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The Talking Point: Gagging for Freedom

Listen to The Talking Point: Gagging for Freedom

The Federal Court action against columnist Andrew Bolt has sparked a heated debate between those who believe that his comments contravene the Racial Discrimination Act and those who argue that the legal action is an assault on freedom of speech and democracy.

Whether you agree or disagree with Bolt, the debate has created compelling dichotomies, pitting freedom of speech against censorship, racial discrimination against political correctness. Objective opinions are muddied by subjective reactions to the personalities involved – divisive personalities like Bolt and Geoff Clark. Bolt’s writings are deliberately provocative – but does that mean he should be silenced?

In this Talking Point discussion, our panel of Jonathan Green, Bernard Keane, Leslie Cannold and James Allan consider whether we have a right to be free from offense.

How can we balance freedom laws with moral principles, and where do we draw the line on our tolerance of hate speech? As Allan says — and this lively session demonstrates — “people don’t agree”.

Is free speech for ‘elites’ who are able to navigate the costly judicial system? And is what’s at stake in the Bolt case more than a hefty legal bill?

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