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Has freedom of speech been compromised in Australia?

I went to hear Geert Wilders speak tonight.  I already knew what he was going to talk about.   I didn't go for the information. 

I had already seen him on the telly when he was "interviewed" by Tony Jones.  I didn't go in order to see him.

Had I thought about it consciously, I might have decided I didn't need to travel to Somerton and risk a confrontation with nasty protestors who might disturb my peace of mind with their violent rhetoric. But I didn't think about it.  I just went.

Now that it is over and the unanticipated confrontation is over, I realise why it was important for me to go to hear Geert Wilders speak.  It was important because I live in a free and democratic country, where people are permitted to have opinions and express their ideas.  This is a country where people are allowed to disagree with each other and talk about difficult issues openly and without fear.

I went because I wanted to be comforted that my faith in Australia as a free and open democracy is justified and that the rule of law prevails, that freedom of speech has not been compromised by entities who don't believe in it.

I also went because I wanted to say to those who threaten our civil rights that they will not succeed.  On the other hand, they did make it bloody difficult for everyone, in particular the organisers who had a nightmare job trying to book a venue...and because of the amount of security needed to keep Wilders safe and  the huge police presence required to ensure that we, the peaceful audience, could enter the hall and listen to the speakers without incident.

Geert Wilders sends a strong message.  It is a message about the nature of Islam and the effect of Islamic immigration on Europe.  It is not a comfortable message and one doesn't have to agree with Wilders or listen to what he says. That is the free choice people make in much the same way that people make the choice to listen, to hear and to evaluate for themselves the importance of the message he brings.  And that is a choice Australians need to protect fiercely...because without it we really are not free anymore; which goes to validate and support the very argument that Wilders is making.


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News

Tuesday 31 October 2017

Eight people have been killed and at least 11 injured in an "act of terror" after a man drove a pick-up truck onto a path for cyclists in New York city.

The 29-year-old driver of the truck was shot by police in the abdomen and taken into custody after he crashed the truck into a school bus and fled his vehicle, according to New York City Police Commissioner James O'Neill.

Speaking at a press conference, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the attack was "a particularly cowardly act of terror". 

The mayor said: "It's a very painful day in our city. Horrible tragedy on the West Side.

"Let me be clear, based on the information we have at this moment, this was an act of terror and a particularly cowardly act of terror. Aimed at innocent civilians, aimed at people going about their lives who had no idea what was about to hit them.

"We at this moment based on the information we have, we know of eight innocent people who have lost their lives. And over a dozen more injured."

Mr O'Neill said the driver was armed with a paintball gun and a pellet gun.

The driver hit a school bus, injuring two children and two adults on board before exiting the pick-up truck.

The man was shot in the abdomen by a uniformed officer before being taken into custody.

The commissioner said a statement made by the suspect when he exited the vehicle was "consistent" with a terrorist attack.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said there was no evidence to suggest a wider plot or wider scheme.

US President Donald Trump said the attacker was "very sick" and a "deranged person".

British Prime Minister Theresa May tweeted: "Appalled by this cowardly attack, my thoughts are with all affected. Together we will defeat the evil of terrorism. UK stands with #NYC."

A police spokesman posted a photo showing a white pick-up truck on the bike path with its front end mangled and the hood crumpled.

The rented truck had logos of the Home Depot hardware store chain.

Mangled and flattened bicycles littered the bike path, which runs parallel to the West Side Highway on the western edge of Manhattan along the Hudson River.

One witness told reporters at the scene that he heard about five gunshots before seeing a large man being taken into custody.

"He seemed very calm," the witness said. "He was not putting up a fight."

A witness told ABC Channel 7 that he saw a white pick-up truck drive south on the bike path at full speed and hit several people.

A video apparently filmed at the scene and circulated online showed scattered bikes on the bike path and at least two people lying on the ground.

Tell us what you think


This is an injustice which should be brought to politicians attention and they should be compelled to please explain the discrepancy between the treatment of Wilders...who does not engage in hate speech of any kind and this "sheikh" who clearly does!

Posted by Ronit on 2013-02-20 23:50:17 GMT


The government and enablers appear to have no problem admitting Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais who is scheduled to attend the Australian Islamic Peace Conference in March. Sheikh Al-Sudais has called Jewish people the “rats of the world”. He has said that Christians are “influenced by the rottenness of their ideas and the poison of their cultures.” Mr Wilders lives under 24 hour police protection to ensure he isn’t killed or attacked by those who don’t like his opinions. As he says we Kafirs are all Marked for Death Goodonya Ronit

Posted on 2013-02-20 23:35:11 GMT


Your letter is wonderful, it encompasses all that I think about last night’s event. The owners of the Mirage Reception Centre should be commended for the courage they showed in providing their venue so that we all can go and hear Geert Wilders and support his concerns about the Islam ideology which he is warning us is a threat to the free non-Muslim world. In spite many of my friends backing out because they were fearful of the protest, and because they did not know where Somerton was, and because they thought it would be too far, I went with a girlfriend . The media was waiting at the gate with Police in impressive numbers and the protesters behind . They filmed the car as I drove in, the police made sure I drove in quickly. I actually waved towards the protesters, they started booing , this did not worry me at all. The protesters, were very noisy as I expected them to be, I am sure many were angry about the impending talk and I think there were also some of the usual rent a crowd. They have the right to protest and express their opinion, but not at the expense of my rights, my opinion & my freedom of speech. But I believe that here were not as many as the media claim. The media highlight the few incidents which I believe were orchestrated for the media. I also know that one woman who had parked outside on the road, had her tickets grabbed from her hand as she was walking into the venue. This is a wonderful country and we all should stand up for the freedom we have and the right to speak about politics religion economics etc. without the fear of being attacked and abused. It is a pity that no official department and organization or the Government is willing to make any comment, other than to dismiss Geert Wilders, and advise, as the Premier did on radio this morning, that he should be ignored. Hope they will not wake up one day and it will be too late.

Posted by ML on 2013-02-20 23:34:35 GMT


Being there...with the attendant risks...showed commitment to the cause of free speech. The people who came to hear Wilders speak showed the courage of their convictions.

Posted by Danny on 2013-02-19 22:52:36 GMT