Australian Civil Liberties Union
from Your Rights 2001
FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND CENSORSHIP
Media Watch Doomed? Rights and responsibilities of
demonstrators. Racial Vilification legislation. Free Speech and the High Court. More film
censorship? Free Speech Victoria's campaign on defamation law. Moves to stop sales of
Hoser's books.Law Institute and Your Rights. Adelaide Institute website. David Irving's
libel case. ACLU Annual Report.
FREEDOM OF SPEECH IN 2000- AN OVERVIEW
In 2000 some demonstrators ignored the civil liberties of people wanting to hold and attend meetings. The ACLU, while critical of globalisation and the activities of the World Trade Organization (see page ),supports the right of people to attend meetings and opposes the blockading of meetings. Andrew Bolt, a journalist with the Herald Sun, wrote about this, and many other civil liberties issues. Bolt,exercising freedom of speech, exposed misconceptions in relation to mandatory sentencing, reconciliation,the new Melbourne Museum, the film Erin Brockovitch and multiculturalism, usually ignored by the politically correct in the rest of the media.
The ABC's Media Watch is under threat following comments by the new managing director of the ABC, Jonathan Shier: "why should we pay them to attack us?" Following claims that violence in films leads to violence in real life, there is a prospect of greater censorship of films.
The Bracks government has proposed to introduce Racial Vilification legislation which will limit freedom of speech, including freedom of speech on the Internet. Free Speech Victoria which sponsored a meeting addressed by Richard Ackland on the "High Court and freedom of speech" has launched a campaign to liberalise defamation laws.
The ACLU made detailed submissions to Parliamentary committees on the World Trade Organization, the Federal Privacy Bill, IT technology, ASIO, and the Victorian Race Bill. Ackland ridiculed the Law Institute for apologizing to a Jewish pressure group for a review of Your Rights in the Law Institute Journal, which said that "Your Rights 1999 is an extraordinary publication- a must have for just about everyone."
The Bracks government tried to stop the distribution of a book by Raymond Hoser on police corruption, by writing to booksellers saying they could be prosecuted if they sold the book.
The website of the Adelaide Institute which deals with censorship of history was under legal threat. David Irving failed in defamation proceedings against Deborah Lipstadt but gave publicity to flaws in the conventional wisdom about aspects of World War Two.
MEDIA WATCH DOOMED?
Richard Ackland, the presenter for Media Watch for 1998-99, said in The Age, 20/1/2001, the idea of a hard hitting, sharp, 15-minute critique of journalists and journalism going to air each week on the ABC looks more remote by the moment. ABC managing director Jonathan Shier, said of Media Watch, "why should we produce a program that is going to criticise us?"
He said it doesn't overinflate things to say that Media Watch has been a vastly important program. It managed to have an impact on journalism, the values of the media and the ethics of the industry.
The decision to engage a former presenter of MediaWatch, Stuart Littlemore, on a program to be called "Littlemore" for a period of 13 weeks seems to be a stop gap measure since the new head of ABC television is enamoured of the notion of a half-hour program in the style of a panel that discusses ideas and issues and their treatment by the media. Talking heads would offer their comments; the presenter would then make a waspish comment, and move on to the next item. But part of the reason Media Watch worked as effectively as it did was because it was short and sharp.
Ackland said that if MediaWatch had been on air early in 2001 it might have rubbished the proposal for a Government-funded flagship business affairs program. Ackland said that for the government of the day to be involved in the direct funding of ABC programs is a development so awful that a fearless MediaWatch would be duty bound to bare its fangs.Without an effective MediaWatch as a critic, "your ABC" could disappear before your very eyes, without too much of a fuss being made.
VIOLENCE ON TV ENCOURAGES VIOLENT BEHAVIOUR?
An editorial in the Sunday Age, (21/1/01) said that Neil Postman, the American media critic who wrote The Disappearance of Childhood, blames television for homogenising the worlds of children and adults by giving children access to vast amounts of information that was once the preserve of adults. The result, he says, is that children are bombarded with far more information than they have the wisdom to apply. A U.S. study from Stanford University has confirmed that watching a lot of violent television tends to make children behave more violently. Contradictory findings add to community uncertainty.
The American Psychological Association concluded that television violence accounts for about 10 per cent of children's aggressive behaviour. Yet it is estimated that children in the U.S.have been exposed to 200,000 acts of television violence by the time they are 18-and, given that most of what Australian children watch originates in the U.S., it would be surprising if that figure were much different in Australia.
The Age said that because so much television content is violent, watching many hours of it helps make children aggressive in three ways: directly, by imitation, by desensitizing them to violence and the victimization of others; and by giving them the message that the world around them is mean and scary.
Violent media is only one of several factors that lead to youth violence, but it is a significant factor. Considering that, for young men in particular, aggression is perhaps the biggest contribution to mental ill-health - and that their aggression has the potential to harm others as well as themselves - the connection should be taken seriously. The responsibility for supervising children's television viewing belongs to parents.
It may be that Western societies have erred too far on the side of civil liberties and market forces in allowing the degree of violence that exists in videos and television programs.The value of the Stanford study is that it shows that reducing a child's access to violence on television, videotape and video games can have significant results in reducing aggressive behaviour.
RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF DEMONSTRATORS - S11 (see also pages 31- 33 of Your Rights)
When 1 was Secretary of the Victorian Council for Civil Liberties from 1966 (when the Council was established) to 1980,I consistently supported the right to demonstrate. I organized the defence of more than 30 people who were charged as a result of the demonstration at Olympic Park in 1969 against the Springbok South African rugby tour. State police went through my diaries at the Commonwealth Crown Solicitors Office in contravention of Federal law, and attempted to bash me shortly afterwards after 1 was involved in an argument at a Carlton hotel. Later when I was employed by the Victorian Legal Aid Commission I made a grant of aid to some demonstrators who had been injured by excessive use of force outside the Richmond Secondary College in 1993, and at an anti logging protest outside the Department of Conservation in February 1994.Police eventually agreed( in October 2000) to pay about $300,000 to 30 protesters injured at the Richmond Secondary College, and agreed in November 2000 to pay $50,000 to be divided among seven protesters who had suffered from pressure point tactics especially to the neck, applied to them in the 1994 demonstration.
