The Free Speech Debate

Cover - The Free Speech Debate
  • The Free Speech Debate
  • Volume 420
  • Editor: Justin Healey
  • Print book ISBN: 978 1 925339 40 6
  • E-book ISBN: 978 1 925339 41 3
  • Year: 2017
  • E-book: $28.00 - pre-order now! (due 25/07/2017)

Freedom of expression and tolerance are considered core features of our democracy. Free speech was at the centre of a recent controversial debate in federal politics regarding changes to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act to remove the words “offend, insult, humiliate” from section 18C, and replace them with the word “harass”. The rewording proposed by a number of conservative politicians was voted down by the Senate, but the government emerged with changes to the complaint-handling process by the Australian Human Rights Commission, making it easier to dismiss vexatious complaints and require greater transparency toward defendants. How is free speech justified in Australia, and what laws are in place to protect people from defamation and discrimination such as racial vilification? Which speech deserves special protections; should some speech acts be punished? When does the right to freedom of expression become a right to offend? Is free speech at risk in Australia, or is the balance right?