The right to silence

Of all the freedoms, speech is the one most often misused, most often claimed as an amnesty for all kinds of rank abuse.

Andrew Bolt emerged from a courtroom in which a judge found that he had published factual errors and ‘inflammatory and provocative' sentiments in breach of the Racial Discrimination Act, and claimed that it was a blow against free speech.

Tony Abbott agreed with Bolt, as he often does, saying free speech means “the right of people to say what you don't like, not just the right of people to say what you do like.”

Free speech means people can say what they please. It doesn't mean that what they say will be true, or reasonable or sensible or good. It does not mean that what they say won't be held to some standard of common accountability. And it does not mean that a judge won't find that that freedom has been abused.