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Reply with quote #31
Andrew Bolt on free speech:
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Reply with quote #32
Originally Posted by
In March, the Attorney-General said there were more important issues on the agenda than reforming free speech laws.
Last week George Brandis again ruled out removing “insult” and “offend” from section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act.
A focused government can fix both the budget and free speech. With the Turnbull government floating around with no economic or cultural ballast, reforming section 18c might repair some of the brand damage done to the Liberal Party in the last three years. If not now, when?
Speaking in Adelaide at the annual Sir Samuel Griffith Society conference last Friday, Tony Abbott admitted he was wrong to walk away from a pre-election promise to reform section 18c which prohibits words that are “reasonably likely … to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people” because of their “race, colour or national or ethnic origin”.
Here are five reasons why Turnbull should do what Abbott refused to do as PM. First, the country is crying out for sensible cultural leadership. As Turnbull told The Bolt Report last year, it is entirely sensible to excise “offend” and “insult” from section 18c.
Second, Senator David Leyonhjelm has lodged a complaint against Fairfax journalist Mark Kenny for writing a column that likely breaches section 18c. Kenny described Leyonhjelm as an“angry white male,” a “boorish, supercilious know-it-all”. Why shouldn’t Leyonhjelm claim Kenny’s words are reasonably likely to offend? Or is the law seriously saying white people don’t have feelings?
And that raises the third reason why Turnbull should act. The Federal Circuit Court will soon decide whether a section 18c case against three young students from Queensland University of Technology will go to trial. Three years ago, a few students were evicted from an indigenous computer lab by indigenous woman Cindy Prior for not having the right skin colour. In response, one student wrote on Facebook: “Just got kicked out of unsigned indigenous computer room. QUT stopping segregation with segregation.”
Prior lodged an 18c complaint against the boys because she says her feelings were hurt. Some might find Kenny’s criticisms of Leyonhjelm far more insulting than anything a few students wrote on social media. Yet Prior claims she has been so hurt by their words, even words directed at QUT not her, that she hasn’t been able to work for three years. Leyonhjelm’s section 18c complaint is a useful stunt. But a stunt nonetheless. Prior’s case isn’t a stunt. Hence it provides an even more cogent reason for reforming 18c. Whether it goes to trial or not, everyone is a loser in this case. First and foremost, the students for posting innocuous comments. These young men simply want to study and work and forge a career without being branded bigots. They don’t want to be cultural warriors fighting to defend their right to free speech. But that’s what they have been forced to do, engaging lawyers, spending time and energy on a case that makes no sense.
The second loser is Prior. A law that encourages a person to become a hapless victim by claiming her feelings have been hurt by a few words on Facebook is a law that infantilises that person. It encourages Prior to see herself as weak and vulnerable, incapable of dealing with the most trifling of words.
And the third loser is us. Laws that infantilise Prior also infantilise us by allowing feelings to trump reason. Laws that slap a bigot label on students for a few words posted on Facebook are laws that stand ready to label any of us bigots should we deviate from the stifling orthodoxy of political correctness. Laws that stifle free speech soon strangle debate and then progress is shackled too.
The brouhaha over a cartoon in The Australian by Bill Leak provides the fourth reason why 18c must be reformed. Leak’s cartoon about family dysfunction in indigenous communities should have raised intelligent questions about family dysfunction in indigenous communities. Instead of confronting the real issue, ABC radio’s Jon Faine immediately encouraged offended people to lodge a complaint under section 18c to establish that Leak’s cartoon is prohibited by law.
Curious about Faine’s attempt to stifle free speech, I contacted the Australian Human Rights Commission that same day for comment. What did the new Human Rights Commissioner, Edward Santow, have to say about this uproar that was now raising questions about free speech?
The commission’s media adviser advised me this was a race issue and accordingly the Race Commissioner would comment. Sure enough Race Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane said that “Aboriginal Australians who have been racially offended, insulted, humiliated or intimidated … can lodge a complaint under the Racial Discrimination Act”.
With calls even from the Race Commissioner for people to complain under section 18c, I suggested to the commission’s media adviser that it was also a free speech matter. I repeated my request for a comment from the Human Rights Commissioner, who is charged with responsibility for the human right to free speech. There was only silence on that front. The Commission decided it was a race issue. End of story.
When claiming money for hurt feelings under section 18c takes precedence at the Australian Human Rights Commission over defending the human right to free speech, it’s clear our culture is being corrupted by the very institution charged with protecting human rights.
The foyer of the commission’s offices in Sydney openly exhibits that corruption. A floor-to-ceiling glass wall adjacent to where visitors sit says: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing of themselves and their families.”
Do I really have a human right to demand a certain standard of living from the government? Who determines what that standard of living is? Me? You? Some make-work bureaucrat at the commission trying to justify a sky-high salary? What about my responsibility to create a standard of living for myself?
Speaking at the Sydney Opera House last week, PJ O’Rourke identified the core of this rights corruption. He pointed to the trumping of gimme-rights over get-outta-here rights. Gimme-rights are when you claim you have a human right to get something — like more than $240,000 for having your feelings hurt. The get-outta-here rights mean you have a right to get government out of your life — say a student who expects to be able to freely post a few pointed comments about QUT’s boneheaded segregation without being hauled before a court. Too many politicians are also consumed with gimme-rights. Promising people things under the banner of gimme-rights rather than defending get-outta-here rights gives politicians things to do. When was the last time a politician with real power promised to get out of our lives and deliver on that front?
The new Senate offers Turnbull additional heft to defend free speech. Re-elected senators Bob Day and Leyonhjelm are on board. So are new senators Derryn Hinch, Pauline Hanson and her three One Nation senators. Maybe a decent debate can entice Nick Xenophon and his senators to defend principles rather than pursue populism. Turnbull should make the case for what he called sensible reform of section 18c, not as a sop to conservatives, but because it is the right thing to do in a Western liberal democracy committed to free speech. So let’s ask again, if not now, when?
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Reply with quote #33
Originally Posted by
In perhaps the biggest political scandal since WikiLeaks, a group of hackers has dumped hundreds of files exposing the influence of socialist billionaire George Soros on Western politics.
The files show Soros has established a transnational network that pressures governments to adopt high immigration targets and porous border policies that could pose a challenge to legitimate state sovereignty. His Open Society Foundations target individuals who criticise Islamism and seek to influence the outcome of national elections by undermining Right-leaning politicians. The Australian arm of the Soros network is GetUp!. GetUp! was established by activists Jeremy Heimans and David Madden with funding from Soros. The Labor-affiliated Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union donated $1.1 million to the group. Bill Shorten and John Hewson are former board members. A major funder listed on its 2014-15 Australian Electoral Commission expenditure return is Avaaz, the US GetUp! affiliate that has received copious amounts of funding from Soros networks. Like most NGOs, GetUp! claims to be independent from political parties. Like many NGOs, however, it has close ties to the Left. As Sharri Markson revealed in this paper, GetUp! chairwoman Sarah Maddison urged people to vote for the Greens in the past federal election. In the wake of the election, GetUp!’s Paul Oosting revealed its campaign strategy was to target conservative MPs to reduce their influence. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton was a primary GetUp! target. In Tasmania, the organisation spent up to $500,000 to unseat Andrew Nikolic and forked out $140,000 on campaign advertising alone. GetUp! has engaged in an effective reframing of politics by rebranding conservatives as the hard Right while recasting the Left as moderate or progressive. Many sections of the media have uncritically adopted GetUp!’s rhetoric, which effectively divides the Coalition by aligning conservatives falsely with a range of hard-Right views that they abhor. Soros-affiliated organisations follow a well-worn political and rhetorical strategy updated for the digital age. Like the socialists and communists of old, they attack liberal democracy by delegitimising the classically liberal values of individualism, free speech, logical argument and public reason. They attack democratic states by advocating a porous border policy, reframing illegal immigrants as refugees and degrading critics of totalitarian tendencies such as Islamism in orchestrated campaigns of PC censorship. Documents uncovered by Soros leaks reveal a pattern of funding for programs that prosecute porous borders, mass immigration into the West nations from Islamist regions, and overt campaigns against dissenters. OSF has provided several million to the Centre for American Progress, whose programs include the explicit targeting of freethinkers critical of Islamism. A recent program grant described a strategy to target six critics of Islamism and the “right-wing media” in an “audit of Islamophobic activities”. OSF has extended its reach in the European Union through NGO and human rights networks. It sought to influence EU elections by thwarting the success of candidates it deemed xenophobic or racist. The term xenophobic is commonly applied by the Left to politicians who seek rational immigration with a focus on resettlement rather than the disastrous porous border policy championed by the EU’s Green-socialist bloc. The OSF also funded a range of media projects focused on changing how journalists report on politicians and policies cast as xenophobic, intolerant or far Right. Leaked documents reveal OSF’s endorsement of questionable tactics to achieve its aims. A document reviewed by news source Breitbart states: “Naming and shaming from us is problematic: we are also in the business of channelling money into other countries for political purposes.” It is neither uncommon nor illegal for philanthropists to fund political advocacy groups and lobby politicians. However, there is an ethical line between evidence-based advocacy by NGOs and disproportionate influence on the democratic process. Following the Soros leaks, concerns have been raised about the influence of groups claiming to be disinterested third parties and NGOs on core Western values such as free speech and government by the people. In one of the leaked documents, there appears to be a problematic connection between Soros funding and campaigning against politically incorrect media. OSF took credit for funding an advocacy campaign in which a group worked to “take away” news anchor Lou Dobbs’s platform on CNN. Dobbs resigned from CNN amid controversy over his critical views on immigration. I would criticise some of Dobbs’s statements but conform to the view that free speech is protected unless an individual or group incites violence or engages in terrorist or treasonous activities. Another leaked report suggests Soros and OSF played a direct role in Barack Obama’s decision to increase the US immigration target. Soros wrote to Obama to request the increase while OSF advocates organised a group to act. In its 2015 report, the OSF board stated it took “very active efforts … to provide a special allocation of an additional 100,000 refugee slots for Syrians … In the face of this pressure, the Obama administration announced … that by 2017 it would raise to 100,000 the total number of refugees the US takes worldwide each year.” While NGOs and human rights groups routinely demand greater governmental transparency and accountability, they are rarely required to live up to their own standards. A new global transparency group, Transparify, rated Soros’s foundations zero for transparency among 200 organisations. Ironically, Transparify receives funding from OSF. The belief the NGO sector has been hijacked by interests intent on challenging sovereignty to destabilise legitimate states is driving governments to introduce legislation to neutralise the perceived threat. A NGO transparency bill introduced by Israel was condemned by the EU, the UN, US Democrats and many human rights organisations. The law demands that NGOs whose primary support comes from foreign political entities publicly disclose the fact. Unsurprisingly, many of the NGOs exposed by the law were left-wing and human rights organisations that challenge Israel’s right to sovereign power by attacking its border security policy. Expect NGOs to continue attacking conservative MPs who champion liberal democracy by defending Australia’s sovereign border and national security policy. It is perhaps time to rewrite the NGO sector’s demand for government transparency and accountability as a mutual obligation.
