Friday, April 07, 2017

In which the pond strays into Bolter, Bleagh, Ali and Aly territory ...

Speaking of trolling, as the pond occasionally does ...

The pond is indebted to a reader who provided a link to the Crikey story about the travails and persecution of Queensland Courier Mail writer Paul Syvret, headed Bolt and Blair turn on one of their own for thoughtcrime, which interalia noted:

Syvret's thought crime was to have a kind word  or two for Triggs, which naturally led to the thought police pouncing.

After all, there's only so many times they can deplore the activities of other thought police, before turning to their own daily task of thought policing ...

It would be hard to imagine better thought police than little Timmie Bleagh, and the smug Bolter ...

The Bolter in particular cultivates a flock of haters who diligently carry out his work ...

The story also turned up in the Graudian in Meade's Trolls tear into Courier-Mail columnist after blasts from Bolt and Blair ...

That piece carried news of proposed Fairfax cuts - is there a week where there isn't such talk? - along with this snippet ...

Sources say after News Corp posted a second-quarter loss in February of $287m and cited impairments in the Australian newspaper business as a key factor, big cuts are planned locally for this year. One round of redundancies is imminent and one will be later this year. Insiders say the Herald Sun and the Daily Telegraph are set to lose as many as 30% of editorial staff by the end of the year, mainly in areas like photographic and production. This will mean the remaining reporters will need to upload and edit their own stories. The cuts come after a high-level meeting with Australian executives and Rupert Murdoch in New York in recent weeks. News Corp declined to comment.

Terror at the Terrorgraph ... horror at the HUN. Seems like the business plan is working out tremendously well.

Speaking of the Bolter, the matter of Ayaan Hirsi Ali also arose to torment readers ...

Now the pond's feelings are straightforward enough. Ali is simply too angry to pay much attention to, though that's the reason she appeals to the anger-mongers and haters of the Bolter kind. She reminds the pond of angry Sydney Anglicans, angry atheists and other anger-laden commentators on religion ...

No doubt she has suffered much and been persecuted, but flying off the handle to the Bolter doesn't help matters.

Inevitably the Bolter is happy to use her to prosecute his own hates, fears and loathings, and in particular his great fear and loathing of Waleed Aly.

Let any moderate Islamic stick their head above the parapet on the ABC, Fairfax and anywhere much else, and the Bolter will be there for the kicking, and the tarnishing and the association with Islamic extremists ...

As touched on earlier, the pond suspects it's because Aly is better at television and is more personable than the Bolter, and that irritates the shit out of him even more, because on TV, the Bolter frequently comes across as an uptight rectitudinous prick, full of barely repressed bile and anger ...

After a few minutes of viewing, anyone interested in a quiet life will begin to feel the skin crawl in a creepy way ...

Now in talking like this, the pond has to mount the usual disavowals ... the pond has no particular time for Aly, not having time for Ten, the ABC or Fairfax thanks to reptile duties.

The pond thinks anyone who follows the Islamic faith is as delusional as those who head off to Scientology or the Catholic church.

On the other hand, the pond is also frequently delusional, so provided people practice their delusions in moderation, and with civility and due consideration to others, where's the harm? We all need some form of delusion to make it through this vale of tears.

That doesn't mean the pond has to listen to Aly wittering away with Scott Stephens - there's already too much pain in the world - but some might like it, and diversity is more interesting than the dull monochrome of the News Corp thought police.

All this came to a recent head with the Bolter inducing Ali to make some claims against Aly which amount to little more than a pathetic smear ...

Those who want to can google them up but the pond is damned if it will link to them, or provide anything other than a screen cap as evidence ...

Now here's where the News Corp smear machine takes over and gets going, and as Syvret discovered, it can get pretty ugly.

The reptiles of Oz picked up on the Bolter and ran with the smear ... 

...because they too fear and loathe Aly, and are always willing to talk about his 'Stake' in Islam Brotherhood, with a lower case 'b', if a chance arises ... though no doubt they were canny enought to lawyer up and make sure the 'Stake' was safely surrounded by defanging inverted commas, and they were careful to make sure they were seen only reporting what Ali "says" ...

