Free speech and the responsibility to speak out

Last week and today, Newscorp columnist, Andrew Bolt condemned cartoonist Larry Pickering for anti – Muslim and anti gay slurs. He also slammed former Coalition member, Ross Cameron for not calling Pickering out.

Well done, Mr. Bolt.

No, really I mean it. It means a lot for a respected columnist/ commentator to use his platform to stand up for the LGBTQ+ community, and especially gays that have been persecuted in one of the most brutal regimes. I also applaud him for confronting South Australian Senator Cory Bernardi for his controversial comments on same – sex marriage back in 2012 while he was a guest on Sky’s ‘The Bolt Report’ last Monday night.

It is great that Bolt is being consistent in calling out homophobia, racism, etc when it occurs. I hope he – as well as other journalists – CONSISTENTLY continue to call homophobia, racism and other forms of discrimination when they  occur. As I wrote many times last year, I was very disappointed when Bolt and most other journalists didn’t call out and condemn the threats made toward Melbourne’s only LGBTQ radio station JOY 94.9FM last year during the plebiscite debate. Since it’s a new year, (well another year since that event), I’m willing to believe that Bolt and others are willing to turn a new leaf and call out homophobia when it happens and not excuse it. So far, I have been pleasntly surprised with Bolt and his support for members of the LGBTQ+ community – at least condemning abuse. I hope he keeps it up. I also hope others follow in his footsteps.

In the posts that, Bolt was talking – as he often does – about free speech and not having anti discrimination legislation such as Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 to deal with it and instead, have racists, homophobes, etc, have to face criticism by the wider public. This can only happen if people are willing to speak out. This only works when people refuse to turn a blind eye or deaf ear to what’s happening. People who call out racism or homophobia, including slurs, should be able to do so, without having everyone on their backs. Members of the LGBTQ+ community and racial minorities NEED to be able to tell of their experiences. Some things that are said maybe uncomfortable to hear. Tough! If free speech is the way to comat racism and queerphobia, then members of racial minorities and the LGBTQ+ community need to be able to speak and be heard!

 

Lastly, I think there needs to be an overall community effort to eliminate homophobia and racism – in schools, health and the widercommunity. Generally, I think we’ve done this quite well in Australia, with, for example, the Pride Match between St. kilda Saints and Sydney Swans last year. At the time, I said that I thought it was great for such a major, traditionally macho, pastime and cultural icon in Australia to open their arms out to LGBTQ+ players and spectators.

Of course, the mainstrem media has played a major role in embracing members of the LGBTQ+ community and rallying behind their causes. Over the years, I’ve written about the media’s increasing reporting on asexuality and I think that most of them have done a decent job. I still continue to see articles, most which are pretty well written. They mostly validate the experiences of asexual people, which I think is important. This month, Cosmopolitan has released a special LGBTQ Pride issue. I want to talk about it in more depth at a later date.

 

Maybe with all these advances and perceptions slowly changing around ethnic minorities and the LGBTQ + community, things like 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 won’t be needed. But I  believe that is going to put greater onus on all of us to not accept, and more importantly, call out racism and queerphobia. Are we as writers and a community willing to harbour that responsibility? Are YOU willing?

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s