Sunday, August 27, 2017

Silent revolt against homosexual righteousness?

It all started when a contact at the ABC forwarded me a memo which had been circulated to all ABC News and Radio staff. The email reminded journalists that some 40 per cent of Australians do not support same-sex marriage and it was the taxpayer-funded broadcaster’s statutory duty to remain impartial on this matter, including across employees’ social media accounts. This was the second time the broadcaster had issued such a warning; one had also gone out last September, before the first bill for a plebiscite was about to go before parliament. The same contact told me back then, policy staff were ‘harassed’ by their journalist colleagues who disagreed.

Unsurprisingly, it didn’t take long to find several examples of ABC staff still flagrantly breaching the directive. Hell, in the six hours after the latest memo was sent, ABC News’ own official Facebook page published five posts from the pro-SSM side, one that was neutral and none from the No case. But the most high-profile of those who’d gone rogue was Emma Alberici, the host of Lateline. Days earlier, she’d begun an interview with Finance Minister Mathias Cormann suggesting party room bickering was endangering vulnerable young gay people. She went on to claim the wider public doesn’t want a plebiscite, although anyone who’s taken even a cursory glance at the polls knows this to be patently false. But it was Alberici’s social media activity which proved most illuminating: she regularly lashes out at defenders of traditional marriage and openly admits she can’t get her head around why some may oppose change.It’s a stance you’d expect from an outlet such as the Guardian, whose Australian editor Lenore Taylor declared she would not be publishing balanced journalism on the issue because she couldn’t personally see a reasonable case for No, but not from one whose recently appointed chairman dismissed claims of bias out of hand.

In the same week, comedian Tim Minchin penned a ditty smearing Australians as ‘a little bit homophobic’ and labelling those in favour of retaining the traditional definition of marriage ‘bigoted c—s’, while hundreds of advertisers signed up to a campaign vowing not to work for anyone on the No campaign.

By the time I sat down to write my regular column for the Daily Telegraph, one theory had been percolating in my mind for a while: was gay marriage Australia’s Brexit/Trump moment? Certainly, the arrogance in some sections of the mainstream media about assured victory and moral superiority, coupled with the taunting of those opposed to change as deplorable, were eerily familiar. I watched one openly gay friend post on his private Facebook page that he was abstaining from the plebiscite because he was personally against same-sex marriage. He was so viciously attacked by his own so-called friends, he deleted the post. Meanwhile, Mia Freedman was torn to shreds over a failed attempt to start a viral #marriedformarriageequality selfie movement, all because she wasn’t campaigning in the ‘right’ way. So I knew writing the piece would open me up to similar criticism and pressure from the SSM thought police. I made it clear from the start I was sympathetic to gay marriage, to the point of mentally planning my wedding guest outfits, but went on to point out that some Yes campaigners’ strategy of intimidation and suppression of other views would almost certainly push not just the undecided away, but many inclined to be supportive, too.

I was well-acquainted with Twitter lynch mobs after years of writing columns, but even I was taken aback by the ferocity of the online attacks that ensued. This was more brutal than the times I’d argued the merits of capital punishment, written in support of Israel and taken on bloodthirsty jihadists put together. The flogging kicked off with Alberici posting a tweet about the column complete with the expletive ‘WTF’’ to her 67,000 followers. What was she so outraged over? Did she take exception to the accusation she had been blatantly campaigning on this issue, thereby breaching the ABC’s charter? Nope, she was livid that – according to her, anyway – I’d announced I would be voting No. Aside from the fact I deliberately did not disclose how I would vote (not least because, as a foreign national, I can’t), the personal attacks in Alberici’s countless tweets that followed only served to reinforce the central point of the piece.

When fellow Tele columnist Miranda Devine accused Alberici of acting like a bully, the presenter resorted to every schoolkid’s favoured retort of I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I, claiming I was the real bully. Her echo chamber enthusiastically leapt aboard, some labelling me a ‘closet homophobe’, other humourless scolds blasting me for only caring about my closet.

