Monday, August 29, 2016
The fashion for university rape protests reaches Australia
I have followed a lot of these protests but I have nowhere seen a reasonable comparision of university rape incidence with rape incidence for the same age group in the general community. Rapes do occur at universities. They occur most places. But tasking universities with rape prevention may be to task them with changing human nature -- a notoriously difficult task
University students have crashed a university open day lecture protesting against the against the way sexual assaults are handled at universities.
A group of male and female students entered the Sydney University's Eastern Avenue lecture hall on Saturday during an information session.
They brought with them single sized mattresses with slogans such as 'protect students', 'welcome to the hunting grounds' and 'red tape won't cover up rape' scrawled across it in red and black permanent marker.
The event was organised by Sydney University Women's Officer Anna Hush who said 'We organised this event because we want to show parents that sexual assault and harassment are significant problems for students', in a report by News.com.au.
Among the group were victims of rape who told of their harrowing stories in front of parents and prospective students.
'I lasted three weeks in my first year of university before I was raped. Three weeks. As a first year student. And I'm still studying, but my life is completely different,' one brave female student said. 'I never expected that to happen at my university,' she said.
The student added: 'It's evident, if we want to protect our child and also allow them to have an education at a tertiary level we need to help change the system, revolt against the universities and demand change before we ever decide to sent our brothers, our sisters, our children to university'.
A short time after university security and management interrupted the protest by turned off the lights and ushered parents out of the hall in an attempt to stop the group for reading out their demands.
The 10 demands were for how universities should improvements their policies towards sexual assault and how it should be responded to.
A mother of a prospective student who was at the lecture said: 'It was so moving for me — each of those girls would have gone through a lot to get up there [and talk about their assaults].'
When a Briton defends free speech in Australia
In Q&A, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s flagship political panel show, spiked editor Brendan O’Neill once again prompted the right-thinking first to tweet their spleen, and then to fire off snarky op-eds. And the reason for the riling? Was it O’Neill’s criticism of the Australian state’s incarceration of migrants on the micro-island of Nauru, ‘a kind of purgatory, a limbo where aspiring migrants are stuck between a place they don’t want to be and a place they want to be’, as he described it? Or was it perhaps his criticism of pro-refugee campaigners, whom, as The Australian reports, O’Neill accused of ‘infantilising’ migrants, treating them as weak, helpless, other?
Nope, none of the above. What got up the nose of the unthinkingly politically correct was O’Neill’s attack on Section 18C of Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act, which prohibits speech ‘reasonably likely… to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people’ because of their ‘race, colour or national or ethnic origin’. Or, to put it another way: Brendan O’Neill defended free speech. And, it was this, this defence of one of the cornerstones of radical, liberal, enlightened thought, that outraged the nominally liberal and leftist.
Here’s what O’Neill said: ‘I love hearing hate speech because it reminds me I live in a free society.’ Got that? O’Neill loves hearing hate speech, not in itself, not because he just loves vitriol, as some of his detractors really seem to believe. No, he loves hearing it because of what hearing it means: namely, that we live in a society that is confident enough in itself, in its liberal values, that it can tolerate dissenting and hateful views. O’Neill then went on to explain why freedom of speech is precisely the mechanism through which we can challenge racism: ‘The real problem with Section 18C is it actually disempowers anti-racists by denying us the right to see racism, to know it, to understand it and to confront it in public. Instead it entrusts the authorities to hide it away on our behalf so we never have a reckoning with it.’
For anyone faintly familiar with a liberal and radical tradition of thought, from Voltaire to Frederick Douglass to Karl Marx, O’Neill’s argument shouldn’t be controversial: it is only through the airing of prejudice that it can be reckoned with. And it certainly shouldn’t be difficult to understand. But sadly it seems that, for too many, it is. To these, the liberal-ish and the right-on, it is an anathema, thought from another planet.
First came the high-profile Twitterers, the attack dogs of elite sentiment. Celebrity chef Georgina Dent said: ‘See, if hearing hate speech is the bit you love most about living in a “free country” you’re doing it wrong.’ Commentator Jane Caro quickly joined in: ‘Brendan O’Neill may not be aware of how privileged he is to “like” hearing hate speech. I’ve seen it intimidate people into silence.’ And in chimed the widely retweeted campaigner and columnist, Mariam Veiszadeh: ‘Those who argue that S18C should be repealed have the privilege of never having to seek its protection.’
