Thursday, September 22, 2016

Free speech destructive to Left’s stifling orthodoxies

Perhaps it was the delirium of pneumonia that allowed Hillary Clinton to speak so freely, putting half of Donald Trump’s supporters in what she called the “basket of deplorables”. Like the in vino veritas that sets in after a few drinks, Clinton’s honesty was refreshing.

They are “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it”, said Clinton of the Deplorables. In one fell swoop the unplugged Democratic presidential candidate lifted the lid on the neo-fascist Left.

Clinton’s moment of ill-discipline reduced the fraud of so-called progressive politics to a simple illiberal equation: if you disagree with me on race matters, you are a racist. If you disagree with me over lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex politics, you are a homophobe. Disagree with my position on Islam, you are an ­Islamophobe. If you disagree with me on immigration, you are a xenophobe. Rather than engaging in debate, too many on the Left would rather portray disagreement on totemic issues as grounds for a mental disorder with the sole aim of shutting down any challenge to leftist orthodoxy.

The same politics of deriding deplorables is endemic in Australia, especially in the same-sex marriage debate. The Greens and LGBTI activists claim that allowing Australians to decide whether marriage should be redefined would fuel harmful hate speech from same-sex marriage opponents. Worse, the leaders of Australia’s alternative government succumbed to the lowest of low-rent politics. A plebiscite would lead to suicides, Bill Shorten said. Deputy leader Tanya Plibersek used a young boy named Eddie, the son of a same-sex couple, for political purposes. The aim is clear: shut down debate about same-sex marriage. Agree or shut up is the staple of neo-fascists. Never mind that we are debating an institution, not the sexuality of individuals.

Malcolm Turnbull exposed Labor’s thought police during question time last Wednesday. “Was Julia Gillard a homophobe when she opposed same-sex marriage? Was Penny Wong a homophobe when she opposed same-sex marriage? Of course not. The reality is, if people who opposed same-sex marriage then are not homophobes, then they are not homophobes now. The Labor Party has to stop preaching this hatred,” the Prime Minister said.

Alas, same-sex marriage activists chose hatred last Friday when they learnt that Christian groups planned to meet at the Mercure Sydney Airport hotel to prepare for the no campaign. The threats of violence, feral social media posts, including “are your children safe at Mercure” and nasty phone calls to staff showed the disdain for debate among same-sex marriage activists. Hotel management cancelled the event to protect staff. Did left-wingers in favour of same-sex marriage condemn the hate-filled campaign from their own side? No.

Whatever you may say about rigid Christian doctrinal teaching, the churches understand they operate in a liberal democracy where the marketplace of ideas will necessarily challenge their beliefs. Not so the gay-marriage zealots whose fanaticism seeks to suppress open debate and reason.

The critical question is why have so many on the Left taken this illiberal path? Whereas radical leftists in the 1960s were at the vanguard of libertarianism, challenging oppressive customs and canons, too many are now enforcers of their own stifling orthodoxies. The end of liberalism for many on the Left started more than 40 years ago when, by embracing identity politics, they untethered human rights from classical notions of freedom. Sex, sexuality, race and other forms of personal identification trumped Enlightenment freedoms and the very notion of universal, libertarian rights.

Soon enough, identity politics fuelled victimhood claims in a confected marketplace of outrage with feelings now the measurement of human rights. The right not to be offended, not to have one’s feelings hurt, marked the downward spiral of the liberal Left. Instead, a paternalistic Left set ­itself up as the arbiter of rights and freedoms based on repressive ­adherence to its feelings-based moral code rather than the universal rights of mankind.

There are few more defining moments in the Left’s long, illiberal demise than its response when Muslim fundamentalists slapped a fatwa on Salman Rushdie for writing The Satanic Verses, demanding his death, burning his novel and marching in London to suppress words.

By choosing silence at this pivotal moment, left-wing elites sided with Muslim fundamentalists who understood that free speech threatened their grip on power.

