Monday, February 04, 2019

Bettina Arndt on campus

Below are some excepts from a very long and rambling article by a supercilious Leftist writer named Tim Elliott that appeared in the "Sydney Morning Herald".  I reproduce the bits about Bettina only -- as they are reasonably factual. Much in the rest of the article is biased to the point of misleading. 

Bettina objects to the false and misleading talk about men by feminists.  You can imagine how well that goes down among feminist bigots and their male sycophants.  Now that there are more female university students and graduates than male, any war for equal treatment of females has long ago been clearly won.  All that feminists have left is their hate

Welcome to LibertyFest 2018. Run by the non-profit LibertyWorks, LibertyFest bills itself as a "massive free-thinking conference, bringing in speakers from all over Australia to present and discuss genuinely dangerous and disruptive ideas".

But the event's main drawcard, the marquee attraction, is Bettina Arndt. A former journalist and trained psychologist, the 69-year-old Arndt made her name in the 1980s as one of Australia's first sex therapists. "I was a feminist," she tells me when we meet in the hotel cafe. "I was trying to help women. But men also started to talk to me, firstly about sex and then about other aspects of their lives. So I started to realise that there were many issues where men and boys weren't getting a fair deal."

So she became a feminist apostate, an original "women's libber" turned men's rights advocate. Arndt's latest crusade is against what she calls the "manufactured crisis" around sexual assault at Australian universities. (A report by the Australian Human Rights Commission, released in 2017, found that 1.6 per cent of the 30,000 students surveyed were sexually assaulted in a university setting in 2015-16. Nina Funnell, from the support group End Rape on Campus, describes the problem as "very concerning".)

According to Arndt, the figures have been manipulated by feminist activists in a campaign to demonise men. So in August she embarked on what she called her "Fake Rape Crisis tour", a series of university talks aimed at debunking the "myth" that Australian universities are unsafe for women.

It didn't go well. The first event, at Melbourne's La Trobe University, was cancelled after the administration claimed it wasn't compatible with the university's values. (The university soon backtracked and allowed the talk to go ahead.) The next event, at the University of Sydney, turned ugly when about 40 protesters, led by the students' Wom*n's Collective, attempted to block Arndt and others from entering the venue. There was much pushing and shouting and chanting.

"They had megaphones and were calling me a f...wit," Arndt says. (In the end, police were called to remove the protesters, and the talk proceeded as scheduled.) Arndt wasn't bothered by the abuse, per se, but by the attempt to shut her down. Rather than contest her ideas with ideas of their own, the students wanted to deny her the chance to talk altogether. "The fact this happened at a university," Arndt says, "a supposed bastion of thought-provoking ideas and rigorous inquiry, is just terrible." '

What occurred at the University of Sydney has been cited by the media as an example of "de-platforming". De-platforming is, quite literally, denying someone a platform from which to express their views. High-profile cases tend to be on social media, as in the case of Alex Jones, a hugely popular American radio host and conspiracy theorist, whose sites were blocked, in August, by Facebook, Apple, YouTube and Spotify, for repeated instances of hate speech and bullying. Jones has accused Robert Mueller, former FBI director and Special Counsel for the US Department of Justice, of being a paedophile and threatened to shoot him; Jones has also said that singer Jennifer Lopez (J-Lo) should go to Somalia and "get gang raped", and claimed that former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton ran a satanic child sex ring out of a pizzeria.

De-platforming is nothing new: Holocaust deniers have long been shut out of the conversation, sometimes literally. Author David Irving, who claimed that Nazi gas chambers were a hoax, has been barred from entering Australia multiple times since 1993.

But de-platforming appears to be creeping into other areas. In July last year, the Brisbane Writers Festival disinvited outspoken feminist Germaine Greer, whose most recent book, About Rape, was deemed too hot to handle. During the lead-up to the book's publication, Greer said sentences for rapists were "excessive", and suggested that a more fitting punishment might be 200 hours' community service and perhaps an "r" tattooed on the offender's hand. The festival also "disinvited" former Labor foreign minister and NSW premier Bob Carr, who was due to discuss his political memoir, Run for Your Life, in which he advocates for lower immigration, and discusses bullying by the pro-Israel lobby.

The festival's acting chief executive, Ann McLean, denied de-platforming anyone, arguing that the Greer controversy might have overshadowed other events. As for Carr, McLean said she was concerned that he could have gone off topic. (In a letter to MUP publisher Louise Adler, later leaked to the press, McLean acknowledged that Carr's talk might clash with "the brand alignment of several sponsors we are securing for the festival".)

