Saturday, November 19, 2011

Fred Nile and the unexamined ethics class worth giving part two ...

(Above: Fred Nile in a three piecer, as was once the style for ponces in the old days. Did he take as a role model The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit?)

Back in the pond's school days there was a most peculiar institution, courtesy of the bizarre interaction between church and state.

The tykes were herded off once a week for indoctrination classes by the local parish priest. But we gave the man such a hard time about matters theological - and he preferred to play golf anyway - that he began to skip classes, and soon enough we found ourselves herded into the library for free time. You could do anything, provided it involved doing nothing.

The boys began to study smuggled in copies of Playboy ... and I was startled to glimpse a photograph of a woman who in strange ways didn't seem to resemble a woman. Where was the pubic hair for starters?

Is it any wonder that the world can seem very strange to the young? But I guess that's how religious classes gave me a deep insight into the mysterious ways of the church. I took up golf not long after ... (not that I've ever lasted very long at anything resembling sport).

Well in due course and over time - a very long time - politicians began to free themselves of the mindset that priests intent on indoctrinating the young were the best way forward in state schools, and so in New South Wales, there came to be an alternative to religious classes called "ethics classes" for parents and children not particularly interested in snake oil sales people.

And also handy for those who didn't want to sit in a library catching glimpses of Playboys flourished by naughty boys. For those who prefer to think about the world and their place in it, this is probably no bad thing.

Except if you happen to be the pernicious, reprehensible, devious Fred Nile. And the hapless, wretched compromising Barry O'Farrell, ready to toss Nile a bone to secure his upper house vote.

Last week Nile had a minor victory in his ongoing crusade against ethics classes by persuading the state government to keep his bill alive, by referring the legislation to a parliamentary committee, instead of voting against it.

The committee system will allow Nile to continue his witch hunt, but naturally if you wish to ape the Salem witch trials, you need to assemble a decent bunch of dedicated souls. So it's best to stack the committee. As Mike Carlton notes today, For never let us hold their banner, sigh:

... who's on this august body, Barry? None other than a bunch of bible-bashing conservatives, that's who. They include David Clarke and Marie Ficarra from the hard-right, Opus Dei wing of the Liberal Party, and Paul Green, a spear-carrier in Fred Nile's Christian Democratic lot. No prizes for guessing which way they're going to jump.

Paul Green? Funnily enough in his maiden speech, Green moaned about political values:

The Christian Democratic Party is a party that aims to resist the slippery slope of morality. Biblical morals are now more than ever up for political debate. I think we call it "retail politics". Everything seems to be open to the highest bidder. We should not be surprised about this type of politics, given our consumeristic generation of "go with what you feel", "do as you want", and "don't worry about the possible damage that you may be leaving behind". Our Christian values, boundaries and the complexities of applying evangelical revelation to the pressing issues of today are regularly contested. (here in pdf).

This is such rich hypocrisy - idle chatter about bidding and retail politics and consumerism, when his boss is twisting the arm of the government in a most unseemly way - that you could get a month's ethics classes out of it.

The one thing you can say about Christian politicians with any certainty is that they never have a sense of irony ...

Back to Carlton:

Call me a cynic, but this smells very much like a political fix to secure Nile's vote for other legislation you want to get through Parliament. If these classes are scrapped, Barry, it would be a gross betrayal of an election commitment. It would cost you a lot.

Or possibly not, as O'Farrell contemplates the price of the fix, and Fred Nile considers the price of his vote. These days thirty pieces of silver simply isn't enough.

And now on to Fred Nile himself, and his appalling bigotry, and his offensive willingness to repeat his offensive abuse of Godwin's Law:

"The main problem is - it's a fraud," Mr Nile told AAP.

"There's a philosophical review or position called relativism or subjectivism which means there's nothing right or wrong, there are no absolute values.

"That's why I mentioned way back in the debate, they were the same values the Nazi Party adopted and the Communist Party adopted.

"So you can kill, you can steal, you can murder if it helps the objectives of the party." (here)

Yep, that's ethics classes in a nutshell. Encouraging the young to kill, steal or murder.

Why you might even blackmail the state government to achieve the objectives of your party, and in the process slander, defame and abuse those who conduct ethics classes as having the same values as Nazis and Communists. When they're not killing, stealing and murdering ...

A repetition of the same vicious slurs Nile led with way back in August when he demonstrated that in some political parties there's absolutely no sense of right or wrong, no sense of any values whatsoever.

Back then everybody had a chuckle about Nile, and his comparisons to Nazis and Communists, and Barry O'Farrell insisted the ethics classes would stay. (Fred Nile links ethics classes to fascism, communism). But who knows now about Bazza and his willingness to stay the course?

