Cronullified: Can the Commonwealth Regulate Low Level Racist Speech?

Dilan Thampapillai

Australian National University - ANU College of Law

December 11, 2009

Political commentary on race, multiculturalism and national identity can be very controversial because it often appears to demarcate a line between those Australians who are ethnic and cultural insiders and those who are outsiders. This type of speech can venture into the territory of being low level racial vilification speech. That is, speech that contains overtones that are hostile or contemptuous towards a particular racial group but which does not overtly espouse hatred. Low level racial vilification speech serves to exclude others from being truly equal within the community. Yet it does not appear to be effectively regulated under the Racial Discrimination Act. However, this type of speech deserves some form of public censure. In this article I analyse low level racial vilification speech in the context of political speech. I consider whether it is possible to implement a policy scheme where speech with racist overtones, as opposed to hate speech, can be subjected to some form of official censure whilst, in the interests of not unduly restraining political speech, not being prevented from being published or disseminated.

Keywords: racial vilification

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Date posted: December 14, 2009  

Suggested Citation

Thampapillai, Dilan, Cronullified: Can the Commonwealth Regulate Low Level Racist Speech? (December 11, 2009). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1522086

Contact Information

Dilan Thampapillai (Contact Author)
Australian National University - ANU College of Law ( email )
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200

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