Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Speaking of general declaimers and porcupines ...
(Above: the brilliant David Rowe showing Houdini lives, and more brilliant Rowe here).
Here's how it's done.
First quote Malthus approvingly:
The most successful supporters of tyranny are without double those general declaimers who attribute the distresses of the poor, and almost all the evils to which society is subject, to human institutions and the inquity of governments.
And then forget that you had written the page before:
Modern famine is either the result of deliberate political policies (the Ukraine in the 1930s, Sudan right now) or of terrible economic ideas (Ireland in the 1840s, China in the late 1950s).
That successful supporter of tyranny and general declaimer was P. J. O'Rourke, blithely scribbling his idiocy in 1994 (All the Trouble in the World), proving once again to the pond the danger of picking a book up in the street and putting it in the toilet as a general aid and comfort in times of crisis....
How O'Rourke ever got a name as a pundit ... oh wait, Tim Blair is in awe of him. That explains everything ...
Worse, reading the tosh at the time of crisis induced a bout of reflexiveness in the pond. Is writing about idiocy therapeutic and remedial, or does it lead to a deeper, terminal idiocy?
Well, if we follow the successful supporter of tyranny and general disclaimer, we can't say a word about the human institution known as Vlad the Putiniah impaler, or the iniquity of his acquisitive government ...
Nor should we say anything about Arthur Sinodinos, preferring to stay as quiet as a Malthusian mouse.
But in all the recent fuss about Sinodinos, set out at the ABC here, did anyone do the maths of being paid an alleged $200,000 for an alleged 100 hours of work a year? That's $2,000 the hour, or $16,000 the 8 hour day, if you will. (How Sinodinos stood to gain about $20m)
Why with that sort of payment you could have the best silk in the land rubbing up against you, and panting, and rolling over and wagging tail, and still have plenty of change ...
It's a reminder of just how much the privatisation of government is so longed for by the ruling elites ... snouts go deep into the trough.
What's even more astonishing is that anyone could get themselves into that sort of comfort zone without apparently knowing anything about the shareholders or the company and claiming ignorance as some sort of protective virtue.
A director of a company blithely assuming that knowing nothing about crucial matters in relation to the company, its staff, its activities and its owners, is doing the job of a director? At 2k the hour?
Oh how wise of P. J. O'Rourke and Malthus to decry general declaimers, because there's a lot to declaim about ...
And then, speaking of lawyers, came this: Catholic Pell was 'giving instructions' as Catholic church fought abuse claims:
Claims by Cardinal George Pell that he had little to do with the conduct of the notorious Ellis case have been flatly contradicted by the church’s own lawyer in dramatic testimony on Tuesday to the royal commission into the institutional response to child abuse.
“I didn’t have any doubt the cardinal was being kept up to date on developments in the case,” Paul McCann of church lawyers Corrs, Chambers, Westgarth told the commission. “He was giving instructions on various steps.”
Pell will wriggle of course. There has already been talk of faulty memories and the lawyer getting it wrong and so on and so forth, which raises the question of why the Catholic church had someone in charge of its activities. Was it simply so that someone could roll over in bed and say "oh don't bother me, just do whatever you like"?
Is there any general declaimer worth a read this morning?
Come on down Richard Ackland, nicely skewering the pomposity and hypocrisy of News Corp and the Bolter in Hypocrisy adds insult to injuries.
Oh the pond just loves the talk of reptiles in the morning. Why it's up there with the smell of napalm. But do go on:
For journalists to be demanding apologies and suing for defamation is undignified and embarrassing. The licence to dish it out has the associated responsibility of being able to take it.
Journalists have ink by the barrel to unload on their attackers, yet here we are with a chorus from News Corp demanding apologies from the ABC because its sulphuric columnists and opinion pedlars sometimes get offended, insulted or humiliated.
