Let free speech and common sense prevail
Here’s an idea for a flagging government to win over a sullen electorate — a Minister for Common Sense. This minister’s sole role would be to abolish red tape and kill off the quangos that erode our freedoms and sap our initiative. First job would be to get rid of the plethora of anti-discrimination bodies around the country, from the Human Rights Commission to various state anti-discrimination boards.
Instead of slicing us up into ever more victim groups whose feelings need to be protected, let us resolve our conflicts ourselves in the usual way of civilised societies — by forgiving each other, evolving social norms and gaining understanding in the process, without the heavy hand of the legislative thought police reducing us to hopeless ciphers of the state.
We have now reached the absurd point where a drag queen who called his transgender neighbour in a Sydney public housing block a “fat man in a dress” was dragged before the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal and found guilty of “transgender vilification” under anti-discrimination legislation.
This trivial neighbourhood squabble required the tribunal to hold a hearing and a case conference in 2015, with voluminous documents filed by both parties. Finally, after much deliberation, the 6000-word decision was handed down by three members of the tribunal, who found the drag queen guilty as charged and commanded he publish a retraction within 21 days or pay a $2000 fine.
Monty Python could not have scripted it better.
Then there was the case of the thug convicted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm for bashing another man in a Sydney nightclub. He was fined $1100 for the assault.
But when the victim complained to the Anti-Discrimination Board that the assailant also had called him a “faggot”, the fine levied was far greater — $10,000 for homosexual vilification.
How did offensive speech become a worse crime than physical violence?
Whatever the well-meaning reasons for establishing anti-discrimination bodies in the first place, they infantilise the populace and render them incapable of resolving simple interpersonal disputes.
But even worse, they have become an ideological bludgeon to criminalise speech and repress certain ideas.
No one demonstrates the case better than Ber- nard Gaynor, the decorated former Iraq war veteran and Queensland father of eight who is quietly being martyred by LGBTIQ activists on the altar of antidiscrimination legislation.
So far, this six-year saga has involved more than 80 separate legal actions, and has wended its way through the the High Court, anti-discrimination tribunals, local courts and the Federal Court, with yet another decision looming next month.
It all began with Gaynor tweeting in 2013 that: “I wouldn’t let a gay person teach my children and I am not afraid to say it.”
The consequences of that tweet and Gaynor’s refusal to back down have been dire.
He was sacked by the Army and has been hit with 36 discrimination complaints by gay activist Gary Burns, who is backed by pro-bono legal teams.
So far it has cost Gaynor his house and almost $400,000 in legal fees, with crowd-sourced donations to his blog the only way that he has stayed solvent.
He faces hefty fines and he even fears jail, although he has prevailed in almost every action so far.
You can disapprove of Gaynor’s orthodox Catholic line on sexual matters but, if the state can facilitate this campaign against one man’s free speech, no one is safe.
At no stage has any of the public servants administering this circus called time on what is clearly a campaign.
The brutal anti-discrimination machinery grinds on, regardless of common sense.
“The reason anti-discrimination laws exist is conservative politicians are too afraid to say ‘No’ and the Left want them because it gives them power over society,” Gaynor says.
Burns, who says that he has suffered homosexual vilification in his past, deserves sympathy but Gaynor should be allowed to defend his beliefs — as offensive as they might be — without being persecuted by the state.
This is not the way to resolve his hurt, for government-funded quangos to waste valuable court time dragging an Army veteran through the wringer because of some unpleasant words he has uttered.
Whatever happened to the old adage “sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me”?
That’s common sense worth protecting.