Passing Bull 104 – Australian values


The hypocrisy and intolerance in our public life is getting worse.  A week after telling us that migrants should share Australian values, government ministers are doing hand-stands because someone said something of questionable taste that offended part of our secular faith.  Nor are our leaders in the slightest put out that those complaining the loudest about this allegedly offensive behaviour are also the ones that cry the loudest when the law is invoked against offensive words.  You can apparently be as offensive as you like – until you offend a true blue Aussie.  Why don’t we go for the full Monty and set up a House of UnAustralian Affairs Committee?  I can think of a number of thick thugs who would be ripe to emulate the U S model.

Well, here is my go at some real Australian values where we could well be world leaders.

  1. Holding without trial a person fleeing from persecution in a nation ruined by a war that your nation entered under false pretences.
  2. Imprisoning young aboriginal offenders for stealing bread, under laws of mandatory sentencing passed to deal with aboriginals by legislators who do not know as much as the judges and who do not trust them, while their rich mates crookedly deprive people of millions of dollars and routinely go uncharged.
  3. Refusing to change taxation laws in an effort to enable young people who are not so well off to buy their first home – not just an Australian value but what we used to call ‘the Australian dream’ – for fear that such a law might be against the interests of those who are well off, in particular those members of parliament who invest in land and use the tax laws for that purpose – what used to be called ‘the ruling class’ or ‘the landed gentry’.
  4. Supporting bodies that claim to be in sport but which are in truth trading corporations in the entertainment industry that at least in part live off the earnings of gambling, another form of business that has brought hardship and misery to countless Australians, commonly those who are not so well off or who are not so good at looking after themselves.
  5. Having legislatures refuse to limit the gambling business that does so much harm to their voters, because their governments are now hooked on the easy money coming in as revenue derived in large part from human misery.
  6. Refusing, for reasons of pure self-interest, to make laws to contain the spread of this evil, and to ban advertising of products that bring as much misery as cigarettes.
  7. Refusing to investigate or prosecute people who in public offend aboriginal footballers on the basis of their race on the ground that such action would impede the freedom of speech of the abuser, or on the ground that a single instance of abuse does not constitute harassment – or professing inane political theories that leave them open to this silly suggestion.
  8. Maintaining a system of government that blatantly prefers one religion to all others by requiring its head of state to be in communion with one sect of one religion – by the law of a foreign nation that we hapless and timid Australians have no power to alter.
  9. Forbidding members of a government from voting in parliament on an issue of social equality apparently favoured by a clear majority – on the reasoning like that of a spoiled brat who is a bad sport and who just picks up his bat and ball to spite the winner.
  10. Acquiescing in a body of laws on taxation that are at best incomprehensible, but which offer the wealthy more avenues of evasion than poor people.
  11. Coming too late to the conclusion that allowing a bank manager to be paid one hundred times what a bank teller gets paid is as bad for the rest of Australia as is their practice of encouraging their managers to boost their incomes by engaging in bad and illegal banking practises that hurt those who are less able to look after themselves.
  12. Refusing to sanction a decent inquiry into these evils because it might be bad for business! (This is the bell ringer of all  bell ringers.)
  13. Failing to see that it is blindingly obvious that the widening gap in incomes and housing wealth is undermining the fabric of the nation in the same manner that has produced such ghastly political disruption elsewhere.
  14. Having politicians who generally behave in such an appalling fashion that at any given election, a majority of voters will be clearly against the party that has the misfortune to be elected to govern.
  15. Habitually going off to wars and losing them as a payment of protection money to Uncle Sam, and not only refusing to acknowledge that fact, but positively lying and denying it.
  16. Allowing blockheads – seismically stupid people – to favour a warped ideology of fanatics against the evidence of science to endanger our hold on the planet and to rob our children of their heritage.
  17. Having a political system that is so decrepit that a rational literate liberal leader is soon reduced to a crass scared vote-chasing follower.
  18. Living in philistine cities of the plain where more people will go to watch a single match of football, in a code that has not been and never will be exported beyond our sunlit plains extended, than go to see all the operas and plays put on in those cities over the whole year.
  19. Being in a nation that likes to see itself as ‘sporting,’ and having a major sporting body aligned with one of the most corrupt entities on the planet, whose head has a tenure exceeding that of most African dictators, whose income has blue sky (more than $200,000) between it and that of the Chief Justice of the High Court, and who when challenged descends to the gutter in a manner that should have got him sacked on the spot.
  20. After more than two centuries of white settlement, not having found the means to stop such jerks worming their way into positions of trust and reducing the rest of us to illness or tears.
  21. Having politicians who are so low and unprincipled that they will go out and spruik bullshit about Australian values in an effort to get a transitory lift in the polls, and who either do not see or do not care that we see them for what they are.

