Thursday, November 10, 2011

Assoc. Professor Hirst Responds

ASSOCIATE Professor Martin Hirst has responded to the post citing his opinion that America's First Amendment is an anachronism.His observations can be found in the comments thread of the relevant post, but as they may inspire Billabong visitors to share their own thoughts, they are also pasted below.

Feel free to comment -- politely, of course -- and let us thank Professor Hirst for demonstrating what free speech is all about. It's a nice little system, the civilised exchange of ideas. Pity if anything were to happen to it.

ethical martini said...

    sorry, I am semi-literate and I think I know the difference between anachronism and irrelevant, but I'm happy for you to enlighten me in your special way. 'Anachronism' something that is of a previous time that may not be quite so relevant (so there is perhaps a link?) in the modern contemporary world.

In relation to the first amendment I think the fact that it is always being tested in the courts shows that it is contested and shows that it may well display the characteristics of an anachronism - that is, it it showing its age. Further, societies move on, this is not America of the revolutionary years anymore. When the 1st amendment was drafted it was a frontier country, young and flexing its muscles. America today is a very different place full of decay and exercising imperial power across the world. the first amendment has not saved it from that malaise.

Our values have changed and so have our ideas. I also note that the 1st amendment is not absolute, it bans certain things too: The Supreme Court has often defined certain speech, also known as “at risk speech,” as being unprotected by the First Amendment:


* Burning draft cards to protest draft — prohibited because of superior governmental interest.
* Words likely to incite imminent violence, termed “fighting words.”
* Words immediately jeopardizing national security.
* Newspaper publishing false and defamatory material — libel.

We may today in our enlightened way agree or disagree with some of these bans. I for one don't agree with the ban on burning draft cards as I do not support the idea of a higher national / state interest in such matters of political dissent. I do however support the ban on 'fighting speech' and this is the essence of the Racial Discrimination Act, for example, in Australia.

So, in the context of the tweet that this blog found so outrageous (you can read above) my comment that the 1st amendment is anachronistic should not be read as an attack on the right of free speech. My comments at the media inquiry on Tuesday (mainly answers to questions from the inquiry chair that I did not know were coming as I was there to talk about something entirely different) will be published in full in the next 48 hours, read them for yourselves and then judge me on that.

I have never met the 'professor' nor he me. But he launched an attack on my person without provocation and then reacted in a very snippy way when I responded in a light-hearted fashion. It seems he is infringing my freedom of expression to denounce me and my reputation in such a manner. It was, IMHO, troll-like behaviour.

I have no problem with a conservative viewpoint being put, but you guys get very personal very quickly and are at the same time provocative and defensive when people like me try to stick up for themselves.

I spoke at the media inquiry about the need for civilised discourse - that is engaging with ideas, not slandering your opponents, - try it. Take a deep breath and exhale, close your eyes, relax and repeat after me - a trotskyist is not a stalnist; trots do not eat babies, permanent revolution doesn't mean gulags we're all individuals.

BTW: I can quote orwell too.


NOTE: In pasting Assoc. Prof Hirst's comment a technical glitch stripped all the paragraphs. The text has seen been re-set. If the breaks above are not those of the original comment, be assured no malice directed the "enter" key.

AND A RELUCTANT UPDATE: It is not good manners to invade the stage, push the speaker from the microphone and disagree with his or her points while offering no opportunity of immediate reply, so an hour's reflection and two cups of coffee have been invested in considering whether or not to address Associate Professor Hirst's four key points. This post represents his turn to spout off, and commenting on his comment might strike some as a a taking unfair advantage of the "publish" button. Whatever Hirst might say, the opportunity will always be there to enjoy the last word.

That said, and after much reflection, readers' appreciation of his four asterisked points would benefit from a little background on relevant US Supreme Court rulings, which can be found here. As the author notes, the court's logic has been all over the block, although a general retreat from the "fighting words" ruling is evident

The four points and where they run aground on reality:

* Burning draft cards to protest draft — prohibited because of superior governmental interest.
The court did not examine free speech, (dubiously) rejecting the notion that it is relevant to the burning of draft cards. It did, however, safeguard Americans' right to burn their flag.
 
