Racial Vilification

The McConnell story has been prevalent in the media and on the blogosphere.

In particular, the very reasoned and esteemed blogs of Israellycool, Rantrave and Rudi Stettner have opined on what has occured and the impact of using racial vilification legislation to respond.  Even Andrew Bolt has raised the Freedom of Speech argument relating to this incident, suggesting that it may be not the best use of the law to silence McConnell.   

I posted a comment to Rudi’s blog that I have reposted here:

I’m no lawyer, so I can’t comment from that perspective.  However I have to ask, that if we accept your position, what is the alternative to removing a threat? In this case, I think we have decided to put “a fence at the top of the cliff, because it is better than an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff”.  G-d forbid that Brendan committed some crime by harming or injuring people, or worse.  If we took no action, and the worst type of consequence then occurred, we would feel differently.  We would say that we had the chance to stop it, and didn’t act?  Far better to prevent an act of violence when we can see that it is likely, than to have to deal with the consequences.  If we can’t acheive that through the use of the legal system in a case such as this, then what alternative course of action should we take to prevent hate crime?

Nobody has been physically harmed by the posting of videos.  However Judaism more than any other ethos teaches that words have consequences.  The nexus between word and action is all too well known by the victims of anti-semitism.

We are emotively engrossed in this situation.  However I would welcome your views not so much on the appropriateness of the course of action taken, but the element of the law that permitted this action to be taken.

The legislation itself reads as follows:

Criminal Code Amendment (Racial Vilification) Act 2004

77. Conduct intended to incite racial animosity or racist harassment

Any person who engages in any conduct, otherwise than in private, by which the person intends to create, promote or increase animosity towards, or harassment of, a racial group, or a person as a member of a racial group, is guilty of a crime and is liable to imprisonment for 14 years.

78. Conduct likely to incite racial animosity or racist harassment

Any person who engages in any conduct, otherwise than in private, that is likely to create, promote or increase animosity towards, or harassment of, a racial group, or a person as a member of a racial group, is guilty of a crime and is liable to imprisonment for 5 years.

Summary conviction penalty: Imprisonment for 2 years or a fine of $24 000.

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