The pond spotted an exemplary example of free speech at Sydney Airport last night.
The TV monitors above the baggage carousel were running Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas - surely still his best movie - and even better the scene that was showing involved an airport hijacking.
It reminded the pond of the good old days (and more from that book here):
So kind of the airport to remind the world how systematic looting of an airport can make a great movie, and incidentally provide a "how to" manual.
Now if only airlines can be persuaded to run Air Crash Investigations on their entertainment systems, life will be complete.
Oh okay, that was only going to be an opener for the news that:
“The NSW government is steaming ahead with roads for a new Western Sydney airport at Badgerys Creek.” (here)
Yep another choo choo steamer steaming ahead - it isn't just Victorians who can steam - and it's roads, roads, roads for Sydney, and there'll be a great network of airport roads before a sod is turned on the airport - so that NIMBYs can drive to the new airport region, set up homes and businesses, and decry the new airport...
There's an irony there somewhere ...
But Goodfellas turning up at the airport could also have been a cue for the spectacle of Brendan O'Neill taking to the pulpit on ABC radio to proclaim the joy of free speech, and the virtues of hate speech, and the more virtuous hate speech the better,.
In the end, however, listening to O'Neill is like enduring a radio marathon, and all that can be done is to issue a pond challenge - if you can endure Defending free speech and Should hate speech be free speech, you're either clinically barking mad, or you're one of the Spartans that survived being flung into the snow as a babe. Treat yourself to a good oil massage ...
It led the pond to wonder why the preachers full of free speech have so little useful to say, and instead many dreary hours rabbiting on about the virtues of free speech. Wouldn't it have been better for O'Neill to spend his entire program celebrating neo-Nazis, doing some Jew-bashing, deploring blacks, sniggering at wogs, and laughing at colonials as he collars taxpayer funds and disappears over the horizon ...?
Just a suggestion for future programs. What's the point of having free hate speech, if all you can do is blather about the rights of others to indulge in hate speech? How about some hate speech about cardigan wearers pissing taxpayers' money against the wall on a Pommie dickhead?
But all that's just an entree for the main course, because today the pond came across some remarkably stimulating ideas. They really got the pond going:
One suspects that the good professors’s presumption that conservative ideas are ultimately more virtuous than liberal thoughts is the real reason the dominant cultural class at The Australian appears indifferent to the lack of intellectual diversity within the institution.
It got better and better, more and more insightful:
When The Australian's staff look around them, for example, it surely would not escape their attention that liberals are somewhat thin on the ground.
It must feel a little odd to work in a building where hardly anybody admits to voting for a filthy, vile greenie.
They must realise, surely, that many of their readers and viewers (and an increasing number of ex-readers and ex-viewers) see the world in a different light, and that they cannot all be stupid.
Why, some of them can write reasonably literate letters to the ABC or Fairfax to say so.
Deep down, one suspects, it is just as the good professor implies, and they are working under the delusion that they are members of that fortunate group that sees the world in more sophisticated terms than those unreconstructed liberals do.
Maybe they do, or maybe don’t. What is clear, however, as any social psychologist will tell you, is that institutions like The Australian are diminished when the conventional wisdom becomes entrenched, groupthink takes hold and dissident voices are treated with contempt.
Waiter, another round of kool aid, and while you're at it, a generous serve to the Caterists ...
Yes, it's not just the end of the first world war day, it's also Nick Cater day, and it's a typical whinge and a moan about liberals dominating the academic world.
It seems that today the Caterists are all the rag can afford by way of regular opinionistas:
Now the pond has to admit that it fiddled with the above Caterist text. Shocking, and the pond is suitably mortified by the childish behaviour.
You know, this sort of cheap, easy fiddle: The commitment to diversity in Murdoch la la land and conservative think tanks does not extend to including liberal ideas.
Now the pond could keep on doing that sort of reversal until the cows come home, and if some dummy has put the cows up in the back paddock, that could take a considerable time:
Studies consistently have found that the proportion of Faux Noise and New York Post Murdoch journalists and commentariat writers prepared to out themselves as liberals is between 4 per cent and 8 per cent (0 per cent for greenies).
It would be no surprise to anyone, inside or outside Faux Noise and the newspaper game, if a local study produced much the same result. Australian Murdochian forelock tuggers also fancy themselves as conservatives, or dittoheads or wingnuts in the American parlance. Murdoch's newspapers, and other cultural institutions such as Foxtel, are uncomfortable places for liberals.
This is odd, really, since no newspaper these days would be complete without a solemn commitment to diversity, or a specious claim to being the heart of the nation, and not just the heart of climate denialism.
The media section of the Oz, under Sharri Markson, for example, boasts of “a rich cultural and experiential diversity in the editorial room”. It embraces “the principles of equity, access and inclusion”, especially if that equity and access and inclusiveness can lead to an exclusive harassment of ABC employees trying to have fun at the horsies ...
But you've probably got the point by now. It must be strange to live in the world of group-think, to routinely divide the world on a daily basis into black and white, good and bad, liberal and conservative, four legs and two legs, and then to come out with this sort of line:
Thus the right to be an intellectual bigot is steadfastly upheld in almost every Murdochian institution in the country. The conventional wisdom on everything from climate change being a myth to the supposed wondrous integrity of the Catholic Church - praise be, Gerard Henderson - is enforced, often unconsciously, in multiple ways.
What set the Caterists off again?
It seems to arisen from yet more sullen brooding about the alleged sacking, possibly term expired, departure of Prof Carter, which was done and dusted back in July 2013, and which in this Crikey story here, there seems to be at least two sides to the story, though deaf as a post one-eyed Caterists will only hear and see the one side.
That's why it's so easy to reverse black and white blinkered Caterism.
Social commentators, of all journalists, should be particularly alert to the dangers of epistemological homogeneity, or groupthink as some prefer to call it.
They would be aware of the errors that can pollute the group’s thinking if no one in the Oz's editorial room is prepared to disagree. Assumptions become embedded into theory and method, reporters concentrate on topics that support the prevailing narrative and the Chris Mitchell dream and avoid those that do not. Some like Sharri Markson go quite mad, along with signs of exhibitionism and a deep addiction to "look at moi, look at moi ..."
One explanation for Murdoch la la land and conservative think tank lopsidedness, the good professor suggests, is simply that conservatives find a career as a Murdoch or Koch serf more appealing than do liberals, particularly in a field such as mass mis-communication.
But while self-selection is clearly part of the story, it would be ironic if the Murdoch newspaper community used such arguments “to celebrate the community of prejudice when that same community roundly rejects those same arguments when invoked by other institutions to explain the over-representation of women or ethnic minorities, there already being far too many women in the Abbott cabinet, while it's well known that by definition ethic minorities is just another term for trouble makers who tediously insist on being different”.
Or some such thing. It got a bit garbled by the end, but you catch the drift.
Now if you want, you can google up Nick Cater's Why the right is left right out, to find out what was originally said - unfortunately a link would only lead to a begging subscription from the paupers of the press.
You can then devise your own Why the right is so tedious, despite the exclusive right and access to the kool aid ...
And so to the rumble in the Beijing jungle:
According to journalists at the event, Putin walked away chatting with Chinese President Xi Jinping after the picture, leaving Mr Abbott in his wake.
Sadly, there was no shirt-front, but there were a heck of a lot of Star Trek references. (here)
Oh the dear leader, he really can't help looking like a dork, can he ...