So, to give a specific example of the kind of worried reaction to the Andrew Bolt conviction by some Christians. I received a forwarded email from the Saltshakers organisation who had this to say:
The Judgement returned in the Andrew Bolt case, which found he had breached the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA) because of his comments about some aborigines, highlights the immense DANGER of the Federal law, which allows anyone who feels they have been ‘offended, insulted, humiliated or intimidated’ on the basis of their race or ethnic identity to take a case in the Federal Court.
It is true that a racial descrimination act opens the door for vexatious claims of offence by people who simply don’t like what someone else is saying. However to suggest that this is an IMMENSE DANGER is to seriously overstate the problem. In particular, in this case the judge made it very clear that it wasn’t just a case of someone’s feelings being hurt, but rather that any reasonable person would be offended, humiliated and intimidated both by what Bolt wrote and how he wrote it. I have to say it feels a little like Saltshakers is talking up the problem here to give themselves a reason to exist.
Of greater concern than the exaggeration of free speech though, is where the letter heads next. It seems that saltshakers not only thinks that Andrew Bolt has a right to say what he said, they actually agree with what he said.
…the dangerous principle now established largely arises because one group of people are able to claim special ‘rights’ based on a small link to aboriginality…
….Australia should treat ALL its citizens equally. Our nation provides support for people who are in special circumstances, such as unemployment, poverty, disability and so on. However, this support should be based on well-established criteria that includes all Australians. All people should be treated equally – not just those of certain ethnic, religious or cultural identities.
These paragraphs seems to completely missunderstand the case. The whole point was that the judge found that those who brought the case did not have a ‘small link’ to Aboriginality, they had a deep and unavoidable link to their Aboriginal identity.
Further, I can’t see how this case in any way undermines the equality of Australians. Surely we all deserve protection from powerful voices who want to humiliate us and intimidate us into changing our identity or our culture with false and deliberate mockery.
As I said earlier I would have thought that Christians would be rejoicing that we have a law that protects the weak and the vulnerable from the scorn and mockery of the powerful, and it concerns me that Saltshakers is so worried about theoretical danger to our rights as Christians that it is willing to jump into bed with the Bolts and Newscorps of this world.