Australian government papers reveal race law’s slippery slope
Government documents released yesterday by the National Archives of Australia reveal that the notorious Australian race law – section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act – was the subject of intense discussion among ministers before it was introduced, and as originally drafted would have been far less restrictive.
However as many countries have found, once setting off down the path of restricting free speech in the interests of racial harmony, there is an inevitable slippery slope towards politically correct tyranny.
The original submission to Paul Keating’s cabinet in July 1992, drafted by then Attorney General Michael Duffy and only made public yesterday, stressed that “for an act to amount to racial vilification it must be an act or conduct that is likely to lead to incitement to hatred, contempt or ridicule and should not be relatively minor or be of the nature of a lighthearted racist joke.”
During their discussions of the draft, ministers went on to emphasise that prosecution should “require a series of precise conditions to be met”, including “actual offensive intent”. UK readers will note that this would have made the measure more similar to the Race Relations Act 1965, the first UK law specifically to outlaw “incitement to racial hatred”.
However as with the several later extensions of that landmark legislation, Australia’s Section 18C developed into a grotesque tyranny, restricting legitimate political debate and in extreme cases even being used against comedians and cartoonists.
Last year the well-known cartoonist Bill Leak was the target of a complaint under Section 18C over the cartoon (above) depicting an Aborigine, or what is now called an “indigenous Australian”. The complaint was later dropped after a public outcry over abuse of the law. The university student who made the complaint has since sought to present herself as the victim, whining that she had only intended a “conciliation process”!
What was originally portrayed as a law targeting serious incitements of “racist” violence is now employed to intimidate anyone dissenting from multiracial political orthodoxy. If Bill Leak had not been backed by The Australian, one of the country’s most powerful media outlets, he would have been crushed under the liberal juggernaut’s wheels.