By Jim Fryar
Who steals my purse steals trash; 'tis something, nothing;
'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him
And makes me poor indeed.
William Shakespeare, "Othello", Act 3 scene 3
The following is from the LDP site: - www.ldp.org.au/.webloc
“The Liberal Democratic Party rated a mention in Federal Parliament yesterday when the member for Prospect Chris Bowen falsely accused the Party of electoral skullduggery.”
“Under Parliamentary privilege, Mr. Bowen suggested the LDP were placing people at random on our list of members, and encouraging them to tell the Australian Electoral Commission that they were obliging members, should they happen to call.”
On checking the circumstances, I was informed that the party had a membership application form from the person involved, that he was elderly, and a Justice of the Peace.Evidently he has forgotten that he applied. A simple check by the Mr. Bowen would have ascertained this, however he either chose not to do this, or neglected to do so. He then chose to imply that the subject of his false or at least erroneous accusation was a regular practice by the party with the following statement quoted from Hansard: -
“I call on the Liberal Democratic Party to cease this tactic. Putting people on your membership rolls without their permission or their knowledge is not an acceptable method to ensure your continued registration as a political party”.
When a decent person feels the need to say something about reprehensible acts or whatever of another person, they will if they have any sense at all, check their facts, after all it is dishonorable to make unfounded allegations, it is unnecessarily hurtful to the victim in such cases, it makes you look silly when proven wrong, which can of course be mitigated by an admission and apology which an honorable person would do. It also ruins your own reputation.
You may note that I did not mention the word SUED. If a person wishes to slander, libel, lie about, misrepresent, or in any other way damage the reputation of a person or organization without the danger of being sued, there are two ways to go: -
1. Say it about Libertarians.
2. Say it in parliament.
In the case of libertarians, you are up against the ultimate in social tolerance. They believe that liberties such as freedom of speech are an integral part of the foundation of human freedom.Freedom of speech, should not only be taken to mean speech, writing, etc which you agree with, but that which you do not agree with, right down to the most reprehensible levels of deceit, untruth, and derogatory innuendo.
Libertarians do not agree with the use of these tactics, but are realistic enough to accept that the type of person who acts in this manner will do so, and has a right to do so. It is a basic freedom.It is also the right of the aggrieved party to seek redress by using the truth to discredit that person.
An example of this is X, a guy I worked with, and X has certain characteristics: -
He is up himself,
He looks over his shoulder when he has something to say,
Enters a group, looking for who’s not there,
Hasn’t a good word about anyone not present,
Watches for those who are, to go for a piss and be out of earshot.
A guy I was training said to me, “X has had a bit to say about you, and it’s not good”.
I replied, “I’m glad to hear that as I was starting to think I didn’t fit in with the rest of you”.
The point of this is, that a person is judged by his actions, and this guy is universally despised because of his. This is the way freedom of speech works in a free society.
Politicians have what is called Parliamentary Privilege, which is in essence among other things, the right to total freedom of speech, uninhibited by any requirement for truthfulness or accuracy. This is outlined in the following from the “Parliament of Australia, Senate” website.
“The principal parliamentary immunity is the immunity from civil or criminal action, and examination in legal proceedings, of members of the houses and of witnesses and others taking part in proceedings in Parliament. This immunity is known as the right of freedom of speech in Parliament, because it has the effect of ensuring that members, witnesses and others cannot be sued or prosecuted for anything they say or do in the course of parliamentary proceedings. This freedom of speech has always been regarded as essential to allow the houses to debate and inquire into matters without fear of interference.”
This is explained the best way I can find in the following, taken from:
NSW PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY RESEARCH SERVICE
Parliamentary Privilege: Major Developments and Current Issues by Gareth Griffith
Background Paper No 1/07 3.4.2 Defamation Act 2005 (NSW)
The privilege granted by parliamentary privilege is absolute. That is, it protects acts done and things said in parliamentary proceedings from legal action, be it in defamation or other proceedings. Lord Chief Justice Cockburn in the case of Ex parte Watson put it in these terms:
It is clear that statements made by Members of either House of Parliament in their places in the House, though they might be untrue to their knowledge, could not be made the foundation of civil or criminal proceedings, however injurious they might be to the interest of a third party.39
(39) (1869) QB 573 at 576.
Obviously, such legislative rights would not be claimed unless a pressing need was seen for them. Such legislation would not be passed if the majority of members did not feel they needed it to act in the manner consistent with their ethical standards. Such legislation therefore reflects the type of persons we have in our parliaments today.
Albert J. Nock best sums up the reason for this state of affairs:
“The State is not a social institution administered in an anti-social way. It is an anti-social institution administered in the only way an anti-social institution can be administered, and by the kind of person who, in the nature of things, is best adapted to such service.”
May 24, 2007
By Jim Fryar