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Australian Politician Files Human Rights Complaint After Newspaper Calls Him an Angry White Man

After fighting to repeal a racial discrimination law, this white Australian senator is using it.

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - JULY 07:  Senator David Leyonhjelm casts his vote for President of the Senate during an official ceremony at Parliament on July 7, 2014 in Canberra, Australia. Twelve Senators will be sworn in today, with the repeal of the carbon tax expected to be first on the agenda.  (Photo by Stefan Postles/Getty Images)
CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - JULY 07: Senator David Leyonhjelm casts his vote for President of the Senate during an official ceremony at Parliament on July 7, 2014 in Canberra, Australia. Twelve Senators will be sworn in today, with the repeal of the carbon tax expected to be first on the agenda. (Photo by Stefan Postles/Getty Images)

Australia’s racial discrimination act makes it clear that insulting someone because of the color of their skin is against Australian law. David Leyonhjelm, a libertarian senator, has recently campaigned to repeal that clause, claiming that such a law damages the Australian tradition of freedom of speech.

That is, until journalist Mark Kenny penned a newspaper article calling Leyonhjelm’s view on the law indicative of the senator’s “angry-white-male certitude.” The commentary, published in the Sydney Morning Herald on Aug. 8, prompted Leyonhjelm to use the very law he’s trying to repeal in order to file a human rights complaint against Kenny.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Leyonhjelm said “the comments are reasonably likely in all the circumstances to offend or insult some white males.”

“My color was one of the reasons the comments were made,” he added.

Apparently, he believes that his complaint is completely absurd — and that’s all the more reason for going through with it.

“If I’m going to succeed in having it repealed, I need to change minds,” he said. “If I’m going to change minds, I have to show [the] absurdity of the law.”

One of Leyonhjelm’s biggest complaints about the law’s current language is that it applies to any comments that “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” on the basis of race. According to him, offense is always taken, not given, and therefore cannot be blamed on the person responsible for making potentially offensive comments.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott had previously made moves to repeal the law, but backed down when he faced opposition from lawmakers. He most recently suggested that perhaps just the words “offend” and “insult” should be repealed.

Photo credit: Stefan Postles/Getty Images

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