I was quite taken by Helen Dale’s argument here:
Helen Dale 23 January 11:08
“I hate to break it to you, but we are not all Charlie.
The reason is simple: Charlie Hebdo was consistent in its support for freedom of speech. Its editors were not just targeted by Islamists: they’d been hauled through the French courts (where they won) and were figures of hate to both the French extreme right and conservative Catholics.
Charlie Hebdo had been out on a limb for years, true to the freewheeling anti-clericalism that owes its origins to the protests of 1968. Charb, its editor, refused to buckle.
The rest of us – with the partial exception of the United States – have buckled. There are widespread restrictions on speech, in France and elsewhere. Australia has 18C, among many others.
“Hate speech” laws are frequently based on the supposition that hate speech has the same effect as the common law offence of incitement. Incitement requires a demonstrable effect on the intended audience. Burning a cross on a black family’s front lawn, for example, amounts to incitement to commit acts of violence against that family.
It’s also important to remember hate speech laws are akin to the definition of “advocating terrorism” in the national security legislation. Because – as George Brandis told me last year – incitement is difficult to prove, governments look for other ways to restrict speech. “Advocating terrorism” in the Foreign Fighters legislation removes the requirement for demonstrable impact.
At the heart of criminalising “hate speech” is an empirical claim: that what an individual consumes in the media has a direct effect on his or her subsequent behaviour. That is, words will lead directly to deeds.
But because this is untrue – playing Grand Theft Auto and watching porn hasn’t led to an epidemic of car thefts and sexual assault – justifications for laws such as 18C and hate speech laws now turn on the notion that offence harms “dignity” and “inclusion”. Obviously, dignity and inclusion can’t be measured, while crime rates can.
Support for dignity and inclusion produces weird arguments – white people are not supposed to satirise minorities, for example. Sometimes, legislation is used – bluntly – to define what is funny.
Allowing what is “hateful” or “offensive” to be defined subjectively, as 18C does – and not according to the law’s usual objective standard (the reasonable person) – means “offence” is in the eye of the beholder. It enables people who are vexatious litigants and professional victims to complain about comments the rest of us would laugh off.
Tim Wilson, Australia’s Freedom Commissioner, has already argued18C ensures an Australian Charlie Hebdo would be litigated to death. Despite the fact 18C refers only to race, Tony Abbott’s justification for backing down on repeal was to preserve “national unity” with Australia’s Muslim community. This conflates religion with race in the crudest possible way.
This conflation is what leads to the coining of nonsense terms such as “Islamophobia”. “Homophobia” actually means something, because being homosexual is an inherent characteristic, not a choice. Islam is an idea, and it is perfectly reasonable to be afraid of an idea.
18C is far from the only potential constraint. The equivalent Victorian legislation explicitly takes in religion as well as race. A smart lawyer would bring suit in Victoria, because Charlie Hebdo would probably be caught there.
The confusion of religion for race is so pervasive – even in the US, where people ought to know better – that French people across the political spectrum have been forced to point out – while France does indeed have “hate speech” laws – they are used to protect characteristics that people cannot change, such as being black or gay.
“We do not conflate religion and race. We are the country of Voltaire and Diderot: religion is fair game” French left radical Olivier Tonneau wrote in response to repeated claims that attacking Muhammad or Islam was racist.
Apart from being unsupported by anything approaching evidence, hate speech laws have serious unintended consequences. Recently, British polling firm YouGov surveyed British attitudes to Muslims and discovered Britons see Islam negatively, but are unwilling to say so.
In other words, governments and law enforcement have to rely on anonymised polls conducted by private firms to find out what people really think.
It’s not maintainable to have partial freedom of speech. The fact that most Western countries now do makes what little freedom we still have harder to defend. Muslims who respect arguments for free speech can’t help but notice our inconsistencies. Anyone who thinks they don’t notice is guilty of treating people who profess a certain faith like children.
We won’t be Charlie until we have purged 18C, its state-based equivalents and the illiberal national security legislation from the nation’s statute books.”
So what do my readers think about this?