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Reply with quote #34
Originally Posted by
The older you get, the more you realise life is completely unpredictable. Who could have anticipated Donald Trump as a presidential candidate, Pauline Hanson resurgent and Bill Shorten — almost — popular?
And who could have imagined that in 2016, Australia would be falling out of love with freedom of speech? A profound affection that goes back centuries is rapidly turning into a dangerous indifference, even contempt. This is something that goes way beyond particular debates about things like section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. Freedom of speech is less a specific right than the building block that grounds most of Western liberty. Without it, there is no freedom of opinion. There is no right to a political view. There is no freedom of religion. Rights to assemble or protest are meaningless if you must remain muzzled while exercising them. This understanding has been the bedrock of the post-Enlightenment Western approach to liberty of speech. No matter how repulsive you and your views may be, you can say — though not do — as you like. There is a fundamental value choice here. It holds there ultimately is more danger in the precedent set by silencing even the most uncongenial than in allowing them to speak publicly and to be refuted publicly as the rogues and nutters they are. Of course, there always have been exceptions. You cannot yell “Fire!” in a darkened cinema. You can defame someone but, if you do, you will pay. Progressively, though, through the years limitations on freedom of speech mercifully have become narrower and narrower. With one understandable proviso. The genocides of World War II made us deeply fearful of speech so hateful that it might incite similar results. This so-called “hate speech” we were prepared to criminalise, but only in very confined circumstances. The problem we now face is not so much that prohibition of hate speech is itself impermissible. It is the extraordinary willingness of some groups in the community infinitely to expand that concept. The danger is that hate speech no longer denotes speech that provokes hatred. To many, it now simply involves speech that I personally hate. What this means in practice is that many of us are prepared to tolerate only the expression of views that we ourselves hold. The time-honoured freedom of speech has become the right to agree. The consequence is that many now pay only lip service to freedom of speech. In reality, they are prepared to close down any discussion they regard as inappropriate or offensive. What is really frightening here is the emerging fault line between topics that may be freely discussed and those that may not be mentioned. The bottom line is that some forms of speech are freer than others. So arguments in support of climate change, same-sex marriage or defending Islam against imputations of cultural links with terrorism are just fine. The point here is not whether these arguments are right or wrong, but that they are permissible. Correspondingly, there is a whole series of other arguments — again right or wrong — that are off limits: any doubting of climate change; opposition to same-sex marriage; linking elements of Islam and jihad. There are clear patterns that emerge. Generally, arguments that are “progressive” are utterable. Those that are politically or socially conservative or, worst of all, Christian are in much more trouble. These tendencies are going to be particularly tricky in the plebiscite over same-sex marriage and the debate around it. The plebiscite itself is a reckless adventure in democratic pornography. For principled opponents of same-sex marriage who have nothing but respect for same-sex couples, there is a real danger that they and their views will become entangled with groups that genuinely hate people in such relationships. But there also are real dangers for supporters of same-sex marriage. If they refuse to accept the existence of a contrary view and try to deny its expression, we are in for an orgy of rancour. I had a grim lesson from a young friend on this point. Having determined we disagreed in principle on same-sex marriage, I observed that, naturally, she would concede the right of religious groups respectfully to put their view on marriage, during the plebiscite and even afterwards in the event that it was carried. She eyed me coolly and said: of course, provided those views were “appropriate”. That is the point of believing in freedom of speech. It protects the right to say things that others consider appropriate, and inappropriate.
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Reply with quote #35
Originally Posted by
Gerard Henderson It was an overwhelming leftist baying mob that rocked up at Docklands in Melbourne last Monday as audience members of ABC television’s live Q&A program. Presenter Tony Jones seemed powerless to moderate the public expressions of anger and loud feigned laughter directed at Communications Minister Mitch Fifield and, in particular, Spiked editor Brendan O’Neill. O’Neill grew up in London. His parents were Irish Catholic immigrants from Galway. O’Neill was once part of the small-C communist libertarian Left. He remains an uber defender of free speech and, as such, has become a public enemy of the mainstream Left that is particularly strong in educational institutions, sections of the public service and parts of the media. Hence the reaction to O’Neill from the Q&A audience. At least Fifield and O’Neill got a hearing last Monday because of their ability to direct their views to a TV audience. It is unlikely that either man would be able to give a public speech on a controversial topic (say, asylum-seekers or the primacy of free speech) on any Australian campus. In recent years, senior Coalition ministers Julie Bishop and Christopher Pyne have faced intolerant student protesters intent on silencing them. This despite the fact most tertiary institutions were built with, and remain subsidised by, taxpayers’ funds. In Western democracies before World War II it was the extreme Right that led on intolerance, most notably Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists in London. However, the 1960s and 70s saw the extreme Left step forward as the principal opponent of freedom of expression in Western democracies. In my column of March 14 last year, I referred to the teachings of left-wing French philosopher Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979), who advocated what he termed “repressive tolerance”. Marcuse was a prolific writer. However, his views on this issue are perhaps most concisely summarised in his essay Repressive Tolerance, which was published in 1968 in the collection titled A Critique of Pure Tolerance. Put simply, Marcuse proposed that the Left should enjoy free speech but not the Right. He rationalised his censorious approach by claiming to advocate “liberating tolerance”. According to Marcuse: “Liberating tolerance would mean intolerance against movements from the Right, and toleration of movements from the Left.” Few today would recall Marcuse. Yet it is the impact of the successful advocacy of repressive tolerance that influences contemporary Q&A audiences and campus protesters alike. Clearly the Q&A gathering on Monday regarded panellist Corinne Grant as their hero. She was introduced by Jones as a “comedian, writer, actor and law graduate”. Soon after Q&A ran the following tweet: “Corinne has a law degree, Brendan. Be quiet and listen.” It’s unlikely the tweeter would have made such a comment concerning Attorney-General George Brandis QC. Once upon a time, the role of a comedian was to make an audience laugh. But on Q&A Grant evoked loud feigned laughter to ridicule O’Neill’s support for free speech. The audience joined in the mock hilarity. Yet laughter in this context is not a substitute for argument — just another form of abuse. The paucity of Grant’s position was evident when O’Neill referred to the case of the Queensland University of Technology students who are facing action under section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. They complained that they were not able to use a computer in an empty room set aside for indigenous students. This case has been covered extensively by Hedley Thomas in The Australian. The Q&A exchange went as follows. O’Neill: “They (the QUT students) wrote something on Facebook. They did not hit anyone. They did not damage property. They said something. Do you think they should be fined $250,000 for saying something? Yes or no, right? It’s a really simple question.” Grant: “I mean, no it’s not.” So there. According to Grant it is possibly OK to fine a young student $250,000 for writing something on Facebook about not being able to access a computer. ABC journalist Uma Patel joined in this particular chorus, tweeting: “People have to pay money for saying things all the time (not just $250,000 for 18c) — Fairfax had to pay Joe Hockey $200,000 for a tweet.” Patel’s entry into the debate overlooked some important truths. The Federal Court found that Fairfax Media had acted with “malice” with respect to Joe Hockey when it referred to him as a “Treasurer for Sale” in a tweet that directed readers to a newspaper story. Second, Fairfax Media is a public company, not a person. Despite calls from some members of the Coalition, along with the likes of senator-elect Derryn Hinch, it is most unlikely that Malcolm Turnbull will take action to amend 18C and 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act. Even if the Prime Minister wanted to amend the legislation, he (like Tony Abbott) would not have the numbers in the Senate in view of the opposition to any change from Labor, the Greens and the Nick Xenophon Team. Also, there is support for the present legislation among some Liberal Party members and senators. Yet section 18C does pose a problem for free speech in Australia. The best known case with respect to the Racial Discrimination Act is Federal Court judge Mordy Bromberg’s decision in Eatock v Bolt. Certainly, Bromberg did point to some errors in two Andrew Bolt columns concerning what were termed “fair-skinned Aboriginal people”. What was disturbing in Bromberg’s judgment turned on his nine references to Bolt’s “tone” and two references to the need to “read between the lines” when analysing Bolt’s writings. Tone is purely a subjective judgment and nothing is written between the lines. In other words, the judge ruled against Bolt not merely for what he wrote but also for what he didn’t write. Both the Bolt decision and the still-unresolved QUT case are a challenge to freedom of speech in Australia. Section 18C is not akin to the shouting down of opponents but virtually all of those who are intolerant of different views happen to support 18C.
