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Andrew Bolt should not have to appeal because the law should have been repealed

September 30, 2011

Andrew Bolt should not have to appeal because the law should have been repealed

 

The dust has hardly settled on the case where the News Limited journalist Andrew Bolt was found guilty of breaking the Anti-discrimination Act. In very strange twist of logic it seems that anyone can now lodge a case against anyone based entirely on whether it offends their sensibilities.

 

The articles which Bolt penned called into question the authenticity of someone calling themself Aboriginal when they have few physical Aboriginal traits. His implication and statement was that some people were claiming Aboriginal heritage in order to benefit by gaining access to government funding and places set aside for Aboriginal people. In short Bolt was implying that some people were rorting the system and had become aboriginals by choice.

 

This opinion in itself is hardly ground breaking and has be fodder of bar room chatter for years. Regardless of the evidence, or lack thereof, to substantiate this claim, it is still just an opinion. It can be countered in the public forum with a proper rebuttal or it can be ignored as a meaningless piece of idle chatter. Whether the opinion is ignorant or informed it should never be up to a court to determine what opinions should be allowed in the public arena.

Now it gets worse.

It is not what Andrew Bolt said that was deemed illegal but rather the tone and language he used to say it. Furthermore Bolt was criticised for encouraging people to read between the lines. Bazaar to say the least.

 

Despite whether someone likes Bolt or hates him; despite whether there were errors in his two contentious articles; how does one judge what is written between lines? Surely that is left to personal interpretation. Unfortunately the Anti-discrimination law is now being interpreted to include tone and inference. Perhaps the presiding judge Justice Bromberg was reading between the lines of the original act.

 

An appeal against the court’s decision is still being mulled over by the News Limited lawyers.

 

Yet this strange little case now has ramifications far beyond Andrew Bolt’s person life and bruised ego. (That too shall recover.)

 

Yet there is a larger question of why such a situation was allowed to come about and how this will impact upon robust debate in this country. If common sense prevails the appeal will crush the ‘inference’ and ‘between the lines’ censorship.

 

However if it fails to do so t will be because the original law is so poorly written that they are trapped in this alternate universe where common sense cannot exist. And it is a universe where censorship is based upon inference.

 

The easiest way to fix this problem is to amend the law.

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