Then came the op-eds. A Sydney Morning Herald writer declared: ‘The audience of Q&A has exercised its freedom of speech to call BS on a white man who courageously declared, among a panel of fellow white folk, that he loves hearing hate speech.’ And 9News talked of ‘a white male free-speech crusader’ being ‘mocked online after declaring on last night’s Q&A programme that he “loves hearing hate speech”’.
What’s immediately striking about the response to O’Neill’s defence of free speech is the incredulity. ‘An extraordinary statement’, remarked one commentator, as if O’Neill had just proclaimed the Earth’s flatness. Another said it was ‘ridiculous’. All of which shows just how removed today’s liberals and lefties are from their own liberal, left-wing traditions.
Then of course there is the substance, if you can call it that, of their criticism. That is, O’Neill, as a white man, is in no position to criticise the criminalisation of racist hate speech. Why? Because, as a white man, he has not experienced racial hate speech; he does not know how it feels to be subject to racial hate speech, and therefore he has no authority to comment on it. Where do you start with this steaming pile of emotivist, particularist proverbial? First, O’Neill is making a universalist case for free speech. Not for himself. Not for white people. And not for middle-class tweeters. He is making a case for free speech for everyone. Second, O’Neill’s own background – a son of working-class Irish immigrants, as it happens, which is hardly a marker of privilege in Britain - is not important. What matters is the argument, not its propagator. If a ‘person of colour’, as O’Neill’s critics have it, had made the same argument, would it suddenly have become more persuasive, more legitimate?
And third and finally, who exactly do they think is empowered by Section 18C? Is it indigenous Australians? Is it the wretched of the Earth? Or is it the Australian state, complete with its retinue of privileged white judges and civil servants who, thanks to this pernicious bit of legislation, are now authorised to adjudicate on what is illegal and what is legal speech? And here we come to the miserable irony of those who are mocking O’Neill for his defence of free speech: they would rather support the state, the most powerful and, yes, privileged force in the land than give people the freedom to say what they think. It seems there are none so dangerous as the unthinkingly self-righteous.
In his Crikey column, Guy Rundle captured well the irony of the anti-O’Neill, anti-white-privilege backlash, particularly as it came from O’Neill’s fellow panellist, the comedian Corinne Grant: ‘It’s particularly counterproductive when people from a creative background — playwrights, comedians — take so easily to the task of censoriousness and state control of speech. It is an invitation to hand over freedom on the promise that the state will guarantee it for you – and reach the point where you positively welcome having judges “authorising” speech. Nothing much can be achieved while this attitude persists, unexamined, unreflected upon, among people who should be challenging elites, not forming new ones.’
And it’s precisely the freedom to challenge elites and elite views that animates O’Neill’s defence of free speech. As the man himself put it in that heated TV studio: ‘It’s very important when it comes to expressing opinion, even if it’s ugly opinion, to protect people’s right to do that. Otherwise you’ll end up in a situation where the state has the right to decide what’s a good opinion or a bad opinion. And least of all minority groups should support that. Every marginalised group in history has seen free speech as their greatest friend. It’s the means through they can express themselves, can argue against their oppression, through which they can challenge the authorities. We have to defend the right for free speech for everyone, particularly for marginalised groups.’
Cindy Prior: Doctors cast doubts on QUT employee’s 18C racism claim
She's a neurotic and a chronic complainer so her upset in the QUT matter is readily seen as irrational
Comprehensive medical reports question the severity and reasons for a stress disorder affecting an indigenous university staffer who is seeking $250,000 damages from students in a section 18C racial hatred case.
The medical reports, introduced to the controversial case as formal public exhibits by the Queensland University of Technology employee and her Brisbane solicitor Susan Moriarty suggest Cindy Prior carries past grievances and overreacted to students’ Facebook posts.
Simone Shaw, a psychologist who conducted a long interview and examination, said in a 13-page report that Ms Prior was “unlikely to attribute personal responsibility to events that occur in her life”.
“As a result of this personality style, she is likely to blame and begrudge others when she perceives she has been mistreated, which appears evident in relation to the incident on 28 May, 2013,’’ Dr Shaw reported.
“She may be blindly uncritical of her own behaviour and insensitive to negative consequences associated with her behaviour, tending to minimise the negative impact that her behaviour has on others and on herself.
Dr Shaw said Ms Prior appeared to have had numerous workplace occurrences that she had perceived as bullying, harassment and racial vilification.
“It appears that these experiences continue to cause distress to Ms Prior in relation to her perceptions of justice,” she said.
