Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Stuck in Mobile with the Memphis blues again ... and they call that the joy of free speech ...

 (Above: Leunig sets the scene for ennobling suffering. More Leunig here)

It started with a throbbing and a pulsing hum.

Was it an avant-garde composition unfamiliar to the pond? A lesser Stockhausen?

No, it was just another early morning start on Radio National, and soon enough the intriguing sound turned into a repeat of the Law report, with nary a hint of an explanation. Perhaps the pond was just hallucinating, perhaps it was an acid flashback ...

Mark Scott should bottle this stuff and sell it at the school fair ...

Meanwhile, simply by a quirk of the browser, the pond came into touch with sanctimonious tosh of the first water.

But you already knew that you could cop a dose of preening self-satisfaction from David Brooks any day of the week, didn't you? Brooks, a remarkably self-satisfied and self-centred man, in the usual way of the commentariat, delivered what he no doubt considered an ennobling set of sentiments on happiness and suffering:

The right response to this sort of pain is not pleasure. It’s holiness. I don’t even mean that in a purely religious sense. It means seeing life as a moral drama, placing the hard experiences in a moral context and trying to redeem something bad by turning it into something sacred. Parents who’ve lost a child start foundations. Lincoln sacrificed himself for the Union. Prisoners in the concentration camp with psychologist Viktor Frankl rededicated themselves to living up to the hopes and expectations of their loved ones, even though those loved ones might themselves already be dead. (What Suffering Does)

Or you might be Primo Levi, and fall from a balcony and leave the world to argue whether it was suicide.

The pond has absolutely no explanation of why Brooks should, from his smug eerie, take on the unctuous hand-wringing superiority of a half-baked Anglican minister offering the holy and the sacred to suffering folk (perhaps you could also score a cheese and cucumber sandwich, though you should never drink American tea), but sure as shit, you can guarantee he won't be walking a mile in the shoes of the long suffering.

Next week, as with so many of the American commentariat, he'll be back to explaining how an increase in the minimum wage is a deeply moral question:

Low income is the outcome of these interrelated problems, but it is not the problem. To say it is the problem is to confuse cause and effect. To say it is the problem is to give yourself a pass from exploring the complex and morally fraught social and cultural roots of the problem. It is to give yourself permission to ignore the parts that are uncomfortable to talk about but that are really the inescapable core of the thing. (The Inequality Problem)

Yep, bugger an increase in the minimum wage, that's morally fraught, let's keep on with the noble and sacred and holy cause of suffering ...

What humbug and moral hypocrisy, what a comprehensive and gigantic goose.

Waiter, is there a hot poker in the house?

Well if this level of delusion and grandiose piety is what can be found in the alleged American paper of record, you can see why a chastened pond quickly headed back to native Murdochian turf for a dose of local grandiosity ...

Sure enough, there was Dame Slap blathering on about 18C, and this time enjoining a couple of Canadians in the cause to set the Bolter and his commenters free to be wild-eyed bigots.

Dame Slap concludes grandly:

So, has Canada become a haven for bigots without section 13? Of course not. 

It is, of course, a haven for Mark Steyn ...

And this is the sort of historical perspective that Steyn offers:

While we wait for intellectually honest members of the Left to emerge, Steyn says we must also relentlessly push back against the jackboot bigotry claims. “You have to say ‘You’re insulting Australians’, just as we said: ‘You’re insulting Canadians saying that.’ We’re not people who have a dark, fascist totalitarian past — Canada and Australia are two of the oldest, settled, constitutional societies on earth. They haven’t gone through third empires and fourth republics, and all the other stuff. People can be trusted to decide for themselves.”

Now that's how you sweep memories of the White Australia policy under the rug, and dis-remember that Australia was a member of the British Empire, its power as an independent war monger in doubt right up to the ratification of the Statute of Westminister in 1942, and inter alia teaching pesky blacks, those damned Boers and those wretched Turks a damned good lesson, before lately dishing out the same medicine to those bloody Iraquis and Afghanis ...

And through it all this proud country has never shown the slightest inkling or awareness that there might be any hint of prejudice or jackbooted bigotry in its past. Waiter, is there a flag with a Union Jack on it in the house?

Anyway, if you can be bothered to get around the paywall, you can read Dame Slap going on endlessly about wonderful Canadians and the hapless blight of the Bolter in One voice on free speech but truth to tell, it's been scribbled so many times in such repetitious form by so many Murdochians you could write it yourself in your sleep ...

But being the pond, there must be irony, surely there's an irony to be found, and sure enough, it comes with the juxaposition of all the Murdochians rabbiting on about the plight of the Bolter - when, judging by the comments reprinted on the pond's pages, he and his commenters can indulge in the most outrageous free speech, enough to make a cesspit smell as sweet as a rose ...

... up against this effort from the Abbott government:

Prime Minister Tony Abbott's department has taken the bizarre step of declaring that its advice on how staff should use Facebook and Twitter is a secret, even though it was reported across the country.
The department's leaked Social Media Policy attracted controversy because it urges public servants to dob on colleagues who use the internet to criticise politicians or policies, even if they do so anonymously.

