Komment macht frei

Previously, we assessed that confusing reports in the media on matters Trans can be classified into two main categories:

  1. Trying to be sensitive to the mental health struggles of the subject suffering from body dysphoria, and
  2. Deliberately obfuscating the language for ignoble reasons.

We speculated that for the “category 2” articles, there was a sub-category where the motivation was to drive clicks and eyeballs to the online article as that is what was rewarded by advertising revenue.

Today’s example certainly seems to fall into a Category 2a Transgender article:

One can only chuckle at the editorial team’s dilemma in deciding where to put the inverted commas on that headline; should it be ‘seahorse’, ‘dads’ or ‘seahorse dads’?

After all“, they must have thought, “everyone knows what a seahorse is, and we all know what a dad is, so it’s just the compound noun that risks confusion, not the fact that we’re pretending a man gave birth. Yeah, we’ll go with ‘seahorse dads’ then. Sorted.“.

We could also only speculate at what might have been going through the unfortunately-surnamed Karl Quinn’s mind as he typed out the perfectly clear and unambiguous prose. One suspects the range of emotions covered one or more of the following options:

  • Fuck me, why did the editorial team choose me to write this review? Now I’ve got to put my name to this deliberate mangling of previously-understood nouns and pronouns“,
  • Ha! This is another great opportunity to change society for the better, underlining the biological reality that gender is a social construct and we can bend biology to our will“,
  • My numbers have been shit this month, thank god for a chance to wind up the trolls and get them to go ape on Twitter and Facebook by posting this article to their Nazi mates“.

Interestingly, the article had comments open for a brief duration but were closed once the total reached 33. Perhaps you might suspect this was to deliberately kick off a controversy but limit the amount of exhausting work the moderators had to do? We may never know.

The comments are gold though. Obviously, there were the usual bunch of gullible fools who believe it is possible to change someone’s opinion by leaving a message under a newspaper article. They aren’t the fun ones to read.

The folk who’ve fallen for the Critical Theory narrative are hugely entertaining though. My favourites are recreated below before a law is passed to make commenting on biological reality illegal:

karen.downes19

DNA has nothing to do with gender.

Captain Flashlight

The logic in the comments below states that:

1. Only women can give birth.

2. This person gave birth.

3. They are a woman.

There’s a couple of things wrong with this. Firstly, stating that only women can give birth, not only regulates women to child bearing fertility machines, it disregards women who are not able to give birth, or have decided to not have children. Does this qualify childless people with female anatomy as men? Does this qualify them as some sort of (godforbid) third gender? I’m seemingly lost here…

Oh and of course, this person is a man. Go figure. Congratulations to them, they are happy, and have brought love into the world. Why attack them, and the life they are living? Live and let live.

Chickpea

Hey Matthew, I’m what you would consider a female, but i dont have the ability to produce children – does that still make me female? If you dont have ovaries, are you still female? What about no female reproductive organs at all?

You need to really do some research on sex and gender 101 mate, cuz you’re just showing your ignorance. ff

Scotty

It is quite a contentious issue.

While anatomically you do need a womb and uterus to carry and give birth and most people have been taught that these are the exclusive domain of the female of our species.

Because this person identifies as a man, why do people get so upset about him saying he is a man?

And he has a beard for heavens sake, according to most of the red-necks I’ve ever met that is the key defining feature of a man, you’re not a real man unless you can grow a beard…

So there…

Bill’s Opinion

Recalling our rule of thumb on how to understand the reality behind mendacious re-definitions of nouns when reading an article about gender; go with your first visual instinct.

The picture of “Freddie” shows a weird looking bloke with the sort of beard a 16 year old boy grows until all his mates laugh at him. Conclusion; female.

The picture presented on Karl Quim’s profile is low definition and doesn’t zoom well. His facial features look a little ambiguous and, frankly, he’s no George Clooney, but the giveaway is the hair; no woman pretending to be a man would risk obvious casual categorisation mistakes by having a bouffant quiff. Conclusion; male, but probably only just.

