Jenna hates….. the free speech of

….MP Craig Kelly.

Jenna Hates has been given the keys to the Sydney Morning Herald Grievance Vehicle again this week.

Today’s subject of her trademark bitterness and hatred is an MP whose views she can’t stand.

Jenna and I have much in common in that regard, she’s just more discriminatory than me as I can’t stand the views of all MPs.

One of Mr. Kelly’s constituents has decided to undertake a personal project of offence archeology and, helpfully, our resident academic, Jenna Hates, has convinced a national newspaper it’s interesting enough to publish. No, really.

Tom Kristensen is a landscaper, artist and just owner-built a house in Hughes. But sometime in 2019, he turned his mind to local politics. Not to stand for election, no way, he’s never been a member of any political party, too sceptical.

But his local member had started to use Facebook to spread messages which the ecology graduate knew were not based on any kind of scientific evidence. Kristensen got busy. He decided to note and analyse every single Facebook post on Craig Kelly’s page, its topic, its style of writing and its image.

…. as any reasonable person would do….. if they were OCD.

Also, “not based on any kind of scientific evidence” just slipped in there without a supporting description of the method used to come to that conclusion. We mention this because the word “any” is doing a lot of heavy lifting.

Jenna Hates helpfully reminds us of the peer review process or lack there of:

This isn’t for academic research. It is to save the nation from his dangerous conspiratorial and anti-science influence. His job is to represent his community. What he is actually doing is misleading his constituents, misrepresenting science, endangering lives.

We do love a good blood on their hands accusation.

What conspiracy theories is he peddling?

The worst seems to be the false flag theory about last week’s attack on The Capitol. Yeah, that’s pretty daft, particularly from someone who is an elected official. I’m not sure how it risks the lives of Australians though.

The other two themes Jenna Hates, erm, hates, are his suggestion that two existing approved drugs might be used as pharmaceutical treatment for the Kung Flu ‘rona.

Again, unless he’s able to influence the medical profession into prescribing these, it’s just words.

Of course, we could have predicted Jenna’s preference on how to deal with Kelly, it’s a shame the bookies aren’t taking bets. Spoiler alerts, it doesn’t involve presenting counter evidence and debating him or getting up off her arse and actively campaigning for an alternative candidate:

It is such a shame we don’t have a code of conduct for parliamentarians, or an Australian Federal Integrity Commission, which perhaps could punish behaviour like this and send those responsible to Siberia (looking forward to the debate in parliament this year).

Hands up who thinks she’s only partially joking about Siberia?

Bill’s Opinion

For the record, I have no opinion on Craig Kelly as I avoid reading about Australian politicians as much as I possibly can, mainly due to the obvious fact they are stupid at best but usually with the added bonus quality of venality.

I also don’t know whether the two drugs listed reduce the impact of the virus or not. I’m willing to bet neither do you or Jenna Hates. I’m certain Kelly hasn’t a Scooby Doo.

Why don’t we know? Because they’ve been politicised. If you mention them, you will be labelled a conspiracy theorist and dangerously right wing.

In a world other than the Clownworld we’re currently inhabiting, existing approved pharmaceutical therapies for conditions adjacent to the virus would be taken through objective scientific enquiry and the results published for the medical profession to assess. If they prove effective, we’d all be happy. If not, we’d shrug and move on.

In 2021, however, we talk about shutting down the speech of those who suggest such a thing.

2021 already looks like its theme will be authoritarianism.

Mostly peaceful

The online world is a bit of a dumpster fire this week, with everyone with an opinion feeling uninhibited enough to let us know their hot take on the situation, with the added not insignificant bonus of publicly demonstrating their virtue.

Careful observers with memories longer than a few months might spot some slight inconsistencies in these public opinions, however.

For example, those who are loudly proclaiming on their soshal mejia accounts the Trump supporters breaking into The Capitol was an attempted coup yet didn’t speak up against any of the following:

  • The four year campaign to impeach the President on the basis of an election “hacked” by Russia which, after an expensive taxpayer funded investigation, turned out to be a big nothingburger,
  • The nightly Antifa riots in Portland, the destruction of the city centre and the implementation of a lawless “autonomous zone”,
  • The nightly attacks on the Portland courthouse,
  • The invasion of the Senate by anti-Brett Kavanaugh protesters,
  • The riots across the USA and looting of department stores in the name of BLM,
  • BLM and Antifa threatening diners in restaurants and suburban residents in their homes.