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Reply with quote #36
Originally Posted by
When our Prime Minister thinks same-sex marriage is more important than freedom of speech, you know our liberty is in mortal danger. This is not a comment on same-sex marriage. It’s an observation that Malcolm Turnbull would rather see the selective application of freedom than support equality and liberty for all by reforming section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act.
Turnbull acknowledges “the very worthy arguments” surrounding free speech but he dismisses it as unworthy of discussion because “it is not going to create an extra job, it is not going to … build an extra road”. Can something essential to our culture be thought so inconsequential that it means less than jobs and road building? Not so dismissive are 13 Coalition backbench and seven crossbench senators. They have demonstrated courage by signing a bill sponsored by Liberal senator Cory Bernardi to rewrite section 18c. But don’t expect the majority of senators, the media, academics or even business to back them. Even the Prime Minister concedes “barely a day goes by when I don’t celebrate that we are the most successful multicultural nation in the world”. Yet the Australian Human Rights Commission must justify its $30 million annual budget. So when white students complained on social media about being excluded from an officially sanctioned “indigenous only” computer room, they found, to their astonishment and emotional and financial distress, they were defending a $250,000 18c damages claim for the hurt feelings of an Aboriginal woman. Seeking to expose the act’s absurdity and the partisan culture of the AHRC, David Leyonhjelm has complained that Fairfax Media racially abused him. Fairfax reports: “A source familiar with the Human Rights Commission’s processes predicted the commission would dismiss the complaint, ruling white people can’t be offended.” If true, it illustrates that when equality takes precedence over freedom, we get neither, validating Liberal senator Robert Hill’s foreboding when Labor introduced 18c in 1995, that it “presents an unacceptable threat to civil liberties in Australia”. This descent into absolutism is now infecting science. When “controversial” academic Bjorn Lomborg was funded to establish the Australia Consensus Centre at the University of Western Australia, his contract was cancelled because his views on climate change ran counter to the orthodoxy. Obviously, research based on scientific method is no longer welcome. Little wonder that Richard Horton, editor of medical journal The Lancet, believes that, these days, “much of scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue”. Galileo would despair. Speak to 11-year-olds today about global warming, human population and Australia’s European settlement, and the response is remarkably consistent, so faithful has been the indoctrination. They know carbon dioxide is a pollutant, that people are destroying the planet and the British were invaders. But don’t ask about free markets or free speech. In their world, competition is discouraged lest feelings are hurt. As French philosopher Jean-Francois Revel warned, “Clearly a civilisation that feels guilty for everything it is and does, will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself.” Back in 1978, the famous Soviet exile Alexander Solzhenitsyn noted the most striking feature of the West was its loss of courage. “Such a decline in courage,” he said, “is particularly noticeable among the ruling groups and the intellectual elite. Many people living in the West are dissatisfied with their own society. They despise it … A number of such critics turn to socialism, which is a false and dangerous current.” Nearly 40 years on, we are living with the consequences of Solzhenitsyn’s first impressions and, despite his warnings based on painful personal experience, socialism is the dominant ideology. It is the absence of cultural belief, aided by the heavy hand of censorship, that assists Islamic extremists to establish support networks in Western societies. In his book The Suicide of Reason Lee Harris writes, “The evidence, unfortunately, is that the West is not even remotely interested in mounting a defence of its values in the face of Muslim fanaticism. Worse, there are signs the West is even prepared to sacrifice some of its core values in order to appease those who have always despised these values.” True. Well-meaning judges now accept “cultural difference” as a reason for leniency in sentencing. They tolerate disrespect in their courtrooms because of religious custom. And the ultimate irony, section 18c, for “social and historical” reasons, sanctions positive discrimination “to a particular group or minority”. Increasingly, Australians see all this as craven, cultural surrender. Meanwhile, Bill Shorten insists we’re guilty of “systemic racism” and the Prime Minister prevaricates. Both seem oblivious to the spontaneous mood change under way. Neither declares freedom as society’s cultural bedrock because their ideal is bigger, ever more authoritarian government. At the recent election almost 600,000 voters gave their first preferences to Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party. It is a warning to the ruling class, including the victim industry, that too many freedoms have been sacrificed on the altar of equality and “we know best”. Public tolerance is wearing thin. This is the real threat to social harmony, not reform of 18c.