However, while supporting the right to demonstrate, the VCCL and later the ACLU drew a distinction between robust demonstrations and demonstrations aiming to prevent public speakers and their audience attending meetings. The principle of freedom of speech means that speakers have a right to call meetings and members of the public are entitled to attend those meetings to hear the speakers. This principle was violated on several occasions by demonstrators against Pauline Hanson who was prevented from speaking at various public meetings. For instance in 1998 demonstrators blockaded the Hawthorn Town Hall and prevented Hanson from entering the hall. Many people including some Asian supporters of Hanson, who was often portrayed in the media as an anti-Asian racist, were prevented from entering the hall, and some quite elderly people were assaulted. The police failed in their duty to ensure that public meetings, in a democratic society can proceed. This precedent may have emboldened members of the S11 to blockade the World Economic Forum held in Melbourne at the Casino in September 2000.The police were entitled to use reasonable force to ensure the forum proceeded and that people wishing to attend the forum could do so without restraint.The actions of demonstrators who fail to draw a distinction between the right to demonstrate and the right of people to hold and attend meetings act in a counterproductive way and harm their cause. Many demonstrators outside the forum did not intend to stop the forum, and some demonstrators who were injured as a result of what appears to be excessive use of force by the police may be able to obtain damages.As in similar situations some police were also seriously injured.The attitude of the ACLU to the difficult problems faced by police is set out on page 26 of Your Rights.One writer who condemned the anti democratic plan of some of the demonstrators at the Forum also criticised the demonstrators who prevented Pauline Hanson addressing the meeting at the Hawthorn Town Hall.
In an article headed "Only the naive would say the S11 street gang in harmless", Herald Sun, 26/10/2000, Andrew Bolt said that the police were entitled to use reasonable force to protect the freedom of speech and movement of those wishing to attend the casino meeting. He said that the S11 protest cost taxpayers and business $20 million and said that the S11 organisers, between them, have run protests at which more than 250 police have been injured, and have closed down several public meetings.
Bolt said that the demonstrators outside the casino had injured dozens of police, broke a casino worker's jaw, assaulted an ambulance officer, blocked motorists and vandalised their vehicles, imprisoned a premier in his car for an hour and used force to stop hundreds of forum delegates and journalists from attending a private meeting.
Bolt has drawn attention to matters ignored or misrepresented in the media and elsewhere. Lenient sentencing. Bolt referred to a magistrate who failed to impose a jail sentence required by law on a motorist driving without a license for the 12th time. He quoted Australia's Chief Justice Muray Gleeson, who said that judges have no right to subvert the law because they disagree with a particular law.
Bolt, in reviewing a book by Dr Mark Lopez, "The Origins of Multiculturalism", said that Multiculturalism was a confidence trick foisted on an unwilling public and without support from migrants, by a tiny number of activists. It amounted to a rorting of democracy and of our taxes. The book has generally been given the silent treatment by the media.
Mandatory sentencing. Bolt said the NT law isn't racist just because one group breaks it more often. The law punishes the offenders equally and all citizens have an equal chance of obeying it. Many more men that women are in jail for driving without a license. That does not make the law discriminating or sexist. The proportion of aboriginal children in jail is less than some other states. The average number in the NT is half what it was a decade ago.Juveniles can get a caution for the first offence, and put in a diversion program for a second offence.
Reconciliation is largely is a white man's guilt trip, which will do nothing to help Aborigines faced with endemic problems of welfare dependency,alcoholism and domestic violence.ATSIC,which spends a fortune on overseas trips etc.spends almost nothing to combat domestic violence and alcoholism. Aborigines are impoverished in chains of victimhood and should not seek all the answers in the failure of white society, but look at those of their own. The whole reconciliation and saying "sorry" saga is a talkfest paradise for middle class trendies with no insight into Aboriginal problems.
Bolt says the $290 million Melbourne Museum is a "museum of spin", a propaganda unit presenting an inaccurate account of our history, coloured by anti-white racism. Sir Baldwin Spencer, a friend of the Aboriginal people is ridiculed. The claim that from 1910-1970 one in 3 children were removed from their families is based on the flawed Bringing Them Home report, which refers to a survey of 320 Aboriginals from Bourke. But only one in thirty of the children had been taken from their parents - in most cases because they were neglected. Trendies never let facts get in the way of a good story, or the chance for a new cause to be taken up. The only 2 legal cases brought, presumably the best cases, claiming damages by members of the stolen generation, have failed. The museum says aboriginal law should be protected - including the barbarous practice such as payback spearings, which are not mentioned?
Safe injecting rooms have been falsely claimed to have led to a massive reduction in deaths from drug overdoses. Bolt points out that drug deaths tripled in Switzerland in the years after injecting rooms were set up.
The rate of extinction of species was claimed by David Suzuki to be 50,000 annually, and by an Age writer to be 100,000 each year. The World Conservation Union could find only 810 extinct species over the last 500 years.
Police Cells. An aboriginal claimed by the Law Institute to be improperly held in police cells in Swan Hill instead of being transferred to Melbourne, was held at Swan Hill at his own request so he could visit a sick relative in a nearby hospital.
The film Erin Brockovitch, claimed to be based on fact, is like many other Hollywood films claimed to be "factual", contains a great deal of fiction. Bolt was the only person in the media to draw attention to this.
Character assassination. No wonder Bolt is hated and feared by "me too journalists" who don't check available evidence, and by do gooders looking for a cause-any cause. He has been accused of being a "neo-Nazi bigot", "a lunatic" and being implicated in "genocide". Appalling attacks on him and his family appear on internet sites.
