I hope Tony Abbott will forgive me if I’m a little sceptical of his “preachers of hate” red card system legislation he wants to push through the parliament.
Maybe it’s just me, but I’m a bit cautious when the first time he really seeks to go into the plan is on the Alan Jones programme. Jones we may remember is the man who has repeatedly faced court over claims he incited the Cronulla race riots with his own on air hate speech and who had the class to use Julia Gillard’s recently deceased father to launch a vicious attack on her.
I’m also sceptical when the government pushing this “preachers of hate” legislation is the same government that only recently backed down on its election promise on changing the Racial Discrimination Act to allow people to preach hate based on race.
Amongst those preachers of hate Abbott sought to give a green light to rather than a red card were Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt. How handy then to be discussing preachers of hate on the Alan Jones programme, after all I guess he’s an expert.
In Australia the last time I remember there being this much fuss over “preachers of hate” speaking in Australia was when Geert Wilders came to our country despite calls to have his visa application denied. Wilders has many charismatic followers, amongst them are Anders Behring Breivik who massacred 77 people in Norway in 2011, Andrew Bolt, and of course Cory Bernardi.
When this particular “preacher of hate” came to Australia it was Tony Abbott’s former Parliamentary Secretary Cory Bernardi that gave him not the red card, but the red carpet treatment, acting as his guide.
Still, “preachers of hate” of hate is a pretty loose term, ones view of it would depend on your views on preachers and on hate.
In the US there is Federal legislation to protect its citizens from hate crime. A hate crime is deemed a crime against someone who is based in the victims race, religion. ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.
Tony Abbott seems to view hate a little differently, saying on radio;
“Under the law that we are bringing through the Parliament hopefully before the end of the year, it will be an offence to promote terrorism – not just to engage in terrorism – but to promote terrorism.”
Whilst I agree with this, I don’t think it goes anywhere close to far enough. In fact it would seem to the casual observer that Abbott believes a “preacher of hate” is someone who promotes terrorism, not someone who is on a soapbox making speeches designed to promote hatred, discrimination, and ignorance.
I would suggest that this is a very narrow view indeed.
Preacher of hate Alan Jones used the Abbott interview to preach some hatred about an Islamic organisation in Australia he would like to see banned.
The group is called Hizb ut-Tahrir and they are banned in some parts of the world. I don’t claim to know enough about this group to give my views on them being “preachers of hate” so I won’t, but banning them would seem futile to me.
Banning hasn’t exactly worked a treat for bikie gangs, why would this be any different? In fact it seems to only make them harder to monitor.
Banning an organisation won’t suddenly change its members beliefs, I’d argue that it may even antagonise the membership.
It is rather ironic that the same people who were arguing for greater freedom of speech when it came to changing the Racial Discrimination Act are the same people wanting less freedom of speech for those whose views they disagree with.
I am in 100% agreement however that freedom of speech should not be a get out of jail free card for those who incite violence, whether that be done directly or indirectly. However this needs to be a two-way street.
Those who claim to be Islamic while promoting violence against civilians and other terror related activities should be charged and jailed. By the same token those who promote views that lead to hatred and discrimination against Muslims and those of Middle Eastern background should also be charged and jailed.
If it was a criminal offence to preach hate in Australia maybe we would see less comments from those who seek to promote class warfare by branding people like the disabled, the pensioners, the single parents, and the unemployed as bludgers and claim they are draining our society while others do the heavy lifting.
Maybe also we would see less speeches made that brand homosexuals as perverts and people with no morals, by those who claim some sort of moral superiority such as we often see through church groups and Liberal Party Senators.
Maybe it would stop those who are trying to ensure that we view every woman wearing a head covering as some sort of threat with their incorrect and discriminatory calls to “ban the burqa”.
Maybe it would mean groups like the World Congress Of Families coming out here to spew forth their preaching that single mothers and homosexuals are damaging societies moral fabric would have to tone down their rhetoric or have their visa application denied. Given their Australian Ambassador is Kevin Andrews Minister for Social Services I’m sure the government wouldn’t agree on them being “preachers of hate”. Certainly not Kevin Andrews or Eric Abetz…
There is no doubt that hate speech is a current and relevant topic to be discussing and something needs to be legislated and made into law.
However I’m not sure that it’s a decision that should be made by this government alone and I’m also not sure that it should be discussed by the Prime Minister on the radio programme of someone who has already been found to have intentionally incited hatred.
This should be something that is overseen by a completely independent panel and has representatives from all cultures, religions and minority groups taking part.
This is far too important an issue to let it be overrun by right-wing agendas.
We need only look at the budget to see what a disaster that turns out being.