Musings of an antipodean contrarian

Archive for the category “freedom of speech”

To silence all dissent

Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 20 Jan 2012.

The U.S. Alliance Defending Freedom this week warned that the  goal of the radical homosexual movement is not merely the normalisation of same-sex marriage but the silencing of all dissent.

When marriage laws change to honor the unions of same-sex couples, every aspect of public law changes to match the new definition of marriage.

This is beginning to play out today in France.  There have been calls for social media to censor messages that run counter to the French government’s decision to grant special rights to homosexuals and persons who are of one gender but claim to be of another.  Dissenting comments on the subject of homosexual behavior are said to be punishable by law.

What we see happening in France could well happen here should an Australian State or Territory legalise same-sex “marriage.”  This is why Australian church leaders have sought to speak up on this issue before their freedom of speech is restricted.

I’m Rod Benson for the NSW Council of Churches.

Hateful heterophobia in Victoria

The forced resignation of Professor Kuruvilla George from the board of Victoria’s Equal Opportunity Commission for the crime of expressing his personal opinion that marriage between a man and a woman is the best environment for children to be raised is deplorable.

Warwick Marsh from Dads4Kids said the decision was an example of “hateful heterophobia at its worst and it needs to be stopped before it is too late.”

And the Australian Christian Lobby’s managing director, Jim Wallace, said Australia should continue to support free speech, and the expression of a professional opinion against same sex marriage was no reason for someone to be driven from a significant position in the community.

Mr Wallace said “The pressure put on Professor George is typical of the gay activists, that once again they demonise alternate voices and clearly very credible ones from the public debate.  It is a tactic the public should reject.”

Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 20 May 2012,

Orwellian media inquiry recommendations

On March 2, Federal Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy released the findings of an independent inquiry into the regulation of Australia’s media.

The Finkelston Report recommended the establishment of a News Media Council to oversee all print, radio, television and online media, including personal blogs and Twitter.  The super-regulator would be empowered to impose a code of ethics, act on complaints about media content, and require media outlets to publish an apology, correction or retraction for content that caused offense.  No reasons required for its decisions, and no grounds for appeal.

It sounds remarkably like the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell’s novel 1984.  Freedom of speech, and the right to speak freely without fear of prosecution or censorship, are vital for the proper functioning of democracy.

The Finkelstein Report’s controversial recommendations are at odds with the liberty and justice we enjoy in Australia, and the government would be foolish to put them into practice.

Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 18 Mar 2012.

Build bridges instead of moats

President Obama honours shooting victims at the McKale Memorial Center.

The recent shootings in Arizona, with six dead and 13 wounded, have been blamed on extremist political rhetoric designed to heighten tensions between different social and cultural groups, and to deepen a sense of fear and mistrust between people.

Some of this, both here and in the U.S., is generated by politicians and media shock jocks, while some of it emanates from ordinary people who happen to have very strong views, or just very strong personalities that thrive on conflict and abuse.

And then there are the chain emails, often irrational and racist, with wild accusations and unsubstantiated claims, promoting fear and hatred, and urging action to preserve the racial, religious or moral purity of so-called “real” Australians.

What can you and I do to help make our communities more harmonious?  First, refuse to pass on such inflammatory gossip and slander. 

Second, ask yourself, “What would Jesus do in this situation?” 

And third, practice what Dr Gordon Moyes calls “positive civil discourse” – by all means express what you believe, but do it in a way that builds bridges and makes friends.   That’s what our world so desperately needs. 

President Barack Obama’s speech delivered in Tucson, Arizona, yesterday (13 Jan 2011) is an excellent example of what I’m talking about.

Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 16 January 2011.

Defamation and social media

You may have heard that The Australian’s editor-in-chief, Chris Mitchell, said on Friday he would sue University of Canberra journalism academic Julie Posetti over several tweets she posted on Thursday.  Posetti had tweeted allegedly defamatory comments she said were made at a journalism conference by reporter Asa Wahlquist, who used to work for the newspaper.

Barrister Matthew Collins, author of The Law of Defamation and The Internet, offers some good advice to those of us who use Twitter (and Facebook) for more than simply advising the world of what we had for breakfast:

We all get terribly excited about Twitter because it’s the latest medium, but defamation law is entirely medium neutral. It makes no difference if it’s a text message, a tweet or something said by the town crier in a town meeting.


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