Some wags even managed to drag out an old quote by Hitler you can find on the wiki about his religious views:

Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools have no religious instruction, and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith ...we need believing people.

Yes, folks, Fred Nile and Adolf Hitler are as one.

Back then, Dr. Simon Longstaff, head of the St James Ethics Centre responsible for developing the course - and therefore either (a) a key Nazi or (b) a key Commie pinko pervert, according to Nile's logic - sounded bewildered:

"I sincerely wonder what tenets of Christianity the Reverend Nile draws on when bargaining with the interests of children or when asking the Premier to break his word?" says Longstaff. (here)

He was still sounding bewildered a few days ago:

The executive director of the St James Ethics Centre, Simon Longstaff, said the inquiry was ''unhelpful'' as it created uncertainty for parents, students and volunteer ethics teachers.
But Dr Longstaff, whose centre devised the classes, supported the right of the Parliament to scrutinise the classes. ''The matter seems to have been settled on so many occasions, only to be revisited in a way that if it was any other matter would be just unfair,'' he said. (here)

Now there's an ethical response.

Some might think he should be calling Nile a Nazi swine, on the ethical basis that you should do unto others what they do unto you.

The funny thing is when you look at Simon Longstaff's short cv on the St James Ethics Centre, it's about as mainstream as you can get, an exemplary blend of capitalism and caring.

Now in the scheme of things, all this amounts of a hill of beans in a world that just doesn't care.

Nile will be able to jump up and down as the committee goes about its witch hunt, and Barry O'Farrell has other worries, as he faces a byelection test up north coast way this very day - Poll result may give early whiff of discontent.

That's a seat that suddenly became available because the incumbent Steve Cansdell signed a false stat dec to avoid a speeding fine, and eventually fell on his sword. As is usual in NSW politics, the campaign has been rich in folly:

The Nationals have hit back by trying to shift the focus - rather bizarrely, given it is a state seat - to the impact of the carbon tax.

But they are obviously spooked, choosing to adopt the risky strategy of using Cansdell in their political advertising, despite potential charges hanging over his head, in an attempt to harvest at least some of his personal vote.

Talk about a need for ethics classes.

The local constituency seems to have noticed the ethical gap too:

My teenage daughter saw a National Party TV ad last night that shows Mr Cansdell supporting his replacement and asked if this was the same guy who was under a police investigation.

I said yep that is him.

She said that they have some real arrogance for even a politician to have him spruiking.
Seems they are just thumbing their noses at our democracy.

I agreed and thought, yes, they seem to not care that one of their number may have broken the law.

That was OK, not a big deal, just vote us in again.

I am greatly concerned about the message this is sending to our young people. What's next?
Alex Smith, Ballina (thanks to North Coast Voices, reprinting some comments in The Northern Star

Hush now, Alex Smith of Ballina.

All you're seeing is Fred Nile's notion of ethics at work in NSW politics.

Back to Mike Carlton for the final word:

I don't mind at all if Nile, that inveterate pest, wants to believe the world was created in seven days by a nice old man with a beard. But there is no reason he should force this nonsense on the rest of us who don't.

Well almost the last word. Can the pond add a corollary:

I don't mind at all if Nile, that inveterate pest, believes he's surrounded by secular atheist Nazi Commie perverted swine. But there is no reason why Barry O'Farrell should force this nonsense on the rest of us, especially as Fred Nile and Hitler sometimes speak with one voice ...

(Below: spotted on the web, as enthusiastic supporters of Fred Nile urge a vote for homophobia, for ending the Kings Cross Medically Supervised Injecting Centre, and for the end of ethics classes).


  1. When I was in high school in Adelaide in the button downed early sixties the most popular book in the school library for us teenage boys was the Encyclopedia Britannica, or more specifically the page that had a picture and a description of the female genitals.

  2. More naughty boys! Perhaps like the naughty boys in Fred Nile's office who looked at "porn" sites purely in the interests of academic research and advancing human knowledge.

  3. The "argument" that some christians use when equating nazism with things they don't like such as ethics classes or atheists is a lesson for all of us. The argument against atheists seems to go like this: we know Hitler considered himself a christian from quotes like this,

    "I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so"

    [Adolph Hitler, to Gen. Gerhard Engel, 1941] (from

    but christians say because of his actions he was not a true christian. Therefore he must be an atheist. Therefore all atheists are nazis.

  4. Hitler was being true to a thousand years of anti-semitic propaganda emanating from the Christian churches, but you won't find any mention or acknowledgement of that from the current crop of clerics ...


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