Are politicians fair game for racial slurs?

Right wing group ‘Patriot Blue’ has been widely condemned for a racist verbal attack on Iranian-born Labor Senator Sam Dastyari.

Members of the group approached Senator Dastyari in a Melbourne pub, calling him a terrorist and little monkey and demanding to know if he was a Muslim. They filmed the incident and posted it on their Facebook page.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said there was no place for racial vilification in Australia and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said he was disgusted by the “ugly” incident.

But One Nation leader Senator Pauline Hanson claimed Senator Dastyari was a “pipsqueak” who was using the incident to “plug his new book”, which is titled tongue-in-cheek One Halal of a Story.

Far-right campaigner and convicted stalker Neil Erikson told ABC radio: “Sam’s a strong bloke, he’s got a thick skin, he’s been in politics for a long time”.

Are politicians fair game for such attacks or should any racial slur made public be punishable?

Comments   24 Comments

Totally agree Terry. There is no good reason for racial, sexual, political or religious vilification. Everyone is of various racial origins, and entitled to their choice of politics or religion etc.
I have no qualms with debating views, but any form of personal vilification should not be tolerated. I would suggest that people using vilification, do so when they can not debate the issues. This is morally if not legally wrong.
Its a bit like the conservatives asking for provision in SSM legislation to protect religious freedom. But what they actually want is legal protection for their own bigotry and discrimination against LGBTIQ people.



Lorikeet 15.11.17

Just because you don't think a person is "nice" is no reason to condone vilification. It is not justified under any circumstances, and I am appalled that you think that people that you don't like are fair game.

The actions of Christine Forster's attackers show that they are grubs, and I am pleased to see that charges have now been laid. For anyone to think that any vilification is ok just shows how ignorant they are. I stand by my comments.

Weg 15.11.17

You have neither the knowledge nor the qualifications to label fellow bloggers insane. And as usual you waffle a lot, but make little sense.

We are not asking for more laws, just for the existing ones to be policed. In Forster’s and Abbot’s cases, charges were laid. I am waiting for Dastyari’s vilifiers to be similarly prosecuted under existing laws. That is real to everyone but you.



I thought the attack on Sam Dastyari was appalling and that he was strong enough not to feed the trolls surrounding him spitting out their vitriol.

I've never heard of Patriot Blue before - are they the same people that have Southern Cross tats and decals on their cars ?



Today on a very well known children's program, the presenter was demonstrating yoga poses. At the same time, he ran a commentary on various political issues including the economy, recession, inflation etc. He also said something like: "Dastyari, with a Chinese influence."

Why would the ABC want to impose this drivel on 2 year olds?



There has been an alarming increase in the use of vilification in our society. It has almost become accepted, that if you disagree with a persons views, that it is ok abuse them, either in person or in print.
Racial and religious vilification on public transport is just one example. The trolling on social media is another. When we have such strong discrimination laws in place, why are they not being policed or modrated better?
Every person is entitled to be of different colour or race without being attacked by white supremacist bullies. Likewise people are entitled to live in peace whether straight or gay, Buddhist or Moslem, Labor or One Nation. There can always be robust debate on the views expressed, but personal attacks, name calling or vilification is never justified.



We have some in our own ranks that belittle and bereft and make mountains out of a mole hill with very erratic and insane commentary about a bloke who lives the same values as the clowns that dished it out to him.

Dastyari handled the situation quite well in my opinion.

We don’t need more Marxist laws as some suggests to prosecute these idiots as it will only translates into building more jails, the clogging up our court systems and more legislation for another stupid human rights commission! Get real.



It may interest you to know that I was physically assaulted by a woman at my local club this morning. To add insult to injury, she then claimed I had assaulted her first. I find it hard to believe that the current federal government now wants to wind back existing anti-discrimination legislation. The society needs a decent set of rules and a fair go for all. I do not wish to be subjected to favouritism, bullying, exclusion, assaults on my person, being deliberately run off a dance floor, or being lied about. The same goes for management ignoring complaints. I am reliably informed that this garbage has been going on for 20 years.



Terry, calling people "ignorant grubs" could also be considered a form of vilification. I do not personally care to which party Sam Dastyari belongs. He is unworthy of our interest. Tony Abbott's sister is an incredible liar, so if other people abuse her, I do not care. However I would like a fair go for the nice people who try to do the right thing.



Since we are having a discussion on various forms of vilification or discrimination, I wish the Queensland government would extend its discrimination laws so that they fall into line with Victoria. The discrimination that goes on in clubs here is appalling and the bullies are women. A man cannot take his wife out onto a dance floor without being mowed down by a totally selfish blockade of line dancers. People dancing alone are also run off the floor. Complaints to management are ignored. The said bullies have singled out all of the clubs on the northside of Brisbane which allow them to do as they please. Something needs to be done to prevent them from running the locals off the floor. I wonder if men could successfully bring an action for gender discrimination?



Lorikeet, no matter how much you try and justify the attack on Dastyari, it was totally racist, unjustified, and I am certain that it is in breach of our discrimination laws. I wonder whether you actually saw the vision of this cowardly confrontation.

Like you, I don't like Dastyari, but that is no reason to condone this craven racial vilification. No one deserves to have their everyday life interrupted by ignorant grubs, spewing hatred and proving only that the discrimination laws in place are needed.

BG and others are right. Christine Forster, Tony Abbot, and Sam Dastyari have every right to voice their views, without either physical or vocàl bullying. All of the above handled themselves with restraint, and in an adult manner. They don't deserve the attacks they suffered, and you should not try to justify bullying vilification, just because they may be your political opponents.



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