This is mealy-mouthed rhetoric - idle and full of dissembling comparisons, and wandering off into Larry Pickering territory, and it explains exactly why the pond thinks that Ali is a little thick, the anger throwing a fog filter over any chance of clarity and incisive commentary.

Calling her a mindless moron might be troweling it on a little thickly, but frankly Aly is a little too clever for that sort of simplistic, simpleton Ali denunciation...

It only took a trice of googling to turn up Aly having a few words to say in the Sydney Morning Herald back in 2012 about Egypt and the Brotherhood, in full here:

Now by any conventional reading, Aly is disapproving a Brotherhood monopoly over the Eypgtian constitution, and the potential for the Brotherhood usurping the revolution ...

But the way it works with angry fanatics and the thought police, no matter what anyone writes or says, they remain guilty by smear and association, and all those who fellow travel with them are equally guilty.

Think long and hard enough about it, and you might even conclude that Scott Stephens is a stooge of the Islamic Brotherhood ... well he hangs around with someone who apparently and allegedly hangs around with the Muslim Brotherhood, which let's face it, is just a stone's throw away from Daesh.

There's never a backward step or an apology in this kind of smearing ... though in the second gobbet it's worth noting that piece by John Lyons ...

The answer to Lyons' question, "why all the haters?", is that haters are gunna hate, and News Corp and the Bolter are gunna smear, though carefully, in a way designed not to offend the lawyers, which leads to that immortal line buried in the text ...

Of course not, they have the angry Ali to do the dirty work for them.

But that's how the story works. Smearing a link, while denying that he might be "actually" supportive or involved.

The reptiles and the Bolter merely report, and you decide that where there's smoke, there certainly must be Islamic fire ...

No evidence is actually produced - we're just copping vapour attacks from Ali - and the third gobbet gets on to other matters, though in a similar way and of a similar kind ...

It's around this time that the pond develops a sneaking sympathy for the likes of Ruby Hamad scribbling for Fairfax "I didn't sign the petition against Ayaan Hirst Ali - I'd rather debate her myself." The silly thing wants to introduce some kind of substance into the discussion:

Look, I'm not going to say Hirsi Ali is wrong about everything, because she is not. Contemporary Islam has some serious issues that need to be addressed and any Muslim who denies this is either lying or deluded. That I have seen some Muslims make light of the very real threat to Hirsi Ali's life is proof of that. But where Hirsi Ali fails miserably is in her insistence that all these problems can be traced back to a 7th century prophet and his revelations. Women only inherit half what a man does? Intolerable! Well yes, until you consider that prior to Islam, women not only inherited nothing, but were property themselves. 

 Hirsi Ali should have a look at what Europe and the Catholic Church were getting up to at that time before triumphantly announcing that females gaining property rights in medieval Arabia is the height of religious misogyny.

My biggest contention with the Ayaan Hirsi Ali Travelling Islamophobia Sideshow is not that she is given a platform, but that she is given a free ride. I don't want her silenced, I want her silly and hateful arguments to be dismantled on live TV, by someone willing to call bullshit on the way she decontexualises early Islam, measuring it against 21st century ideals that most western countries fail to live up to. I want to see her forced to confront the reality of contemporary politics, to acknowledge that western colonialism deliberately stoked and inflamed sectarian tensions, crushing secular, feminist, and socialist movements in favour of autocratic dictators. 

Most of all, I want to see a discussion centred on the imperialism of the last several decades of western foreign policy that has inexplicably funded the violent Wahhabi ideology that is responsible for the terrorism and fundamentalism that Hirsi Ali claims to abhor.

Did someone mention Wahhabism?

By golly, they know how to get on the right side of the pond ... there's more, but then there's a link to follow, and the pond wants to get back to the Bolter, and his weird obsession.

Aly had something to say about it in that opening to the Lyon piece, a profile of Aly  ...

Well in one sense the Bolter is on the fringes of discourse, though in News Corp world, he's at the heart of the business model, because he provides the sort of smears that the reptiles of Oz gratefully pick up and run with ...

And there's little doubt that he has a very weird and quite sinister obsession with Aly ... but why is that?

Yes, the Bolter is a continual state of outrage and anger. That's his routine, that's his racket, that's his angle and his schtick.

