Leading article Australia

ACME Human Rights

20 October 2016

2:00 PM

20 October 2016

2:00 PM

Like some demented looney tunes character, our glorious Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Tim Soutphommasane has opened a free speech Pandora’s Box with his determination to find racism where none exists.

Disgustingly, he virtually begged the public to take offence at Bill Leak’s brilliant and thought-provoking cartoon depicting a wayward indigenous kid and his less-than-ideal Dad. It remains to be seen whether such deliberate incitement is of itself worthy of retaliatory legal action. After all, if the Race Commissioner takes it upon himself to solicit for business via social media, he is surely every bit as guilty of promoting racial division as those he seeks to condemn. Arguably, by using his taxpayer-funded authority and ‘moral’ firepower to suggest a piece of work may be ‘racially’ offensive to Aboriginal Australians, he not only encourages people to find it so, but worse, via his imprimatur stirs up racial resentment where perhaps none previously existed. As Chris Merritt wrote in the Australian: ‘He… seemingly prejudged those complaints, which raises doubts about whether the commission itself can now deal fairly with this affair’. This is a disgrace. Dr Soutphommasane must be stood aside and this investigation dismissed out of hand.

For lovers of our precious Western, liberal, enlightened freedoms, it’s time for the gloves to come off. The attack on Bill Leak’s freedom of creative expression from our own authorities comes hard on the heels of death threats made earlier in the year to him by Islamist terrorists. Both are equally unacceptable. We must ask ourselves: are we in Australia really prepared to stoop to the Islamic level of banning or silencing ‘offensive’ political cartoonists?

As they say in the classic cartoon capers, three strikes and you’re out, bud! We now have three shameful examples of state power being used to intimidate and trash the reputations of white people who dare to express any criticism whatsoever of indigenous Australians. First came the 18C assault on Andrew Bolt, with its Orwellian findings and banning of certain articles, and it is regrettable in hindsight that the defendants in that instance chose not to appeal. Even then, the comic-book nature of 18C prosecutions was clear, with Justice ‘Mordy’ Bromberg having to rely in part on his interpretation of the ‘tone’ of Mr Bolt’s writings in order to find against him. From Shakespeare to Voltaire, the corpses of great Western minds must have been spinning in their graves. But if the Bolt case was a farce, the subsequent assault under 18C on a bunch of white QUT students, who’d objected to being denied access to a room on the basis of not being black, is a sick joke. Three kids and their families are now being gravely abused by the state; the ‘lucky’ ones were the others who coughed up five grand apiece to escape the possibility of being labelled ‘racist’. A grotesque form of – quite literally – blackmail.

Even if the QUT students are found innocent, which clearly they must be, nothing will make up for the blight on their young lives, their careers and the intolerable stress that has been placed upon them and their families by this vile action. If they are found guilty, we are no longer living in a free society, and every white Australian must accept that they are no longer free to voice any opinion whatsoever on anybody of any other racial group. It’s that simple, and that stark.

When Canada’s Mark Steyn faced a similar attack under similar legislation, the Canadian public got behind him and the end result was that the legislation was repealed. Every decent Australian must now rally behind Bill Leak, and at every opportunity mock and ridicule the Wile E. Coyote villainy of Dr Soutphommasane and his ACME human rights trap. Leak’s cartoons are a healthy part of our national debates. He’s a great artist; some would say genius. Moreover, he’s a hard-working family man with everyday responsibilities. He, and they, don’t deserve to be crushed by ideological bureaucrats manipulating an unjust law.

Over 2,000 Speccie readers have already signed James Allan’s online petition agreeing to never vote Liberal again until 18C is amended or repealed.

Malcolm Turnbull famously won his long battle for free speech in the ‘Spycatcher’ case that made him a household name. Bravely, and correctly, Turnbull also stood up for Bill Henson’s right of creative freedom when that artist was under attack. He must now do the same for Bill Leak.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Show comments