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Stan Grant's racial villification

By Michael Keane - posted Thursday, 23 March 2017


Aspiring to the Australian Dream can be exhausting, juggling work and kids. But I have it easy. Imagine the parents caring for a disabled child with little English and few supports while trying to make ends meet, dreaming to build a better life for their family.

Indeed, there are 24 million individual stories of hope and seeming hopelessness, stress and joy from people from of all ethnic backgrounds dreaming of a better life for their children while contributing to making our society more advanced, enlightened and compassionate.

The very essence of a liberal democracy and the Australian dream itself is that we appreciate the worth and the circumstance of every individual and we do not cast all people within a collective with stereotypes.

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And that is why we have to speak out against the ill-informed hate-speech of activists such as Stan Grant. Too often we see Aboriginal activists making broad accusations that non-Aboriginal Australians are racist.

Butthat sort of hate-speech is not okayin Australia, at least according to Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. And taking action this way would be a radical new approach for those opposed to section 18C; to see how the other side likes the spit-hood of censorship and State-sponsored intimidation being used as a tool to shut down debate.

To be sure, this is a very different concept to, for example, David Leyonhjelm complaining that he was called an angry white male. I'm arguing that it's not OK for activists to label wide groups of people with an offensive stereotype (racist) without any cause.

In this regard, it is particularly relevant to scrutinize Stan Grant's speech on Australia Day last year. How would the debate shift on 18C if an addressthat was celebrated as a defining speech against racism, was itself, in breach of hate-speech laws?

Grant's speech was, in effect, a feebly constructedand hate-filled rant that "The Australian dream is rooted in racism. It is the very foundation of the dream". And that "Of course racism is killing the Australian dream. It is self-evident that it's killing the Australian dream."

Section 18C states that it is unlawful to do an act if,

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(a) the act is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people; and

(b) the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person or of some or all of the people in the group.

Part (a) seems reasonably satisfied. Calling someone a racist is obviously offensive. Maybe Grant should tell the young parent diagnosed with cancer whose Australian dream is to help other cancer sufferers as well as surviving to see her children finish school that she's actually a racist who has conspired to stop Grant succeeding in life; as Grant self-aggrandises that "I have succeeded in spite of the Australian dream".

Is part (b) of Section 18(c) satisfied? Along with multiple references to "my people" it is clear throughout his speech that Grant is not labelling Aborigines as racists. It's obvious that the overarching theme is that "you lot are racists".

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About the Author

Dr. Michael Keane is Adjunct Associate Professor with interests in ethics, human factors engineering, health economics and substance abuse; adjunct lecturer in public health; specialist anaesthetist.

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