Title

Freedom of speech and racial vilification in Australia: 'The Bolt case' in public discourse

RIS ID

86134

Publication Details

K. Gelber and L. J. McNamara, 'Freedom of speech and racial vilification in Australia: 'The Bolt case' in public discourse' (2013) 48 (4) Australian Journal of Political Science 470-484.

Abstract

This article examines the public discourse that emerged in the aftermath of the 2011 decision of the Federal Court of Australia in Eatock v Bolt. We characterise the narrative of ‘the Bolt case’ as a ‘mobilising discourse’ that countered rather than echoed the decision itself. This discourse had three main messages: encouraging scepticism about the authenticity of fair-skinned Aboriginal persons and judgment by non-Aboriginal persons about the legitimacy of Aboriginal identity according to skin colour; questioning the legitimacy of racial vilification laws and strengthening a libertarian conception of freedom of speech. We explain how such a contrary discourse became dominant in the wake of a successful racial vilification action and consider the implications of these events.

Grant Number

ARC/DP1096721

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