* Words likely to incite imminent violence, termed “fighting words.”

This ruling sprang from the arrest of a street-corner orator and his refusal to leave the soapbox when, in the officer's opinion, further remarks were likely to inspire a riot. By contrast, SCOTUS also stood by a Klansman's right to burn his cross, in part because that act was not an incitement to "imminent" violence and, perhaps more importantly, because advocating violence in theory is protected. Relevance to the Bolt decision: Zip
 
* Words immediately jeopardizing national security.

The key word is "immediately". See the Pentagon Papers, whose publication the court refused to sanction

* Newspaper publishing false and defamatory material — libel.

US libel laws defend news organisations' right to get it wrong so long as those mistakes are not the fruit of malice. As a result, it is virtually impossible in the US for public figures and officials to win damages. Again to mention the Bolt case, Judge Mordy's ruling is inconceivable in the context of New York Times v. Sullivan


Associate Professor Hirst is right, however, to cite US standards, even if he fails to grasp their meaning. In regard to free speech, Australia would be a better place, and its democracy healthier, were we to import US laws and attitudes as a job lot.


42 comments:

  1. I will read Associate Prof. Hirst's transcript when it becomes available, and reserve most comments until then.

    However, this is not a promising start. It has a rather immature tone, even a reference to "troll-like behaviour". How about that.

    The kindergarden humour and final silly negative definition of a Trot. is perhaps covert admission its adherent is embarrassed by this variant of Communism.

    The dreaming spires of Deakin, indeed.

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  2. Professor Hirst is not only ignorant of the meaning of "anachronistic" he lacks the wit to consult a dictionary when his ignorance is pinged.

    By the way, the Bolt case was not determined on the grounds of incitement, as Hirst asserts, but on the grounds of hurt feelings.

    Hirst is the very model of a pomo journalist, and well qualified for his current appointments.

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  3. I would be interested to know if Professor Hirst would worry in the slightest if there was 70% reach of true “progressive” print media in this country, rather than the evil Murdoch? I rather doubt it and methinks it is true for many of the anti-Murdoch “progressives”. I can imagine that if papers like the New York Times dominated 70% here there would be
    no ‘progressives’ with any worries at all.

    What does worry them - not committing the professor here, necessarily – is that if 70% of the Australian media landscape was dominated by such as the American ABC/NBC/CBS/MSNBC/CNN/NPR/Politico/The Hill/ Washington Post/NYT/LA Times/Time/Newsweek, there would be no interest in even having a media Inquiry. In fact, progressives like that situation so much in the US that they rail against Fox for daring to offer an alternative narrative.

    Might I suggest that certain “progressives” (USA and here) do not wish for ANY opposition or else why be so against Fox News when you all have so many great opportunities – protected by the great First Amendment – to expose it (countered by fact checkers from the right)?

    What are they in favour of, certainly not “free speech”?

    As for taxpayer funds for his "citizen journalists" his Go Mojo program with its ruling theme "based on dialectical materialism, the idea that human destiny can be resolved in a struggle between the two economic classes of owners (the media oligarch oppressors) and laborers (the oppressed consumer)", does the good Professor Hirst not find the 'Army of Davids' doing such good work that it needs such a taxpayer-subsidised replacement? Or is that the wrong type of "citizen"?

    M Ryutin Sydney

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  4. Hirst writes:

    It seems he (the Bunyip) is infringing my freedom of expression to denounce me and my reputation in such a manner.

    It is not an infringement of Hirst's freedom that the Bunyip speaks on the Bunyip's blog. It could only be an infringement if the Bunyip prevented Hirst from speaking. Clearly that hasn't happened. For Hirst to characterise thus is in the same vein as the mischaracterisation made by Robert Manne - he characterises Bolt's publishing a contrary and mocking viewpoint about him as engaging in 'incitement'.

    And there is nothing defamatory in the Bunyip's post about Hirst. The material is not capable of conveying a defamatory imputation about Hirst. That is because it accurately identifies Hirst's reputation - a Trot from Deakin.

