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Leon Bertrand and I have a face to face meet up with Scott Bridges planned for today which should be quite interesting to say the least, because how often do you get a chance to meet up with your online “enemy ” after a decade long blog war?
Hold on comrades this could be an interesting ride
As most people will now know the spill motion is on. I’m a little sad about this but if this means that the current government can improve its standings with the public. One thing that we can expect if there is a change of leader is that we won’t see the sort of bad grace that Rudd bought to his party.
You can bet that the Liberal Party phones will be in meltdown in Canberra over the weekend
On the Radio this morning is the cheerful news that Peter Greste has been released and deported from Egypt I am sure that his family will be very pleased indeed, I am as well even though I don’t share the view that seem prevalent among the usual suspect that some one who is a journalist is automatically some kind of secular saint. Anyway that is an all’s well that ends well situation.
Now to events closer to home and something that has left me feeling profoundly depressed, Yep the state election its a terrible result for Queensland that will see the incompetent Labor party back into government. That said we live in a democracy and that means I have to accept the result with good grace, fucking hell though its hard with that idiot of a woman in charge. The irony is that for all of the rhetoric about the reforms made by the LNP over the last three years, things like the thinning of the bloated public service and other fiscal savings will not be reversed so its, once again going to be a case of the LNP wearing the pain of necessary reforms and the ALP will be able to get the benefits gratis.
I feel nothing but dread for governance of our great state of Queensland over the next three years… On the upside though It will be far easier to attack the government’s inevitable incompetence than it has been to defend the missteps of the previous administration.
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?
Thanks to face book I discovered this nice article by my favourite Marxist:
When conservative Christian women demanded the censure of rude art and entertainment in the 1970s and 80s, they were roundly mocked by radicals.
Now the same radicals, most notably feminists, are engaged in the exact same policing of morality and destruction of culture that offends their sensibilities.
Other feminists in Britain are agitating for bans on “lads mags” and the removal of Page 3 girls from The Sun. In the US, feminists have made waves during the past month with their scaremongering about sex on campus.
At the end of October, at universities across the US, feminist students came out in solidarity with a Columbia student who wanted a male student who she claimed raped her expelled from university — even though a disciplinary hearing found him not guilty and the police said there was no case.
In a creepy echo of Stalin’s favoured method of dealing with deviants, feminists want him thrown out of university on the basis of one woman’s accusations. This is genuinely shocking.
Other American campuses have instituted their own sexual-assault courts, which don’t comply with the rigorous rules of normal justice yet which have been used to expel students suspected of assault. As American civil libertarian Wendy Kaminer says: “Once, authoritarian, right-wing officials hunted down suspected communists on campus … Today, authoritarian, left-wing officials are targeting alleged sexual predators on campus, with similar disregard for civil liberty.”
Taken together, all these recent feminist ventures speak to a movement that has become deeply censorious and unjust, riding roughshod over free speech and due process. Feminism is no longer a women’s liberation movement — it’s a women’s authoritarianism movement. Under the new tyranny of feminism, anyone who possesses allegedly warped views or produces saucy culture could potentially find themselves cast out of public life.
Its an argument that is so sadly too true as my run-ins with various feminists has shown, Sanctimony is their stock in trade these days along with misandry and a boorish desire to shut down anyone who dares challenge their orthodoxy.
Hat tip to Andrew Bolt on this one:
WHY is it bad to hack and expose photographs of a woman’s naked body but apparently OK to steal and make public the contents of a man’s soul?
This is the question that should burn in our minds in the wake of the Barry Spurr scandal.
For just a few weeks ago, when a hacker invaded the iCloud accounts of female celebs and rifled through their intimate snaps, there was global outrage… To peer into a woman’s most intimate moments was a “sexual violation”, said a writer for Guardian Australia…
Fast forward to last week, and some of the same people whose jaws hit the floor at the audacity of those who leaked these women’s private, unguarded pics were cheering the hacking of Spurr’s private, unguarded words.
Spurr, a professor of poetry at the University of Sydney, has had his private emails pored over and published by pseudo-radical, eco-miserabilist website New Matilda. In some of his emails, in what he has since claimed was a cheeky competition between him and his friends to see who could be the least PC, Spurr used words that would no doubt cause pinot gris to be spilled if they were uttered at a dinner party.
He described Tony Abbott as an “Abo lover”, referred to a woman as a “harlot”, called Nelson Mandela a “darky”, and used “Mussies” for Muslims and “chinky-poos” for Chinese. He now has been suspended by the university.
