I have to say that I disagree with Bolt's position. The worst of Bolt's right-liberalism comes out on these issues. Bolt believes we should all assimilate on the basis that we are individuals only with no ethnic, racial or national identities. That's why he wrote of one mixed race Aboriginal activist that:
She could call herself English, Afghan, Aboriginal, Australian or just a take-me-as-I-am human being called Tara June Winch. Race irrelevant.
He even once opposed a tribe of Aborigines wanting the return of an historic artefact on the basis that we were forgetting:
The humanist idea that we are all individuals, free to make our own identities as equal members of the human race.
"Free to make our own identities" is just stock standard liberal autonomy theory: what Bolt thinks matters is that we are liberated from traditional identities in order to self-create our own.
In his own comment on the court case, Bolt has explained his right-liberal position in more detail. I find it very sad:
I am the son of Dutch parents who came to Australia the year before I was born.
For a long time, I have felt like an outsider here, not least because my family moved around so very often.
You know how it is when you feel you don't fit in. You look for other identities, other groups, to give you a sense of belonging, and perhaps some status.
So for a while I considered myself Dutch, and even took out a Dutch passport.
Later I realised how affected that was, and how I was borrowing a group identity rather than asserting my own. Andrew Bolt's.
So I chose to refer to myself as Australian again, as one of the many who join in making this shared land our common home.
Yet even now I fret about how even nationality can divide us.
To be frank, I consider myself first of all an individual, and wish we could all deal with each other like that. No ethnicity. No nationality. No race. Certainly no divide that's a mere accident of birth.
So that's the background to the calamity that hit me yesterday.
That's why I believe we can choose and even renounce our ethnic identity, because I have done that myself.
This is a very radical position. He wants us all to renounce race, ethnicity and nation in favour of a self-chosen individual identity (one that is not "an accident of birth"). Why does he want us to do this? Because he himself had trouble fitting in as the child of immigrants (something I find a bit strange, as most Dutch migrants fit in readily to the mainstream Australian identity, being relatively closely related to it ethnically).
There is something narcissistic in ditching the larger and meaningful traditions you belong to in order to assert your own personal identity in their place. Is the temporary identity "Andrew Bolt" really something that matches in significance the larger Western heritage? What is he really connecting to in identifying with himself alone?
Having said all that, the decision against Bolt shows how dangerous these racial hatred laws are. I can't help but think the decision is part of a political climate in which the left-liberal establishment is concerned with the influence of the more right-liberal Murdoch press. The Greens in particular are pressing for the media to be licensed and for there to be an inquiry into press ownership in Australia.
The way the racial hatred law is framed means that it is very easy to run afoul of it. Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act outlaws public acts that are likely ''to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate'' a person or group, if the acts are ''done because of the race, colour or ethnic origin'' of the person or group.
It's not that difficult to say something that might offend or insult someone. In fact, Anglo-Australians could make a good case that most of the school curricula in Australia contravenes Section 18C. To reinforce this point, consider this part of the official judgement against Andrew Bolt:
People should be free to fully identify with their race without fear of public disdain or loss of esteem for so identifying.
Can we really say that any white person is free to fully identify with their race without fear of public disdain or loss of esteem for so identifying? Modern liberal societies are set up to discourage white people from identifying positively with their own race and tradition. More accurately, they are set up to persuade white people to identify against their own race and tradition. So Section 18C if applied consistently would require a massive upheaval within liberal society.
Note too that the judge insists, as a matter of law, that people should be fully free to identify with their race. And yet if a white person were to talk about his race to a liberal he would get the scoffing reply that race doesn't exist. So we have a situation in which young liberals are brought up to believe that their own race doesn't even exist, whilst the law insists that people should be free to fully identify with their race. Go figure.