This ends badly for everyone

A young person privately expresses views that are incompatible with those of their employer.

Someone notifies a national newspaper of these views.

The national newspaper publishes the correspondence.

The young person is fired and will likely struggle to find future employment in a similar field as a consequence.

A columnist writes a follow-up sarcastic opinion piece on the newly-unemployed person.

The public interest to justify publication; his brother cousin is famous.

No, seriously.

Let’s put it another way:

A private citizen had their private religious views made front page news and the newspaper contacted his employer for comment, presumably with the expectation the employer would act upon the information.

That’s the world in which we find ourselves in 2019. If you have impure thoughts you will be cancelled and, presumably pour encourager les autres, your family will be similarly targeted.

Bill’s Opinion

As we’ve previously stated, it is now clear that the Israel Folau case is the left’s chosen battleground for the culture war this year.

That his brother cousin, Josiah, has been targeted in this way further supports this hypothesis. It’s a tactic from the Soviets – not only do we want you to be punished publicly, but your family will be in our sights too.

That there seems to be little shock or surprise from the commentariat is also deeply worrying.

Peter Fitzsimons, for example, clearly didn’t think for one moment of what the consequences of this approach might be for his children, Billi, Louis and Jake. With two famous parents, this new standard makes them fair targets for analysis and scrutiny for thought crimes.

We will not enjoy where the road takes us if our private thoughts at the age of 23 are now legitimate front page material to serve one side or the other in a culture war.

UPDATE: Thanks to those who pointed out my reading comprehension skills are dusty and that Josiah is, in fact, Israel’s cousin, not brother. Of course, that’s even worse, isn’t it? What next, targeting the religious beliefs of their neighbours?

The Sydney Harbour Stadium

Milton Friedman famously explained the four ways to spend money:

1. Your money on yourself – explaining the model and age of car you drive, balancing comfort, speed and prestige with cost to your preferred ratio.

2. Your money on someone else – explains why the presents you give are generous but not extravagant.

3. Someone else’s money on you – explaining why you always order the fillet steak and a good Shiraz when eating on the company expense tab.

4. Someone else’s money on someone else – explaining why the New South Wales government just awarded a contract to demolish a stadium and rebuild it before the new one had been designed.

No, really. That last one just happened.

In the Olympic event of “Pissing away other people’s money”, it’s a close contender for Gold along side Victoria’s $1.1bn road that never got built.

I suppose the Moore Park location isn’t as godawful as the Olympic Stadium at Homebush, which takes about an hour to reach even if you live close to it (which nobody who follows sports does), but it’s a crap location nonetheless.

If only there were better alternative suggestions….

Bill’s Opinion

Now that it’s been knocked down by corruption mistake, so to speak, why not take the opportunity to turf over the space and let the local junkies have a larger area to pitch their bivvies and overdose in.

Meanwhile, Sydney could build the world’s best sporting venue evah….

Ladies and Gentlemen…. The Sydney Harbour Stadium:

 In summary, our design includes;

1 A world class 120,000 seater stadium built to the north of Clark Island.

2 A “rollable” pitch to be moved out to the east of the stadium when not in use to ensure full sunlight on the grass (learning the lesson of Wales’ Millennium Stadium)

3 A new dedicated underground railway station linking up with Wynyard and terminating at Clark Island.

4 A new ferry wharf to the north west of the stadium connecting with Circular Quay and the other ferry routes.

Imagine the excitement of jumping on a quick ferry ride to a major international sporting event held in the middle of the world’s most beautiful natural harbour. Spectators would quickly arrive and depart using multiple ferries to different harbour locations and the train would connect with the existing rail network.

The footage of the game would be the best advert for Australian tourism (another industry in dire need of stimulus) ever shown on TV. Away matches in Sydney would be the highlight of every international team’s fixtures and their fans would always consider those fixtures as the first choice for travel.