Given time and motivation, we could continue to list multiple examples of illegal and violent protest over the last four years, and undertake the offence archeology on the accounts of those who were silent then, vocal now. People are doing this for high profile names such as Alexandria Occasionally Correct with amusing results.

But for the average person, you, for example, what’s the standard you’ve demonstrated? Have you applied the same principles when your team screwed up as when the other side did?

If you didn’t, what does that make you?

Bill’s Opinion

In the few jurisdictions where it still exists, your freedom of speech should be unaffected by your record of subjective and partisan commentary.

That statement notwithstanding, your inability to apply objective standards and principles and your lack of courage to do so in public massively reduces your credibility.

You may exercise your freedom of speech to attempt to persuade us that, despite the long history of coup attempts and successful coups around the world, an unarmed raggle taggle bunch of cosplay Davy Crockets entering a building is a clear and present danger to the world’s most powerful military force. We, however, will judge those twitterings in the context of your previously demonstrated commitment to consistency.

My view on the events in The Capitol are that it was illegal and the rule of law must be maintained. That was also my view on the looting during the summer of BLM, the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, and all of the other illegal acts we witnessed last year but were given a free pass by many for reasons of political expediency.

I suggest this is a time for a long look in the mirror in case the Nietzsche quote applies to you:

He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.

Why is this lying liar lying to me?

Today’s title is what the British current affairs interviewer, Jeremy Paxman, apparently used to ask himself whenever he interviewed a politician.

As a strategy, it can’t be faulted.

Witness:

For those who are unaware of the festival of Kwanzaa, it is a relative newcomer to the calendar, invented in 1966.

Some background on the Harris childhood may be useful too; She was born in 1964 to a Jamaican father and Indian mother. Her parents divorced in 1972. Kamala and her mother moved to Canada in 1976.

Of course, it is entirely possible an Indian immigrant single mother was an early adopter of a newly-invented festival for the sake of her mixed race daughters two decades before the rest of the USA had heard of it….whilst living in Canada.

It’s also possible Jussie Smollett was attacked by two Nigerian Trump supporters at 2am in a blizzard.

Bill’s Opinion

The chances the Harris family ever celebrated Kwanzaa aren’t quite zero but it is highly unlikely.

However, the explanation requiring the fewest assumptions to be true is that Kamala Harris is lying.

We can’t read minds, so the reason why she would lie about this can only be known by her.

The fact she chooses to tell lies about inconsequential matters such as this and the music she listened to whilst in college, is an indication of two possibilities though;

1. She must think people are really fucking stupid, and

2. She’s prepared to sell the most ridiculous fabrications as fact.

Neither of which are particularly comforting characteristics for the person who will take over from Joe Biden next year.

By the way, if you are reading this and thinking, “but Trump lied all the time“, you might want to consider the possibility you’ve fallen into a partisan mental oubliette where you don’t apply standards objectively.

Douglas Bader is cancelled

Two legs good, no legs better….

Imagine being named after the wife of William Shakespeare and having a 21 year career as a Hollywood actress and yet not understanding the meaning of the verb, “acting“?

Anne Hathaway seems not to know that three-fingered witches capable of magic aren’t real;

Bill’s Opinion

Of course she knows witches aren’t real and that acting is pretending to be someone/thing you aren’t.

She’s signalling, “please don’t hurt me” to a very small group of people on social media, intoxicated by the power to make famous people do and say things when threatened.

The correct response, particularly when one is a multi-millionaire capable of living comfortably without having to work for the remainder of one’s life, is “oh do fuck off; nobody is really offended and, even if they were, it’s a great life lesson to toughen the fuck up or never engage with the outside world again”.

Everything is racist – Kiwi edition

As there’s nothing else of interest going on in the world, here’s the news from the Asia-Pacific capital of wokeness and virtual signalling; don’t like facial tattoos? Then you can’t sell your book here.

We know the drill these days, it happens the same way every time; someone says or tweets something, about three people take offence, they then contact an employer/advertiser/retailer and suggest they take action against the individual, pour encourager les autres.

Reading the history of the Maori “moko” or female chin tattoo, it seems to have gone through a similar cycle as the Australian observance of Anzac Day. It was not particularly popular and was likely to die out as a tradition but got a shot in the arm towards the end of the 20th century.

It’s unclear whether this was also as a result of a resurgence of national populism like John Howard’s hyping of what was really the backup version of Remembrance Day for his own political purposes.

