Free Speech Straya - Part 1 - Federally Offended!

- Handsome Josh 17/06/2017

With the recent cases of Lauren Southern, Markus Meechan, Chelsea Russell and Tommy Robinson, amongst many others, demonstrating how corrupt and authoritarian UK ‘hate speech’ laws have become, we need to ask the question; 

Does Australia have anything to fear?

In short, Yes, very much so.

On a Federal level we have the Racial Discrimination Act - 1975, s
pecifically sections 18C &  18D which were added to this act with the passing of the Racial Hatred Act - 1995.

In brief, this legislation makes it illegal in public to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or group on the the basis of race, colour, national or ethnic origin.

On the surface sure it sounds great, "Lets legislate niceness!" 

Digging deeper however there are two gaping problems, the first is that it is administered by the ‘Australian Human Rights Commission’ who can appropriately be described as a feral bunch of virtue signalling, authoritarian, borderline-sociopath, leftist, ideologue shake-down artists. (Evidence to follow)

Take a look at this video they released to combat racism, this it literally how they view Australian society.

HRC Elevator

Utter contemptuous elitist dribble, they simply do not live in the real world. Thankfully the general public see right through this trash. AHRC managed to disable the comments but they can't disable the rating system!

The second huge issue with this legislation is the the incredibly vague subjective language used, especially with that  word ‘offend’.

In today's internet and outrage culture is there anything that doesn’t offend someone?

As you would expect there have been some significant appalling miscarriages of justice to come out of this.

 I will go through through three of the most high profile but considering there were 77 cases in 2015-2016 period  which then more than doubled to 159 in the 2016-2017 period, these examples could very well be only the tip of a very cancerous iceberg.

In 2011 Columnist Andrew Bolt was convicted under 18C for writing a series of articles claiming that certain individuals with  tenuous aboriginal links were claiming indigenous heritage for the financial privileges such heritage affords people in Australia. 

Andrew Bolt is a media columnist, he raises a fair question. If people can make financial gain for claiming aboriginal links and this gain is not means tested. Is it not then fair to question the possibility that people undeserving could be taking assistance from those that are deserving and in greater need? Shouldn't this be to the public's interest?  What happened to the incredibly important concept of 'Freedom of the press?'

Bolt Convicted

In August 2016, well known Australian cartoonist ‘Bill Leak’, in response to a documentary about the disproportionately high number of indigenous inmates in a Northern Territory jail, produced this cartoon for the newspaper ‘The Australian’.

The Australian Human Rights Commission's own
Race Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Tim Soutphommasane, took offence  to this cartoon and publicly called for complaints. (Serious conflict of interest there).

He got his wish with 700 complaints made to the Australian Press Council and 3 official complaint the Human Rights Commission itself. The most public of which came from  Melissa Dinnison, who was based in Germany at the time.

“I felt pretty degraded and humiliated, it deeply affected me to be honest. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep. I wanted to quit my degree because I didn’t really think it was worth trying anymore, if cartoons like this could be published in national newspapers,” Melissa tells Hack from Germany, where she is completing a uni exchange.

“That [cartoon] basically aimed to blame Aboriginal families for their abuse children suffered in detention. It just made me feel like there’s no point in trying. It was just really a humiliating representation of indigenous people.”

“I was at home at the time and I just lay in bed and felt pretty despondent for a while. It definitely hurt, it really hurt to see that. Later on, after those feelings had sat with me for a while, I decided what I wanted to do.”

- Melissa Dennison, 2016

I don't even need to put commentary on the severe issues with this complaint. 

Fortunately the all three complaints were eventually terminated though not before months of harassment and vilification towards Mr Leak. Sadly he died of a heart attack at the age of 61, just over 3 months after the last complaint was dropped. Here is his submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights into Freedom of Speech.

Now my final example is the most, publicly known, egregious misuse of this 18C legislation. It is a long story with a lot of details on time-frames which is important to fully grasp just how corrupt the Australian Human Rights Commission really is. I've tried to make it as short as possible without leaving out key detail so please bear with me. Alternatively you can watch this full interview with Calum Thwaites which details most of this information.

Interview Calum Twaites

On the 28th May 2013, Three  Queensland University of Technology Students (QUT) attended an on-campus computer lab where an indigenous member of staff ‘Cindy Prior’ approached them and asked whether they were indigenous.

They advised they were not and were asked to leave the lab by Ms Prior as at that particular day the lab was reserved for indigenous students only. There was no sign posting advising of this university sanctioned racial segregation at this time.