Unlike the current disastrous commercial project the New South Wales government has presided over, this proposed stadium has been fully-designed and costed and, if the government minister would contact me, I will be happy to hand over the three used Malboro packets with the details.

(Keen observers will notice the basic idea for this stadium appeared elsewhere but I have since taken ownership of the copyright).

If it wasn’t for double standards…

…we wouldn’t have any standards at all.

There is an Australian heuristic that rarely lets you down; when you are in doubt about what the correct position is to take on an issue, look to see whether Peter Fitzsimons has pontificated on it….and take the opposite side.

Last week, Australia’s polymath with a red bandana wrote this stirring attack on a disgraced Chinese swimmer:

Fast forward a week, and Fitzsimons is calling for sober heads, sympathy and the benefit of the doubt for an Australian swimmer who has tested positive for a banned substance:

Outside observers can see the double standards of his position before even investigating the underlying stories about Sun Yang and Shayna Jack.

Further research makes Fitzsimons seem even more tribal. Sun Yang smashed samples that had been taken by people who were unable to present the correct evidence of authority to do so, Shayna Jack tested positive for a banned substance. It’s unclear whether Jack’s testers had the correct paperwork.

The first is not a positive drug test result, the second is.

Bill’s Opinion

The risk/reward for athletes doping is not the same for every sport.

If we were to order rank those sports by how much impact doping would have on performance, the sports with the least reward for doping would be those with a higher relative reliance on technique, tactical excellence and teamwork.

Conversely, there would be a better risk/reward payoff to dope in the more purely physical sports where results are decided by marginal physiological differences such as in weightlifting, running, cycling and swimming.

An extra 1% efficiency in blood flow might not help a rugby player lift the World Cup trophy with his team but it could mean the difference between gold and silver for a swimmer at the Olympics.

I’ve recently realised my favourite sports are also coincidentally ones where doping is less likely to have a positive payback, sports where tactics play a large part in addition to physical performance and technique. This wasn’t a conscious choice but it is interesting that this self-sorting occurred.

On the subject of self-sorting, Fitzsimons does something similar when expressing public opinions:

It’s not the winning that counts

…but the taking part.

Lucky old Tom Decent; he was finally allowed to write about rugby yesterday, rather than being sent to the Folaus’ church to live blog from the Sunday service;

The good news for those who like the rugby status quo is that the Wallabies performed badly, lost a match and the coach and local commentators blamed a single decision by the referee.

Australia had just been awarded a scrum feed but right as the whistle blew Tupou belted South African back-rower Rynhardt Elstadt with a forceful hit. The TMO said he believed it was “clearly a shoulder charge to the chest”, while Williams said on the field: “The guy is sitting there and he’s come running in with the shoulder. It’s clearly dangerous, it hit him in the chest after the whistle. Away you go.”

Many thought a penalty would suffice but Australia were reduced to 14 men and it proved to be a pivotal moment in the game as South Africa ran away with the result to continue an eight-year winning streak on home soil against the Aussies.

Many thought” is doing a lot of work in those paragraphs above.

Many also thought it was fairly unintelligent to steam in to a ruck, shoulder first, in a stadium with more cameras than the Celebrity Big Brother House, particularly when the referee was playing advantage to your team.

A word to young aspiring sports journalists the world over; quoting Phil Kearns’ opinion on anything as if objective and knowledgeable is not conducive to being taken seriously. For example, the words “double movement” are nowhere to be found in the Rugby law book. Oh, and they are laws not rules, Phil.

Yeah, yeah, details are annoying.

Bill’s Opinion

It might be argued that Rugby Union is a dying sport in Australia. Certainly, the attendance figures for the top league are insipid and declining year on year.

Pinpointing when the rot set in is a tough task; the national team have had a reputation for over-performing for years compared to their perceived abilities and talent pool, which may have had an effect of disguising institutional problems.

