Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Janet Albrechtsen, and the illiberal liberal meets the illiberal conservative ...

(Above: anxious to engage liberals, we offer up these images of Graeco Roman wrestling as a test of true liberalism).

Do you like the logic in these couple of sentences?

The dark spectre of illiberalism is slowly poisoning Western liberal democracies. You won't hear about it from much of the left-liberal press. It is part of the problem and its silence only confirms that basic liberties integral to Western liberal democracies are under threat.

You see, the illiberal liberals threaten the liberal values that liberals just love, unlike the conservatives who just hate the liberal values that the liberals in the left-liberal press owned by Rupert Murdoch just love. Except of course that conservatives just love liberal values, except of course when they're held by liberals, at which point they become uniformly evil.

Here's another trick question? What do Islamic and Christian conservatives have in common, when it comes to licentious, sensuous sensuality and sexuality? Or homosexuality? Or gay marriage? Or women needing to submit to their men and be a homemaker and do the ironing because the mere male (and Tony Abbott) is too helpless? Perhaps we might even mention feminism? Oh dear, that's sent a few shrieking in agony and fear from the temple.

What about masturbation? Why did you bother asking, of course it's a sin. How about Internet filtering? Iran, say hello to Senator Stephen Conroy.

And what can be said with some certainty about fundamentalist Christians and fundie Islamics? They hate liberals with a passion.

Which is why reading Janet Albrechtsen's Menace in mad march of the thought police is such a hoot.

Because most days of the week you can read Albrechtsen frothing at the mouth at the menace in the mad march of liberalism and secularism and dangerous radical unconservative views that threaten to tear apart the fragile fabric of western society.

Most of her current column is dedicated to how Islamics get upset about attacks on their religion, and how liberals indulge in political trials to silence radicals, who just want to attack religion.

But only fundie Islamics. Christian fundies get a free pass, because, well they're intrinsic to the fragile fabric of western society, and a tribute to our Judaic Christian Greco Roman origins (and no here we're not talking about wrestling in the nude).

Followers of Albrechtsen - okay, you're happy to admit you've lost your mind - will remember previous epic efforts on this theme, such as The freedom to be offensive, and truly, Albrechtsen values the freedom to be offensive. She does it all the time.

But here's the rub, here's the real grievance, and it's a standard bit of tosser nonsense of the school ground kind. You know, hey no fair, hey fair dibs, you had first go, no you did, and so on and on:

Criticism of Christianity is fair game. After all, when was the last hate law prosecution of a critic of Christianity?

You see, Christians get bashed and no one cares. It's so unfair, so cruel and so unkind. And yet what do these secular liberals do when confronted with Islam?

By contrast, Islam has special protective laws. The same happened in Canada when commentators Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant were hauled before anti-discrimination tribunals for expressing critical opinions about Islam. John Stuart Mill's defence of free speech has been buried. Muslim-style censorship now applies in the heart of Western liberal democracies.

It's usually at this moment that France is trotted out. You know, those cheese-eating surrender monkeys who insist on their secularism, and constantly attack Christianity, and are - at least in the United States - held up by conservatives as demonic, quite possibly satanic, in their attitude to religion ... except that the tune abruptly changes when it shifts from Christianity to Islam, and except when it comes to the burka:

Never mind that countries such as France and Denmark are having robust debates about banning the burka for all sorts of reasons.

Well it's actually gone a little bit beyond debate, as Sarkozy has led the charge to get them banned from public transport and civic buildings such as schools and hospitals, even if that's a back down from earlier, stronger proposals (Sarkozy U-turn on French burka ban over fears of 'terrorist' reprisals).

Here at loon pond, we're so liberal we approve of banning the burka. And banning Janet Albrechtsen. And banning religion altogether. Oh that felt so good, all that talk of banning. Why it felt almost ... conservative ...

Back to the whining Albrechtsen:

The left-liberal press is not that interested in free speech either. Perhaps free speech does not matter to it. Or perhaps these kinds of prosecutions are now so commonplace, they don't warrant a headline. Either way, this spells the decay of Western liberal democracies.

And who or what is this left-liberal press? Is it the seventy per cent or thereabouts of newspaper titles and coverage owned in Australia by that staunch left-liberal Rupert Murdoch, always willing to pay for left liberal columnists like Albrechtsen to strike out, in good Christopher Hitchens style, against all brands of religion?

