A senator labelled an 'angry white male' is using a law he wants abolished to prove his point about free speech

Australian senator David Leyonhjelm has complained to the Human Rights Commission that he has been racially abused. Source: supplied

Recently re-elected New South Wales senator David Leyonhjelm has lodged a complaint with the Human Rights Commission after a journalist labelled him “a boorish, supercilious know-all with the empathy of a Besser block” in a column on free speech.

The Liberal Democrat senator is attempting to turn the tables on Fairfax Media’s chief political correspondent, Mark Kenny, using section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, which
Leyonhjelm wants abolished, in an attempt to censure the journalist for the August 8 column

Kenny to aimed at Leyonhjelm and Queensland One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts as “self-promoting misanthropes”.

He continued:

This gormless duo has declared, with all their angry-white-male certitude, that a verbal abuser cannot cause offence or humiliation. It is all in the mind of the recipient.

In their peerless assessment of the lived experience of all minorities, they have decreed that the fault of hate-speech does not lie with the utterer of a given slur or insult, no matter how cruel, baseless, or humiliating. Rather, the “offence” lies with the recipient – the subject who simply “decides” to be affronted.

Infantile reasoning, but there it is.

So Leyonhjelm is trying to use 18C to prove his point, lodging a complaint despite saying it didn’t bother him because “I’m only insulted or offended by people I respect”.

“The comments are reasonably likely in all the circumstances to offend or insult some white males. My colour was one of the reasons the comments were made,” he told The Daily Telegraph.

Section 18C outlaws comments that “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people” because of race or ethnicity. Former prime minister Tony Abbott attempted to repeal that section after conservative commentator Andrew Bolt was found guilty under the Act for a newspaper column in which he targeted nine leading Aboriginal Australians for their white heritage.

Attorney-General George Brandis pushed for the repeal of 18C saying people had the “right to be a bigot”, a range of ethnic community groups, including Jews and Muslims, were opposed to any changes and the Abbott goverment abandoned its election promise in 2014 when introducing new anti-terrorism laws.

But senator Leyonhjelm is part of a renewed push to scrap the law, with Abbott also raising the issue again on the weekend.

Leyonhjelm argues that 18C damages free speech having told ABC TV’s Insiders recently that “If you want to take offence, that’s your choice. You have the choice of choosing another feeling. Offence is always taken, not given.”

He explained his complaint today thus: “I’m seeking to have 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act repealed, so part of the process of highlighting why it should be repealed is to use it”.

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