It may well have been the greatest speech that Australia never heard.
But I doubt it.
Sydney’s Festival Of Bad Ideas is known for pushing boundaries however it would seem they pushed a little too hard when they announced a speech by Ulthman Badar entitled “Honour Killings Are Morally Justified”. Badar is a spokesman for an Islamic group called Hizb ut-Tahrir.
After the uproar that was no doubt expected the talk by Badar has been cancelled and the festival has scored itself a lot of extra free promotion.
Some of you may be surprised to know that I actually support a slightly different version of the honour killing.
My version goes along these lines.
Any man who dishonors women by endorsing their murder based on a distorted belief should be killed to restore humanity’s honour. Quite simple.
However, I actually wondered if the whole shock speech was really a clever ploy by festival organisers to put something on the discussion table at a very appropriate time, and if this is indeed the case I take my invisible hat off to them.
The subject I refer to is of course freedom of speech.
The reason that this is so timely is that any day know we are waiting on George Brandis to put forward his legislation to amend the Racial Discrimination Act.
The changes are to allow greater freedom of speech that would allow the racial vilification of others or promote racism and bigotry.
After all as George Brandis stated we
“Have the right to be bigots”
That is a right that leaders of the Coalition clearly seek to promote.
Changing the Discrimination Act, which was designed to protect all of us who live in a multicultural society, was of course a promise that Tony Abbott and George Brandis made to columnist Andrew Bolt after he was found guilty of breaching the act.
Since the intention to amend the act and soften it has been made widely public the government has seen a huge backlash against it by those who don’t support state sponsored racism. The backlash has come from particularly minority groups, human rights organisations, the Labor Party, The Greens, and even many from within the Liberal Party.
The usual suspects from the far right have come out saying that to speak against changes to the Act is an attack on free speech.
The angry mob is of course led by Andrew Bolt and include a swag of right-wing columnists and shock jocks, and a few politicians such as Cory Bernardi who helped promote the Australian tour of white supremacist Geert Wilders last year.
How ironic then that these “defenders of freedom of speech” are the same ones calling for the ban on Badars speech.
Do they only support selective freedoms?
All of a sudden those who were backing the proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act find themselves arguing against their own defence.
Mr Badars speech may well be a load of crap but it has helped prove an important point without a word of it being uttered.
Something that is so hideously offensive and morally repugnant does not deserve the right to the freedoms we take for granted in our country.
I think the same goes for endorsing racism.