Rather like Hemingway’s quote on how an individual became bankrupt, (“two ways…gradually and then suddenly“), one suspects the Australian rugby code is now reaping the poor harvest of inaction or actions of perhaps decades ago. My suspicion is the 2nd term of former CEO John O’Neil (2007-2013) might be a good starting point for an investigation and also the subsequent term of Bill Pulver.

Both were great examples of the the strange phenomenon of Australian upper class elite in a country that prides itself on being egalitarian and classless. O’Neil and Pulver attended St Joseph’s and “Shore” (Sydney Church of England Grammar School), respectively, as did most of their predecessors and peers. It’s a shallow and parochial talent pool which often benefits from the “closed shop” approach common to an “old boy’s network”.

Without forensically examining the board papers and internal memoranda throughout that period, it’s impossible to be certain what the causes of the malaise were. The consequences are plain to see though; declining attendance, participation and on-pitch results (there are people who are taking their driving lessons this year who weren’t born when Australia last won the Bledisloe Cup, for example).

Bill Pulver handed the reigns over to Raelene Castle who, although making encouraging noises about grassroots participation, has picked an ideological battleground which risks a heavy financial loss if unsuccessful, one which the sport can ill-afford at this febrile time.

There’s a glimmer of hope in the article linked above though; the semi-professional Shute Shield competition can draw crowds close to those of some of the Super Series teams.

Perhaps that’s the future of rugby in Australia; a recognition of financial reality and a reversion to the model where the athletes have regular jobs on civvie street and play for the love and prestige of the game?

Strangely, that might simultaneously save the sport and satisfy the Shore/Joeys alumni’s unspoken preference for the game to return to its “boutique” and exclusive roots; a visit to a top level rugby match in Sydney has the feel of an excuse for an old school social event rather than an outing for true sports fans.

And the 2019 Pulitzer Prize goes to….

Kate McClymont, Investigative Journalist, Sydney Morning Herald.

Kate has an enviable track record of fearless and relentless inquiry, speaking truth to power in the fine tradition of her profession.

No, that’s not sarcasm; she’s one of the few proper journalists remaining in the nation. Her work has resulted in some high profile cases being prosecuted through the courts as a consequence of the facts she unearthed. The Eddie Obied scandal being one excellent example. If she retired tomorrow, she’d be remembered as one of the finest and noblest journalists of her generation.

Today, Kate has turned her attention to Israel Folau’s church and its teachings.

You can follow the link above if you’re really interested in her findings. Spoiler alert; a fringe denomination of Christianity has views that are outside of mainstream dogma.

We could engage in whataboutery at this point and wonder when the investigations are scheduled to inform us of the religious beliefs other famous people, particularly those of faiths other than Christianity. That would be a fallacious argument, obviously; Folau’s version of Christianity is under the spotlight precisely because of his statements, he’s made public what most people keep private.

What is interesting about the media and commentariat’s major obsession with the Folau case is “the dog that isn’t barking“.

What’s meant by this aphorism is, can we identify what subjects aren’t being offered to us?

In the example of McClymont’s exposé, what haven’t we been told that we might have reasonably been expecting from a deep dive into a fringe religious organisation?

Here’s some church-related issues that spring to mind based on decades of scandals here and overseas;

  • Financial irregularities
  • Sexual abuse of minors or the vulnerable
  • Ostracism of the relatives of the congregation
  • Brainwashing of the congregation to remove themselves from society
  • Demagoguery or authoritarian behaviour by the leaders
  • Calls to violence against detractors or a designated scapegoat

Check Kate’s article for yourself but I couldn’t find evidence of any of the above list.

Flip that on its head; if you wanted to run a takedown piece on a religious institution, what would be the easiest topic to target to be able to ask awkward questions and spray innuendo?

Financial irregularities would be my choice. It’s the simplest job in the world to run a rule through financial accounts and drop hints of unreasonable expenses or unexplained transfers of funds.

That someone of Kate’s calibre and obvious skill hasn’t written anything along these lines suggests one of two reasons;

  1. The church is “clean”, and/or
  2. Kate’s heart just isn’t in it.

If my analysis is correct, there’s hope for at least one individual in the profession we used to call journalism.

Bill’s Opinion

To repeat my previous full disclosure on the subject of religion;

It’s probably worth clarifying my personal faith regarding this issue first; I’m an atheist who enjoys the benefits of where the Judeo-Christian tradition arrived in 2019. Perhaps a “cultural Christian”, if you will. I have no animus whatsoever toward homosexuals, to use the cliché, some of my best friends, etc.

What is most irritating about this sorry, pathetic little kitchen sink drama is that the media coverage has become more divisive than the subject it is reporting on.

What I mean by this is, previously, I could go to the rugby and cheer my team, I could go out for a beer after work with my gay friend and I could have Sunday lunch with my devout Christian relative.

Those three worlds were never in conflict. In fact, that last paragraph describes at least half a dozen weeks of my life last year, where I did all three of those activities in the same weekend.

I didn’t have to choose between them. It never crossed my mind that I would have to.

Why do we have to choose? Why is the media coverage of this so keen for us to make that choice?

Why is a national newspaper making a habit of going into a fringe denomination’s house of worship and reporting on their beliefs? And, whataboutery, why aren’t we offered the corollary view from the Lakemba mosque?

Perhaps the last word is best taken from Kate’s article, from a quote by Australian Christian Lobby managing director Martyn Iles;

Mr Iles also said: “The unity we share for the cause of free expression is the key issue driving the need for Israel’s legal fight and public campaign. All of us may one day find that our beliefs stray outside of the narrow band of political correctness and that will be a day when we treasure our freedoms.”

Quite.

With my feet in the fridge…

…and my head in the oven, I am experiencing an average level of comfort.

The Sydney Morning Herald Climate Change Bot ™ has produced this month’s weather article.

That’s a shocking headline, isn’t it? My only surprise is why it didn’t warrant a solid Peter Hannam-esque “Extreme Weather” tagline?

Seriously, 7 degrees is a long way above the average, even if it is caveated with both a “likely to” and an “up to”.

Except….

The missing piece of data is what the range encompasses.

Ah, 25.9 to 2.2 degrees.

That’s quite a temperature range for July, eh? The mean maximum is 16.4 degrees, (up to) 7 degrees above that is still 2.5 below the maximum recorded July temperature.

Bill’s Opinion

This isn’t #FakeNews, it’s simply #NotNews.

Hold the front page; winter is cooler than summer this year but well within the expected range based on observations.

By the way, in a surprise development, Jenny Noye’s degree was on the solid scientific subjects of media and gender studies. One assumes any “deviations” taught on the curriculum wouldn’t be of the statistical standard type.

1984 wasn’t meant as an instruction manual

Just because Australia is close to China, doesn’t mean we should emulate the place….

No, really.

New South Wales transport minister Andrew Constance has revealed plans to roll out facial recognition technology across the transport network as an alternative to Opal cards.

“In the transport space we’ll use facial recognition technology to scan customers who’ve ‘opted in’ and linked their Opal account,” Constance said in a speech at the Sydney Institute on Tuesday night.

“No more personal freedom gate barriers. Just a smooth journey,” he said.

Andrew Constance? Where have we heard that name before?

Oh yeah, the chap who instigated an Uber “levy” to bail out speculative taxi “plate” purchasers. In case you’re wondering, “levy” is the name Australian governments use for a tax when they don’t have the courage of their convictions to say “tax”.

The irony is he is from the political party most associated with the economic right, rather than socialism. The party is the Liberal Party and was probably named with the English “classical liberal” definition in mind. Political dogma has changed a lot since, clearly.

That “levy” is probably all an outside observer needs to know to understand the Australian voters’ regular insipid choice between socialism and corporatism.

So, to Constance’s latest big idea; biometric ticket authorisation. In his own words:

“This will read someone’s face, retina, breath, gait or voice to enable next level authorisation and access. Think truly contactless payments – entry to buildings, onto planes, at banks and hotels.”

