One Nation Senator's loose grasp on meaning of free speech
ONE Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts wants the Racial Discrimination Act amended so people can publicly offend, humiliate and intimidate others on the basis of race.
And yet he tells me he actively blocks anyone he sees as being rude and disrespectful from engaging with him on Twitter.
How do I know this? Because I rang his office today after noticing he'd blocked me.
Mr Roberts told me on the phone earlier he doesn't think the two positions contradict each other.
I'm not so sure.
Advocating for freedom of expression is not a one-way street, it doesn't just mean standing up for your right to express your own opinion.
If a person truly believes in free speech they essentially sign up to saying: "I don't like what you have to say but I'll defend your right to say it."
This is a value I hold dear, it motivated my career choice and it colours much of how I deal with the world.
I personally believe Australian society is strong enough to sustain debate on any issue and attempting to outlaw racism just pushes it into the shadows instead of outing its proponents.
And for that reason I believe Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act should be amended.
Mr Roberts would like to tell you this is a view he too holds - personally I'm not so sure.
However one thing is certain, while the public knew very, very little about the One Nation Senator before he got elected off the back of Pauline Hanson's popularity, he was on the record as claiming he stood for repealing Section 18C.
"We need people to speak up freely and deliver what they really believe and yet they get slammed for that," Mr Roberts told reporters in Brisbane on August 5 this year.
"I'm looking at [section] 18C under the Racial Discrimination Act - that needs to be addressed because that is curbing free speech.
"When we have free speech curbed, it means we don't talk about the real issues - tax, Islam, terrorism, the economy."
When I asked Roberts why he'd blocked not just me but a large raft of others from either Tweeting at him or seeing what he says the response was pretty infantile.
"Our Twitter feed is family friendly…We block anyone who uses offensive language. Gosh, we wonder if those people kiss their mother with mouths like that!" he said.
"Many people engage with us who have opposite views, and we welcome open debate in a way that doesn't use swearing."
When I pointed out I hadn't sworn on my Twitter the One Nation Senator accused me of deleting posts.
For the record I didn't swear at Mr Roberts on Twitter and I have not deleted any posts, I have however pointed out that the election of One Nation to the Senate reflects poorly on Australia particularly when viewed by people in other nations.
I'd say that is why he's decided to ban me.
It is nothing less than a Himalayan feat of hypocrisy for a person who wants to change our Nation's laws so he can offend, humiliate and intimidate others to at the same time block anyone who uses language too harsh for his ears.
Much less for an elected Senator to block a journalist who Tweets things he doesn't like.