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  5. To summarise, comments made hurt Associate Professor Hirst's feelings, therefore these were "fighting words". Therefore the person making them did not have the right to say them.

    What we need is a list of ALL the things that offend EVERYONE so that we can employ people like Hirst to ensure no-one is offended. One would be free to say anything else. Of course, the list would need to be updated regularly. How regularly? To be safe, daily.

    To start it off, as a Libertarian (a minority class these days), I would like to point out I was offended by the good Associate Professor's comments.

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  6. "the fact that it is always being tested in the courts"

    Yeah, and it always wins.

    1st amendment is usually cited by people claiming their rights, not by those wishing to dissolve them.

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  7. PhillipGeorge(c)2011November 10, 2011 at 10:20 AM

    Just a note:
    -"civilised" is a fairly old word [late 14C] - how far have we moved on then if we are still using such anachronistic language forms?
    The rest of it, is, well, read them off:
    the modern contemporary world...
    showing its age....
    societies move on......
    values have changed.......
    our enlightened way......

    but that's the point Professor - the Bill of Rights, Magna Carta are documents. They don't change. From the Dead Sea Scrolls we see an approaching 3000 years old document that hasn't changed at all with respect of intellectual force and effect.

    Once a story is told it ages, it doesn't change. The truths or falsities contained therein can be judged, weighed, accepted or rejected - but they don't change.

    If one is to judge previous generations as being right or wrong one should do it openly.

    I for one am all for Gay Polygamous 12 month Marriage Licenses; like boat licenses or fishing licenses maybe. It gives these institutions the dignity they 'now' deserve.
    After the new marriages are nicely bedded down we might be able to progress to a more open an accepting society where necrophiliacs and animal lovers don't have to be discriminated against by repressive right wing shock jock bigots working on Rupert Murdoch's fascist agenda. Australian Undertakers will have to have their say as peak bodies consult.

    reductio ad absurdum - is such an anachronism Latin derivate should be banned.

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  8. He still hasn't explained how the first amendment i.e. protection of freedom of speech, may not be relevent today. It sounds like he means that it's not convenient as opposed to relevent.
    With people like the pretentious Hirst around, I would think its protection was more important than ever.
    These hypocritical lefties have the best of both worlds. They feel free to stifle opinions contrary to their own when their fellows are in power, yet they know that with conservatives running the show they have little to worry about.

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  9. ""my comment that the 1st amendment is anachronistic should not be read as an attack on the right of free speech.""

    You have used many pretty words Comrade Hirst, yet somehow I remain unconvinced.

    Would you be so relaxed if the government regulated all "divisive" speech? Including speech designed to stir up antipathy along class lines?

    The Marxists out trying to occupy city square the other week wanted to overthrow the State by force. They were allowed to protest for a week.

    I think free speech for lefties depends on whether you agree with them or not. Looking around Australia can you honestly disagree?

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  10. His argument that "the first amendment I think the fact that it is always being tested in the courts shows that it is contested and shows that it may well display the characteristics of an anachronism - that is, it it showing its age" is just plain silly. Of course there will be contests about just what freedom of expression entails, (whether as stated in the USA Constitution, or in the Commonwealth Constitutiob, or in the ICCPR etc), and is is just not plausible to argue that the fact that these contest occur 'shows the age' of the notion. It is also disturbing to see that he thinks that Prof Bunyip "is infringing my freedom of expression to denounce me and my reputation". What the Prof has said would not come within coo-ee of a breach of the freedom of expression guarantee in any respectable Western consitution. His comment is in line with the current argument that criticism of political or public figures has 'gone too far' and needs to be restrained. Thsis is a real and grave threat to our democratic practices.

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  11. I agree with Prof. Hirst: he is semi-literate.

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  12. Hirst said: "It seems he is infringing my freedom of expression to denounce me". I'm surprised that such concern isn't extended to being aware of the rights that others may also possess. Hang on, I'm not surprised at all. Says it all really.

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  13. The following statement by Professor Hirst struck me as central to the current agitation for greater regulation of the press:

    "It seems he is infringing my freedom of expression to denounce me and my reputation in such a manner."