Call me an old scaredy cat and a cynic but this seems to have all the upside for people who might have bad intentions and a considerable risk of significant downside for everyone else.

What’s the corollary to “entry to buildings, onto planes, at banks and hotels“? No entry.

Currently, entry to those locations and services are managed by the local entity. Constance is hinting at a centrally-managed power providing the yes/no decision based on whether or not your face is in the database of acceptable people.

Who gets the job of running and updating that database? I’d like to offer an early application for this God-like position of power.

And there’s this:

The capability could also be used to detect if someone on a train or bus was ill, Constance claimed.

Well, excuse me if that doesn’t exactly give me a cosy warm feeling like a freshly soiled wetsuit.

It may be cold comfort to predict that, based on a previous history of glacial-speed implementation and incompetence, the New South Wales’ transport network is highly unlikely to be the first wide-scale implementation of facial recognition to have its limitations and scope tested in the law courts and court of public opinion.

The exisiting “Opal” card electronic ticketing system is the same as Hong Kong’s Octopus (launched 1997) and London’s Oyster (launched 2003). Following various delays due to political lethargy and systemic organisational corruption and incompetence in the Transport department, Opal was finally launched in 2012.

Presumably, the NSW government wanted to be absolutely certain there were no teething problems to be ironed out with the fifteen year old Hong Kong version before hastily rushing to follow.

In addition to the fifteen year delay to get around to the project, the State Government rolled out 3.7 million cards and the required retail infrastructure to sell and top up the stored credit when the technology already supported use of contactless debit cards. i.e. that thing 99.9% of people already had in their wallets.

Bill’s Opinion

Anyone who buys Andrew Constance’s claim that implementing biometric recognition for public transport ticketing would be a universal good hasn’t been paying attention to the trend of recent years.

Because a bunch of insane Saudis hijacked planes in the USA on September 11th, 2001, your government has usurped huge powers of surveillance, implemented CCTV camera networks throughout most public spaces, eavesdrops on electronic communications, restricted internet access, further regulated banking and the ability to transfer money, changed centuries old laws about detention without trial and due process, and all in the name of “temporary measures” to make us safer.

If you hope and believe these powers will one day be walked back and revoked because the threat of terrorism has been defeated, I’ve got a harbour bridge I’d like to sell you.

Such a throwaway line by Andrew Constance should scare the crap out of anyone who has read the history of what happens when the power to interfere in the day to day lives of others is concentrated centrally.

The counter argument always made to this is, “no, no, when we centralise the power we will use it for the benefit of everyone“. Well, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me 100 million times, shame on me.

Imagine an average day in the life of a citizen of New South Wales a century ago. How many interactions would they have had with an organ of government? Perhaps they would have sent their child to a state school in the morning, posted a letter in the state run postal service, perhaps said hello to the policeman on the high street.

Now think about the answer to the same question for 2019.

Crikey! Where fallacies live

Australia has two “new media” organisations of note; Quillette and Crikey.

They could hardly be more different. The stated aim of Quillette is to publish “heterodox” ideas and be “where free speech lives“. A grand and quite brave claim for a website hosted in Australia, a country where the right to not be offended has been invented and given higher priority than the right to speak.

Crikey is a left of centre website with a focus on Australian politics.

Australian politics is not a hugely interesting subject, being mainly a real life case study of the Dunning-Kruger effect and venal opportunism in an extremely small fish pond. It’s like Lord of the Flies re-imagined with middle-aged characters and less violence.

Hence I tend to read more articles published by Quillette than Crikey.

This one by Guy Rundle has done nothing to change that.

He’s written about the Israel Folau saga….. because what the world really needs right now is yet more partisan speculation on that case, right?

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of his article is the style of rhetoric he employs for the argument he is trying to make.