Bolt says that the left wing, supposedly working for a finer kinder society, often resorts to sheer nastiness in ways that conservatives seldom do. Gough Whitlam described Paddy McGuinness as looking like a "toad", Phillip Adams has mocked the height of John Howard, calling him "Prime Miniature." Pauline Hanson has been the subject of the most extreme vilification by "new class" trendies in the political history of Australia (see Your Rights 1999)
Despite belonging to only Left wing organizations such as the Fabian Society and the Society of Labor Lawyers (see Your Rights 2000), I have been the subject of extreme vilification because I have challenged the conventional wisdom of some aspects of history. I have been described as a "freak of nature", "possibly more evil than Himmler and Pol Pot", "a squalid nuisance", and "an unpleasant eccentric" and my views have often been misrepresented without right of reply.
Leftists and do gooders often believe that humans can be made perfect and that anyone defending the sick society must be evil and that assassinating their characters is OK.
PREMIER BRACKS PROPOSED VILIFICATION LAWS
The Free Speech Committee, Councils for Civil Liberties, the ACLU, various journalists such as Robert Manne, Beatrice Faust and Terry Lane, law groups such as the WA Law Society, and many Asians such as Professor Cooray, have objected to anti-free speech racial vilification laws. The ACLU believes the law will create uncertainty as to the limits of permissible speech, may give legitimacy to the views of racists, and judging by overseas experience, may increase racial tensions and lead to public sympathy for "persecuted" racists. Existing laws in relation to assault, defacing property, and incitement to riot etc. are already quite adequate to deal with the physical manifestations of racism.
There are already too many needless restrictions on freedom of speech and the new restrictions may inhibit public discussion on important matters such as immigration, multiculturalism and some aspects of "history". They will also encourage the worst form of censorship-self censorship- where people are afraid to think for themselves and to speak out.
Supporters of new anti-free speech laws,who do not draw a distinction between a belief in racial superiority and preference for one's own kind, should realise that such laws could be used by members of the majority Anglo-Celtic culture (who are often subject to anti white racism) against minority groups and also by one minority group against other minority groups.On key issues such as immigration, multiculturalism and Asianization we have a tyranny of the minorities and a disenfranchisement of the majority.Claims that people who oppose multiculturalism are "racist", are now less effective in stifling debate.Brack's proposed bill is designed to stifle open debate on immigration and multiculturalism at a time when both were increasingly coming into popular disrepute.
Barbara Kulaszka's case study of the effects and operation of Racial Hatred laws in Canada concludes by stating that high-profile public accusations of "hatred" are made by two main groups in Canada: ethnic lobbies and politicians. The accusations have the effect of controlling the boundaries of acceptable public opinion and of stifling dissent from government policies such as official bilingualism and multiculturalism. The "hate" accusation sets the boundary of what is acceptable to believe and what is not.Link Byfield of the Western Report magazine wrote that the hate law "... is obviously an attempt to govern how we think. By telling us what we may and may not read, it goes beyond telling us what we may not do, and starts telling us what we may not believe."
The ACLU asks whether one aim of racial vilification legislation is to curb Australians who query the extent of the Jewish Holocaust? Similar legislation is used in countries such as France,Germany and Canada to obtain or attempt to obtain criminal convictions against historical revisionists. The Jewish lobby has been powerful enough to secure the prosecution of alleged war criminals, the introduction of a Holocaust Kit in NSW schools, concessions in relation to dual nationality, the exclusion until recently of PLO spokesmen from Australia,and the passage of a resolution by the Senate accepting the official version of the Holocaust (the only resolution about "history" ever passed by the Senate). It has also secured the cancellation of a conference in Australia because one speaker was from the PLO, the dismissal of Paul Madigan from 3RRR, changes in the law to facilitate the refusal of a visa for David Irving and to facilitate the extradition of Konrad Kalejs, and much else (see Your Rights, 1988)Is it also powerful enough to secure the passage of the bill?
The Jewish B'nai B'rith Anti Defamation Commission is the driving force behind the Racial and Religious Tolerance Bill .The ALP when in Opposition sought a report from the Commission (Age, 17/6/1998) which said in 2001 it expects about 30 criminal prosecutions a year if the bill becomes law. It is extraordinary that the pivotal role of the anti-Defamation Commission in events leading to the Bill is not mentioned in the discussion paper which accompanied the Bill. It is ironic that the Government should rely so heavily on submissions from the ADC when that organisation supports various forms of racism, and is the source of much defamatory and incorrect information about individuals and organisations it targets.
Why the Racial and Religious Tolerance Bill should be rejected
Mr Nigel Jackson has said that the real purpose of the Bill appears plainly to be to muzzle the expression of certain views on modern history and racial issues which are displeasing to currently powerful elites. The Bill's terminology is vague and misleading which makes the Bill open to misuse by politically correct governments. The "reasonable observer" test lacks objectivity. Penalising alleged effects on people rather than clearly specified behaviour is too vague and is open to abuse. The vicarious liability provision threatens the employment of honourable dissident commentators in public forums, while trying to "prohibit vilification in the workplace" will infringe the requisite freedom of teachers to present all responsible views to students. The Bill will make it unduly difficult to publicly condemn behaviour by racial and/or religious minority groups which is harmful to society.
The 14 examples given in the Discussion Paper of the B'nai B'rith Anti Defamation Commission submission of behaviour needing legal prohibition are such as can be dealt with by current laws.There is clear evidence in the language of the Bill that other behaviour,not adequately discussed in the Paper, is the real target of the Bill.
The Crimes and Summary Offences Acts provides ample provision for those who are persecuted by bigoted minorities. The Bill will "close the door" of the last state in Australia to free speech in these contexts. Much more severe use of the legislation, nationwide, could subsequently be expected to occur.
The Discussion Paper is partisan and partial,and takes inadequate notice of opposition viewpoints expressed in 1992 and subsequently.
The Paper maintains a dangerous and seductive philosophy that freedom of speech "needs to be balanced" with other freedoms; in fact,it proposes an unparalleled restriction on intellectual freedom.
There is reason to believe the Bill could be used to crush independent thinkers with legal costs, fines, jail, and awards of compensation to complainants. Many people will be intimidated by this prospect and will refrain from contributing to the robust public debate which is essential in a democracy.
