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John Passant

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November 2016



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act does not restrict the free speech of the 1%

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In Independent Australia I discuss freedom of speech amid calls from right-wing politicians and the Murdoch media for the Turnbull Government to repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. To read the article click here. Abolishing Section 18C: AKA free speech for the few

There are a couple of extra points that I couldn’t address for space reasons or because Triggs hadn’t yet rebutted Turnbull’s lies about the role of the Human Rights Commission on Monday. She has now done so. Here is the link to Triggs telling the truth about the PM misleading the public about what role the Human Rights Commission played. The report says, among other things:

Professor Triggs said the commission had no power to instigate court proceedings and revealed she had been urging the government to introduce a higher threshold before the commission was obliged to investigate hate speech complaints.

“The Prime Minister was deeply misleading in suggesting that we had brought the case. We never bring cases and we are purely passive in that sense. We don’t prosecute, we don’t pursue, we don’t instigate proceedings,” she told Fairfax Media.

“The judge did not make any comment on the Human Rights Commission and made no such extreme, provocative statement.”

Two other matters might be of interest. Three cases went to Court. The others were settled. It appears those accused of breaching section 18C (apart from the 3 who went to the Federal Court because their cases could not be conciliated) made payments to the complainant to settle the case.

Second, in the same edition of the Australian crowing about the ‘failure’ of section 18C and calling for it to be abolished or gutted, Chris Merritt reported that The Australian had successfully defended a permanent stay of defamation proceedings bought against the newspaper by alleged anti-Semite and alleged Holocaust denier Fredrick Toben. The Court accepted that the only reason for Toben bringing the case was to give himself a platform for airing his views. So, the Australian believes, rightly in my opinion, it is appropriate not to give air time or space to an alleged anti-Semite and alleged Holocaust denier. The Australian is not alone. As Jeff Sparrow points out in relation to Andrew Bolt

Remember, back in 2014, Bolt repeatedly denounced Fairfax for publishing a Glen Le Lievre drawing about the Gaza war, an image widely criticised (in my view, correctly) for employing, wait for it, racial stereotypes. So was Bolt part of the anti-cartoon Illumanati only three years ago? If it was wrong to publish illustrations of hook-nosed, conspiratorial Jews back then (and it was), what makes Leak’s drawings of thick-lipped, low-browed Aboriginal men clutching cans of VB acceptable?

Why then does the Australian support gutting section 18C? My article in Independent Australia (linked above) sets out some of the reasons.

There are others. Could it be because Leak is one of theirs and there are acceptable levels of racism the ruling class can and will use but that anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial are not part of the armory of the ruling class? At least not yet.

I think the answer is that the new ‘anti-Semitism’ for the ruling class is Islamophobia. The new cudgel of fear and hate and division, is, apart from always bashing Aboriginal people, bashing Muslims, and that is likely to get a more receptive response from large numbers of Australians than, given its horrific history, straight out anti-Semitism.

There is something else in all of this that I did not have space to cover – it is its own article – but which Jeff Sparrow (linked above) highlights. He said in part:

For what it’s worth, I don’t see the Racial Discrimination Act as a particularly great tool in the fight against racism, for all sorts of reasons – not least that it focuses attention away from deeper structural problems.


Yet a reliance on section 18 for redress means that anti-racists look to the courts for solutions, instead of, say, taking to the streets or organising a picket. To put it another way, legalistic solutions are demobilising, counterposed to the sorts of social movements that have won real change in the past.

I allude to that in my article. I finish off by saying:

Let’s be clear. When the ruling class talks about free speech it means free speech for themselves and for those who echo reinforce their agenda and their system. We ordinary people have won free speech in the past. With the ongoing systemic denial of our voice and the increasing encroachment of rights for workers, we will have to begin the fight all over again.  

Free speech for all, not just the one per cent.


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