    The very idea that another person exercising their right to free speech to criticise Professor Hirst can amount to the infringement of Prof. Hirst's right to free speech is passing strange.

    I can see that Professor Hirst may be offended by such criticism and may dislike it when he is sharply criticised but I see no basis on which any form of criticism could be said to be an infringement on his right to free speech unless that right includes the right not to be offended.

    Sadly far too many people seem to be of this view. At the moment only certain people are protected from being offended by the speech of others. This is disgusting enough but the Murdoch show trial and the preciousness of its proponents indicates a propensity of many powerful people in our society to think that they also should enjoy the right not to be offended by the speech of critics.

    Lambasting the pieties of the intellectual elite of any era is a commendable occupation. In this era it is a positive duty for those who would rather not be silenced by Eloi who believe that they have a monopoly on the truth.

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  14. Associate Professor Hirst is not a lawyer, I assume, as he makes one of the classic furphhies that so many non-lawyers make when talking about free-speech. Libel, burning draft cards and incitement are more than just speech, they are criminal acts in which mens rea is present.

    You cannot argue that just because some speech, when mixed with certain actions or intent, is not free, that means that we can just arbitrarily limit any freedom of speech.

    I am quite happy that society now looks unfavourably on the use of racist terms, but I don't think that the State has any place in restricting those terms.

    I think that it is probably worth investigating whether the restrictions on free speech that have occurred in the US (eg college speech codes) have in fact contributed to American decline as American society becomes more and more tribalised and subject to victim culture.

    And BTW Assoc Prof, you will find that lefties are just as prone as their right wing opponents to hurling abuse, it is just not as well articulated.

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  15. "We may today in our enlightened way agree or disagree …"
    I fail to see how the Prof is qualified to make this statement.

    Cheers

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  16. "It seems he is infringing my freedom of expression to denounce me and my reputation in such a manner."

    Oh dear. The opposite is clearly the case. The Bunyip's comments have served to increase Hirst's freedom of expression, as evidenced by his ability to comment here and engage with others about these important issues.

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  17. Perhaps the good Associate Professor might take account what his guru Leon Trotsky had to say:

    Learning carries within itself certain dangers because out of necessity one has to learn from one's enemies.

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  18. Maybe the Assoc Proffesor, being of far loftier heights of intellect than myself, could elucidate how "the fact that it is always being tested in the courts" makes the First Ammendment an anachronism.

    It stikes me he has come over all huffy and wants to take his bat and ball home. Does said Assoc Professor teach in kindy because that is about his level of reasoning and reaction.

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  19. The professor wrote: "America today is a very different place full of decay and exercising imperial power across the world. the first amendment has not saved it from that malaise."

    Indeed it has not. Instead, the first amendment has allowed the left to promote policies almost guaranteed to cause decay.

    For that reason, I would have thought he would resist strongly any attempt to censor the Australian press.

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  20. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.November 10, 2011 at 2:48 PM

    As the first commenter on the thread to which A/prof Hirst objected, I have made my reply to his comment there. Basically I make the sort of response points on the substantive issues that people make above on this thread. I also note that good satire has a bite and that there is nothing second rate about the Bunyip's nip. Hirst should take lessons and improve his skill-set.

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  21. A/Prof Hirst referring to himself as "semi-illitrate"? God, he always was one for exaggeration.

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  22. "In relation to the first amendment I think the fact that it is always being tested in the courts shows that it is contested and shows that it may well display the characteristics of an anachronism - that is, it it showing its age."

    To refine a point made earlier by ar, the First Amendment is not itself contested in US courts, laws and regulations are judged according to consistency with the First Amendment. If Prof. Hirst wants to comment on US jurisprudence he should study it in a bit more detail or, if he understands what goes on in American courts, should work on clarifying his writing.

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  23. Mortar boards at twenty paces. Please keep this up.

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  24. I'm glad Marty believes the US to be an imperial power. I too think any country that believes in freedom of speech as they do to be majestic.

