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Eric Abetz says the phrase ‘angry white man’ is racial vilification

Liberal senator says David Leyonhjelm’s discrimination case shows deficiencies in section 18C and it should be scrapped

Senator Eric Abetz:

Senator Eric Abetz: ‘One assumes it must have been on the basis of race that the comment was made.’ Photograph: Mike Bowers for the Guardian
The Liberal senator Eric Abetz says it’s “passing strange” that the Australian Human Rights Commission does not seem to care about “racist terminology” such as “angry white man” but it does care if another colour is used to describe someone.

Speaking on Sky News on Monday, Abetz said it was up to the Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm to pursue a discrimination complaint for an opinion piece describing him as an “angry white man”.

But Leyonhjelm’s case does highlight the deficiencies of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, Abetz said.

“One cannot help but think that the term ‘white’ can only refer to skin colour and therefore [you] are making reference to a skin colour [and] one assumes it must have been on the basis of race that the comment was made,” Abetz told Sky News.

“But look, at the end of the day, Senator Leyonhjelm will make his own determination and judgments about pursuing this.

@SenatorAbetz says the phrase ‘angry white man’ is racist terminology 

 “But what I think about it highlights yet again is the deficiencies in section 18C and that is why if [section 18c] is not to be removed altogether it should be amended quite substantially to remove the ridiculous terminology of ‘offend and humiliate’.”

Section 18C prohibits speech – made in public – that is reasonably likely to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate someone, made on the grounds of someone’s race, colour, national or ethnic origin.

Leyonhjelm has complained to the Australian Human Rights Commission over anarticle by Fairfax Media’s Mark Kenny in which Kenny described him and the One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts as a “gormless duo” who displayed “angry-white-male certitude”.

Kenny was taking aim at the pair over comments on ABC’s Insiders on 7 August that section 18C should be repealed because “offence is always taken, not given”.

“Infantile reasoning, but there it is.”

Leyonhjelm – who is at the centre of a new push by the crossbench to repeal section 18C – said he made the complaint against Kenny because he wanted to draw attention to the absurdity of the law.

“I only have one vote in the Senate. The government and opposition both say they are not in favour of repealing section 18C,” he told Guardian Australia.

“If I’m going to succeed in having it repealed, I need to change minds. If I’m going to change minds I have to show [the] absurdity of the law.”

He said Kenny’s article was unlawful under section 18C and his complaint would “highlight that what he is entitled to say shouldn’t be unlawful”.

The spat comes after the West Australian branch of the Liberal party voted in favour of removing the words “insult” and “offend” from the provision on Saturday.


1 thought on “Eric Abetz says the phrase ‘angry white man’ is racial vilification

  1. “angry white man” is descriptive

    What are descriptive words ? .. When people hears the phrase “descriptive words” they tend to think of adjectives. While all adjectives are descriptive words, not all descriptive words are adjectives. Further more many types of different adjectives exist.
    Eric Abetz .. need to learn ENGLISH ..

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