Many people will wince on reading those words. Just as we will have winced if we happened upon those photos of well-known women doing porno poses or engaging in shocking sex talk in videos shot by their boyfriends.
And that’s because these behaviours, both Spurr’s knowingly outrageous banter and the actresses’ knowingly sluttish poses, share something important in common: they were private acts, not intended for public consumption. They were things done or said between intimates, far from the eyes and ears of respectable society. Yet where right-on commentators and tweeters stood up for the right of famous women not to have their private nakedness splashed across the internet, they have relished in the exposure of Spurr’s soul to the panting, outraged mob.
A most worthy argument from one of the lefties I truly respect.
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.
The thing that so many on the fringes of the political spectrum for get is that politics in this country is a game with a well defined rule book and no matter which side (speaking of the ALP/LNP ) you are part of the way to convince the public to give your side the treasury benches at a general election is by being far better at the day to day battles in the parliament and in the court of public opinion. The simple truth is that Abbott succeeded in opposition and at the last general election not because he was “a wrecker” As Chris Graham insists in his article but because he was a far more effective playing at the game of politics than Rudd/Gillard/Rudd. He would not have had a chance of success however had the ALP government not been so deeply flawed.
In the first instance Rudd was deeply flawed insofar as he was really good at capturing the imagination of the polity during 2006 and he made all of the right noises to convince the voters that he would be “Howard lite” he insisted to those of us concerned that a Labor government would be mad spenders were wrong to worry because he was “an economic conservative”. To the left he promised to be a champion for their environmental bet Noir of climate change and to do something about the then non problem of asylum seekers.
The history of the ALP’s last been much written about by its (cough!) stars (12 books and counting!) but one thing is clear and that the they were the wreckers, making changes that made no improvement to the country, Things like Rudd’s abandoning of the successful suite of policies dealing with boat people and the sorry story of “the greatest moral challenge of our generation” which when it came to the crunch he lacked that cahones to take to a DD election(which most pundits thought he could have won)
Rudd was a wrecker not because of his flawed ideologies but because of his flaws as a leader. A good leader of men is able to delegate and trust those to whom he delegates his authority to. Rudd was almost pathologically incapable of doing this. As an egomaniac and a control freak he managed to destroy the belief and trust of the public servants in his administration wasting both their good will and much of their work effort in his unreasonable demands and a bullying style to both his staff and parliamentary colleagues. Gillard was likewise a wrecker. First and foremost she was tainted with the dripping blood of the plotter’s knife but worse than that she was a political whore willing to say one thing to win office only to change like the wind when she needed the support of the Greens in the hung Parliament. The betrayal of her infamous “there will be no carbon tax under a government I lead” broken promise wrecked the remaining credibility of the ALP. The sad truth is that had she stood up to the Greens &’indies” and told them she would only agree to a carbon tax after the subsequent election Abbott would not have had his most powerful campaigning slogan.
In government the LNP under Abbott have not been perfect but they have been scrupulous in their determination to be true to their election commitments Against all of the predictions to the contrary the Abbott government has been able “stop the boats” and although this has upset the usual suspects, (hi Marilyn ;o) ) now that there is not the eternal new arrivals into the system the problem can be solved. There is still a large legacy of Rudd’s wrecking in the detention centers but that is being addressed.
Much has been made in this piece about the deployment of ADF people and planes to the fight against ISIS in Iraq but really what is the alternative? Can we really just look the other way and do nothing? Can we, as part of the civilized world ignore the slaughter of Shia people or the treatment of women and girls as prizes of war? Surely even the left must realize that destroying the Islamo-Fascists of ISIL is a moral and justified cause? Sadly too many seem unable to let go of their hatred of the United states for long enough to realize that they are all that stands between the world and the rise of a totalitarian Caliphate with global ambitions.
That said the problem that our own Muslim minority feels somewhat besieged by the tide of events is clearly not of the magnitude that many of the left claim it to be. In fact the number of anti-Muslim incidents has been very small and the panic from Islam apologists has been of far greater magnitude than any criticism of Islam in this country. Even the recent concerns about the Burqa in our parliamentary precincts has not created the sort of anti-Muslim hysteria that so many of the left invoke when ever there is an issue with ISLAM. On this Issue Abbott has been both calm and truthful He was honest about how confronting it is to have people who hide their faces in public yet accepting that we are not a society that wishes to prohibit those who want to do this.
To insist that Abbott Was A Wrecker In Opposition; Who’s Surprised He’s A Wrecker In Office? is to misread both the politics of the period of the last Labor government and to misunderstand the nature of a soundly administered government.