Thursday, September 29, 2011
Australian Judge Censors Speech About Affirmative Action and Fraud in Racial Set-Asides
by Hans Bader
Political “commentator Andrew Bolt ‘was found guilty Wednesday of breaking Australian discrimination law by implying that fair-skinned Aborigines chose to identify as indigenous for profit and career advancement.’ A judge ‘said he will prohibit reproduction of the offending articles,’ and ‘Bolt and his publisher must meet with the plaintiffs to discuss appropriate court orders that would reflect the judgment.’”
This is an extremely damaging blow to free speech. The problem of fraud in affirmative action programs is neither new nor rare. People who are not minorities often pretend to be minorities in order to obtain benefits under affirmative-action programs and racial set-aside schemes (The Massachusetts Supreme Court upheld the firing of two brothers who pretended to be black to receive preference in hiring). And people often push the envelope in claiming minority status when they have only a small fraction of non-white or minority ancestry. (For example, beneficiaries of affirmative action included people who were only one-quarter Hispanic, under a consent decree in the U.S. v. New York City Board of Education case.)
Australia does not have an equivalent of the American First Amendment, but that is no excuse for the judge’s verdict, since the speech restrictions in the Australian Racial Discrimination Act contain an applicable defense of “fair comment.” The judge, Mordy Bromberg, did not deny that the problem of fraud in affirmative-action programs existed, and claimed that “nothing in the orders I make should suggest that it is unlawful for a publication to deal with racial identification, including by challenging the genuineness of the identification of a group of people.” But he refused to allow the defense of fair comment mandated by the statute, because, he said, “of the manner in which that subject matter was dealt with” by the commentator.
But in truth, the principal thing distinctive about the political commentator’s “manner” was his viewpoint: he was citing affirmative action fraud to criticize affirmative action programs, rather than just to highlight particular undeserving non-minority beneficiaries of it (as even left-leaning journalists occasionally do).
The judge was offended by his viewpoint, and used that as a pretext to gut the “fair comment” defense recognized by law. As Popehat notes, people claiming to be Australian aborigines (and thus eligible for affirmative action) include people whose “face is paler than” his “Scandinavian ancestors.” The judge did find that some of Bolt’s many factual contentions were erroneous, but in truth, that was not the judge’s chief concern, as his railing about Bolt’s alleged tone (“provocative,” “inflammatory,” and “gratuitous”) and the court’s rejection of literal truth as a defense indicated (“To establish the defence of fair comment the requirement is not merely that the facts stated are true.”). The judge has indicated that he will issue “orders prohibiting the republication of the newspaper articles,” even though those articles made valid points.
In addition to being judicial overreaching, the judge’s decision flouts free-speech provisions contained in international treaties signed by Australia like the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The right to criticize affirmative action is a free-speech right, even in contexts where free speech is quite limited, like the public employment setting, where the U.S. Supreme Court’s Connick v. Myers decision allows greater restrictions on speech.
For example, the California Department of Corrections attempted to fire employee John Wallace after he angrily denounced its affirmative action plan. The California Court of Appeal, however, found that his criticisms of the plan were protected by the First Amendment, and barred Wallace’s firing, in California Department of Corrections v. State Personnel Board, 59 Cal.App.4th 131 (1997).
The Australian court ruling came in the case of Eatock v. Bolt.
The make-up of modern Britain: 70% claim to be Christians... and only 1.5% are homosexual
Three Britons count themselves as Christian for every one non-believer, according to a major survey. And nearly seven in ten said they were Christian, even if they never go to church. Fewer than a quarter said they had no religion and only one in 12 follows another religion.
The finding that the nation remains overwhelmingly Christian comes days after it emerged that BBC programme-makers have been put under pressure to stop describing dates as BC or AD. Instead, they have been told to use the non-Christian alternatives Before Common Era and Common Era.
The Corporation’s religion and ethics department has said that ‘as the BBC is committed to impartiality it is appropriate that we use terms that do not offend or alienate non-Christians’.
Meanwhile, four Christians denied the right to wear crosses or act in accordance with their beliefs at work are taking cases to the European Court of Human Rights claiming the State is trying to suppress their religion.
Gay lobbyists and politicians have long claimed that 10 per cent of the population is homosexual. But the figures from the Office for National Statistics’ Integrated Household Survey show this is a wild exaggeration.
Some 94 per cent said they were heterosexual, 4.3 per cent declined to answer the question or said they didn’t know, and 0.4 per cent said their sexuality was ‘other’.
The Office for National Statistics’ new Integrated Household Survey, which collects the views of 420,000 people, found that 69 per cent of people in Britain said they were Christian.
