2013 - Vol 38(2) - The Hidden Face Of The Law

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Engaging the Harm Principle

Dimensions of sex and the law

Inhabiting legal education

A Most Unusual Job

Michael Kirby

Kirby cartoon cobwebs of Equity200pxIf you are a law student, or lawyer, you have selected a most unusual discipline. You should try to make the most of the opportunities presented to you. I’m not knocking other disciplines, of course. But law is special in at least three respects.

First, it is about the control of power in society. Be you ever so high, the law is above you. Law puts a check on the selfish exercise of power by individuals who enjoy it so that, if they can access the law, the poor, the marginalised and the vulnerable in society may be protected.

(2013) 38(2) AltLJ 73


Rediscovering law students as citizens: Critical thinking and the public value of legal eduation

Jeffrey McGee, Michael Guihot and Tim Connor

law-scool-trend-towards-market-based-vocationalism-150pxIn a series of publications over the last decade, Australian National University Professor Margaret Thornton has documented a disturbing change in the nature of legal education.1 This body of work culminates in a recently published book based on interviews with 145 legal academics in Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Canada.2 In it, Thornton describes a feeling of widespread unease among legal academics that society, government, university administrators and students themselves are moving away from viewing legal education as a public good which benefits both students and society. Instead, legal education is increasingly being viewed as a purely private good, for consumption by the student in the quest for individual career enhancement.3

(2013) 38(2) AltLJ 77


Should gay men still be labelled criminals?

Paula Gerber and Katie O’Byrne

Historical convictions for homosexual acts

Reason ... tells me that the laws under which I am convicted are wrong and unjust laws, and the system under which I have suffered a wrong an unjust system. But, somehow, I have got to make both of these things just and right ...

– Oscar Wilde, De Profundis (1905)

Most of the public debate and scholarly literature relating to gay issues focuses on marriage equality. But for some older gay men, another issue is even more important. In 1975, South Australia became the first state to decriminalise consensual sex between men and, in 1997, Tasmania became the last state to do so. Since those times, Australian attitudes to homosexuality have changed considerably. Not only is it no longer criminal for men to have consensual sex with one another, but it is also prohibited to discriminate against a person based on their sexual orientation.1

(2013) 38(2) AltLJ 82


‘Just Plain Dirt 
and Nothing Else’?

Theodore Bennett

2013 38 2 plain dirt sroth smlClassification law in Australia is currently under close scrutiny. In December 2010 the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General called for the review of the ‘Refused Classification’ (‘RC’) category, in June 2011 the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Reference Committee handed down their review of the National Classification Scheme, and in February 2012 the Australian Law Reform Commission (‘ALRC’) released their own report on the Scheme calling for widespread change.1 This article contributes to the contemporary focus on classification law by unpacking the conceptual basis that underlies the differences between classificatory categories, so as to provide insight into the functioning of the classificatory system at a symbolic level. In particular, this article is concerned with the regulation of sexually explicit films — that directly depict unsimulated sexual activities — and what the differential restrictions placed on such films tells us about the kinds of sex and desire that are valued and devalued by the law.

(2013) 38(1) AltLJ 14


Cyber bullying in Australian schools: The question of negligence and liability

Amy Dwyer and Patricia Easteal

cyber-bullying-sroth smBullying in schools is not a new phenomenon. The fact that children tend to ‘muck around’ and make fun of each other has meant that, historically, bullying has been viewed as a fait accompli, or something of a rite of passage for children and has not always been taken seriously by schools and adults.1 However, as awareness of the risks and potential injuries has heightened, bullying has been recognised as ‘a serious, and insidious, form of violence that plagues the school system.’ 2 Cyber bullying, though, is relatively new. Any ‘communication activity using cyber technology’ 3 that can be considered harmful, victimising, hostile or otherwise damaging to an individual or group of people, it can take many forms including harassment, threats, sexting, stalking, impersonation, predation, or any intimidating behaviour conducted using cyber technology.4

(2013) 38(2) AltLJ 92


Sexual Harassment and Conciliation

Anthea Worley, Sara Charlesworth and Paula McDonald

Which complaints settle, and which don’t?

A number of high profile sexual harassment claims have been reported recently in the Australian media. These include Kristy Fraser-Kirk’s claims against David Jones (2010), Bridgette Styles’ claim against Clayton Utz (2011) and James Ashby’s claim against the (now former) federal Speaker in the House of Representatives (2012). Sensationalised media reports can shape community views about the frequency with which those who experience sexual harassment make claims outside of organisations, as well as the success of those claims.

(2013) 38(2) AltLJ 96


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