For broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 30 Mar 2014.
This week federal Senator George Brandis claimed that people had a right to bigotry – that is, to be so “convinced of the rightness of a particular creed, opinion or practice” as to be intolerant of the beliefs or actions of others.
Senator Brandis was defending the right to freedom of speech, but NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell took a different view, saying:
Bigotry should never be sanctioned, whether intentionally or not. Vilification on the grounds of race or religion is always wrong. There is no place for inciting hatreds within our Australian society …
No government, no organisation, no citizen can afford to be less than vigilant in combatting bigotry, intolerance and hatred.
And founding co-chairman of Reconciliation Australia, Fred Chaney, said he had “witnessed the destructive impact of the abuse of free speech on vulnerable people. Government should be cautious about licensing overt bigotry.”
The debate continues.
I’m Rod Benson for the NSW Council of Churches.