Passing Bull 199 –Hypocrisy on high

 

I congratulate the Hawthorn players on their decision to honour Goodes.

I am revolted but not surprised that most social media response has been ‘negative’.  We have a real problem about this in this country.  And what kind of ‘supporter’ refuses to back their players on some political ground – not least a ground espoused by Andrew Bolt?

It is clear that the AFL and its clubs must sever all ties with anyone connected with gaming.  The time has I think  now passed when trading corporations can seek to be morally neutral.  It is hard for the AFL to lecture people about gambling when it is, slut-like, living off the earnings of gambling.

I think Footscray and Collingwood are taking real action on gaming – if so, I congratulate them, too.

I gather that the Goodes film is wrenching.  Certainly, the reactions of some people who think that they are intelligent was appalling at the time – and it shows just how deep this problem runs in this country.  It is just what people like Bolt and Hanson (and Trump) run on.

And in case you missed it, Sam Kerr is getting a different kind of abuse from people similarly embittered.

Bloopers

Peter Dutton claims asylum seekers and refugees on Manus Island and Nauru are refusing resettlement offers in the United States because of the medevac legislation claiming 250 applications for medical transfer were currently being reviewed by ‘activist’ doctors.

The Guardian, 24 June, 2019

An ‘activist’ is presumably someone actively seeking a result.  Not many of those in parliament.

 

 

Passing Bull 198 – Following the leader

 

The herd instinct is on full display in the letters of today’s Weekend Australian.  There are nine letters about John Setka.  All appear to be sympathetic.  I doubt whether many readers of that paper have met a worker, much less a union official, much less a warrior with the heft of Setka.  No one mentioned that Setka has said that he will plead guilty to a criminal offence.  We get the usual stuff about ‘political correctness’ and ‘virtue signalling.’  Setka says he was elected my members.  I can’t recall hearing a bank director on the way out saying he had been elected by shareholders.

This sensitivity about our being free to speak our minds takes a bit of hit on the front sports page.  The headline is ‘Bitter’ retort sours Matildas win.’  Their captain, after a gutsy win, said of their critics ‘Suck on that one.’  Good on her.  But the Oz finds two past Matildas to criticise her.  It is one thing to form an adverse view (although it is beyond me how a Matilda expects our captain to be ‘humble’).  It is another thing to go public and fuel controversy when those representing us are trying to make a comeback in a foreign country.  If that is their notion of loyalty, it is little wonder the Matildas have issues.

But is not the point more simple?  We have better things to talk about.

Bloopers

No one wants to be lectured on humanity by politicians, let alone backers of porous borders whose compassion resulted in more than 1000 deaths at sea.

The Australian, 10 June, 2019.  Jennifer Oriel.

As ever, there is the horrifying thought that she might believe it.

Passing Bull 197 – The love media

 

It takes a degree of froideur to go to The Weekend Australian after a Coalition win – or, more accurately, yet another ALP loss.  But I summoned it up this morning.  Greg Sheridan is not stupid – he is just so often wrong.  ‘Scott Morrison is restoring our global swagger.’  Where and when did we lose it?  In Cape Town with the sandpaper?  Mr Sheridan is full of praise for Morrison who he thinks as yet shows no sign of hubris.  And again he praises Trump by condemning Trump’s critics.  The fallacy is blatant.  Trump is out to destroy conservatism.  Which contribution of Trump to the world order this week did Mr Sheridan most celebrate?  Building a wall in Ireland or getting Mar a Lago to run the NHS?

If ‘tribalism’ had not been discovered, Chris Kenny would have demanded it.  He thinks ‘the love media’ should follow Seinfeld – and not Twitter.  That raises two questions.  First, what is the other media called – ‘hate media’?  Secondly, how do you account for the success of his idol, Donald Trump, on Twitter?

Bloopers

Labor’s overreaction to the Australian Federal Police raids was another clear example of falling for misguided priorities….Journalists cheered of course, but away from the political/media class, the insinuation the Coalition has us sliding toward a police state would have sounded hysterical and partisan, while non-journalists would have wondered why the media thinks it deserves exemption from the rule of law.

The Weekend Australian, 8 June 2019.

I don’t know if Mr Kenny sees himself as a journalist, but he does write for the Murdoch press, and his subscription to the rule of law fairly takes your breath away.

Passing Bull 196 – Anecdotal evidence

 

This phrase is common, but I am not sure what it means.  What evidence is not anecdotal?  I see something happen and I report it.  This anecdote becomes part of the account of the life or lives of those involved.  A biography is just a collection of anecdotes.  History is just a collection of biographies.  By what alchemy of certification, statistics, graphs, corroboration or repetition does the evidence cease to be anecdotal?  If you were walking around a volcano, and a local said that he had seen signs of imminent eruption, would you dismiss this evidence as anecdotal?

Bloopers

Count Fedor Tolstoy was related to the great novelist.

Born in 1782, he joined the…Life Guards where he soon made a reputation for himself as a fire-eater duellist – he was said to have killed eleven men in duels in the course of his life – and card-sharp.  In 1803, he was a member of an embassy to Japan taken by Admiral Krusenstiern on his circumnavigation of the world.  Tolstoy made himself so obnoxious on board that Krusenstiern abandoned him on one of the Aleutian Islands – together with a pet female ape, which he may later have eaten.  (Pushkin, T J Binyon, Harper Collins, 2002, 96).

It can happen in the best of families, but either way, the ape was hard done by.

Here and there – The meaning of affront –and the real face of Avis

 

 

The Road to Serfdom held some attraction for many university students in my time.  It looked at what George Orwell called Big Brother and what Ken Kesey called the Combine.   Hayek said that we were just heading for the status of serfs.  But, with time, the book sounded too doctrinaire for people not given to dogma, and it was preached by people whose company we may not have enjoyed – Andrew Bolt territory.