The Bill gives the courts power to exempt conduct in good faith in the course of any genuine artistic, academic or scientific purpose. Those claiming exemptions for discussion "in the public interest" under such heads have to prove that their comments were worthy of exemption! Onus of proof should rest with the plaintiff and/or prosecution. This will let members of the cultural elite with an audience and social standing to say things which would lead the voiceless to be jailed.
Andrew Bolt, in an article headed "Bracks planned race bill" (Herald- Sun,21/12/2000) said that the ALP can trust its "me too" artists and academics to abuse only the right people over their race and religion. Thus exhibitions such as "Piss Christ", and plays such as "Corpus Christi",denigrating Christianity, would be in the clear,as would Hollywood films including racial hatred against Germans and Arabs would be in the clear.
An editorial in the Herald-Sun claimed that Premier Steve Bracks "says we need the laws because of the state's rich ethnic diversity. But surely that is precisely why we don't need such legislation. Australia and Victoria have set a shining example to the world of how it is possible for people from a multitude of ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds to live in harmony in the common pursuit of a good, secure life."
Racists support anti-racist bill
The Bracks bill and discussion paper makes no reference to the detailed analysis of Laird Wilcox in Crying Wolf, when he documents hate crime hoaxes such as Jews putting swastikas on synagogues to promote sympathy for Jews and Israel.
It takes some chutzpah (or cheek) for Zionist Jews such as Danny Ben-Moshe,speaking for the B'nai B'rith Anti Defamation Commission (Herald-Sun, 23/1/01) to call for laws against racial and religious intolerance. For many decades a UN resolution said Zionism is racism. It still is. Palestinians are discriminated against in Israel and are treated as inferiors who can be arbitrarily shot.
Whereas Palestinian refugees cannot return to their homeland, any Jew can migrate to Israel.
The near prohibition on Jews (including atheist Jews) marrying non-Jews is intolerant and designed in part to preserve Jewish racial identity. Assimilation through intermarriage is regarded as being more dangerous to Jewish survival as a racial group than the Holocaust. The claim that multi culturalism is OK for Australia but not for Israel also reflects intolerance and double standard.
The almost daily incitement to racial hatred against Germans and Arabs in an avalanche of films from Hollywood is often based on doubtful "history". The Bracks bill will not stop this incitement, nor would Mr Ben-Moshe wish it to.
Mr Ben-Moshe aims to use the Bracks bill to stifle freedom of speech by jailing (as in Germany) those who agree with Jewish writers that the Holocaust is Israel's number one propaganda weapon and that the extent of the Holocaust has been exaggerated. The recent reduction by Israeli historians in the official figure for deaths at Auschwitz from 4 million to 1 million would not have been possible without freedom of speech. Would Ben-Moshe claim the Israeli historians are anti-Semitic?
LAW INSTITUTE GOES NUTS OVER 'YOUR RIGHTS'
Richard Ackland, writing in Justinian (October, 2000) said that "Your Rights" has been published each year for 26 years in Melbourne by an eccentric person who used to work for Victoria Legal Aid- John Bennett. Bennett heads his own breakaway outfit called the Australian Civil Liberties Union.Ackland said that the old Stalinists at the Council for Civil Liberties kicked him out because he had unsound views about the Jewish Holocaust."Your Rights" is a swirling cauldron of information ranging from the address of the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriage,advice about debts and bankruptcy, family law, domestic violence, home buying, a citizen's rights when arrested, wills, and the rules of the road.Invariably, the last couple of chapters of each edition address some of Bennett's favourite themes- how beastly the ABC and the Fairfax Press have been towards Pauline Hanson;censorship, particularly clumsy attempts to censor some of Mr. Bennett's writings; and the "exaggeration of the extent of the Jewish Holocaust." In August 1999 the Law Institute Journal published a laudatory review of the 1999 edition of "Your Rights".It said: "'Your Rights 1999' is an extraordinary publication- a must have for just about everyone."In the interim some Jewish members of the institution complained about publication of the review. They didn't like Bennett's book being written up so favourably. In the finest traditions of publish and be damned the 'Law Institute Journal' went straight to water. A short article in 'The Australian Jewish News' of January 21,2000 said that the Law Institute 'regrets publishing a review of a booklet which supports far right ideologies including Holocaust revisionism."
The journal's editor Nick Paskos was quoted as saying that publication of the review was a "mistake". Paskos blamed the book review editor for "not taking adequate time to familiarise herself with the content of the material." He added: "I fully acknowledge that an error was made and the appropriate steps have been taken." Appropriate steps. That seems fairly spooky. Gone are the days when editors would stand by our review, we're sorry you don't like the author of the work reviewed, but we're entitled to publish this opinion."
Judges have failed us over free speech
Richard Ackland, the former presenter of MediaWatch,1998-99, speaking at a forum organized by Free Speech Victoria in October,2000, said that Judges have failed us on free speech and that our grim High Court has made it harder to hear alternative voices
He outlined a troubling thesis about how shockingly we have been served by our High Court on the fundamental issue of free speech.The principal chain of events looks something like this: In 1992 four of the seven judges of the High Court said something that hadn't been enunciated from that elevated position in the previous 90 years. In the Nationwide News and ACTV cases they found that our Constitution sets up a system of representative government.Impliedly any Commonwealth law restricting people's rights to engage in politics or government must be a violation of the principles of representative government and thereby contrary to the Constitution. Just about the same time as the High Court delivered this judgement, the leader of the Victorian RSL, Bruce Ruxton, in one of his snarling digs, says a few rude things about federal Labor backbencher Andrew Theophanous.
Ackland said that the Theophanous defamation action eventually went to the High Court where a majority took the finding in the Nationwide News and the ACTV cases the next logical step. If state defamation laws hinder statements about official conduct or suitability for office, then to that extent those laws violate the Constitution. There were of course riders that publishers would lose the protection if their statements were false or reckless. The basic charge on this was led by Justices Mason, Toohey and Gauldron. Justices Brennan, Dawson and McHugh argued against the implied right of free speech in this manner. It was Justice Deane who lifted the enterprise to a level of philosophical discourse. He thought people should be free to criticise all holders of public office, including High Court judges, even if the criticism was wrong or wild. Unlike the other judges, he was unable to accept that the freedom should be conditional upon the ability of a publisher to satisfy a court on matters of recklessness.
