Thursday, April 10, 2014

Mock Christians, get laughs, mock Muslims, get bullets

A young man mocks Christians on stage on national television he gets laughs. Another young man mocks Muslims on YouTube, he gets bullets through his home's window.  Is this the future of religious debate in Australia?

While I won't attempt to edify the erratic rantings of Nathan Abela, a "leader" in the anti-Islamic Australian Defence League who had up to eight bullets fired into his Sydney home last week, it made me ponder the reaction if the same thing had happened to comedian Joel Creasey.

Abela's raison d'etre seems to be to spur a reaction from Muslims, yet his taunts sit in the same ballpark as that of Creasey, who asked the audience during an episode of SBS's Stand Up @ Bella Union last month if anyone was from the Hillsong Christian congregation.

"No-one hoping to have their Guy Sebastian album signed after the gig?" said Creasey, "no, why would you? You guys are great, you guys are awesome, you're out of the house, you're seeing comedy, it's night time. If you were super-religious you'd probably be at home right now, maniacally fisting yourself to Antiques Roadshow."

Funny? I guess it depends on your sense of humour but, the fact Creasey is able to mock Christianity so openly, on a government-funded television station, delights and reassures me I'm living in free, rational society.

Granted, Creasey is telling a gag and Abela's joined the Australian version of the English Defence League - a far-right organisation of violence-prone, Islamophobe hooligans. Yet, he's broken no laws.

Every time I write a column critical of Christianity, a perverse religious solidarity infects some of the more hostile commentors who "dare" me to "say the same things about Islam" - like it's their hot-tempered little brother up the back of the bus.

Islam's sensitivity to criticism is well documented.

American author, philosopher and neuroscientist, Sam Harris, puts it well in his 2010 book The Moral Landscape when he writes: "The peculiar concerns of Islam have created communities in almost every society on earth that grow so unhinged in the face of criticism that they will reliably riot, burn embassies, and seek to kill peaceful people, over cartoons."

"This is something they will not do, incidentally, in protest over the continuous atrocities committed against them by their fellow Muslims. The reasons why such a terrifying inversion of priorities does not tend to maximise human happiness are susceptible to many levels of analysis - ranging from biochemistry to economics.

"But do we need further information in this case? It seems to me that we already know enough about the human condition to know that killing cartoonists for blasphemy does not lead anywhere worth going on the moral landscape," writes Harris.

Neither, would I suggest, does shooting at people if they happen to mock your faith on YouTube.

There is plenty to dislike about all religion - and I've not been shy about my thoughts on the hypocrisies of Christianity. However, to jeer conservative Islam and, as Harris describes, its "demonising homosexuals, stoning adulterers, veiling women, soliciting the murder of artists and intellectuals, and celebrating the exploits of suicide bombers"?


The lefties invade the National Party

What has happened to the National Party in NSW?  At a time when the bush in Australia has some real issues and needs strong, loud, and authentic voices, what the hell are they doing?

The once 'party for the country' seems to have solidly abandoned its conservative country roots and risks gradually becoming a ship of convenience for left leaning inner city trendies.

It was only a handful of years ago that the Nats largely saved Australia from an early Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

Remember that?  Late 2009 and Malcolm Turnbull was Opposition Leader. Fools in the Coalition were on the verge of teaming up with Kevin07 to support a quick start ETS.

Turnbull was rolled after Nationals like Barnaby Joyce and Fiona Nash inspired Liberals to wake up and grow a spine.  Within weeks, Tony Abbott was Opposition Leader and here we are today.

Typically, you've always been able to count on people from the bush to truly read the mood of the country.

But something is wrong.  On Friday afternoon the Nats in NSW showed they had lost their way. They pre-selected a city based, lefty ex-Liberal, who doesn't have a drivers licence and is a political gamer to lead the party's Upper House ticket for the NSW election next year.