Now it’s the same with the Western Left. They understand that free speech is the enemy of their illiberal, stifling orthodoxies. It explains why so many on the Left refuse to countenance any change to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, even while three students from the Queensland University of Technology are dragged through a three-year legal rigmarole of racial discrimination claims for posting innocuous comments on Facebook. The silence from most on the Left attests to the neo-fascist transformation of their politics. To speak up would expose the illiberal project that the Left has undertaken for four decades.

Those who call out the Left’s dangerous regression deserve kudos. British writer Nick Cohen marched against Margaret Thatcher and denounced New Labour’s embrace of corporate capitalism. Cohen tendered his resignation from the Left a year ago: “Slowly, too slowly, I am ashamed to say, I began to notice that left-wing politics had turned rancid.”

In Australia, Guy Rundle recently lamented the Left’s enthusiasm for the ever-encroaching state and how the aim of anti-discrimination laws “is to make the censor ‘go inside’, so that you ultimately second-guess your own impulse to challenge, to express, to be outrageous or genuinely on the edge”.

At the weekend, former minister in the Hawke and Keating governments Peter Baldwin traced the sad demise of the Left from a rational movement committed to equality of people, regardless of race, gender and class, to one of moral depravity where so-called progressive intellectuals denounce Ayaan Hirsi Ali as an “Enlightenment fundamentalist”. Hirsi Ali was born a Muslim, was subjected to female genital mutilation and escaped an arranged marriage. Shouldn’t we pay tribute to a woman who choses Western freedoms over Islamic restraints?

We need more people like Baldwin who are honest about the Left’s conversion into loathers of freedom. Half-hearted analyses don’t cut it. When former NSW Labor premier Bob Carr scolded members of the Left for intolerance in the free speech debate, he refused to acknowledge that section 18C cements intolerance in our polity. It’s like saying you support democratic nations but not the sole beacon of democracy in the Middle East, Israel. It makes no sense.

Equally absurd, the Greens can walk out on Pauline Hanson but to denounce a duly elected senator as having no place in a democracy is more offensive than anything Hanson says. It is the antithesis of democracy. We’ve tiptoed around calling out the neo-fascist mindset of many on the Left for too long. What is more deplorably neo-fascist: the clumsy words of the often ill-informed Hanson who believes in free speech or the slippery sorts on the illiberal Left who cannot stomach open debate?


Plan for backpacker job to dole recipients

Farmers struggling to find backpacker fruit pickers should be able to hire Australians who are on the dole.

That's the solution being proposed by crossbench senator Nick Xenophon - and all he needs is the government to relax rules on welfare recipients.

Farmers are worried backpackers needed for seasonal picking are being driven away by new 32.5 per cent tax imposed from the first dollar they earn.

The impasse on the tax - which the government says will be resolved soon - has already hurt some family businesses worried their produce will be left rotting on the ground.

A novel solution to a possible backpacker shortage has been presented to the federal government. Under the plan, they would get an extra $300 if they have to travel more than 100km, while job service providers would also get a bonus if they successfully placed jobseekers.

Treasurer Scott Morrison says the real problem with the welfare system is some people reject such jobs.

"The reason we need to get backpackers into these jobs in these places is because there are unemployed Australians living in these areas who won't take these jobs," he told Ray Hadley on 2GB radio on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Acting Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce says a resolution on the tax - which has been delayed until January - will come in just over a month.

He's spoken to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, about the issue.

"We're going to do this diligently and bring this to a conclusion," he told reporters in Rockhampton.


Turnbull government pitches welfare overhaul

The Turnbull government is preparing to outline a fresh attempt to break the cycle of welfare dependency by targeting key groups including young carers and young parents.

Social Services Minister Christian Porter will tell the National Press Club on Tuesday there is "nothing morally superior or progressive" about handing out more money if it only serves to entrench the cycle of social security dependence.

But the government's first move will be to create a $96 million honey pot - the Try, Test and Learn Fund - to trial experimental initiatives aimed at getting key groups off the public books and into employment.

"Anyone who can see these human stories playing out on the ground can come to us with an idea," Mr Porter told ABC radio on Tuesday. "We will fund those solutions and measure them".

