I further agree that it needs review and amendment in the wake of the evolving inter-dependency relations and alliances of nations.
But the changes to the Act should not take from the moral right of people from any form of discrimination and villification.
The Exposure draft states that:
(1) It is unlawful for a person to do an act otherwise than in private, if:
a) the act is reasonably likely:
(i) to vilify another person or group of persons; or
(ii) to intimidate another person or groups of persons, and
b) the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of that person or group of persons
The phrase “OTHERWISE THAN IN PRIVATE” infers that vilification and/or intimidation on the basis of race, colour or ethnicity is ‘out of the hands of the law’ when it is in done in private. It implies further that this act is not on the basis of a moral principle of what is fair or unfair. It infers that any act of racial discrimination’s validity as an unlawful act, is determined by whether it is ‘witnessed’ or ‘not witnessed’.
The law, therefore, in this case is corruptible and is not sustainable.
This phrase should be taken out. Otherwise, because of very STRONG and ARCHAIC privacy laws, the word PRIVATE should be pre qualified and thoroughly defined for the purpose of this act.
Freedom of speech carries with it unqualified moral responsibility.
Other post/s by Norma Hennessy
- Growing 'study and work' scam preying on Filipino nurses - June 26th, 2014
- Abra: In Danger of Becoming Cordillera's "No Man's Land" - December 1st, 2013
- Is Abra of the Cordilleras now rivalling Maguindanao for blood thirst? - October 20th, 2013
- Frustrations on Pnoy's lifting of log ban - November 21st, 2011