Speaking of which, is white still considered a faux-pas? Should I go short or long?

But there’ll always be a special place in my heart for the brave soul who trawled through my Instagram feed to find a photograph of my baby nephew under which he could comment: ‘hope he’s not gay’. A casual observer could be forgiven for thinking I’d argued homosexuals should be hanged, drawn and quartered at dawn. My favourite critics, though, had to be the ones who angrily accused me of ‘stereotyping’ my gay friends as fabulous. If it’s any consolation, I happen to harbour the equally insufferable view that my straight friends are pretty darn fabulous, too.

One of my Sky News colleagues also took the opportunity to have a crack online, feigning surprise at the piece and accusing me of ‘voting’ to deny rights to same-sex couples out of spite. But he failed to mention we’d discussed the column the day before off-air, during which I recall him laughing about hoping the Yes vote failed as it would cause havoc for the government. Pots and kettles. In any case, it was when former prime minister Tony Abbott weighed in, calling out ‘bullying’ by the usual suspects, that things really blew up and the Twitter ugliness became the subject of various news reports. An online storm usually passes after a good 24 hours, but the attacks began afresh on Day 2 when high-profile same-sex marriage campaigner Kerryn Phelps rebuked me for my apparent ‘admission’ I was voting No, which she called ‘truly disturbing’.

A public shaming by the rainbow thought police is hardly going to dissuade me from speaking out, but you can bet it will make others think twice about expressing their views openly if they don’t conform unequivocally to the groupthink.

All the more reason to suspect we may well see a silent revolt at the postbox.


Statues vandalised in Sydney’s Hyde Park

A number of monuments across Sydney’s CBD have been attacked by vandals, including a statue of Captain James Cook, following fierce public debate about whether it should be changed.

Police are investigating “a number of incidents of malicious damage” in the park, believed to have happened between 2am and 3am on Saturday.

“Three crime scenes have been established throughout the park and inquiries are continuing,” a spokeswoman said.

The words “change the date” and “no pride in genocide” were spray-painted on the Captain Cook statue, with similar words scrawled on that of Lachlan Macquarie. The graffiti attack comes just days after indigenous broadcaster Stan Grant called for the inscription on the Cook statue - saying he “discovered” the territory in 1770 - be changed.

But Malcolm Turnbull, weighing into the debate on Friday, said Grant was “dead wrong”.

The prime minister said the vast majority of Australians would share his horror at the thought of “rewriting history” by editing the inscriptions on statues.

“All of those statues, all of those monuments, are part of our history and we should respect them and preserve them,” he told Neil Mitchell on 3AW radio.

“By all means, put up other monuments, put up other signs and sites that explain our history.” He denounced such a “Stalinist exercise” of trying to white out or obliterate parts of Australia’s history.

“You don’t rewrite history by editing stuff out. If you want to write a new chapter of our history, if you want to challenge assumptions in the past, by all means do so,” he said.

A City of Sydney spokeswoman said the council was also cleaning up graffiti that appeared overnight in Martin Place and Macquarie Street.

“Sites affected include the Archibald Memorial Fountain, ANZAC Memorial and statues including the Captain James Cook statue,” she said.

“NSW Police have completed forensic work and City cleaning crews have commenced work to remove the unlawful graffiti.”


Fruitcake  pushes politically correct plan to rename Father’s Day ‘Special Person’s Day’

Surely this discriminates too.  Dogs are people, as we all know.  So why not a "Special creatures" day? Why limit it to bipedal persons?

AN EARLY childhood activist has been labelled “offensive” after suggesting Father’s Day be renamed ‘Special Person’s Day’ so kids without dads wouldn’t feel left out.

Dr Red Ruby Scarlet, an activist with a doctorate in early childhood studies, is pushing for the name change to the annual holiday.

