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Anita Heiss asks ‘Am I Black Enough for You?’ but legally I cannot answer the question

April 12, 2012

Anita Heiss asks ‘Am I Black Enough for You?’ but legally I cannot answer the question

Legal action by this author prevents us from answering that question in Australia

Censorship in Australia became official late last year when the courts found that Andrew Bolt had violated the Racial Discrimination Act by questioning whether some light skinned academics had unreasonable claimed aboriginal heritage for personal gain. Bolt’s article may have been crassly expressed and controversial but they were not even close the nastiness of a Pauline Hanson’s first speech when she was elected to federal parliament.

In stepped Anita Heiss and her litigious buddies to shut down any such discussing taking place in Australia. Bolt was taken to court and lost his case under the obscure passages of the Anti Discrimination Act that prevents people from causing offence. It was a bizarre case that relied upon poorly drafted paragraphs of the Act that vaguely defined what is ‘offensive’. Without clarity of what is deemed ‘offensive’ it would up to the courts to decide and one strike of the judge’s hammer censorship was reborn.

The ruling was as controversial as any that have been made in Australia with many leftwing and libertarians celebrating its illiberal ramifications. Others on the conservative side of politics saw this as a threat to free speech. Standing in between the sides of politics was anyone who wanted to discuss the same question that Andrew Bolt had.

From the date of the court rule Andrew Bolt has been legally unable to even publically correct errors made in other publications about this case. People are free to criticize him on this matter but he is unable to respond. Whether you like Andrew Bolt or not it does set a dangerous precedent.

Recently Anita Heiss has produced a book called ‘Am I Black Enough for you?’ Despite the rhetorical nature of the question it is legally dangerous for anyone to answer this question in Australia. For example when ABC Broadcasting was preparing to interview Heiss about her book Andrew had to remind them that legally prevented from so. The case that Heiss and her ‘friends’ had brought against Bolt had ensured that. Instead Heiss is free to criticise Bolt over the case but Bolt cannot respond.

For a while ABC left open a discussion about ‘Am I Black Enough for You?’ With in the span of day the site was flooded with complaints that Anita Heiss had hypocritically censored her critics and as she taunted them with questions that they were not permitted to answer. Many saw her enforcing censorship in to Australia and then boasting about it. The publisher of the book Random House also left open a discussion forum only to find that it was flooded with similar accusations.

By the following day both Random House and ABC had removed the comment claiming that they were racist. From the many that personally read, very few could be interpreted as racist. So rather than moderating the offensive replies all have been deleted (censored if you will).

Amazon who are also publishing Heiss’ book have left the discussion forum open. As a result of a link pointing to the Amazon website from Andrew Bolts blog The Age newspaper has a headline story titled ‘Bolt link to racist reviews of book.’ In an amazing leap of logic The Age’s Rural and Indigenous Affairs Reporter Saffron Howden, pointing people to the world’s best known online book seller is a link to racist book review. Not only the mental led at best moronic the overwhelming majority of replies were not racist in nature. Rather they were very critical of what they saw as Heiss’ celebration of censorship.

Typical of the replies read like this:

“It’s not often I agree with anything Noam Chomsky says, but I can certainly agree with this: “If you don’t believe in freedom of speech for people whose opinions you despise, then you don’t believe in freedom of speech.” Dr Heiss and her publisher clearly do not believe in freedom of speech.”

I am sorry but this woman has done more damage to our rights to free speech in Australia than anyone else in our history. Truly disgraceful that she would then throw that fact in everyone’s face with her sneering title which carries the implicit threat of legal persecution if she is not given the ‘right’ answer. Oh and the book is really boring as well.

Appalling rubbish. Not enough that she has won a court case, put the cause of free speech back decades and damaged her own cause – she actually writes a book about it (at public expense)to gloat. Heiss is the face of “the establishment” now.

Why would anyone give money to someone who is pushing to censor free speech? buying this book does just that.

Needless to say that there are comments that support the book and the author’s with equally dismissive remarks. This a far cry from the level of racism that would warrant a headline story for national newspaper. (Then again we are talking about The Age).

So far Anita Heiss has received $90,000 in government grants to write two books, including ‘Am I Black Enough for you?’

Wonders never cease

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