Image: Aboriginal plaintiffs celebrating Bolt verdict.
After a long saga in the courts, journalist, commentator and blogger, Andrew Bolt has been found guilty of breaching Section 18C of the Australian Racial Discrimination Act. Bolt was sued in the Federal Court by nine Aboriginal people including former ATSIC chairman Geoff Clark, academic Professor Larissa Behrendt, who is herself not above making disparaging comments about opponents, including aboriginal NT intervention supporter Bess Price.
Bolt wrote two articles, "It's so hip to be black" and "White fellas in the black" in the Herald and Weekly Times, implying light-skinned people who identified as Aboriginal did so for personal gain. The plaintiffs claimed that they were ‘hurt, insulted, offended’ and other appropriate buzzwords over the claims:
There were cheers and applause in the court when Justice Mordecai Bromberg read out his verdict.Bolt is quite correct in this assessment. There is no inherent right, not to be offended. Being offended is a natural reaction to any number of occurrences, such as comments, actions of others, and depending on how thin skinned the person is, just about anything.
He found that "fair-skinned Aboriginal people (or some of them) were reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to have been offended, insulted, humiliated or intimidated by the imputations conveyed in the newspaper articles" published in the Herald Sun.
In a brief statement outside the Melbourne court after the judgment, Bolt said, ``This is a terrible day for freedom of speech in this country.
Unless the judge is suggesting that only certain minority groups possess such a right, a belief of this nature would restrict the right of everyone to carry out normal daily activities for fear of causing offence, regardless of race, color, creed, or bigotry. The corollary is of course, that the most neurotic in society would hold the most rights.
The most incredible aspect of this being a racial discrimination matter is the paragraph:
In concluding the eight day proceedings, counsel for the plaintiffs conceded Bolt's writings did not incite “racial vilification or racial hatred”, rather they “constituted highly personal, highly derogatory and highly offensive attacks” on the nine individuals.