Queensland magistrate Michael O’Driscoll is a reason that judges are given a bad name. This man lacks common sense or a basic lack of understanding about other people.
O’Driscoll was presented with the case of a Queensland resident who slurred blacks and Arabs in a faxed letter to Queensland Member of Parliament Peta-Kaye Croft.
Denis Mulheron called on the Labour Party to tighten immigration laws against ‘niggers’ and sandnigger terrorists’, as well as Muslim women with circumcised genitals. He also referred to Australian Aborigines as “Abos,” a term also considered highly offensive.
A staff member of Croft looked at the fax and found “Abos” to be particularly disgusting and brought it to the attention of authorities.
Mulheron was charged with using a fax machine to menace, harass or offend. It is a charge that carries a penalty of up to three years in jail and a $7,000 fine.
This is not the first time Mulheron has been in trouble with his faxes. He has repeatedly sent them to Croft and at least one was pesonally abusive to her, for which he pleaded guilty in 2006.
This time O’Driscoll dismissed the new charges. It is proper that he should have, for being an idiot and a racist should not be a crime. It appears that the fax was not threatening to anyone in particular but simply exposed Mulheron’s own bigoted mind.
However, it is the manner in which O’Driscoll dismissed the case that is simply shocking.
“The words used were crude, unattractive and direct but were not offensive to a reasonable person,” ruled O’Driscoll.
I guess blacks and Arabs are not reasonable people.
Perhaps if the slurs had been directed at O’Driscoll’s Irish ancestry with mick, shant, spudfucker or potato-head, then he would have thought differently.
Magistrate Spudfucker almost sounds appropriate in this instance, but I doubt if O’Driscoll would allow anyone to disrespect the court like that when he presides. “Reasonable” depends on whose shoes you happen to be wearing.
O’Driscoll could have ruled that the fax did not constitute a threat without getting into the ridiculously asinine.
Yet O’Driscoll brought Mulheron’s argument that this was “everyday language” and no more offensive than calling an American a “Yank.”
Queensland Premier Anna Blight quickly criticized the magistrate’s ruling by stating that the slurs were “ highly offensive” and the magistrate was stuck in the “last century.”
Maybe that should be nineteenth century. O’Driscoll’s problem is that he does not comprehend the historical context and potent meaning that these slurs carry to today.
It is frightening that a judge holds so little empathy or awareness of society. O’Driscoll has been on the bench since 2007, but he has not learned much if this is how his legal mind works.
This bears a resemblance to former Arizona Governor Evan Meacham who was quoted in 1987 stating that “pickaninnies” was not a slur, but a term of endearment.
Unfortunately, twenty years later there are still people in political power who cannot get past step one in understanding other ethnic groups.