You do wonder how our values might be different to those of the English, French, Americans, Chinese, Kenyans, Chileans, Indonesians, or North Koreans, or what school of diplomacy you should attend before pointing out their deficiencies to their face.

But, on reflection, I think there may be one real Australian value – anyone who uses that term with a straight face is a no good bullshit-artist and, worse, probably a politician to boot.

Confucius says:

I am not so impertinent as to practise flattery.  It is just that I so detest inflexibility.

Analects 14.32.

The Nationalists

An occasional series on the new nationalists – dingoes and drongos like Trump, Farage, and Bernardi – and other Oz twerps.


Nationalism on a rampage

It’s been a swell week for nationalists; utterly bonzer.  Mrs May has suddenly felt the need to consult the people again.  Mr Turnbull has done a Trump and discovered Australian values and Australia first.  The world holds its breath hoping that France will do to Le Pen what Holland did to Gilders.  The only downside for the nationalists was that the Trump armada suffered the same fate as the Spanish armada – it just went badly off course – and Mr Sean Spicer has turned the West Wing of the White House into a studio for the Marx Brothers.

If Mrs May has achieved something in calling the election, she has shown that she can’t be trusted.  She is just another politician who is just as malleable as the rest of them.  She was put in a difficult position by a popular vote obtained by fraud, but she had steadfastly denied that she needed to go to the people to get a vote for herself.  Now she has changed her mind for patently political reasons.  The so-called opposition has blown itself up.

But three things come out of this rude reversal of course.

The first is that Mrs May and those behind her now concede that there may be circumstances in the divorce process that warrant taking the opinion of the people again.  That might hardly seem to be surprising in an exercise that is said to be about that curious thing called sovereignty, but it is important.  Why shouldn’t the final decision be subject to a final vote – when the full implications of the lies of the leaders of the winners have been revealed?

The second thing is that Mrs May looks determined to have history repeat itself in the worst possible way.  The referendum was disarmingly simple, but it was disastrous in providing no guidance about how to go about the divorce.  What’s more important – free trade or closed immigration?  Mrs May wants to repeat the process and get a blank cheque.  ‘Mother knows best.  Trust me with uncounted money – I’m a politician.  I will get you the best available result.’  What would be wrong with candidates from any of the parties campaigning on the basis that they will if elected support a bill to require Parliamentary approval of any deal?  How do those who support the sovereignty of the people object to this manner of its revelation?

The third point is that as matters stand, Europe looks to be in a decidedly better negotiating position.  The English representatives will have what used to be called plenipotentiary powers.  The European negotiators need the approval of 28 governments.  Ask the Canadians what that means.  ‘I personally think that your position is entirely reasonable, Madam, but I am afraid that the Moravians and the Bohemians just won’t stand for it.  They are, frankly, determinedly odd way out there and so far east of Calais’.

Mr Trump suffered another loss, apart from that of his armada.  His friend and ally, Bill O’Reilly, was forced out of state owned TV, Fox News.  This devout Christian, who met the Pope the other day, had been preying on women.  Trump will never understand how he demeaned his office by giving character evidence for such a creep.  O’Reilly said that the allegations were utterly groundless.  If that’s so, the directors of Fox have become accessories to blackmail by handing over $13,000,000 for nothing.  That is one hell of a lot of hush money – but it shows how sick we are, that it is $5,000,000 short of what this jerk got for a year’s pay.  This is not about O’Reilly and sex, or Murdoch and morality.  It is about the abuse of power, and it is about the actions of decent companies like BMW and Mercedes standing up for their women employees and talking to Rupert Murdoch in the one language that he understands – dollars.

Fox News is a corrupt body.  It has now lost its head and its figurehead for the same offences.  Each for his sins was sent off with tens of millions of dollars, when each deserved to be a guest of Uncle Sam to allow him to cool off and to warn off other vicious predators.

Still, this does look like a net win for all of us.  It’s unlikely that this fall will trouble Trump supporters, but you never know – some at least must now be counting up the breaches of promise, while Trump is about to unveil tax reductions for the filthy rich – while continuing to renege on his promise to hand over his tax returns.