But at the same time there's other reasons than Aly not renouncing his religion while being conspicuously different to the Bolter ... it's the simple face of jealousy, mingling resentment with the anger.

The fact is that Aly's show picks up decent ratings, and is one of the few rays of light at the struggling Ten network, while Ten dumped the Bolter and he headed off to exile and low ratings on Sky, where the only way he can attract attention is by manufacturing outrage and smearing people ...

... which is why the pond rarely pays attention to the Bolter, because that means becoming part of the smear machine.

As Syvert discovered, when the Bolter unleashes the bat monkeys, the result can be profoundly depressing ... and no different from when this cartoon emerged in 2016 thanks to the Jesuits here.

And now since Egypt somehow strayed into the conversation, the pond has to confess that the logarithms finally caught up with the pond, and discovered its deep nostalgic affection for The Bangles ... Judeo-Christian civilisation ...cultural stereotypes ... and the hair, oh the hair was the glory days for hair ...


  1. Thanks for that post, DP: an informative and helpful analysis.

    I think I more or less had - with some Anonymous help - come to much the same viewpoint about Hirsi Ali as you have documented very well. Though I think she's very "Trumpian" with her armoury of 'alternate facts' - like Trump, she's prepared to vary them and to walk them back and forward and sideways and say whatever it takes. Oh, and make up new ones freely to suit the occasion.

    And I think your point about the Bolter's jealousy of Waleed Aly really hits the mark. Remember when Bolt was doing that "encored" Sunday morning show (The Bolt Report) which IIRC rarely got more than about 200,000 audience in total (for both showings combined) compared to Waleed's 5 nights at around 500,000 - 600,000 per night. Oh, gall and bitter, bitter wormwood.

  2. While I also feel a sneaking sympathy for Ruby Hamad, claiming virtue for a less-misogynistic culture is a bit silly. It's a bit like saying Oswald Mosely should be given props because he was less racist than someone who was very racist indeed, but I won't name because I don't have the loose coin for the Godwin jar.

    "Intolerable! Well yes, until you consider that prior to Islam, women not only inherited nothing, but were property themselves. "
    Yes, totally true, as long as your only framework is comparing those two theocracies. Freed from that mental straightjacket, the picture is a little different. Under the otherwise highly gendered laws of ancient Rome, women could inherit equally with their siblings of either gender. Or take a broader brush, and look at Ancient Egypt where the laws treated men and women virtually equally - there were some gender differences, but they cut both ways. Since matrimony (in the literal sense) is definitive, while patrimony must be taken on trust, ancient egyptians preferenced inheritance from mother to daughter. Jewish women, again with some qualifications, were legally equal to men.

    Even Japan, so highly conscious of gender than different vocabulary (eg different pronouns depending on whether it is a man or woman talking) and writing (hiragana and katakana were, originally, the scripts for women and men respectively), did this better. Through the Heian period, and until a 300-year slide in civil war gradually compressed most property law down to "it belongs to whoever can take and hold it at the point of a sword", women with property had equal inheritance rights for some 500 years. Not coincidentally, this period also saw the first great female writers - Murusaki, Sei Shonagon, Izumi, Akazome Emon, etc, etc. So with all these models, our enlightened society has managed equal property rights for how long now?

    Lets face it - history offers many examples of legal codes that make the question of "Islam or Xian, who's less misogynistic" a fairly pointless pissing competition. In fact, both of them owe their very patchy regard for women to their cultural, rather than religious, roots - Christianity was essentially a Greek religion for its first 300 years, and reflected the Greek's thousand-year contempt for the notion that women might be capable of judgement independent of a male guardian (kyrios). While women were treated equally in some aspects of the law, when it came to property and contracts, the Greeks liked to keep their women "complementary".

  3. history offers many examples of legal codes that make the question of "Islam or Xian, who's less misogynistic" a fairly pointless pissing competition

    Yair, but the main issue is that, between them, religions centred on Christ and religions centred on Muhammad (or at least on the Qu'ran) piss on nearly 3 billion people, roughly half of whom would be "complimentary". Other etnicities and cultures had what appear to be less misogynistic laws, but the question that always needs to be settled is simply: did the praxis live up to the "law". How equal in actual day-to-day affairs were Jewish women and Jewish men ? Amongst others, of course: how many female Pharoes did Egypt have ? How many Roman consuls, and later emperors, were female ? How about Japan ? Lots of females actually running things ? Or independently employed ?

