Sunday, February 17, 2013

Petition calling for Defamation Law Reform in Australia

think, speak, see, hear no evil
This petition that I am a co-author to aims to highlight the problems with and required remedies needed for the reform of defamation law in Australia.

My co-author and I draw on our real experiences. We think the debacle we have endured should not be endured by others but know it will continue to happen over and over as long as truth merely limits punishment for having defamed. Truth needs to be central whereas as it now stands truth can only form part of the justification to defame. In our petition we argue that if truth is demonstrated there can be no defamation. Truth is not capable of defaming. Due to how it is currently framed defamation law can be labelled a censorship law. Because it limits, if not severely impedes, the ability to receive and impart information. 

The following characteristics of defamation law reveal it is the intention to censor: 

1. to confirm truth of what was imparted admits guilt, that defamation has occurred;
2. that truth is only a defence which may or may not limit damages a defendant will be liable for;
3. truth is characterised as harmful and only available as justification; 
4. that a claimant need only state they are aggrieved to be defamed by what was imparted, truth;
5. that fear of expensive litigation inspires self-censorship if not a complete chilling of speech;
6. that defamation law is so expensive this deliberately limits its access to wealthy litigants;
7. that wealthy litigants with an interest to conceal truth will use the cost of litigation to deter defendants with lesser financial means;
8. that the law due to its expense and further financial punishments act as a standing deterrent and threat for plaintiffs to unfairly influence (coerce) legitimate defendants into backing down;

I could go on...

How is it that the law is framed in such a manner that it so limits the freedom to receive and impart information for fear one may be sued and delivered into financial ruin? As it is close to doing to us.

Freedom to impart information comes with responsibility but our laws should not be framed so as to shoot the messenger for imparting truth. This is Australia not medieval Britain. Australian freedoms and rights to receive and impart information are at stake here. This law looks backwards to outdated concepts of Lèse-majesté. Retaining such antiquated conventions only drives us further backwards in our thinking and behaviour. It is a diabolical manifestation of the cultural cringe in action. 
Time to step up and away from the UK. 

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About Leeanneart

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Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
We are first and foremost human with a responsibility to the humanity within us and not to any faith, political, apolitical, social or societal group, union or faction. We are responsible for our own reputation, and for what deeds we do and what achievements or otherwise in life we enjoy. The rest is nonsense.