The following note that I sent my daughters while travelling in Scotland – on a round the world trip – will show just how far down that road to serfdom we have travelled.

It was a good short flight on time from Cardiff to Glasgow. I got clobbered with 40 pounds for each bag which a very capable agent assured me had been covered, but I know how predatory these small airlines are.

I finally made my way to the Avis desk to pick up my car. I had corresponded with  them about the booking – at some length.   All I wanted  was a good clear way for me to get on the A82 to the highlands.  I was getting on with Ann like a house on fire – comparing accents and so on.  She is finally about to hand over the keys, and then says, dead-pan: ‘Mr Gibson.  I’m sorry but I cannot let you have this car.  You have been banned’ – or words to that effect. 

I don’t know that I have felt anything like this before.  Among other things, I had just travelled around Wales for two days in an Avis car.  There was no reason.  Just a sign on the computer.  I saw her pointing to it with colleagues.  I suggested she call for a manager – but I instinctively felt that no one in a yellow jacket would override the computer.  While waiting for the manager, I shopped around.  Hertz said they had no car available.  Thrifty said they answered to the same computer. 

Finally, I got a very nice people at Europcar and their system did not disqualify  me.  They were very efficient and capable and their manager, a fine lady of Glasgow,  felt empowered to authorise my hire.  She was  a genuinely decent lady; the young man on the desk, Roddy, plays loch in rugby.   He was terrific.   My first credit card bounced – probably because Avis had not taken off the Cardiff deposit.  Thank God, the computer allowed the second.  In the name of God, I had spent time the night before in Cardiff to make sure ample funds were available on each credit card.

Well, I have a very adequate VW Polo that has got me here in comfort, and I will restructure my trip to take the car back to Glasgow.  That inconvenience is relatively slight.  Could I have been banged up in a Glasgow boozer for days?

But I cannot even begin to tell you how unsettling this has been. 

I think we are going to the dogs – as my old man used to say.

It is very unsettling.

What Orwell and Kesey described was the sense of powerlessness of the victims of the State entities that they described.  Orwell’s hero is crushed into total submission.  Kesey’s hero is despatched to eternity as an act of kindness.  One word for the result is ‘unmanned.’

That is how you feel when you deal with someone employed by a big corporation that rules its own like a very firm government.  If you are into labels, try fascist.  And it all gets so much worse when the whole corporation has handed over the keys to what might have been called  its soul to a machine in the sky – a deus ex machina – called a computer.  And no one – no one – is authorised to query, challenge much less override the computer.  The hand-over of power – the surrender – is complete.  And so is the victory of Big Brother and the Combine.  And we are left unmanned.

But the powerlessness of Ann was only part of the story.  Indeed, in at least one sense, Ann and I shared a powerlessness.  One of the primary aims of a vicious ruler is to make the subjects complicit in the viciousness.  That way, the minions get locked in.  Just look at how Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler and Franco went about stitching up their underlings (and reflect on the obsession of Donald Trump with personal loyalty of the kind that Hitler extracted, even from previously decent officers of the army).

Ann is, I fear, becoming complicit.  Possibly the most frightening part of this episode came when I was sitting down in something resembling shock, and Ann was standing and  looking down at me, and then Ann – yes, that  nice, kind Ann with the Glaswegian accent – gave me a look of suspicion.  For a moment, I could have been looking at an East German guard on Checkpoint Charlie.  ‘Are you sure there is nothing in your past with Avis, Geoffrey?’  Or words to that effect – words that Robespierre could have drooled over at the height of the Terror.  Suspicion is a primary tool of trade of the terrorist.  Robespierre said ‘Feel my fear’ and ‘Who among us is beyond suspicion?’  And Ann is being reduced to that level.

What the gods of the machine want to do with us is to strip us of our humanity.  And we are all now becoming complicit by handing the keys to ourselves to our mobile phones.  I was appalled in both Manhattan and Wales to see nearly everyone on the street looking at their phones. People at the Frick could not put them down.  (What about a selfie with my old mate Rembers, Digger?)  The plague has even reached us here in the Highlands.  At Ballaculish, I ran into a very handsome couple from Vancouver who looked like they might be on a honeymoon – if people still do those things.  Then I saw them in the bar – each immersed in his or her own phone.

In the name of God, what kind of world is this?  This device does not just murder minds and manners – it annihilates any sense of grace altogether.  All that bull about bringing people together from super brats like Zuckerberg is all just part of one grand lie.

The medical profession has astonished me with the care and professional attention with which it is treating a cancer that a few years ago would certainly have killed me.  I have just experienced another instance of professional care and plain human kindness deep in the Highlands.  What I must now do is to respond by fighting another form of cancer that does not terminate life but certainly terminates decency.

To return to Avis.   They promised to lend me a car in return for my promise to pay them.  That is a called a contract in our law – and the law of the US.  I travelled and made arrangements in reliance on that contract.  I am travelling around the world, and the visit to the Highlands was the principal reason for the whole trip.  Then Avis said ‘We made that promise, but we reserve the right to renege on any basis at all – including the colour of your skin or the way you wear a head scarf.’  What do we care if you are degraded and humiliated in public and if the last visit to the land of your ancestors is ruined?  Our only God is Mammon.  You – poor fellow – just fall under the heading of collateral damage.  Just look at the business model of our President.

Then there is the problem of a cartel operating to interfere with contractual relations.   At heart we are dealing with a wrong that our law does not distinctly recognise as one of outrage.  But, as Sir Frederick Pollock pointed out many years ago, our law has long permitted juries to deal with the arrogance of the haughty by the measure of the damages that they, on behalf of their country, award to the victim.  Putting to one side my personal circumstances, I find it hard to imagine a better case to test the limits of this wrong at law.