Meanwhile, a lot of Australians have been left feeling like they should wash their hands by the embrace by their Prime Minister of Australian values.  It’s at about the time of Anzac Day each year that we get subjected to bullshit about Australian mateship – as if the Turks did not have any friends.  When will our government release a manifesto of our values toward refugees and corporate tax and, indeed, tax avoidance?  Victoria has a statute that says: ‘A person must not by a deliberate act or omission evade or attempt to evade tax.’  If you get caught breaking this law – and there is no definition of ‘evade’ – you can get two years in the slammer.  Is that an Australian value or just a Victorian aspiration?  Can you imagine what might happen if some idiot sought to enforce that law?

Most of business is now horrified – yet again – about what its so-called government is doing.  On any big issue they have developed the knack of going straight to the edge of the wrong answer.  You know that we are in deep trouble when a party that calls itself the Liberal Party shops business for its grubby mates like Bernardi and Hanson and Abbott.

Let me tell you how bad the trouble is.  About one third of Australians don’t trust and won’t vote for the Liberal Party or for the Labor Party.  The balance floats at about 50-50 for the other two.  That means that a clear majority of Australians will not have voted for and will not trust either the Liberal Party or the Labor Party if it wins office at the next election.  The reasons are obvious, but not many appear to accept that the system is broken – and that our model of democracy is about as useful as a T model Ford.  The smile of the Prime Minister just keeps getting more watery with every flip or flop.  And am I the only one who thinks that Mr Shorten looks more revoltingly insincere every time that he opens his mouth – like a wind-up doll under a hard hat and with a luminous jacket?  I wonder if he ever had a job that required him to get his hands dirty – literally?

Still, Andrew Bolt was thrilled to bits.  He thinks that Mr Turnbull has vindicated the nationalism of himself and his unattractive mate and ally, the Sniper.  I wonder if Mr Bolt, in the privacy of his bedroom and before a full-length mirror, celebrates these little wins with the silly walk of John Cleese?  And I wonder, too, what is the preferred second language of Mr Peter Dutton?  When people start speaking of that train wreck as a possible leader, we experience the full horror of Mr Kurtz at the heart of darkness.

Passing Bull 103 – Bull about poverty

In doing a course on line from Cambridge about Queen Elizabeth I, I had occasion to look at Elizabethan poor laws.  This led me to put on the following note.

‘This woman (Queen Elizabeth I) for me stands for leadership and tolerance.  The first is in very short supply, and the second was brutally attacked in various parts of the world (including mine) last year.  The other thing that struck me again was how much more rigorous was the education provided back then to those who would prefer to watch Shakespeare than to read Phantom comics or watch Days of Our Lives.  (That last comment really shows me as an old fogey.)

But I am now engaged in reading Dickens’ novels for the second time.  I have just finished Bleak House again, and I recalled that poor Jo appeared to die from poverty.  The poor were always before Dickens.  What about in the time of Queen Elizabeth I?

I recalled my amazement about thirty years ago when I was hearing tax cases, and I had to hear my first case about whether a body was a charity.

Where do I find the law on that?

If the tribunal pleases, you look to find the spirit and intendment of the preamble to a statute of Queen Elizabeth I.

The First Elizabeth?  Are you serious?

Counsel was – the act is 43 Eliz. c 1 (1601).  The act’s preamble contained a list of purposes or activities that the parliament believed were beneficial to society, and for which the nation wanted to encourage private contributions. That list then formed the foundation of the modern definition of charitable purposes, which was developed through case law.   The ‘relief of the aged, impotent, and poor’ stand high in the list in the preamble.  Poor Jo would have been a proper object of bounty.

I recalled this old law – which still very much underpins the relevant law where I live – when I was looking at what Lloyd George said in introducing the People’s Budget.

These problems of the sick, the infirm, of the men who cannot find a means of earning a livelihood, are problems with which it is the business of the state to deal. 

Was he quite mad?  Was he really saying that ‘it is the business of the state’ to deal with the sick and the unemployed?  Had this little Welsh son of a cobbler forgotten what happened to the first man who said that the meek shall inherit the earth?

Well, Churchill and Lloyd George got the budget through, but only after persuading a reluctant king to threaten to create enough peers to force it through.  The aristocracy thought that this move was revolutionary – and it may have looked like pure heresy across the Atlantic – but once again, the British aristocracy pulled back and avoided revolution – and kept itself alive.

