Archive for July, 2014

Reaction to the racist rant shows the law is unnecessary

The lady who gained national attention earlier this year for a racist rant on a train has been given a sensible sentence by the courts: no fine and no recorded conviction. Unfortunately she has been placed on a good behaviour bond, but I suspect Magistrate Teresa O’Sullivan did this only because Karen Bailey pleaded guilty to using offensive language, and failing to hand her some sort of punishment would have led to an appeal in front of a judge with less sense when it comes to matters of freedom of speech.

The real travesty here is that there is a law which makes her racist rant illegal. This law is entirely unnecessary as, apart from anything else, public reaction on the train where other people used their own freedom of speech to counter her absurd rant was enough to eventually shut her down. The public humiliation which followed when footage turned up online and on television was further punishment for her, as her court statements show.

Karen Bailey, 55, pleaded guilty to offensive language in the Downing Centre Local Court today and told Magistrate Teresa O’Sullivan she was “absolutely appalled” at her behaviour.
[..]
She had written a letter of apology to the court

(h/t Amy Dale, The Daily Telegraph)

Both the on-train reaction and the public airing of her rant and accompanying condemnation were exercises of freedom of speech, and proved the best defence against absurd uses of free speech is more use of free speech. Laws prohibiting certain types of speech inhibit this ability of a society to self-moderate, and worse still if such laws do reduce the amount of absurd speech, we end up in a situation where some groups don’t hear regular reminders that society doesn’t accept certain views, and can become radicalised in those views because they believe such views are widespread but silenced…at least when such views are intermittently aired and reacted to, people holding such views understand how these views are seen by society.

Unfortunately there are bigger issues with a lack of freedom of speech in Australia as, right now, there is a court order which can not be mentioned either by content or name (even writing this is skirting on the edge of the law) and we have to rely on foreign press to mention it as domestic media and citizens would be in contempt of court if they mention it. That law is a true disgrace as, while it is reasonable for a court to prevent some details from being mentioned while the court proceedings are in progress, the prevention of noting that such a court order exists is a sure fire way to diminish trust (which is dependent on relative transparency) in the courts.

Freedom of speech, while never enshrined in law in this country, really is in trouble while we have all of these restrictive laws in place.

Samuel

2 comments July 31st, 2014 at 06:30pm

An interesting radio interview coming up in about an hour

I have noted on a few occasions that Coast To Coast AM tends to have roughly one interview per month which interests me; today happens to be one of those days with the second half of today’s show.

From 5pm Canberra time / 3am US Eastern / Midnight US Pacific:

With over 20 years of experience in the field of sleep medicine, Dr. Robert Rosenberg, will discuss the science of sleep, and how technology, binge TV watching, and chemicals like energy drinks are changing how our brains function. He’ll address many of the bizarre disorders people experience while they are sound asleep– not only sleepwalking but eating and driving.

A few stations to choose from if, like me, you plan on tuning in:
KMBZ, Kansas City
News/Talk 95.3 MNC, South Bend, Indiana
WCBM, Baltimore

Samuel

July 31st, 2014 at 04:02pm

If governments didn’t stick their noses in where they don’t belong, this sort of thing probably wouldn’t happen

If the facts are as stated (and that is for a court to decide), then what happened is inexcusable and I don’t seek to excuse it.

A Department of Environment and Heritage worker is believed to have been shot dead while attending a property 55 kilometres north of Moree.
[..]
A source at the department said the worker had been serving a notice on an elderly man at the property when he was shot.
The man was receiving the notice because he was suspected of illegally clearing vegetation.

(h/t Eryk Bagshaw, The Sydney Morning Herald)

There are calls for better protections for “frontline workers” in the wake of this incident, and that is fair enough, but something else which should be considered is that none of this would have happened if the government wasn’t interfering with how people run their own land. If people wish to clear land which they own, then the government should not be in a position to stop them. It is not as if the NSW Government, in particular, has been a beacon of great sense with such interference either as they are the people who refused to let people make fire breaks on their own land…land which burned as a result.

If governments wish to dictate how land is managed, then the government should take ownership of such land after (and only after) providing reasonable compensation. The NSW Government, thanks to laws (The Native Vegetation Act — Thanks Jim Ball) passed by Bob Carr’s government, are not required to provide any compensation and, as a result, seem to think they can dictate to all and sundry about how land should be managed, despite their own dismal record.

Samuel

July 30th, 2014 at 02:12pm


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