Andrew Bolt comments on Australia’s Victoria State ridiculous hate speech laws in the Herald Sun (thanks to OBL r Us):
PREMIER Steve Bracks promised four years ago to give us “racial and religious tolerance” if we gave up our free speech.
What fools people were to believe him….
Every case, each more trivial than the last, involves worry and legal costs. Each one makes yet more people too scared to talk freely.
Then there was that other promise — that the laws would “promote . . . tolerance”. Instead, they’ve set us at each other’s throat.
Take this case against Nalliah and Scott, pastors with the Catch the Fires pentecostal church.
Without Bracks’ laws, these men would have quietly given their church seminar on jihad three years ago to 250 fellow worshippers and none of us would have even known. But the laws changed everything.
They inspired the Equal Opportunity Commission to urge Muslims to complain, and one EOC employee, May Helou, even asked three converts from the Islamic Council of Victoria — of which she was an official — to drop in on the pastors’ seminar.
So began a three-year prosecution against the pastors that has cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Last December, Judge Higgins finally ruled that Scot in particular had offended by quoting the Koran in a way that got “a response from the audience at various times in the form of laughter”. Is laughter now a crime?
Stranger still, he gave 13 examples of how Scot had “made fun of Muslim beliefs and conduct”, at least eight of which involved him quoting the Koran, and, I believe, accurately. Yes, the Koran indeed authorises men to beat their wives. Yes, it indeed calls for thieving hands to be chopped off.
What did Scot say that was false? The judge listed just two trivial examples, but also said Scot hadn’t made clear enough he was giving a literalist reading of the Koran that wasn’t mainstream.
Did he? Isn’t it? On such points, so deserving of debate, Scot was convicted of stating the wrong opinion.
But if the judgment was strange, so was the penalty.
Scot and Nalliah must now run four big advertisements, costing $70,000, in the Herald Sun and The Age, declaring they’ve been found guilty of bad-mouthing Muslims.
Oddly, these apologies must reach not just the 250 people who were at their seminar, but 2.5 million newspaper readers who weren’t. Odder still, the judge ordered the pastors to never even imply what they’d said about the Koran. They are banned from speaking their mind not only in Victoria, but anywhere in Australia, where others are still free to say what they may not.
Not surprisingly, the pastors say they’d rather go to jail than comply. Let’s see if Bracks dares let this happen.