During an interview on Today Tonight Dr Scarlet denied it was case of excess political correctness.

“Why are we calling this political correctness when in fact it’s about our rights?” Dr Scarlet told host Rosanna Mangiarelli.

She went on: “There’s a lot of Australian research that has actually informed a lot of international research ... that has demonstrated children’s capacity to be really inclusive once they know about these ideas and they think, ‘Wow, why are people seeing this as a controversy?”

Dr Scarlet, who insisted that was her real name, said that many families without fathers supported the idea.

“We have single parent families, satellite families, extended families, lesbian and gay families,” she said.

Her ideas were met with a stern rebuke from New South Wales Liberal minister David Elliott, who called them “rubbish”.

“Can’t believe that someone who professes to be ‘enlightened’ would advocate such crap,” Mr Elliott wrote on Facebook.

“People still celebrate fatherhood even after their father and grandfathers have passed away, in fact for many people Father’s Day is a wonderful time of reflecting and remembering.”

He went on: “Dr Red Ruby Scarlet — you are the offensive one. Maybe we should start a campaign to address that.”


History lessons teaching children to feel a 'strong sense of guilt' about Australian history

As fights to alter the date of Australia Day and pull down or alter statues come to a head, some experts are warning changes to the history curriculum taught in schools could be to blame.

Kevin Donnelly, who runs education think-tank The Education Institute, says imbalanced teaching is leaving students with a 'strong sense of guilt'.

He told The Australian while some acts committed by the British upon their arrival in Australia were 'wrong', some were 'beneficial and positive' but were not given the same weight in the classroom.

'When you look at the history curriculum part of the problem is students come away with a strong sense of guilt about what we've done as a nation in terms of indigenous culture and history.'

Mr Donnelly went on to explain children would leave school with a 'black-armband view where we feel guilt about something over which we now have no control'.

The senior research fellow at the Australian Catholic University's comments were echoed by Professor Ken Wiltshire, who also argued children were not taught a 'comprehensive' version of the nation's history.

Earlier this week, Indigenous leader Stan Grant called for an inscription on a statue in Sydney's Hyde Park, which credits Captain James Cook with 'discovering Australia' to be changed.

The man wrote in a column for the ABC that for Indigenous people, the statue was a reminder of 'the violent rupture of Aboriginal society' – an ongoing issue. 'This statue speaks to emptiness, it speaks to our invisibility,' he said. 'It says that nothing truly mattered, nothing truly counted until a white sailor first walked on these shores.'

Adding fuel to the fire, two Melbourne local councils have responded to protests regarding the date of Australia Day - choosing to cease holding celebrations or citizenship ceremonies on January 26.

The Federal Government responded to the decision by disallowing the Councils to hold citizenship ceremonies in their area at any time of the year.

NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes said the state had worked hard to pull together an adequate mix of Indigenous history and early European settlement. ' If you're genuine about trying to teach Australian history, it's impossible to have one without the other,' he said.


Nazism is back -- among the hipsters

Joe Hildebrand

WE’VE sure learned a lot about our politicians recently: Nick Xenophon is part Briton, Matt Canavan is part Italian and Pauline Hanson is part Taliban.

But hidden deep beneath the dual citizenship farce is a little kernel of truth about our nation, possibly about the whole world, that is darker and more dangerous than the All Blacks.

While the dual citizenship debacle was going on, asked a data analysis firm to compile the sentiment on social media — especially Twitter, the town hall of the 21st century.

The results were staggering.

It has long been the bugbear of conservatives and the conspiracy theory of the alt-right that Twitter is biased towards the left.

To some extent this is obvious to any reasonably balanced observer — and not in itself a bad thing. All people, and the media they use, have the right to freedom of expression.

But the data gathered by the global firm Meltwater is perhaps the most fascinating proof yet of just how extreme the bias is.