The organisers were accused of censorship by everyone from conservative commentator Andrew Bolt to Booker Prize-winning author Richard Flanagan. Greer, meanwhile, called the Brisbane Writers Festival "the dreariest literary festival in the world, with zero hospitality and no fun at all", and described her disinvitation as a "great relief".

Greer's choice of the word "fun" is instructive. As a seasoned intellectual combatant, it's safe to say that her idea of "fun" includes, among other things, the robust and frank discussion of big ideas, like the definition of rape, and the suggestion, as she put it at the Hay Literary Festival in the UK last May, that most rapes "don't involve any injury whatsoever", and are merely "careless and insensitive". To other people, namely those who have been raped, Greer's ideas might not be fun, and may even be deeply offensive. In the past, these two groups might have faced off; these days, however, they refuse to even be in the same room.

De-platforming is like one of those exotic illnesses, such as Ebola or Morgellons, the origins of which no one can agree upon. Some blame the proscriptive effect of political correctness or the drift toward political polarisation, whereby ideological foes move so far apart they are no longer willing to listen to one another, or social media, where unhearing opinions you don't like is as easy as pressing the "block" button. Complacency, even a degree of arrogance, might also play a part.

"Some young people think that certain issues, like racism, sexism and homophobia, have been settled for all time and there's no debate to be had," writer David Marr tells me. "What they don't realise is that the really difficult debates never end."

What almost everyone agrees on is that de-platforming is mainly practised by the left. This has been a boon to the right, which can now plausibly claim to be the real free-speech warriors. As Renee Gorman, a University of Sydney student and national manager for the free-market think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs, put it at LibertyFest: "We are the counterculture now."

In early December, Arndt launched her latest book, provocatively titled #MenToo. A collection of her writings from the past 30 years, the book essentially restates her thesis that feminism has "gone off the rails", morphing from an equal-rights movement into "a long crusade to crush male sexuality". She spruiked the book on morning TV, and spoke at Parliament House in Canberra. She even met Tehan, to discuss a suggestion by Tanya Plibersek, the Deputy Opposition Leader and shadow federal minister for education and training, to set up an independent taskforce to investigate rape on campus.

Arndt also mentioned doing events with Milo Yiannopoulos, the far-right provocateur and internet troll who has, among other things, mocked victims of child sexual abuse, and allegedly encouraged his followers to bombard black actress Leslie Jones with racist tweets, including sexually explicit memes and pictures of apes. (In 2016, Twitter found he had breached its conditions of use and permanently banned him.)

Arndt tells me she doesn't agree with everything Yiannopoulos says. "But he's done great work in calling out the free-speech problem on campus. And he's funny." The prospect, however speculative, of a campus event with Yiannopoulos fills Arndt with an almost palpable excitement. Doubtless the protests would be noisy, widely publicised and great for publicity for her book.

Meanwhile, Arndt keeps fighting the good fight, beavering away, challenging the "fake rapes" and the "victimisation of our young boys on campus". When I speak to her on the phone, just before Christmas, she seems supercharged with a sense of mission, ever vigilant for "all the lies and the rubbish and the propaganda". After all, she adds, "That's what keeps me in business."


'How can people turn a blind eye to this?' Kerri-Anne Kennerley breaks her silence after being branded 'racist' in ugly TV spat with Yumi Stynes

Controversial television host Kerri-Anne Kennerley has finally broken her silence after the 'racist' row with radio personality Yumi Stynes.

The presenters came to verbal blows during a Studio 10 panel on Monday about people protesting to change the date of Australia Day.

Kennerley dismissed 'Invasion Day' protesters, insinuating none of them had ever been to the Outback and were championing the plight of Indigenous Australians under false pretenses.

Now, Kennerley has finally broken her silence in an emotional opinion piece for The Daily Telegraph.

'The ''racist'' word became the burning headline… the spark that started the fire and what a burn it has been,' Kennerley wrote.

The 65-year-old acknowledged that the delivery of her point was could have been made smoother, but stressed she was only trying to highlight 'abuse here and now'.

'To me, the much more pressing issue for not only the indigenous community but the nation as a whole is the horrific rape of children, babies and women in indigenous communities,' she wrote.

Following the blow-up, Kennerley was invited to spend an evening in the Aboriginal community town of Alice Springs by local councillor Jacinta Price.

Ms Price appeared on Studio 10 and supported the idea that abuse 'overrides the changing date of Australia Day'. 

Indigenous leader Warren Mundine also defended Kennerley for her remarks, saying he and other Indigenous Australians understood what she was trying to say.

Kennerley made it clear she had no intention to label specific indigenous communities or men as guilty, but wanted to ask what was being done about the 'horrific' crimes. 'How can people turn a blind eye to this? Where are the protests against these crimes? Isn’t this more important than arguing about the merits of a date for a public holiday?' Kennerley wrote.

