Another tired old Leftist sneer at national pride
Australians have got a lot to be proud about and the surveys reveal that national pride is widespread in Australia. But the pseudo-humorous writer below has nothing but contempt for people who display the Australian flag on their cars. Flags on cars are mainly flown on Australia day, anyway, which is surely an appropriate day to fly them.
His comment on people who want immigration reduced is particularly odious. He implies that they are gun-carrying racists. Since about two thirds of Australians want immigration restraint he must think that he is a very superior person.
The whole piece drips contempt for all sorts of Australians. His fellow haters on the Left will laugh, however
I quite like the Australian flag, and indeed the nation it represents. Certainly it could be improved a bit by the removal of the Union Jack from the corner (though that is an argument for another column), but generally the old girl does a pretty good job of whatever it is that flags are supposed to do.
There is, however, a considerable gulf between a dash of patriotism and national pride, and naked jingoism.
And here we're talking about those bloody plastic flags that flutter feebly from car windows at this time of year, screaming "Look at moi, look at moi!" which (in the world of Kath and Kim at least) rhymes with the equally boorish chant of "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Oi, oi, oi!"
The funny part of this is you're more likely to see the little plastic flags adorning a Hyundai than a Holden ute. This does tend to beg the question of why, if you are so fervently patriotic that you feel the need to advertise the fact, do you drive a Korean-made tin can powered by two rubber bands and an overworked hamster?
Actually, the way motorists choose to decorate their cars can be quite informative, telling you a lot about what sort of driver you are sharing a particular stretch of road with.
Pair up the Aussie car flag with a bumper sticker that sports the slogan "F--- off, we're full", for example, and you have enough character-profiling to deduce that the driver is road-rage incarnate and definitely not the sort of bloke to greet with a single-fingered salute when he cuts in front of you at high speed. In fact there's every chance he keeps his One Nation membership card in the glovebox next to his handgun.
Then there's the shiny new four-wheel-drives with stickers advertising which elite private school the owner's progeny attend and whether said children are rugby or hockey brats.
This just screams out rich Ascot mummy with total disdain for the great unwashed around her, who will tend to wield her vehicle like a German Panzer tank crushing all before it.
Often this species of driver is also sighted with those increasingly ubiquitous "My Family" montages on the back . . . OK, so you've got a partner, you've procreated more often than is probably healthy for the national gene pool and you have two dogs. What do you want, some sort of medal?
This is an "It's all about me" driver who thinks nothing of trundling along at 30km/h below the speed limit in the fast lane and assumes handicapped parking spaces are just that handy.
Baby on board? Another breeder. Bully for you. Line up for your medal behind the My Family brigade.
Another one to watch for are larger vehicles festooned with stickers from exotic destinations like Winton, Birdsville and Broken Hill. If there's a tow bar attached to the vehicle you don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to assume it's probably an elderly caravan owner which, by definition, means automotive sociopath: "I've paid my taxes, so it's my bloody road."
Should Italian and Chinese lead the new curriculum?
Foreign languages are an enthusiasm of mine and I have some qualifications in three of them -- but I cannot for the life of me see why everybody should study them. Learning a foreign language is a huge task (and really huge if the language is Asian) and that diverts energies from the large range of other important subjects. And for what? I doubt that 1% will become translators as we have plenty of naturally bilingual people in Australia anyway (children of immigrants)
Should all students have to study a second language before year 7 as planned under the new national curriculum? The curriculum will cover 11 foreign languages with Italian and Chinese the first to be developed.
Latin and other classical languages have been left out, raising concern. Language teachers say this is a major omission because a knowledge of Latin and Ancient Greek underpins understanding of literature, art and the English language. The sign language Auslan has also been left out, also raising concern.
Italian and Chinese have been given first priority because the national curriculum authority says they "represent languages that cater for the greatest range of learners". "Chinese is a national priority, and Italian is learnt by the largest number of students in the primary years and the second largest number of students enrolments over all." Indonesian, Japanese and Korean are also deemed national priorities as part of the second stage of the language curriculum development.
Traditional European languages including French and German and Spanish will also be included because they are among the most commonly taught languages in Australian schools. The national curriculum authority has included Spanish as a "language of global importance".
Parents are hotly debating these priorities, with some saying the options are too narrow and locking their children into choices too early. Some say they want their children to have wider language choices until at least year 10.
Parents have been telling talk-back radio this morning that they disagree with the national priorities given to some languages over others.
Three years jail for speech??
Prosecutions for speech are mercifully rare in Australia and this one is troubling. Everybody gets abused at some stage. Conservative bloggers get it almost daily. So people have to learn to get used to it. The fact that the abused person was Jewish is of course unpleasant but the abuser was an obvious nut anyway.
A substantial part of the student body at the University of California would have to be locked up under the criteria adopted in this case
The High Court of Australia has found a right to free speech in the constitution so this verdict could be overturned if it is appealed
The Jewish victim of a verbal racial attack that was posted in a video online says a three-year prison term given to the man who called him a "racist, homicidal maniac" outside a Perth supermarket is not enough.
