Mark Steyn on the criminalisation of ‘free’ speech


Credit: Bill Leak

One of the reasons I’m in favor of Hillary Clinton being decisively defeated next month is because a Democrat victory, bolstered by a five-four (or six-three, or seven-two) majority on the Supreme Court, will be disastrous for free speech in the United States. President Obama has just declared that the “wild wild west” of the Internet has to be “rebuilt” to “flow” through “some sort of curating function” – because apparently the ever less subtle filtering of Big Social (the Twitter and Facebook monopolies, the Standard Oil of our time) are no longer enough. What’s next? As I had cause to remind the Democrats during my Senate testimony, too many prominent members of their party are already wholesale enthusiasts for the criminalization of dissent – a position that renders politics both irrelevant and impossible. Think of the most repressive safe-spaced college campus in America: that’s where the whole country’s headed.

In Britain, the Commonwealth and Europe, things are trending even worse. It was a sad day for me when the then Australian Prime Minister, the current Attorney-General and the current Foreign Minister …?abandoned their commitment to amend [Racial Discrimination Act] Section 18C. To me, that disgusting “hate speech” ersatz-law is an utter embarrassment to a supposedly free society; to Mr Abbott’s ministry, free speech was merely an “unnecessary complication“.

Well, it’s certainly “complicating” Bill Leak’s life. The Australian‘s cartoonist is the latest to be ensnared by Section 18C, for the cartoon that appears above right. As a previous target, Andrew Bolt, writes:

First two of my own articles were banned. Then seven Queensland students were sued by a staffer at their university for complaining that Aboriginal-only computers were racist. Andnow cartoonist Bill Leak is being attacked under this same wicked Racial Discrimination Act.

When will the Turnbull Government get the guts to at least try to scrap this wicked law?

Good luck with that. Among the more fatuous observations of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in recent months was this:

It [repealing Section 18C] is not going to create an extra job, it is not going to ensure your listeners will get to work, or school, or get around their business any sooner, it’s not going to build an extra road.

The tinny sound of a hollow pseudo-technocrat unmoored from the core principles of liberty.

One of the more depressing moments of my Australian tour a few months ago was a private dinner with a handful of prominent conservative parliamentarians – by which I mean men and women to the right of Mr Turnbull. The most eminent among them declared confidently that scrapping 18C was “not a first-order priority”. We then moved on to discuss what he regarded as the first-order priority, Islamic terrorism in Australia and elsewhere.

I pointed out that one of the reasons why the former (free speech) most certainly is a first-order priority is because, without it, the latter (Islam and the west) cannot be honestly addressed.

The left always try to control though and speech through force. ?Opponents to this blog want it shut down. ?Opponents of their blogs want to see more blogs.

The healthy contest of ideas, even reprehensible ones, is at all times preferable to creating one planet that is a safe space for snowflakes.

How long before it will be illegal in New Zealand to challenge Maori preferrential treatment?


Mark Steyn