I do not know why Avis reneged.  They could not or would not tell me.  That inflames the wrong.  These people are like Richard III – they murder while they smile.  As the lady from Europe Car said, it may have been a parking ticket from ten years ago.

I have a recollection of hiring a car in Oxford about ten years ago for a fly fishing lesson.  I cannot recall the hirer, but I have a kind of recollection of correspondence that was (1) false (2) insulting and (3) extortionate – criminally so.  If it was that kind of thing on the mind of the computer, Avis is adding infamy to criminality.  Whatever incident the computer had in mind – it may just be wrong – it must look to be as mean and petty and spiteful as you could imagine.  But it does not matter – whatever it was, it cannot justify this frightful breach of promise.  We made our laws to shield the innocent,  not the arrogant.

About forty years ago, Aunty (our ABC) made rude remarks about a very important Royal Commission team.  These wronged lawyers then sued for libel.  And in cold blood they entered judgment by default.  When I moved to set aside the judgment, the late Neil McPhee, QC sought to hold on to the judgment by saying that we – the ABC – had no defence.  I well remember the relish with which Neil looked at me across the bar table and said ‘The only possible defence is truth and if Mr Gibson does make that plea, this court room would not be big enough to hold the damages.’

I think it may be time to offer that option to Mr Avis and his imperative computer.

Passing Bull 195 – Defiling the dead

 

People who play around with geniuses like Shakespeare or Mozart overestimate their ability and worth to an extent that might make even Donald Trump blush.  They also defile the work and the art of the dead.  Their haughty conceit is staggering.  We may have been able to get over Glenda Jackson playing the lead role in Sam Gold’s King Lear on Broadway – although ‘humility’ does not come easily to your lips with that lady – but she was not the only one in the part of a male, and the three daughters had three very distinctive accents.

The New Yorker is not amusedAccording to Hilton Als, this director has form.  He sent out an actress with muscular dystrophy to play a key role in The Glass Menagerie.  This, said Mr Als, takes the audience hostage – if you condemned the casting, you could be splattered with all kinds of abuse.  It’s a bit like that South African runner who looks like a bloke and who runs like one but who competes as a woman.  If you take the side of the badly beaten women, you get canned for intolerance – for a want of sympathy for ‘gender fluidity.’  Balls.  I just don’t want my night out at the theatre to be ruined by some arrogant puppeteer who is out to make a political point and to bignote himself – or herself – or itself.

What about Lear?

In a way, it’s impossible to review Gold’s staging of ‘King Lear,’ because, in the arrogance of its conception, it turns up its nose at the plebeian notion of simply providing the audience with what it wants: Shakespeare’s words, that accumulation of more intelligence and insight about humanity than it seems possible for one mind to have produced….I grew increasingly consumed by questions about what was happening onstage and why.

Precisely.  And that’s before you get to the poetry.

If I said that I could improve on Einstein’s theory of relativity, I would fairly be dismissed as mad.  But these swaggerers behind the stages of theatre and opera do not have that out.  We should assess these directors like we assess judges and AFL umpires – if we hardy know that they are there, they have done well.  If their interference with proceedings catches our attention and annoys us, they have botched it – big time – and they should be given time off in the sticks to repent and reform.

Bloopers

So far, the special investigator probe and report by Robert Mueller are a significant victory for Donald Trump.

This is because the Democrats and other Trump critics have so wildly overplayed their hands and because Mueller, too, has not conducted himself well.

Of course there is in the full Mueller report stuff that shows Trump is unpleasant, but there is nothing on which Mueller can recommend any charges at all.

Greg Sheridan, The Weekend Australian, 20-21 April, 2019

As bullshit goes, this is in the category that Kant may have called transcendental.  Every word drips with wrongness.  Among other things, what would a person who (1) is not a lawyer or copper and (2) has not read the report know?  We have thought that Mr Sheridan may have had some intelligence, but we have long known that he has zero judgment.  Mueller is everything that trump is not.  Who but a lunatic could compare Trump favourably to Mueller?

This rubbish shows how we in this country have completely failed to develop a press that might fairly be called ‘conservative.’  No conservative properly so called could regard the aberration of populism called Donald Trump as anything but a disaster for the U S and the world.  When Mr Sheridan refers to ‘stuff that shows Trump is unpleasant’, he shows that he is craven as well as inane.

And Mr Sheridan has a new toy – ‘bloviation’.  It will not be long before that little chap with the silly beard gets on to it.  Wikipedia says:

Bloviation is a style of empty, pompous political speech particularly associated with Ohio due to the term’s popularization by United States President Warren G. Harding, who, himself a master of the technique, described it as ‘the art of speaking for as long as the occasion warrants, and saying nothing’.

Well now, for a political commentator in the Murdoch press to accuse someone of bloviation must be an instance of what psychologists call projection.

Passing Bull 194 – Presumptions outside court?

 

People talk of the presumption of innocence and the legal requirement of proof beyond reasonable doubt in considering the prosecution and conviction of Cardinal Pell.

Most of the commentators are unaware of the presumption of regularity that would say that the jurors are presumed to have discharged their duties in this case in an appropriate manner.  There is a Latin tag to the effect that steps are taken to have been done correctly.  A leading authority (Thayer) refers to ‘the assumption of the existence of the usual qualities of human beings, such as sanity, and their regular and proper conduct, their honesty and conformity to duty.’  Some people may wish to bear this assumption in mind before accusing the Pell jury of being perverse or unreasonable or of not adhering to their oath.  Championing a presumption of innocence may run in both directions.  It’s just that for one reason or another, the jurors don’t usually get to be championed.

