Andrew Bolt after another tiring day in court
Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt is in hot water over a blog post he wrote in 2009 entitled “White is the new black”. In the post, Bolt names several prominent light skinned aborigines and suggests that they have chosen to identify as Koori to obtain grants, scholarships and jobs meant for aborigines. An excerpt of his piece states:
“Larissa Behrendt has also worked as a professional Aborigine ever since leaving Harvard Law School, despite looking almost as German as her father name, and having been raised by her white mother.
She chose to be Aboriginal, as well, a member of the “Eualayai and Kammillaroi nations”, and is now a senior professor at the University of Technology in Sydney’s Indigenous House of Learning.
She’s won many positions and honours as an Aborigine, including the David Unaipon Award for Indigenous Writers, and is often interviewed demanding special rights for “my people”.
But which people are “yours”, exactly, Larissa? And isn’t it bizarre to demand laws to give you more rights as a white Aborigine than your own white mum?”
The academics named in his piece have decided to sue him, on the basis of the Racial Discrimination Act. They assert that Bolt made comments that were “of race, colour and/or ethnic origin” and “reasonably likely to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” them.
A full listing of the Racial Discrimination Act can be found here.
Much of this case has gone into dissecting Bolt’s beliefs regarding race, as well as his intentions in writing the piece. Before we start to consider whether Andrew Bolt is a racist, or if his ideas have any merit whatsoever, we should first ask ourselves: Why are we having this discussion in a court room?
The plaintiffs in this case are not asking for financial restitution, instead they are asking for an apology and for the offending article to be removed. In many ways this is much worse than asking for large sums of money, they are asking for Bolt’s opinion to be stifled and removed from the public discourse. A tolerant, intelligent society should not feel the need to censor bad ideas: bad ideas are best addressed by open, public debate. If the academics named in this piece feel that Andrew is wrong, why not write a rebuttal? A society that makes speech illegal because it is “likely to offend” has in essence taken the first steps in stifling free speech entirely. This fact is perhaps not lost on Bolt nor his legal team:
“Bolt’s legal team has run a two-prong defence, arguing that he was motivated not by racism but by his loathing of racism and that the offending pieces ought in any case to be protected by the implied constitutional right to free speech.
They have signalled their intent to challenge the constitutionality of Part IIa of the Racial Discrimination Act should they lose the case, or should they face an appeal in the event of a victory.”
Given that Australia has no explicit right to free speech, it remains to be seen whether such a legal appeal would succeed.
Read more here: Bolt’s testimony at odds with his writings, court told – Karl Quinn
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