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Reply with quote #37
Something odd is happening in our media when journalists are so publicly contemptuous of everyday Australians; those people who make up journalists’ audiences. It is hard to know where to start given how much rubbish was written during the past month about same-sex marriage (note to self, never use the words “marriage equality”), racism (Nic Natanui and Eddie Betts), ethnic essentialism (save the burkini) and reform of Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. For me the issue was crystallised by my friend Chris Kenny. “If Labor proposed a plebiscite, gallery and #theirABC would endorse a wonderfully democratic and inclusive way to enact social change,” Kenny tweeted on August 28. The response on Twitter was a hoot but the point was correct. It’s just politics. Right up until 2013, Labor in government under the then prime minister Julia Gillard was implacably opposed to same sex-marriage. Were Gillard’s comments in favour of traditional marriage “hate speech”? Surely not and surely what could be safely said by our first female PM and one time queen of the Victorian Left of the Labor Party can be said only three years later by any thinking Australian. Many in the media have lost their memories. But the amnesia suits their politics. More proof? As Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, now a passionate same-sex marriage advocate who thinks the “plebiscite plebs” should not be trusted to vote on the issue lest hate speech be unleashed nationally, once supported what? You guessed it: a plebiscite, and as recently as 2013. Why don’t passionate same-sex marriage advocates in the media ever point out the truth about Labor’s formal position on the issue? Politics. Shorten is sponsoring a private member’s bill because Labor’s formal national platform allows its MPs a free vote on the issue until 2020 and many on the Catholic Right of the party oppose changing marriage laws. Shorten could not remember his own “haters under a rock” words from before the election when he abused Anglican minister Ian Powell last week, claiming he was being verballed when Powell mentioned the comments after a Canberra parliamentary church service last Monday. Many reporters rushed out to defame Powell and deny Shorten had said only a few months earlier what he claimed he had not said. Robert Manne in 2001 wrote a wonderful book called The Culture of Forgetting: Helen Demidenko and the Holocaust. For senior media leaders in newsrooms around the country this culture of forgetting is accelerating with the 24-hour news cycle. Many journalists can’t remember what was said by national leaders a week ago. With more young journalists bursting forth with naive opinions in this era of media “curation” (rather than editing), a much older book springs to mind. The Cloud of Unknowing, a Christian mystical text from the 14th century, reminds me what a mystery some of the opinions sprouting forth this past month are. Like Kenny, I blame the ABC. In my view, the ABC has been slowly taken over from the inside, culturally at least, by Triple J. The anti-establishment ethos of the ABC’s home of alternative music eventually infiltrated television and radio. It is fascinating to see how well the Triple J crowd has done. From European correspondent Steve Cannane, to radio broadcaster Angela Catterns, science commentator Dr Karl, comedian Wil Anderson, radio duo Roy and HG, radio announcer Robbie Buck and many more. There are prominent exceptions such as Leigh Sales and Chris Uhlmann but even Q&A and occasional Lateline presenter Tony Jones, admittedly not a graduate of Triple J, affects a Triple J kind of radical chic. He once remarked about a propensity towards violent anti-Vietnam War street protesting and the turning over of police cars. Never mind he was a schoolboy in Year 9 at prestigious Sydney GPS boys school Newington College in 1971 when the war ended, as Gerard Henderson pointed out in Media Watch Dog in July 2011. Not to be denied his ABC radical chic, he told my colleague Caroline Overington at the time that, yes, he was too young to burn police cars during the war, but he had good memories of the riots during the visits of US President Lyndon B Johnson to Australia in 1966 and 1967 (there were absolutely none) and at the Star Hotel. Back to my music theme. As Cold Chisel famously chronicled, there was a riot at the Star Hotel in 1979 and police cars were overturned, but it was a riot about the closing of the pub and the end of free beer that night to celebrate. Zero about Vietnam. That does not play into ABC skinny-tie political chic but it does fit my theory about the inversion of cultural power. Many of the kids from Triple J grew into real talents on ABC TV and radio. Even when they annoy us we often enjoy their shows, and their values affect and increasingly reflect those of their audiences. This is not a conspiracy but a worldwide phenomenon as the generation of the 60s and 70s assumes cultural hegemony. The example is replicated across new media outside the public broadcaster. The Western world is facing a rise in identity politics, often driven by the values of the young who preach tolerance as the greatest virtue of all yet display intolerance of any dissent from assumed pieties. Journalists are not exempt. Yet the radical Left was once the spiritual and intellectual home of dissent worldwide, at least outside Russia, China, anywhere in the Muslim world (which still loves beheading dissidents) and right across the developing world. The Left now warns against violence and violent language but intimidates anyone not on the same values page. The children of the revolution have become very good at thought control, as Pink Floyd described it in Another Brick in the Wall. So why fear a free vote on same-sex marriage? Politics. Why pretend the burka is anything other than an instrument of oppression. This was the standard feminist position only a decade ago. Why defend the subjugation of French Muslim women as an exercise in those women’s rights to cultural identity? Politics. Can the ABC, Fairfax Media and other progressive outlets be serious about their defence of Section 18C? Back to my Triple J music theme. Pete Townshend got it right with The Who’s 1971 single Won’t Get Fooled Again: “Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.” Except the new cultural leaders turn out to be a pretty moralising, humourless bunch who actually oppose freedom of thought and expression. For political reasons mind you. Imagine such an overtly sexist white male record cover being released today. Who’s Next, the fifth studio album by The Who, depicted four men, having urinated on a concrete piling, doing up the flies on their tight denim jeans. Twitter, which seems oblivious to all the racist and sexist abuse that abounds in US rap, would go into meltdown. The Drum and The Guardian would have a moral middle-class field day.
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Reply with quote #38
The indigenous industry in Australia, as Andrew Bolt says, is creating new tribalism:
http://www.heraldsun.com.au/blogs/andrew-bolt/council-revolts-no-to-the-new-racism-of-the-acknowledgement/news-story/f8419d37463f1ed63e7189f44aca011e My view is that SJWs, BLM and the multicultural and indigenous industries, as Brendan O'Neill more or less implied in a recent column, aren't independent, grassroots movements but in fact militant cheerleaders for EU and UN globalism. And here's proof: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3793611/The-children-privilege-loathe-gave-advantage-truth-white-Black-Lives-Matter-protesters-closed-London-City-airport-ll-want-protest-against-THEM.html
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The Left's behaviour today is a form of neo-fascism according to Peter Baldwin:
Originally Posted by
What does it mean, these days, when someone says their politics are “left-wing” or “progressive”?
This has always been debatable, but in recent times these terms have taken on meanings that earlier generations of leftists would scarcely recognise. Ideas that used to be thought constitutive of left-wing thinking have been turned on their head.
To see what I am getting at, ponder the following thought experiment. Try to imagine how a moderate leftist in the social-democratic tradition (my own position) or a liberal in the American sense might react on awakening today from suspended animation after a half-century.
Say they had just listened to Martin Luther King’s great civil rights speech of 1963 in which he yearned for the day when his children would be judged by the content of their character, not the colour of their skin. Back then, King’s sentiments were seen around the world as the quintessence of liberal progressivism.
Suppose further that the cryogenic experiment were conducted on one of the campuses of the University of California, Los Angeles. Imagine that the subject of our experiment is a member of staff and, needing to be brought up to speed on university policies, is sent on a course on how to avoid “microaggressions”, words or phrases
that are deemed subtly racist. Such training recently was made mandatory at the behest of University of California president Janet Napolitano.
Our Rip Van Winkle would be amazed to learn that the dreaded microaggressions included statements such as “When I look at you, I don’t see colour”, or “There is only one race, the human race”. Such sentiments are not even to be uttered, let alone debated, in what would seem to our reawakened liberal like some Bizarro World alternative reality.
So what has happened? In a nutshell, there has been a comprehensive rejection by progressive academe of the intellectual inheritance from the Enlightenment, the “revolution of the mind” that transformed Europe and North America in the 17th and 18th centuries. The Enlightenment stressed argumentative rationality and the scientific method. It favoured open debate of contentious issues, including the ability to freely critique religious doctrines. It is a universalist vision in which people are seen as members of a common humanity, each possessing rationality and agency, and not just creatures of the particular cultural or religious milieu into which they are born.
Distinguished historian of the Enlightenment Jonathan Israel identifies a subcurrent that he termed the Radical Enlightenment that added a strong commitment to equality of people irrespective of race, gender or class to the intellectual freedoms demanded by the mainstream Enlightenment. Until recently, leftist intellectuals across the board happily would trace their lineage back to this movement. Even advocates of communist totalitarianism honoured Enlightenment principles by claiming that their “scientific socialism” provided the fullest realisation of Enlightenment ideals.
Today the “Enlightenment project”, as they now style it, is typically disparaged by intellectuals of a progressive bent. The ideal of human universality is discarded in favour of the politics of culture and identity; the value of reasoned debate questioned as argument is seen as just a mask for the exercise of power; the quest for objective truth is replaced by an emphasis on narratives and stories; and the right to strongly critique religion abrogated, albeit selectively.
In his book
The Seduction of Unreason, American political philosopher Richard Wolin gives a comprehensive intellectual genealogy of this development. He notes “one of the peculiarities of our times is that Counter-Enlightenment arguments, once the exclusive prerogative of the political Right, have attained a new lease on life among representatives of the cultural Left … As a prominent advocate of postmodern political theory contends, one need only outfit the Counter-Enlightenment standpoint with a new ‘articulation’ to make it serviceable for the ends of the postmodern Left”. Welcome to the leftist Counter-Enlightenment. In Britain and the US some critics have coined the term “regressive leftism” for this movement. There are two aspects to the regressive Left ideology. The substantive content of the ideology is identity politics, the view that people should be seen in their essence not as members of a common humanity but as bound to a particular identity group.
There is an article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy written by a sympathetic academic that expresses it thus: “… it is qua women, qua blacks, qua lesbians that groups demand recognition. The demand is not for inclusion within the fold of ‘universal humankind’ on the basis of shared human attributes; nor is it for respect ‘in spite of’ one’s differences. Rather, what is demanded is respect for oneself as different.”
Note that when members of a particular identity group demand respect for “oneself as different” they are not talking about respecting each person’s individuality and agency. On the contrary, they insist that people accept being defined by their identity and that they stick to the accepted script, the particular narrative of victimhood, that pertains to their group.
Members of each victim group are urged to claim ownership of — indeed, to be extremely proprietorial about — all aspects of their culture, including ephemera such as clothing and cuisine. We must all stick to our own cultural reservation. To violate this tenet is to commit the high crime of “cultural appropriation”.
American writer Lionel Shriver delivered a brilliant critique of this mentality and its deadening effect on fiction writing at the Brisbane Writers Festival last weekend, to the horror of organisers, who immediately disavowed her remarks.
