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Speech on rights of individuals in Australia.

Reader comment on item: [The Canadian Islamic Congress:] An Islamist Apology

Submitted by Cheryl Salcole (Australia), Oct 19, 2005 at 02:21

This is a speech I wrote, thought it's relevant here.

"The Erosion of the Rights of Individuals in Australian Society"

Madame Chairman, ladies and gentlemen.
In our world of death, destruction, bombs and religious extremists – we hope that there is a utopia – a society of individuals functioning harmoniously. Many would say that this utopia is Australia – because it is assumed that in a democracy every person's rights are maintained, that all people are created equal by nature and should therefore be accorded equal treatment before the law. In a democracy – rights are those certain areas of human conduct which are immune from governmental interferences, such as the right to free speech. But our supposed utopian society is a facade. The rights of individuals in Australian society have been eroded to a stage where we can no longer rightly define ourselves as a democracy.

The History of Oppression is traceable through words such as 'wog', 'queer' and 'abbo'. A great sadness about the barriers that such ugly words create is that breeching the wall doesn't lead to freedom, but just to a different sort of oppression. At one time it was easy for us to desensitise ourselves to other groups of people by using names that condescended and mocked. The words that were used exposed these views and alienated and hurt many smaller groups in our society. This was when the majority dominated. Considering such minority group oppression their desire for a voice was understandable. In 1975, Al Grasby was the immigration minister and by exerting his influence, brought about the Anti-Discrimination Act. It was an attempt to counter oppression, further democracy, and establish equal rights for all individuals in Australian society. (But) the word 'Equality' now means that previously disadvantaged groups deserve more of a 'fair go' than the majority. One of the great crimes in our efforts to give everyone a fair go is the assumption that offensive name calling, for example, isn't painful unless you are part of a minority group. Anti-Discrimination laws are now counter-productive: rather than promoting harmony they foster resentment and have done (virtually) nothing but turn the tables. If political correctness has done anything it has armed the less powerful with a powerful weapon and how this weapon is now being used in Australian society is becoming an urgent issue.

Don't believe me? Then: Why was our Prime Minister's comment concerning Bin Laden called "inflammatory"? Why is a Melbourne Minister, who criticised Islam's attitude towards women, facing the prospect of jail? Why is anyone who questions this threat to democracy called a bigot, racist or xenophobe? They have power disproportionate to their numbers and superiority in the eyes of the law.

And as alarming as it is to say and think it – the majority of Australian people now have control over too little. Anti-discrimination laws are now detrimental to the democratic ideals upon which democracy was founded. (Democracy is based upon the notion of the greatest good for the greatest number.) The fear of being criticised, or worse still, the fear of being prosecuted has created a fractionalised community where the majority suffers. In this fractionalised community, numerous groups acting in isolation are bent upon promoting their own selfish unilateral aims and demands. Such groups are using multiple paths to achieve these ambitions. Question the rights of their arguments and one becomes subject to ridicule, abuse and increasingly answerable to some convenient law. The fundamental rights of free speech, the very rights of individuals in Australia have been eroded to a stage where there are few open forums of debate outside our parliaments.

So what can be done when the power does not lie with us? Indeed we feel even more powerless because we know staying silent does not work, hoping and doing nothing cannot work and asking for tolerance and acceptance has not and will not work.

The ideals of a utopian society fail under political correctness because some individuals are denied their basic rights. The moment our democracy ceases to respect the harmony and equality of a just society, it will cease to respect your value as an individual. The moment it ceases to respect your value as an individual it ceases to be democracy.

It is time. Australia must must recognise the growing threat and take action. "How?" you may ask. Well, we can follow Holland's example. They were losing their voice and hence shouted out to regain control. The Dutch Immigration Minister, who rejoices in the name of Rita Ver Donk, is called the "Iron Lady" because she has ordered immigrants to pass an exam in Dutchness. Holland has about 700,000 people who have been there for years, but who don't speak their language and haven't got a clue about Holland's basic rules and values. But its guaranteed that they'd know their rights. Mrs Ver Donk has argued publicly that her country has a right and duty to ask new immigrants to learn its language and to adapt to its Dutchness. Since July of this year, would-be newcomers over 17 have had to pass examinations requiring a basic knowledge of the language, history and culture of Holland. Australia must be more careful about who comes to this country and more demanding of what is expected of them when they get here.

Immigrants are just one example... of the groups that are manipulating the very policies and laws giving them their supposed fair share in Australia.
Since the Anti-discrimination laws were established, we've gone from one extreme to the other. A few years ago the characters Noddy and Big Ears were banned from television based on their alleged homosexuality (they were, of course, two men sleeping in the same bed). And yet these days a book advocating the superiority of homosexual parents above the typical mother and father union is being forced into social acceptance by the NSW government distributing it throughout state primary schools. Isn't it so deliciously ironic that we can have a white-board and not a blackboard (sorry, to be PC – its a chalkboard). You can no longer fall down a manhole, no-no-no, you have to fall down person holes. And for formal greetings at public addresses – it is now popular to say "chairperson" rather than the traditional "chairman" - which, by the way, has nothing to do with the MC being male or female.

For democracy to survive, every person must realise that mere insistence on his rights alone will be of little avail, that a recognition of one's obligations is imperative – and that one of the most important obligations is that of respecting the rights of others. It is impossible to have equality when there are barriers between groups. So perhaps by privileging Australia as an ideal society it is an attempt to break such walls down. The problem is we put up new restrictions denying some the right to free speech.

Ladies and Gentlemen, The trends in our society must not continue or we run the risk of forfeiting our national identity to the mercy of the powerful few. Running parallel to the traditions of the Australian way of life are the rights of individuals – the backbone of this country. The freedoms that democracy entitles may well be denied to future generations. We must draw upon our determination and "with courage let us all combine" to preserve democracy and the rights of individuals in Australian society. This is a conflict that must be fought, house by house, block by block - for our country, our freedom, our right to speak, debate and disagree.
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