The analysis was first conducted in July over the period that Greens senators Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters resigned from parliament over their dual citizenship, Nationals senator Matt Canavan stepped down from cabinet and One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts was busted for the same thing.

Then when the Barnaby Joyce bombshell dropped, another round of analysis was done to gauge the reaction to that.

The first key finding of the report says it all: “Positive social sentiment was only generated in relation to the former Greens senators.”

In fact, when it came to Scott Ludlam – the first to fall – there was actually more positive reaction (20.2 per cent) than there was negative (14.6 per cent), the remaining 65.1 per cent being neutral.

For Larissa Waters, who if anything had a stronger case for not knowing she was a dual citizen, there was a 22.4 per cent negative response but still a 14.8 per cent positive response.

Both these senators were born overseas and knew it but sympathy still overflowed. How understanding the commentariat can be.

However for Canavan, a Nationals MP born in Australia whose mother supposedly signed him up for Italian citizenship after the fact — or maybe even not according to the latest argument — there was literally no sympathy at all out of 5473 mentions. Zero, zip, zilch. Social media was 20.8 per cent negative and the rest neutral.

Likewise for Roberts, who is no stranger to extreme sentiment, it was 24 per cent negative and 76 per cent neutral with not a single positive comment.

And for Joyce, the Australian-born deputy prime minister who unknowingly inherited New Zealand citizenship via his father, the result was virtually the same. Out of a whopping 22,689 mentions, 24.6 per cent were negative compared to just 0.4 per cent positive.

For the Turnbull government overall the story was even more bleak. There was literally no positive sentiment at all, with 24.7 per cent negative and the rest neutral. No wonder they are desperately trying to kill off this issue before it kills them.

Again, there is of course nothing wrong with this. An obvious response is: “But Twitter isn’t representative of society!”

And that is exactly the point. It’s when social media gets mistaken for being a political barometer that public debate on big issues can often get distorted.

Indeed, what is most distressing, especially for those of us who want the world to be a fairer place, but also retain some common sense, is when progressive causes get hijacked by extremists and even the most reasonable positions get shouted down as extremism by the very extremists they’re trying to calm.

Confused? Here’s an example.

One night last week I was puzzled to see the name of Triple J presenter Tom Tilley trending on Twitter and clicked on it to see why. Apparently, in a segment about the infamous and ultimately tragic clash between Neo-Nazis and left-wing activists in Charlottesville Virginia, he had interviewed a white nationalist to see what they were all so upset about.

For this most basic of journalistic exercises Tilley was roundly condemned as a Neo-Nazi sympathiser. And if the ABC’s youth radio station was now the new hotbed of white supremacy I knew I had a story on my hands.

One prominent tweet that popped up joked about whether he should be killed – to which many responders enthusiastically offered both endorsement and methods.

Obviously I did not think it likely that Tom Tilley would be literally shot dead by a millennial lynch mob but it still seemed a pretty strange reaction to a guy whose only crime was to take a phone call from an arsehole.

“Wow,” I said, quoting the tweet. “Tom Tilley is getting death threats because he interviewed a Neo-Nazi dickhead? Outrage just ate itself.”

Little did I know the outrage had only just begun. By the time it ended I had met a lovely young lady who told me my wife was currently fellating her boyfriend – an act which, I would have thought, reflected poorly on both of us.

Clearly I am not up to speed with millennial humour.

I was also told that to suggest the original deathly tweet was a tad over the top was in fact a form of bullying. Lord knows how poor Tom Tilley must feel, wherever his body now lies.

But before the obvious backlash to the backlash to the backlash I’ve no doubt already started by criticising the backlash, please don’t get me wrong: I’m not crying foul or saying anyone should be silenced. I’ve made plenty of bad jokes about plenty of good people.

It is however odd that there is such violent language in politics – and in some cases actual violence – that even when someone suggests it’s gone a bit far they are accused of violence by the very people who claim to be denouncing violence.

