By Andrew L. Urban
I can claim to have interviewed someone from perhaps the smallest and potentially most vulnerable minority group in contempo Australia: a club footed black dyke. Rachel was a delightful interview subject and anything but a victim.
We met on the streets of Sydney, Oxford St to be precise, as she got out of a cab and I was there with my cameraman Greg Kay shooting some random street interviews for my SBS TV series, Front Up. We walked up to her only aware she was black … the club foot came soon after and as she told us about where she was going (to meet her current lover) came the lesbian.
I doubt she would be offended and insulted by my rather irreverent description of her. I doubt it because she has a great sense of humour and a healthy self respect. But perhaps others would be offended … insulted even. On her behalf. She would laugh them out of the pub.
It’s not exactly hate speech, I grant you, but that’s my point. Hate speech is easy to identify and negate, usually by ridicule. Likewise the extreme example of insulting speech, Holocaust denial. I mean really, who can take that seriously? While I understand Jews being outraged, I think a loud guffaw is a better response, followed by turning to other matters. It hardly warrants a moment’s attention. Holocaust denial belongs in the scrapyard of public debate alongside the conspiracy theories that hold the moon landing a fake and the 9/11 attacks a CIA plot to foment hatred against militant Islam. Those theories can be seen as equally offensive to many; they certainly offend against our intelligence.
Taking offence and insult on racial grounds into the criminal code – as the Anti Discrimination Act Section 18C does (unless changed) – drags Australia into the embrace of fervent Muslims who burn flags and destroy property when they hear reports of cartoons about their prophet.