And woe betide anyone who breaches this cardinal rule, as dissenters from within Islamic culture such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali have found. At best, they can expect condescension from bien pensant progressive intellectuals, some of whom denounced Hirsi Ali as an “Enlightenment fundamentalist”.
They will be pilloried in progressive media and will face attempts to bar them from speaking on campuses and elsewhere, as when Hirsi Ali was barred from speaking recently at Brandeis University in the US at the behest of a coalition of “progressive” student groups. Then there are the death threats from Islamist extremists intent on punishing the crime of apostasy. The Council of Ex-Muslims on Britain released a report this year detailing how extremist preachers have been given free rein to speak on British campuses while its own leader, Maryam Namazie, a leftist from an Iranian background, has been subjected to
sustained efforts — including death threats — to stop her speaking.
These activities consistently have been backed by campus student organisations including, incredibly, feminist and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups.
The de facto alliance that has developed between the Left and militant Islam, the most reactionary force in the world today, is the strangest and most disconcerting political development in my lifetime. If identity politics is the substantive part of this mutant ideology, the compliance and enforcement arm is the system of thought control we nowadays term political correctness.
According to the PC mindset, someone who openly or even privately challenges core tenets of identity politics is not just wrong but morally depraved. Such a person is not to be engaged with argumentatively, but must be vilified, censored and, where possible, pursued legally using instruments such as the iniquitous section 18C of our Racial Discrimination Act and equivalents in other countries.
Given their head, “progressive”
politicians will introduce even more restrictive laws. Former British Labour leader Ed Miliband pledged before the last British election to make Islamophobia, which he never bothered to define, an aggravated criminal offence.
Regressive Left activists often claim to be fighting against “fascism” or “the extreme Right”. Ironically, they are the ones who, time and again, resort to classic 1930s fascist tactics such as wrecking the meetings of their opponents and in some cases harassing or attacking attendees.
I experienced this last year while attending a meeting at the University of Sydney that was being addressed by a speaker known to be defensive of Israel, a position now verboten on campuses around the world.
The meeting was disrupted by a chanting mob led by a young woman with a megaphone, the leaders making clear afterwards that they were there not to challenge or debate but to silence.
Some local academics actually defended this behaviour on the ground there was “no inherent right to free speech” if it contravened the progressive world view. There are even calls at Ivy League colleges in the US for the right to “free speech” to be supplanted by the insistence on “socially just
speech”. Incredibly, the young woman leading the protest shouted her outrage that a speaker from the virulently anti-Semitic Hizb ut-Tahrir organisation had previously been blocked from speaking at the university.
This sort of coddling of extreme anti-Semitism, thinly masked as anti-Zionism, is one of the most revolting aspects of the regressive Left. American professor of queer theory Judith Butler, described as a “postmodern colossus” and a leading figure in the global boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel, has insisted that Hamas and Hezbollah be seen as part of the “global progressive Left”. Both these groups have expressed the aspiration to exterminate all Jews; in Hamas’s case it is in its founding charter. Butler received some criticism over this, but her stellar standing in the progressive academic pantheon was undiminished.
And it is not just academics. British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn spoke warmly of his “friends” in Hamas and Hezbollah.
So it is pretty clear what the regressive Left is against. But what is it for, exactly? Its members would answer that they are fighting for “social justice”. Actually, it would be more accurate to say they are for social justice activism. Earlier incarnations of leftist ideology all had some conception of the “good society” they were working for, even if sometimes a terribly flawed one as with the communists.
Go to the websites of radical Left groups bearing names such as Socialist Alternative and you will see that there is no alternative. They do not even attempt to posit one. They are essentially nihilists who stand for nothing. Activism is a goal in itself, not some desired societal end state.
The supreme recent exemplar of social justice activism is the Black Lives Matter movement in the US. This movement is spawning imitators around the world including Australia, according to a recent ABC report.
Academic practitioners of the field known as critical race theory sprang into action to lend theoretical support. The tenor of some of this stuff would have stunned our Rip Van Winkle. There is an article on the website of the Harvard Law faculty that calls for “race-based
mobilisations”, language that would not have been out of place in 30s Germany.
For the social justice activists, two kinds of questions are strictly off limits. First, narratives of victimhood must not be challenged, no matter how compelling the contrary evidence.
Hence, the shooting of a young black man in Ferguson, Missouri, was a straight-out case of murder, the victim shot with his hands raised. This version of events has been completely debunked since. But no matter, the critical race brigade sticks to this narrative in its “scholarly” articles, including one by a prominent academic at the Western Sydney University that referred to Ferguson matter-of-factly as a “racist murder” well after the facts were established.
This is not mere sloppiness. Reading this stuff, you quickly realise that for this kind of “scholarship” facts, evidence and the truth are strictly irrelevant.
Which brings me to the second type of unaskable question. Does the activism actually do any good? Has Black Lives Matter actually improved the lives of people trapped in impoverished inner-city ghettos? All the evidence indicates the contrary. Homicide rates in inner-urban areas have risen sharply since BLM started, reversing a decades-long declining trend. FBI director James Comey has linked this to the abandoning of proactive policing by cops fearful of vilification and prosecution.
Have the prospects for Palestinians to lead a decent life been enhanced by the international BDS campaign that urges them to stick to their rejectionist guns, thereby precluding a settlement with Israel and condemning future generations to repeated conflict?
Have young girls in Muslim communities benefited from the sentiments expressed by feminists such as Germaine Greer, who condemned efforts to outlaw female genital mutilation as “an attack on cultural identity”?
In Britain, hospitals are reporting an average 15 cases of this each day, yet there have been no successful prosecutions despite the practice being illegal since 1984. Where are the feminists on this and on forced marriages? Nowhere, it seems, with a handful of honourable exceptions.
It seems that for the regressive Left there is a hierarchy of correctness in which cultural respect is trumps.
The kind of moral catastrophe this can induce is shockingly displayed by events in the northern English town of Rotherham. Across 16 years, 1400 girls, most from dysfunctional white families, were subjected to sexual abuse of organised gangs of sexual predators of Pakistani Muslim background. As two subsequent official reports disclosed, all arms of government that should have protected the girls — the police, social services, schools, the Labour-controlled local council — were paralysed by a dread of being labelled racist or Islamophobic.
I think of regressive leftism as a mind virus, a paralytic disease that is severely inhibiting the ability of Western societies to properly debate some of the most important issues they face. It is suffused with civilisational self-loathing — severely condemnatory of “white” post-Enlightenment Western societies yet prepared to overlook or apologise for the most egregious defects in other kinds of society.
To see what can result from this paralysis, look at Europe as it grapples with the consequences of its leaders’ decision to effectively dissolve its external borders with North Africa and the Middle East.
Consider the enormity of the transformation Europe is undergoing and imagine how it will look in several decades if this continues. Yet Europe’s elites seem incapable of conducting an honest debate about the implications of this, since this would involve asking some tough questions about whether Islam, with its undoubted violent and supremacist aspects, is ultimately compatible with liberal societies. Some of Europe’s leaders actually seem to have become reconciled to the prospect of large parts of Europe becoming Islamised. After all, what could be worse than the existing civilisation that is nothing but a sorry litany of racism, colonialism and oppression? And the biggest losers from this will be the self-styled progressives. What prospect for gay rights under the new dispensation?
This fecklessness and intellectual paralysis would be far less serious if it were confined to the Left proper, but it is not, as exemplified by Angela Merkel’s extraordinarily naive actions in the past year. The impulse to censor and anathematise anyone who challenges the prevailing zeitgeist can be found in parties regarded as centrist or even right-wing. This has created space for the emergence of new political forces throughout the Western world including Australia, with a surge in support for Pauline Hanson at the recent elections.
I believe the time has come for a
fundamental rethinking of the lines of political division. At this his torical juncture decent leftists must drop the masochistic obsession with denigrating post-Enlightenment Western civilisation and join with liberals, conservatives and others in a concerted effort to defend it against the unprecedented threats it now faces.
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Originally Posted by
Perhaps it was the delirium of pneumonia that allowed Hillary Clinton to speak so freely, putting half of Donald Trump’s supporters in what she called the “basket of deplorables”. Like the in vino veritas that sets in after a few drinks, Clinton’s honesty was refreshing.
They are “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it”, said Clinton of the Deplorables. In one fell swoop the unplugged Democratic presidential candidate lifted the lid on the neo-fascist Left.
Clinton’s moment of ill-discipline reduced the fraud of so-called progressive politics to a simple illiberal equation: if you disagree with me on race matters, you are a racist. If you disagree with me over lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex politics, you are a homophobe. Disagree with my position on Islam, you are an Islamophobe. If you disagree with me on immigration, you are a xenophobe. Rather than engaging in debate, too many on the Left would rather portray disagreement on totemic issues as grounds for a mental disorder with the sole aim of shutting down any challenge to leftist orthodoxy.
