Sunday Territorian 25 Jan 2015
Sunday Territorian; NewspaperNT
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Community newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.; Australian newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.
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SUNDAY JANUARY 25 2015 OPINION 15 V1 - NTNE01Z01MA I will make it the little Dubai of Australia that I can promise you. ALEX HATZIMIHAIL The Alice Springs-bred entrepreneur has a $500m plan to create the Desert Knowledge Precinct in the Central Australian desert. Should the minister step in and call us dysfunctional? Yeah I think so. ALLAN McKAY The Litchfield mayor has been banned from attending his own council meetings and called on Minister Bess Price to sack the entire council including himself. I guess I just have to leave the world a slightly better place. DONALD LOCKLEY The Leanyer man was named Darwin Citizen of the Year for his volunteer work. I was just absolutely blown away by the place. ANNIE SEATON The romance novelist fell in love with Kakadu and has set her upcoming novel Kakadu Sunset in the Northern Territory. Freedom of speech no excuse for bogan bigots Somewhere along the line, it seems as though free speech has become the go-to catchcry of bogan Australia THE only thing bogansseem to love more thanan icy cold stubby on Australia Day is sharing their offensive views with the world. There is nothing like listening to the all too familiar drawl of an Aussie bogan while they complain about people from overseas coming to take over their country the irony apparently lost on them. Whats that old saying? Opinions are like arseholes: everybodys got one and most of them stink. Well, something like that, anyway. Over the past few months Ive noticed an alarming trend of people proclaiming they have a right to say whatever they want without having their opinion censored. Unsurprisingly, the common denominator between all of these opinions seems to be that they are discriminatory or extremely offensive in nature. Now, freedom of speech is a great idea in theory. Everybody is technically allowed to have an opinion hell, mine is published every week, much to the chagrin of some. But somewhere along the line, it seems as though free speech has become the go-to catchcry of bogan Australia. How dare we deprive them of their right to openly be bigots? It is their God-given right to yell their offensive views from the rooftops, if they want. After all, its right there in the Australian constitution. Oh wait, no its not. Can I really blame Australians for thinking we have explicit freedom of speech rights when we live in a country oversaturated by American media and pop culture? Freedom of speech is most definitely protected by the First Amendment in the United States of Americas constitution, and it is commonly referred to in films and television shows illegally downloaded here. But last I checked, despite many attempts by Prime Minister Tony Abbott to turn us into America-lite, this is not the United States of Oz. Some argue that freedom of speech is listed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. What they seem to ignore is the fact it also states that it is subject to restrictions. Youre allowed to hold an opinion and you are allowed to share it with the world, but there can still be repercussions. For instance, if you start telling everybody down at the local pub that Joe Blow is a wife basher, rapist or a paedophile, you are still open to getting sued for defamation. If you discriminate against someone because of their age, gender, race or disability, you are also leaving yourself open to the possibility of a lawsuit. A good example of this would be the woman in Western Australia who recently had to pay her ex-husband $12,500 compensation after she accused him of domestic abuse in a Facebook post. Or when controversial News Corp columnist Andrew Bolt was found in court to have breached the Racial Discrimination Act when he implied light-skinned people who identified as Aboriginal did so for personal gain. Having an opinion is all fun and games until you have to pay someone thousands of dollars in compensation. Working in the media, weknow better than anybody (except maybe lawyers) that we can be held accountable for what we say and write. If there is any doubt about the possible legal repercussions of something we have written, it is sent to a legal team who go over it with a fine-tooth comb. Some of the juiciest parts of stories are often removed, and sometimes whole stories are quashed because of the legal ramifications we face from printing them. Unfortunately for the public, sending your opinion off to an expert legal team is not exactly financially viable. You know what is a cheap alternative? Thinking before you speak, or before publishing your opinion on social media. No doubt there are plenty of people on the internet who share your opinion. Stupid people usually talk the loudest. However, when push comes to shove and you get sued over your very intelligent, wellrounded and educated opinion, other people agreed isnt really going to stand up as an excuse in a court of law. And do you really think they are going to be standing there backing you up? One of the most amusing things about those who use freedom of speech as a defence is the hypocritical fact that it only applies to their opinion. If anyone else has something to say that differs from their opinion, they automatically start attacking them. For instance, when Aboriginal people spoke out against Jessica Mauboy performing at the Australia Day concert in Sydney, everybody attacked them for their us and them attitude creating a divide. You know, the same us and them attitude adopted when discussing Muslims, gay people or any other minority. Im a firm believer that everybody has the right to make up their own mind about things. I also think people should be allowed to share their opinions with the world without being persecuted. The only exception to this which is backed up by law (and this is where the bogans freedom of speech catchcry falls short) is when it discriminates against someone. While growing up, I always rolled my eyes at the saying if you have nothing nice to say, dont say anything at all. After all one of my favourite pastimes is being offensively politically incorrect. But as we grow up and mature, something I am still admittedly doing now at 28, we are meant to learn to differentiate between what is right and what is wrong. Now for some reason that saying makes perfect sense to me, and with the rise of social media, is more apt than ever. With Australia Day tomorrow, its about time we as a country worry more about becoming better people than our right to free speech which is just used to show the rest of the world how terribly backwards we are at times. Sometimes your opinion is just better kept to yourself. Follow me on twitter @CoreyJSinclair COREY SINCLAIR email@example.com
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