December 19th 2015

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY The first Christmas: a birth that set fire to men's hearts

CANBERRA OBSERVED A Nationals welcome no sure thing for Macfarlane

CLIMATE CHANGE $100bn a year climate fund the rub in Paris deadlock

FAMILY AND SOCIETY Free speech petition: appeal all 'right not to be offended' clauses

WATER POLICY Review tells of destruction of farms in Goulburn Valley

CULTURE AND POLITICS Liberalism's disappearing act on human freedom

TAX REVIEW Rise in GST a no go when the need is for jobs

HISTORY Taiwan's first people have survived waves of settlers

FREEDOM OF RELIGION Law not broad enough to contain freedom's flow

SPEECH IN PARLIAMENT Credit where credit is long overdue: B.A. Santamaria

FAMILY AND SOCIETY Swedish daycare part II: problems of weak parenting

CINEMA No life is lived as an island: It's a Wonderful Life

BOOK REVIEW A contribution to Pope Francis' call for a conversation on conservation


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Free speech petition: appeal all 'right not to be offended' clauses

by Patrick J. Byrne

News Weekly, December 19, 2015

After a complaint against the Catholic Archbishop of Hobart was lodged with the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner, the Australian Family Association launched a petition to protect freedom of speech.

The complaint against Hobart’s Archbishop Julian Porteous and the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) came from Martine Delaney, a transgender activist and Tasmania Greens candidate.

Delaney claims to have been offended by the ACBC’s Don’t Mess with Marriage leaflet, which Archbishop Porteous distributed to Catholics in Tasmania.

Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination Act (S17) says: “A person must not engage in any conduct which offends, humiliates, insults or ridicules another person on the basis of” various attributes, including sexual orientation or gender identity.

This has brought the Church into conflict with the state for doing no more than restating the Church’s moral teachings on sexuality and marriage and supporting the federal marriage act.

The petition calls on federal and state governments to remove “right to be offended clauses” from anti-discrimination laws in order to protect freedom of speech.

The petition is addressed to Tasmanian Premier William Hodgman, Tasmanian Minister for Justice Dr Vanessa Goodwin, Federal Attorney-General Senator George Brandis and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

It says: “We urge you to move legislation that removes the newly invented ‘right to not be offended’ from any relevant state and federal laws.”


Comments from signatories

Over 11,000 people have signed the petition and thousands have posted comments. Here are some of their comments.

YING YEE, Australia

I’m signing this because I feel that this action against the Archbishop of Hobart is completely wrong.

I come from a nationality who knows all too well this type of discrimination.

Australia is fast becoming like Communist Russia, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, where it was once a crime to have any dissenting voice whatsoever.

This must stop. Australia is now becoming a police state that seeks to suppress free speech.

Neville Rochow SC, Brussels, Belgium

This is utter farce. How can anyone be prosecuted under a state law when the offence is to promote acceptance of a position that is supported by federal law? Does absurdity know no bounds? This is a complete waste of resources and time. Shame on those who permit this farce to continue.

Owen Cameron, Australia

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it!

Alexandra Doig, Australia

The Catholic Church should and always has been able to teach Catholicism at Catholic schools. It is a voluntary decision to send your children to a private school and if parents are unhappy with the curriculum or something else at the school, they are free to send their children elsewhere. If they want their kids to be taught non-Catholic views, send them to state schools.

Alexander Deme, Toowoomba, Australia

I am signing because I have never seen such a weaponisation of laws against Christians for holding harmless innocent beliefs.

Lynn Fowler, Australia

I am offended that a same-sex union should be considered marriage. Why is it that someone else’s offence matters and mine does not? These “right not to be offended” laws are ridiculous.

Jillian Stirling, Dapto, Australia

This persecution of a clergyman doing his job is absurd. If this is an example of the “tolerance” that flies with so called marriage equality then it is a crock.

Brian Lewis, Australia

I believe in free speech … even if it offends others. Without free speech we are in a totalitarian society.

Cormac Mccaughan, Australia

Regardless of your perspective, the basic principle of the freedom of ideas is a fundamental element for a liberal democracy to be considered such.

The appeal against Porteous damages the voice of the democratic nation; Aristotle claimed it was the mark of an educated man to entertain a thought without accepting it. Have we lost the ability, the empowerment, to discuss even the most basic ethical questions, let alone marriage? Are we to limit our intellectual voice to the barrage of “accepted truths” mainstream media demands be swallowed and digested?

Stephen Chavura, Australia

Speech that makes a moral or political or theological argument with regards to the laws and policy of the state has always been considered the pinnacle of valuable speech.

The state should not regulate it. Just as the Church cannot seek the aid of the state in overcoming its critics, neither ought critics of the Church’s traditional teachings use the state to overcome the Church. Let the state make laws, even in spite of the Church, but let the Church, and all citizens, speak its mind on the laws.

That’s liberal democracy.

All you need to know about
the wider impact of transgenderism on society.
TRANSGENDER: one shade of grey, 353pp, $39.99

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