The plaintiff should be required to prove falsity or recklessness. Nonetheless, to get the extended implied right over the line, Sir William Deane lent his support to the more cautious approach of Mason, Toohey and Gaudron. The Constitution had been changed in a most significant way. The minority judges were pretty distressed by this bit of judicial activism, or as others would put it in the alternative-this expression of the true potential of he development of the common law. In subsequent cases, McHugh and Dawson gave out plenty of hints that Theophanous should be relitigated. After all, the composition of the High Court had changed. Mason and Deane were gone and the new arrivals were William Gummow and Michael Kirby. Putting the narrow viewpoint in a related free-speech case, McHugh said, "...it is not legitimate to construe the Constitution by reference to political principle or theories that are not anchored in the text of the Constitution..."
The outcome was the Lange decision. The High Court said the freedom protected by the Constitution is not a freedom to communicate, it is simply a freedom limited by whatever the Constitution actually says about representative government-which actually is surprisingly little.The great hope of a judicial expression of the Voltairean enlightenment in this country had been dashed by the Lange decision. Now along comes Free Speech Victoria with a manifesto to reform the law. It says that companies should not be able to sue people for criticising them; that politicians and public servants should not be able to sue over statements made about their performance in office; and in the absence of malice which plaintiffs must prove, no general damages should be awarded for defamation. It really is the logical extension of where Sir William Deane's thinking would have taken us if his reasons prevailed. Driving the High Court's narrow,grim view was the idea that there is too much power in the hands of too few media barons. Yet in trying to limit that power the judges have made it harder for alternative voices to be heard in this country.Ackland concluded by saying that they have reinforced the need to play it safe.
DEMOCRACY AND FREE SPEECH
In a paper headed Reforming the defamation laws,Free Speech Victoria said that the most insidious form of censorship that is widely practised in Australia today is the use and abuse of the defamation laws and the threat of libel actions. Citizens, who are doing no more than exercising their right to protest, dissent and object, these days run the risk of being sued for defamation-usually by politicians, corporations, business people,public servants and local government officials. Free Speech Victoria has been involved in a number of cases where people have feared for their homes and their savings as a result of defamation.Bruce Donald, in his address to the FSV annual general meeting in 1999, produced an alarming catalogue of cases from around the country. Free Speech Victoria has formed an alliance with a number of like-minded organisations to campaign for reform of the defamation law in Victoria. It has a four point proposal for changes to the law:1.Freedom to Speak About Corporations.No corporation shall be entitled to sue for any cause of action in defamation, and no person shall be entitled to sue for any cause of action in defamation in reliance on any imputation arising from any statement made about a corporation.2.Freedom to Speak on Matters of Public Interest. In the absence of malice, which the plaintiff must prove, no cause of action in defamation shall lie where the statement complained of was made in the course of public debate in relation to a matter of public interest.3.Speaking about the Perform -ance of Public Officers.No politician, public servant or public official shall be entitled to sue for any cause of action in defamation arising from statements relating to his or her conduct in office or, in the absence of malice, which the plaintiff must prove, fitness for office. 4.Freedom to Speak without the Fear of Unspecified Damages.In the absence of malice, which the plaintiff must prove, no general damages shall be awarded for defamation.
AUSTRALIA ORDERS CENSORSHIP OF ADELAIDE INSTITUTE WEB SITE
Jewish Groups Demand Ban on Revisionist Writings, The
Journal of Historical Review,
Sept.-Oct. 2000, by Mark Weber.
An important legal battle is raging in Australia over an effort initiated by Jewish groups to ban Internet web site writings that reject standard "Holocaust" extermination claims. In a landmark decision with international implications for freedom of speech,a tribunal has ordered a leading Australian revisionist history resource center to remove from its site material that "denies the Holocaust," and to issue an abject written apology to the country's Jews.
Australia's Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) on October 10 issued its order against the Adelaide Institute, which is headed by Dr. Fredrick Töben. HREOC Commissioner Kathleen McEvoy declared that the Institute had violated Section 18C of the country's 1975 "Racial Discrimination Act" by posting material whose main purpose was to denigrate Jews. The material, "none of which was of a historical, intellectual or scientific standard,"she declared,should be banned because it is "bullying, insulting and offensive."
Consistent with his attitude throughout this legal battle, Töben immediately declared his defiance of the HREOC order, saying that he would not apologize for posting "factually correct material." The only consideration for the HREOC, he noted, is whether Jews were offended by the posted material. "I shall do nothing," he said, "because I consider the proceedings [that led to the order] to have been immoral because truth was not a defense."
Olga Scully, an associate in Tasmania of the Adelaide Institute, is similarly being targeted by the HREOC and ECAJ. She engaged in "unlawful conduct," the HREOC has declared, by placing anti-Jewish literature in letter boxes and by selling such material at a market. She has been ordered to desist, and to apologize to Jews. The ECAJ has announced plans to bring her case to Federal Court. Scully -- a Russian-born 57-year-old grandmother --is not intimidated, and says that she is "quite prepared" to go to prison. "I've lived through worse horrors in my childhood -- certainly my family did. A few months or years in jail -- that's not going to be any worry to me whatever." Jewish Bolshevik officials killed both of her grandfathers, she says. Fleeing Communism during World War II, her parents brought her as an infant with her two brothers to Germany in 1943 where, she says, her family was treated with kindness.
Fredrick Töben was born in 1944 in northern Germany.He founded the Adelaide Institute in 1994. It can be reached at P.O. Box 3300, Norwood 5067, Australia.Web site: www.adelaideinstitute.org; E-mail: email@example.com
Töben was jailed for seven months in Germany (April-November, 1999) for having disputed Holocaust extermination allegations.
Standards and Power
If anyone wants to avoid being "offended" by what's on the Adelaide Institute web site, or any other Internet site, he merely has to refrain from viewing the material. Simple. In practice, only the politically powerful are able to translate their notions of what is "offensive" or "insulting" into law that everyone must obey.
