Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here’s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.


 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate

Subscribe!
Subscribe





On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.
___________

Syndicate
RSS/XML


RSS 2.0

Aly’s self-wedge on figures of speech

By Tim Wilson - posted Wednesday, 5 April 2017


By inadvertently calling for a ­national anti-blasphemy law, Labor's Anne Aly has exposed the hollowness of her party's opposition to constructive reform of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

The member for Cowan told The Australian earlier this week that there was scope to reassess ­extending 18C-style protections to make it unlawful to offend someone on the basis of religion.

In making her point, Aly said she didn't understand why "someone can call you a dirty Arab and that be covered under the bill, but if they call you a dirty Muslim, you're not covered".

Advertisement

Aly's position is consistent with Australia's Grand Mufti, who proffered the same proposal earlier this year.

No one is disputing that people should be free from harassment. But if 18C is extended to make it unlawful to offend religion it would amount to a national anti-blasphemy law.

Such a law would make it ­almost impossible to discuss ­religion, particularly with the current interpretation of the act.

Court cases have interpreted whether someone is offended under 18C is based on the attitudes of the targeted community.

So in the case offered by Aly, whether an expression offends Muslims would be based on the attitudes of Muslims and would lead to people being hauled before the Australian Human Rights Commission, and possibly the Federal Court.

Of course, the law wouldn't just censor offensive debate about Islam, but all religions.

Advertisement

The regular catchcry from ­defenders of the law is that section 18D protects free speech by permitting expressions that are made "reasonably and in good faith".

The argument has always been fallacious.

Take the satirical Broadway play The Book of Mormon.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. All

This article was first published in The Australian.



Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

15 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with del.icio.us Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Tim Wilson is the federal Liberal member for Goldstein and a former human rights commissioner.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Tim Wilson

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Photo of Tim Wilson
Article Tools
Comment 15 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend
Advertisement

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy