Having an opinion in this politically correct world.

Title suggested by Michelle Craik Friday 26 March

My mother was very “proper” and her sternest reprimand was “that is not done (in good society)!”  My father was big on chivalry and respect.

Their ethos was maintaining the status quo. They would have been aghast by today’s cancel culture, the bastard child of political correctness.

Social media has weaponised the assault against anyone right of centre. Freedom of speech is drowned by the floods of woke activists; intolerant of differing opinions, they publicly shame and punish dissenters. 

Sadly  politicians have all submitted to the tyranny that political correctness now promotes.

When a faceless mob starts dictating what can be said and what cannot be said, then democracy is at death’s door.

Thus the woke mob has enabled conviction upon mere allegation, the disregard of due process and the immediate destruction of reputations without allowing defence. Debates are reduced to memes and emojis, dissent is dissed.

The fear of being pillored makes us inhibited and afraid to address even the most banal issues directly. We have taken a knee and will be obliged to do so until we get brave enough to challenge the mob.

We have ourselves to blame.  Our society has forgotten that freedom must be cherished and enjoyed responsibly. We have forgotten that freedom extends to everyone and we have become prisoners of populism.

The mob has grown and has immense power and influence. So much so that governments tailor their policies and actions to conform.

And in the naked light, I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

“Fools”, said I, “You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you”
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
And echoed
In the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said, “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls”
And whispered in the sound of silence

Paul Simon, 1964

What is Treason?

I was saddened some time ago when I saw report  about the Saudi Shi’ite woman facing beheading for protesting against government  policies.

Horrified, yes; surprised, no.

Apostasy (forsaking, criticizing or attacking religion) was the original treason and the penalty was a horrible death. It was extended to monarchs, as they were considered to be ordained by God. Parliaments have now been similarly hallowed. In Dante’s Inferno, the ninth and lowest circle of Hell is reserved for traitors (i.e. those who commit treason).

In January 2016, Saudi authorities executed 47 prisoners including … a revered Shiite cleric and government critic  who had been convicted of sedition and other charges.

The Muslim world still practices what we would regard as extreme sanctions against dissent.

In England, high treason was punishable by being hanged, drawn and quartered or burnt at the stake if you were a woman. (Tsk! tsk! Blatant discrimination even then!)

After the execution of Lord Haw Haw in 1946, the penalty was changed to life imprisonment. Even now in Australia, the only permissible penalty for treason is life imprisonment.

It is clear that a priority of those in power is self protection and extreme action is sanctified.

But mass protests are permitted in many countries – such defiant and disrespectful acts as burning the national flag or effigies of politicians, the burning of property and tossing of Molotov cocktails and other violent assaults on police forces are tolerated. Sedition and incitement to violence  are commonplace and tolerated.

Where is the line drawn and how do we see it? As always the choice remains with the government  and that will always be weighed in the scale of political popularity, not the interests of public morality or common decency or established principle.

Public morality and common decency are currently being dictated by social media mobs who lynch any defiance of the fashionable viewpoint. These mobs are currently moving to re-define history and compel obedience to their views.

Even parliaments have been seen to take a knee!

Treason is now any defiance of the twitterati.

I am going to cancel my account – is that treason or just defiance or maybe just a senile snit?

The drowning of rational debate

(This is a shortened version of an article by Chris Kenny which I endorse. I am somewhat guilty of irresponsible utterances and hereby undertake to try to be better)

Twitter digitises and broadcasts the public debate equivalent of a teenage graffiti and vandalism rampage. And yet it shapes debate; our mainstream media and politicians look to the digital world for instant opinion polling and guidance about where to take their narratives and policies …

It is amplifying and weaponising the crudest and most inane elements of society and inviting them to dumb down our public square.

Our battered and impoverished public debate will not improve unless we learn to talk to each other. For a civil society to exist and political debate to be useful, people need to be able to hear ­alternative arguments, avail themselves of all relevant facts, and learn to deal politely with people who do not agree with them.

Far too many people waste their time shouting digital abuse at each other, or regurgitating views they agree with from accounts chosen by the faceless match­makers of the Facebook algorithms, instead of reading, discussing or learning.

The digital revolution was going to democratise the media, personalise democracy and mobilise the truth, but instead it has polarised and emaciated the media, dragged politics into the mire of anonymous bullying, and fostered deceptive memes, fake news and pile-ons.

At its core is a lack of accountability. The enticement of being able to post widely and often about anything — without submitting to editors, curators, lawyers or peers — encourages bravado and aggression, and it fosters an impetuousness that ­values gut feelings over facts, and devalues the time and effort required to get across the facts.

This freedom could liberate debate; but instead of letting a thousand flowers bloom, it shares the scrawls of a thousand dunny doors. People are unthinking enough about what they post without the added shield of anonymity — requiring people to post under their real names, with proof of identity, would not eradicate the problems but it would improve the situation.

The headline or the topic is enough for these people to slur or condemn; often egged on by hysterical opinion leaders such as Kevin Rudd …

…. thanks to social media; more conservatives are forced underground. … social media has weaponised the assault against anyone right of centre.

The woke love the following and adulation of social media …. until they cross a line, make the mistake of speaking sense or asking a salient question, then they experience the rule of the leftist lynch mob.

Public debate becomes coarser, more out of touch from the mainstream, and less tolerant of differing points of view. Soon the stage is vacated by all but the screaming green left, and those who will appease them.

Chris Kenny Weekend Australian 13 March 2021 

Rational debate drowning in the social media swamp

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/politics/rational-debate-killed-in-the-sewer-of-social-media/news-story/bd066d99571f6d35b67d95ae1c494b4a

Rant

Arrant twaddle and waffle.

She had suicidal thoughts but was told it wouldn’t look good for her to seek help .…. oh poor baba, the wannabe princess nor her gallant prince couldn’t arrange it themselves? Mind you they didn’t even teach her the national anthemn – she had to learn it herself! How absoloutely shocking and racist!

Innuendo and subjective hypotheses, allusions that raise the racist spectre: “concerns and conversations about how dark” the baby would be. Somebody probably wisecracked that a black prince would vary the royal family array on the balcony. Horrors ! That’s even worse than the rapist aspersion currently popular in Australia.

It seems to have been all about what people didn’t do for the TV starlet and what she couldn’t get her snappy, sharpwitted prince to do. He has had to jump through a lot of hoops for his woman. I mean, she has had to tolerate critique about her bridesmaids dresses, how incredibly tragic!

Most of it seems to be about who was going to pay for security. They needed security because of all the loony death threats and horrible letters they had been getting. Selflessly, Her Grace said, if not for me or my baby Archie, just for my Prince… ohh what a squeeze to my heart!

No wonder Oprah is so successful, she knows how to milk scandal and innuendo for headlines. She must be gutted that she didn’t get who said “how dark will the baby be?”. That would have have been the cherry on this sad wedding cake.

Mind you she managed to get in racism, Diana, Daddy didn’t want to take my calls and lots of pregnant (oops!) innuendo and a coy revelation of the sex of the next baby to be. She didn’t get much if anything on Duchess M’s Daddy or Mummy or her previous husband or her apparently estranged siblings. They would make interesting follow-ups I am sure! Oh how exciting! This could go on for years, like “Married at First Sight”.

Enough of that Bollywood B-grade soapie!

The silly cow saga in Canberra just defies belief; if it wasn’t so sad, it would be a comedy. There seem to be quite a few lying cows there! And some real dogs….

An eager, bright young thing, full of wine, is persuaded by a smooth talking serial shagger, to take a ride home with him but a they first go to the Minister’s office. Security is easily negotiated (Heads should deservingly roll there), she passes out and access is gained, if you get my drift. She protests and he eventually desists and abandons her. Security discover her in disarray.

She reports later that she has been raped, then dithers and withdraws her allegations, despite advice to tell the cops. The cad appears to have been fired.

No further action ensues until a serial scandal generating journalist (are there any other types any more?), gets wind of the story a couple of years later. She plans a Cardinal Pell like journalstic bombshell, knowing the cancel culture and a desperate opposition party is fertile ground for vivid reponse and sensational headlines to follow.

And do they jump in, boots and all! Then even better, a sad story of a woman with a history of mental illness, who claims she was sodomised by the Attorney General who promised to marry her when he was 17.

Mud sticks in this day and age of focus on salacious ‘love’ stories .

I am saddened that supposedly intelligent people like the Leader of the Opposition and his desperate crew, seize advantage for media prominence by using such flimsy and shoddy stories to attack the credibility and bona fides of the Prime Minister.

As for the former Prime Minister… how desperately nasty can you get?

We live in a sad and sick society: not even a plague or a possible global war with China can shake our fascination with the sludge of life!

life without the fruit of the vine

Story suggested by Christina Forsyth Thompson 6 Mar Sat

This is  a topic very close to my heart at the moment as I have given up alcohol for Lent.

Fortunately, by tradition, I follow the Lent rules applied by my father. As he was a Papal knight he  is unimpeachable as a guide.

