Passing Bull 125 – The collapse of restraint


A mate of mine is a Catholic who likes to attend Mass in a Cathedral.  When I passed on to him a note by David Marr about the bishops’ going quiet about their attitude to homosexuality – are they doomed to burn in hell? – he said that the Church had lost credibility on issues like marriage equality, and that he thought that that was a shame because they may have had something useful to say about easing the passing.  Well, they haven’t.  They have shot their bolt.  They showed a lack of restraint, and, rightly or wrongly, they sounded as dishonest as they sounded mean, with this libertarian nonsense about freedom of conscience.

I am afraid that I take a very old fashioned view about religious people seeking to impose their views on others.  I think all that went out the window with Henry VIII and the Act of Supremacy.   I’m sure I would be supported on that point if the proposal was to set up Sharia Law in Australia of for us to follow Myanmar and build a bridge of bones against Islam.

If you publish a weekly bullshit column, The Weekend Australian becomes tax deductible.  Our failure to get a decent conservative paper here is very sad. The lack of restraint we see in the contemporary political discussion was on full show today.  Paul Kelly began his piece:

This is a sad and profoundly worrying moment for our country.  The virtues and ethics that bind families and loved ones have been disrupted by a misguided Victorian lower house.

An Australian jurisdiction is close to crossing a threshold that constitutes a fundamental departure in our attitudes to human life – and has acted under the misguided logic that safeguards can be effective.

There you have it – one policy shift, and the end of the world is nigh – and announced like by the village elder patronising eight year olds.  Sorry, kids, but you got it wrong.  That happens in childhood.  You get it demonstrably wrong.

With Janet Albrechtsen, you get a mixture of a preppy undergraduate tone and Apocalypse Now.

This intellectual regression has its roots in postmodernism, and identity politics has become its political arm.  Under the dishonest rubric of ‘progressive’ politics, postmodernism cemented into universities the notion that history and language are corrupted by those who hold power.  Ergo, history needs to be told through the lens of oppression and language needs to be proscribed to protect victims of the oppressors……

Determined to police words and speech, proponents of identity politics label opponents as racists, sexists, misogynists, homophobes and Nazis…..

And let’s not mince words.  When the heritage of Western civilisation is devalued in Australian schools and university history departments, debased by our political parties and human rights bureaucracies, and snubbed by sections of the media, too, it becomes a numbers game.  I joined the IPA years ago because the voices of freedom need critical mass so that the virtues of freedom can be nurtured, defended and passed on to the next generation to do the same.  The way forward is to instil in each generation an understanding that our great inheritance comes from the story of Western civilisation.  That’s why Roskam and his team at the IPA are engaged in this critical contest of ideas that must not be dismantled by the self-loathing politics of identity.

Do you think that Janet may have found her vocation better in the Salvo’s?  It’s all just a game of shadow-boxing by tribes and labels; the white hats against the black hats; with not even a nod to restraint.  It’s as if they have never left university.

And I’m never quite sure what ‘identity politics’ is, except that I believe that nationalists like Trump and Farage are in it up to their necks – and that Janet Albrechtsen and others at the IPA are disposed to cosy up to people like Trump and Farage.

Well, I suppose the IPA has done something for the bishops in our public life – they provide another sounding board for bullshit that we don’t need.  And notwithstanding the self-assurance – to use the soft phrase – with which they all hand down their tablets of the laws, you do get the impression that the IPA and the bishops want to cast themselves a s victims.  Do they have a name for that kind of political gambit?

The truth is that we don’t go for ideology.  For that matter, I’m not sure what post-modernism is – although I did smile when someone at Oxford said it was like playing tennis with the net down.  That sounded about right to me.

Poet of the month: Henry Lawson

After all

The brooding ghosts of Australian night have gone from the bush and town;

My spirit revives in the morning breeze, though it died when the sun went down;

The river is high and the stream is strong, and the grass is green and tall,

And I fain would think that this world of ours is a good world after all.

The light of passion in dreamy eyes, and a page of truth well read,

The glorious thrill in a heart grown cold of the spirit I thought was dead,

A song that goes to a comrade’s heart, and a tear of pride let fall —

And my soul is strong! and the world to me is a grand world after all!

Let our enemies go by their old dull tracks, and theirs be the fault or shame

(The man is bitter against the world who has only himself to blame);

Let the darkest side of the past be dark, and only the good recall;

For I must believe that the world, my dear, is a kind world after all. It well may be that I saw too plain, and it may be I was blind;

But I’ll keep my face to the dawning light, though the devil may stand behind!

Though the devil may stand behind my back, I’ll not see his shadow fall,

But read the signs in the morning stars of a good world after all.

Rest, for your eyes are weary, girl — you have driven the worst away –

The ghost of the man that I might have been is gone from my heart to-day;

We’ll live for life and the best it brings till our twilight shadows fall;

My heart grows brave, and the world, my girl, is a good world after all.

5 thoughts on “Passing Bull 125 – The collapse of restraint

  1. Dear Geoffrey
    I came upon your blog by accident about 2 years ago. I am a semi-retired lawyer in a regional NSW town but raised ii the inner city Catholic/Labor/South Sydney tradition.I have hung in with the church as there is still a lot of people with a sense of social justice. Your philosophy and clarity of thought have certainly influenced me in my outlook.. I note you have been going through hard times medically so I hope (pray ??) that you recover and continue to enlighten us.

    • John

      Thank you so much for a very kind note. Hang in there, please. My religious friends don’t understand how much my life and thought is affected by the life and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth – my problems with the Church are elswewhere. I plan to stay around a while, and invite you to do the same.
      This is in part a repeat because I’m not sure about the first.

      Geoff Gibson

  2. John

    Thank you so much.
    Please hang in there! My religious friends don’t know how much the life and thought of Jesus of Nazareth mean to me.
    I propose to hang around for a while. At least one Anglican priest – a free list client – prays for me – with some success! I’m still here!
    If you have a Kindle you may wish to try my eBook The Humility of Knowledge. If not, you could email me at my Victorian Bar address and I will send you a copy.
    Otherwise, keep the faith and stay well. Aging lawyers should stick together.


    Geoff Gibson

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