You can read more in Public service's leaked guide to dobbing on colleagues is now 'secret', which concludes:

Ms Banerji wrote to Attorney-General George Brandis on Tuesday, saying the bureaucracy's policies on using Facebook and Twitter were "a 'trip-wire’ for public servants in that, while on the one hand the guidelines state that public servants are encouraged to enter into robust discussion, they are in fact, not permitted to criticise government as private citizens".
She asked him to declare "that all public servants, as a class of persons, enjoy the constitutionally implied freedom of political communication in their capacity as private citizens, whatever their platform of expression".

Say what?

Public servants should be allowed to express themselves, rather than trudge down endless corridors in dour silence, carrying bundles of files because the department forgot to order sufficient USB keys?

Oh no, no, no, that will not stand. You see, free speech is essential for the minions of Murdoch but anyone who dares to suggest the Abbott government is fucked - while they do its dirty work - is going beyond the bounds of decency ...
Let's not get carried away. It's absolutely essential rabid bigots have the right to free speech, but public servants imagining that they're citizens? It's indecorous at best, and downright offensive at worst. If thine eyes or thy servants offend thee, pluck them out and sack 'em ...

As for the Murdochians, what exactly do they do with their free speech?

Well if you're Miranda the Devine you write an absolutely childish and incredibly mind-boggling, condescending piece about political manipulation, which you can read in Doing The Block on PUP, but only if you want to lose ten IQ points in a single go. 
What it shows is a mind rotted to the core by reading Swiss bank account Gra Gra in the lizard Oz, and watching too much reality television:

When Steve and Chantelle were teamed up with the unfortunate twins, the result inevitably was disharmony. They worked against each other as individuals. They could not get on. Their energy was spent on arguing, sulking and bruised egos.
Against the sunny, socially-skilled dream team of the Super Ks and Brad and Dale, they didn’t have a chance.
So there we have it for Project Clive: the road map from Richo and the script from The Block.
All that’s left is to choose the Dream team. The government leader in the senate Eric Abetz already has his job cut out schmoozing the other crossbenchers. Senator George Brandis seems to be positioning himself as chief Clive Wrangler. While the Attorney-General has a brilliant mind, he doesn’t have the social skills.
When it comes to wrangling Clive, you need to call in the cavalry.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has been cooing sweetly about her “friend” Palmer since the weekend. If there’s one thing Bishop is good at, it’s getting on with people. That’s how she ended up being Kevin Rudd’s best friend in parliament. But she’s also pretty busy as Foreign Minister.
Step forward Senator Cory Bernardi, socially adept and woefully underutilised. Since being banished from Abbott’s inner sanctum for political incorrectness, he can relate to Palmer’s outsider mentality. He’s also friends with Family First’s Bob Day, who will likely be the driving force of the crossbench. Bernardi and Bishop are the Kyal and Kara of parliament, The Super Bs, ready to destroy Clive’s team with a smile.

It's bizarre, it's childish, it's politics for pre-schoolers or on a good day the kindergarten set ... and it's a reminder that free speech doesn't guarantee sensible, insightful, useful or remotely intelligent speech ...

But it surely suggests what we're likely to be getting soon enough. The Abbott government as a TV reality show enacting policy and conducting relationships like grasping, conniving people on free to air television...

Take that David Brooks. Take your pious talk about suffering being ennobling and sacred and shove it. There's nothing sacred about being stuck in Mobile with the Memphis blues again ...

As for the rest? Well David Pope says all that needs to be said, and more Pope here.


  1. DP - another title for Tony to resurrect. 'Groom of the Stool' - first recipient I suggest be Andrew Bolt.

    Yes there actually were courtiers whose job it was to wipe the Kings bum. It was a much sought-after position in the time of Henry VIII.

  2. Replies
    1. Oh DP, Fry did a very funny skit about the Groom of the Stool, but I can't find it.

      But as compensation here's a clip from Have I Got News For You in which the immortal Brian Blessed tells his anecdote about the problems with having a shit half-way up Mt Everest. He obviously needed Andrew Bolt to help him with the mechanics.

  3. Do you mean W.C. Handy? The oldest blues recording - 1912.

  4. Funny how language works.

    Privy meant private. Stool meant something to sit on. Then they developed 'close stools', meaning portable toilets you could sit on, but this was a private matter. Thus it became became the 'privy stool'. And then they had to have someone to clean up the mess. So we had the groom of the stool, then 'stool' took off on a meaning of it's own as a polite term for shit.

    And so we have the privy council; 'stool' in medicine (see fat bastard's stool sample in Austin Powers); and privy as a polite name for toilet.

    So the 'privy council' is a bunch of shit wipers sitting in a toilet.

    Then we have the Golden Stool (trust the Africans! Blair defence). And coprolites - dinosaur stools.

    Then the master of the stools, Andrew Bolt.

    It's just all shit to me.

  5. Aesop: “The fly sat upon the axel-tree of the chariot-wheel and said, What a dust do I raise!”

    Fits to a T for the highbrow Bob Carr

    1. :) Didn't Aesop also say Beware the twit in first class PJs?

  6. Do yourselves a favour and rediscover Tom Lehrer.

    Here's the Vatican Rag (just for Pell)

    And here's National Brotherhood Week (just for Bolt)

  7. This from 'our' Attorney General.

    "The more intelligence I read, the more conservative I become. Despite the best efforts of some within the gullible self-loathing left and the anarcho-libertarian right to romanticise Edward Snowden, he's not a folk hero. He's a traitor."

    1. Yes because freedom of speech should be reserved to the gauleiters ... who know what's best for the people. Just like Dr Strangelove ...


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