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hedders

Well, well, well.

After a year or more of being assailed by the savagely-slanted libertarian proselytising of the self-proclaimed Grand Poo-Bah of free speech, Mr Hedley Doubting Thomas, the voices of reason and forces of light at Fairfax fight back.

And now it’s game on in the infantile reasoning stakes.

Giddy up Doubting!

David Leyonhjelm is a boorish, supercilious know-all with the empathy of a besser block. And that new Hansonite conspiracy theorist from Queensland? He’s an absurdist fringe-dweller and fellow hate-speech apologist. It’s a case of wacky and wackier.

Neither of these self-promoting misanthropes would have the first idea about entrenched discrimination. Yet both are experts.

You may disagree with this harsh critique and probably think it unbecoming of a serious media outlet. But offensive to them, it is not. And that’s the point.

You see, this gormless duo has declared, with all their angry-white-male certitude, that a verbal abuser cannot cause offence or humiliation. It is all in the mind of the recipient.

In their peerless assessment of the lived experience of all minorities, they have decreed that the fault of hate-speech does not lie with the utterer of a given slur or insult, no matter how cruel, baseless, or humiliating. Rather, the “offence” lies with the recipient – the subject who simply “decides” to be affronted.

Infantile reasoning, but there it is.

Hence, there is no need for the victim-centric pre-occupations of the nanny state such as section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, which makes it unlawful to “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” a person because of their ethnicity or race.

Indeed, such laws have adduced victimism and must be abolished. Simple.

“Look, free speech is free speech. There’s no qualification to it,” Leyonhjelm bravely told Barrie Cassidy on Insiders.

The One Nation guy, Malcolm Roberts, was similarly heroic when asked if he worried about humiliating people: “Not at all, because, Barrie, you can call me short, you can call me fat, you can call me a Queenslander, you can call me a cane toad, whatever you want to call me. The only person who decides whether I’m upset is me.”

Leyonhjelm again: “If you want to take offence, that’s your choice. You have the choice of choosing another feeling. Offence is always taken, not given. So if you don’t want to be offended, you, it’s up to you; don’t be offended.”

Bravely advancing this uplifting social quest, the smart-alec Leyonhjelm and the opinionated little (he did say call me short) One Nation chappy have indemnified their critics absolutely, inviting them to impugn their worth, character, motivations.

But they’re not always that keen.

Leyonhjelm for example, opposes reasonable attempts to lift the Senate’s ludicrously arcane photography rules designed to obscure from the public the cloistered privilege of those brave lions of the red carpet.

Concerned that he might be pictured asleep on the job, he insists, along with most of his confreres, on retaining strict limitations, meaning press photographers can never record their presence in the chamber unless they are on their feet speaking.

So much for free speech and accountability.

He was hardly more open when the ABC’s The Chaser so easily called his bluff on free speech by asserting the right to insult him outside his home during the election campaign. It brought some very free speech, of the indignant kind, in return. There was no charge for the profanity either.

Presumably, both of these giants of the legislature will choose to be “very happy” about being named as rank apologists for the resentment industry promoted by angry-white-male shock-jocks and TV Tea Party types.

Written by Mark Kenny and first published 8 August 2016 in the Sydney Morning Herald at http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/federal-election-2016-opinion/freespeech-fundamentalists-break-free-of-good-conscience-20160808-gqnhnw.html