It’s not what racist things I want to say …

By Andrew L. Urban.

Defenders of 18C are disingenuous to say ‘What would you want to say if 18C was abolished?’ Wrong question. It is obvious, isn’t it, that 18C prompts the question “What offence do you wish to take?” That’s the whole point of what is wrong with the legislation.

It is the taking of offence not the giving it that is the trigger, and offence can be taken at will. I might argue that calling two Somalian pensioners playing chess in Hyde Park at night ‘silly old buggers’ is a term of endearment. But one of them might take offence (to silly, to old, to bugger). I could argue that an Irish or Jewish joke is not a racial or religious slur but a poetic licence to riff entertainingly on well recognised characteristics, but some Irish and some Jewish listeners could take offence. Others may not. Heard the one about the Jew asking a Catholic what’s the highest position in his faith? The Catholic says the Pope. The Jew asks if the Pope could get a promotion? The Catholic says that above the Pope there is only Jesus, to which the Jew says, well, one of our boys did it.

An edited version was published in Letters to the Editor, The Australian, March 28, 2017

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