The same politics of deriding deplorables is endemic in Australia, especially in the same-sex marriage debate. The Greens and LGBTI activists claim that allowing Australians to decide whether marriage should be redefined would fuel harmful hate speech from same-sex marriage opponents. Worse, the leaders of Australia’s alternative government succumbed to the lowest of low-rent politics. A plebiscite would lead to suicides, Bill Shorten said. Deputy leader Tanya Plibersek used a young boy named Eddie, the son of a same-sex couple, for political purposes. The aim is clear: shut down debate about same-sex marriage. Agree or shut up is the staple of neo-fascists. Never mind that we are debating an institution, not the sexuality of individuals.
Malcolm Turnbull exposed Labor’s thought police during question time last Wednesday. “Was Julia Gillard a homophobe when she opposed same-sex marriage? Was Penny Wong a homophobe when she opposed same-sex marriage? Of course not. The reality is, if people who opposed same-sex marriage then are not homophobes, then they are not homophobes now. The Labor Party has to stop preaching this hatred,” the Prime Minister said.
Alas, same-sex marriage activists chose hatred last Friday when they learnt that Christian groups planned to meet at the Mercure Sydney Airport hotel to prepare for the no campaign. The threats of violence, feral social media posts, including “are your children safe at Mercure” and nasty phone calls to staff showed the disdain for debate among same-sex marriage activists. Hotel management cancelled the event to protect staff. Did left-wingers in favour of same-sex marriage condemn the hate-filled campaign from their own side? No.
Whatever you may say about rigid Christian doctrinal teaching, the churches understand they operate in a liberal democracy where the marketplace of ideas will necessarily challenge their beliefs. Not so the gay-marriage zealots whose fanaticism seeks to suppress open debate and reason.
The critical question is why have so many on the Left taken this illiberal path? Whereas radical leftists in the 1960s were at the vanguard of libertarianism, challenging oppressive customs and canons, too many are now enforcers of their own stifling orthodoxies. The end of liberalism for many on the Left started more than 40 years ago when, by embracing identity politics, they untethered human rights from classical notions of freedom. Sex, sexuality, race and other forms of personal identification trumped Enlightenment freedoms and the very notion of universal, libertarian rights.
Soon enough, identity politics fuelled victimhood claims in a confected marketplace of outrage with feelings now the measurement of human rights. The right not to be offended, not to have one’s feelings hurt, marked the downward spiral of the liberal Left. Instead, a paternalistic Left set itself up as the arbiter of rights and freedoms based on repressive adherence to its feelings-based moral code rather than the universal rights of mankind.
There are few more defining moments in the Left’s long, illiberal demise than its response when Muslim fundamentalists slapped a fatwa on Salman Rushdie for writing
The Satanic Verses, demanding his death, burning his novel and marching in London to suppress words.
By choosing silence at this pivotal moment, left-wing elites sided with Muslim fundamentalists who understood that free speech threatened their grip on power.
Now it’s the same with the Western Left. They understand that free speech is the enemy of their illiberal, stifling orthodoxies. It explains why so many on the Left refuse to countenance any change to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, even while three students from the Queensland University of Technology are dragged through a three-year legal rigmarole of racial discrimination claims for posting innocuous comments on Facebook. The silence from most on the Left attests to the neo-fascist transformation of their politics. To speak up would expose the illiberal project that the Left has undertaken for four decades.
Those who call out the Left’s dangerous regression deserve kudos. British writer Nick Cohen marched against Margaret Thatcher and denounced New Labour’s embrace of corporate capitalism. Cohen tendered his resignation from the Left a year ago: “Slowly, too slowly, I am ashamed to say, I began to notice that left-wing politics had turned rancid.”
In Australia, Guy Rundle recently lamented the Left’s enthusiasm for the ever-encroaching state and how the aim of anti-discrimination laws “is to make the censor ‘go inside’, so that you ultimately second-guess your own impulse to challenge, to express, to be outrageous or genuinely on the edge”.
At the weekend, former minister in the Hawke and Keating governments Peter Baldwin traced the sad demise of the Left from a rational movement committed to equality of people, regardless of race, gender and class, to one of moral depravity where so-called progressive intellectuals denounce Ayaan Hirsi Ali as an “Enlightenment fundamentalist”. Hirsi Ali was born a Muslim, was subjected to female genital mutilation and escaped an arranged marriage. Shouldn’t we pay tribute to a woman who choses Western freedoms over Islamic restraints?
We need more people like Baldwin who are honest about the Left’s conversion into loathers of freedom. Half-hearted analyses don’t cut it. When former NSW Labor premier Bob Carr scolded members of the Left for intolerance
in the free speech debate, he refused to acknowledge that section 18C cements intolerance in our polity. It’s like saying you support democratic nations but not the sole beacon of democracy in the Middle East, Israel. It makes no sense.
Equally absurd, the Greens can walk out on Pauline Hanson but to denounce a duly elected senator as having no place in a democracy is more offensive than anything Hanson says. It is the antithesis of democracy. We’ve tiptoed around calling out the neo-fascist mindset of many on the Left for too long. What is more deplorably neo-fascist: the clumsy words of the often ill-informed Hanson who believes in free speech or the slippery sorts on the illiberal Left who cannot stomach open debate?
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Andrew Bolt addresses a Jewish organisation in Australia on free speech and the dangers of the Left to Australian Jews:
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Andrew Bolt about how victimhood and identity politics is turning lethal - and is being aided and abetted by mainstream media:
http://www.heraldsun.com.au/blogs/andrew-bolt/the-new-racism--black-on-white/news-story/10e096fb3b063e984f56f01889b6de7c It is not contrary to 60s idealism but a logical consequence of it.
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Originally Posted by
Freethinker Bill Leak is a victim of prejudice so entrenched in our legal and political system it is sparking anti-establishment revolt across the West. It is the conversion of the human rights movement into a bigot rights industry.
The principal victims of bigot rights are heterosexual men of Anglo-European descent whose advocacy of freedom, rationality and reason places them on the Right side of politics in the 21st century. The political repression of freethinkers by the bigot rights movement is calculated. PC bigotry is so comprehensive it engulfs the establishment whose members openly celebrate the structural oppression and public humiliation of those excluded from their state-sanctified system of privilege.
The Australian Human Rights Commission is handling a complaint over the Leak illustration that depicted a drunken man neglectful of his son. Some people have chosen to take offence because the inebriated figure was depicted as indigenous. So too, however, was the sober authority figure of the cartoon, the police officer reprimanding the drunken father. Whether intentional or not, Leak’s illustration revealed a well-documented empirical truth: that some men are alcoholics, some alcoholics neglect their children and some alcoholic men who neglect their children are indigenous.
In a rational world where politics were divested of ideology and politicians invested in truth, complaints about Leak’s cartoon would be dismissed. In the world of the bigot rights industry, however, feelings of offence have superseded empirical truth as the highest standard of Western jurisprudence.
The Racial Discrimination Act classifies acts that people feel offended about as unlawful if they choose to feel offended because of their race, colour, national or ethnic origin. Section 18C is anti-enlightenment revolution codified as law. It effects the erosion of truth, rationality and reason as the foundations of Western law by replacing them with ideology, feelings and a consequent culture of unreason.
Following the cartoon’s publication, Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane tweeted that people “shouldn’t endorse racial stereotypes of Aboriginal Australians — or, for that matter, of any other group”. Agreed. Nor should they endorse the censorship of truth to please the PC establishment. He wrote on Facebook: “If there are Aboriginal Australians who have been racially offended, insulted, humiliated or intimidated, they can consider lodging a complaint under the Racial Discrimination Act with the Commission”. A social media storm ensued in which PC bigots vilified Leak as racist.
The AHRC notified The Australian this month of its plans to investigate “allegations of racial hatred under the Racial Discrimination Act” regarding the cartoon. National chief correspondent Hedley Thomas has reported that documents provided by the commission indicate a single complaint alleging a woman has experienced racial hatred and discrimination as a result of the illustration. The AHRC has advised the newspaper that “sections 18C, 18D and 18E of the Racial Discrimination Act appear relevant to the complaint”.
The epicentre of the bigot rights movement is the UN’s human rights office. The founding mission of the UN was to seed global enlightenment by the establishment of universal human rights. It has been replaced by minority rights politics championed by socialists and Islamists.
Contemporary minority politics is the progeny of Herbert Marcuse. As I have demonstrated previously, Marcuse reversed the idea of equality by advocating a politics founded on the principle of “not equal, but more representation of the Left”. In short, the foundational principle of neo-Marxism — the ideology of the 21st century Left — is that inequality engineered to produce the silencing of conservatives is the constitution of equality.