Ben Franklin is his name. Currently their state director but he could easily be at home in the Liberals or Labor. He is known around the NSW parliament as a classic political animal. The National Party is just where he is today.

He lives at Kirribilli in lower North Shore Sydney and figured out 'doing the numbers' when he was President of the Young Liberals.

Franklin is thought of as a 'wet' or a lefty. Certainly not the kind of bloke who'd really know much about the plight of people on the land.

So what are they doing giving him top pre-selection?

Franklin knocked out of the way a real-deal kind of bloke called John Williams who lives in Broken Hill.  Williams has run a business in a country town and has represented one of the largest electorates in the country from The Murray to the Queensland border. He is known to fly a light plane to get around his electorate.

Another MP, Melinda Pavey was also knocked out of the way. She's an ex-family business operator who has a young family living on the North Coast. She oversees Rural Health for the NSW Government.

Franklin's rise to the top is exactly not what the National Party leadership in NSW wanted. It goes against the wishes of Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner.

I appreciate that internal party politics is not everyone's cup of tea - but it strikes me as sad that even the National Party has become just another way for ambitious young city types to get into parliament.


Antidemocratic Greens

 It was called the March in March.  This time it was Abbott who was pilloried in abusive placards and righteous speeches, as the green left railed against Abbott's odious platform.

This week, Christine Milne praised that sentiment when she fronted the National Press Club. To be fair, it was a more sophisticated entreaty to voters to ‘‘make the WA election the turning of the tide; make it the defining moment where Tony Abbott’s radical, extreme agenda is stopped. Make it the moment, as [Greens senator] Scott Ludlam said, 'when we take our country back'.’’

While Milne’s call for action via the ballot box was perfectly defensible, stripped back, it asserted that the Greens speak for the majority and that Tony Abbott lacks legitimacy.

But where is the evidence given that this government has not even served out a single year of its three-year term nor handed down one budget?

It is not as if the government has done anything, excluding imperial titles, that can even be said to be outside its explicit mandate. Like it or not, Abbott's authority to repeal the carbon and mining taxes, rebalance the budget, and to stop the boats, could not have been clearer.

The March rallies so lauded by the Greens were presented as a protest against the Abbott government. But surely the real beef is with the Australian people who just six months prior had installed Abbott with a thumping 30-odd seat majority.

Such arguments fail to register it seems on both ends of the spectrum.

If ever there was an admission to having no empirical basis for a claim, it was Milne's evoking of the classic Australian movie, The Castle.

"The vibe of the nation right now is something you can't quite put your finger on but it's there, it's real, it's powerful, and it's building," she claimed.

It is beyond obvious to point out that the hapless lawyer in the movie had only resorted to "the vibe" because he lacked a real argument.

Yet some vibes are real. Such as the vibe of genuine concern, bordering on insurrection running through the Greens right now.

Unlike the former example, this one is based on empirical evidence including that the Green vote is on the wane, and that as a result, so too is Milne's grip on the leadership.

One need only look at the recent evidence such as the humiliating reversal suffered in her home state of Tasmania in the March state poll where it collapsed by almost 8 per cent statewide.

It followed a nation-wide drop of 3.3 per cent in the September federal poll.

The loss of another senator on Saturday could see a move on Milne within weeks with the two Victorians, Adam Bandt and Richard Di Natale, likely to step forward.

But even if Ludlam survives, as the late mail suggests he will, the word from inside the camp is that the Greens are actively weighing their options, with one figure noting that Bob Brown surrendered the leadership precisely because he could not guarantee serving out another six-year term as leader.

Milne's current term expires at the next election and her colleagues are already discussing succession. If Milne is looking for a vibe around the place, she might consider tuning into that one.


Old tribal customs no excuse for crimes

WITH increasing regularity, Australian courts are accepting “cultural differences” as ­exculpatory or mitigating factors for more lenient sentencing or even to excuse the most abhorrent crimes.