“Ms Prior reported an extensive history of experiencing racial abuse from early childhood until the present time. This history of abuse has resulted in a sense of re-traumatisation for Ms Prior in relation to the incident on 28 May 2013.
“Ms Prior presents with strong convictions in relation to fairness and equity and her sense of injustice, not only in relation to the most recent workplace incident, but this was also evident through her recollections of her involvement in four previous workplace incidents and two historical personal incidents that subsequently caused her significant distress and she reportedly instigated legal involvement on several occasions to resolve those issues.
“Her core belief of fairness and equity justice has resulted in a sense of injustice in relation to the incident on 28 May, 2013.”
Ms Prior has an ongoing Federal Circuit Court action against students under section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, which makes it unlawful for anyone to “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” another person or group on the grounds of race, colour or ethnicity.
On May 28, 2013, engineering student Alex Wood wrote on Facebook: “Just got kicked out of the unsigned indigenous computer room. QUT stopping segregation with segregation?”
He wrote it soon after Ms Prior, an administrative officer in QUT’s Oodgeroo Unit, had directed Mr Wood and two other students to leave the unit. She had first asked whether they were indigenous as the Oodgeroo Unit was established for Aboriginal students. Mr Wood and his friends packed up and left the unit peacefully after Ms Prior’s intervention and questioning.
Another student, Jackson Powell, who is also being sued, read Mr Wood’s post and wrote a sarcastic reply: “I wonder where the white supremacist lab is.”
A third student who is being sued and accused of racial vilification under 18C, Calum Thwaites, said he was not the author of a Facebook post which used the word “niggers”.
The 18C case, which has led to confidential cash settlements by several other students in return for their release from the legal action, advanced to the Federal Circuit Court after going first to the Human Rights Commission.
Mr Wood said: “I morally detest racial discrimination. I made my comment in good faith. I am really struggling to understand how this relatively minor act has left me facing a criminal prosecution for ‘hate speech’ and a claim for damages in an amount well in excess of $250,000.”
The students and their lawyers say the case is a glaring example of how section 18C can be misused to demand money and smear people as racists, while proponents of reform have called for section 18C to be abolished. Malcolm Turnbull says he and the government are focused on the economy rather than looking at 18C, but conservative backbenchers and independents want action.
The Weekend Australian has examined numerous exhibits attached to Ms Prior’s affidavit, filed by her solicitor, as judge Michael Jarrett is set to rule on whether her case should be dismissed.
One of the exhibits, the report of Dr Shaw for QUT, was part of a worker’s compensation process that began soon after May 28, 2013, as Ms Prior said she was unable to return to the Oodgeroo Unit due to her severe stress and fears of a “Ku Klux Klan” cabal of students.
University executives assured her there was no such group, while Mr Wood, who had not breached the student code of conduct with his comment about segregation, took down the Facebook post as soon as he was asked by QUT.
Dr Shaw said Ms Prior had complained that a short time before the May 28 incident she had experienced racism from a QUT tutor. Ms Prior had ceased studying a bachelor of arts course, majoring in human rights and ethics, as she disagreed with an assignment requirement to observe indigenous offenders.
Dr Shaw reported that Ms Prior’s responses in a comprehensive psychological evaluation were “unusual in that they indicate a defensiveness about particular personal shortcomings as well as an exaggeration of certain problems”.
Ms Prior has refused to accept some of the clinical psychologist’s key findings, adding that “it is clear she is not my advocate” and that she “found it difficult to connect” with Dr Shaw.
“I felt she lacked empathy,’’ Ms Prior states in her affidavit when describing Dr Shaw.
“She appeared to have no grasp or feel for the unique problems which are part of being an Aboriginal person. At the assessment, she pushed me hard to agree to a graduated return to work program when I still felt incapacitated by anxiety and fear.
“Her ‘client’ was QUT, not me. QUT’s agenda was to get me back to work as soon as possible and her sole role was to do just that, irrespective of how I felt.
“As an example, she told me at one point to have self-defence lessons so that I could feel more confident in fighting back if I was assaulted and mentioned that WorkCover would most likely pay for the lessons.”
Dr Shaw told QUT staff involved in trying to help Ms Prior get back to work that they should discuss the feasibility of safety measures including a security guard patrol, erection of indigenous flags at the Oodgeroo Unit, 24-hour swipe-card access, and fast dial to security
Within two days of the incident, QUT director of equity Mary Kelly was advised by Ms Prior that she would not be returning to her workplace as it was unsafe and she feared verbal and physical attack from students.