The Marxist dictatorship of the proletariat has been replaced by the neo-Marxist dictatorship of manufactured minorities. It is unsurprising that the perversion of universal human rights by bigot rights activists has been codified in race discrimination and affirmative action laws. In the late 1970s, law schools became ground zero for the neo-Marxist revolution against formal equality and human rights. Critical legal theory emerged as the activist successor to black letter law.
Kimberle Crenshaw, a critical race theorist, recounts that critical legal theory was organised by “neo-Marxist intellectuals, former New Left activists, ex-counter-culturalists”. It emerged, in part, because “civil rights lawyers found themselves fighting and losing rearguard attacks … particularly with respect to affirmative action and legal requirements for the kinds of evidence required to prove illicit discrimination”.
Critical legal theorists attack objective inquiry, empirical truth and logical reasoning as the basis of Western law and evidentiary standards. They decry enlightenment thought and contend instead that subjectivity, feelings and emotions are a valid basis for legal judgment. Thanks to the radical bigotry of neo-Marxists and their determined hostility to reason, we are forced to brook the absurd proposition underlying PC gag law that feeling offended about something indicates an unlawful act has taken place.
Leak is entering a bastion of Left politics engineered to produce his silence. Far from correcting their agenda of inequality, bigot rights activists are pursuing it with increased irrationality and anger. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, recently demonised conservative politicians of eight countries for opposing his agenda. The UN has endorsed a new campaign to classify dissent from its open border policy as “xenophobia” and “intolerance”.
Just as Leak is vilified as racist for depicting truth, so will dissenters from UN ideology be branded xenophobic and intolerant to justify their public humiliation and censorship.
I don’t know what advice to give Leak because he is neither the problem nor the solution. Labor and the Greens will continue to defend 18C because it is their PC bigotry made manifest. So too the minority groups who receive unearned privileges via discrimination law and affirmative action, as well as protection under 18C from ideas that offend them. The governing Coalition should champion free speech and formal equality but it rejected Cory Bernardi’s recent call to amend 18C.
However, there is a growing grassroots movement to return the West to the path of enlightenment — a kind of counter-revolution to restore universal human rights and secure the sovereignty of free world states. Whether you like it or not, Bill, you’re an idea whose time has come.
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At a protest in Sydney’s Hyde Park in 2012, a 14-year-old boy carried a sign that said “Behead all those who insult the Prophet”.
That same boy is alleged by police to have been on the verge of a ghastly act of terrorism last Wednesday. Together with a 16-year-old boy, he was arrested last week outside an Islamic prayer centre in Bankstown, in Sydney’s southwest. Last week, too, we learned that a cartoon by The Australian’s Bill Leak is being investigated by the Human Rights Commission for breaching section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. These two seemingly unrelated events tell a story of how free speech has gone awry in Australia. Under section 20D of the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act, it is a crime to incite violence against others on the basis of race. Enacted in 1989, there has not been a single prosecution. Not when the spiritual leader of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Australia, Ismail al-Wahwah, called for “jihad against the Jews” and called Jews a “cancerous tumour” that had to be “uprooted” and destroyed. Or when his violent words were uploaded to YouTube, accessible to young boys such as those arrested last week. It has been obvious for years that section 20D needs to be reformed to ensure prosecutions of those who use words to incite violence. The arrest of the two boys last week was the 11th imminent attack that has been prevented in Australia. Four of them have been in NSW. While the Turnbull government is intent on passing the fifth tranche of federal anti-terrorism laws, the NSW Baird government has done nothing to address an entirely ineffective law that is meant to prohibit words that spur young boys to buy bayonets, pledge allegiance to Islamic State and kill infidels on the streets of Sydney. There should be no right to free expression of murder; giving a young boy a sign to behead infidels ought to be a crime. Reforming section 20D won’t stop the radicalisation of young boys but it is a start in getting the right balance on free speech and it goes to the most central role of government to keep its citizens safe. It is incomprehensible then that promises to reform section 20D by NSW Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton stand empty. The freedom scales will remain out of kilter so long as a NSW anti-discrimination law stands impotent against those who use words to incite violence, yet a federal anti-discrimination law swings into fast and furious action when someone decides to be insulted by a cartoon. After Leak published a cartoon that satirised family dysfunction in indigenous communities, Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane touted for business, requested complaints and prejudiced his ability to consider complaints impartially. Meanwhile the boss of the Australian Human Rights Commission Gillian Triggs, who could dismiss silly complaints, runs amok with a law premised on someone, somewhere, deciding that their feelings have been hurt by a picture or some words. There is something dreadfully wrong with the application of free speech laws in this nation when young students at Queensland University of Technology are dragged into a three-year legal quagmire arising from a few words on Facebook. After the students were evicted from an indigenous computer lab by indigenous woman Cindy Prior for not having the right skin colour, one wrote this on Facebook: “Just got kicked out of unsigned indigenous computer room. QUT stopping segregation with segregation.” Prior chose to be offended by words aimed not at her but directed at QUT, claims the trauma has rendered her unable to work for three years, and the legal system condones this anti-free speech farce. While words that incite violence go unchallenged, an edifice of opposition has built up in Western culture around words that merely offend. For thousands of years, Ovid’s narrative poem Metamorphoses has been studied as an epic tale of the creation of the world, drawing on tales from Greek mythology, exploring lust and love, violence and power. The poem inspired Chaucer, Shakespeare and more. Now, in the 21st century, university students demand trigger warnings when Ovid is taught to protect them from “offensive material that marginalises student identities in the classroom”. No-platforming campaigns at another university stop Germaine Greer speaking. Safe spaces are set aside for women who are offended when feminist Christina Hoff Sommers speaks on campus. Christians are stopped from meeting in a Sydney hotel by a group of same-sex marriage activists who have no understanding of free speech. And let’s not even get started on the lunacy of cultural appropriation claims. In Pakistan, a Christian woman and farm labourer from rural Punjab, Asia Bibi, has been on death row since 2010 awaiting an appeal against charges of blasphemy for insulting the Prophet Mohammed. Blasphemy laws and section 18C differ in two respects: the penalty is harsher and the subject of the insult is dead. But the aim, to censor speech that dares to insult or offend, is the same. The cowering silence of our political and community leaders as the freedom scales move more and more out of kilter is an affront to our most basic freedoms. Former prime minister Tony Abbott told The Australian this week that, compared with two years ago, it is now more obvious that section 18C is a weapon to stifle free speech. In fact, the freedom-killing character of section 18C was clear enough two years ago to those concerned about free speech. That’s why Abbott promised to reform it, only to renege at the first whiff of political grapeshot from Muslim and Jewish community leaders. Abbott’s broken promise about free speech was not befitting of a Liberal leader and neither is Malcolm Turnbull’s determination to hide behind his predecessor’s broken promise. Jewish community leaders need to rethink and revise their position, too. On August 10, the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies joined with more than 20 other community groups, including the Australian National Imams Council, to demand reform of the feeble incitement to violence laws in NSW. But the NSW Board of Deputies also has joined the Jewish Community Council of Victoria and the Australia/Israel Jewish Affairs Council in opposing any change to an oppressive law that protects hurt feelings. If they want to be taken seriously about the former, they need to find a more sensible position on the latter. Muslim leaders should reconsider their equally irrational position. Muslim migrants, like every other group of migrants, surely settle in Australia to live safe and secure lives and to enjoy Western freedoms. That ought to mean supporting change to an inadequate law that fails to keep us safe from violent incitement and equally supporting reform of a law that wrongly protects someone from being insulted. How many more 12-year-old boys will be radicalised by adults using words aimed to incite violence before NSW Premier Mike Baird shows some leadership and reforms 20D? And when will the Prime Minister prevent more young students and cartoonists being hauled over the legal coals under section 18C because someone, somewhere, has claimed their feelings have been hurt?
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One of the reasons I’m in favour of Hillary Clinton being decisively defeated next month is because a Democrat victory, bolstered by a five-four (or six-three, or seven-two) majority on the Supreme Court, will be disastrous for free speech in the United States.