The students left the lab and on a Facebook page not affiliated with the university made the following comments:

A further comment said “ITT niggers” which was attributed to a Facebook account with the name Calum Thwaites. Calum was not one of the students kicked out of the lab or known to these other three students.

Someone made a screen-shot of these posts and provided them to Ms Prior. She lodged a complaint with the University and proceeded to go off work on ‘stress leave’ less than 3 days after removing these students from the lab.

The university notified what students they could identify from the names on the Facebook posts. This included Calum Thwaites who was advised that they had been notified about a Facebook post he made which may have violated their code of conduct and asked him to remove it. Calum advised he had not idea what they were talking about and that they might have the wrong person. The university contact advised she would look into it further, but that he shouldn’t worry about it.

On the 27th May 2014, Cindy Prior, now on a full years worth of paid stress leave,  after not making the progress she would like with the university then lodges a complaint with the Human Rights Commission. At this point none of the students have any awareness of what has been going on in the background. 

The students are kept in the dark about this until the end of July 2015, some 26 months later, when Calum Thwaites is finally notified by email not only of the complaint in the University but also the Human Rights Commission complaint. He is then advised that a ‘conciliation conference’ at the Humans Rights Commission had been arranged at the start of August.

The point of a ‘conciliation conference’ is to reach some sort of settlement outside of court. Now take into account that both the University, Cindy Prior (still on full paid stress leave) and her legal representation had a full 26 months working on this case and the Human Rights Commission had 14 months to prepare. Yet these undergraduate students, without legal representation, without necessarily even the means to afford representation, were only given  3 business days from the time they were even notified of the complaint to when they had to front the Human Rights Commission on a Racial vilification charge. 

Naturally some of these scared young adults chose to settle for $5,000.00 each just to make the case go away. (Getting the hint about what this ‘shake-down’ organisation does now?). 

Calum however did not have the means to pay for the problem to go away. He attended the conciliation and advised them that he never made any such comments on Facebook and that they have the wrong person. This was the first time that either the Human Rights Commission or Cindy Prior's lawyer 'Susan Moriaty' had heard this as it was the first time Calum was even made aware of the complaint. They just assumed that a post on Facebook under someones name is always them.

As conciliation could not be reached a ‘directions’ hearing was arranged for December 2015. Calum, not being able to afford a lawyer and also being turned away from legal aid centres because they don't  represent people accused of racial vilification (quite the racket they have going at the AHRC…) had no choice but to represent himself.

He advised the judge that this comment was not posted by him and that he had done nothing wrong. The judge didn’t accept that, and the case was to proceed with Cindy Prior suing for a  massive $247,570.52 for suffered
“offence, embarrassment, humiliation and psychiatric injury­”

Fortunately for Calum in February 2016 Tony Morris QC became aware of the case through a group called QPILCH and offered Calum representation pro-bono.

Calum, now with professional legal representation sought a ‘Strike-out’ hearing, where it was discovered that the totality of the prosecution’s evidence comprised of a photocopied screenshot of Calum’s apparent post. Calum was easily able to demonstrate that this account was not in fact his own account, that the profile photo was a public photo taken at a local night club and that he had successfully had Facebook shutdown the account on grounds of 'impersonation'. The prosecution had no further evidence to support their case and ‘Strike-out’ was successful.

There is every chance that without representation Calum would have been liable for this claim and it is abundantly clear that the Human Rights Commission are nothing more than shake-down thugs who act on behalf of the perpetually offended mentally ill and are empowered by the sheer corruption of this 18C bill. Unfortunately other students were not so fortunate and not only had their reputations left in tatters but also significantly in debt.

Now just to add salt into this already gaping horrific wound on the freedoms in Australia and the levels of corruption in government institutions. The Human Rights Commision president at the time Gillian Triggs who not only defended the Human Rights Commission's actions but is author of this fine quote:

GILLIAN TRIGGS: Sadly, you can say what you like around the kitchen table at home.

—: Sky News, 30 March, 2017

well she was the recipient of Liberty Australia's 2017 Voltaire Award for free speech.

The sheer level of corruption here is almost beyond comprehension.

In the wake of these horrible abuses of power there was a significant effort by the Liberal government to have the words  "insult", "offend" and "humiliate"  replaced by the word "harrass" in section 18C..sadly this was defeated by a coalition of Labor, Greens and key crossbench senators in March 2017.

So that's the big threat to Freedom of Speech on the Federal level. There is an additional problem on the State level where in Victoria they have what could be described as a ‘blasphemy’ law legislating against severe criticism of religious ideology. This I will cover in Part 2.

Many thanks for your time,

 -Handsome Josh :)