The laws in various countries that criminalize skepticism of Holocaust extermination claims, are the result of a well-organized, long-term Jewish campaign. In 1982 the Institute for Jewish Affairs in London, an agency of the World Jewish Congress, announced that it was launching a worldwide campaign to persuade and pressure governments to outlaw "Holocaust denial" (Jewish Chronicle [London], April 23, 1982).
Australian Voices Against Censorship
The effort to censor the Adelaide Institute is particularly ominous because it comes in a country with a fairly strong tradition of free speech and civil liberties. Happily, at least a few voices are speaking out against the effort to censor the Adelaide Institute web site.
A leading Australian daily paper, the Herald Sun of Melbourne, commented(Nov.13,2000):"To see how our over-bossy complaints industry can cause more harm than good, check the Executive Council of Australian Jewry's bid to close down the web site of Dr. Fredrick Töben." While calling Töben "a worry," the influential daily warned that the Jewish campaign is only contributing to his "martyrdom." Töben and Adelaide Institute associate Olga Scully, the paper concluded, can "now pose as a victims of a Jewish bid to deny them free speech, and there's sadly just enough truth in that to make them [sic] a real menace."
Terry Lane, a veteran newspaper columnist and television commentator, was more pointed in his criticism. "Are we to take it," wrote Lane in The Sunday Age (Melbourne, Oct. 15), "that the human rights commissioner is going to order every outspoken person who offends some group or other to desist and apologize?" Toben's claim about gas chambers, he added, is one that "can be proven or disproved by evidence. It does not need to be censored in advance of the argument... If Töben is telling the truth, nothing will stop it. If he is a malicious fantasist, then he will be ignored. We should test his assertions, not silence them."
Nigel Jackson, an Australian author and civil rights defender, called the HREOC order "a victory of interests over principles." He continued:The HREOC can fairly be described as a pseudo- judicial body which was established and entrenched a few decades ago by servile and foolish governments to advance the interests of Jewish pressure groups and other minority ethnic bodies.
The simplistic claim (of doubtful veracity) that all "mainstream historians" agree that "the Holocaust" consumed "the lives of six million Jews" will not remove that doubt. It is probably tautologous, the definition of "mainstream" being "those who accept the received version." Historical disagreement of this kind should be dealt with by free and open debate in the intellectual forums of the land and not by appeal from a financially powerful elite to biased commissions or the courts.
Ruling on Irving Case
The Irving-Lipstadt Trial: New Dangers and Challenges, by Mark Weber.
A verdict has finally been reached in the much publicized Irving-Lipstadt trial in London, Judge Charles Gray, in a lengthy ruling made public on April 11, 2000, called David Irving an anti-Semitic and racist "Holocaust denier" who has "deliberately misrepresented and manipulated historical evidence." The judgement could hardly have been more severe. The 62-year-old British historian is now obliged to pay some $3 million in legal costs to the two defendants: Jewish American writer Deborah Lipstadt, and Penguin Books, the British publisher of her anti-revisionist work, Denying the Holocaust.
A Predictable Defeat.
As harsh as it was, Judge Gray's verdict should not have been surprising.As Irving put it, "The leaders of the Jewish communities around the world have used the most horrific methods to try and destroy me. They had bottomless pockets to afford justice and say go ahead and destroy that bastard-- which they just did."
Some fundamental weaknesses of Irving's case became ever more apparent during the course of the trial. However effectively he was able to show that he had been a victim of an international Jewish- Zionist campaign to silence him, he failed to show convincingly that Lipstadt's book, Denying The Holocaust(much less Penguin Books) had caused any of the specific damages he cited, such as the April 1996 decision by St. Martin's Press to abandon publication of his Goebbels' biography, or his banning from Germany and other countries.
All the same, Irving reaffirmed- before Judge Gray and the world- some of his most controversial views on specific aspects of the Holocaust issue. For example, he rejected the familiar Six Million figure of Jewish wartime dead, instead expressing the view that between one and four million Jews lost their lives under German or Axis rule during the war. "Do you deny the Nazis killed millions of Jews in gas chambers in purpose-built establishments?"he was asked. "Yes, it's logistically impossible," Irving responded, "I deny that it was possible to liquidate millions of people in gas chambers as presented by historians so far." Such statements sufficed for Judge Gray to label him a "Holocaust denier."
Regardless of the verdict, much good has come of the trial. For one thing,it has encouraged greater public awareness of the Holocaust controversy.For another,Irving managed to compile and present crucially important facts that- while they may be temporarily overlooked in the celebratory aftermath of the trial-are now permanently on the public record.
First, Irving carefully assembled and forcefully presented a mass of evidence showing-perhaps more clearly than has ever been done before-just how the formidable "international endeavour" of Jewish activist organizations operates to smear and silence those who, like Irving, are regarded as threats to Jewish-Zionist interests. He traced a network of secretive collaboration involving the Anti-Defamation League (ADL),the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Israel's Yad Vashem center, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and even the taxpayer-funded US Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Irving spoke bitterly of "this secret common enterprise, this frantic international endeavour to destroy my legitimacy as an historian and to deprive me of free speech..." This "hidden network of Orwellian organizations", he went on to warn, is "determined to ensure that no version of history of these matters of which they disapproved (is) given publicity, or indeed allowed to survive."
In dissecting the machinations of this global network,Irving has performed a great public service on behalf of free speech and free historical inquiry- benefiting even those who revile him.
Second, Irving brought out important evidence, some of it new, that challenges key aspects of the Holocaust extermination story. Building on earlier work of pioneer revisionist scholars, he took aim especially at claims of mass killings in the "gas chambers" of Auschwitz-Birkenau Krema II. All this has doubtless encouraged intelligent skepticism on the part of many around the world who had never before seriously questioned the Auschwitz gassing stories.
Evaluating Gas Chamber Evidence.In his Opening Statement to the court, David Irving related that, at a meeting in Munich in April, 1990, he had said that the "gas chamber" shown for decades to tourists in the Auschwitz I main camp is a fake. (Sept-Dec. 1999 Journal, p. 22) Even though he was later fined by a German court for this provocative statement, it is, in fact, completely true.
