CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Appeasing Minority Groups While Stifling Free Speech

Aug 7, 2014

So Tony Abbott has dumped plans to change the Racial Discrimination Act, particularly section 18C. His pre-election pledge to strengthen freedom of speech by altering the restrictive legislation now seems to be a no-goer. And it seems appeasing minority groups is the main reason for doing so.

The desire to keep Muslims onside, and to get their votes, seems to have been part of the motivation for this abrupt turnaround. As one news report put it, “As recently as Monday night, Senator Brandis had defended his legislation on television. But, less than 24 hours later, Senator Brandis opened the discussion at the cabinet table. The Prime Minister’s view was that the overwhelmingly negative feedback about the changes, combined with the proposed anti-terror laws, meant the government could no longer keep Muslims offside.”

abbottThis is bizarre on so many levels. So freedom of speech is being sacrificed in order to get a few votes? Why does he assume Muslims are interested in supporting the Libs anyway? And sorry, but there simply are not that many Muslims in Australia.

Why try to appease such a tiny minority group? There are far more Australians concerned about how we are losing our freedom of speech, so why not try to keep those folks onside? One really has to wonder how our politicians can be so far off the planet at times.

I am not alone in my concerns. A number of voices have been raised since this about-face, expressing similar concerns. James Allan for example makes the same case in his recent article:

So now we know. When given the choice between trying to honour its pre-election commitment to free speech in this country, or caving in to the special pleading lobby groups opposed to free speech, the government opted for the latter. Never mind that Section 18C of the hate speech laws impose a wholly unjustified curtailment on what you and I and the Andrew Bolts of the world can say. Never mind that similar legislation was repealed in Canada last year, the most politically correct place on earth. Canadian Prime Minister Harper stared down the many lobby groups with a vested interest in this kind of hate speech legislation. Our Attorney-General, George Brandis, and Prime Minister Tony Abbott did not.
Apparently it was not worth the fight. Not enough votes in it, they must have reckoned. Of course that sort of calculation depends on the people who want this hate speech legislation kept in place voting for the Coalition because it succumbed to them. Good luck with that.
It depends too on there being a lot of MPs in electorates where there will be more votes for them in caving in than there would be for proceeding on principle. I’m sceptical. Heck, the government did not even put their repeal proposals to the Senate. I know the government is calculating that people like me will vote for the Coalition anyway, come the next election, that, like the government itself, we don’t really care about free speech. Otherwise it would at least have introduced its bill, passed it through the House and made the Senate block it. But some Coalition MPs obviously did not want to be in this position.
Yet, there are no hate speech laws of any sort in the US and the various Jewish, Islamic and other lobby groups that oppose repealing our hate speech laws do just fine there. Better than in almost every European country with hate speech laws. Apparently the government now implicitly agrees that you can’t trust your average Australian to see through the rantings of Neo-Nazi Holocaust deniers.

Columnist Andrew Bolt was equally unimpressed with the broken promise;

Tony Abbott has exploded one of the dangerous myths of our out-of-control immigration program. We once expected immigrants like my parents to assimilate to Australian values. But now Australia assimilates to the values of the immigrants — including the most oppressive values.
The Prime Minister confirmed it on Tuesday in explaining why he’d dropped his plan to scrap restrictions in the Racial Discrimination Act that make it unlawful simply to “offend” someone with a statement related to their “race” or ethnicity.
“We are also determined to engage in ever closer consultation with communities including the Australian Muslim community,” he said. “When it comes to counter-terrorism, everyone needs to be part of ‘Team Australia’ and I have to say that the Government’s proposals to change 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act have become a complication in that respect.”
Pardon? We must placate Muslim Australians by restricting our freedom to say something critical of their culture, for instance, extremists being so prone to jihad? Of course, other ethnic and religious groups — not least Jews — also fought to save these restrictions. But make no mistake: muzzling Australians is now seen as necessary to please migrant communities.

Christians too have been saddened by this alarming back-flip. Vickie Janson of Australian Christians said this:

With our PM Tony Abbott backing down on the repeal of Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act I am not that optimistic the needed political will (courage) will be found. We are deeply disappointed about this announcement. The repeal of 18C was never about empowering ‘bigots’ as some would argue. This is about valuing freedom and honesty which are falling to the sword throughout the Middle East. As I shared on Facebook: Freedom is being further eradicated throughout the Middle East and what do we do in the free world? Just follow suit! Apparently our PM is not repealing 18C because we have to keep a good relationship with the Muslim community. My goodness…sharia compliant speech endorsed by the PM…a sad day indeed.

