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ETHNICITY AND THE CITY
Australia Ruptured ?
The Advertiser July 6, 2014
Andrew Bolt let loose a bolt that is much to the point, and it is well that he has done so.
Let us consider the issue.
RACE, COLOUR AND ETHNIC IDENTITY ARE THINGS AUSTRALIANS MAY NOT ADDRESS WHERE OFFENCE OR INSULT IS TO BE REGISTERED. Penalty: illegal. It occurs when it is reasonably likely that this should have been expected. Such is the current result of the breach of faith of the present Government, is resiling from the promise to undertake a lessening of the perilous provisions of the item 18 C in the law of inhibitions. In these terms, it tells you that it is unlawful to offend, insult on racial, ethnic or colour grounds.
It is not clear whether this concept of offence or insult is specifically to be used against various Australians by those who prefer various options, whether older immigrants, as Aborigines appear to have been, or newer, as a vast further grouping of other races, come to differ on some point in this area, with or without grounds being given and rationally assessed. If so, this is tyranny, quite simply. In that case, anyone for any reason, hypersensitive, aggressive and finding a place to be it and receive gain, revenge, hatred and so on could simply state, I am insulted by this, or I am offended by this: prove I am not!
That is descent to the utterly absurd, and so presumably is not intended. It is not entirely clear since it appears entirely ridiculous; but the words appear clear enough.
Furthermore, it is better that laws be clear. If that is not intended, the law should be more explicit.
On the matter of religion, it is also clear, in any sort of general regard to our Constitution, that it COULD not include religion, or be coherent with this. IF you may not offend various groupings with any religion concerning anything whatever that relates to it, on any threshold, in any endeavour, academic or otherwise, then this IS a State religion. It means that
1) psychology is above truth - thou shalt not offend whatever! and that 'whatever' in that case would include the truth.
2) feelings are above fact. Once again, on that interpretation, the difficulty of proving someone is not offended when the claim is made that the person IS offended, borders between the ridiculous and the very ridiculous.
3) the Commonwealth would be defying the Constitution. It would do this by instituting a religion, enforcing this subjective viewpoint, ensuring that its own devices, properties, ways of working are enforced in the land. If in one religion, you are instructed to warn, rebuke, exhort, cast down foolish ideas, then the Commonwealth uses ITS religion to say, NO. THOU SHALT NOT EXPOSE ANY RELIGION, WHATEVER THE CASE MAY BE, OR THE REASONS, TO THE POINT SOMEONE IS OFFENDED OR INSULTED, then there are two masters, and the State has penalties if you disobey the neo-religious, pseudo-papal power that it unconstitutionally adopts.
Someone is some relevant grouping, or deemed to be, is offended: It does not matter why. You may not have that result; if for ANY reason you do, you are illegal, and will in breach of the law receive whatever counselling, fine, correction that may be in view.
But in that case, the correction is to what is CORRECT, which then becomes a new law in the Government official religion. Civil convenience and political preference is above the expression of the religion, whether AS the truth, or competitively even, IF that offends, or is on some social index, construed as insulting.
Consider the language of the Racial Discrimination Act:
It is unlawful for a person to do an act, otherwise than in private, if:
(a) the act is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people; and
(b) the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person or of some or all of the people in the group.
Note that the exclusion bounds include their nation and their race, and their ethnicity. These are terms of reference for calling in the referee to consider damages if just maybe, they find themselves offended.
Even if it be said that it is not mere offence or felt insult that is the crux of the matter, but what is deemed "reasonably likely in all the circumstances, to offend, insult ...", some official(s) to assess whether it is likely to OFFEND (an estimate of subjectivity, without regard to the justification FOR such offence), the thing is hollow, unhuman. It is not concerned with the objective of the words spoken, intention or their applicability in point of fact. While this may make the matter nice and simple, it divorces desire from reality. It is not the reasonableness, moreover, of insult being borne, but of it being foreseeable as offensive to someone or other in some national, racial, colour or ethnic group. It is not: was this outrageous for some reason ? but should it have been seen to be likely to be offensive, WHATEVER its actual nature, in view of the psychological apparatus and disposition of sentiment of the one ready to be offended.
In this, truth dies, reason is abolished, a mere chattel for estimating statistics, not realities, and State convenience or ideological warfare on some, becomes the end of Constitutional Restraint. Of course, then there is the idea of changing the Constitution, and who knows in what lines of thought such changes might be used to assist the termination of the relevance of truth in the land, and the freedom of its religion!
4) Thus all religions are capable of correction, without grounds needed, by Government religion. Government authority AS SUCH is above all religious authority, so that the Government on that interpretation would be the RULER OF RELIGIONS. That is just what some religions try to do, and is specifically a competitive governmental approach.
It does not matter whether the religion has one participant, or a million, be Jewish, Moslem, or a reverential rave about all religions (which would include those demanding murder for example): it is still on this legal model, a religious schedule, viewpoint, exacted of all citizens (at best of the worst).