Because that’s what is most disconcerting about the new left: You expect Neo-Nazis to be bastards, you don’t expect hipsters to be.

I say all this as someone who came from the old left and who is now deeply troubled by what it has become. I thought it was all about helping poor people and having a good time. Turns out it’s all about finding new ways to be offended and shouting people down.

But maybe it was always like this and it is here I must make a full confession: I was the ultimate activist cliché myself. I was a card-carrying student socialist at one of the most elite universities in the country. Oddly, I was one of the few there who had grown up poor and gone to a public school but I was later to learn that I was an oppressive vessel of white male privilege.

A few red flags went up during that time, both literally and metaphorically.

One was when I was a marshal at a march against voluntary student unionism and had to pull one of our guys away from shouting and spitting in the face of a cop. The officer was just standing there, rigid as a Buckingham Palace guard, one of countless cops who just happened to be rostered on and deployed solely to give us safe passage down the very street we were marching along. Our working class warrior ran up to abuse him for it.

Another was when I was a weird kind of “liaison” officer during an occupation of the university admin building, the weirdness being that I didn’t even know it was going to be occupied. Or maybe someone told me and I was just too stoned to remember.

At any rate, while some of the occupiers sat on the floor and took endless votes about how to protest next, others ransacked the offices and threw random documents out the window.

For the life of me I did not know then — and still don’t today — what purpose this served. We were supposed to be protesting against fees for degrees. Now it just felt like a book-burning.

At one point I remember being on the ground underneath the building as the papers rained down, trying to negotiate with the university’s registrar.

“You’ve got to make them stop,” he said.

“That’s the whole problem,” I replied. “I can’t.”

Just then a small horde tore past and invaded the Law Library. Apparently the next step in the campaign was to tear up old texts about tort reform.

Of course, as history shows, it didn’t change much. The only difference was some underpaid cleaner had to fix everything up again and an underpaid clerical worker had to pick up all the documents. And some poor cop had to go home and probably not tell his missus that someone had spat on him that day.

Power to the people indeed.

It’s hard not to feel the same way about the mobs who are going around defacing and tearing down historical monuments in the United States because they object to the history they represent — as nauseating as that history might be.

As I have said before, reaching back through time and erasing remnants of past sins is the worst kind of historical whitewashing. And it is deeply ironic that it is now being perpetuated not by fascist dictators but by those who claim it is precisely those dark pasts which ought to be remembered.

This is a cause as perverse as it is pointless. We need to be reminded of what our society is built on, both good and bad. Indeed, if anything, especially the bad.

It is also important those issues are represented in the public sphere. When one walks past the icon of a liberator or a tyrant one is obliged to reflect upon the bones underfoot. The statue of Oliver Cromwell outside the UK Houses of Parliament is an invitation to conflicted thought.

If that means building more statues of the oppressed then let us do that, but tearing down statues of oppressors a century after their deaths isn’t freedom, it’s censorship.

It is also, to counter a tired argument, entirely different to liberated peoples tearing down images of the oppressors in the here and now. The question is not whether we should have torn down that statue of Saddam Hussein in 2003 but whether, should it so improbably survive, it should be torn down in 2103.

If this is a concept too complex for people to grasp, here is a handy rule of thumb: If everyone involved is long dead, it’s history and you should probably leave it alone. If the guy in the statue is still killing people, feel free to knock it over.

In my younger days I may well have been persuaded to knock over statues of the living and the dead with equal abandon. Fortunately, I grew out of it.

And probably the majority of angry activists out there today will grow out of it too. Wiping out history becomes a little less appealing when you have more of it behind you than in front of you.

The difference between then and now is that these days those youthful destructive impulses no longer sit in our pasts. The limitless lateral reach of social media means that what was once a phase we all went through is now a wave that can be unleashed across continents.

And, once all our mistakes are tallied and we face our final reckoning, I wonder what we’ll regret more: The things we tore down or that last angry tweet.


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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