Quizzically Musing

Watching the madness

A Question of Free Speech

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Most of Australia is probably aware of the case currently making the front pages.  If not, read a report in The Age here.

In the USA, Freedom of Speech is enshrined in the constitution.  Not so here in Australia, where it is “only implicitly recognised” in the constitution.  Australia also has stringent antidiscrimination legislation.  According to the report, this case is seen as a case that may well bring the collision of free speech and antidiscrimination in this country to a head.

I have long been a critic of  those who claim the right to free speech to get away with blatant discrimination.  In my view, free speech comes with responsibility.  We have a human responsibility to not discriminate against others.  Even if we have hold personal views that are effectively discrimination, we should not be voicing them or publicising those views.  The outcome of this case will be interesting.

The case also raises questions about what rights any one of us has to define ourself.  In Australia many, many people are born of cross-cultural marriages.  They go on to marry someone from yet a third culture.  We are a mixed up, muddled up lot in this country, my own family included. 

I didn’t read the articles at the centre of this case, so I am not going to offer an opinion one way or  the other on the articles themselves.  I am certainly watching the case with interest.

Where do we draw the line?  How do we marry freedom of speech with antidiscrimination?  Given what we see happen in other countries, do we even consider freedom of speech a right everyone should be entitled to?  How “free” should it be? 

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Written by Robyn Dunphy

April 3, 2011 at 1:24 pm

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