Under the new proposed racial vilification laws, people can perpetuate hate speech with impunity, while minority groups are conversely labelled anti-democratic for pointing out discrimination.
For example, Attorney-General George Brandis argued that calling right wing columnist Andrew Bolt racist is an act of racial violence. It isn’t as reverse racism is not a legitimate concept. Yet this type of defence of “bigots” under the guise of “free speech” is soon to be enshrined in law. This change spells a new era of state-led institutional racist violence.
The repeal of Section 18C arises particularly out of the 2011 prosecution of Andrew Bolt, a columnist for News Limited, publisher of The Australian, for violating the so-called hate-speech laws.
Section 18C states that it is unlawful for a person to “offend offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people… because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin.”
A Federal Court judge found he had breached the Racial Discrimination Act because a pair of articles he wrote were not written in good faith and contained factual errors.
And, the judge said, the articles would have offended a reasonable member of the Aboriginal community. [SBS News]
For further context on how and why racial vilification laws are important in Australia, read my discussion of Indigenous author Anita Heiss, who led a vilification suit against Bolt.
Bolt, an affluent White man, argued some Indigenous leaders were not “Black enough” to be considered Black. What he was actually arguing was that he did not like seeing educated Indigenous leaders gaining attention. Bolt wanted his definition of race to prevail, which conflates skin colour with absolute and continued disadvantage. In Bolt’s vision of social hierarchy, Indigenous people should always be stereotyped and defined by White colonialist ideals.
Heiss’ case also highlights the ongoing plight of Indigenous Australians, who were removed from their communities. Many Indigenous women were forcefully married off to White men and the Government introduced a racial ranking system to qualify Indigenous people from “Quarter Blood” to “Full Blood.” Bolt’s racist assertions reproduce historical patterns of paternalism, where Indigenous people are the property of White people to do with, and classify, as they please (I wrote about this history elsewhere on my on my blog).