To return to the onus of proof, in a criminal case, the Crown (the accuser) bears the burden of proof.  In a civil case, the person complaining (the plaintiff) bears that burden.  If nothing happens in either case, that is the end of it.

The law recognises three standards of proof.  In crime, it is proof beyond reasonable doubt.  In civil cases, it is proof on the balance of probabilities – it is sufficient that the evidence warrants a finding that it is more likely than not that the relevant allegation has been made out.

But the law recognises a standard in between those two.  It is typically applied where a serious crime is alleged in civil cases or where an adverse finding might cost someone their job or their good name.  The criterion for drawing the line has never been adequately explained to me.  The best I have seen is that common sense suggests that you need more persuasion to hang someone for murder than you need to give them a parking ticket.

One formulation is ‘comfortable satisfaction.’  The Court of Arbitration for Sport was comfortable about applying that test in the case of the Essendon footballers – and in upholding every single allegation against them while doing so.  If you think that the worth of a proposition can be tested by looking at its negation, what might ‘uncomfortable satisfaction’ look like?  Spending a fortune on a suite up front in an Arab airline and then finding that you have a burr in your nickers?  In thirty years sitting on tribunals, where counsel sought to invoke this protection I never felt intellectually secure in seeking to apply it.  I just followed my nose.

So, when a private hearing was conducted into an allegation of abuse against Pell by former Supreme Court judge (Southwell, J), the judge, as I am informed, applied this intermediate test.  (The lawyers refer to it as Briginshaw because that was the name of the parties in the leading case in the High Court that arose from an allegation of adultery in a case that reached the High Court.)  The judge found that each side had given credible evidence, but that this was not enough to satisfy the intermediate standard of proof.  That finding was far from being an exoneration of the accused.

Well, that’s fine for the accused.  What about potential victims?  If the Church is going to be responsible for the wrongs of this man, what standard of proof should the Church apply in determining whether this man represents a risk to those who may be in his care or merely exposed to unsupervised contact with him?  When I there ask how the Church ‘should’ proceed, I am speaking of both a moral and legal obligation (or duty).

Let us look at the civil side.  If you are running a trucking company – an analogy once unhappily invoked by the cardinal – and you suspect that one of your drivers may be a risk to the public, and therefore to you and your insurers – say from drugs or alcohol or some physical disability – it would in my view be morally and legally wrong to say that you needed to be persuaded of the risk beyond the balance of probabilities before you took remedial action.  The company would be obliged to take action as soon as it appeared to it that it was more likely than not that this driver was a risk to others.

The case is a fortiori for people in positions of power who can apply undue influence over those not of the age of consent.

It looks to me therefore that the church was legally and morally wrong in not taking adequate remedial action on the Southwell report to protect those in its charge from the risk posed by this priest.  It would be quite wrong to say that the Church could not take any such action until it was satisfied of the risk beyond reasonable doubt or to a level of ‘comfortable satisfaction.’  A rule that was fair to the priest may have been anything but fair to those in his charge – it looks to have been fatal for one of them.

And the reason sounds familiar – the Church put their interests over those of their flock.  Most victims would be appalled to learn that the Church took no action against a priest who had not been exonerated on a most serious allegation.

And, if it matters, that is why so many lawyers in the neutral corner would be so uncomfortable with the rubber stamping on party lines of the appointment of Justice Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States.  It’s not just that appearances matter; the public conduct of this man showed that he was susceptible to partisan influence – it is beyond doubt that he got the job as a result of such influence – to an extent that rendered him unfit for that office.

But that is not all.  Is it right to have someone appointed to high office when there is a serious allegation against them that is unresolved?  Or that is rammed through on party lines?  Some positions are ‘Caesar’s wife’ territory – the occupant must be beyond suspicion.  Judicial office is one such office and the U S Supreme Court now has two members on it that fail that test.

The onuses and presumptions that we have been discussing are part of the law of evidence.  They are applied by law courts in the trial of issues in an attempt to ensure a fair trial.  The law does not ordinarily require or even suggest that these rules be applied elsewhere (although that part of our law called administrative law will subject some bodies to procedural obligations to protect certain rights).

You could look stupid if you sought to apply the rules of evidence in ordinary conversation – if, for example, you objected to a statement in a political debate on the ground that it was inadmissible as hearsay.  The referees in sporting contests may have an onus in awarding penalties – but how often do you hear the standard of proof being discussed?  Well, one thing is clear enough.  If you want to red card someone for rough play in a world cup final, you will require a lot more assurance than you would for calling a kid off-side in the Under 12’s.

If you told a high school teacher of rowdy teens that the students had the benefit of the presumption of innocence, you would not be believed.  And the same should apply to people in positions of trust or confidence – there any onus might lay on them to show that they have discharged their office – or at least not put it out of their power to do so.  In some instances of ‘undue influence,’ the onus is on the office holder to demonstrate the probity of an impugned transaction.  That does not happen if an issue as to the person’s probity has been left unresolved.

That appears to have been the case with Cardinal Pell.  If so, some unfortunate people have paid an awful price for this lapse of judgment.

Bloopers

Willkie Farr, which put Mr Caplan on leave after he was charged last month, announced that it has now cut ties with him. ‘At Willkie, nothing is more important to us than our integrity and we do not tolerate behaviour that runs contrary to our core values. We remain focused on our responsibilities to our clients, partners and employees,’ the firm said in a statement.

Financial Times, 6 April, 2019

With those fees, they might at least try talking English.  Do they tolerate behaviour contrary to values that don’t go to their core?  Are values like apples?  Are they, too, subject to the laws of gravity?

