It looks as if Australia is going well in its campaign to win a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council. This, of course, is an occasion for national rejoicing, as it will bring us much closer to our natural allies in the suppression of human rights, like Cuba, China, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and so on. It is true that the principal reason for our apparent success has been the element that sports psychologists call SBS, or Stephen Bradbury Syndrome, where you win because all the other competitors have fallen over or because they have become, for whatever reason, hors de combat. But with that qualification, we are on track to win and take our well-deserved seat among the world’s principal repressors of human rights. Here again, it is important not to get ahead of ourselves, as the campaign is not yet over, and you never know in international contests whether some upstart might not pip us at the post with some absurd argument that it is more draconian than us, just because it has opened a new prison or two for political prisoners.
But our strong point is that we already have the runs on the board and that our proud history in these endeavours has put us in a very strong position to win the vacant seat. After all, who was it who put into its own legislation the brilliant idea of making it illegal to insult or offend somebody else? Australia, of course. This measure alone, at one stroke, must have stifled more speech than the combined efforts of half a dozen police states who falsely claim to be genuine repressors of human rights. Again, who conceived the idea of setting up its own human rights commission under the cunning guise of promoting human rights and then using it to suppress them? Australia. Who left no stone unturned in finding staff for the commission with the unique insight that anyone who disagrees with them must be a racist? Australia. Who allowed a journalist to be pilloried in court and branded as a racist for writing a harmless newspaper article? Australia. When it looked as if apartheid had shrivelled on the vine, who revived it by allowing one of our renowned seats of learning to exclude all but one designated race from its computer laboratory? Australia. When the world had virtually given up on persecuting cartoonists, who turned the tide and opened a new front where they could be censored and called to account before a government body? When you look back on the rollcall of those and other achievements, it is clear that we yield to no man in our resolute campaign to brand otherwise normal conduct as racism, Islamophobia, sexism, ageism or whatever else happens to be going around at the time.
But, despite this, I still maintain that we should not give up before the election takes place. What we need at this stage of the game, in my opinion, is a killer hit that will show once and for all that the suppression of human rights is right up there at the top of our national agenda and that that is where it will stay. With that in mind, here at The Spectator Australia Voltaire Unit we are now able to announce our new project, namely a series of awards for the most substantial contributions towards the suppression of human rights. Voltaire, you will recall, coined the famous vignette that has served our own human rights commission and its acolytes so well: ‘I disagree with everything you say and will fight to the death to stop you saying it’, so we all have a soft spot for him here. The prestigious awards that we announce today will be known as The Gillians, taking their inspiration from the Oscars. But why, you might ask, are the awards to be called The Gillians? It is not as conspiratorial as you might think; when we were playing around with a design of the statuette for the winner in every category, our graphic designer noted with a smile: ‘Why, that looks just like my Aunt Gillian’ and we had our name.
Now comes your turn. Just nominate anyone or anything you think deserves a Gillian. It could be some bore who prattles on about traditional marriage; nominate him as a homophobe. If some male brute says to you ‘You are looking well today’, put him in as a sexist pig. Anyone who says it is a nice day must be a climate change denier; you should expose them by putting them up for an award. And for the youngsters; if your teacher tells you to sit up straight and learn something, dob him in as a judgemental hierarchical. Any Catholic going to church must be highly suspicious, so nominate him too. If your neighbours have an Australia Day BBQ, they are xenophobes and nationalists.
You are completely at large in whom you nominate. But one award has already been filled, namely our prestigious Diversity Award, designed to ensure that the rights of women and other minority groups are repressed as much as those of men. This category highlights a recent denial of human rights which no-one had ever thought of attempting. The Australian Football League has just sacked two senior male executives for having what it calls ‘inappropriate relationships’ with women in the office, the women being consenting adults who had never complained and where there was no suggestion of pressure or a conflict of interest. The relationships were clearly not a breach of the ladies’ human rights, but to sack the men was a clear breach of theirs. Only Saudi Arabia could have surpassed us on this one. It should stop freedom of association in its tracks. We look forward to reading your nominations.
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