If it's good enough for racial minorities to cop a bit of abuse in the media, there should be a rule under the journalists' code of ethics that reptiles, who can defend themselves in print, the internet or on air, should not sue for defamation or insist that people apologise to them. News Corp wants to be rid of the offend, insult and humiliate provisions in the Racial Discrimination Act - at the very least. They haven't extended their campaign to amending or repealing the Defamation Act and monetary awards for damage to reputation and hurt to feelings.
It's all right to offend racial or ethnic minorities but, happily, the Defamation Act is still there as a back-up for miffed journalists.
And for good measure, Ackland berates the Caterists for pretending that the News Corp reptiles and the thin- and fair-skinned Bolter are in any way reasonable people, or for that matter Chris Kenny:
Already it has the prime minister's dinner guest and Murdoch pen-man Chris Kenny on its schedule of defamation cases, with Tony Abbott saying the ABC should not be ''defending the indefensible''.
''Next time the ABC comes to the government looking for more money, this is the kind of thing we would want to ask them questions about,'' he said.
If ever there was a blatant contempt of court, this is it - threatening a litigant with a monetary penalty if it defends itself in civil litigation. George Brandis must have forgotten the Wran case in which the former premier was found guilty of contempt for encouraging the second jury in the Lionel Murphy case to find the High Court judge not guilty.
So why has the pond quoted this general declaimer at length?
Well you need a little strength and a little sanity, and a little fortifying if you stumble off to the paranoid land of the reptiles of a morning, it being a little too early in the morning for a nice tokay, or a dry sherry, or a dash of rum.
You might, for example, stumble across Janet 'Dame Slap' Albrechtsen scribbling away in Ivory towers shaken by man free of legal baggage: (behind the paywall to protect people from even more general declaiming).
Ah, the hive mind is strong in this one, as she talks about the gap and the drawing of the line between law and social norms, between what the law should prohibit and what society deems socially unacceptable:
That gap is where the debate takes place. More importantly, it’s in that gap between where the law sits and social norms operate where we exercise the responsibilities that come with rights.
It goes without saying that not all of us will exercise our responsibilities in the same way. People will be offended. Some will be humiliated and insulted and even intimidated. But when we extend the sledgehammer of the law into the realm of social norms, you sideline individual responsibility, human judgment and the power of civil society to frown on unacceptable speech. If there is no gap or the gap is too small, you treat people like infants in need of laws to dictate every more and civil nicety. By repealing laws such as section 18C, you encourage people to exercise responsibilities alongside their rights.
Uh huh. So the Bolter circling the ABC, armed with the legal firepower and backing of lawyers, is exercising responsibility, just as Tony Abbott threatening to harm the ABC's funding if it doesn't toe the line, is just a matter of civil nicety ...
But do go on:
Jeremy Jones, from the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, was Wilson’s intellectual sparring partner on Lateline and unwittingly gave us the perfect example of this on Friday night. He said it took a court case to identify what was wrong with the Holocaust denials of Frederick Tobin: “It was because of the (legal) judgment that this (Holocaust denial) was seen to be something abhorrent,” said Jones. This position, that we need laws such as 18C in the RDA and courts to tell us that Holocaust denial is abhorrent, treats us like idiots, too stupid to work that out for ourselves. When laws creep into the realm where civil society operates, they inhibit the power of robust debate to prove wrong views such as Tobin’s.
While self-important human rights lawyers perched in their legal ivory towers treat us as infants in need of laws that prohibit comments that offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate us, Wilson’s view of human beings is one about empowerment. It’s grounded in the real and robust world of feisty debate and human judgment.
To be sure, it’s early days, but a first-term report card suggests Wilson is doing well in this new position as Freedom Commissioner. He scored early high marks for upsetting the legal and human rights status quo. And he has continued to earn marks in the cause for freedom for talking less about laws and more about people exercising their rights along with responsibilities.