The rules are no alcohol on every day of Lent which of course excludes Sundays and other Holy days, such as family birthdays. It being Sunday and my brother’s 80th birthday, I am drinking a beer as I write this, and I shall have another!

Giving up for Lent is not as hard as it sounds as it is a choice and a virtuous one too, so glory can be claimed.

Also, apparently there are a number of benefits attached to not drinking, according to some articles I read after Googling “life without wine”. 

A recent article by Australian (she must be reliable) on stopping drinking  alcohol contained the following testimonies:

  • the depression and violent outbursts which had haunted me for decades gradually ebbed away
  • Pleased to discover it was easy, I felt a lot better, and I was more productive and positive.
  •  The first thing I noticed a few weeks in is how happy I felt all the time. Just content and relaxed.

and my favourite … I’m a rural Irish single person who hasn’t had a drink for about fifteen years, and I must admit that it’s led to me having a very solitary life, but I’m almost never in trouble, and I used to always be. 

and one with a ring of truth: I used to have a booze-free month every year. I stopped doing it because I had to accept that those months were invariably the most joyless, miserable, depressing, empty months of the year.

All I can say is beware of fake news.

Any student of history will tell you that Prohibition by law is just stoopid; people hate being told what they can’t do, especially if they have been doing it for a long time.

Surely the Prohibition era in the US,  less than 100 years ago,clearly  showed that such a move is very bad for a country. It lost the US federal government a total of $11 billion in tax revenue, while costing over $300 million to enforce. 

The law that was meant to stop people drinking instead turned  many of them into experts on how to make it.

The growth of the illegal liquor trade under Prohibition made criminals of millions and exponentially accelerated organised crime. 

So the folly of an outright ban on the sale of alcohol is monumental.

Maybe they did learn about the effect of prohibition…?

The crass stupidity of politicians who do this in the light of history is obvious. But you can’t tell pollies they are stoopid. They know that, but as we all know there is no cure for stoopidity.

I am sorry, I can’t go on with this and avoid allegations of being indelicate, unprogressive, intolerant and rednecked. They are all true.

But it irks not being able to say what I think … or drink if I want to.

Post Truth, et cetera… (again)


deeducate

I thought it was about time for me to have a rant again. Enough of these pretty birds and gorgeous sunsets schmaltz … although I must say people seem to enjoy that type of stuff more than they do my rants. Does that signify anything? Not really … read on

It’s official: there is such a thing as post-truth – cheword-of-the-yearck it out, it’s in the dictionary, nogal!

This is the post-truth era! Suddenly dishonesty and inaccuracy are fashionable and accepted!  American author Ralph Keyes says: Dishonesty inspires more euphemisms than copulation or defecation. Well, that’s putting it roughly, but it pretty much sums up the state of articulation that is accepted by the all-consuming public.

post-truth

Kathleen Higgins writes in Scientific AmericanWhen political leaders make no effort to ensure that their ‘facts’ will bear scrutiny, we can only conclude that they take an arrogant view of the public. They take their right to lie as given, perhaps particularly when the lies are transpareart-of-the-lient. Many among the electorate seem not to register the contempt involved, perhaps because they would like to think that their favoured candidate is at conspiracyleast well-intentioned and would not deliberately mislead them…

Much of the public hears what it wants to hear because many people get their news exclusively from sources whose bias they agree with.

 

Stand up for truth: check the facts before you spread them; never believe politicians ever, and reject crap!

Post-truth is a disease which must be challenged before we lose reality and all honour.

truth

Media morality

time-for-lies

Slightly off the point but …what really got me going today is the lack of  ethics and creativity of television. I saw that “Married at First Sight” has become a series.

run-by-ethicsWhat morally bankrupt, banal, conscience-less executive producer agreed to that? How can these people justify the immoral drivel they feed into people’s heaaww-newsds .  Tempting people with TV exposure and cash to perform questionable, objectionable, offensive and immoral ceremonies is disgusting. Do you remember the film of the Depression-era dance marathon of the desperate for the amusement of spectators:“They shoot horses, don’t they?”  Why don’t they re-open the Colosseum in Rome and feed Christians to lions?

That’s post ethics, not just post-truth!

Is there no social responsibility or is it just ratings and ad dollars?reportedly

 

Media Creativity

The other morning there was a riveting item on a traffic jam in Melbourne. We are in Queensland – if there were no traffic jams here, why can’t we celebrate that fact, instead of scanning the country for newsworthy items like a traffic jam? No house fire, car driving into a house, lost hiker, corner store robbery – no worries, some other state is bound to have one…

Surely there are some creative journalists that can break out of the formulaic mould of car chase, brawl, house fire, criminal court case …?

