If Australians like Andrew Bolt spent more time studying the law and less time watching imported tv shows, they'd know that this "Freedom of Speech" notion is a whimsical fantasy from America.
Andrew Bolt has lost his race discrimination case in the Federal Court of Australia.
One hundred and seventy-five days after the Herald Sun columnist's defence lawyer Neil Young, QC, delivered the final words of his two-day closing address, Justice Mordecai Bromberg delivered a stinging judgment in which he found Bolt had contravened section 18 (c) of the Racial Discrimination Act in two articles published in the Herald Sun in 2009.
“I am satisfied that fair-skinned Aboriginal people (or some of them) were reasonably likely … to have been offended, insulted, humiliated or intimidated by the imputations conveyed by the newspaper articles,” Justice Bromberg said to a packed courtroom in Melbourne.
Bolt is "guilty" of writing that white-skinned Australians who are not culturally Aboriginal, some with blonde or red hair, nevertheless self-identify as Aboriginal in order to get preferences under Australia's affirmative action / positive discrimination laws. It's the sort of thing said from time to time in America about certain "Indians", by people like, well, me.
In fact two years ago I said the exact same thing one of the people Bolt offended, Dr. Mark Rose of the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association, whose face is paler than the one my Scandinavian ancestors passed on to me. (I believe that you can see Dr. Rose prancing about in his robes and shark's tooth necklace at a video in the first link.)
Fortunately the Australian Federal Court cannot force me to remove what I wrote about Dr. Rose, nor to apologize.
Even more fortunately, the Australian Press Council is on the case, leaping to Bolt's defense with this full-throated endorsement of free speech:
Australian Press Council chairman Julian Disney, who heads the print media's self-regulatory watchdog, welcomed the judge's decision to leave racial identification open to media scrutiny.
"I think there would be a very clear and worrying risk to free speech and I think also to eventual social cohesion if … this case was seen as establishing a no-go area," Disney told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.
In other words, Disney approves of the decision because the Judge held, while censoring Bolt, that Australians are free to discuss race as long as they do so with respect.
Sarcasm, like free speech, is an American concept, completely alien to the Australian way of life.
You may read Bolt's offending article, in a form that is unlikely to disappear through court order, by clicking here. Australians in particular are cautioned never to hit that link.
It contains sarcasm (and possibly dramatic irony, metaphor, bathos, puns, parody, litotes and… satire). You have been warned.