It’s time once again, good people, to take out your pen and paper (or your QWERTY keyboard and computer) and pen a letter (or email) to your Federal Member of Parliament asking whether he will support an amendment to the constitution declaring the right of the people to freedom of speech. Freedom of responsible free speech is the cornerstone of a morally decent society but we have to have free speech, which is the hallmark of a democratic society before we can even begin to have responsible free speech.
There are people, public people, who get to their positions of prominence, not by any overarching ability. Many align themselves with other men, capable men, men of ability, or groups who financially support them; they game the system to get to the top, organising the numbers, dextrously manipulating the cards to ensure they fall always in their favour. How do women get to the top? Don’t ask. It’s definitely not ability so you would have to ask a woman who is at the top how she got there without ability.
Political speech is not only about calling out the shadows that fall across the corner of their Dorian Grey painting. Political speech is about influence and the source of policies, about fools and hypocrites. It’s about speaking without fear, without the need for expensive insurance policies that finance the defence of libel suits. The left have mobs, spiteful, violent mobs of children who roam the streets spitting on and scratching everything they oppose.
Conservatives have only free speech; though not in Australia.
The conservative American author, John Haywood, came out swinging in defence of free speech in an article that could have been called “Give Speech a Chance”. Haywood thought free speech was imperilled by an increased authoritarianism that ‘comes packaged as everything from iron-fired dictatorial rule to coercive progressivism.’ The lunatic left understands intuitively that their morally bankrupt charters of rights are vulnerable to free speech and its criticism. That is why the left wing lunatics turn to mob rule to violently resist conservative speeches. What Haywood says of the left-wing attack on free speech is as true here, in Australia and all our states, as it is the USA to which he refers. Haywood explains the peril in the following way:
Our political speech is soggy with endless calls to “fight” for various “rights,” few of which bear any resemblance to what America’s founders considered to be inalienable rights. One important clue to their thinking is that rights were seen as something an unjust government could take away from citizens by force, not something benevolent governments present to citizens as a gift.
The solution, according to Haywood is not the increasingly vocal demands by the lunatic-fringe for more minority rights. In Australia, those minorities are eulogised as Diversity Inc, and it is diversity that is advanced by minority rights against the interests of the conservative majority. The solution to the progressives and lunatics is in the right to call them out, the right to speak freely about them and their projects. John Haywood sums it up beautifully:
Freedom of speech was codified as the first of those rights because preserving the others is impossible without the ability to speak up and organize. We might reflect on the importance of religious freedom as the very first component of the First Amendment because inalienable rights are impossible to understand without acknowledging a power higher than the state from which those rights descend. Once the concept of rights is understood, safeguarding the ability to discuss them and organize peacefully to protect them is vital.
David Long is a retired solicitor, economist and PhD candidate at Griffith University, School of Law.
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