But now I think it was not revolutionary to say that it was ‘the business of the state’ to deal with the poor.  In my view, the English had come to that position more than three centuries ago.  In the Oxford History of England (J B Black, The Reign of Elizabeth, 1558-1603, 2nd Ed., OUP, 1959, 265), I find this:

The official attitude to the whole fraternity of vagabonds had always been, and still was, one of fear driven ferocity: they were the true ‘caterpillars of the commonwealth’ who ‘lick the sweat from labourers’ brows.  But the impotent poor, the poor by casualty, who were poor ‘in very deed’, were acknowledged to be a charge on public benevolence.’  The vital question was what form this public maintenance should take.  Slowly and painfully the state was being driven by the colossal dimensions of the problem to the conviction that responsibility in the matter could not be left to the conscience of the individual, but must be enforced by law on everyone.

The author points to a prior act of 1563 acknowledging the need for a compulsory levy for the maintenance of ‘impotent, aged, and needy persons.’

Now, these Elizabethan conceptions and laws do not look small to me now.  We still have debates about vagabonds – often called ‘dole bludgers’ here – but it does look like some nations may now regret not having done enough for their ‘poor by casualty’ who, at least in the eyes of some, have recently succumbed to snake oil salesmen and false gods.  The various categories of vagabonds of Elizabeth – or Dickens – still look familiar.  They could be the leading lights of a major Australian political party.  (You can raffle that one.)

But whatever else the Puritans took with them on the Mayflower, it was not the idea that the poor were acknowledged to be a charge on public benevolence.  The Puritans were long on the individual and covenant, rather than on status, and they never let spirituality stand between them and Mammon.  Never.  The attitudes to the business that the state has with the sick and poor are very, very different in the U S compared to England, Europe or my country.

And the English and European response is not driven by Christian charity, but by a political view of the integrity of the community.  Charity has been secularised – that is, made the business of the state.  These laws were made in the light of hard experience, as is the English wont, and they cannot be upheld or cast down by the pronouncing of some theory or nostrum or label.  And if you want to know one thing about Oz politics, it is that the simplest form of suicide here is for a politician to even hint at reducing health benefits or pensions, the ‘entitlements’ derided by those who won’t ever need them.  Australians follow the English in distrusting theory and rejecting ideology.  The question is simpler.  What kind of community do you want to live in – one that stops to pick up those who have tripped up, or one that doesn’t?

So, a common historical stock can produce very different fruit.  Perhaps it’s just as well, and inoculates us from boredom with changelessness.  How you see it depends on where you stand.  I am hopelessly prejudiced.  I was born here and raised here.  Last year I was diagnosed with an illness that is frequently terminal.  After many rounds of tests, examinations, diagnoses and treatments from some of the best doctors, surgeons and technicians with the best facilities in the world, the issue is well under control and not life threatening.  I have not seen anything like a bill – except for drugs – and I now suspect that that protection against becoming ‘poor by casualty’ goes back not just to the Welfare State, or to the People’s Budget, but to the poor laws and laws of charity and the good sense of the parliaments of Queen Elizabeth I.

I’m sorry this got so long, but you may sense some bêtes noires being aired.’

The tutor, Dr Andrew Lacey, reminded me that the Puritans thought that poverty was a sign of disfavour in the eye of God – how un-Christ like does that sound? – and that therefore the poor could therefor look after themselves.  He also reminded me that the poor laws went backwards in Victorian England.  Poor people were given no favours.  They were more likely to be punished.  That is why Dickens wrote so much about them, and why Lloyd George and Churchill were involved in a secular revolution.  The governance of England was much more civilised about the poor in 1570 than it was in 1870.

The question is what kind of community do you want?  And labels and ideologies – ‘nanny state’ or ‘socialism’ – are just so much bullshit.  So is the old Left/Right distinction, or IPA nonsense about ‘soaking the rich.’  If you swallow that nonsense, does it follow that the poor must suffer to save the rich?  And what kind of person allows ideology to kill kindness?

Judging by the homeless on our streets, our kindness level here is currently pitched somewhere between that of England at one time or other between 1570 and 1870.

Volume 2 of Passing Bull – Items 51 – 100 – is now available on Amazon Kindle.

Confucius says

The small man, being ignorant of the decree of heaven, does not stand in awe of it.  He treats great men with insolence and the words of the sages with derision.

