Lightfoot calls off race slur appeal

SENATOR Ross Lightfoot has with- drawn his appeal against a Federal Court decision that found comments he made to a journalist were racist and unlawful.
  The comments, published by The Australian Financial Review and The West Australian in 1997, sparked an action by Perth law lecturer Hannah McGlade.
  Justice Christopher Carr, in a November finding, imposed no penalty but ordered Senator Lightfoot to pay Ms McGlade's costs.
  Yesterday, Senator Lightfoot refused to comment to The West Australian but told ABC radio he would not retract the comments.
  "One cannot deny history and I would be very, very shallow if I was to retract those comments," he said. "They are true. They are supported by evidence over a period of 200 years."
  He said the likelihood of ongoing costly appeals influenced his decision.
  Ms McGlade was relieved the appeal had been dropped but was shocked that the senator stood by his statement.
  The complaint rested on comments made to a journalist in May 1997 that described Aboriginals in their native state as "the most primitive people on Earth".
  "If you want to pick out some aspects of Aboriginal culture which are valid in the 21st century, that aren't abhorrent, that don't have some of the terrible sexual and killing practices in them, I'd be happy to listen to those," Senator Lightfoot said.
  Justice Carr said reasonable Aboriginal community members would know Senator Lightfoot's claims were out of line with mainstream attitudes. -- By Charlie Wilson-Clark

The West Australian, "Lightfoot calls off race slur appeal," Thursday January 16 2003, p 7
      © 2003 West Australian Newspapers Limited   All Rights Reserved.
      The West Home at http://www.thewest.com.au/   E-mail: letters@wanews.com.au
  COMMENT: So, censorship is applied, even to a public figure making a comment about the spending of taxpayers' funds on education. Senator Lightfoot made the comment in 1997 when saying he opposed the teaching of Aboriginal culture in schools. His grounds could be said to be -- not suited to women's rights, democracy, and modern times. It would seem that the justice system ought to have had enough time since the case was put on the court list to read books on anthropology, and current newsitems, to see if he was right. Also, the justice system ought to have read the High Court of Australia's invention some years ago that citizens had an "implied" right to Free Speech under the Federal Constitution. (To be honest, the Founding Fathers did not believe in Free Speech as the U.S.A. does, and all Colonial Parliaments here had laws of censorship against pornography, blasphemy, treason, and so on -- but none against telling the truth about social conditions, or about school curricula!)
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