It sure is a sad day. Another win for creeping sharia and another loss for free speech. Tony Abbott won the last election because people were sick and tired of the Labor/Green social engineering, leftist lunacy, and appeasement to minority groups.

So is our Prime Minister simply doing more of the same now? Or is he going to lead a government fundamentally different from its predecessor? If current trends continue, things are not looking very promising.

www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/desire-to-bring-muslims-back-onside-led-to-dumping-20140805-3d6n0.html
www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/craven-cave-in-on-free-speech/story-e6frg6zo-1227014592940
www.heraldsun.com.au/news/opinion/were-muzzled-as-the-bigots-rant/story-fni0ffxg-1227015821659

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11 Responses to Appeasing Minority Groups While Stifling Free Speech

  • I protested against the Victorian Government ruling that forbade students from meeting together for prayer, etc. My local member sent me a reply telling me that this wasn’t intended and that the ruling would be changed.

    But in the process, he claimed that “The Victorian Government continues to support the principle that freedoms of religion, association and expression must not be impeded.”
    I replied that given their failure to repeal or amend their own Racial and Religious Intolerance Act, their reported failure to support the repeal or amendment of the federal 18C, and their endorsement of the abusive and offensive term “homophobia”, his claim was clearly false.

    I wonder if I will get a reply to that one?

  • So why do the Jews prefer section 18c to remain as it is?
    The ABC appeared quite happy for this election promise to be broken, stating that it was in response to community consultation, which, of course is quite a legitimate and necessary process of democracy, provided the adjustment is made towards what is good and right – like community opposition to CSG for instance, which I wish they would listen to more – but does not appear to be the case in this instance.
    Many blessings
    Ursula Bennett

  • Huge mistake, I thought the Abbott government had a bit more backbone than that! A win for those who have no love or respect for Western civilization’s principles of free speech. IMHO they know not what they do.

  • Bill,
    This is off topic, but just now the new book by Michael L. Brown, “Can You be Gay and Christian?” has come to hand. Have you read this? I am informed that it is available as an eBook, but I’m old-fashioned: I like the printed page in my hand. So I will read this with interest, as well as your most recent book.

    Back on topic, I saw on-line, a media release from the Uniting Church, welcoming the govt’s back-flip:
    http://blogs.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/timblair/index.php/dailytelegraph/comments/uniters_are_dividers/
    Typical! I’m not at all surprised. The UCA, meanwhile, will not lend any support to the Assyrian Christians in Iraq, but plays pally to Muslims.

  • Thanks Murray. Yes, it is a great book. I review it here:

    https://billmuehlenberg.com/2014/06/30/a-review-of-can-you-be-gay-and-christian-by-michael-brown/

    And yes, we fully expect this of the UCA.

  • I am not good at copying links, but just got this one from Catch the Fire. It worked for me before I copied it. 🙂

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8GkE1EY_QA&feature=youtu.be&app=desktop

    Many blessings, Ursula Bennett

  • He is simply trying to protect his job, but in doing so he will lose his job because we are basically are getting the same thing we got before. At least we expected that from them and not this from him. I’d rather have this subjected to us by Labor than the Liberals. There is only one political party in Australia.

  • There is some hope on the issue with Bob Day of Family First is going to introduce a member’s bill on removing 18C of the RDA. Now we can see who votes for or against free speech and now we know who our enemy is.

  • Some more good news from my state, but it looks like it will just amount to words and nothing else, but at the WA state Liberal conference Tony Abbott was slammed there for backtracking.
    http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/western-australia/bill-hassell-slams-prime-minister-tony-abbotts-backdown-over-racial-discrimination-laws-as-a-surrender-to-narrow-interest-groups/story-fnhocxo3-1227019087686?nk=70f1cbb8b18c89cd5c00c70ecbdfaab2

  • I recall your denunciation of Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard and now you are disappointed with the current PM. Voting for and putting your trust in the politicians of this world is a complete waste of time. I don’t vote and advise fellow Christians when I meet them not to do so either. We look forward to God’s government when truth & justice will prevail. Kevin McDonald.

  • Thanks Kevin. There are two unhelpful and unbiblical extremes which Christians must avoid. One is to idolise politics and think that politics is our saviour. I speak to this many times, eg: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2014/06/05/christianity-and-the-limits-of-politics/

    The other is to abandon our biblical responsibility to influence every area of society, including politics. We cannot be salt and light as Jesus commanded us if we pull out altogether from the social and political processes. I explain that many places, eg: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2014/08/10/yes-politics-matters-are-you-listening-pastors/

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