Oz Tribunal: Host Has Right to Call Carson Kressley ‘Pillow Biter’

Hate speech against gays is becoming a focus worldwide. An Australian tribunal has ruled against gay rights activist Gary Burns in his complaint that radio host John Laws vilified gay people when he called Queer Eye fashion maven Carson Kressley a “pillow biter”, among other things, during a show in 2004.

Carson_kressley_1Said the court: “We rule unanimously that the statements that Mr Laws made on the relevant broadcast constituted homosexual vilification, because they incited severe ridicule of homosexual men on the ground of their homosexuality…By majority, we rule further, however, that his publication of these statements on the radio fell within an exception established by the (Anti-Discrimination) Act that is designed, within appropriate limits, to preserve freedom of expression….Our majority decision is accordingly that the publication was lawful.”

John_lawsLaws made the comments after seeing Kressley on television when he was in the country for the Melbourne Cup (see photo). Here are a few excerpts of what Laws said during that show…

“it’s not often that I get really worried about this country, but I tell you what, I had a sleepless night last night… Who is this pompous little pansy prig who’s strutting around everywhere yesterday, telling Australian blokes how to wear their pocket square? As he called it. That’s poof speak for handkerchief … Who is he? He might be famous in certain circles, circles being the operative word, we know where they are.”

“What the hell does a pillow biter know about judging girls? They should have had a few truckies down there, or me… Fair-dinkum Aussie blokes judging fair-dinkum Aussie girls. Not this pompous little pansy.”

Following the judge’s ruling, Burns said: I took this action because I believe it’s important to stand up and erase hate in society. It’s about standing up against bullies. I didn’t win on this occasion, but I will continue in my mission to dissuade hate in society.”

Laws beats ‘pillow biter’ complaint [tr]
Pillow Biter For The Straight Guy [samesame]


  1. Matt says

    I for one am happy with the courts ruling. Baning people the freedom of speech is much worse than any hate speech. I would rather have someone change on a personal level than make the law force them not to say it but still think it. If this case had been about a gay man calling a straight man a “pussy lover” or something of that nature, we would all be up in arms thinking how ridiculous this was.

  2. FizziekruntNT says

    That radio announcer is quite possibly the most bigoted, hateful, homophobe I’ve seen quoted in some time now and reminds me of the truly ignorant, dangerous rednecks I grew up with. Times have changed, and even in the State of Texas (DFW metroplex, mind you) I rarely hear such garbage, not that it doesn’t exist! I’m just amazed and appalled that a judge would rule against the plaintiff in such a way. I’ve always viewed Australians as the rednecks of the South Pacific and felt a special kinship with some of their “backwardness”, but that’s really sad and makes it all too clear to me that no matter how loud people from other countries balk at the nature of American culture, we’re still a great country and no matter how much work we’ve got to do, the people of this country will come together and make sense. Madness still continues, as in the senseless death of people like Mr. Andrew Anthos, but no-one has any right, from any other place, to claim superiority. No wonder my friend Seb says he wants “to get out of this godforsaken place”…and Australia is his adopted home. Sounds very familiar.

    And now for some advocacy by Satan:

    Who the fuck appointed Carson Kressley the arbiter of all things fashionable? Have you SEEN some of the crap he puts together?

  3. Jack! says

    I love Carson. He’s funny, smart and kind.

    I agree with the decision. The comments were bigoted but not hate speech. Tim Hardaway, Michael Richards, and Mel Gibson’s recent comments were all forms of hate speech.

  4. Da says

    Seeing this ruling, I’m once again tempted to believe that an international debate/education on the concepts of “free speech” and “hate speech” needs to be done.

    –“Free speech” is the ability to express onself freely, even if it’s controversial and unpopular. And it’s a basic human right which we all know…

    –“Hate speech” imo is just a subgroup of free speech, and according to historycentral.com it’s any “speech which is used to deliberately offend an individual; or racial, ethnic, religious or other group. Such speech generally seeks to condemn or dehumanize the individual or group; or express anger, hatred, violence or contempt toward them.”

    The words used by this radio host fit the definition of hate speech. just replace his insults at Carson with any gender or racial attribute and it’s clear as day..

    This said hate speech doesn’t have to be made unlawful – but it’s urgently primordial that it starts being called *by its name* in the media because this frequent confusion is sending the message to the population that it’s ok for a radio host, a teacher, a politician, or any person in power & with influence towards a large audience to spew basically any kind of hateful remarks against a group of people, or racial, sexual orientation minority, and hide behind the “free speech” excuse.

    Especially where there is PROFIT to be made for promoting hateful speech (monetary, or in political influence points) I think judges have to be a little more cautious in the wording of their rulings, because it’s not just the gay community who is going to lose, it’s everyone.

  5. Richiecannotspell says

    Calling Carson Cressley a pompous pillow biting pansy is kind of funny and not entirely innacurate, it made me chuckle

    Posted by: Richie | Mar 1, 2007 11:08:49 AM

    And I guess calling you an ignorant asshole who really should learn how to spell inaccurate is not entirely inaccurate either.

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