President Barack Obama has just declared that the “wild wild west” of the internet has to be “rebuilt” to “flow” through “some sort of curating function” — because apparently the ever less subtle filtering of Big Social (the Twitter and Facebook monopolies, the Standard Oil of our time) are no longer enough. What’s next? As I had cause to remind the Democrats during my Senate testimony, too many prominent members of their party are already wholesale enthusiasts for the criminalisation of dissent — a position that renders politics both irrelevant and impossible. Think of the most repressive safe-spaced college campus in America: that’s where the whole country’s headed. In Britain, the Commonwealth and Europe, things are trending even worse. It was a sad day for me when Tony Abbott, the then Australian prime minister; George Brandis, the current Attorney-General; and Julie Bishop, the current Foreign Minister (all of whom had been enthusiastic attenders of my Aussie appearances, and one of whom is a big fan of my book on musicals, Broadway Babies Say Goodnight) abandoned their commitment to amend section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. To me, that disgusting “hate speech” ersatz-law is an utter embarrassment to a supposedly free society; to Abbott’s ministry, free speech was merely an “unnecessary complication”. Well, it’s certainly “complicating” Bill Leak’s life. The Australian’s cartoonist is the latest to be ensnared by section 18C, for the cartoon that appears on this page. As a previous target, Andrew Bolt, writes: “First two of my own articles were banned. Then seven Queensland students were sued by a staffer at their university for complaining that Aboriginal-only computers were racist. And now cartoonist Bill Leak is being attacked under this same wicked Racial Discrimination Act. When will the Turnbull government get the guts to at least try to scrap this wicked law?” Good luck with that. Among the more fatuous observations of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in recent months was this: “It (repealing section 18C) is not going to create an extra job, it is not going to ensure your listeners will get to work, or school, or get around their business any sooner, it’s not going to build an extra road.” The tinny sound of a hollow pseudo-technocrat unmoored from the core principles of liberty. One of the more depressing moments of my Australian tour a few months ago was a private dinner with a handful of prominent conservative parliamentarians — by which I mean men and women to the right of Turnbull. The most eminent among them declared confidently that scrapping 18C was “not a first-order priority”. We then moved on to discuss what he regarded as the first-order priority, Islamic terrorism in Australia and elsewhere. I pointed out that one of the reasons the former (free speech) most certainly is a first-order priority is because, without it, the latter (Islam and the west) cannot be honestly addressed. Theodore Dalrymple a decade ago: “Steyn is right that the main struggle is one of ideas. Unfortunately, political correctness, which is to thought what sentimentality is to compassion, means that the intelligentsia of the West has disarmed itself in advance of any possible struggle.” Political correctness enforced by state power has castrated public debate on the supposed “first-order priority” of our time — to the point where the Dutch courts prosecute opposition politicians over their election platforms, the French courts prosecute novelists over things their fictional characters said, the British police investigate Twitter jokes … and once free peoples have so internalised these constraints that, even without state intervention, a supposedly free press punishes even the most footling departure from conventional bromides with public humiliation and career derailment. Free speech is always a first-order priority — because, without it, you can’t truly discuss any of the others. Dalrymple’s diagnosis — that political correctness is to thought as “sentimentality is to compassion” — applies surely to Australian Aboriginal policy. Leak’s cartoon arose in the context of a specious ABC expose of ill-treatment of Aboriginal youths that panicked Turnbull in nothing flat into announcing a royal commission to look into it. Apparently, unlike free speech, this does “create an extra job” — at least for royal commissioners. Other than that, the story was a near perfect illustration of the shrivelled, cowed terms in which this issue is framed. Leak’s mistake as a cartoonist was to assume that Australia was still a free country in which one could widen those terms. But I hope The Australian won’t compound that mistake by vigorously defending the cartoon on its merits. When Maclean’s and I ran afoul of the equivalent Canadian law — Section 13 — over a book excerpt from America Alone, the most important decision we made was not to defend the content of the piece: the facts, the quotes, the statistics, the conclusions, etc. Our opponents were not disputing our position; they were disputing our right to have a position. Likewise, Leak’s opponents are not attempting to engage him in debate; they’re attempting to close down the debate. And there’s no point getting in a debate with someone whose only argument is “Shut up — or else.” In that sense, the Australian “human rights” regime and the Charlie Hebdo killers are merely different points on the same continuum: They’re both in the shut-up business, and they shut you up pour encourager les autres. They know that, for every cartoonist they silence, a thousand more will never peep up in the first place. So this isn’t a debate about Aboriginal policy or Islamic imperialism or anything else. It’s a debate about whether we’re free to debate. I take the view that the Australian state, like the Canadian state, should not be in the shut-up business. And, when they are, it’s they who are the issue, not you. When it’s a contest between a book or cartoon, on the one hand, and on the other a guy who says, “You can’t say that!”, it’s the latter who’s on trial. If you’re on the side that’s saying “Shut up!”, you’re on the wrong side. In fairness to my tormentors at Canada’s “human rights” commissions, they had the good grace for the most part at least to pretend to be sheepish about the totalitarian powers they wielded. By comparison, their opposite number Down Under, “race discrimination” commissar Tim Soutphommasane, is an aggressive, in-your-face activist. For example, at the height of the summer of terror (Orlando, Nice, etc), the co-presenter of Oz’s Dancing With the Stars suggested it might be prudent to restrict Muslim immigration. Commissar Soutphommasane pronounced: “This stereotyping of Muslims does nothing but breed hate, as @DavidCampbell73 says — let’s speak out against it”. To which I responded: “Let’s speak out against hack state apparatchiks singling out freeborn citizens for today’s 3min hate #AustraliasWitchfinderGeneral ”. Commissar Soutphommasane’s tweet is not the voice of — to be quaint about it — a civil servant, a public servant, a servant of the Crown. Whichever of those formulations you prefer, you’ll notice the word they all have in common. If commissar Soutphommasane wants to be a social-justice warrior, he should bugger off and do it on his own dime. He is not an activist; he is a bureaucrat who wields state power. And it is not a small thing when the government of Australia singles out private citizens for Orwellian hatefests. In the case of Leak, Australia’s Hatefinder-General sent out a general audition call for “victims”. As Tim Blair writes: “ ‘Our society shouldn’t endorse racial stereotyping of Aboriginal Australians or any other racial or ethnic group,’ the Race Discrimination Commissioner told Fairfax Media. “Fairfax’s report, which appeared online the same day Bill’s cartoon was published, noted Soutphommasane’s belief that ‘a significant number’ of people would agree the cartoon was a racial stereotype of Aboriginal Australians, and also included this line: “ ‘He urged anyone who was offended by it to lodge a complaint under the Racial Discrimination Act.’ “This is extraordinary. The Human Rights Commission is now preparing to sit in judgment in a case clearly already decided by one of the HRC’s most senior officials. As Homer Simpson once asked: ‘Who made you Judge Judy and executioner?’ ” Yet commissar Soutphommasane does it all the time, dispensing from his cosy sinecure drive-by justice to whoever catches his eye. When I was in Australia a few months ago, his target was a young lady called Alice Kunek, a basketball player, who went to a fancy-dress party as Kanye West. Because she’s a big fan of Kanye West, not because she’s hoping to quit the basketball business for a touring minstrel show. Here’s what I had to say when I joined Tarsh, Joe, Carlotta, Jess and Denise on the sofa of Channel Ten’s Studio Ten: “I’m basically a believer in absolute freedom of speech because I think the alternative is worse. “This fuss about the basketball player that we’ve had in the last few days, essentially for going to a fancy-dress party: You’ve got a government official — whatever it is, the federal race commissioner — advising Australians on what’s appropriate to go to a fancy-dress party in. “I think that’s very disturbing for 25-year-old people to be told by the government of Australia that they’re mediating your fancy-dress costumes. So I think the solution is actually worse than the problem.” I was pleased to see that sitting next to me on the sofa Carlotta, the Queen of Kings Cross, whose costumes have been fancier than most over the years, was nodding vigorously during the above. How did it become normal for the government of Australia to have a position on what you wear to a fancy-dress party? And isn’t the idea of this bureaucrat Soutphommasane hectoring a young lady with the full power of the state behind him way creepier than whatever her offence is supposed to be? How did “human rights” become a synonym for arbitrary state power over costume parties? The likes of commissar Soutphommasane are not interested in a debate with you; they’re interested in eliminating you from the debate, banishing you from public discourse, and shrivelling that discourse to the ever tighter bounds of a state ideology. I hope Leak and The Australian fight this outrageous system not through narrow lawyerly arguments but out in the open — shining a bright cleansing sunlight on an ugly regime that cannot withstand exposure to the light of day. A final quote from The Economist, during my own difficulties with this malign travesty of “human rights”: “Much of Canada’s press and many broadcasters are already noted for politically correct blandness. Some fear that the case can only make that worse. Mr Steyn and others hope it will prompt a narrower brief for the commissions, or even their abolition. As he put it in his blog, ‘I don’t want to get off the hook. I want to take the hook and stick it up the collective butt of these thought police.’ ” Canada’s Section 13 was eventually repealed. If I can get my hook past Australian Customs, I would be honoured to assist Leak in performing the same service for Australia.