Ultra-libertarian Jonathan Holmes

The Australian‘s Cut & Paste today on freedom of speech:

Urged on by Andrew Bolt and IPA! Mark Kenny, The Age, Monday:

URGED on by acerbic conservative commentator Andrew Bolt and the ultra-libertarian Institute of Public Affairs, the government has argued that nobody has a right not to be offended and that, in normal political and public discourse, unpleasant and potentially offensive arguments can be necessary.

Urged on by who? The Saturday Age, editorial, December 21, 2013:

THIS newspaper has long argued that the Racial Discrimination Act should be amended to rebalance it more towards free speech … we believe section 18C should be abolished. That section makes it unlawful to do something that “is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or group of people’’ on racial or ethnic grounds. It is … important to debate to what extent an enlightened democracy ought to tolerate repugnant speech, but The Saturday Age contends the section sets the bar too low, creating a form of “hurt feelings” test.

The Age, editorial, August 8, 2012:

RACE vilification laws were never meant to impinge on robust debate or ban obnoxious and ill-informed voices from the conversation. The line is fine, the judgments difficult, but our democracy can meet the challenge. The danger in the present framework is that in trying to protect tolerance and freedom, the legislation diminishes both.

Jonathan Holmes, ABC online’s The Drum, September 30, 2011:

JUSTICE Bromberg’s interpretation of the Racial Discrimination Act, and his application of it to Bolt’s columns, strikes me as profoundly disturbing … this judgment reinforces all the concerns that its opponents had when the Keating government added Part 2A to the Racial Discrimination Act in 1995. It creates one particular area of public life where speech is regulated by tests that simply don’t apply anywhere else, and in which judges — never, for all their pontifications, friends of free speech — get to do the regulating.


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