Thinking about the subject matter, one could probably write in a choice of styles that might look something like the following list (or a combination of it):

  • Factual; straight reporting of who said what, known relevant legal precedent and process, likely next steps and timelines.
  • Reactions; reporting how a range of stakeholders claim to feel and have responded to the case.
  • Measured opinion; based on the case, here’s my personal view of the morality of each stakeholder and my prediction for the future.
  • Sketch; poking fun at those involved in a way designed to amuse the reader.

The first two are what we’d hope objective news media would produce, the latter two are classed as “OpEd” and are, by definition, subjective. Here’s the rub though, if you claim to be a serious professional, even a subjective opinion requires the underpinning discipline of accuracy.

I’ve read and re-read Rundle’s article several times. It takes a while to understand what’s being presented to the reader on the page. What follows is an attempt at deciphering The Rundle Code (tm) :

First paragraph;

How is the right’s push on religious freedom going? Terribly! It’s really great to watch — a bright spot in an otherwise bleak political landscape. There’s no way it can end well for them, and whatever happens will in someway benefit the left. As an added bonus, they are actively damaging previous successes they had in securing the autonomy of religious institutions in hiring practices. I’m loving every installment of this.

Ok. Ignore the two spelling mistakes… He’s correctly framing the case as a culture war battleground and he’s chosen his team.

Second paragraph;

Let’s do a quick recap. During the same-sex marriage plebiscite, one of the right’s more desperate tactics was to allege that a “yes” vote would be an assault on religious freedom in this country, for reasons they couldn’t explain. Discrimination on the basis of sexuality was already outlawed — same-sex marriage simply added one more area in which they couldn’t be discriminated against.

People did explain. You rejected their explanations. Here’s mine at the time, for example, and a subsequent follow up confirming my concerns were correct.

Third paragraph…. where Rundle claims to be able to read the minds of two other people;

The “religious freedom” scare came from a section of the conservative right identified with both elite Catholics like Paul Kelly — who see religion as a glue to bind society together whatever their real attachment to belief in God — and Protestant politico-cultural hysterics like Andrew Bolt, who believe the pagan endtimes are upon us. 

Quite what the definition of a politico-cultural hysteric is remains a mystery Rundle doesn’t help solve. I think it means he disagrees with something the person said.

 Fourth paragraph;

This gang has rode out before, in the great 18C debacle — remember 18C? — and had their arses handed to them by Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party, petrified of the reaction from Big Multiculturalism. They lost on 18C, and they had a lot better material to work with. The best they could come up with on religious expression was Israel Folau.

Nice use of the vernacular there. What a Big Multiculturalism is goes unexplained.

Do we detect a hint of sarcasm in the line, “the best they could come up with”? What’s the inference? That Folau isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer? Ah, the bigotry of low expectations.

Are all Pacific Islanders stupid, Mr. Rundle, or just this one? To quote Ali G, “is it ‘cos he is black?

Fifth paragraph;

Personally I don’t think sports people should have to trade away their citizenship freedoms to do what they’re good at. But Folau appears to have flouted a contract he knowingly signed and it’s a far-from-ideal rallying point. Luckily for the right, the cultural left has come to their rescue, turning Folau’s childish just-so story pronouncements of “burning in hell” into potent political statements, by constructing them as potent hate speech.

Ignore the missing comma. Right then, which clause in Folau’s contract are you referring to? Oh, you haven’t seen the contract? Ah….

And we’ve decided stupid, brown Folau is childish now? Keep digging, son.

Paragraphs six, seven, eight and nine attempt to delve into the nature of rights. It’s safe to say these are not going to be challenging the USA Federalist Papers for intellectual robustness any time soon.

Rights that Rundle rejects are labelled content-based junk rights. It’s interesting that Rundle puts forward a strawman argument that there is a movement to legislate a right to Religious Freedom. I’m not aware of this, unless he’s referring to the removal of existing restrictions.

