Free speech in Australia has been under attack for a number of years. We have seen the damage 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act has had along with its enforcer the Australian Human Rights Commission. But there are other insidious pieces of legislation that also suppress free speech.
One such piece of legislation is the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2002 introduced by the Bracks Labor Government. Its first victims were Christian Pastors Danny Nalliah and Daniel Scot for a sermon which discussed the violence inherent in Islam. Originally found to have breached the law by the Victorian Administrative Appeal Tribunal the decision was eventually overturned in the Victorian Court of Appeal. But the chilling effect on free speech was very clear.
Now three more right-wing activists have fallen afoul of this atrocious law. Blair Cottrell Leader of the United Patriots Front, Christopher Shortis and Neil Erikson yesterday were found to breached the law by offending Muslims by Magistrate John Hardy in Melbourne Magistrates’ Court. This was for their staging of a mock beheading during their campaign against the construction of the Bendigo Mosque in 2015. They were fined $2000 each with a conviction recorded against Cottrell. All three have stated they will appeal.
The case was brought forward by the Victorian Government, not by a Muslim who was offended. This was a brazen act of political interference by the state government to limit the activism of people they do not like which is an affront to democracy and something that only tyrannical governments do.
Once they were found guilty of what is effectively a blasphemy law the Magistrate struck out the other charges of wilful damage and defacing property, at the request of the prosecution. This demonstrates that the prosecution was only interested in the religious vilification charge and if they were found not guilty of that they hoped to get them on these other trumped up charges.
The trio made a compelling defence that the state was basically claiming they should not have mocked an act which is illegal in Australia and is carried out by theocracies such as Saudi Arabia and Islamic terror organisations such as Islamic State which the Australian army is fighting overseas. Shortis stated “Beheadings are not lawful in Victoria or Australia” and “the state is effectively trying to defend what is an unlawful activity under Australian law”.
Nobody can deny that beheadings in the modern age are carried out in the name of Islam, but a Melbourne Court has now found highlighting that to be illegal. The trio were not stating that the Bendigo Mosque itself would carry out beheadings but that spread of Islam in western nations such as Australia made terrorist acts which include beheadings more frequent. Shortis stated “We the accused made a political statement on the dangers of Islam”. The court has also basically stated that beheadings are part of the religion of Islam which I’m sure many Muslims would disagree with.
Despite what the left would tell you our governments have done all they can to placate Islam. They operate on the belief that we must be nice to Muslims or they’ll attack us. They hand out millions of taxpayers’ money to Islamic cultural enrichment programs and continue to let thousands in a year no questions asked.
This is clearly the most significant attack on free speech in Australia to date. The ruling is designed to send a message to Australian community at large that you cannot link Islam to terrorism or publicly raise concerns about the consequences that the Islamization of the nation brings. No religion is above criticism, not every religion is entitled to respect. All ideas even if they are cloaked in religion deserve scrutiny and yes that includes in the form of comedy and satire.
Many would argue that people are still free to criticise Islam but the way in which the trio did it with a mock beheading which included fake blood was deliberately provocative and crossed the line. But as Erikson stated outside the court on Monday Kathy Griffin held up the blooded yet of President Donald Trump yet her free speech was protected and she is now being allowed into Australia to perform her Laughing Your Head Off World Tour. Double standards clearly at play.
What is also disturbing about the case is that the usual conservative commentators who normally defend free speech have stayed largely silent. This is most likely because they consider the trio too extreme, this is cowardly on their behalf as even if you do consider the Bendigo three extreme they are still entitled to the same defence of free speech that your standard conservative would be.
Another added consequences is that the government and media has empowered the leftist street thugs like the ones who were present on the opening date of the trial on Monday who were cheering on the suppressing of free speech occurring in the court. No doubt they will feel emboldened to continue their violence and intimidation of right wing activism giving that our government has essentially agreed with their demands.
However, the trio are undeterred, not only will they appeal but will continue their activism. They have already been putting their safety and freedom on the line for their ideas for a number of years and are not the type of people who will be cowed into silence. But the effect this ruling will have on the Australian community at large plus silence of the normal free speech crowd on this case will make ordinary Australians more afraid to raise their concerns about the spread of Islam and its consequences.