5) The State has more authority than any God or god or religion, using this to condemn those who do not see fit to ALLOW it that prerogative, and to seem them simply wrong doers, socially misled, culturally abnormal or whatever other words appeal or are deemed to apply: a common practice in the history of some religions. Obviously, it is LIKELY that the priests of Baal would have found Elijah's words offensive, but they were based on empirical fact. In that case, such a State as Australia is in quite some danger of becoming, would rule out fact in the interests of the fabrications of feelings, with their various motivations, entanglements and bases, of whatever character, fictional or actual, fastidious or fulminating, but just a datum. It is there, or it is not.
No, it is necessary to stress that the LAW is set to determine whether OFFENCE is LIKELY, not whether it is justified. It is still 100% subjective in orientation, in basis. Hamas might be offended by being told that firing rockets on a nation which it says is to be removed, is not a way to engage in peace talks. It might be deemed offensive to say this, though manifestly true. It would be an entirely different matter to determine, as a work of judgment, whether it was correct, the contention, or reasonable. It is NOT the reasonability of the words, which is to be assessed, but whether it is reasonably likely to offend. It is not justice, but psychology, emotion, feeling which is being tested.
The empirical, the rational, the evidential itself, relative to the alleged insulting language, or offensive diction, is NOT even relevant by law. It is not the question, SHOULD it offend by having the following empirical or factual errors, or gross generalisations and so on, but is it LIKELY to offend the person or persons in view. The rationality of the offence, its justifiability, even its MOTIVE, is not in the law. It is just its existence in terms of the category of offence, and the assessment of whether it might come to be so taken, however foolishly, warped, motivated or engaged or gratuitously or even evilly indulged in, the response might be. You can be legally assailed if you say what is DEEMED likely to offend what is undesired by, possibly BECAUSE it is true, and so felt offensive in terms of any racial, national or ethnic body.
Some objectively correct statement may be made about reason or religion, and yet be likely to offend. Be quite then reason, review, analysis, warning to the nation or to any. State religion has ruled it and you may obey what is central to your religion, that has this psychological or sociological result, only by coming to grief in the new national cult. The words spoken or written may have a relevance to this or that body, as an expression or illustration of the logical, military or other activities of such body. But you are in trouble either way with the law as written, if someone is upset by the considerations, however true, vital to realism, necessary for welfare of the nation, or demanded by your religion.
Some Palestinian extremists, to take a parallel for illustration, might be offended by the word that Israel ought not to be deleted, as this is part of their deep feeling. If this were reasonably likely, in view of their repeated rhetoric with passion, to offend, then any parallel law to this one in Australia would make that wrong. Because it might offend these susceptibilities, THEREFORE it breaks the law. Again, it might be directed because of whatever entity was acting in a given way, found repulsive or contrary to one's religion, in the field of what one is commanded IN that religion to do, in terms of speech and attitude. The reference may be illustrative of ideological or religious principles, and contain their application. It might be a matter of moral revulsion, logical compulsion or national peril, but the New State of Australia, dumping its constitutional requirements, puts things past these concerns, the stamp of ultra-religiosity and its seal, on the crippled land. Of course, martyrs might pay, a sort of special income tax, or bodily tax in prison; but the State that so commands is already all but a religious dinosaur.
Hence in that case, objection to carrying out genocide on Israel could be a breach of law, and you would become a law-breaker to object to it. The law then becomes worse than amoral, becoming immoral, since its target does not depend on morality, but feeling. Morality is shown the door, shut out like a dribbling clown. The ultimate morality then becomes so to speak as to make it likely that anyone of a given race or ethnicity or nation could be offended. Not noticeable qualification is given even if they should be at war with you, in their hearts, in their heads or in their intentions, awaiting their day while the watch-dogs loll their tongues, disciplined to prevent the warning bark - or find the dog catcher.
ONE of the options for prosecution is this psychic likelihood , and the other is whether the words to which objection is being made, were spoken or written BECAUSE of race and so on. This gives a second liability for assault on the verbal victim, if such be the case. In the Palestinian illustration, it would mean that in addition to the rest, if it could be established that the words you spoke had in mind the Palestinian attitude to genocide of the Jews, then you are guilty. The race relevance in mind is illegal in conception. Prohibitions, and not reason or evidence or morals or religious or irreligious considerations, it is these that apply. It is freedom of speech that can look for another nation in which to flourish. Like the PM's word re his election promise or premiss, freedom is in this department of affairs, not there, gone! In the election period, ROBUST speech is necessary for stability or health or wisdom; in the post-election change, this is so no more. The capitulation of conscience, or of religion, to such offices of feeling, emotion and construction as might occur to someone or other, becomes the desideratum, and the continuation of free religion, however valid, becomes the requirement as the case may arrive, and the judgments may be derived.
Australia was not the lucky country so much as the land of independence of mind and liberty to correct culture, argue, debate, contest, protest, invest with meaning, leaving the wit and wisdom to assert themselves while, if not by legal determination, at least by official recognition, acting in the reverence to God Almighty. Since in those terms, as instituted, there was no doubt about which religion was in view, it is all the more a vast change to allow the miseducation of the young to continue in the rampant materialistic follies which have been adopted, and reductionist clamours that obtain in obedient colleges*. But now, despite much protests and challenge, made for example by this body concerning that academic prejudice and breach of scientific method, the religious demands extend to the older level, educating by law and its negative impact. The matter broadens, with more components of compulsion.