Another clinical psychologist, Jonathan Mason, in a subsequent 14-page report stated that Ms Prior told him: “I can’t even think about going back there. They know me, I’m scared I’ll be physically attacked by the students.”
Dr Mason said there were indications that Ms Prior “tended to portray herself as being exceptionally free of the common shortcomings to which most individuals will admit”.
He said she had a post-traumatic stress disorder “with clinically significant symptoms in relation to the workplace incident”, and would need a careful program to restart work.
Documents filed by both QUT and a third medical examiner, psychiatrist John Chalk, report that Ms Prior had begun seeing another doctor for a PTSD complaint several weeks before the students went to the Oodgeroo Unit and put any posts on Facebook.
Dr Chalk reported that Ms Prior was “cagey about what she expected QUT to do”, but he added that she wanted them “to, in some way, punish those who posted what she regarded as racially abhorrent comments on Facebook”.
Dr Chalk disagreed with a diagnosis of PTSD, finding instead “a chronic adjustment disorder with a depressed and anxious mood”. It was at the “mild end of the spectrum and (she) could return to gainful employment”, but not at the same campus of QUT.
Psychiatrist Simone Becker, who had previously diagnosed PTSD due to “years of racial discrimination and vilification” (before the Oodgeroo Unit incident), stated that Ms Prior’s work-related condition was “adjustment disorder with anxiety” — which exacerbated the PTSD.
Dr Becker said in her five-page report: “Ms Prior’s experience and interpretation of the work-related incident was directly shaped by her past experiences of persecution and helpless vulnerability. Her incapacity is partial and situational in nature.”
The exhibits disclose that a Queensland government Medical Assessment Tribunal made a December 2013 decision which stated that “as a result of the racial vilification that occurred in the Oodgeroo Unit”, Ms Prior had adjustment disorder with 7.5 per cent impairment. A fortnight later, Ms Prior’s then solicitors, Slater & Gordon, complained to QUT that there had been discrimination, offensive behaviour, racial hatred, lax security measures, and a general failure of the university to act appropriately and respond to safety concerns.
Ms Prior discloses in her affidavit that she felt “physically sick and abandoned” at an early meeting with Ms Kelly, adding: “I could not understand how or why the students had not already been suspended or disciplined. I felt as though I had personally been found ridiculous for fearing physical assault and a KKK presence in the university.
“I was never told what action, if any, was ever taken against the students.
“None of them ever offered me an apology for the suffering their conduct and online posts caused me. I felt I had been warned off from pursuing any kind of accountability for the students’ conduct …’’
Nyland's heartless attack on adoptive parents
South Australia's Nyland Royal Commission has recommended a staggering 260 changes to the state's child protection services.
The sheer number of recommendations indicate a lack of strategic priorities that will address the root systemic reasons why the system fails too many children.
This is typified by the Nyland Report's treatment of the key question of adoption.
In his 2015 report into the death of four-year-old Chloe Valentine, Coroner Mark Johns found that Chloe died because Families SA was obsessively focused on practicing 'family preservation' -- on doing everything it could to keep even an appallingly maltreated child with their abusive and neglectful families.
Hence the Coroner recommended that more children be removed earlier and permanently before they are harmed by their parents, and that the use of adoption be expanded to give more children safe and stable families for life.
Commissioner Nyland, however, rejected increasing the number of adoptions, based on the spurious notion that adoption is somehow not in children's best interests. This is impossible to fathom, given the major and well-documented harm the current system does to children.
But the welfare of children was a secondary consideration, at best. Taking her cue from fanatical anti-adoption academic-activists, Nyland suggested adoption was actually all about the interests of the adults who want to 'own' adopted children.
Adoption, in Nyland's words, is primarily a "means to satisfy the desire of adults to create or expand their families."
This is monstrously absurd given the child welfare issues at stake. It is also a heartless attack on the motives of adoptive parents accused of being especially selfish.
This is ridiculous and mean spirited given that parents hardly decide to have kids naturally for entirely selfless reasons -- let alone in the 'best interests' of their yet unborn children -- but for a whole range of deeply personal -- and biological -- reasons.
Adoptive parents should not be held to a higher standard in an absurd effort to discredit adoption as an illegitimate practice. Adoption needs to be accepted for what it truly is -- a legitimate way to form families when more adoptions could do so much good for so many children.
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.). For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me here