Race Law & Free Speech

LAUD or lament the finding against Andrew Bolt, the reality is more complex than some commentators seem able to admit.

Like George Brandis, I have reservations about laws governing racial vilification (“Section 18C has no place in a society that values freedom of expression”, 30/9).

While I sympathise with the intentions behind such legislation, I also believe it risks making bigots into martyrs by having their opinions silenced instead of contested openly in the marketplace of ideas. However, if Bolt had got his facts straight, no adverse finding would have occured. As the judge, Mordecai Bromberg, said:

“Nothing in the orders I make should suggest it is unlawful for a publication to deal with racial identification, including by challenging the genuineness of the identification of a group of people.”

I would have preferred to see the plaintiffs sue for libel, instead of having Bolt charged under the hopelessly broad section 18C. But the judgment against him is still partly the result of Bolt’s own shoot first, ask questions later approach.

Ben Adams, Park Holme, SA

See all letters under the heading “Race law should ensure the primacy of free speech” here.


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