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  25. "Further, societies move on, this is not America of the revolutionary years anymore. When the 1st amendment was drafted it was a frontier country, young and flexing its muscles. America today is a very different place full of decay and exercising imperial power across the world. the first amendment has not saved it from that malaise. Our values have changed and so have our ideas."

    Oh my. Prof. Hirst, America may not be the young frontier country, but that is irrelevant. Human nature does not change, and the men who drafted the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the First and Second Amendements were no slouches in the intelligence department.

    They were a lot better read than a majority of people today in any given country, and seeing as the average intellect is not challenged by rational and critical thinking these days, I would suggest that the Founding Fathers could whip a good many academics in a philosophical debate.

    I'll also touch on this ludicrous idea of America as an 'imperial power.'

    We've all heard of the terrible imperialism shown by the occupation in Iraq. We've all seen the protests against the Americans. If they had wanted to steal the oil, they wouldn't have needed to occupy the country for years. All they'd have to do is capture the oilfields.

    No building schools, no trying to make nice with the locals, no hospitals or aid or anything else. Just move in with a brigade or two of Marines (Happy Birthday to the USMC today, by the way) and take it.

    It would have been a lot cheaper on so many levels, but to keep the peace [sic] the terrible imperialistic USA has been spending its own money and blood. No other country has ever done this.

    No other country ever will. Not on its own.

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  26. It's a pity that most of you prefer to hide behind "Anonymous", it makes for interesting speculation as to why. What are you hiding?
    I am prepared to put my name to what I say, I am accountable for my thoughts, words and deeds. Evidence for that is the ways in which you Anonymous folk are able to criticise me, not just on political or semiotic grounds (ie: address my arguments) but also on more personal grounds - suggesting that I'm illiterate. Well, clearly I can read and write, so I'm not.
    Would you be so brave if you had to put your real name to everything you wrote or said about other people when you comment on this blog?
    Personally I doubt it.
    Anonymity on the Internet is a cowards' castle, thus my taunt about 'troll-like' behaviour.
    The definition of Internet trolling is exactly the kinds of anonymous and often (not always) abusive and derogatory language that's employed.
    However, you have a right to hide behind the facelessness that this medium affords you.
    I would challenge you though to come out from behind the curtain and sign your name to your thoughts and views.
    In a democratic society there should be no hiding and no escaping accountability.
    Are you afraid you'll be hunted down if you show your face?
    Do you know this famous short poem by Martin Niemoller?

    First they came for the communists,and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

    Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.

    This is the true meaning of free speech.
    I note too that they came for the Trotskyists first. In 1919, Rosa Luxemburg was one of the first to be brutally murdered by the precursor to the Nazis.

    Speaking of Trotskists, I don't know who has compiled it, you can search the background edits if you like, but the Wikipedia entry on Trotsky is actually quite good.
    If you understand the history of the socialist movement you will know that the Trotskyist tendencies (there are many) opposed Stalinism and the bastardised and brutal dictatorship of the USSR.
    I am an 'international socialist' and my views are not aligned to the Stalinist bloc in anyway.
    I have always viewed most of the official communist parties as anti-worker and anti-democratic.
    Understand before you pile on. This doesn't have to be a dogfight.
    Any way, I'm sorry to say that I am far too busy to visit this site very often, so I am not going to attempt to answer every critical comment, nor post any more long explanations or arguments to refute the points made here about me, my politics or my views about News Limited.
    As I mentioned earlier, my comments from the media inquiry will be available soon.

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  27. Academics like Hirst spend so much time writing essays full of massively jargonized tripe that when the time comes to write plain English they collapse and fall on their face. Even this short missive to his detractors is full of obvious clangers as pointed out in the comments above.

    What on earth has the 1st Amendment got to do with America's imperialist decline? I have always been of the opinion that, given the number of right-wing extremists in the place, the principle of inviolable freedom of speech has been one of those features that have in fact saved the country from degeneration into a fascist state. (Of course given the amount of money spend on its security state apparatus, it may already be one). The illegality of burning draft cards would only be the start of state infringement of liberties generated by right-wing interests. If somebody burns their draft card, what prevents the state from just printing another one?

