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   19 Comments

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.



In the modern era, a shoplifter can be described as an "economic terrorist". I would consider the verbal attack on Sam Dastyari to be speciesist and religionist, not racist. Please note that "racist" has no letter "s" in the middle.

I would never buy his book so he can make money.



Can I suggest this sort of abuse is akin to DV which we have targeted for correction. It should be equally dealt with.



2 The way Sam Dastyari was surrounded and abused by a group of bullying thugs was intended to provoke a response that could easily have led to violence. It was planned. The way he handled it apparently without support from the venue staff speaks volumes about his maturity. It said more about the inadequacies of the perpetrators. In response to this blog’s right-wing name caller, the event was recorded and posted online by the bullies themselves. Go figure.

Politicians are not fair game for publicity seeking thugs who don’t show the intellect to debate rationally. Criticise policies by all means and make your point, but personal vilification, whether based on race, gender, age, sexual orientation or whatever should not only be unacceptable, it should be publicly named for the abuse it is.



1 Politicians need to be tough to survive in their environment but that isn’t the point. There is a tradition of politicians being criticised at public meetings and nobody should argue against robust debate. It is part of our democracy. But what happened to Sam Dastyari replaced political criticism with an unacceptable level of personal attack and unfortunately is becoming more common. The physical attack on Christine Forster was disgraceful. The head-butting of Tony Abbott was disgraceful. Whatever you think of their politics, there is no justification for either action.

It doesn’t matter if it is left-wing or right-wing or religious or whatever, this behaviour should be condemned. It’s not hard to see where it comes from. When Alan Jones used his radio program to wish for physical harm to Julia Gillard it was only a couple of steps away from inciting violence.



What sort of world do we live in, where people publicly use rascist, sexist, or other venomous vilification, or for other people to condone this unlawful behavior?

While I am no fan of Sam Dastyari, he does not deserve this tirade from obviously ignorant, right wing rascists? I would not tolerate this behavior, and nor would any senior, if they were from a country or religion that is non-white. These vile people should be prosecuted for their actions. No one, regardless of politics, colour, sex or religion should have to be confronted by hate speech. Christine Foster did not deserve to be treated as she was either. Why did the police not charge the perpetrators?

It is a sad day when this sort of behavior is supported just because the target is Islam, or a politician, or a non-white. I pity those who condone this intolerance and racial vilification.



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