Hysterics and Hypocrisy
Since my election to the Senate I have always sought to speak up for common sense and the values and institutions that have given us our democratic freedoms. Chief amongst these is the freedom of thought and our freedom of speech.
In doing so, I have given a voice to many Australians who feel that the stifling doctrine of political correctness is closing down these essential pillars of our society. I have also been the subject of repeated condemnation as a result.
In spite of these attacks, I believe that defending the right of every Australian to engage in public debate and the freedom of others to agree or disagree with their views is one of the most important functions a parliamentarian can perform.
Unfortunately, for too many in our public life, freedom of speech is considered a one way street and limited to the views they agree with.
An Australian court recently upheld a complaint of racial vilification by journalist Andrew Bolt from a group of Aboriginal persons because of his views on their self-identification as indigenous Australians.
In effect, the court has determined that because Bolt caused offence to some, he is not entitled to publicly voice his views.
Whatever the merits (or lack thereof) of this, my own experience tells me such determinations can be considered a little one-sided.
Advertising guru Todd Sampson can wear a t-shirt on our government-funded national broadcaster displaying the slogan “white people make me nervous” without reaction. Imagine the public outcry if “white” was replaced with another colour.
One could scarcely imagine a garment even being printed with such a message and yet this is one of many similar examples of the double standards applying to freedom of speech in Australia.
But such inconsistencies are not limited to matters of race or the colour of one’s skin. They can also be determined by the political braiding one has nailed to the mast.
The recent hysterical reaction by the Labor Party and sections of the media to a reciprocal courtesy extended to a member of the Dutch parliament by me is a clear example of how the different standards are applied.
It is difficult to find the same public vilification of a former Dutch politician, who also has a protective detail for delivering a similar message to Geert Wilders.
Perhaps because of her background, ethnicity and gender, Ayaan Hirsi Ali is mostly feted by the left as a brave and courageous woman speaking up in the face of great adversity. I wholeheartedly agree with that assessment but, given her rhetoric is very similar to Wilders’, I struggle to understand the difference in their treatment by the Australian media and a group of shrill politicians.
One is feted, the other vilified. I, and many other Australians, wonder why.
I also wonder why those apparently outraged by Wilders, Senator Kate Lundy and Peter Garrett MP, remained silent when Labor and Greens politicians invited the anti-Semitic and would-be destroyer of Israel, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to visit Australia in 2007.
An associate of Libya’s former dictator Muammar Gaddafi and Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Chavez referred to one US President as a ‘genocidal murderer’ and ‘the devil’. Members of Labor and the Greens invited him to Australia.
I once referred to misleading statements by the current US administration in a recent blog as ‘unnecessary’ and the outraged left demanded my sacking from the parliament.
The hypocrisy and double standards from so many members of our parliament, aided and abetted by sections of our media, have made public life a laughing stock for everyday Australians.
The oft-heard criticism that ‘you can’t believe a word they say’ is applied to politicians by a cynical electorate. And who can blame them?
Speak up for what you believe in and risk character assassination or remain silent and be labelled cowardly or ineffective; a Hobson’s choice of criticism for those in public life.
Seemingly the only acceptable solution is to have an integrity lobotomy and simply repeat the leftist doctrine in the hope they won’t complain about you. That might explain why Labor Senator Doug Cameron referred to his caucus colleagues as lobotomised “zombies”.
It also helps to explain why Labor’s Emily’s Listers huff and puff over a cat noise from a Liberal but remain indignantly silent when done by two of their own (a man and a woman).
Unfortunately, to rectify this crucifixion of free speech and dismantle the hypocrisy of the professional left, we need more brave souls.
Brave because they need to stand in the face of a blizzard of vitriol from the nurturers of victimhood and their sympathetic allies in the fourth estate.
We need more strength of character from those elected to give a voice to the Australian people, not to tell the people what they want to hear, but what they need to hear.
That certainly doesn’t mean we will agree with what they have to say, but it would mean that the national interest would be better served and we would have a more balanced debate.
Who knows, we might even see a modicum of respect return for our politicians as a result. Of course, you would be free to disagree with that too!