Analects, 16.8.

The Nationalists

An occasional series on the new nationalists – dingoes and drongos like Trump, Farage, and Bernardi – and other Oz twerps.


The war games of a TV watcher

We already knew two things.  The Middle East is far too complicated for poor Donald Trump – it is way above his pay level.  But TV propaganda can be very effective on people with susceptible minds.  Nothing in a ghastly civil war that has been going on for six years had changed, but a few minutes of footage on state owned television (Fox News) was enough to change the mind of the President of the United States – diametrically, and on many fronts.  So like a bored spoiled child on a dull Boxing Day, he opened one of his more expensive presents and spat his dummy.  And he killed a few more Muslims in Syria.  After three times invoking the God of the Christians.  (The notion that Trump might believe in God is just silly – and an affront to God.)  This was a war game made by television and for television.  The hero of the people, the Strong Man, would show the whole world how he deals with red lines.  (And, yep, poor old Greg Sheridan bought that bullshit, too.)  And Trump is now defending his decision by murdering the English language on Twitter.  The Syrians keep burying their dead while the President of the United States takes his finger off the trigger and plays golf at that temple of vulgarity, Mar a Lago.  And having killed more Syrians in the name of humanity, the President gets ready in the name of Trump to seek to uphold his ban on any refugees from Syria getting anywhere near the Statue of Liberty.

Now, some photos of war crimes in Vietnam – especially one involving a child – helped to shift public opinion about that cruel war over time – but that is very different to causing a President to reverse major policies and attack a former ally within about forty-eight hours.  To repeat, the war has been on for about six years; to the agonies of wars about religion, the U S and Russia have now decided to use the theatre for their own proxy wars; about 400, 000 have been killed; only a tiny fraction of those deaths were caused by chemical weapons.  The U S, as has been its sad wont, has been propping up a brutal dictator – until the other day, when it turned on him and bombed him.  The U S and Russia have both decided that the sufferings of the Syrian people could be alleviated by deploying the world’s two biggest air forces to drop even more bombs on them.

The questions arising from the brash hubris of this attack, so entirely characteristic of its manic author, include the following.

Under what municipal law of the U S was this act of war undertaken?  As is so often the case, when Trump takes a position, we can find him saying exactly the opposite.  He had said that the U S should not even be in Syria; that Assad had to stay; and that only Congress could authorise a war – all three were hit clean out of Trump’s ground by some brooding clips on Fox News.  I gather that the answer of Congress is that he might be allowed this one strike, but for any more he will have to consult them.

Under what international law were these killings undertaken?  If France offends Germany, can it just take out the Eiffel Tower in response?  If the answer is no, what is the difference?

Finally on lawfulness, were the intelligence agencies – which two months ago Trump regarded as less reliable than Vladimir Putin – as ‘slam dunk’ confident about chemical weapons in Syria as they were about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?

We should, though, remember that it’s in poor taste to ask legal questions about this administration – it’s yet to get one right.

Now for some matters of substance.

If you want to intervene in a civil war that your main enemy is also in, is it a good idea to have your army and airforce attacking one side and your navy attacking the other?  How can you hurt Assad without helping I S?  How can you attack I S without helping Assad?  Does this not tell the world that once again the U S does not know what it is doing in the Middle East?

If the war crimes of Assad are such that the U S is entitled to make war on him in the name of both God and humanity, how could the U S ever agree to leave that person in power over these poor people after having intervened in their war?  If the answer is that they could not, does this mean that they now support regime change – with all of its fearful history in the Middle East and North Africa – and that they now accept some responsibility for the resolution of the Syrian civil war?  If so, how do they avoid head-on conflict with Russia, and do they accept that they will have to be involved in Syria for a longer period than they were in Iraq, and for longer than they or the Russians were involved in Afghanistan?

If the first object of the U S is to combat terrorism, do they agree that botched attempts at regime change and the sight of Christians killing Muslims have been two of the main causes of our current scourge?

Those I think were some of the reasons why President Obama did not intervene in Syria – plus the fact that he was elected on that very basis, and that the American people had no interest in going into another war in a faraway land.  And that they couldn’t afford more of such wars.  Mr Obama understood the simple truth that being a little engaged in a war is as simple as being a little bit pregnant.

