“I am pleased to resent (sic) the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Corporate Plan for 2015-2016”. — Emeritus Professor Gillian Triggs President Australian Human Rights Commission (HRC official website)*
If Professor Gillian Triggs “resents” her own Corporate Plan, I guess she can’t complain if we do too! She can perhaps shrug off her spelling mistake as just a typo. But if we go to the second sentence in her Corporate Plan letter, we find:
“This Corporate Plan sets out the strategic direction and priorities of the Commission four (sic) the next four years.”
I raise Professor Triggs’ inability to spell because, as the former dean of a law faculty, it is reasonable to expect she would make it her habit to proofread anything on which she places the imprimatur of her signature, especially an epistle she imagines so vital to Australia’s future that it warrants being presented as an open letter to the nation. If Ms Triggs was just a bit busy — recommending a seven-figure windfall for a man who beat his wife to death with a bicycle, for instance — one of her 130-odd HRC staff might have been instructed to read it with an eye for error.
But no, ten months later and still occupying pride of place on the HRC’s website, there the misspellings sit for all the world to see. Oh, the irony! The HRC stands ever ready to persecute Australians for using wrong and careless words — the words, that is, which fail the HRC’s Newspeak test. Here, think Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. George Orwell would have loved how the HRC caresses and nurtures 18C, the world’s worst ‘hurt feelings law’ (other than those to be found in the Koran, of course). Adding salt to the inept document is Triggs’ stated intention to lead an organisation that is “agile and innovative”. One gathers that while she has yet to master spellcheck in her word processing program, she is in full command of a toady’s skills in declaring her loyalty and support for a certain prime minister.
Write or say the ‘wrong’ thing and you risk of being 18C’d, which is quite shocking, given that it would appear to be a clear is a breach of the UN Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR), which reads:
Article 19: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
You might think Article 19 is clear and unambiguous and its sentiment something Professor Triggs would hold close to her heart. Without Article 19 every other UNDHR article melts away. If you are not free to express an opinion, how could you safeguard and defend the other 29 articles of the UN Declaration of Human Rights? It can’t be done.
Andrew Bolt found this out when he wrote an article asking how we define who is an “Aboriginal” person? With a possible national plebiscite long in the offing and intended to alter the Australian Constitution to accommodate various Indigenous notions, you would imagine that the HRC might have thought Bolt’s question vital if we are to have a fair and informed vote.
So how chilling it is to see the HRC back in the game after flicking an 18C complaint arising from Indigenous woman Cindy Prior’s hurt feelings to the Federal Court. Prior is suing three white students and various academics for $250,000 for what they are alleged to have said or written — even, perhaps, for something they are presumed merely to have thought. It all began when the white students complained about their own hurt feelings after Ms enforced a racial-segregation rule that operates in a computer room at the Queensland University of Technology.
White students, apparently, can’t use blacks’ tax-payer-funded computers. Nor can they be in the same room as black students. And this is in one of Queensland’s (presumably) great fortresses of intellectual and academic freedom. Really!
The problem with the Prior case is that the HRC and Triggs could not see that the real issue is not the hurt feelings of an Indigenous individual but the collective rights of all Australian citizens. We don’t discriminate by race or skin colour. We don’t forbid people to enter a university room because of their ethnicity. And we should — according to the UN — uphold the right of citizens to the
“…freedom to hold opinions without interference…”
Under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the later International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) the only issue in the Prior case should not be hurt feelings, but racial segregation and a nasty, related attack on freedom of thought, opinion and speech. So the human-rights choice that Professor Triggs and the HRC had was between racial segregation and free speech, on the one hand, or hurt feelings on the other. They chose hurt feelings. This gold-plated nonsense has now been going on for over two years, with only lawyers happy to see this nice earner continue.
Indeed, while the HRC has been deeply involved in the Prior ‘hurt feelings’ issue— which isn’t listed anywhere as a ‘right’ by the UN — the HRC might look at Article 3 of the UN declaration which states:
“Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”
In an article in The Australian, Curtin University Indigenous academic Hannah McGlade wrote of a recent UN Human Rights Council meeting in New York where the following was submitted:
“Aboriginal women are 37 times more likely to be hospitalised than non-Aboriginal women for non-fatal family violence-related assaults. In the Northern Territory the rate of hospitalisation is up to 86 times higher for Aboriginal women. The violent deaths of Aboriginal women comprise the most frequent form of homicide in Australia today.”
