Remove 18C and let the racists rot
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Remove 18C and let the racists rot

Remove 18C and let the racists rot

The public reaction and discourse following the Attorney-General’s proposed changes to Section 18 of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) is proof in itself that the Federal Government and Australian society need to takea step further and remove the Section altogether.

It is easy to be dismayed by the thought that racism has leeched its way into the second decade of the 21st century in Australia, but as a society, are we really becoming less racist? We may like to think so, but take a step away from our little island home and you won’t find a majority in agreement.

Section 18(C) of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) makes it illegal for anyone to partake in offensive behaviour because of race, colour or national or ethnic origin “otherwise than in private”. The latter is the most crucial element. Racial discrimination is not illegal if it is expressed in private and that is precisely where it festers. It only surfaces when it is masked by other phrases or actions.

Despite all of its best intentions, it has become evident that this piece of legislation has failed. It has failed everyone that has been racially vilified in the last 39 years.

2014 Australia is finally ready for a previously idealised solution: remove Section 18(C). It only takes common sense to realise that it won’t be long before the racists and racist institutions end their charade of equality and tolerance, thus exposing their ugly heads and even uglier closed-mindedness.

In the digital age that we are immersed in, nothing goes unrecorded and the truths of this world eventually become known. If 18(C) were to be abolished, we, as the citizens of a free democracy and consumers in the free market of information are equipped to make more informed decisions knowing someone or something’s view on race, colour or national or ethnic origin.

In recent weeks, Australia has proven itself socially ready to battle racial discrimination. The fact that we saw such a strong debate on the proposed amendments to Section 18, shows that the Australian societal and media landscape can police itself on this issue, as everyone has a voice and we have so many accessible platforms for those voices to be acknowledged and acted upon.

If you abhor racism, which it is safe to presume that you do; don’t watch that TV channel, don’t read that newspaper, don’t listen to that radio station, don’t buy those products, don’t enlist their services, don’t vote for them. Australians of 2014 are more capable than ever of placing social and economic sanctions on racists.

If it is no longer profitable, socially acceptable or politically viable to be racist, we will see a far more profound societal shift away from previously hidden racists and racist institutions who are currently only bound by a small and contentious piece of legislation.

It is an unfortunate reality that racism will still have a slow death in this country, but it will be much more swift without Section 18(C) of the RDA. It’s high time that this nation looked inwards upon itself and used the power of individuals and the free market of information we have access to and can share.This is the best way to alter the image we project of ourselves to our future generations and indeed, the rest of the world. Prejudice is a problem well beyond the power of both politics and (seemingly) the law. We should not delude ourselves into thinking these are sustainable remedies.

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