In his submission to the parliamentary inquiry into 18c, Bill Leak gave a powerful case for the repeal of this evil law. You might say that it was his dying wish.
Let us imagine that his wish is granted posthumously.
What then? What does the world look like beyond 18c?
Unfortunately, that world is not good. In fact, in all probability it is even worse than the one we live in now.
Because notwithstanding the urgent need to raze the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) to the ground and notwithstanding the fine work and commentary by some media personalities and outlets (such as The Australian newspaper), 18c and Australian Human Rights Commission are only one small aspect of the problem we face.
In all the debate about 18c, it seems that no-one is prepared to look at the bigger picture. All this effort is being focused on one single tree in the forest. Or, to put it another way, knocking off 18c is like putting up a gate on the unfenced field where anti-democratic and anti-free speech political activists disguise themselves as ‘public interest’ litigants and frolic on taxpayer-funded pastures tended lovingly by the Thought Police.
And if 18c goes, these political crusaders will simply move on and use other laws. Worse laws. Ruled over by far worse systems than the Federal Court.
In fact, it is probably only due to the grace of God and the stupidity of the activists themselves that they have not already done so.
This will occur because, for a reason that I simply cannot grasp, there is a desire by those leading the charge against 18c to limit any exposure of other anti-discrimination abuses. Instead of taking on the entire rotten anti-discrimination industry and exposing one injustice after another, there is a belief that more can be achieved by maintaining focus on 18c and one or two high profile cases.
It’s kinda like a football team pretending that it can win a match by focusing on scoring only in the first quarter. But any under 8 kid knows that you win by kicking as many goals as you can.
All this does is give those defending 18c a couple of big get-out-of-jail free cards. They can pretend that there is nothing wrong with the anti-discrimination industry as a whole because no one is exposing this real problem. Then they can argue that the problems with the high profile cases can be dealt with by minor amendments to 18c and the processes of the Australian Human Rights Commission.
Anyone who believes this has simply failed to grasp the reality of the problem facing us.
The problem is not that the law says ‘offend’ instead of ‘harass’. Changing those words will do absolutely nothing. To the social justice warriors, everything is racist. Everything is homophobic. Everything is bigoted hate-speech. And if it’s not, then it falls into the category of latent or casual hate-speech and should be punished anyway.
The first problem (and the smaller one) is that 18c creates special laws for special people. Not everyone is equal but they live in a world where activists define who is to be protected and who can be punished. The law then creates a system where activist Thought Police ‘investigate’ complaints from other activists.
The second problem (and the bigger one) is that the above problem is not confined to 18c. There are numerous sets of backup laws for 18c if it is ever repealed or shut down. And all of these laws are worse. They are managed by kangaroo courts known as state-based tribunals rather than the Federal Court.
Let’s examine these problems by examining what would have awaited Bill Leak if the complaint against him went to the New South Wales Anti-Discrimination Board (ADB) as well as the AHRC, as it easily could. And as we go through this example, please keep in mind that it only deals with one state. There are five more out there plus the territories, so you can multiply the problems outlined below seven-fold.
First of all, the complaint would have been accepted. Bill would have faced two different investigations and two separate financial punishments for the same cartoon. Anti-discrimination law allows that.
And it would have been accepted regardless of who lodged it and where they (or Bill) lived.
The ADB believes that if it can be read on the internet in New South Wales then they can investigate too. And so does the New South Wales government. They’ve basically given themselves universal jurisdiction to ‘investigate’ your beliefs regardless if what you said is legal where you said it.
And don’t for one minute think that the ruling I obtained from the New South Wales Court of Appeal in February will change any of this (yet). That ruling specifically stated that it made no difference to whether complaints could be accepted by the ADB. It simply said the New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) could not hear matters between residents of different states because it was not a ‘court of the state’.
But that has not stopped the NCAT from continuing to do just that anyway. It has not stopped New South Wales from appealing to the High Court. And it won’t stop the New South Wales parliament from passing legislation to make the NCAT a court anyway.
All of this means that Bill Leak would have been caught up in a legal nightmare far worse than the one he already faced.
The complaint against him would have been ‘investigated’ by an organisation that carefully avoids using the offensive words ‘Australia Day’ but that puts this on its Facebook page:
Just so you know, the Yaban Festival is based on the idea that January 26 represents an invasion. And the ADB is all supportive of that idea.