McGlade also noted that the Australian delegate to the above UN meeting, Josephine Cashman, has stated, “Aboriginal women in some regions (of Australia) occupy the unenviable position of being the most victimised group of people in the world.”
The comparison between the issue of the Prior’s hurt-feelings case and the statistics Hannah McGlade cites could not be more stark. On searching the HRC website and typing in “Violence towards Aboriginal women”, up popped a 2011 report by Queensland-born HRC Commissioner Mick Gooda, entitled “Lateral Violence in Aboriginal and Torres Straight communities—Social Justice Report.”
Gooda’s 2011 report is well written and seemingly well researched, but it fails to place any blame for Indigenous violence against Aboriginal women and children on Aboriginal men. Instead, it latches onto the latest and fashionable political-correct assumption of perpetrator as blameless victim. The device to achieve this is a fuzzy concept that goes by the name of “lateral violence”. Thus is the blame for beating, raping and killing of Aboriginal women by Aboriginal men transferred to every Australian, especially the white ones. The Gooda report quotes Aboriginal activist Richard Frankland:
“[Lateral violence] comes from being colonized, invaded. It comes from being told you are worthless and treated as being worthless for a long period of time. Naturally you don’t want to be at the bottom of the pecking order, so you turn on your own.
The organized, harmful behaviors that we do to each other collectively as part of an oppressed group: within our families; within our organizations and; within our communities. When we are consistently oppressed we live with great fear and great anger and we often turn on those who are closest to us.”
If the HRC considers that promoting such politically correct excuses for brutal savagery is part of its job, Aboriginal women and children are doomed for a continuing life of violence and death, at the hands of their own. The Prior case travesty, plus the trail of previous interventions and decisions by Professor Triggs’ HRC, poses the question: Is the HRC actually fit for purpose? Consider the following.
Queensland universities have tangled with 18C before. In May, 2013, the Federal Circuit Court threw out another HRC referral, Hamlin v The University of Queensland. In this instance an Indigenous medical student by the name of Luke Hamlin sued for $223,321, listing seven complaints. The first of these focused on that normal human reaction to the comical, laughter.
According to court documents, 400 medical students at a pre-examination briefing were told by Dr Phillip Towers that the Australian Medical Council recently had advised the university “that more Indigenous content needs to be incorporated into the curriculum.” The students burst into spontaneous laughter. The 18C complaint against Dr Towers was that he didn’t stop the lecture or advise the students that their mirth was inappropriate. Another complaint that the HRC apparently flicked to the Federal Court included the charge that a white worker whistled at an Indigenous colleague to get his attention, instead of calling him by his first name.
In a recent article by Professor Frank Furedi on micro-aggression (the ‘hurt feelings’ caper), an online commenter observed: “If people get anymore ‘sensitive’ we are going to need the Large Hadron Collider to work out what we said wrong.”
One of the more exotic cases of hurt feelings that the HRC segued to the Federal Court was Kelly-Country v. King Billy Coke Bottle. The latter is white comedian, Louis Beers, who blackens his face and does a routine of a distinctly Indigenous flavour. The court dismissed the case on the grounds it was an artistic performance.
So here’s the rub: We joke and perform in front of hundreds of people if it is an “artistic” piece, but we face inquisition by the HRC if just one person feels offended by something said or written. Former US ambassador to the UN, the late Jeane Kirkpatrick, argued that certain supposed UN rights were not true human rights but “a letter to Santa Clause.” As she put it, “Neither nature, experience, nor probability informs these list of entitlements, which are subject to no constraints except those of the mind and appetite of their authors.”
In an article for the Macquarie Law Journal on 18C, Augusta Zimmermann and Lorraine Findlay wrote:
“This lack of common sense has led inevitably to a rights revolution, where only selfishness and personal interest seem to reign supreme.”
