Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Doing a little tour of Australian Gothic ...

(Above: Grant Wood, American Gothic)

Is it cynical of the pond to suspect that Lindsay Tanner is as much interested in flogging his new collection of essays Politics with Purpose (let's mention it's published by Scribe), as he is in the future of the Labor party and the fate of former chairman Rudd?

There's not much else on view in a grumpy old man grumping about the world and his old GOP at Fairfax in A cynical Labor has lost its soul.

It seems it's all roon and doom and gloom, and naturally the hacks at The Australian were all over it like a rash (no links, screen cap):

Yes, it's another bloody Oz exclusive, featuring an exclusive bit of yammering by that exclusive editor at large. If Paul Kelly is an exclusive, can't he just sing about maiden aunts on the verandah in Adelaide?

Now you, the pond and the gatepost might have expected digital headlines about Tony Abbott's momentous presentation of Liberal defence policy, but lordy has that scuttled off the front page quick sticks.

Well it's possibly a tad hard to whip up much enthusiasm for 'we'll sort it out no later than eighteen months after being elected' and 'trust us to do the right thing, and save Australia'.

How juicy is that up against kicking the former chairman Rudd can down the road one more time?

Should do wonders for the book sales, and the pond looks forward to the next Lindsay Tanner insight. Here's a likely header: Trashing Labor damages Labor: Tanner.

Not to worry, today is Janet 'Dame Slap' Albrechtsen day, and she's in fine form, as she savages weak-kneed liberals, the ABC and sundry wet behind the ears apologists in Say it while you can, global blasphemy laws would be an abomination.

Global blasphemy laws? Are they going to be introduced at the same time the UN establishes a world government to deal with climate change and send the black helicopters around the world to establish the rule of Satan (thanks Janet and Lord Monckton for the warning).

What is it with the commentariat and the ABC?

Why do they always listen? Is it to get the heart rate pumping, to get themselves agitated? Gerard Henderson seems to spend his life glued to the radio, and amazingly Albrechtsen has been listening to Geraldine Doogue of a morning (the presence of the gormless Doogue on RN has led the pond to exploring the streaming of BBC radio in all its forms, as you can too by going here, at least until your cap expires under the pressure. Radio 3 will certainly please classical buffs in search of exotica and a more diverse playlist than ABC FM).

Anyhoo, here's Albrechtsen getting righteously indignant:

... ABC Radio National's breakfast radio host Geraldine Doogue fell into the now familiar morass of moral relativism found at our public broadcaster. Talking about the protesters here, she mentioned "warnings that we mustn't give oxygen to people who are consciously provocative". Then, pointing to the publication of the French cartoons, Doogue said, "It's the same thing, isn't it?" No, Geraldine, it's not the same thing. Not by a long shot. The protesters picked up planks of wood to beat our police. They brought violence to the streets of Sydney. The French cartoonist drew a picture. Doogue might instead have explored the irony, not to mention hypocrisy, of radical Muslims who bleat about their feelings being hurt by a film or a cartoon while expressing their own right to free speech, demanding death to infidels.

Uh huh. Well, while on the subject of moral relativism and bleating about feelings being hurt and irony, not to mention hypocrisy, bashing Islamics is always fun, especially when you can lead off with a story about a native-born Pakistani Catholic bishop blowing his brains out in a courthouse in Punjab.

But why is it that the commentariat only ever seems to get really liberal and righteous when it comes to the easy target of Islam-bashing?

There's no one the pond knows who goes around advocating the adoption world-wide of blasphemy laws to suit the Caliphate. Not in the west at least, and who cares what they think in Afghanistan and Pakistan as we keep bombing the shit out of them to bring them to their democratic senses.

It is of course a straw man, a straw dog if you will, so that Albrechtsen can club illiberal liberals, wet behind the ears soppy types from the ABC, wringing their hands and moaning 'why can't we all just get along'?

But do we ever get the same vitriol directed at fundamentalist Christians, especially of the American kind?

When was the last time you saw an Albrechtsen rant directed at the Republican party, introducing a Taliban-style policy that would prevent abortion even in the matter of rape or incest?

What about a rant in relation to the intolerant western Talibans always banging on about the evils of gay marriage, as if it will lead to polygamy, bestiality and the complete breakdown of western civilisation?

When will you see this in an Albrechtsen piece?

When will we learn that falling over ourselves to be polite, defaulting to lazy moral relativism, looks like appeasement to radical fundamentalist Christians, who will demand only more and more special rules, especially in relation to women's rights and gay rights and gay marriage? If the West accommodates demands for the world to look and sound like its being run by fundamentalist Republican tea party Christians, our appeasement inexorably will alter what it means to live in the West. It means surrendering long-cherished Enlightenment ideals and importing intolerably illiberal restrictions on free speech more at home in states such as Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas. That is precisely what radical fundamentalist Christians want. But it can't possibly be what we want.

Oh yes, heroic stuff, all the more so because it's an assault on the Republican base, and in particular the base that finds charm in Paul Ryan's fundamentalist Catholic ratbaggery, a fundamentalism which shares a helluva lot with fundamentalist Islamics (ask for a policy statement on women's and gay rights, then compare and see if you can find a contrast).