Nearly nine in ten over-65s are Christian. But even in the least religious age group, 25 to 34-year-olds, more than half – 55 per cent – profess Christianity. Fifty-nine per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds and 60 per cent of under-16s said they were Christian.
Support for other religions breaks down as 4.4 per cent Muslim, 1.3 per cent Hindu, 0.7 per cent Sikh, 0.4 per cent Buddhist, 0.4 per cent Jewish, and 1.1 per cent who say they follow other religions.
Only 23 per cent of the population said they had no religion. Christian groups said the findings showed that State agencies which act as if Christianity was a minority hobby are wildly wrong.
Simon Calvert, of the Christian Institute think tank, said: ‘These figures must come as a shock to the BBC and the political class. It is about time that this reality, that people want to be identified as Christian, was reflected not only in the output of our major broadcasters but also in the policies of the Government.
‘Ministers are still barrelling along with enforcing civil partnerships in churches and redefining marriage. We can only hope that the reality will catch up with them and give them pause for thought.’
The Integrated Household Survey was put together from five ONS surveys which asked the same ‘core questions’ over a year.
British Leftist bid to curb Press freedoms met by howls of protest
The Fascist instinct rears its head
A shadow minister yesterday announced plans for a draconian crackdown on the Press. Shadow Culture Secretary Ivan Lewis provoked a storm of protest when he suggested journalists should be licensed – meaning they could be ‘struck off’ and banned from working.
But within hours Ed Miliband was forced to disown the policy – as critics warned it would turn Britain into a banana republic in which ministers were able to silence awkward members of the Press.
Mr Lewis, who has in the past faced embarrassing revelations in newspapers about his own private life, told the conference the phone-hacking scandal meant the media could no longer be trusted to regulate itself. He said existing media self-regulation was ‘broken’.
Mr Lewis suggested journalists should be licensed to practise, in a similar way to doctors. Any reporter found guilty of ‘gross malpractice’ could then be ‘struck off’ and barred from having their words published.
The idea was immediately condemned within the party and beyond. Critics warned it could even stifle Press investigations of the kind that exposed the hacking scandal.
Former Labour adviser Dan Hodges suggested the proposal must be a bad joke. ‘On the day of the leader’s speech we announce the state banning of journalists,’ he said. ‘Labour is ceasing to exist as a serious political party.’
Tory MP Philip Davies, a member of the Commons Culture Committee, which is investigating the phone-hacking scandal, warned Labour was in danger of ‘throwing the baby out with the bath water’. ‘Once the Government starts involving itself in the regulation of the media, that is a very slippery slope,’ he said. ‘It is the kind of thing that happens in Third World dictatorships.
‘We need a free Press and self-regulation – that is the cornerstone of a free society and democracy. ‘Where journalists have committed criminal acts we have the criminal law to deal with those people. We do not want to see people in Government deciding what can and cannot be written.’
His speech sparked panic in Mr Miliband’s office, with aides insisting the idea of striking off journalists had not been cleared with the Labour leader.
A senior party source said: ‘We’re not in the business of regulating journalists. We have always said self-regulation is the best policy.’
German Intelligence to Spy on…’Islamophobes?’
There are a lot of similarities between Nazism and Islam so I suppose we should expect Germans to protect Islam
Officials in Germany will meet tomorrow to decide whether right wing groups who are vocally critical of Islam– so-called “Islamophobes”– will be placed under domestic intelligence agency scrutiny alongside other extremists.
The German daily newspaper Der Spiegel reported today that “Islamophobes” could be placed under surveillance by the BfV, the German equivalent of Britain’s MI-5 or, less precisely, our FBI.
The meeting to decide this designation will be held between “the president of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Heinz Fromm, and the agency’s leaders in the 16 German states.”
The German states of Bavaria and Hamburg have already started to view “Islamophobes” and other “right-wing populists” as extremists who pose a threat to order and security. Hamburg officials have declared they monitor a German internet web forum with the less-than-threatening name “Politically Incorrect,” though they say the site is not technically under watch by spies.
Why are German authorities looking at the site then? An unnamed German official told Der Spiegel it was “undemocratic” and meant to “incite young people.”
Der Spiegel summarized the question facing the intelligence agencies as whether: “The hatred of Muslims is enough to endanger freedom of religion and international understanding — or whether it is a radical but legitimate expression of opinion by individual authors within the limits of the constitution.”
The German government already criminalizes political parties deemed offensive or threatening to public order. Last week, Germany outlawed what had been its largest Neo-Nazi party. The country also has stringent anti-hate speech laws on the books, which can call for serious criminal penalties
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
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