Ring around a Rosey, or a look at how the Black Death of the middle ages is reflected in the current outbreak of a Ebola
In the middle of the 14th century, however, there seemed to be no rational explanation for it. No one knew exactly how the Black Death was transmitted from one patient to another–according to one doctor, for example, “instantaneous death occurs when the aerial spirit escaping from the eyes of the sick man strikes the healthy person standing near and looking at the sick”–and no one knew how to prevent or treat it. Physicians relied on crude and unsophisticated techniques such as bloodletting and boil-lancing (practices that were dangerous as well as unsanitary) and superstitious practices such as burning aromatic herbs and bathing in rosewater or vinegar.
In many ways we can see distinct similarities between the Black Death and the current outbreak of the Ebola virus in western Africa, Like the medieval plague then there is no known cure for Ebola now and despite all of the wishful thinking, despite all of the advances in medicine in the last 600 years we are just as powerless to stem the spread of this disease. And I am sorry to be the bringer of bad news but I think that this disease is going to have a similar effect on the population of Africa as the Plague had on 14th century Europe. We can certainly expect that the death toll will soar into the millions as efforts to contain it continue to fail.
Why do I expect such a large death toll?
This is a virus that not only spread through the exchange of bodily fluids but also remains active in the items that those fluids fall upon, thus bedding and clothing that the infected have touched becomes vectors for the disease to reach new victims. Add to that cultural practices pertaining to the care of the sick that funds family looking after their own, a low level of education, the effects of other diseases poverty and crowded living conditions and it’s not had to see just how optimistic any suggestion that the disease can be contained are. Just look to the example of the response to one man with the disease who is now gravely ill in the United States to get some idea of just how much effort is needed if you are too truly contain the infection: This level of response is just not possible in third world west Africa and so it seems inevitable to me that the infection is going to spread exponentially just as the black death spread exponentially in 14th century Europe.
So what can the modern west do to help stem the spread of the disease in Africa?
Well not much at all really, we risk losing a large number of our very skilled people if we send them into the disease hot spots firstly because the treatment that is available essentially boils down to trying to keep patients hydrated and waiting to see who has the natural ability to fight the infection. Those brave souls who are trying to treat the currently infected are trying to do so while wearing Hazmat suits that are essentially a fancy yellow plastic bag which I’m sure you will realize is nothing short of tortuous in the tropical climate of the region. So not only do the health workers run the very real risk of contracting the infection but also they risk dying from heatstroke in the suits they try to prevent infection with. Several health workers who have caught the Ebola virus have been evacuated so that they can be treated in Western hospitals but if the numbers of infected western heath workers were to increase I can foresee the practice of repatriating them being wound back or even abandoned in the effort to contain the disease. Aid in the form of medical supplies, certainly can and should be provided but the major imperative now has to be containment, and quarantine of all parts of Africa where the disease has been found.
The Environmental bigger picture, or accepting the will of Gaia
In the natural world there are clear limits to the population of any species. Be it the amount of substance that a particular species can find or something in the environment that find them tasty and therefore limits their numbers through predation. Human beings are very clever in their ability to eat almost anything that is nourishing and in many ways we have become the apex predator in every part of the eco-system. That in conjunction with our ability to mitigate that other limit to population, disease. Has seen our numbers soar beyond 7billion souls on this small planet. I would seem to me that pandemics are one of the ways that Gaia addresses the problem of too many people on the surface of the planet. Oh humanity certainly has dodged a bullet from pandemics in the recent past. But this disease is not going to be so easily dodged. I think that it has already reached a critical mass that makes it virtually unstoppable. Heck thanks to modern air travel I will be very surprised if is even just contained on the African continent.
Things are going to get a great deal worse before they get better
During the Black Death whole towns succumbed to the disease they were left with only the dead in residence sometimes the dead were not even buried and it’s not hard to imagine that happening again in Western Africa if Ebola really starts to take off as I am expecting it to do.
What we need to realize is that modern medicine is good, its clever and its largely been the bringer of better lives for all of those it has touched, from the poor children spared the mortal diseases of childhood that used to take so many children well before they reached maturity to the wonders of surgery that can see the imperfections and damages to our bodies repaired and replaced in a way that would seem magical to a medieval man contemplating the plague yet here we stand in the same place as that medieval man facing a disease pandemic that we cannot stop and a death toll that we dread will be larger than anything humanity has not seen in the last six centuries.