    Hirst is clearly extremely stupid to even think of messing with such a principle for the sake of the hurt feelings of a few Aryan looking aboriginals and others of like sensitivity. He and the rest of his worthless academic ilk should be defunded immediately.

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  28. “No other country has ever done this.”
    Nilk, whilst agreeing with much of what you say, other countries in past times, and more recently, have acted, though to a lesser extent, similarly.

    Excudent alii spirantia mollius aera
    (credo equidem), viuos ducent de marmore vultus,
    orabunt causas melius, caelique meatus
    describent radio et surgentia sidera dicent:
    tu regere imperio populos, Romane, memento
    (hae tibi erunt artes), pacique imponere morem,
    parcere subjectis et debellare superbos.
    (Vergil, Aeneid VI. 847-53.)

    [Others may fashion images of bronze more smoothly—I, for one, believe it—or evoke living faces from marble, plead causes better, trace with a wand the wanderings of the heavens and foretell the rising of stars; thou, Roman—these will be thine arts—remember to rule peoples with authority, and to impose a custom of peace, to spare the vanquished and to subdue the proud!]

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  29. Sorry professor, I am not trolling you, but for the record:

    a·nach·ro·nism
       /əˈnækrəˌnɪzəm/ Show Spelled[uh-nak-ruh-niz-uhm] Show IPA
    noun
    1.
    something or someone that is not in its correct historical or chronological time, especially a thing or person that belongs to an earlier time: The sword is an anachronism in modern warfare.

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  30. 'Anachronism' something that is of a previous time that may not be quite so relevant (so there is perhaps a link?) in the modern contemporary world.

    These are Hirst's words, and by them he should stand condemned. Who would seek to restrict freedom of speech, let them not raise a protest when their own utterances are stifled. Who would wish to speak unfettered, let them not muzzle the voices of others. (I tentatively back anti-holocaust-denial legislation only because it amounts to the State saving the survivors the trouble of mounting slander and libel lawsuits - they are in effect being told that their lives are a lie - but who will fight that insanity when the last eyewitness is gone and the rule about not being able to slander the dead prevails?)

    @ Nilk: would have been a lot cheaper on so many levels, but to keep the peace [sic] the terrible imperialistic USA has been spending its own money and blood. No other country has ever done this.

    The British Empire, perhaps? Your point is otherwise valid.

    @ Lesbian Twin:

    The very idea that another person exercising their right to free speech to criticise Professor Hirst can amount to the infringement of Prof. Hirst's right to free speech is passing strange.

    Passing strange? No, you're wrong. Try "utterly insane".

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  31. Dear Perturbed, you certainly are.
    However, by suggesting that the 1st amendment might be an anachronism today, I am not (as you infer) suggesting for a moment abandoning free speech principles. All I have suggested (and my evidence to the media inquiry [inquisition, if you like] on Tuesday was that freedom of speech is a universal right that has to be balanced with and against other universal rights - such as the right to be free from racist harassment or action.
    That is all you can read into my comments. Anything else from your interpollation is in fact distorting what I have actually said and written.
    I think there are perhaps better mechanisms that the 1st amendment for defining and protecting free speech.
    Thus, it is IMHO an anachronism

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  32. I for one, am not hiding behind anonymous. Initially, I attempted to give myself a name, albeit a nom de plume if you will, and I buggered it up. Do they run computer literacy courses at Deakin? And what is the cut of score, in case I don't make the grade?

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  33. My my, what a lot of "free speech" our Hirst is enjoying! Pity he chose not to address the issues, like a good debatist would, choosing instead to criticise all those who post under the name "Anonymous". It must have been fun at his christening, naming the young boy "Ethicalmartini".
    I'll do you a deal Ethi - you have a go at addressing the issues we raised, and I'll see what I can do about getting my name up on these posts.

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  34. How is one an "international socialist" (or any other kind of socialist) and not wedded to some form of authoritarian rule (Stalinist or otherwise)? How else to maintain the wage and price levels as set by bureaucrats?

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  35. "It's a pity that most of you prefer to hide behind "Anonymous", it makes for interesting speculation as to why."

