Tim Blair


New Criterion



Tuesday, September 24, 2002
THAT GRUB Frederick Toben has been ordered by the Federal Court to scrape the anti-Semitic, holocaust-denying sludge from his Website (find it yourself, if you must), according to Auntie's Law Report. What a stupid thing to do.

The Court's decision was based on the creepy Toben's supposed power to "offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate" Australian Jews. Some clearly were offended enough to employ lawyer Peter Wertheim to take the matter to court.

To make an ass of the Federal Court all Toben has to do is provide a link to any of the hundreds of sites based elsewhere that say the same kind of thing, some of it expressed in much more aggravating terms.

Or set up a blog.

No! No! says Wertheim, he would be jailed for defying the Court's order. And not for speaking his mind, of course.

"Who needs martyrs like this" responds June Factor, another lawyer and ex-Pres of the Council for Civil Liberties, "the best anti-septic is sunlight".

Kath Gelber, who teaches politics at the UNSW, proposes better strategies for responding to the hate-mongers. A lesser evil.

The problem is, if you make my freedom of speech depend on someone else's sensitivity to offense you limit my freedom of expression and privilege the offendee.

You can whack me if I shout fuck in church. I don't have to go there. If you jail me for saying it on my Website you're an oppressor. No-one has to read it. Probably no-one does.

Well done Auntie. A nice discussion. Listen to the aod or read the transcript, when they're up.