Newspaper columnist and blogger Andrew Bolt was today found guilty in the Federal Court of breaches of the Racial Discrimination Act. Justice Mordecai Bromberg in his ruling, found two articles written by Bolt in 2009—claiming that self-proclaimed aborigines of caucasian descent and appearance were “political aborigines”, who used their legal “indigenous” status to intrigue themselves into lucrative positions open only to indigenous Australians and further their (predominantly activist) careers—left it
…reasonably likely that fair-skinned Aboriginal people (or some of them) were offended, insulted, humiliated or intimidated…
What this precedent means, is that the legal test of vilification now turns on the degree of offence experienced in the mind of the claimed victim—an impossible legal criterion, one which is open to any imaginable distortion of meaning, and one which opens the way to the tyranny of the hypersensitive.
Legal commentators have noted Bolt may well have won the case, had he not made two errors of fact in the articles; errors Bolt himself now acknowledges and which no-one now disputes. I’m doubtful this would have made much difference though, given that the appellants sought far more than a simple retraction and correction of these errors.
You all know LibertyGibbert’s policy on racism—I detest and abhor it, and over the last year I have lost a number of readers over its severity. I make no apologies for this, and never will. I have also experienced others, aggrieved over unrelated issues, attempt to accuse me of racism, and have seen first-hand just how easy it is to twist almost any statement into a perceived racial slight.
It’s quite racist in itself—the notion that non-whites are somehow so helpless and infantile that they require the soothings of a nanny state (a white one, take note) to assuage their self-image, so bruised by the likes of nasty Mister Bolt and his friends.
And all this under the looming shadow of the Gillard government’s impending “inquiry” into the media, an inquiry whose boosters have openly declared their aim to licence newspapers, journalists, and even bloggers and tweeters. I think you can all see what this is: a pretext. No more, no less. More state control, a weakening of the right to free speech, and once again, we are all less free. GE and journalists across the free world, take note.
I’m on the road till the end of next week; if you’d like to come along for the ride, click here.
Update 28 Oct 2011 – Bolt’s actions have been defended by—of all people—Julian Assange, in this article; well worth a read.