If this danse macabre does play up a storm it will change every aspect of global human society we could well go from a place where the people desperately compete for places in the economy to one where skilled workers will be in very short supply in many parts of the planet. The mechanized west where we already have machines that enable a very small number of people to grow the crops to feed the many or to operate the machines will probably get through this upcoming disaster well enough but any society still that practices subsistence agriculture can expect the same hard times that befell Europe after the plague because there was simply not enough people to plant and harvest the crops. Those who have been worried about climate change May well find all of their concerns are moot because a world with less people on it will not be producing anywhere near the emissions growth they are so certain is the problem. On the other hand the worlds mercantile economy is likely to be severely affected by both the loss of potential customers and the cost of trying to address the disease.
One other thing that we should recognize is that many people see the world through the lens of their religion and those religions that have a millenarian tendency may well see Ebola as some sort of divine retribution for our “sins”. A faith like Islam on the other hand which places such value in the observance of a mass gathering like their Haj could well be both a vector for the spread of the disease and suffer a huge number of casualties among its faithful.
Am I the only one who sees this event here as the beginning of a very nasty carnival of death for west Africa? Because I just can’t shake the conviction that we are going to see a tide of death flowing out of that part of the continent that will make the bubonic plague look like a mild case of the sniffles. It already seems that the official death-toll may well be underestimated and as there is no cure or even an effective treatment beyond hydration and a plaintive plea to what ever deity one holds dear.
You see disease epidemics like this one are virtually unstoppable once they get rolling and this outbreak of Ebola is certainly rolling now.
Frankly if the disease can be contained within the African continent the world will be doing very well but even on that score I have my doubts because we live in the age where anyone can be traveling the world by the perfect disease incubators/infection pods in the shape Jet airliners
Trying hard not to abandon hope here but frankly all I can foresee is a carnival of death that may soon get to the point where there are not enough of the living to inter the dead. I really hope that I am wrong in my dark expectations but I see nothing to convince me otherwise.
Pessimistic mood on this one Comrades
As its a fine Saturday morning and I think that such days are perfect for a change of pace I offer a new topic that I have come across from my subscription to “Spiked”. It concerns the refusal of the St Patrick’s day marches in New York and Boston to allow Gay activists to march under Gay themed banners in their parades. Of course our friends of the pink persuasion are screaming “discrimination” with a great deal of vim and vigour so loudly that you would think that the march organisers were planning to burn a few homosexuals at the stake as part of the celebrations. What I find most worrying about the whole thing is the same “if you don’t support the Gay agenda 110% then you are a bigot” mindset from those homosexual activists who want to hijack the ostensibly Catholic festival to promote their own cause .
There have also been reports of people losing employment after it was discovered that they do not agree with gay marriage. A common theme in these reports is that the individuals involved do not appear to dislike gay people, but they have nonetheless been labelled bigots due to their objections to same-sex marriage. Rather than encouraging a live-and-let-live attitude, it appears that some supporters of same-sex marriage seek to find and root out anyone who won’t publicly accept this relatively new institution.
When lawmakers in Arizona introduced a bill last month that sought to clarify whether small business owners like wedding photographers can refuse work on religious freedom grounds, there was little consideration in the media of the legal pros and cons. Few highlighted that the existing law allows private vendors to refuse work on the grounds of sexual orientation, and thus continues after the governor vetoed the bill. Instead, the proposed law was greeted with a hysterical campaign to label it ‘anti-gay’ and ‘Jim Crow’ (an historically illiterate comparison, beginning with the fact that Jim Crow was enforced by state law and businesses that refused to obey it could be prosecuted).
These tendencies to demonise dissent are visible in the campaign against the St Patrick Day parades. There is a rush to label any disagreement with gay marriage or gay culture as out-and-out ‘bigotry’. There is a desire to not simply state that certain views of gays are wrong, but to have those views silenced. And there is an operation to target and scare corporations that are associated with such views. Gay activists threatened a campaign against corporations in Arizona, including the National Football League for holding the Super Bowl in the state, if the recent bill passed. Similarly, they pressured St Patrick’s Day sponsors like Samuel Adams and Heineken to withdraw support. This is the top-down, elite-led politics of name and shame, rather than a properly liberal campaign that draw upon popular support.