Passing bull 190 – Activists

 

Some people in business have had the temerity to express views on moral issues – or, which is often pretty much the same thing, political issues.  They have attracted condemnation from luminaries like Peter Dutton and the Minister for Thongs.  Some have gone even further, and put their money where their morals are.  So some businesses have withdrawn advertising from Fox News in protest at its views about Islam or immigration.  And some threatened to retaliate against Mr Andrew Bolt for championing the cause of a convicted paedophile against the twelve jurors who had agonised over and delivered their verdict.  Mr Bolt summoned up all his considerable self-respect and with a curled lip mentioned the word activist. 

An activist is a person who actively seeks to change the moral or political views of others.  That’s precisely what Mr Bolt does.  But he has the excuse that he just does it for money.  If however you do it for its own sake, then you are liable to suffer his judgment.  And all this from a man who subscribes to the mantra of freedom of speech – even hate speech.

It is to this vacuity that we have come.  If it matters, I am a very happy shareholder of BHP, in part because I respect the fact that Mr Andrew Mackenzie, the CEO, is prepared to take a public position on issues seen by some to be sensitive.  Such as same sex marriage, or climate change.  Given their own signal failures on such issues, it is hardly surprising if people like Mr Mackenzie give our politicians the willies.  The attempt by some in government to lock others out of public life is just another sign of how far they have lost the plot and deserve a very long holiday.

Bloopers

Given the horror across the water, I will just mention to happy quotes – something of a modern miracle – good tweets.

Dear Eggboy.  I am a philosophy tutor in Turkey.  We really appreciate what you did.

Yesterday, Australia got the villain it created.  Today it got the hero it deserved.

The Age, 18 March 2019.

Here and there – Rupert and Jennifer on the road to Christchurch

 

Set out below are citations from columns of Jennifer Oriel published in The Australian in and after 2017, with some of my commentary.  They are all taken from Passing Bull Volumes 2 and 3 published on Amazon.

The remarks attributed to Jennifer Oriel in my opinion show the following attributes:

  • A high level of ideological indoctrination and dogma – to the point of apparent brainwashing.
  • Fatuous, adolescent phrasing that has a tribal or conspiratorial air about it.
  • A sustained sense of being threatened or persecuted – in tribal terms, these people feel existentially threatened, so that their core values are in peril.
  • The world is full of demons and bogeymen and Western patriots are being vilified.
  • There is an absence of restraint, or the tolerance that that word implies. It is what the American historian Richard Hofstadter called the ‘paranoid style’ – ‘heated exaggeration, suspiciousness and conspiratorial fantasy.’
  • There is a felt need to strike back, to find a scapegoat.
  • Pluralism is a sign of weakness – what is needed is a muscular response to the threats to civilisation as we know it.
  • It’s OK to play rough.
  • People need to be fed propaganda on Eurocentricity – that is presumably where the Ramsay Centre comes into play.
  • There is a concentration on a largely imaginary past and a wholly imaginary future.
  • There is a childlike faith in the capacity of right minded people – if you prefer, the Strong Man – to prevail over the forces of evil.
  • We must identify with Western civilisation because that is what made us and what defines as being different from those who do not share our heritage. Heritage is all.
  • That civilisation is inseparable from Christianity – the Jews apparently don’t get a look-in.
  • We can confidently assert that Islam is incompatible with Western civilisation.
  • The final judgment is therefore irrefutable – Islam is the enemy of Western civilisation.
  • Muslim migrants are therefore suspect and must be closely watched – if indeed we continue to admit them.
  • If there is a difference between a Muslim and a jihadi, it is not one that has been identified by the columnist.
  • We can therefore associate with the new right which has come back to take back our civilisation.
  • People like Wilders, Orban and Trump have been sadly misunderstood if not vilified. Each is in his own way a patriot.
  • Nationalism is a good.
  • We can therefore properly discriminate against Muslims on the ground of their faith and we can incite conflict against them.

Now, it is a matter for you to see which if any of those attitudes is revealed by the evident history and beliefs of the man charged with murder after the massacre at Christchurch – or of Fraser Anning.

Some clever person may have an ingenious or nuanced argument that the enshrinement of Western civilisation is not the same as advocating white supremacy – I have not seen one – but I find it impossible to avoid the conclusion from those remarks that Muslims are by their faith precluded from being good citizens of our Commonwealth.  If it matters, that looks to be very like the offence committed by a Trump acolyte on Fox News and for which even that outfit has taken action against her.

May I add one personal comment?  I am not a card carrying member of any church, but the life and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth runs very deeply inside me.  Words cannot express my revulsion that anyone putting out this kind of vile tripe could invoke in their aid the life or teaching of the man who preached the Sermon on the Mount.

Extracts from Passing Bull Volumes 2 and3

In the place of enlightenment, Hillary Clinton champions emotionalism, unreason and the barbarian fetish for supernatural rule over the sovereignty of liberal democratic people.  Donald Trump rises on a reactionary platform typified by an oppositional stance to anything establishment.  Neither champions reason.  Neither champions the form of freedom.  Neither promises the redemption that America so desperately needs.…

Rather, Trump’s America is a counter-revolution in waiting.  We know what has preceded it: the neo-Marxist march against Western civilisation whose gross dilation finds form in state-sanctified minority supremacy and the political correctness that sustains it.  But no one knows what might proceed from a Trump presidency except a counter-revolution against P C Left culture by the progressive dismantling of its government agencies, the media, the activist judiciary and universities…

Neither Trump nor Clinton augurs the restoration of American greatness.  But Trump is brash and arrogant enough to lead a counter-revolution on the premise of American exceptionalism.  The brutal lesson of Trump’s ascendancy is that to battle the philistines, sometimes you have to act like one.[Emphasis added.]

