Banning political symbols sets a dangerous precedent
Having experienced the warmth and openness of Victorians, the idea of the Garden State as a stomping ground for neo-Nazi efforts to establish a Fourth Reich Down Under seems bizarre. Yet, Victoria is set to enact a law banning the public display of Nazi swastikas ‘to stamp out hate’, in the words of Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes. Symes is right that displaying the swastika ‘glorifies one of the most hateful ideologies in history’ and may cause ‘pain and division’. But Symes and the law’s supporters are wrong to think that banning Nazi symbols is a sign of democracy´s triumph over hatred and totalitarianism. A closer look at the history of free speech suggests that the law may well do more to undermine than strengthen the democratic values of freedom and equal dignity that it seeks to protect.