Paragraph ten, wherein Rundle goes full ad hominin on two people he doesn’t agree with;

In The Australian, Katrina Grace Kelly — her name at time of writing — noted that Folau’s claims were unlikely to succeed given the lean towards employers in such laws, but that if they did, they’d reset employment law entirely. The Institute of Public Affairs’ John Roskam is running a little dog ‘n’ pony show around the right (word is still out on whether Roskam is pony or dog), and Freedom Boy Tim Wilson made a cute little comment on the push by getting sworn in on a copy of Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom

That first dig is a reference to the fact that Ms. Kelly recently changed her name from the one she was given when she was adopted. The inference Rundle is offering is this won’t be her final name change. I’m not sure how that is in any way relevant to the Folau case, so will have to conclude he’s just being mean because he’s a misogynist (see what I did there?).

As for the line about Roskam being a dog or a pony, that tells us more about Rundle’s character than Roskam’s.

The final two paragraphs go on to predict Folau will lose and the right will whine.

Bill’s Opinion

I spotted the following fallacies used by Rundle, see if you can find any more; ad hominin, strawman, slippery slope, tu quoque, cherry picking.

However, this article is extremely informative, actually because of its form not it’s argument. Rundle has acknowledged this is the battleground for the culture war and, through an astounding inability to argue his side’s case without reverting to use of fallacies, has demonstrated his concerns about the weakness of his team’s position.

Better still, professional journalist Guy Rundle had to revert to the bigotry of low expectations, racism and misogyny to make his arguments.

How fun!

Publish and be damned

This might be nothing or it might be quite significant. I’ll defer to our regular legal expert for the definitive opinion in the comments.

A defamation case has just concluded in Australia where the judge found in favour of the plaintiff’s claim that Creepbook page owners are liable for comments made under their content.

There is a very lengthy but highly-informative Twitter thread here with a detailed breakdown of why Creepbook page owners are simply unable to comply with the ruling. In summary, the tools aren’t made available to control the content and it is currently impossible to switch off comments…. wait for it… unless you are a pharmaceutical company.

No, really….. go to the bottom of that Twitter thread to find that gem and shake your head.

The ruling seems to hold a page “owner” liable for anything anyone posts in reply. Unfortunately, Creepbook doesn’t provide the ability to disable comments on pages (“groups” have this function though) and the keyword blocking function is far from watertight.

There’s much debate currently in the USA about whether the social media giants have become the de facto “public square” and therefore should be subject to the First Amendment or they are publishers curating content and therefore have liability for anything which breaks a law or incurs libel cases.

The general position of the tech companies is that they are common carriers like the postal system or a phone company. Except there’s a major inconsistency with their actions; the phone company doesn’t cut you off if you say something it disagrees with.

Somewhere between these three positions the US courts will eventually rule. Many other commentators have written and spoken extensively on this dichotomy and have speculated on how it might land. My voice isn’t going add much either way.

In the meantime, it looks like an Australian judge may have hurried things along a little.

Bill’s Opinion

It might be argued this ruling has restricted free speech in Australia. However, regular readers will likely concur that ship sailed from Australian shores a long time ago.

My personal position is one of free speech near absolutism; with the exception of calling for violence, I’m generally ok with people saying whatever the hell they want.

That’s not to say they can say it without consequence, public opinion and libel laws are useful moderators.

Freedom of speech doesn’t mean the right to an audience though. If social media giants “de-platform” voices they dislike, that’s fine. Those voices will find a way to be heard, particularly if what they are saying resonates with others as being virtuous and true. We should have faith in our fellow humans in being able to discern mendacity from honesty.

This Australian case might result in changes to Creepbook globally, it might result in changes only to the way Australian companies engage on Creepbook, or it might result in very little change at all. Anyone who claims to know is deluding themselves and you.

Creepbook and its page owners might be liable for what’s written by others or they can remove opinions they dislike. I don’t care either way, I’m not on Creepbook so was unlikely to read it anyway.

Yet somehow I manage to keep myself informed of a diverse range of opinions. It’s almost as if, I dunno, there’s an entire world outside of Creepbook.