**

The term ‘political correctness’ or P C has in truth become abused and debased.  People of a reactionary cast of thought claim that their freedom of speech is imperilled by exponents of political correctness.  Commentators in The Australian pepper their pieces with this complaint tirelessly.  In the gibberish of Jennifer Oriel, it is a machine-gunned cliché that rat-tat-tats with the same ghastly monotony as ‘sovereignty’, ‘free speech’, ‘free thinkers’, ‘elitism’, ‘populism’, ‘activism’, ‘systemic political bias’ (from The Australian!),  ‘draining the swamp’,  ‘identity politics’, ‘sovereign borders’, ‘open border activists’, ‘pride in Western culture’, and ‘fundamental Western values’.  (Those last two are black-shirt Dutton sinister – so much for the East!)  Here is a simple example:

The P C left can smear us with false accusations of racism and we have no recourse to action under the RDA.

(As Lenin asked, who are ‘we’?)

Here is another sample:

The restive public is leaning towards political figures who oppose the P C establishment’s open border lunacy, its intemperate approach to channelling public funds into the activist class in the media, academe and non—government organisations, and its censorship of politically incorrect speech.

In that piece, the author used the word ‘sovereign’ or ‘sovereignty’ on nine occasions.  I wonder what that word meant on any of them.  This is transcendental bullshit.

**

Jennifer Oriel is a keen student of ideological terms.  In a piece in today’s Australian she says that the emergence of what she calls ‘the new Right’ means that we have to define conservatism.  ‘The task of definition is urgent. Unless a well-defined, muscular conservatism emerges, the best of Western civilisation will not survive the 21st century.’ Goodness, gracious me – well, we won’t be here for the grand exit or Armageddon.

**

Ms Oriel says the following.

The Conservative Mind sparked the post-war conservative intellectual movement in America. In it, Kirk provides a definition of conservatism that comprises four substantive doctrines. The first conservative doctrine, “an affirmation of the moral nature of society”, rests on the belief that virtue is the essence of true happiness. The matter of virtue is family piety and public honour. Their consequence is a life of dignity and order.

Kirk’s second doctrine of conservatism is the defence of property. He defines it as “property in the form of homes and pensions and corporate rights and private enterprises; strict surveillance of the leviathan business and the leviathan union”.

The third conservative doctrine is the preservation of liberty, traditional private rights and the division of power. The absence of this doctrine facilitates the rise of Rousseau’s “general will”, made manifest in the totalitarian state.

The final doctrine of Kirk’s conservatism is “national humility”. Here, Kirk defines the nation state as vital to the preservation of Western civilisation. Politicians are urged to humble themselves in the light of the Western tradition instead of indulging in cheap egoism by promoting policies that buy them votes, but weaken the West.

English philosopher Roger Scruton identifies the political, pre-political and civil components of Western civilisation that sustain the free world. They are rooted in the uniquely Western idea of citizenship, which is influenced by Christianity. The core components of Western citizenship are: the secular democratic state, secular and universal law, and a single culture cohered by territorial jurisdiction and national loyalty. Like Huntington, Scruton analyses the core foundations and animating principles of Western civilisation in contrast to Islamic civilisation.

Conservatism stands in contrast to both small “l” liberal and socialist ideas of culture, society and state. Its central tenets are: moral virtue as the path to happiness, supporting the natural family, promoting public order and honour, private enterprise, political liberty, the secular state and universal law. The central tenets of conservatism are sustained by a single culture of citizenship that enables the flourishing of Western civilisational values.

Conservatism remains the only mainstream political tendency whose core objective is the defence and flourishing of Western civilisation. In its federal platform, the Liberal Party defines its liberal philosophy as: “A set of democratic values based upon … the rights, freedoms and responsibilities of all people as individuals.” There is no discussion of Western civilisation or Western values. However, it shares with conservatives the principles of limited government, respect for private property, political liberty and the division of power. And conservative prime ministers from Menzies to Howard and Abbott have led the defence of Western civilisation in Australia against its greatest enemies: socialists, communists and Islamists.

It is on the questions of immigration, transnational trade and supranational governance that the primary distinction between conservatives and the new Right is drawn. For example, there is growing tension fuelled by the belief that mass immigration, especially of Muslims, constitutes a demographic revolution that threatens Western values. Mainstream conservatives, including Cory Bernardi, reject the idea of a ban on Muslim immigration. But it is clear that policy resonates with many…..[Emphasis added.]…….

That leaves opposition to socialism and Islamists or Islamic civilisation.  As to socialism, I’m not sure what that means, partly for the reason I have given above, and partly because the word is hardly used now in Australia.  Is there anyone left who claims to be a socialist?  As to the second enemy of the West, I object to what Ms Oriel says on three grounds – it is wrong to discriminate against people on the ground of faith; it is wrong to brand whole peoples or nations because of the actions of a few; and if Islamists are a threat to us, I don’t think it promotes our security to brand or discriminate against all Muslims.  As Macaulay said of the Elizabethan persecution of the Puritans in England:

Persecution produced its natural effects.  It found them a sect: it made them a faction. To their hatred of the Church was now added their hatred of the Crown.  The two sentiments were intermingled; and each embittered the other.

Whatever else ‘virtue’ might mean, it doesn’t mean looking down on people just because they have a different faith – especially when so many people have no faith at all.

So, I am afraid that it is bullshit as usual for Ms Oriel.

**

I have referred before to the gibberish of Jennifer Oriel.  This morning’s instalment shows the fineness of the line between inanity and insanity.  It includes the following.

We stand at a pivotal historical moment. In just over a week, we will learn whether the new-right movement resurrected by Brexit and Trump is going global. The looming Dutch election is a bellwether. It is the first European election of 2017 featuring a pro-Western nationalist party vying for the popular vote. Locally, the West Australian election next weekend will test whether Hanson’s One Nation will extend significant influence beyond Queensland.

