Mar 292011

For those of you who don’t know, Sun Herald columnist & supposed blogger, radio show host & sometimes participant on ABC’s Insiders program, Andrew Bolt, is being sued over something he wrote.

So what, you say? About time, you say? Well….many would agree and I’d be right in the front ranks. Some might say differently. Indeed, Bernard Keane of Crikey and Twitter notoriety thinks it’s an outrageous attack on Bolt’s freedom of speech, his freedom to express himself however he wishes at no cost to himself and every cost both personal and professional, to those he defames. And it’s not just defamation we’re dealing with here. It’s discrimination. Racial discrimination and vilification. Read the linked articles and you’ll soon get the gist. It’s typical Bolt. Everyone is wrong, except for him and his troop of sycophantic flying monkeys. Harsh? Not a bit of it. It’s perfectly apt and truthful. That is the man’s ethos, and his followers ape his words. The very same kind of people we saw behind the abusive, appalling display in Canberra last week, masquerading as some form of peoples popular revolt in response to a call to arms by Tony Abbott over a stunt he’s running in a bid to gain political power.

Bolt is an anachronism. An ideologue out of 19th century Victorian-style British politics or worse, the French Revolutionary era where anyone even remotely associated with politics, current affairs and matters of national interest had to be identified with either the ‘left’ or the ‘right’. Whatever those terms are intended to define, outside of the source in the French National Assembly circa 1792. It’s an aged paradigm utterly unrepresentative of of modern political, cultural and societal structures, which speaks volumes for the man every time he utters the pejorative ‘the left’.

But, back to the castigation of Bolt by the legal system, and the question of freedom of expression. Should Bolt, or indeed any individual of his ilk, be granted carte blanche by the laws of this land to abuse, insult and denigrate other Australians on the basis of their genetic heritage, simply on the basis of an uncodified ‘right’. This is a separate issue entirely, but there is no ‘right’ to freedom of speech in this country. Australia has no Bill of Rights. Supposedly the Constitution embodies such freedoms, yet here we are arguing the existence of a freedom which to my mind simply doesn’t exist in law. The freedom to say whatever one wishes, about whomever one wishes, in whatever arena one wishes only exists in the minds and hearts of those who either believe such a thing is innate in a democratic society, or wish to invoke it to justify their societal indiscretions. Until such times as Australia adopts and codifies a Bill of Rights, the freedom of expression is a vapour-thin phantom in my view. In this case, under law, there simply is no allusion to any freedom of expression.

Which brings me to why I believe Bolt will be justly censured by the laws of this land. I give you the Racial Discrimination Act 1975. Specifically, Part II, Section 9 and Part IIa, Section 189(c). Bolt’s only defence is his counsel proving that his intent in writing what he wrote can not be defined as unlawful in terms of the act. I’d have to say, it’s a damn thin defence. Some I’ve spoken to believe he’ll get off, because, hey….we’re all racists at heart. That may or may not be true. We all undoubtedly have our biases, BUT, we tend to keep those biases to ourselves. Why? Because we have ethical understandings that society may or may not tolerate that which the more considered among us think about, before we do, say or write. Bolt did no such thing. He simply expressed himself in the only way he knows how. Publically. That form of expression is unlawful, in terms of the act and Bolt either knew this and flouted the law, or acted in blind ignorance. Either way, he has no defence in law. Just desserts I say. The man is too arrogant, blasé and self-serving for his own good. He is free to believe whatever he chooses to believe, but when he expresses those beliefs in direct contravention of the rule of law, then to my mind, he deserves everything he gets.

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