Silence on freedom of speech

On 22 November last year I forwarded a submission to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights.

The submission was detailed: 30 pages in length. And it dealt extensively with the problems of 18c and the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth).

On 9 December I sent the same submission to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, although this time it had been signed by more than 6,500 Australians, many of them readers of this website.

As such, I can safely say that this submission is probably the most supported of all before the Committee as it holds its inquiry into this atrocious law.

Yet there has been complete silence from the Committee about this submission. It has not been made publicly available on the Committee website. I have no confirmation at all as to whether the Committee has even opened it.

All I have been told is that more than 10,000 submissions have been received and that the Committee is working their way through them. Fair enough.

But one is rather left without confidence in the Committee’s willingness to work through all the submissions when this particular one is still seemingly on the shelf and the Grand Mufti’s has been opened, read, and published on the Committee’s webpage.

By the way, our esteemed Mufti of Grandness, unsurprisingly, wants the government to change anti-discrimination laws.

Why? Precisely because he is upset that the majority of Australians don’t support his religious beliefs. In other words, our Arabic-speaking symbol of integration wants 18c to be expanded so that it outlaws blasphemy against Islam.

This is part of what he had to say:

An amendment to be considered is one which seeks to strengthen prohibitions on racial vilification and introduce religious vilification in accordance with Article 20 of the ICCPR. This will ensure that Muslims and other religions are also afforded the same protections as other racial groups under section 18C.

A decade-long national study conducted by the University of Western Sydney found that nearly half of Australians describe themselves as having anti-Muslim attitudes. Findings such as this are particularly concerning for the Muslim community and can lead do harmful consequences such as spoiling social cohesion. Any move which weakens rather than strengthen protection from religious vilification will haul Australia’s international obligations from maintaining such protections.

I do take his point: social cohesion is important and it should not be spoilt.

I also take his next point: many, many Australians don’t like Islam and they don’t want it here.

Unfortunately, thrusting it upon us via an expanded blasphemy law is not a solution reasonably likely to increase community harmony. So give Islam the flick in Australia instead. America is doing just that and so should we.

If I hear anything from the Committee I’ll let you know. Given half of it is Labor/Green and the ‘good guys’ include Russell “I’ve-crossed-the-floor-to-vote-with-Labor-on-refugees” Broadbent, I’m not holding my breath.

However, it is chaired by Ian Goodenough. He has been brave enough in the past to raise concerns about this law, so it is still just possible that this inquiry may go somewhere useful.

*****

UPDATE

Since writing this post there has been action. My submission has now been published and can be viewed here. It is submission 199.

Hopefully I was just jumping the gun on this post. But it does seem awfully coincidental that action occurs only after numerous phone calls, emails and, finally, public gnashing of teeth…

Author: Bernard Gaynor

Bernard Gaynor is a married father of eight children. He has a background in military intelligence, Arabic language and culture and is an outspoken advocate of conservative and family values.

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