I keed, I keed, because you see when someone talks in that kind of superficial generalised banal tone about the ways of the world, and decay of western liberal democracies, as caused by liberals, you wonder what kind of mushroom they've been nibbling on. Because I reckon it'd be hard to call a footrace between Janet Albrechtsen and a fundie Islamic in a race to watch liberals being strung out on a rack thoughtfully provided by the Inquisition ... especially if they'd indulged in gay marriage (as endorsed by activist judges of the worst kind).

Because conservatives hate liberal democracies, and spend all their time bemoaning liberals in liberal democracies. Except when up against Islam and then they can suddenly discover that they're feminists shocked by men talking about women doing the ironing, or rock 'n roll lovers appalled by Taliban attitudes to music (and never mind the fundamentalist Christians who share that attitude to music), or lovers of gays, shocked by Islamic prejudice against gay marriage.

I keed, I keed. If you believe Christians are all in favour of gay marriage, what planet are you visiting from?

Well the next time Albrechtsen delivers one of her standard puffed-up moralising opinions, of the kind you expect from well paid, well heeled sophisticated conservatives scribbling for The Australian, I look forward to quoting this back.

Shutting down public debates will only drive discussion underground where, away from the blowtorch of challenging views, they will fester and grow more extreme in private. And shutting down offensive debate at the request of loony objectors just encourages more thin-skinned outrage, with ever more outlandish claims to protection from free speech, and increasing censorship. If you really want to discredit bad ideas, the surest way is to expose them to free and full debate. Remember, too, that plenty of ideas that were once regarded as offensive by a group of puffed-up, moralising sophisticates have prevailed.

If these same arguments defending freedom of expression are not made each and every time someone is prosecuted for their opinions, the great danger is that these kinds of stifling prosecutions will be regarded as the norm in a society that has seemingly forgotten or forsaken its values.

Oh yes, blowback can be a killer.

Now when it comes time for discussing Islamic opinions, we always like to provide a link to the controversial cartoons that caused a fuss some time ago. Never mind the crappy artwork.

Because you see a lot of the fuss about Muslims in Australia comes from Christians who feel threatened by less than 2% of the population, and most of the illiberal fuss about censorship and reducing freedom of expression comes from conservatives, and most of all conservative Christians, whatever the colour of stripe of their chosen political party.

So next time Albrechtsen gets on her high horse about freedom of expression and starts scribbling her sophisticated opinions for the left liberal Australian and its left liberal News Corp chairman, perhaps she could tackle a few of the following:

1. Christian and Islamic attacks on homosexuality, and their remarkable similarity.
2. Christian and Islamic attacks on women and rights for women (including but not limited to those who think they should still be the ones doing the ironing, and their remarkable similarity).
3. Senator Stephen Conroy's great big internet filter. And the way it suits the conservative morality of conservatives, and conservative Christians and Muslims.
4. Michael Atkinson's R18+ games rating denialism, and the way conservatives love him for it.
5. Any other of dozens of attacks on freedom of expression hailing from conservatives and Christians. Why not have a bash at Pastor Danny, Peter Costello and the Catch the Fire ministries for starters?

We could be in for a long wait.

It's a bit like reading Jonah Goldberg on Liberal Fascism. Bet he would have been first in line to string up the gays, socialists, communists, trade unionists, and smart arsed liberal intellectuals way back when liberalism meant something, and fascism actually meant something else.

These days intolerance of liberals seems to be a pre-requisite for showing love of liberal democracy.

So it goes.

Now some might want all true believers shipped to Christmas Island where they can worship in their own way, and leave the rest of Australia to sensible secular humanist atheists ...

But we think that would be wrong. Loon pond is open to all religions. If you're a true believer, you're definitely a loon.

Just as a loon who believes liberals are the problem with liberal democracy is truly in a definitional knot that loons everywhere surely will love ...

(Below: and now for an issue which threatens freedom of speech, yet on which Albrechten has remained remarkably silent. You can go here to read up on the protest action. Perhaps Albrechtsen, now she's coming off her time as ABC board director - ABC board no longer in the orbit of Planet Janet - will expend some of her energy regularly and vigilantly attacking Stephen Conroy? Or perhaps not? No titstorm for her?

Oh and a bonus bit of Graeco Roman art for those who've made it this far, and thus are either certified members of loon pond, or perhaps liberals).

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