Locally Albrechtsen could have reasonably included a sideswipe at the bizarre, retrograde attitudes of angry Sydney Anglicans. Instead here's what you got as a wrap up to the column:

When will we learn that falling over ourselves to be polite, defaulting to lazy moral relativism, looks like appeasement to radical Muslims, who will demand only more and more special rules? If the West accommodates demands for blasphemy laws, our appeasement inexorably will alter what it means to live in the West. It means surrendering long-cherished Enlightenment ideals and importing intolerably illiberal restrictions on free speech more at home in countries such as Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. That is precisely what radical Muslims want. But it can't possibly be what we want.

Uh huh. Speaking of theocracies, funny how Israel got left off the list, but now please allow the pond to do a wrap by borrowing from Albrechtsen:

... Janet Albrechtsen, commentariat commentator for the tabloid rag The Australian fell into the now familiar morass of moral relativism found at Murdoch publications. Talking about the Muslim protesters here, she yammered on endlessly about how Islamic blasphemy laws posed an imminent danger to western civilisation, without once mentioning Christian fundamentalists, ratbag Catholics, deluded scientologists, gold-plated Mormons, sects like Hillsong, Ministry of Fire and John Howard covertly cultivating the favour of the Exclusive Brethren on the principal that any vote is a vote. 
Pointing to the ratbag fervour of Islamic fundamentalists, Albrechtsen said, "It's not the same thing, is it?" Yes, Janet, it's exactly the same thing. By a bullseye ...

For redress, the pond proposes that Albrechtsen devote a column berating the confusion of religion and state by the school chaplaincy program, and follow up with a tirade about the way state funding is now being used to promote private religious schools that can teach creationsim, Xenu or the Prophet all on the taxpayers' watch ...

Yes, yes, the pond is aware it's being fully delusional.

There's liberalism and the Enlightenment, and then there's the dog- and wolf-whistling of The Australian, the Murdoch press in general and commentariat commentators like Albrechtsen in particular, eager to assault Islamics in faraway countries or the ABC close at hand, without paying a jot or whit of attention to what's happening right down the road at their local school courtesy the taxpayer and Liberal party policies (and let's not get started on Cardinal Pell and Tony Abbott) ...

Finally, lovers of the art of dissembling and equivocation will be pleased by Peter "the smirk" Costello's most excellent Swan throwing stones at Romney from a fiscal glasshouse

Here's how he tackles Wayne Swan talking of cranks and crazies:

Those who sprang to his defence pointed out that John Howard criticised Obama when he was running for the Democratic nomination in 2007. I remember the comment well. It was a Sunday morning TV interview. Howard decided to go on the show to announce a new aged care initiative agreed by cabinet. Because Obama announced his candidature overnight, Howard was asked for a reaction, which he gave totally unscripted and in a huge surprise to the cabinet. It blew away the aged care announcement. Howard recognised it as a gaffe and later apologised to his colleagues. 
But Swan's remarks were not impulsive. They were part of a prepared speech.

Uh huh. An impulsive remark, even if it reflects accurately the mindset, and all is forgiven. Prepared, and it must be wrong and is unforgiveable.

Now that's the way to defend the religious cranks and crazies that currently set the tone of the Republican party. But they're our own cranks and crazies, and all they do is speak impulsively ...

Did we start all this by mentioning irony, hypocrisy, Costello's smug brand of singalong with Hillsong Christianity, moral relativism and righteousness? Oh every day's a fun day at the pond.

(Below: amen to that).


  1. No votes for Howard with the Exclusive Brethren, they don't vote. They do, however, donate...

  2. Dorothy, I gotta disagree with you about Dame Slap. Usually I disagree with everything she says, and the company that she keeps too.
    But this time I mostly agree with her.
    And yes everyone in the West should strenuously resist any efforts on the part of the proponents of Islam to curtail freedom of speech in the name of "blasphemy", or making it unlawful to criticize "Islam" or the now half-imaginary archaic cartoon character, the "prophet".

    Screw the "prophet" say I.

  3. I think, Anon, you missed my point. The pond is an equal opportunity insulter of all religions, yet in Australia, it's the Islamics that cop the demonisation, while the other demons - the Pellists, the Jensenists and others - get a free kick from the commentariat. Surely it's right to slag off the Caliphate ambitions, and blasphemy, but are you aware that blasphemous libel still exists in NSW law?

    Oh okay, the last prosecution took place in 1871, but the point is you can't give any of the religions an even break. They'll always be getting agitated whether it's Piss Christ or Piss Prophet, yet the commentariat are the ones that tut tut about wild-eyed anarchists blaspheming and upsetting the Christians. Enough already. The point of the enlightenment was that all religions had to learn to wear rejection. She could have made a note of this, she could have objected to the way that Islamic schools are funded by the taxpayer, because it's fair dibs for protestant, Catholic and scientological schools, and so they never do. A pox on the lot of them, and a pox on the commentariat for never facing up to the logical outcomes of their liberal, secularist rhetoric, deployed only when they want to lather up a clash of civilisations routine.

  4. As to the final point in your article, is it not a part of the Liberal party dogma now that anything said is not to be taken seriously - it's only things that are written down that are to be believed? On the other hand, Abbott didn't actually put that in writing ...

  5. I know politicians are gonna be judged on everything they say, but sometimes, in the heat of discussion, you go a little bit further than you would if it was an absolutely calm, considered, prepared, scripted remark, which is one of the reasons why the statements that need to be taken absolutely as gospel truth is those carefully prepared scripted remarks.


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