Off the back of a PricewaterhouseCoopers report commissioned by his predecessor Scott Morrison, Mr Porter pointed to young carers and young parents as two groups for whom welfare spending appeared to be failing.

According to the government, the report will show that among the nation's 11,200 young carers aged 15-24, the average person will spend 43 years on welfare and cost the taxpayer $500,000 each. The total lifetime bill for the group would be $5.2 billion.

Similarly, Australia's 4370 young parents (aged under 18) will spend an average of 45 years on welfare at a total cost of $2.4 billion. "This is a terrible failure and it needs to change," Mr Porter said.

Mr Porter will release the PwC report on Tuesday, but the government has been busy laying the groundwork. In an extended interview with News Corp at the weekend, Mr Porter warned the welfare system was "not making life any better" for many Australians, and that "too often it seems to make life worse over the long run".

While the Turnbull government's approach has been compared to reforms made in New Zealand, the minister said he was not pursuing short-term savings, and any financial benefits to the taxpayer would be "in the very long run".

But he noted the social security budget was growing at a rate of about six per cent and all portfolios needed to play a part in returning the budget to surplus.

"We are trying to move people out of the system," Mr Porter said on Tuesday. "To that extent we are using employment as a proxy for the better life."

He resisted criticism that welfare recipients often moved into poor quality, part-time and low-paid jobs with little opportunity for advancement.

"These types of jobs are far better than 40-odd years inside the welfare system," he said. The benefits of work were effectively "being taken away" from young people who became glued to the system, Mr Porter said, and they would never experience "that structure, that self-reliance, that dignity and purpose" of employment.


Treasurer Scott Morrison vows to look into NEET duo’s welfare status

THE two NEETs from Mount Druitt who would prefer to spend their days ‘chilling at Maccas” but knocked back jobs with the food giant could soon find the need for work more urgent.

The Daily Telegraph revealed last week that NEETs, Ashleigh, 21, and Amy, 17, from Mt Druitt, would rather spend their days “chilling at maccas” and taking their old Holden Barina on “off-road tracks” than look for a job.

Ashleigh told The Daily Telegraph she would “never get a job”. “I don’t want to work my whole life and just die ... I want more than that,” she said from the car park of the Mt ­Druitt Centrelink office.

“I would tell you it’s hard to get a job but to be honest I don’t even try. Centerlink pays my rent and that’s all I need.”
The pair told The Daily Telegraph they would rather drive off-road or hang out at Maccas. Picture: Justin Lloyd

Her friend Amy was recently kicked out of her trade college and has been unable to hold down a job. “They pay you nothing so why would I rock up,” she said.

Treasurer Scott Morrison told broadcaster Ray Hadley today that he would look into the status of their welfare benefits with Social Services Minister Christian Porter.

Hadley told the minister: “It’s simply a matter of going out there and saying: ‘here they are, they’ve identified themselves, it’s our belief they never wish to work — good, they’re entitled not to work, but get them off whatever Centrelink payment they’re on tomorrow’ because I guarantee today those same two girls are still drawing money on the public purse.”

The Treasurer said: “Leave it with me. I’ll have a chat with Christian.”

Mr Morrison said he was optimistic of winning crossbenchers’ support for a law forcing the unemployed to wait four weeks before accessing dole payments.

“There’s a whole range of exemptions that protect very vulnerable people, but for those who are ready and able to work, we’re saying there should be a mandatory waiting time before you can go on the dole,” he said.

“What we found in New Zealand is when these waiting periods were put in time then people went and got jobs.”

Mr Morrison’s declaration comes as Mr Porter, who will release the report at the National Press Club in Canberra on Tuesday, is set to call for a revolution in the way social security is paid.
Federal Minister for Social Services Christian Porter is set to call for a revolution in the way social security is paid.

Federal Minister for Social Services Christian Porter is set to call for a revolution in the way social security is paid.Source:AAP

Jenny Macklin, the opposition social services spokeswoman, acknowledged there were “some positive reports” out of New Zealand but said the government needed to “invest” in the unemployed to get them into work.


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

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