Surely this is not the multi-culturalism that even the most avowed flag-waving, sandal-shod, inner-urban, Green-Labor voting wearers of tie-dyed rainbow garments believe in?

Though the Left has worked strenuously to denigrate the very notion that Australia has any culture whatsoever, ­attacking Anzac Day, sneering at the national enthusiasm for sport, attempting to airbrush all references from the education curriculum to our Anglo heritage which is the bedrock of our law and language and disparaging our debt to ­Judaeo-Christian values, it is patently obvious our culture and the economic opportunity it provides, is a beacon in an ­increasingly chaotic world. In the politically correct non-judgemental world of the kumbaya crowd, all cultures are equal and must be respected.

In 2013, Victorian Court of Appeal Justice Robert Redlich granted Esmatullah Sharifi, 31, who had pleaded guilty to the rape of an 18-year-old girl and a 25-year-old woman in the same week in December, 2008, the right to appeal against the cumulative 14-year-jail term he is serving.

When he was sentenced, Judge Mark Dean said Sharifi had gone hunting for vulnerable, drunken women to rape.

Judge Dean pointedly noted that his flight from the Taliban was no excuse.  “The offence committed by you was an extremely serious act of violence, and in my opinion you well knew the victim was not consenting,” he said.

Sharifi found the teen near a Frankston nightclub and ­offered to drive her to meet friends at a Mornington hotel. But instead he drove her to a dark street and raped her. “Your brutal conduct must be denounced by this court,” Judge Dean said.

In granting leave, Judge Redlich found Sharifi’s lack of insight into his offence and the fact that he had no appreciation that his conduct was wrong adequate reasons to support his appeal.

Sharifi succeeded in his ­appeal with the Full Court knocking one year and six months off his total sentence.

Even more strange was the decision of Magistrate Ron Saines to drop an attempted child-stealing charge against Ali Jaffari, 35, in the Geelong Magistrates’ Court saying he would have reasonable doubt about his guilt, citing “cultural differences” as one mitigating factor.

The case related to the ­alleged attempt by Jaffari in January, 2013, to lead a four-year-old girl away from a sports oval while her father and brother played cricket.

Police Prosecutor, Sergeant Brooke Shears said that while the child’s father was throwing the ball to his son in the nets, the little girl was playing with her own bat at the net opening.

She said Jaffari was walking around the oval, when he ­approached the child, removed the bat from her hand and ­rested it against a bollard.

“He then grabbed the child’s hand and began to lead her away before she looked up, saw it wasn’t her father, started crying and pulled her hand away,” she said.

“The victim’s father turned, saw what was happening and yelled at Jaffari, ‘What do you think you’re doing?’ The victim ran crying to her father and he comforted her while Jaffari walked off around the oval.”

After being awarded a permanent protection visa in early 2012 by the Gillard government upon arriving by boat, Jaffari was convicted of ­indecent assault on two boys aged 12 and 13.

The prosecutor said that, when interviewed, Jaffari told police: “For us is not an issue.”

Magistrate Saines said the prosecution case fell short of criminality and cited cultural differences as a possible mitigating factor.

But Sgt Shears insisted that the offending had nothing to do with cultural differences. After being awarded a permanent protection visa in early 2012 by the Gillard government upon arriving by boat, Jaffari was convicted of ­indecent assault on two boys aged 12 and 13.

Witnesses said he started grabbing and rubbing himself against them, cuddling and kissing them on the neck and telling one of the boys he was “sexy”. One of the victims said he followed them to the showers, cornered them and asked if he “wanted company”.

He received a two-year community corrections order with 300 hours unpaid community work and was listed on a sex offenders’ register.

Curiously, sex crimes, usually against women and not boys, attract far harsher penalties under Afghan law than they do here, yet it is one cultural difference our judges and lawyers don’t seem to embrace.

Playing to the minorities is a losing game as nations across Europe find to their cost.


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