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16 January 2015
by Paul Zanetti


I may not like being called a bloody wog, dago, Itie bastard but I will fight for your right to call me one. Or anything else you like.

In return I’ll call you a dumb, hick redneck skippy, draw a cartoon of you, put it on Facebook and then we’ll have a drink. Your shout. Well, you started it.

You see, my fragile, sensitive feelings come second to my freedoms, and yours for that matter. I grew up in the ‘60s and ‘70s when life was more rough and tumble. We called a spade a bloody spade. It wasn’t about intolerance because Australia opened its arms to people from all races, cultures and faiths. I’m a product of that openness and warmth, and this friendliness continues to this day, as long as it’s mutual.

When I grew up, political correctness was a futuristic nightmare, best described today as ‘A doctrine…which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.’ Today, freedoms we once enjoyed have been eroded and in some cases destroyed by the PC brigade, all too quick to take ‘offence’ at the drop of a hat, but quick to condemn or vilify anybody who doesn’t subscribe to their wooly world view.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about free speech after the attack on the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo. Everyone became ‘Charlie’, a symbol of uncompromising free speech, everyone including the hypocrites responsible for shackling free speech.

In Australia the lightning rod for free speech is Section 18C of The Racial Discrimination Act. Simply put, that part of the Act says you can’t offend someone (other than in private) based on race, colour or national or ethnic origin. In other words, it’s illegal to hurt someone’s feelings. The next part of the Act, Section 18D, makes exceptions. You can hurt someone’s feelings publicly if it’s in cartoons, in opinion columns (fair comment), artistic works or in the public interest or if what you say is factual, or scientific, or if you believe it.
But, someone can argue that you didn’t really believe what you said publicly, and haul you in front of the courts. That’s how ludicrous it all is.

The Act is a convoluted attempt by others to stifle your right to say what you think just in case someone’s feelings were hurt – with someone else deciding your intent.

As someone who was a regular target of idiots who picked on me because of my last name, and heritage, I’m proud to live in a country where you are free enough to call me whatever you like. As a kid, I didn’t run to the teacher or school principal each time it happened. Section 18C is a legal version of crying to the teacher. I handled it my own way. I drew very compromising cartoons of the idiots and stuck them up around the school corridors. Didn’t take long before they were my ‘friends’.

The Liberal party went to the last election promising to repeal this muzzle on free speech, but Abbott decided to not keep this promise, too. He cowered to ‘community groups’ such as the Jewish and Islamic groups (and the self-titled ‘progressive’ left) who united to pressure the Abbott government to go weak at the knees. They did.

The irony is, that religion isn't covered in The Racial Discrimination Act, so anybody can still criticise Muslims or Islam without any legal consequence, but the Jews (a race) cannot be vilified by any Muslim, or other. Let’s just take a look at what’s written in the Qur’an while we’re at it. Who’s feeling like a winnable legal stoush?

In the US free speech is protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution of The United States. We don’t have any such safeguard here.

Larry Flynt is a grub, a pornographer and somewhat of a hero to defenders of free speech, including me. More than just about anybody, he has defended the protection of every American’s right to say what they think.

Flynt is the publisher of Hustler magazine, the third biggest selling porn magazine in the ‘70s and ‘80s after Penthouse and Playboy. It was the trashier of the three and lived most of its printed life in the sewer (I can say that without fear of Flynt suing me, thanks to the free speech laws Flynt championed). In one of the editions of the mag, Flynt lampooned loud mouth Christian evangelist, Jerry Falwell.

What Flynt said about Falwell in print was crude, involving incest with Falwell’s mother in an outhouse, in a satirical full page ad. Hustler had a long record of parody ads of famous people and ‘their first time’.

The Falwell satire was typically ludicrous. The page included the disclaimer in small print at the bottom of the page, reading "ad parody—not to be taken seriously.”
Falwell sued, anyway.

In a long running case, Flynt eventually won under The First Amendment. His right to take the piss, poke fun at public figures is protected.

Flynt summed it up best himself: "If the First Amendment will protect a scumbag like me, then it will protect all of you. Because I'm the worst.”

Yes, Flynt was defending himself in legal action, but it was in his act of pushing the boundaries that sparked the fight. He went to extremes to fight for and protect the right of every American to be free in what they say. He paved the way.

Flynt was imprisoned 9 times fighting for the right to say and publish what he thought. He was also shot at outside a courtroom and remains in a wheelchair to this day.

In protecting his First Amendment rights Flynt says, “Fighting those battles wasn’t easy. I’ve been shot and paralysed as a result of it. But freedom of speech is not freedom for the thought you love, it’s freedom for the thought you hate the most. You have to get your head around that.”

As far as expanding the First Amendment rights, Flynt says the less governmental interference, the better. “The greatest right that any nation can afford its people is the right to be left alone. Every American feels that way. Unless they’re breaking the law, they want to be left alone.”

Charlie Hebdo carried the flame in France. Every cartoonist and journalist who died at work by the spray of bullets from cowardly, medieval ideologues brandishing Kalishnakovs were martyrs for free speech. They pushed the boundaries regardless of the consequences.

In Australia we have very few prepared to defend free speech.

One is cartoonist Larry Pickering.

He did so in the 1980s with his famed ‘politically candid’ calendars where he depicted our politicians warts and all in the nuddy. As funny as they were, they pushed the limits of satire and free speech.

Joh Bjelke Petersen wanted them banned in Queensland, where they were sold under the counter in a cover, yet displayed hanging over the front counter in all their glory in most other states. It could have been the way Larry drew Joh.

Gough Whitlam tried to sue Pickering for his depiction of a post-sacked wounded Whitlam with band-aids all over him, including on his dick. Whitlam contrived some silly argument that Pickering was inferring that he had syphilis and was wearing a band aid to cover it up. He wasn’t of course, but Gough being a QC thought he had Pickering.

Larry said, “Well how do we know you don’t? You’ll have to drop your strides in court and prove it.” Gough dropped the case instead.

In the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo atrocity, Pickering chose to again push the boundaries for free speech by drawing a cartoon of the Islamic prophet Mohammed.
Soon after, he was visited by counter terror police, late last Sunday night, telling Pickering he would have to be placed under surveillance because he’d ‘upset a few people’.

Apparently some Muslims believe it’s ‘blasphemous’ to draw or portray Mohammed, although there are many paintings of Mohammed by Muslims themselves.

But whatever they believe, that’s their right and freedom to believe, just so long as they don’t want to force their beliefs on us, which they seem to be very keen to do, most often at the point of a gun or a sword.
In a free society, we should be free to ‘upset a few people’ without fear of legal or personal reprisals. As Pickering said in many of his TV and radio interviews over the past 48 hours, “If we don’t have our freedom of speech, we aren’t truly free.”

Today in Australia, it’s the self-titled, so-called ‘progressives’ (the left) who are fighting for the removal of free speech in Australia. They are fighting to keep the muzzling Section 18C of The Racial Discrimination Act.

Ironic, huh?

Progressing us all backwards.

There are many other examples of the ‘progressives’ reversing hard won freedoms by the real progressives, those who fought in actual life-risking battles for our freedoms - our military. Progressives are those who stand up and fight for our freedoms on the front line, not those who fight to erode our rights.

In this country a good start for true and total free speech would be the repeal of the repressive Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

Free speech is 100% free, not sort of free-ish.

And that’s coming from a wog, dago Itie.
Did I mention it’s your shout, ya skippy redneck?