The folly of such considerations is not least their inherently immoral character, unreasonable power, insulation from everything EXCEPT likelihood to offend, which moves more in the realm of reaction, not its ground. Hence with this comes the power to make a transgressor (yes, a law breaker is a transgressor) out of one who may IN SO SPEAKING be carrying out a perfectly reasonable part of his or her religion, or indeed, a charge within it as to what ought to be said. The position does not then change; the case is as presented.
Thus the State is Lord over religion, puts feelings before facts, psychology above truth, deems itself the arbiter of correctness concerning religious scope, establishes its own religion.
Let us then look at implications if the Government has actually thought carefully about this. It would mean, unless it intended to be subversive of truth, a dictator to religion, that it deems NO religion to be absolute truth, and NO God having any place in this land to have the commandments attached to such a religion, done. This is certainly a religious theme, put into practice, ruling over multitudes of elements of many religions, and while not stating that the Government IS God, it exhibits it acting very much as if it had secret access to the very last word, and SO ruled and told you what is, and is not, correct. Otherwise, if any religion actually WERE from God, it would be fighting God in this matter and again, if that is not a religion, what is. That this IS so (cf. for example, SMR) merely adds to the case; but in ANY case, the pretension of power is present.
The law should apply equally to all in any just society, and those in need of help should be shown it in terms of mercy, not making truth an abattoir victim. The law should not act as if God were gone, were not at all, because these are religious premises, quite apart from the status of such propositions; but that is another story. If it is NOT to establish any religion, then it should not compete with its own nostrums, preferences, cultural exhibits. Culture is NOT to be regarded as God, because that is a religion, making man the matrix and determinant. It depends on what he thinks, not on anything objective, whether he should think it or his thought is rational. It is whether he thinks it or not that matters, and what is the state of his feelings vis-à-vis governmental law and lore; and to enforce this is once again, all part of a religion, codifiable into contention in the field of religion.
For such reasons, and many more, it seems best in all goodwill to interpret the matters noted on offence and insult, to mean on sustainable grounds, in the legal norm, not with open cheque; and not to envisage 'ethnic' as including religion as one of its components, at least in this case, in this context. It is just that this is NOT stated, does NOT appear as a qualification, so that such a status, however related to OTHER matters in the constitution, and however prone to counter by these, is in fact not so drafted. If it be interpreted to include religion, then the Constitution is misinterpreted by negation.
Normally, the thing to be preserved in efforts of this sort relates to prejudicial treatment of people in terms which are obviously wrong, because in certain fields, it is not in the power to alter these things, such as being crippled, old, of this or that skin colour or race and so on. Race and colour are two prominent cases in such matters. Ethnicity may refer to any characteristics of a group into which one is born, which similarly are not an option to change, and which therefore ought not to be made an irrational ground of objection. Religion is emphatically not in that category; for it may be changed; although in some cases, it may occasion your death, to change; yet it is in the realm of choice, should you wish to have it or not, or change it, or not.
As soon as you put religion into that category, as in the purely subjective interpretation of 18 C in the law in question, you are in fact establishing a religion, for it is a vast undertaking of enormous impact. It is not unlike the Imperial Rome situation of old, when the STATE told you to worship something whether you liked it or not, thus to give it supreme honour in the field, worshipping the Emperor a requirement. How could anyone honestly bow to such religious establishment of the State's choice of religious authority (its own), religious perspectives (its own) and religious liberty (its own), who actually believed in any articulate God who forbad this! It becomes analogous to a religious coup, unconstitutional, unhallowed, tyrannical over truth in principle. Indeed, if you do not believe that the State has or has shown the power to determine such issues, and hold that a revealed God has this authority, than how could such restrictions in contradiction of divine law determine your conduct or exercise your tongue, being contrary! Is it hypocrites and martyrs which are desired ?
Hypocrisy is not to be desired, far less cultivated, but most strenuously avoided; and if the State institutes suffering where its religious type of dicta are rejected by the victim being attacked in this way by State law, then it becomes just one of the many religious tyrants that proliferate so on this earth.
The only limits to religion to be found in a non-dictatorial State, are those which prohibit substitution of force of arms for force of reason, and pockets of political power (gained in whatever way) being exploited to subvert integrity. An argument may assault a belief, scientific, ethical, religious or whatever. To confuse its force with undue use of force is quite simply to quash truth in principle, making it to be "fallen in the street" as in Isaiah 59:14. It is sad to see a nation disqualified from freedom, from the needs of integrity of religion except where suffering is legislated and as necessary, met. It is amazing to see THIS ONE even within shouting distance of such folly.
In the next Chapter, DV, we will consider a particular case.
For earlier consideration in this general arena law and liberty in Australia's recent dramatics, see Now the Highway, then the Heights Ch. 8.