The poisons we love

Imagine if chocolate was found to be the cause of a major proliferation of diabetes in children. smarties

Revolting image – sorry! (It will probably kill me too! I love Smarties…).

Would we stop eating chocolate …?

So, what’s my point? Well, it’s the poison we all have built into every aspect of our lives, surrounding us and almost indispensable! I am talking about plasticplastic in all of usPlastic affects human health. Toxic chemicals leach out of plastic and are found in the blood and tissue of nearly all of us. Exposure to them is linked to cancers, birth defects, impaired immunity, endocrine disruption and other ailments.

It doesn’t decompose, it breaks down until we can’t see it and has entered every water system in the world.  Plastic soup anyone?

It is simple. The continued production of plastic must be prohibited – like dangerous drugs are. But plastic is so useful and efficient! Can you imagine your kitchen without Tupperware type containers? Or your house or your car …?

But plastic is very new technology. Its not even a hundred years old. Our parents and grandparents did without it. It’s certainly not essential, it’s useful …. and we are lazy, spoilt and indisciplined. We continually deny what we know is bad for us, because it makes our life easier, more fashionable, funky (think tattoos and body piercing).

I mean dogs lick cane toads for the buzz, for heaven’s sake, why can’t we be stoopid like them?

Plastic producers made plastic functional, fashionable and pervasive. It can’t be their fault – they were doing us all a favour, producing such cheap and useful stuff. But now that they know… it is all different.

In a 2014 Florida USA Court judgment, a tobacco producer was ordered to pay damages of $23 BILLION to a chain smoker’s widow. Think of the damages payable by plastic producers for all the harm caused to the population of the world by pollution and carcinogens in their products!

So next election, vote for the party that produces the best plans to:

  • educate our children about the fact that plastic is poisonous
  • ban the production of plastic
  • generate programs to eradicate or recycle plastic into less harmful products
  • funds research which enables widespread bio-degradation of plastic.

Yeah! I know this is a daydream and if the billions wiser than me can’t see it happening, it is not likely to happen…

plastic scavengeBut how would one dispose of these formerly loved poison lumps? Dump them in the bin, to be a treasure discovered by some Third World scavenger? (Yeah, refuse is exported to people rich, poor countries.)

 

Or chuck them in the river when no-one’s looking?

plastic wave

 

                                                              Apply your mind to save your future!

A Patriot

I spell the word with a capital letter. A Patriot to me has always been a person worthy of the highest praise, possessed of the highest virtues.

Until yesterday, when I saw the title of a photograph in an exhibition that I visited with my daughter. It was one of a series of photographs depicting the “unite the right” rally in Charlottesville, USA. The picture was of a bearded older man in camouflage, clutching a rifle with a sort of blank fervour in his eyes.

I am conservative, a white male (oh dear!) with, I hope, a modicum of balance and perspective. But I didn’t like that label, nor could I criticise it. I talked with my daughter, a teacher, about it. I mentioned that I had once written about the need for the institution of learning about the cardinal virtues and the need for iconic models for our youth and that my view had been criticised. What virtues could beat Courage, Prudence, Temperance and Justice, as proposed by St Thomas Aquinas?

courage  temperance prudence (2) justice for one side

She responded obliquely in the way of the New Age; not contradicting but offering a different viewpoint. She felt that diversity was the key and that inclusiveness and tolerance would yield a good basis for future societal foundations. I felt my gorge rise with hot words of … watering down values and standards to reach a common denominator that would suit all which would not be a standard at all, which was the fault of liberal democracy and… and …  

But I stifled them, stumped by the thought that she was probably right and that I was a dinosaur, out of time and that my steam would be obsolete and silly.

Anyway Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Mao Ze Dong, Pol Pot and Robert Mugabe were probably Patriots too!

If you are right … I am wrong (or vice versa)

The origin of this thought was  my ongoing despair when I consider religions.

What finally shook me out of the tree is the fundamental rule of most religions: If you do not believe, you will be denied Heaven. You have got to pay your dues to be able to get the benefits. Sorry for you if you haven’t actually heard about Him/Her or just think that there may be better explanations out there

You may be thinking that is a bit tough for pygmies, headhunters and Amazon Indians? I shouldn’t worry because humans are amazingly adaptable and flexible: they make their own gods, who make their own rules which will let you into Heaven by another door. The Dalai Lama had it right.

roman greek godsBut the gods are jealous and they protect their interests by excluding non-believers, some more radically than others.

