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America is an island of free speech in an ocean of political correctness. American columnists have to worry about deadlines and the future of print media, not about being hauled into court over the sensibilities of some protected group. But conservative columnists in Canada, Europe, Israel and Australia have to write with one eye on the keyboard and the other on the door.
The strangest case of free speech suppressed by political correctness may have come out of Australia where Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt was dragged into court under the Racial Discrimination Act by a group of white aborigines who complained that he had questioned their authenticity.
The first rule of White Aborigine Club is that no one talks about it. Australia has a surplus of white aborigines who hold down university positions teaching aboriginal culture, pick up aboriginal scholarships and receive all sorts of preferential treatment. These white aborigines are not albinos, they are “Ward Churchills” — white men and women who claim to be aborigines because of some ancestor. And to question their authenticity all you need is a pair of working eyes.
Ward Churchill got away with claiming to be Native American by braiding his hair, wearing sunglasses and being so militant that no one questioned whether he was an American Indian or an American Imposter until he had tenure and a nationwide speaking tour denouncing the “white man’s crimes” against his people.
The white aborigine faces a more uphill battle against common sense as it’s rather hard not to notice what he is or rather what he isn’t. This forced the Australian left to play the old game of the emperor isn’t really naked if no one talks about it. Everyone knows that many of the beneficiaries of aboriginal affirmative action are white people with European names. And no one is supposed to notice that or comment on it.
Andrew Bolt did notice and wrote several columns, adding a few photos of the melanin-challenged tribesmen. It was a sore point for the Australian left which has made Aboriginal rights a centerpiece of its identity, and whose “Ward Churchills” benefit from the academic and cultural prizes granted to them by a guilty Australia.
It is still legal in the United States to point out that the emperor isn’t wearing any pants– but throughout much of the world it’s a federal case. In Australia that was literally so as several of the white aborigines took Bolt to Federal Court.
According to the court decision all the white aborigines had to do to win was prove that Bolt had “insulted, humiliated and offended” them and that it was done “because of the race, color or ethnic origin of fair-skinned Aboriginal people.” Or in this case the lack thereof. Since the whole point of the articles was that the white aborigines were not actual aborigines, it was a slam dunk decision against free speech and for criminalizing common sense.
The right to free speech and a free press was held to be less important than the self-esteem of a group of people who would merit howls of ridicule in any rational society. The Federal Court had not only ruled that you could not point out that a white man is not a black man, but it had also created an entirely new protected group—white men who claim to be black men.
“The members of the group referred to are fair skinned Aboriginal persons who, by a combination of descent, self-identification and communal recognition are, and are recognized as, Aboriginal persons.”
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