Australians: Insult Minister O’Brien Now While It’s Still Legal

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Victoria, AustraliaIf you think Victoria's Minister for Gaming is kind of a dick (or whatever the equivalent is in Australian), now's the time to say so. A bill is currently pending there that, if it passes, would make it a criminal offense to insult Michael O'Brien or any of his employees as they carry out certain duties.

The provision is part of a bill that would amend the state's Gambling Regulation Act in various ways. Most of them aren't that interesting, which I guess is true of most legislation, but then there's this: 

No insulting the minister
The listed sections have to do with monitoring various gambling systems, so I think the thinking here is to protect agents of the ministry from being harassed when visiting casinos and so forth, although at least some of this is already prohibited, of course. The mention of "the Minister" is probably no different than when somebody names a U.S. president or governor or the Secretary of Whatever as a defendant in a lawsuit. That person is really being named only as a representative. But read literally, the provision would make it a crime to "insult … the Minister," and reading it literally is, unsurprisingly, what the political opposition is interested in doing.

"Is the minister so precious that he now needs legislation to protect him from insults?" said an opposition spokesperson, who called the minister "Windscreens O'Brien – because this proves he's got a glass jaw." (Either that's a lot funnier in the Southern Hemisphere, or the opposition needs some new writers.) "I thought I better make these comments before the bill passes," he continued, "in case I breach the new rules and insult Mr. O'Brien."

A spokesperson for the minister denied that he needed any protection. "The minister can look after himself," she said, "but does not believe that those working on his behalf should have to put up with harassment." Again, this probably is about protecting the Ministry's employees, unless Windscreens is out there personally inspecting poker machines. The spokesperson didn't say, though, why another "no assaulting" law was needed or why the minister was mentioned if he can really look after himself.

Commenters on the Herald Sun's website have not taken kindly to this news, and have taken the opportunity to go ahead and insult the minister and his employees while they still can. "[W]ell we know they are sooks," wrote one, "but this is so lame, time for him and his shonkey monkeys to grow a backbone[.]"

Well, it sounds insulting, at least. 

(via Boing Boing)