Let us call it t the art of ‘not going there’, a bureaucratic trick whereby the bleeding obvious issue and/or problem is ignored for a safer, less challenging pathway. It is a means to avoid facing up to awkward questions, and the attitude is sweeping through our schools, universities, government departments, media and the minds of intellectual progressives (there’s an oxymoron for you). You would think that the last, greatest and most resolute bastion for human-rights protection would be the Australian Human Rights Commission. Instead the HRC is part of the problem, not the solution.
In practicing the art of ‘not going there’, the HRC blithely ignores the following human rights abuses that, or so a reasonable person would think, are at the core of their business as determined by the UN (and other international conventions):
- The issue of violence and abuse of Aboriginal women and children by Aboriginal men. (Article 3)
- The implication for the well-being of very young children under the Marxist-inspired Safe Schools program, particularly the safety issue of children who wish not to be outed in the classroom, on the playground or by their teachers. (Article 26)
- The conduct of the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption’s Megan Latham, who claims that the ICAC finding cannot be overturned even if the accused is found innocent in a court of law. (Article 5) (Article 10) (Article 11)
- The implications of Section 18C, and its overall effect on the freedom of citizens, to express an un-PC opinion in Australia. (Article 1) (Article 18)
- The right of Australian citizens to express an opinion on same-sex marriage without being branded a homophobe. (Article 5)
- The human rights of volunteer fire-fighters who are being forced into union agreements against their will. Also owner /driver contractors being forced into union/transport-company deals. (Article 20)
- The right of Australian citizens to express an opinion regarding indigenous issues in the forth coming referendum on changes to the Constitution, without being labelled a racist. (Article 5)
- The right of parents to decide what their children are taught in schools in regards to social-engineering like Safe Schools indoctrination. (Article 26.3)
- The issue of ALP Members of Parliament being threatened by party officials if they deviate from party policy (expulsion). (Article 19)
Take the Safe Schools programme organised by La Trobe University’s advocacy-driven research unit Australian Research Centre for Sex Health and Society. It runs a Marxist-inspired pro-homosexual schools course under the guise of an anti-bullying program. This involves cross-gender role-playing as well as referrals to internet sites promoting sexuality choices. Primary school children are targeted as well as teenagers.
On the HRC website a one-page article supporting Safe Schools is displayed under a photo-banner of the gay and lesbian rainbow flag. The HRC supports the Safe Schools program — and, shamefully, it expresses concern in regard to parents having a veto on their own children participating! The course involves the very latest in gay-sex political ideology and theory, characterised by what is an almost sneering attitude to heterosexuality, the thrust being that the notion of ‘man and woman’ as the standard is not ‘normal’. Parents have been told that they can have no say in whether their children are to be subjected to Safe Schools dogma. Yet the UN Declaration of Human Rights says in Article 26:
Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.
In the state of Victoria, where the government is determined to introduce the original and unmodified version of Safe Schools, parents are stringently being denied that right. The response to their objections has been a contemptuous “tough luck” . That young children are being indoctrinated in Marxist-inspired gender ideology in schools would surely be expected to come under the watchful eye of the HRC and Professor Triggs. But apparently not, even though the prime author of the program, La Trobe University academic Roz Ward, has admitted the program is not so much about bullying, but promoting a gay (and Marxist) agenda. Worth noting also: the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child (1989/1990) Article 34 ( C) clearly demands governments undertake to protect children from all forms of exploitation.
There can be absolutely no argument about the need to educate children against the evil of bullying. Compulsory reading and study of Orwell’s Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty Four would go a long way to opening up the dark world of the bully and the rights of minority groups. If teachers cannot weave anti-bullying concepts within the fabric and content of the above two books, as well as Golding’s Lord of the Flies, then there is much more wrong with our education system than we already know.
In the politically correct world of the HRC you don’t get brownie points for defending ‘whites’ when an Indigenous person is involved. Nor can parents expect the body to champion their right to take responsibility for their kids’ education. It also seems that you none of us can expect much benefit from the protections that the UN Declaration of Human Rights sets out — certainly not if you expect Gillian Triggs and her Commission to observe them, honour them and implement them.