Brendan Lee O'Connell, 40, was sentenced in the District Court in Perth yesterday after being found guilty on Friday of six racial hatred charges.
Chuckling and smiling as the counts were read out to him, O'Connell appeared unaffected by the sentence handed down by Judge Henry Wisbey. O'Connell represented himself before a jury after firing the lawyer who had been defending him against an accusation that he posted an anti-semitic video online.
He faced seven charges related to the posting of a verbal altercation he had with Stanley Keyser and Timothy Peach, who are Jewish, and was found guilty on six.
An argument broke out between the three men at an IGA supermarket in South Perth on May 2, 2009, where a Friends of Palestine group was holding a protest against Israeli oranges. O'Connell was using a video camera at the event and in a video he later posted online, he labelled Mr Keyser a "racist, homicidal maniac". "You have a religion of racism, hate, homicide and ethnic cleansing," he said in the video.
During the trial, O'Connell refused to acknowledge Judge Wisbey when he entered the court and, instead, rose to bow to the jury.
Judge Wisbey said O'Connell showed no remorse and his behaviour "was that of a bully".
About a dozen supporters in the court cheered when O'Connell labelled the proceedings "a kangaroo court" and gave a long, repetitive rant about the King James Bible and the Constitution. As he was led out of court, O'Connell shouted: "Don't forget about the Gazans!"
Outside court, Mr Keyser said O'Connell had forced him to "suffer" for 18 months. "I wish he was in [prison] for longer," he said as he rushed passed reporters.
Family friend Steve Lieblich told reporters it was a "very distressing" time for the Keyser family who were happy to have it over. "I think it was a victory for decency and against bigotry and prejudice," he said. "On this occasion it was the Jewish people who were the target of this bigotry but on future occasions it could be Muslims or Asians or any group, so we we should all be happy about this result."
Mr Lieblich said he hoped O'Connell would have time to reflect on his views during his prison term. He said the internet made it easy to "spread hatred" and it was important to address the issue. "This has got nothing to do with free speech," Mr Lieblich said. "There's clearly a limit to free speech, there's a limit to all freedoms we have in society because we have to consider others. "Words can hurt and cause a lot of damage and people need to recognise that they have to watch their words."
O'Connell's sentence has been backdated to January 24 and he will be eligible for parole, but a date for that period was not specified in court.
Two mental patients killed by Victorian hospital staff
A PATIENT suffocated after security guards restrained him face down on the floor in Frankston Hospital’s psychiatric ward, a coroner has heard.
A hospital analysis of Justin Fraser’s death found two security guards and four orderlies who restrained Mr Fraser, 37, were in a "heightened fight response" and "focused on prevention of further aggression in the heat of the situation". "The wellbeing of the patient was a secondary priority," clinicians found in a report provided to the Health Department.
The clinicians said the staff who restrained Mr Fraser on October 26, 2007, had not been properly trained in the risk of maintaining a patient in a prone position. They therefore could not assess his condition, resulting in "delayed recognition that he had become clinically compromised and acutely unwell".
The court heard that Mr Fraser, a voluntary patient who had schizophrenia, had threatened to harm himself and staff. The security team responded to a nurse’s "code grey" call — used when staff face violence.
After the team restrained Mr Fraser in the ward, he was moved to a seclusion room, where he was found to have stopped breathing. He is thought to have died of positional asphyxia, a form of suffocation that can occur when someone is restrained in a position that stops them breathing properly.
Mr Fraser’s death followed the asphyxiation death of another psychiatric patient - Adam White, 31 - at Maroondah Hospital six months earlier. Coroner Peter White will investigate both deaths because of their similarities.
Senior Sergeant Jenny Brumby, counsel assisting the coroner, said Adam White was an involuntary patient at the time of his death on April 20, 2007. "Mr White … exhibited an episode of violent physical behaviour towards security staff members, which resulted in a struggle and staff restraining him in the prone position on the floor," she said in an opening address. "Mr White stopped breathing while being held in this position and an unsuccessful resuscitation attempt was undertaken."
Mr Fraser's wife, Sharon, said she had dinner with her husband and left him in good spirits in the ward about 8.30 the night before his death. She was stunned when a doctor phoned at 3am to say he had died. "It was a pretty blunt call. I thought it was a prank," she said. "I went in and had my time with Justin and said goodbye to him. I remember the room was bare and he was on two vinyl mattresses. I saw blood on the floor, and his T-shirt was cut."
Senior Sergeant Brumby said the adequacy of hospital policies on restraining aggressive patients and whether staff response to the situation was justified were among issues to be explored during the inquest.
Peninsula Health executive director of mental health, Jan Child, said specific training on the dangers of prone restraint and positional asphyxia were now provided to staff called on to act as "aggression management teams" at the hospital. Policies and training had been strengthened so it was "very, very clear that at all times a clinician should be in charge of the whole response and code grey".