Archaic legislation has no place in the modern world, says Laurence W. Maher. Australia's national sedition law (Crimes Act 1914, ss24A-24F) is a grotesque relic of the tyrannical era of the Court of Star Chamber. It should be abolished, not refurbished.No place in the modern world? Oh really? And why is that? Because we have no enemies anymore, none in our midst who might seek to bring us low? None overseas looking for reasons to do likewise? Kidding, right? Let’s look a little closer, though:
The Anti-Terrorism Bill (No. 2) 2005 suggests strongly that the Howard Government has a keen historical eye when it comes to muzzling allegedly subversive dissenters.'Subversive’, most certainly, but ‘dissenters’? This is an important blind, particularly when looking at equally current events, in the form of some of the broadcasts (international and domestic) emanating from our favourite Lefty mouthpieces: the ABC and SBS. Dissent suggests a difference of opinion or feeling; a disagreement, or the refusal to conform to authority or doctrine. I’d argue that the subjects of this post (certain of our broadcasters) are not ‘dissenters’, however. I think some of these people are out and out liars. And potentially deadly dangerous liars at that.
The alleged dangerous tendency of seditious speech to provoke violent upheaval supposedly supplies its justification. Who could possibly object to that? The flaw is that the existing criminal law specifically protects us against violence (actual and threatened), and sedition's reliance on abstractions such as tendency, incitement and disaffection imposes an irrebuttable presumption that the remotest supposed tendency will produce the direst of consequences.Really? Flawed, is it? Something is most certainly flawed here – deeply so. Did our ‘existing criminal law specifically protect’ us from the people who decided to leave bombs under a Bali beach dinner table, on the strength of feeling whipped up by others (and our own – read on)? Did it ‘protect’ us from regional fanatics, out to deter evil Infidel tourists, and teach their own a lesson? Closer to home, however, would it actually ‘protect’ anyone, given one of our dear Jihadi friends actually managed to make his way into the middle of a crowded Sydney nightspot, for example, to set off his tummy bomb, and once again on the strength of a hatred deliberately fuelled by the words of others? The answer is a given. Under these circumstances, of course it didn’t, it doesn’t, and it won’t. And that’s because sedition is all about incitement.
And incitement (and its fruit) is all around us (read on).
In fact, the law of sedition is entirely self-defeating: once the charge is laid in court, the media (and anyone else) are free to publish the dangerous words as part of an accurate court report.Oh really? The media might well do so – once. Not over and over again, as would the seditious, if left unchecked (which they currently are). Further, the good gent’ carefully skirts the whole issue of deterrence (pause for thought, at the very least), an issue, given the example I am about to give, we most desperately need to consider.
Originating in a far-off time when any criticism of the monarch was a serious crime, the remnant law of sedition is inherently anti-democratic.Another blind. ‘Criticism of the monarch’ does not refer to some notion of a decrepit and unworthy house of Windsor (as this veiled appeal to the Republicans among us is likely to evoke) – it is as much a legal expression - archaic, I’ll grant, but crucial, constitutionally – effectively referring to a criticism of us, our sovereign nation, which the ‘monarch’ (Head of State), our Parliament (the legislature), and our Courts embody - as I suspect this gentlemen knows full well.
The statutory defences requiring the accused person to prove good-faith conduct, which reflect the view that freedom of expression cannot extend to highly offensive or profoundly unpopular opinions, turn our most fundamental liberty on its head.Once again, the ‘opinion’ word. And when carefully couched as opinion, I would find it harder to argue this point (though by no means impossible). For example, would any of us suffer, in the name of democracy, another to stand up and encourage others to kill innocents because, in their opinion, they think they should? Of course not. And we have criminal laws that forbid it. So what of our most fundamental liberty and its apparent headstand? It’s another blind, of course. I think this article is full of them.
Now, let’s contrast these words with an excellent example (from the Lefty’s favourite hate, Andrew Bolt) of precisely what a sedition law actually brings into question:
Domestic threat ignoredLet’s look at the key statement here: "some of the grotesque tactics by Australia's allies" That’s us, no matter how he couches it. That makes us just as guilty of the ‘grotesque tactics’ Negus goes on to describe. Guilty in a literal sea of accusers. And here lies the deadly danger.
. . .Negus is entitled, I guess, to his particular views, but is he also entitled to go so far as he did in Dateline last month, when he announced he was about to show "some of the grotesque tactics by Australia's allies" in Afghanistan?
What followed was a report by SBS journalist John Martinkus, who was freed by Iraqi terrorists last year after they looked up his reports and found, as he put it, he "did not support the occupation".The Afghans and who else, I wonder, given the broadcast of these programs into our very own South East Asian region? A region packed to the scuppers with millions of our dear Muslim ‘friends’. . .
This time Martinkus showed US troops burning the bodies of two Taliban fighters killed in battle, which he said took the war "to a grotesque and disturbing extreme", because "the burning of the corpses and the fact that they've been laid out facing Mecca is a deliberate desecration of Muslim beliefs". Deliberate.
. . .Sure, Martinkus said, the soldiers said they were just burning the bodies for "hygiene purposes", but "this appears to make no sense". Indeed, the soldiers seemed to locals "as barbarous as the Taliban say they are".
Reality check. Martinkus was not there and the scene was actually filmed by freelancer Stephen Dupont, who told Negus the troops only burned the bodies because they stank in the heat. . . .Indeed, his film showed at least one of the bloated bodies lying on its back, head to the south, and not facing west to Mecca.
None of this stopped Negus, though, who wondered if this story might make Afghans "go off their faces".
But read on – this gets even better:
Dupont was most unhappy with Dateline's interpretation of his film, and later said so on US National Public Radio: "I actually believe that the guys that were involved in the burning did it with honourable, you know, reasons. They did it, you know, for hygiene."Could Dupont have made that any clearer? I don’t think so. . .
So were the bodies deliberately laid out to face Mecca (as Martinkus claimed)?
"No," said Dupont, the eyewitness. "They weren't facing anywhere. They were just lying there."
Yet last week Negus still dared claim Dupont's film showed "American paratroopers burning the bodies of dead Taliban fighters in an attempt to taunt, smoke out, if you like, their other Islamic militant colleagues", and he'd "no reason to believe it wasn't so".Negus knew it wasn’t so. The man who filmed it told him so! Negus said it anyway. He continues to push a dangerous lie. Andrew Bolt sums it up best:
This is not just false, but in these days when words can be fatal, grossly irresponsible.People like Negus have a reach far beyond our borders, thanks to the agencies for whom they work, and an agenda that clearly allows an inflammatory lie to be propagated throughout a region that looks on us with suspicion enough as it is. And anyone who doesn’t see the tremendous danger in this is simply refusing to do so.
So, am I saying that people like Negus should be silenced?
Let’s get something straight right now: what this man put out was not his ‘opinion’. This knowing and hideous distortion of the truth was couched as fact. Negus crossed a line here – he often does. More and more of the MSM’s loonier Left are doing so each and every day. So, if people are broadcasting ‘opinion’ (at best) as truth, and risk incitement that could potentially endanger our country and its citizens, then yes, I think they should be encouraged to think long and hard before they speak, and they should be given an excellent reason to do so.
Is this a slippery slope? I think the ‘slippery slope’ argument is a red-herring, raised to protect the likes of Negus, for whom truth is an irritating detail in his quest for the greater ‘prize’. The bigger issue is, if these people are allowed to continue in this criminally irresponsible fashion, just how many of us might end up dead as a result - just how many of us already have?