Amazing hypocrisy on free speech

A Palestinian activist falls foul of the federal government’s highly selective concern for freedom of speech.

Perhaps no-one will be really amazed at this, but they should be. The Turnbull government, renowned (and attacked) recently for its supposed devotion to free speech, including the rights of bigots and other unpleasant people, has revoked the visa of a Palestinian activist, Bassem Tamimi, shortly before he was due to board a plane for a speaking tour in Australia.

There is as yet no official comment on the websites of either the immigration department or its minister, but media reports say that the only explanation offered for the decision is that “The Department recently became aware of information that indicates there is a risk that members of the public will react adversely to Mr Tamimi’s presence in Australia regarding his views of the ongoing political tensions in the Middle East.”

The remarkable thing about this is that there is no suggestion made that Tamimi himself is a dangerous person or that his views are harmful in themselves – the reason for preventing Australians from hearing him is simply that some might not like them and may disturb the peace in some way as a result. Such a rationale is contemptuous of the value of freedom of speech.

Read the comments by Charles Richardson, Editor of The World is not Enough on Crikey.