Bolt, Principle, and Taking a Stand

There were two news items which certainly stood out today, albeit for differing reasons. Both generated a lot of publicity, although one was in many respects far more important than the other. But both had to do with standing up for principle instead of being browbeaten by the crowd.

The first had to do with a guy I actually know nothing about, except for what I just heard on the evening news. But what I did hear is enough for me: this guy is the real deal, and I wish there were many more like him. In him we finally find an example of someone who is taking a stand, regardless of what everyone else thinks.

Finally we have a Christian who is willing to speak up for what is right, instead of going along with the world. It may not seem like much of a big deal, but his strong stance and totally un-PC approach is a breath of fresh air. The story of a simple Irish farmer – and Christian – has made headlines around the Western world.

Here is how the story goes: “It wasn’t the first time that Rihanna had stripped off to gyrate in a remote field to record a music video. It was, however, a first for the 23-year-old international R&B star to be asked to leave by an irate Northern Irish farmer over accusations of ‘inappropriate’ behaviour.

“The Barbadian singer was working on her new single We Found Love in a remote barley field in County Down, Northern Ireland. Rihanna was dressed in an open checked shirt revealing a red and white bikini top underneath. Later she whipped both the shirt and the top off to go topless. During the shoot she also wore a ‘stars and stripes’ bikini top.

“At this point Alan Graham, 61, the farmer who had allowed Rihanna to film on his land pulled up alongside in a tractor. He told the singer, famed for her almost constant semi-nudity, to cover up. He said later: ‘Her behaviour was inappropriate.’

“Rihanna, otherwise known as Robyn Rihanna Fenty, was recording the video with Calvin Harris, a Scottish DJ, before embarking on three sell-out shows at the Odyssey Arena, Belfast, this weekend. Mr Graham, a Christian and father of four, had earlier used his tractor to pull free some recording equipment that was stuck in mud. He said: ‘I wish no ill will against Rihanna and her friends. Perhaps they could acquaint themselves with a greater God’.”

Good on you Alan. Finally a Christian who stands up for principle, regardless of how many others – even carnal Christians – will condemn him, mock him and treat him as a joke. I for one think it is great that biblical principle came first in this case.

The other news item of course has to do with columnist Andrew Bolt who has just been found guilty of “racial vilification”. I don’t want to discuss all the details of this particular case just now, but I find the outcome to be appalling and another nail in the coffin of freedom of speech.

I said as much a decade ago when the Racial and Religious Vilification Act was first being discussed in Victoria. In fact I twice publicly debated the author of this wretched legislation back then. I warned that this law would be nothing but trouble, and we should all avoid it like the plague. See this piece for example: www.billmuehlenberg.com/2002/03/26/the-problem-with-vilification-legislation/

Of real concern at the time was the fact that some Christians actually supported the legislation. I still find it incredible that any biblical Christian can support such laws which really are mainly about the silencing of Christians and those of contrarian conservative views. I wrote about that aspect of the debate as well: www.billmuehlenberg.com/2004/07/26/problems-with-religious-support-for-vilification-laws/

Of course the five-year battle concerning two Christian pastors found guilty of breaking this vilification Act is the most famous example of this. That I wrote about as well in various places, including here: www.billmuehlenberg.com/2004/12/18/is-this-the-death-of-christianity-in-australia/

And here: www.billmuehlenberg.com/2006/12/14/the-two-dannys-casethe-best-possible-outcome/

But now we see it all being played out yet again – this time with the Federal Racial Discrimination Act – although this time it is not about silencing Christians, but about silencing conservatives who do not toe the PC line. Fortunately some have already denounced this unfortunate outcome. For example, broadcaster Andrew Dodd wrote:

“I think the ruling is dangerous because it asserts as indisputable fact that Bolt’s articles were not reasonable and were not written in good faith and do not classify as ‘fair comment’. The Judge clearly believes they were not written with a genuine public interest in mind.

“But in the end this is just one person’s view. Although those of us that don’t like Bolt’s writing might think we understand his motives, we really don’t have a clue whether Bolt honestly held these views. Perhaps he was being courageous, rather than reckless, in seeking to talk openly what many would say quietly. I don’t share his views but I can see some merit in the argument that true racial tolerance is only achieved when we can ventilate unpopular views openly and have a robust discussion about them.

“In any case do we really want to silence debate on irksome and uncomfortable topics? Given that many in the judiciary have a very dim view of even the most responsible forms of journalism, how would the courts have us write about topics when the conclusions or opinions are going to be unpleasant for the people who are being written about? If the offended people are the arbiters, how should the media question the behaviour of minority groups? In any case, this has a fair way to go yet. This is most certainly heading to the full bench of the Federal Court and then perhaps the High Court. Eventually, the final ruling will have serious implications for us all.”

This case was just decided hours ago, and much will be written about it in the days to come. I find it another blow to freedom and a further clampdown by the forces of political correctness, empowered by the strong arm of the law. One may not agree with everything Bolt says to be concerned about this ruling.

It is the outcome of a lousy law which should never have been passed. Hopefully Bolt will stand strong, despite all the abuse and flak he will get. If a humble farmer can stand strong, so can he.

The time has come to re-examine our state and federal laws on racial and religious discrimination and vilification. What may have been enacted into law with good intentions is quickly becoming a club with which to beat freedom of speech over the head. Just where will it all end?

www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/northern-ireland-farmer-evicts-bad-girl-rihanna-tells-her-to-put-her-clothes-back-on/story-e6frg6so-1226148900715
www.theaustralian.com.au/business/media/andrew-bolt-x-racial-vilification-court-case/story-e6frg996-1226148919092
www.abc.net.au/unleashed/3026182.html

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