    The difference between you and I, Professor, is that you are presenting yourself as one fit to judge what may or may not be said in public discourse. People jolly well ought to know exactly who you are and in considerable detail what are your opinions and antecedents.

    I, on the other hand, wish merely to point out that your witterings about the US Constitution are ill-informed, without any desire to shut you up.

    By the way, what would you do if you knew who I am?

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  36. @Perturbed. With respect to previous empires - the Roman and the British as mentioned - they were most definitely expansionist and colonialist. There was never any doubt that they were indeed after land and resources.

    They may have treated the native population relatively well, but that is only good sense. After all, who works willingly to a harsh boss?

    In the case of America, we are looking at a power that has never annexed land for its expansion.

    It has acted unlike any other regime. Of course, with Barry in charge that is changing, but that's to be expected.

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  37. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.November 11, 2011 at 7:17 PM

    ethicalmartini: Salute to the emergence of some mild abuse and wit. Keep it up, you are learning. On 'better mechanisms' - let us recall that what you lose is often much more valuable than what you gain when you start tinkering with solid old machinery that has never broken down. The fatal flaw of the left. We could debate this for hours of course. Bring your oxymoronic moniker (no, ugh, be anonymous, get another one) over to Catallaxy Files and it can go on for days, weeks even, purposeful lefty troll baiting from free-wheeling apostatic once-were-lefties and assorted libertarians. On the free market fields of the Cat you will find such Olympic-quality modes of free-speech argumentation and concomitant abuse as can only be experienced in the thrust and parry of the brutal rapier zone there; a zone Professor Bunyip may eschew on his blog in the name of his undoubted tasteful and civilised demeanour. But of course, you would want to shut the Cat down, along with the biting Bunyip and the Bolta and Timmy Blair and anyone else interesting.

    Anonymity by the way is its own reward. You can debate the substance of the argument. Robust abuse becomes a John Cleese sketch, an enjoyable spat between ciphers seeking a ruccus. No bones broken. See ya.

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  38. I think there are perhaps better mechanisms that the 1st amendment for defining and protecting free speech.

    What would they be, Professor? And what would the outer boundaries consist of? As a Catholic, I'm well aware that my particular faith is considered fair game to all and sundry, regardless of how offensive I find speech that generally targets Catholicism, and that specifically against people like Tony Abbott and the Pope.

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  39. "freedom of speech is a universal right that has to be balanced with and against other universal rights - such as the right to be free from racist harassment or action"

    There is no "universal right" to not be offended. You just made that up.

    Otherwise, what say you we throw every Aussie leftoid who calls white Americans "rednecks" or "white trash" in the slammer? Those are racial epithets, n'est-ce pas?

    Or what about all the racial epithets thrown at Sol Trujillo? Or is racial vilification and harassment on racial grounds all right if it's only a dirty wetback spic you're vilifying?

    Stop making up "universal rights" like the one "guaranteeing the right not to be offended." It makes you look like a dill.

    As for your distaste for peoples' right to anonymity? Who cares. Anonymous speech sheltered the Founding Fathers' revolutionary arguments, it emboldened commentators such as Mark Twain (aka Samuel Langhorne Clemens) to criticize common ignorance, and the US Supreme Court has repeatedly reaffirmed that the First Amendment still protects the right to anonymous speech today, except in very specific and very narrowly-defined cases.

    What's happening in Australia today is beyond sad. She could have kept progressing towards freedom; now she's descending into Statism and neo-totalitarianism. Twenty years ago I never could have imagined any of this happening.

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  40. Actually, use of terms like redneck is reducing in the MSM. It's increasingly the case that whites are tuned in to those using that term and others of similar intent. Yes, we know your agendas, we understand perfectly. We're starting to talk behind closed doors. We know who you are!

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  41. Lizzie B said
    of course, you would want to shut the Cat down, along with the biting Bunyip and the Bolta and Timmy Blair and anyone else interesting.
    I merely attend to point you to the comments I did actually make at the media inquiry.
    None of my remarks could be construed in anyway as wanting to, or condoning, attempts to shut down this or any other blog, or Andrew Bolt, or Tim Blair.
    You can read such remarks at my place

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