Anyway, to the new foreign minister, putting facial tattoos aside, how qualified is she for the prestigious and demanding Foreign Affairs ministerial role? How about this for damning with faint praise;

Mahuta is the first woman to hold the position of foreign affairs minister and has been praised as articulate and competent.

Bill’s Opinion

Jump on to social media and describe a high profile African American politician as articulate and competent and see how that goes for you.

As for cancelling the sale of a book for the author’s non-criminal tweet, well, that’s a standard you’ll end up living up to yourself one day. Some wags have already pointed out the book website will happily sell Oswald Mosley’s autobiography.

He was a National Socialist, after all though, defending the indigenous culture of a small island nation and encouraging collectivism and big government.

My final opinion on this is that the words, “regrettable tattoo” are a tautology.

Banana splits

Perhaps this is the best illustration of how bifurcated the perception of the world is on some of the most important issues facing humanity:

Depending on your source of news, the names on this list are either worthy recipients of the prize or a combination of the incompetent and mendacious.

It’s such a mix of opposites, one almost expects some names to disappear off the page as they cancel each other out, as if when matter and anti-matter combine.

The latter part of the list has more than a hint of trolling to it; one struggles to think what Erdogan and Putin have done to progress peace, love and understanding, for example.

Obviously, we can all get behind the campaign to vote Piers “I never hacked a phone” Morgan as this year’s Peace Prize winner, if only to ensure the end of the Nobel Committee.

Bill’s Opinion

Regardless of your opinion on who should win it, this list tells us everting we need to know about why the world is currently the way it is.

Credibility level: Smollett

America is in crisis. The demand for hate crimes is outstripping supply.

As with all supply-side shortages, unsatisfactory, sub-standard products flood the market as a consequence until the natural balance is restored.

Consider the sad tale of Althea Bernstein; the likelihood of this “hate crime” happening as described by Ms Bernstein is so small it would need to be measured by an electron microscope.

Althea borrowed her Mum’s car, drove to near where a riot was occurring, replete with an large arson attack, then returned home past her curfew time with some light burns.

Anyone who reads this story and believes that four boys actually sprayed her with lighter fluid through a car window and followed it up with a lit cigarette lighter needs to seriously take a deep breath and down a cup of coffee.

Nonetheless, some high profile folks have accepted this at face value.

Who?

A couple of dumb football players, for a start. Let’s face it, critical thinking isn’t a core competency for kicking and catching a ball, but Todd Gurley and Oren Burks have managed to underachieve the already low intellectual expectations for their profession.

This is exquisite, though; Megan Markle spoke with Althea for 40 minutes. Apparently, “Meghan and Bernstein formed a connection over being biracial, and Meghan advised her to stay away from social media to avoid seeing negative comments“.

Negative comments such as, “liar, liar, pants on fire“, presumably?

Bill’s Opinion

You, I and everyone we know will read a story like the one Althea told her mother to justify coming home late with light burns to her face and immediately guess what happened; she disobeyed her mother, went to the riot and got splashed whilst having some innocent fun with Molotov cocktails.

That figures such as the football players and the ex-Princess are prepared to publicly state their support for her version of the evening leads us to believe only one of two things is true. Either;

1. They really are so gullible that this story seems credible. In which case, we should pity them, or;

2. Like us, they realise this doesn’t pass the sniff test but have decided to pretend that it does.

If (2) is correct, perhaps Theodore Dalrymple’s explanation is the best way to understand what is going on:

Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small. In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.

Take your medicine, proles

Critical thinking is such an overrated and redundant skill. They’ve clearly phased it out at Notre Dame University, Australia, as this fisk demonstrates:

Our best hope for ending the COVID-19 pandemic is a safe and effective vaccine, but faced with polls suggesting a large number of people will refuse to be immunised, governments must consider making it mandatory.

Our best hope?

Epidemiologist Martin Kuldorff suggests herd immunity is the most likely scenario ($ subscription required), either by accepting the young will get it or by eventually finding a vaccine. He’s sceptical a vaccine will be found any time soon though.

It’s not just card-carrying anti-vaxxers that will refuse. Surveys in the United States and France indicate about one in four adults would refuse a vaccine, and one in six in Britain.

Let’s give Chesterton’s Fence another run out. It’s incumbent on the supporters of a yet to be developed vaccine to prove its usefulness and safety.

Maybe survey the “anti-vaxxers” again at that point?