A David-Goliath Battle
In terms of manpower and financial resources, the Irving-Lipstadt clash was a David-Goliath battle. Whereas Irving acted as his own attorney, the Lipstadt-Penguin side employed some 20 courtroom lawyers and legal experts.Irving's adversaries were also fabulously better funded. More than 543,000 pounds (about $841,650) was paid to defence experts and researchers for their testimony, reports and other help.
Responding to Judge Gray's finding that he is a racist, Irving said: "My own feelings about race are precisely the same as 95 per cent of the people of my generation... If the British soldiers on the beaches of Normandy in 1944 could look forward to the end of the century and see what England has become, they would not have bothered to advance another 40 yards up the beach."
But by any objective measure of the term, Deborah Lipstadt must herself be considered a "racist".As undisputed evidence presented during the trial established,she publicly opposes Jews marrying non- Jews, and supports discriminatory Jewish-Zionist supremacy in Israel."
In fact, Lipstadt is a sloppy academic-more polemicist than scholar.
Her Denying the Holocaust book is strewn with factual errors.In her brief half-page discussion of Holocaust revisionism in Australia, for example, Denying the Holocaust contains several factual errors, as Australian civil rights attorney John Bennett has demonstrated (Lipstadt's "Fine Scholarship", Nov.-Dec. 1993 Journal, pp. 48-49)
Censorship and vilification
As Jewish writer D.D.Guttenplan pointed out in a recent Atlantic Monthly article on the Irving-Lipstadt clash, Jewish activist organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League have for decades routinely sought to stifle and punish historians-even such Jewish scholars as Raoul Hilberg,Hannah Arendt and Arno Mayer -who deviate from the Jewish-Zionist "party line" on 20th century history.(Atlantic Monthly, Feb. 2000, pp. 60-62) As a result of such efforts, notes Guttenplan,"certain aspects of the Holocaust and its aftermath..become not just controversial but unmentionable."
He is not alone in sensing danger. "The news that David Irving has lost his libel case will send a tremor through the community of 20th century historians", wrote John Keegan, a prominent and prolific British Second World War historian, and military affairs editor for the London Daily Telegraph,(April 12)
Suggesting that Judge Gray could have ruled either way in the case, depending on his own basic attitude towards the dispute, Keegan wrote:
"Nothing but trouble comes of taking sides over Irving", Keegan continued. "Decide against him and his associates accuse one of prejudice. Decide for him,and the smears start. I have written complimentary reviews of Irving's work as a military historian to find myself posted on the Internet as a Nazi sympathiser."
Donald Cameron Watt, another eminent British historian (author, for example , of the detailed study, How War Came:The Immediate Origins of the Second World War) echoed Keegan's assessment, specifically noting that historians are uneasy about the trial, that Penguin had been "out for blood", and that "the truth needs Irving's challenges to keep it alive". Remarking on the close scrutiny to which Irving and his writings has been subjected, Watt commented: "Show me one historian who has not broken out in a cold sweat at the thought of undergoing similar treatment."
Keegan and Watt were not the only historians to reject the assertion loudly and repeatedly made by Lipstadt and Jewish activist organizations that Irving does not deserve to be regarded as a historian. As Watt noted, a recent survey of leading American and British historians found that a "large majority" agreed that Irving is "a historian of repute". Only "those who identify with the victims of the Holocaust" disagreed, added Watt. The eminent American scholar of German history, Gordon Craig (as well as British-American writer Christopher Hitchens)also hold that, in spite of his eccentricities and sometimes annoyingly contrarian views, Irving is a valuable historian.
John Charmley, one of Britain's finest younger generation historians, recently wrote to Irving,"In the area I am competent to talk about, namely Churchill,although I don't always agree with your conclusions,I am always impressed by the rigour and range of your scholarship...there are few historians with your record for turning up new and relevant documents."
Even Judge Gray expressed admiration for his ability as a historian and his skill in the court room. "As a military historian", declared Gray in his judgement,"Irving has much to commend him.For his works of military history, Irving has undertaken thorough and painstaking research into the archives...It was plain from the way in which he conducted his case and dealt with a sustained and penetrating cross-examination that his knowledge of World War Two is unparall -eled. His majesty of the detail of the historical document is remarkable. He is beyond question able and intelligent. He was invariably quick to spot the significance of documents which he had not previously seen.Moreover,he writes his military history in a clear and vivid style.I accept the favorable assessment by Professor Watt and Sir John Keegan of the caliber of Irving's military history."
Much more ominous than the relatively harmless egg-throwing incident, where Irving was splattered with eggs on the day Gray gave his verdict, is the implacable hatred harboured by many Jews against Irving and all those who openly defy Jewish-Zionist interests. At a recent meeting in Los Angeles, Deborah Lipstadt called Irving "a contemporary Amalek."
Jews are admonished never to forget their emblematic enemy, and to wage "war with Amalek from generation to generation" that is, forever. The inference some will surely (and reasonably) draw here is that Irving and "his ilk" deserve to be killed.In this same spirit,a high-ranking Israeli government official has publicly suggested that "Holocaust deniers" deserve to be put to death.
Another high-level Zionist official called for what amounted to a worldwide ban on travel by those who dispute Holocaust extermination claims. Israel's ambassador to Britain,Dror Zeigerman called on Australia and other countries to bar Irving and "other members of the Holocaust denial movement" (AAP dispatch, The Australian, April 13)
While the judgment in the Irving-Lipstadt trial is certainly a heavy blow for Irving personally,it is only a temporary setback for the ultimately unstoppable march of revisionist scholarship. Irving's courtroom defeat and its resulting worldwide publicity underscore the vital importance of the work done by the Institute for Historical Review and by those heroic scholars who,at some -times great personal cost, have been fighting for truth and accuracy in history- even its most politicised,emotion-laden chapters-and struggling against the efforts of those who, for what ever tribal or sectarian concerns,seek to stifle free historical inquiry.