Kennerley continued by asking why anyone who raised the 'ugly subject' of abuse within indigenous communities was immediately labelled a racist. 

Following the fierce debate last week, Tangentyere Women's Family Safety Group and Four Corners Men's Counci implored Kennerley to 'learn about the work they do to make our communities safer places'. In a letter addressed to Kennerley on Wednesday night, the community groups wrote: 'We are the leaders in our communities, we are the experts in the issues that face our communities and families and we have the solutions.

'We would welcome you to stand with us women and men, hear about our solutions and our experience and recognise the important work that is being done on a community level to deal with issues of domestic and family violence.'

The national debate was sparked last week when Kennerley said on national television that the Australia Day protests were an unnecessary distraction.  'Okay, the 5,000 people who went through the streets making their points known, saying how inappropriate the day is,' she began.  'Has any single one of those people been out to the Outback, where children, babies, five-year-olds, are being raped?

'Their mothers are being raped, their sisters are being raped. They get no education. What have you done?'

Stynes sat in silence for a brief moment before hitting back: 'That is not even faintly true, Kerri-Anne. You're sounding quite racist right now.' [But it WAS true.  Stynes is just an arrogant Leftist know-all who is quick to play the racist card instead of dealing with the issues]


The My Health Records controversy

I opted out months ago. Comment from a reader who has observed how personal records are treated by bureaucrats:

"The My Health Records "for" argument tries to convince us all that government departments and welfare workers knowing everything about everyone is all for our own good.

I have worked with such people and I know first hand that their fields of work are infested with pathological busy bodies who feed on private information about others. And they are mostly elitists too, quite convinced that they know best how society should be.

You can't get more elitist than that. And of course they are also control freaks who love to manipulate others. That is part of being elitists.

They love to tell us My Health Record is a "safety" issue. Safety is the latest lefty buzz word; they use it even more than the word care. Sadly, sounding like they care about people's safety seduces many into trusting them. They are deceivers. They certainly don't care about your freedom. And if you don't care for someone's freedom, you don't care for them at all.

After January 31, up to 17 million Australians who haven’t opted out will automatically have a My Health Record created. The latest data in October showed more than 1.1 million people had opted out.

About 6.45 million Aussies now have a record.

Health Minister Greg Hunt has stressed that people can join or leave the system at any time, despite the formal period ending today.

The deadline for opting out was pushed back from November 15 to give time for stronger privacy measures to pass parliament.

At the outset your record includes basic government-related medical information linked to you such as prescriptions that have been dispensed and consultations or tests connected to Medicare.

While there have been concerns test results would appear or conditions you don’t want shared among health professionals — your dentist knowing about your sexual health status, for example — they would need to be uploaded once your record is created.

People can also choose their privacy settings and tailor what’s added to the system.

But with stories of incorrect details being entered, and concerns from doctors the system could lead to a “malpractice nightmare”, a lot of Aussies aren’t taking a chance.

Many practices are still using outdated record keeping methods or software, with the task of uploading millions of new records putting further pressure on all aspects of the healthcare system.

Guidelines stipulate doctors don’t have to upload all information and that this can be done at their discretion and in discussion with a patient.

They’re also being advised by the Australian Medical Association to treat records with the same level of scrutiny as they usually would.


'We are losing our sense of humour': I'm A Celebrity's Tahir Bilgic slams political correctness by saying 'people are offended over the slightest thing'

I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here! star Tahir Bilgic, 48, has slammed political correctness, saying the country is losing its sense of humour.

The reality TV star, who is best known for his roles as Habib in comedy shows Fat Pizza and Housos, struck an impassioned tone when discussing the issue.

'We are losing our sense of humour, and the Australian sense of humour is part of the fabric that identifies us as a nation,' Tahir The Daily Telegraph on Saturday.

He continued: 'We were built on being laid-back, knockabout, "don't take life too seriously". But also smart enough to understand not to cross the line.'

The Street Smart actor went on to say that he thinks a small section of 'people offended over the slightest thing' seems to have the greatest impact.

Tahir said he thinks that it is affecting the stand-up comedy scene, and that the loss of humour in the general public has been shockingly stark.

Tahir claimed that shows with diverse casts, such as Channel Ten's Street Smart, appeared be the ones to get the most scrutiny.

In the past, the comedy actor has championed diversity, and he lauded his new show for that aspect.

'The thing with Street Smart, we have such a diverse group,' he told The Daily Telegraph in August.

'We have Vietnamese, Turk, Greek, Indian, Aboriginal, Asian - it is all there and [they're] all playing lead roles. It is incredible. It is a fruit salad.'


 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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