While I share the concerns raised in The Australian’s editorial (“Freedom of speech must include freedom to offend”, 12/12) regarding the reversed onus of proof in proposed anti-discrimination law changes, its defence of convicted racist Andrew Bolt would not stand up in court; in fact, it did not.
Bolt was found guilty not simply because his rants “might offend ‘fair-skinned Aboriginal people'” as it claims, but because he used race as the means to hurt and intimidate named individuals, and did so without making fair or even accurate comment. Although clearly spelt out in Justice Bromberg’s ruling, this crucial distinction consistently escapes Bolt’s apologists.
Further, it is a melodramatic furphy that his columns were “banned”; they are still available online, albeit bearing a disclaimer.
The Australian may regard the proposed widening of such legal provisions as “overreach”, but the same could be said of its claim that “[o]ur national character and strength of our democracy” require the “freedom” to sell newspapers using race as an offensive weapon.