Sunday, 21 August 2016

Liberal Democratic Party Senator for NSW David Leyonhjelm appears intent on publicly making a fool of himself

This is what Sydney Morning Herald journalist Mark Kenny had to say about Liberal Democratic Party Senator for NSW David Leyonhjelm on 8 August 2016:

David Leyonhjelm is a boorish, supercilious know-all with the empathy of a besser block. And that new Hansonite conspiracy theorist from Queensland? He's an absurdist fringe-dweller and fellow hate-speech apologist. It's a case of wacky and wackier.

Neither of these self-promoting misanthropes would have the first idea about entrenched discrimination. Yet both are experts.

You may disagree with this harsh critique and probably think it unbecoming of a serious media outlet. But offensive to them, it is not. And that's the point.

You see, this gormless duo has declared, with all their angry-white-male certitude, that a verbal abuser cannot cause offence or humiliation. It is all in the mind of the recipient.

In their peerless assessment of the lived experience of all minorities, they have decreed that the fault of hate-speech does not lie with the utterer of a given slur or insult, no matter how cruel, baseless, or humiliating. Rather, the "offence" lies with the recipient - the subject who simply "decides" to be affronted.

Infantile reasoning, but there it is……..

Leyonhjelm, who has been sitting in the Australia senate since July 2014, has reported taken the matter of being described as having angry-white-male certitude to the Human Rights Commission allegedly lodging a complaint under section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 – the very section of the act he is keen to see abolished.

This is an excerpt from Section 18C of this act:

Offensive behaviour because of race, colour or national or ethnic origin
             (1)  It is unlawful for a person to do an act, otherwise than in private, if:
                     (a)  the act is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people; and
                     (b)  the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person or of some or all of the people in the group.
Note:          Subsection (1) makes certain acts unlawful. Section 46P of the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 allows people to make complaints to the Australian Human Rights Commission about unlawful acts. However, an unlawful act is not necessarily a criminal offence. Section 26 says that this Act does not make it an offence to do an act that is unlawful because of this Part, unless Part IV expressly says that the act is an offence…..

The senator’s behaviour is suspect because he would be well aware that airing his supposedly offended feelings will probably go nowhere because of Section 18D of that same act:

                   Section 18C does not render unlawful anything said or done reasonably and in good faith:
                     (a)  in the performance, exhibition or distribution of an artistic work; or
                     (b)  in the course of any statement, publication, discussion or debate made or held for any genuine academic, artistic or scientific purpose or any other genuine purpose in the public interest; or
                     (c)  in making or publishing:
                              (i)  a fair and accurate report of any event or matter of public interest; or
                             (ii)  a fair comment on any event or matter of public interest if the comment is an expression of a genuine belief held by the person making the comment.

New Matilda was less than impressed by both Leyonhjelm and Roberts on 16 August 2016:
Liberal Democrats Senator David Leyonhjelm, during an August 2016 
appearance on ABC's Insider's program.

News broke yesterday that Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm has lodged a complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission, alleging he was racially vilified by Fairfax journalist Mark Kenny, who called him an ‘angry white man’. Chris Graham explains why Leyonhjelm will lose, why the current debate around 18c is a ridiculous furphy, and why free speech has never really been under threat……

One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts tried to claim on ABC Insiders recently that 18c was introduced by “Julia Gillard to nobble Andrew Bolt”.

One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts, 
appearing on ABC’s Insiders program in August 2016.

In fact, 18c was introduced by Keating government Attorney General Michael Lavarch in 1995. That’s three years before Julia Gillard was even elected to parliament, 15 years before she became Prime Minister, and 16 years before Bolt was successfully sued under the 18c provisions. It also happens to be about three or four years before Bolt started writing his rants for the Herald Sun (in the late 1990s).

George Brandis made headlines in 2014 while railing against 18c when he remarked in parliament that ‘everyone has the right to be a bigot’. Which is strictly true, but under Australian law, our Attorney General seemed not to understand that there are so sanctions for being ‘said bigot’.

Since Bolt lost, all the usual suspects have railed against 18c. They need to let it go. Really. So does the media. There is literally nothing to see here. Free speech is not under attack.

You cannot have a rational discussion about 18c without acknowledging the existence of 18d. But that is what conservative whingers keep doing, and the media keep letting them get away with it. It has to stop.

Of all those whingers, David Leyonhjelm is perhaps one of the least interesting, but that brings us neatly back to his boy’s own adventure in the Australian Human Rights Commission, and the other major reason why Leyonhjelm will lose his case.


Shortly after news broke of his complaint, Leyonhjelm took to the airwaves to boast that he wasn’t really insulted, offended, humiliated and/or intimidated. He was just trying it on to expose how bad section 18c really was.

The work of the AHRC is extremely important. It has labored under funding cuts by the Coalition, and yet despite this, has still delivered crucial work, such as its inquiry into abuse in immigration detention.

And yet, despite the pressure on the Commission, an elected parliamentary representative appears to have tried to spark a government inquiry purely for sh*ts and giggles…..

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