I yearn to believe, because that would make the world easier to understand, accept and depart from – knowing there is a happy landing on the other side. But I am sceptical: I believe that man has manipulated the yearning for God and produced evidence that his version is right, so I must do what he says.

stone age warrior

Way back in time, people realised that they could hunt and defend themselves better and more easily find mates if they worked and lived together. If the strongest man kept on taking all the meat for himself, others would leave seeking safer and more co-operative groups.

So he gave some of the kill to others; if somebody took too much or too soon, they got whacked. The old and weak drank from rivers first to ascertain if there were crocodiles, women carried the food and walked behind, children could be seen but not heard… rules were born.

indian shamanWith rules came priests… they became the recorders of the rules, distinguished between right/good and wrong/evil and in due course became the explainers of the origin of the rules, the guardians of the Light.NagaSadhu

The easiest explanation was that God made the rules, but he was invisible and only spoke to his priests. The forte of the strong was brawn not brain, so warrior kings believed the priests…who anointed kings as gods…

bishop

In due course, the magic of rituals and symbols was developed, by the priests, who jealously guarded their access to God.

So we saw the Crusades and the rise of Islam and the Inquisition and the Reformation and pogroms and all the terrible rituals and punishments that we were led to believe were sanctified by God.

This continued for millennia, until priests became too greedy. Learning uncovered the sources and mysteries of faith, which allowed the freedom of choice, in turn allowing the common man to accept or reject or even offer a better explanation. And so religions proliferated as the advantages of power over the minds of people became apparent and commercially viable. Christianity alone has seen an increase in denominations from 1600 in 1910 to 43,000 in 2012.

Too many are saying: listen to me, my interpretation is better than yours; my Bible is better than your Koran or her Baghavad Gita. If you do not then you are wrong and I may not love you.

What that means to me is that religion causes division, not unity. I fear the magical powers of pastors ordained by their own gods or their own vanity or cupidity.

I fear that religion becomes more divisive despite the many good works performed in its name by the billions of believers.

However, for your peace of mind: China has made re-incarnation without government permission illegal.

 

Kissing Frogs: is lynching the antidote?

 

 

The Heavy Winestain saga is one describing a nasty bully, who is a famous, rich and successful movie producer. On 5 October 2017, the New York Times published a story detailing decades of allegations of sexual harassment. More than 90 women including leading actresses and people of great talent and influence, have made accusations of sexual harassment, assault or rape; reports go back as far as the 70’s.

The frenzied reaction has been incredible: after conviction by the media, despite protestations of consensual participation, he was pilloried. Vengeance has been sanctified and the lynch mob been swift and savage:

  • Without benefit of trial he has been condemned, castigated, ostracised;
  • had all his honours and awards withdrawn and
  • the man and his company and other organisations with whom he worked have been slapped with claims for $ millions in damages.

wild dog frenzyIn a snowballing reaction many women and some men who allege unwelcome propositions or harassment by other men, have raised their voices saying #MeToo! More people have had their careers and reputations shattered by lynch mobs with untested allegations.

The outrage has been so holy that women have been castigated for expressing some hesitation over condemnation on the basis of mere allegations of ancient conduct.

It seems that the principles of justice like due process and the statutes of limitations are not applicable.

Winestain was someone who could grant access to stardom: he must have been besieged by many people willing to give their all for a break … one has heard about the casting couch after all.no-bully.jpg

A number of women said NO! to unwanted advances and nothing happened. Some women suffered more than one instance of unwanted attention – why did they expose themselves to that risk again? … and why the delay in reporting…? why were they there in the first place….?

Would it be that they didn’t get what they wanted after they kissed the frog a second time?

He has never been criminally charged for crimes of a sexual nature. Even Saddam Hussein had a trial!

 

Don’t get me wrong: I deplore the abuse of power in order to achieve personal advantage – I also hate bullies. But I get very suspicious when I hear that over 90 intelligent, talented people were cowards – I smell more than one rat. It seems bullying begets bullying!

 

In all of your life there are are going to be some people bigger or stronger, richer or more powerful, or cleverer and meaner than you.

 

timid brave mouseHow do you survive?

  • Avoidance is a good idea;
  • so is shouting No! leave me alone!
  • a slap in the face or a kick in the nuts can be deterrent
  • walking away and calling for help;
  • reporting and drawing attention are all clever things to do… or
  • … you could trade for something he wants…. (just make sure you get before you give!) 

The main thing is: be clever about it: tell others, warn them and stand by them in their time of need, make a noise, shine a light … run fast!

stand_up_dont standby.png