Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson has labelled a landslide poll against repealing part of the Racial Discrimination Act “irrelevant”.
Earlier this year the Liberal Government proposed changing section 18C of the Act which makes it unlawful to publicly “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” a person on the basis of their race.
In a UWS open forum last night called Freedom Wars? Or the 21st Century Contest of Ideas, Mr Wilson focused on the debate of racial abuse versus freedom of speech.
“As some of you may recall a Fairfax poll suggested 88% of people thought it should be unlawful to offend, insult or humiliate somebody on the basis of their race; but [the poll] only asked one principal question,” Mr Wilson said.
“The question didn’t capture the essence of the wake of priorities between free speech and racial abuse.
“There has not been a single human rights-based argument in vote to defend the current law. No one has a right to not hear words they do not like.”
The debate over section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act followed a court ruling against high-profile News Corp columnist Andrew Bolt in 2011, who wrote two articles accusing 15 prominent “fair skinned” Indigenous Australians of identifying as Aboriginal to promote their careers. He was found to have breached the Act.
Mr Wilson, a former Liberal Party member, says Attorney-General George Brandis dubbed him “freedom commissioner” upon his appointment in February this year.
“Inventing desirable freedoms to free certain forms of speech is not the same as a genuine human right,” Mr Wilson told the almost full university lecture room.
Not everyone shares his views.
– Report by Jessica Ankomah in attendance of the Freedom Wars? Or the 21st Century Contest of Ideas Forum.
Top Photo, a selfie from Tim Wilson’s twitter.