If The Netherlands’ Party for Freedom (PVV) wins, its leader Geert Wilders will become the most strident pro-Western prime minister in Europe. The Trump effect will translate into a transatlantic phenomenon. Either way, the third reckoning of new-right rhetoric with political reality is nigh.

…….

The leaders of the new-right movement differ on some policy matters, but share a set of values that are cohering into an international program for action. Their shared political aims are to: restore the primacy of Western civilisation by defending sovereign democracy and the nation-state system of allied free-world countries against the supranational left. New-right politicians give greater emphasis to the national interest than centrist-left and right parties by prioritising debt reduction via secure borders and rational immigration programs. Some claim that protectionism is co-essential to prosperity, but the claim is substantially weakened by the lack of systematic evidence. Far better is the shared goal to resurrect Western culture by battling the economically and socially corrosive PC culture that dominates the activist media, academia, NGO and public sectors. All new-right parties are gearing up to drain the swamp.

Wilders has been called the Dutch Donald Trump, but he preceded Trump’s ascendancy by several years. His European allies include Hungary’s Viktor Orban, who dubbed 2017 the year of rebellion. In 2015, Wilders said to Agence France-Presse: ‘The only way to deal with (the immigration crisis) is to regain our national sovereignty and close our national borders … I am asking that our government close its doors as Hungary did.’

The year 2016 ushered in a Western renaissance led by Britons and Americans. Brexit represented a triumph of self-determination over supranational governance as Britons renewed their faith in liberal democracy by voting to leave the EU. More than 60 million Americans chose Donald Trump as President to restore American primacy by fortifying the foundations of the free world laid down in the Declaration of Independence and the US constitution.

The supranational left is working overtime to prevent Trump’s ideas developing into a coherent international program for Western civilisational renewal championed by a right avant-garde. The right is gaining ground in the war for by reminding centrist parties Western values matter and turning the weapons used by neo-Marxists and Islamists to attack the free world order against them. ……

The foundational thesis of the 21st-century left is Orwellian doublethink. Codified inequality that promotes minority supremacy through affirmative action law is rebranded equality. The systemic censorship of conservative thought is called free speech. Consistent with its neo-Marxist creed, the modern left suppresses the silent Western majority; punishes politically incorrect thought; undermines the free world by weakening the nation-state system and vilifying Western patriots; purges conservatives from publicly funded institutions; and imposes punitive taxes on wealth creators and hard workers to fatten the parasite class.

The new right is a counter-revolution whose seeds were sown in the 1970s, the decade neo-Marxism took root within the West. As Roger Kimball wrote in The Long March, the new left’s method of gradualism meant ‘working against the established institutions while working in them’.

By almost destroying the liberal in liberal democracy, the left has prepared the ground for totalitarian politics. But it didn’t see the new right coming, whose members hail from both left and right united by the fight for the West. The new right has come to take our civilisation back.  [Emphasis added.]

Orwell would not have believed this.  Western civilisation championed by Trump, Wilders, Orban, Farage, and Hanson?  Would you let any of them into your home?  Here is the moral and intellectual emptiness of what shamefully passes for our conservative press – the Lone Ranger on steroids of dyslexic paranoia.

**

Some in The Australian ranted themselves to new depths.  …..

Australian painter, cartoonist and avantgarde freethinker Bill Leak died of a suspected heart attack. He was 61 years old.

In the two years before his death, jihadists and the political establishment inflicted horrific stress on him because he refused to surrender his creative genius and free mind to the colourless, artless overlords of political correctness.

In 2015, Leak was forced to flee into a safe house with his family after jihadists threatened to kill him. His thought crime was drawing a cartoon of Mohammed in the wake of militant Islamists slaughtering cartoonists at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris.

In 2016, Leak was accused under the PC censors’ favourite weapon, section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, for offending someone somewhere.

Members of a state-protected minority chose to take offence at a cartoon……..

The suggestion is, apparently, that Leak died from the stress inflicted on him.  He is, we will be told, a martyr.

Even by the standards of Rupert Murdoch, it is beneath contempt for him use the death of an employee to pursue a tawdry political objective that will make it easier for the surviving employees to offend and insult others because of their race.

What Oriel and the paper refuse to mention about the cartoon that said that aboriginal fathers were drunks who could not remember their children’s names is the following.  That cartoon was grossly offensive to a large number of white people and almost all aboriginal people.  Nevertheless, the legislation complained gave Leak a sound answer to any complaint at law.  (There is my view no answer in decency.)  At all times he had the backing of the Murdoch press and the best and most expensive lawyers in the land – as had his mate, Andrew Bolt.  He was never charged or even sued.

Are we, then, seriously to believe Leak’s whimpering about stress?  If we are, the answer during his life would have been simple.  If you don’t like the heat, don’t go near the bloody kitchen.  If you want to hand out coat-hangers, stand by for at least a comeback.  And this is in the context of a cartoon demonizing blackfellas in order to take the heat off complaints of crimes against humanity perpetrated by white people in the Northern Territory.  Leak put in what NRL thugs call a cheap shot.  ‘Don’t worry about what we whites do to black kids.  Look at what their piss-pot fathers do to them to land them in our care.’

This truly was disgraceful behaviour by an agent of the Australian press.

But the whole campaign of Murdoch and his shrill, whining minions has set a new low in Australian bullshit.  There is a daily unloading of bullshit about hate speech, the flat earth (climate change), and the ecclesiastical rejection of gay marriage by cloistered churchy men who just refuse to grow up.  They stand for the forces of funded reaction that hold back the Liberal Party and the whole nation.  They’re now terrified by the thought of a vote on gay marriage.  Who would ever trust a democrat? They should all be deeply ashamed of themselves.

