TODAY, in the Federal Court, well-known columnist and political commentator Andrew Bolt was found guilty of racial discrimination. In particular he was found guilty of mocking people who do not look aboriginal, but call themselves aboriginal. He was condemned on the basis of comment in two columns one entitled ‘It’s so hip to be black’ and ‘White fellas in the black’.
The Judge found that, “the two newspaper articles, were reasonably likely to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate the people in question (or some of them), and that those articles were written or published by Mr Bolt and HWT including because of the race, colour or ethnic origin of those people.”
Reading the relevant section of the Racial Discrimination Act (Sect 18C) it seems the Judge would have had no choice but to find Bolt guilty because the articles were indeed intended to offend and the attack was made on the basis of colour and race. But surely the Racial Discrimination Act was intended to protect people likely to be discriminated against on the basis of their colour and ethnicity, NOT to protect people unlikely to be discriminated against because they just aren’t black.
Indeed it is perhaps important that people like Andrew Bolt are allowed to comment on what appears disingenuous, that is white people calling themselves aborigines?
Various commentators have suggested that the judgment has broad implications for freedom of speech in Australia. But might it not be just an anomalous judgment forced by the apparent absurdity of the situation?
Eatock versus Bolt, September 28, 2011
Michael Connor on Andrew Bolt on Trial
This blog is normally limited to discussion of issues concerning the natural environment, but given the claimed implication of the judgment on freedom of speech and the right to offend… I am posting.