Monday, 9 December 2013

Brandis made a promise...G HIDE....7/12/13

Brandis made a promise to repeal discrimination law


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GEOFFREY Brahm Levey and Peter Wertheim (Letters, 6/12) are incorrect. In his speech to the Centre for Independent Studies in August and elsewhere, George Brandis made a specific promise to repeal at least the words insult and offend from section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.
Prior to the last election, the consultation on the Nicola Roxon bill and broad public discussion of section 18C provide a clear mandate for change.
Levey says anyone is at liberty to challenge affirmative action policies under hate speech laws. But he adds a crucial proviso -- one cannot marginalise minorities. In short, you are free to speak but only if you do not offend anyone. That is viewpoint discrimination, not liberty.
Levey claims the US Bill of Rights, its non-establishment clause, and political culture explain the relative security of Jews in the US, not free speech. But the non-establishment clause simply ensures the state does not favour one religion over another, and the First Amendment is perhaps the most important clause in the Bill of Rights that he supports. It prohibits hate speech laws.
As President Barack Obama said in his UN speech following the Benghazi attack, minorities in particular need free speech to defend their rights and advocate for change.
The government won office by promising greater freedom. This can only be delivered by a referendum for a First Amendment or a federal law that invalidates the vast number of federal, state and territory laws that take it away. Has it simply lured voters with a lawyer's promise?
Graham Hyde, Adelaide, SA

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