Bolt Case Triggers Free Speech Debate
News Limited op-ed writer Andrew Bolt has been in court this week defending himself against claims blogs he penned contravene racial discrimination laws. The court case centres on two blog posts written by Bolt - ‘White Fellas in the Black’ and ‘White is the New Black’ - in which he suggests that some people’s claim of Aboriginal identity is motivated by self-interest. Nine applicants claim the blogs breach discrimination laws. Rather than suing for damages, they’re seeking an apology, legal costs, a court order to prevent the blogs' republication and “other relief as the court deems fit”.
The case has been keenly observed and has prompted a debate about identity and free speech. Yesterday, the ABC’s Media Watch presenter Jonathan Holmes responded to a piece by Chris Berg claiming that he was advocating restrictions on free speech. Bolt has found some surprising allies, such as Crikey’s Bernard Keane, who, while arguing that free speech trumps the content of Bolt’s blogs, invoked Godwin’s law.
Meanwhile, Canadians are getting ready to vote, and are facing their own free speech conundrums.