We can only hope that other nationalists like Farage and Hanson just stay out of this.  Their poisonous loathing of Muslims is part of the problem.  The hypocrisy of Trump about Muslim or Syrian refugees is beyond words.  And Mrs May has started the process that will reveal to the English the fearful costs of their own nationalism – and the venom of people like Farage.

Well, we may wonder what part Mr Kushner, or his wife, played in all this, or whether Mr Kushner passed a rude remark to Mr Bannon while Mr Kushner was coming in, and Mr Bannon was going out.  A lot of acid has been seen dripping out of the White House.

Finally, although it’s none of my business, might someone suggest to Trump that he might leave the God of the Christians out of all this?  This is after all a war between Muslims, but in what sense are children of God different to the children of Allah?  And then there is the danger that if he keeps talking about the God of the Christians and the people of Damascus, it may be just a matter of time before some bunny mentions the word crusade.

Passing Bull 102 – Bull about sin and being offensive

Rupert Murdoch has not done the U S or us a favour by setting up Fox News. It is dishonest and loaded against Democrats or people with sense or manners.  Trump would probably have not got where he is without them, and under his White House, Fox News looks like State Owned Television – like the television stations controlled by his mate Vladimir Putin.

The station’s biggest drawcard is a revolting religious bigot named Bill O’Reilly.  He and the network’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, have paid about $13m in settlements to five women who accused the anchor of sexual harassment or verbal abuse. The women accused O’Reilly in cases from the past two decades. According to The New York Times, the settlements were made ‘in exchange for agreeing to not pursue litigation or speak about their accusations’.  In other words, they bought silence.

The report comes after a difficult year for Fox News. In July, their Chairman was eased out after a very expensive settlement of sexual harassment allegations.

‘The reporting suggests a pattern,’ the Times report said. ‘As an influential figure in the newsroom, Mr O’Reilly would create a bond with some women by offering advice and promising to help them professionally.

‘He then would pursue sexual relationships with them, causing some to fear that if they rebuffed him, their careers would stall.’

Fox News released a statement to the Times.

‘21st Century Fox takes matters of workplace behaviour very seriously,’ the statement said.

‘Notwithstanding the fact that no current or former Fox News employee ever took advantage of the 21st century Fox hotline to raise a concern about Bill O’Reilly, even anonymously, we have looked into these matters over the last few months and discussed them with Mr O’Reilly.

‘While he denies the merits of these claims, Mr O’Reilly has resolved those he regarded as his personal responsibility. Mr O’Reilly is fully committed to supporting our efforts to improve the environment for all our employees at Fox News.’

O’Reilly said on his website: ‘Just like other prominent and controversial people, I’m vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity.

‘In my more than 20 years at Fox News Channel, no one has ever filed a complaint about me with the Human Resources Department, even on the anonymous hotline.

‘But most importantly, I’m a father who cares deeply for my children and who would do anything to avoid hurting them in any way. And so I have put to rest any controversies to spare my children.’

‘Those of us in the arena are constantly at risk, as are our families and children,’ he said. ‘My primary efforts will continue to be to put forth an honest TV program and to protect those close to me.’

You would think at this level, they could serve up better bullshit than that drivel.  Thirteen million dollars among five complainants would average more than $2.5 M for each complainant.  And what does it mean to deny ‘the merits’ of the claims?  And what do you have to do to get fired by Murdoch if you are a money spinner?

The world being what it is, O’Reilly’s ratings will probably go up, although decent companies like BMW are withdrawing their support.  He does have one supporter and defender.  Donald Trump.  So, here we have one dirty pussy grabber looking after another dirty pussy grabber.

Trump, too, buys silence.  He recently handed over $25 million to settle fraud claims.  And being the idiot that he is, he would have no idea of how shockingly inappropriate it is for the President of the United States to descend into the gutter to shelter a partner in the gutter press.

Mark Latham got sacked here for being offensive on TV.  Naturally, a lot of people mentioned some nonsense about ‘freedom of speech’ and ‘the right to offend.’  The sad truth is that a lot of people – generally those who have not done so well in life with the cards that God dealt them – really get a kick out of watching rude people on TV offend others.  And the equally sad truth is that rude people offending others is what delivered such wins as they have achieved to rude and offensive people like Farage, Hanson, and Trump.

The gutter is not a pretty place.

Confucius says:

Confucius sat with a messenger and asked him, ‘What does your master do?’  He answered, ‘My master seeks to reduce his errors but has not been able to do so.’

Analects, 14.25