In a recent 5 day period in Melbourne (10-14 April, 1999) 10 films dealing with the Holocaust were shown on TV. Since 1945 about 400 films dealing directly or indirectly with the Jewish Holocaust have been made.(Other and greater holocausts such as the Ukraine, and Chinese Holocausts are ignored.The bombing of German cities leading to the deaths of over 700,000 people, mainly women and children, has been the subject of only one feature film since the end of the war(Slaughterhouse Five)The indiscriminate carpet bombing of German cities was described as "the greatest war crime of WWII in The Spectator, (19/9/79) Holocaust museums are commonplace in the USA, the Holocaust Remembrance Day has been set aside in the UK, and it is an offence to query the extent of the Holocaust in countries such as Germany, where David Irving was fined, and Dr Fredrick Toben was imprisoned. Amnesty International refused to take up the case of 17 revisionists referred to it by the ACLU.
Why is the Jewish Holocaust referred to on a daily basis in the media? Has the Holocaust become a new secular religion? Phillip Adams,Australia's leading atheist and skeptic,says it is "blasphemous" to query the extent of the Holocaust. (The Risks of Shoah Business, Sunday Age, (23/1/00) quoted Richard Ingrams in the Observer, that "not a day goes by without the Holocaust being mentioned in one context or another" and quoted Brian Sewell, from The Evening Standard, that "enough has been made of the Jewish Holocaust, and they are too greedy for our memories". The Holocaust In American Life, by Peter Novick says the Holocaust is used to clobber anti-Semitism, and justify support for Israel. The Holocaust Industry, by N. Finkelstein says the Holocaust Industry was created by the pro-Israel lobby in the USA after 1967 to justify aid for Israel. It is also used to put pressure on Governments and corporations to pay compensation.The play Perdition, refers to Israel as a nation built upon the pillars of Western guilt and subsidized by American dollars. The Holocaust has been described by Professor W.Rubinstein as "Israel's number one propaganda weapon",while Dr Alfred Lilienthal refers to the saturation coverage of the Holocaust as Holocaustomania and claims that the Holocaust has become a new religion for Jews.
The Holocaust Industry
Professor Norman Finkelstein, the Jewish son of two concentration camp survivors,has claimed in his book,The Holocaust Industry, that the leaders of America's Jewish establishment have used stories of Nazi atrocities to gain political support for Israel and for their pet projects such as Holocaust Museums rather than paying compensation money to the victims of the Holocaust. He says that the Holocaust has become an ideological weapon through which one of the world's most formidable military powers (Israel) has cast itself as a "victim" state, and the most successful ethnic group in the USA to likewise acquired victim status.
He says that the suffering of Jews in WWII was not unique and that by claiming the Holocaust was a unique unparalleled genocide has led to considerable dividends from this spurious victimization, in particular immunity from criticism, however justified. He says that this immunity has been used to deflect criticism from Israel's activities since the 1960s. He says that more recently the immunity has been used as a chip in the high stakes power game to help wring $7 billion in reparations from Swiss bankers who seized the accounts of Nazi victims, and from the German Government for the wartime use of slave labour. He says the Holocaust Industry has become an outright extortion racket.
The national director of the US Anti-Defamation League said "I am a survivor and I find his book a blasphemy, an insult." Another Jewish leader said Finkelstein was a Jewish traitor and a self hating Jew.The Holocaust Industry has received extensive publicity in Europe even in Germany where challenging the Holocaust can lead to prosecution and jail. The book has generally been given the silent treatment in the USA. However the Jewish owned New York Times said that the book was no better than the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a bogus work that has fuelled decades of "anti-Semitism."
ACLU ANNUAL REPORT FOR 2000
The ACLU is an Australia-wide organization and has about 300 members. During the course of the year the ACLU has taken up various policy issues with government departments, has made representations on behalf of individuals, participated in TV news programs and has been quoted in news stories in numerous newspapers. During the course of 2000 letters or comments by the ACLU have been published in newspapers such as The Australian, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Adelaide Advertiser, The Courier Mail and the Herald-Sun. ACLU spokesmen have also been interviewed on more than eight radio stations in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, SA and WA.
The ACLU has made policy representations to the Federal and State Governments and/or has had its views published in news items or in letters to the editor on issues such as proposed new powers for ASIO, new Federal legislation on privacy, the threat to civil liberties posed by Crime Net (comment on Channel 9) the development of the "Nanny State" (comment in the Herald Sun); a proposed data bank of medical records; DNA testing of suspects and prisoners including the voluntary testing at Wee Waa; privacy and the internet; proposals to censor the internet and proposals by the Free Speech Committee to liberalize defamation laws.
The ACLU has also made representations to the State Government in relation to proposed racial vilification legislation and held a public meeting attended by about 140 people in February 2000, addressed by Dr,Toben, recently released from gaol in Mannheim, Germany; by Raymond Hoser, the author of books on police corruption, and by John Bennett on freedom of speech issues.
The ACLU has established a website ( http://www.go.to/aclu ) containing most of the contents of Your Rights 2001 and a new chapter to be in Your Rights 2001 on the rights of gays and lesbians. A new chapter on the rights of people with psychiatric illness is being prepared.The website also contains policy statements on whistle-blowers, censorship of the internet, contempt of court, racial vilification legislation, ACLU annual reports, concentration of control of the media, the libel proceeding brought by David Irving and the attempt to force Dr.Toben to close his Adelaide Institute website. ACLU members and supporters are urged to access the website rather than rely on ACLU newsletters for up to date information on ACLU activities. If you cannot access the internet from your home, you can do so from almost all libraries, with the assistance if necessary, of librarians.
The 26th edition of Your Rights was published in 2000 and more than 1700 free copies containing numerous law reform proposals were distributed to all Australian Federal and State MPs, legal aid groups, libraries and the media.Since Your Rights was first published more than 70,000 free copies have been sent, mainly to pensioners, journalists, schools and libraries.The 26th edition of Your Rights had new sections on the GST, the threat to privacy posed by AXCIOM, attempts to censor David Irving and Dr. Toben, the director of the Adelaide Institute, the activities of the Free Speech Committee and changes to the Family Law Act. Your Rights is the most widely used layman's guide to the law in Australia.
Contents of Your Rights
Australian Civil Liberties Union