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In one minute, two young Aussies destroyed every argument against 18C

Two stars were born on last night’s episode of Q&A, as the panel debated repealing the Racial Discrimination Act, in particular, section 18C.

The Racial Discrimination Act has dominated Australian political discussion for a fair while now.

It was introduced by the Keating Government in 1995 and makes it unlawful to speak, or commit an act that is reasonably likely to “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” someone because of their race or ethnicity.

It became colloquially known as the ‘Andrew Bolt law’ in 2011, after two of his articles were found to have breached the code.

And it’s reared its head again this year after a complaint was made against cartoonist Bill Leak for a series of ignorant and racist controversial cartoons in The Australian.

So right-wing pollies have spent a depressing amount of time trying to repeal 18C, but when Liberal Senator Eric Abetz and editor of The Australian, Greg Sheridan came on Q&A to fly the flag, they were swiftly put in their place by two young Aussies.

First up, playwright Nakkiah Lui made the excellent point that 18C won’t ever directly impact the lives of ordinary Australians.

There were only 2318 complaints made last year related to breaches of The Racial Discrimination Act. So, as Lui explains,

“What we’re saying is, we’re looking at changing an entire law for less than 0.001% [of the population], so to say that this is an issue that affects the majority of Australians, to say that this is something that’s on the tips of the tongues of every single Australian … is not correct.

“What we have is a bunch of elite politicians abusing their power and wasting funds on their personal pursuits and their own agendas, that are not a public matter nor are they in the public interest. We’re paying a senator $195,000 a year on an issue that affects 0.01% of Australians.”

Then journo, Benjamin Law, weighed in – saying it doesn’t impact how ordinary Aussies access free speech, but rather, the whole discussion around 18C is:

“About powerful individuals and powerful organisations having an angry circle jerk about how horrible it is to be called out for being racist in a public forum.”

Then Law made the even better point that section 18D gives everybody a massive scope to say and do basically what you want anyway.

“You can insult people if it’s part of a discussion or a debate, you can offend people if it’s for genuine purpose in the public interest, and you are free to humiliate whoever you want if you’re making fair comment based on a genuine belief.”

So to try and say that the Act is stifling free is borderline madness.

Finally, some clarity and level-headedness to this pointless, futile debate.

About the author

Technically, Riordan writes culture, politics and sport, but 80% of his words are direct quotes stolen from The Simpsons. He promises to tweet more at @riordanl and speaks words for The Zero Thumbs Down Podcast.

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Comment (7)

    notreally

    Tuesday 22 November 2016

    Of the 2318 complaints how many were upheld? How much did it cost the accused to defend? How many paid to settle due to being an able to defend?

    Reply

    Max

    Tuesday 22 November 2016

    What is freedom of speech?
    – This article

    Reply

    Bruce

    Tuesday 22 November 2016

    “we’re looking at changing an entire law for less than 0.001% [of the population]”, the same argument can be made for the same sex marriage law, gays and lesbians make up less than 2% of the population yet we want to change an entire law for them.

    Reply

    Peter Lawrence

    Tuesday 22 November 2016

    Max, it is NOT freedom of speech, to write an inane article about how freedom of speech doesn’t affect the average Australian. This article completely misses the point. Marriage equality statistically affects very few Australians as well, so is that also a non issue? People need to be able express their views without fear or favour. “ONLY” 2318 complaints last year?? That is more than six a day, including weekends. If you are only free to express a certain viewpoint, then there is no freedom at all. Surelt we all learn something from reading Brave New World, 1984 and Animal Farm. Didn’t we?

    Reply

    Grav

    Tuesday 22 November 2016

    …..How many pay the $3000 – $5000 + imposed fine without their case sometime taking years to finalize because most people don’t have the time or money to fight it. Lui and Law did not destroy the argument for ammending 18c. All they di was repeat a left wing agender that everyone should think like them and everyone should get offended the same as them. I see you have no comment on the Labor MP making bigoted comments and implying guilt (when no evidence was found) towards the students whose lives are ruined.

    Reply

    Dennis

    Tuesday 22 November 2016

    In all fairness, the “young” (am permitted to say lady or is that gender stereotype an offensive term for lefties?)

    Anyway- the young lady was arrogant, aggressive, incoherent and rude.

    If that is a “star” what hope do we have?

    How about some honesty with journalism rather the constant lefty drivel.

    Reply

    jim

    Tuesday 22 November 2016

    Poorly drafted law is poorly drafted law. It should be fixed. How many people are affected doesn’t matter one little bit. One person is too many.

    Reply