And so should the Prime Minister be ashamed of himself for publicly attending their ghastly Gotterdammerung.  I did not vote for him so that he could hobnob with people who want him to cede to them the right to beat up on blackfellas and Muslims.

**

The fix is in. Queer activists will use fear of sharia to create a moral panic about freedom of religion. Suddenly laissez-faire liberals have developed a distaste for pluralism. They claim that codifying freedom of religion will result in sharia. They fail to comprehend fundamental freedoms in context.

In the context of Western culture, religious freedom is anathema to political Islam. The best guarantee against sharia is Eurocentricity: a cultural agenda that comprises secure borders, the legal protection of fundamental freedoms, and education on the Christian foundations of Western civilisation……

Much concern about sharia in respect of the religious freedom review is artificial. It’s a beat up to prevent dissenters from queer ideology enjoying reasonable protections from militant activists……

One would expect the Ruddock review not to recommend sharia as a model of religious freedom. In the Western context, religious freedom has a particular meaning rooted in Christian scripture that supports the secular state, free will and forgiveness.

Christian religious freedom empowers the secular state. It also embodies a limited state according to Christ’s instruction: ‘Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s’ (Matthew 22:21). By contrast, much of the Islamic world is theocratic.

One of the more potent examples of the difference between religious freedom in the Christian and Islamic traditions is their comparative tolerance for it. While Christ exhorts people to come to God and issues numerous warnings to those who turn away from Him, free will is permitted and sin is forgiven. In the Koran, Muslims are taught that non-Muslims are evil and enemies. Muslims are instructed not to ‘seek the friendship of the infidels’. Jews and Christians are considered abominable.

People often assume that the 21st century jihad against America and Israel is a consequence of colonialism or interventionist foreign policy. But hatred of Christians and Jews is rooted in the Koran…..The Western conception of religious freedom incorporates pluralism. In its most basic form, pluralism is tolerance for diverse beliefs limited by the principle of no harm. A historical benefit of the Christian scriptural belief in limited state authority is that it removes the state’s incentive to monopolise religion. As such, it empowers the flourishing of diverse faiths. Consequently, violent monotheism is fundamentally incompatible with the modern West. Yet the Koran prescribes it……

Freedom of religion is not possible where that freedom is singular. Nor is the Western conception of religious freedom possible where individual liberty, including the freedom to exercise religious belief, is subjected to state control…..

The legalisation of same-sex marriage has created an unintended consequence of potentially widening the scope for state interference in personal faith matters. Australia has some of the weakest protections for religious freedom in the free world while international precedent demonstrates the use of lawfare against Christians is becoming something of a blood sport…..

Australia’s approach to religious freedom should reflect the best of the Western tradition. We believe in free will. We believe in the secular state. We believe in the inherent worth of each and every individual. We want a future where freedom of religion can animate the soul of the free world. Neither militant atheism nor hardline Islamism will light the way to liberty.

Well, there you are.  Queer or militant activists have put the fix in to use fear of Islam to suggest that some people may fear Christianity – and so stand in the way of religious freedom.  How this relates to the ‘21st century jihad against America and Israel’ is not explained.  Nor for that matter is religious freedom explained.  Israel Folau is legally free to express his religious opinion that gay people are doomed to burn in eternal flames.  What more freedom does he need?

The contention underlying this seamless rant appears to be that while we can tolerate ‘extreme’ or ‘hardline’ views in Christianity, whatever those terms may mean, we should not do so for Islam.  This apparently follows from the role of Christianity in western civilisation.  So much for pluralism.  And as to theocratic states that favour one religion over another, how does Israel shape up?  In fact, how do we shape up when our head of state has to be in communion with the Church of England?

And as for parts of scripture that are on the nose, the bible is shot through with endorsements of ethnic cleansing.  That God did after all choose one people over others.  It is sufficient to refer to Deuteronomy 20:16, Joshua 1:1-9, 6:17-25; and 8:24-30.  For that matter, Genesis 3 has not done much for women in western civilisation.  Or men.

Ms Oriel has at least two things in common with Donald Trump.  She is pursued by demons – in her case, political correctness and jihadis; in Trump’s case, the deep state and witch-hunters – and moderation is not her go.  She and Trump exemplify the extremism and fantasy of our time.

Passing bull 189 – Virtue signalling

 

 

It was saddening to see The Economist use the phrase ‘virtue signalling’.  It’s like ‘identity politics’.  It is favoured as a substitute for thought by too many people who write for The Weekend Australian.  The Wikipedia definition is:

Virtue signalling is a pejorative term that refers to the conspicuous expression of moral values.  Academically, the phrase relates to signalling theory to describe a subset of social behaviors that could be used to signal virtue—especially piety among the religious.  In recent years, the term has become more commonly used as a pejorative by commentators to criticize what they regard as empty or superficial support of certain political views and also used within groups to criticize their own members for valuing appearance over action.

Presumably, that is what clergymen do when they reverse their collar, or doctors do when they wear a stethoscope, or barristers do when they don a wig.  But it is not apparently what a Murdoch commentator does when he or she mocks climate change, bewails socialism, or sledges the ABC – all ad nauseam. It all depends on whom you put down and whether you get a Masonic handshake from your correspondent in return.  Donald Trump does it by hugging the flag while acting the part of a baboon.

You can see the likeness to the term ‘identity politics.’  They are both tribal; they are deployed by people who hunt in packs; they are at best intellectually fuzzy and morally slippery; and they are quintessential cases of the vice of labelling.

Bloopers

‘Human trafficking is evil in our midst,’ Mr. Aronberg said. ‘It is fuelled on the demand side.’

New York Times, 25 February, 2018.

This was a case about a well-known figure charged with soliciting.  Prostitution is hardly novel, and the context hardly bears a word that has been mutilated in both economics and political philosophy.