There’s been a lot of handwringing from many Christians about the recent conviction of Andrew Bolt on racial discrimination charges. There seems to be a fear that the sky is falling in and all christians are now going to be thrown into jail for disagreeing with anyone about anything.
It is true that Andrew Bolt got into trouble for being offensive, however you are actually allowed to be offend people as long as you are conducting reasonable debate in good faith. This is where Bolt got into trouble. The judge found that:
I have not been satisfied that the offensive conduct that I have found occurred, is exempted from unlawfulness by section 18D. The reasons for that conclusion have to do with the manner in which the articles were written, including that they contained errors of fact, distortions of the truth and inflammatory and provocative language.
I for one am happy to be held accountable for conducting my debate in a way that avoids errors, distortions of the truth and inflammatory and provocative language. Surely any Christian would be happy to conduct debate in this way. This doesn’t limit my free speech, it just means that if I want to say things that will offend people I need to make sure I get my facts straight and not be needlessly inflammatory.
The fact that Bolt has been publishing a steady stream of articles restating his original points, minus the errors of fact, shows just how little free speech has been curtailed.
Finally, as Christians surely there is a much bigger issue at stake than some vague fears about free speech. It is a consistent theme in the Bible that laws should we should protect the ‘fatherless and the widow’ and provide justice for the powerless. We should be giving thanks that we have such laws in Australia. It’s actually fantasticly Biblical that a poor and powerless minority group can have their grievances heard and win a case against a representative of the most powerful publishing company in the world.
The sky is really not falling…