Now let's just forget that we're reading a self-important member of the commentariat blathering on and treating readers as idiots, too stupid to work out that the kool aid drinkers at News Corp have been peddling this line for months, why ever since the Bolter sprayed a number of people, getting his facts wrong in the process, and ever since explaining how he'd like to maintain the assault, but he can't, because he's been cruelly inhibited from dishing out even more offensive abuse.
Let's instead just ask about how News Corp goes about its business with responsibility.
What earthly use is the Bolter? How does his contribution to climate science advance the world or an understanding of climate science? How does his tedious, repetitive blather about "race" and "racial" matters and his bizarre and preposterous use of "" in talking of such matters advance the community?
Back to Ackland:
Langton said he had racially abused another fair-skinned Aborigine, Misty Jenkins. Later she ''apologised for causing offence'' to Bolt.
In fact, her ''apology'' was contained in an 18-page document in which she said: ''I should apologise to him because I 'hurt his feelings' and offended him. I did not apologise for my belief or my intention of trying to explain my beliefs … I believe his obsessive writing about the colour of the skin of particular Aboriginal people is malicious and cowardly.''
Some apology. Showing a serious degree of sensitivity, Bolt then demanded an apology from the public broadcaster, which QandA host Tony Jones duly delivered on Monday.
According to Media Watch, this was even before Bolt flagged defamation proceedings. Maybe Aunty's lawyers wanted to avoid another round of bullying from the government and News Corp.
So there it is. The Bolter routinely acts like a loudmouth and a bully. That's how he exercises his rights.
Now how does News Corp exercise its responsibilities?
Why by routinely finding large amounts of space for loudmouths and bullies who want to be outside and above a law which attempts to provide some modest disincentive to their loud-mouthed bullying.
If News Corp wanted to exercise its responsibilities, it would simply cut the Bolter's blog free from its masthead.
Let it slip into the wide world of the full to overflowing intertubes where the Bolter could join hundreds of other ranters:
But no, they're addicted to the hits, they're addicted to the controversy, they want to be the centre of the attention, because with attention comes power and influence.
The funniest thing about all the freedom of speech blather that has saturated News Corp of late comes when you contemplate a large organisation which is at once amazingly sensitive and paranoid, while at the same time given to dishing out the dirt in a righteous way, and wanting to be free of the consequences.
How grand it is to be able to freely abuse and demonise minorities without taking any responsibility at all, and with the costs to said minorities to complain or fight back high, and the time and effort not worth it ...
And that's why Dame Slap is in barking mad lulu land, with her talk of empowerment.
Anyone who's endured bullying in a classroom knows that sort of cant about "empowerment" is bullshit, and anyone who observes the bullying News Corp in action knows it's all about unhealthy power and an unhealthy untrammelled desire to abuse warmists, compassionistas and anyone else they like with none of this idle chit chat about responsibility or relevance to truth ...
Meanwhile, with everybody distracted about the Bolter abusing and bullying minorities, and News Corp blathering about rights and responsibilities, the foxes are in the chook houses on a daily basis, or should that be Arthur Daley is minding the de-regulatory store in Minder, while bovver boy Terry goes about his business ...
Thank the long absent lord for David Pope and more Pope here:
Oh let's finish the general declaiming with a little Arfur:
[looking at a writing desk in the auction house]
Arthur Daley: Your modern entrepreneur is constantly gazing into the crystal ball of opportunity.
Terry McCann: And what do your crystal balls tell you about that then, eh? Is there gonna be a big rush on firewood?
Arthur Daley: No, Terry. That is... that is "an Indian ebony and porcupine quill workbox, nineteenth century". Described as "distressed".
Terry McCann: Distressed?
Arthur Daley: Yes, that is a term they use in the auctioneering world.
Terry McCann: Yeah, loosely translated as "knackered"!
Arthur Daley: As with most things in this life, Terry, it is in the eye of the beholder. One man's firewood is another man's porcupine wotsisname.
Just as one town's water supply is another man's porcupine wotsisname ...
Posted by dorothy parker at 3/19/2014 08:54:00 AM