What we are witnessing is an attack on those who don’t share today’s pro-gay outlook. Some may want to opt out of this Culture War, but the war increasingly won’t allow there to be any bystanders. Instead, there is pressure to conform. Even if it does not spill over into the political or legal world, such conformism is problematic for the free flow of ideas.
The sky will not fall if gays and lesbians are allowed to march in the Boston and New York St Patrick’s Day parades. But we will create a conformist, intolerant and unfree society if we do not allow space for the expression of different views, including traditional religious teachings about homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
The title of the article asks Who are the real bigots in the St Pat’s spat? and I can’t avoid concluding that its the very noisy Gay activists who are using every possible way to bully people into “endorsing” to their position. I can’t help thinking that this may well back fire on them and lead to a backlash that seriously damages the hard earned public good will towards homosexuality that has been steadily been accruing over the last few years. Social acceptance can be most fragile flower that needs nurture and careful cultivation and it can be oh so easily lost if you start tearing up the field with loud and noisy tractors instead of well directed hand tools.
This morning I was having one of my regular early morning chats with the family capitalist brother (who likes to chat to me a from his car as he does the morning rounds of his empire) and he was chiding me for not blogging about the recent UN condemnation of the Holy see for not doing more about clerics who sexually abused children. Well I have thought about it and as serious as I think the issue of clerical abuse is I also think that the UN body involved has more than a few axes to grind and as a consequence their criticism is itself somewhat flawed, not that I am saying that any sexual abuse of children can or should be ignored its just that I can’t help but think that ANYTHING that comes out of the UN is dodgy and that we should suspect hidden agendas in almost all cases. Further to some extent I buy the argument that the individual elements of the church have a certain level of individual autonomy that has not been considered or understood by the UN. That said I don’t really want to talk about abuse within the Catholic Church or even the arguable worse revelations about abuse within boys homes run by the Salvation Army that have been aired in the royal commission recently either. No, my attention today is on this story as reported in today’s Fairfax press
Cue the apologists from the left for anything done in the name of Allah, after all they may argue that Ahmad Chamma, 26 was just being a good and devout Muslim who is following the example of the Prophet in marrying a young prepubescent girl. It even appears that the man in question has waited till the girl is older than was the case with Mohammad and his child bride. But what horrifies me is that this unacceptable situation appears to have been endorsed by his mosque, and despite the disclaimer in the quote above I doubt that there was a lack of consent or even active endorsement of the union from the girl’s parents either.
Now I’m going to ask you, dear reader, to consider this; which is ethically worse, that individuals with in an religion act counter to its teachings and use their position with its power structure to find, groom, and exploit children or individuals within a religion who follow the example of its founder to exploit and sexually abuse children?
To be frank I don’t think there is much in it between the two, but on balance I tend to think that the latter is worse because it has made such abuse more blatant , “culturally defensible”and more immune to any possibility that the vile practice can be extinguished.
Cue Richard Ryan Comrades
How could I get this far into the blogging year without some discussion of God bothering?
Any way this vid is most amusing in the way that it beautifully illustrates the rank hypocrisy of our beloved minions of the the left when it comes to their frankly bizarre apologising for the ideology of Islam
Go in peace Comrades
Pat nails it yet again!
Ah we are on the home stretch to Christmas and I for one have heaps of things that I want to do before the red suited one comes to visit. There is the inevitable cleaning up and preparation for the social event. some final shopping that has to be done to make certain there are enough provisions for seasonal feasting and and good cheer. There are still a few presents that need wrapping, still parcels through the mail that are anticipated and over which I worry about late arrival precipitating a disappointed son next Wednesday.
It seems like a big mountain to climb at present but we will get there, incrementally , one step at a time as most of us will mange to do at this time of the year and I just know that it will be worth it. That said I expect that my posting might be a little light on for the next week or so as I anticipate more time spent with ore serving the family.
So dear readers take this as my round about way of wishing you all a great and Merry Christmas
Ho ho Ho Comrades