    Christianity was essentially a Greek religion for its first 300 years

    I'm aware that Christianity more or less began its European penetration via Greece (Saul in Thessalonika) and of course Jewish culture had been strongly influenced by the Greeks (even to some attempts to stage an 'Olympic Games' in Judea), and the early New Testament stuff was largely written first in Greek, but Greek for 300 years ?

  4. Brief answers to many questions: Don't know. Several, but a small minority of the total. None. None. No. Too vague to answer specifically.

    But your questions miss the point - I didn't claim all these societies treated women equally (why would I, for a start all of these societies tolerated some level of slavery, and I specifically mentioned Rome had highly gendered laws). Equal treatment has several aspects, of which the law is one. And the law has many aspects, of which property, inheritance and commercial law is only a part. But in Ruby Hamad's own framing - that of inheritance - these societies have a much better record than her chosen binary comparison.

    In any case, most of what you are talking about here is not about the law but about power. Pointing out a society that excludes 100% of women from its power structures may or may not be useful, if it also excludes 99.9% of men from its power structures. And goes access to power mean equal access to the law? Was England a gender-neutral society when Elizabeth I was on the throne? Who is running the place is likely to be relatively unimportant to the everyday lives of ordinary people, especially in a non-democratic state. But equality in everyday things - protection from crime, redress for damage, the ability to trade and to profit from whatever labour you choose to undertake - these are important things, not which of the microscopically small proportion of people is eligible to sit on a fancy chair.

    The societies I mentioned had chequered records on the law in general, from quite level in Egypt to quite unequal in Rome, and all had at least some measure of equal-but-different treatment on gender lines.

    Hamad claimed: "prior to Islam, women not only inherited nothing, but were property themselves". You seem happy to accept her binary framing, but I do not. And one only has to look as far as the third leg of the Abrahamic trio to see the claim is crap. And the further afield you look, the crapper it is.
    - - - -
    Greek for 300 years? Yep. between its establishment and its elevation to state religion, 90% of its adherents were the hellenized inhabitants of the eastern part of the Roman Empire. the people of modern Turkey and the Roman part of what is now the Middle East were all Greek, or local groups with a strong Greek overlay, such as the Copts in Egypt, Christians who had lived under the Ptolomies for three hundred years before they got to God-bothering (and even though they speak a very old dialect of Egyptian, their religious services are in a very old dialect of Greek). Armenia was a little different, but the rest, culturally, far more Greek than Roman. They didn't even call themselves Romani, but Rhomaioi (the Greek word for "romans").

    1. para 4 should read "...and even where nominally equal, all had at least some measure..."

    2. But your questions miss the point

      Ah well my questions hit my point fine, but I guess that my point isn't the point, at least according to you.

      You seem happy to accept her [Ruby Hamad] binary framing,

      Do I ? Well since I didn't know of her existence until you mentioned her, and I didn't mention her or "her framing", I'm not sure just how I managed to accept her "framing". Are you sure you're not just attributing ?

      Greek for 300 years? Yep.

      Having read a bit more after considering your points, there does seem to have been much more Christianity in the "Greek" East than in the Latin West, but as per Paul's Letter to the Romans, there was also a substantial Christian presence - both Jewish and gentile converts - that appears to have been quite independent of the eastern 'orthodox' Christianity. So there was a sizeable 'Greek' (probably mixed Greek-Roman-Goth in reality) that persisted and expanded into Asia (eg the Nestorians) but also a separate western Christianity which formed the basis of the 'Roman Catholic' tradition and thus formed the Christianity of Europe.

    3. Incidentally, FD, thanks for the list of Japanese women authors/poets - I simply hadn't ever encountered any of that at all. "So little time", and I never got back much past Basho and Issa.

      Several centuries before Christine de Pizan too - though she did make an independent living in France from her writing to support her family - but only just a little earlier than Hildegard of Bingen.


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