A quick perusal of the ADB’s Facebook page shows that it also likes to share the words of wisdom offered by Commissar Tim Whatsisface and that it also regularly holds seminars outlining the services it can provide to prospective customers. That’s a nice way of saying that the ADB is out and about touting for complaints. Just like the AHRC.
So between you, me and Einstein, I don’t think anyone could believe that a complaint against Bill Leak lodged with the New South Wales ADB would be ‘investigated’ impartially.
Odds on, it would have been referred to the NCAT.
Regardless of what might have happened in the AHRC if the complaint against Bill was not dropped, under New South Wales’ law Bill would have been facing fines of up to $100,000 and orders never to express similar views again lest he face contempt charges. And even if he won, the NCAT is a no cost tribunal. So he would have lost anyway.
But he would not have won.
The NCAT has already ruled that the words ‘pillow biter’ amount to hate, serious contempt or severe ridicule of homosexuals. So there is no ‘high’ threshold for vilification complaints. There is no threshold at all.
It has also ruled against Alan Jones, finding that his comments criticising self-described ‘Lebs’ who taunted police and mocked Anzac Day were racial hate-speech. It is not hard to imagine how the NCAT might have described Bill Leak’s cartoon after a social justice lawyer pointed out that he deliberately drew the Aboriginal father so that he did not even know his own kid’s name.
And lest you fall into the trap of believing that the NCAT is fair or impartial, it’s not. The NCAT division which oversees anti-discrimination complaints is nothing more than a kangaroo court. It is headed by a magistrate, Nancy Hennessy, who has had to recuse herself from a matter because evidence was presented that she held private conversations with the complainant. However, that has not stopped her dealing with complaints from this same complainant again.
And Hennessy has also helped fundraise for the HIV legal service while determining matters in which the HIV legal service was acting. This is a clear cut breach of the NCAT code of conduct which states:
Members are to:
refrain, other than during a hearing or in exceptional circumstances, from any communication (either oral or in writing) or association during the course of proceedings with a party, legal representative or witness in the absence of the other party or parties or their representatives.
Predictably, nothing has been done about it.
But wait. There’s more.
Jennifer Newman is a General Member of the NCAT.
The Australian Catholic University website lists a Jennifer Newman as a doctoral student. This is the photo of her on that webpage:
The same webpage describes her as a member of NCAT and describes her doctoral program researching Indigenous constitutional recognition in Australia, stating:
The form of constitutional amendment presently under consideration is confined to an act of recognition exercised by Australia, to which the responsive role available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is silent and passive.
This sounds like Jennifer Newman could reasonably be described as an academic Aboriginal activist.
And then there’s the Facebook page of a Jennifer Newman. It might be named ‘Jennifer Enn’, but the URL clearly shows that the page belongs to a person who set up an account named ‘Jennifer Newman’. And it states that the owner of that page studies at the Australian Catholic University.
Hmmmm. That’s a strange coincidence.
And here is a photo from ‘Jennifer Newman’s’ Facebook page. It looks very similar to the photo of Jennifer Newman on the Australian Catholic University website:
Except the information with this photo indicates that it was taken on Australia Day. But at an ‘Invasion Day’ protest. And this protest was advertised by the Facebook page set up by a person calling themselves ‘Jennifer Newman’.
It seems that the NCAT really has some questions to answer. Does it allow an Aboriginal activist who promotes ‘Invasion Day’ protests to hear and determine racial complaints?
If it does, and if a complaint was made against Bill Leak to the New South Wales ADB instead of the AHRC, it means that he may well have been facing a tribunal hearing overseen by a political activist instead of a Federal Court hearing in front of a judge.
In these circumstances would anyone be prepared to bet on a finding in his favour?
Luckily for Bill, the complaint never went to the ADB. But not everyone is as lucky as Bill. They do face complaints in this system and they don’t have a national newspaper in their corner. Their hellish stories are simply not told.
It would be fitting if Bill Leak’s legacy was the repeal of 18c. But it would also be a great shame if that change simply made the problem worse by driving complainants to even more woeful state-based systems.
That means we need to focus on more than just 18c. We need to look at the abuses across the entire anti-discrimination industry. And we need to hear from the other Bill Leaks too.
I intend to tell their stories over the coming weeks.