Given the incredibly high costs of unnecessarily extending the COVID-19 crisis, it seems reasonable to consider whether governments should make vaccinations mandatory. In recent months, we have come to accept extraordinary government restrictions that would ordinarily be unconscionable in liberal democracies. If you think − as most of us do − that these constraints are an acceptable price to pay to help curb the pandemic’s damage, then a mandatory vaccination policy deserves serious consideration.

Most of us?

DeTocqueville’s tyranny of the majority, much?

This proposal might strike you as outrageous, but it’s not without precedent. In 1905, inhabitants of Cambridge, Massachusetts were required to be vaccinated against smallpox. Only last year, New York City required anyone over six months of age (in certain parts of the city) to be vaccinated against measles. Since March this year, Germany has required all parents to have their children vaccinated against measles. In all these cases, if an individual were to refuse they would be fined.

By 1905, the smallpox vaccine was over a hundred years old and it was clear what the benefits vs side effects were.

Not quite the same as a yet to be developed vaccine, is it?

Although lockdown conditions reduce your wellbeing, the personal benefits ultimately outweigh the personal costs. If you accept this, then you should also accept mandatory vaccinations, since your chances of being infected will lower dramatically if the vaccine has wide and quick uptake.

The personal benefits ultimately outweigh the personal costs.

That’s a bold statement of fact with absolutely no supporting evidence. It’s also probably about two to three years too early to be certain; have you counted the cost of undetected cancers, for example?

According to a more altruistic justification, a lockdown, and all its associated costs, is acceptable because we have a moral obligation to put others’ wellbeing ahead of our own − especially when the threat to others is as serious as death and the costs to oneself are much smaller. If you accept this, then you should also accept mandatory vaccinations.

Non sequitur.

Giving up one’s freedom to choose whether to be vaccinated is just another way of making a relatively small sacrifice from one’s stock of personal liberties out of altruistic concern for others.

Mandatory vaccinations aren’t exactly “giving up” freedom, more taking it. Nice flip of language, though.

All vaccinations carry some risk and these might be higher in the case of a quickly developed vaccine for a novel virus. But a mandatory vaccine policy can manage such risks sensibly, for instance by allowing exemptions for high-risk individuals. Once we do this, it’s not obvious that mandatory vaccinations run a greater risk of unintentional harm than lockdown, factoring in the long-lasting economic, social, domestic, and psychological consequences of lockdowns.

Who gets to decide? It doesn’t sound like those high-risk individuals get to choose.

Were such a policy to be implemented, we would need to think carefully about how to respond to citizens who outright refuse to comply. But this problem faces mandatory lockdown policies, too, and has proved surmountable.

As with lockdown, some uses of state force are acceptable − such as fines − and some are unacceptable − such as welding doors shut. As with lockdown, some exemptions are appropriate, perhaps for individuals who have serious moral objections to the ingredients or manufacturing conditions of a vaccine.

And there we have it. It’s a call to use the State’s monopoly on violence for the author’s preferred strategy.

Were entire communities to refuse a vaccine, as may occur in places such as Mullumbimby with a high concentration of anti-vaxxers, it may be appropriate to have more stringent social restrictions in place for a time in these communities.

It may sound draconian, but a mandatory vaccination policy enjoys solid prudential and moral justification. And it may be our only way of ending the COVID-19 crisis.

It may sound draconian.

Ya reckon? Forcing people to accept a vaccination yet to be developed rushed through in record time without the benefit of the full due diligence normally undertaken to ensure the cure isn’t worse than the disease; draconian? Yeah, just a teeny bit.

Tim Smartt is a lecturer in moral philosophy at the Institute for Ethics and Society, University of Notre Dame Australia.

I’m guessing logical fallacies aren’t on the curriculum he teaches.

Bill’s Opinion

I’m not an anti-vaxxer. I’m also not in a hurry to be injected with any substance that hasn’t had the benefit of the massive due diligence, testing and peer review processes every other vaccine is subject to before being approved for use.

Despite what a lecturer in ethics at a 3rd rate regional university might say, perhaps a little medical evidence might be the more appropriate guide on how to proceed.

There is a war….

There is a war between the rich and poor,

A war between the man and the woman.

There is a war between the ones who say there is a war

And the ones who say there isn’t.

Why don’t you come on back to the war, that’s right, get in it,

Why don’t you come on back to the war, it’s just beginning.

Leonard Cohen 1974

Modern wars are funny beasts; they happen all the time but very rarely does anyone ever bother to formally declare it.

In the USA, Congress has the Constitutional duty/sole prerogative to declare war. Did you know that? How many times do you think they’ve done so since, say, 1942?

That part of the USA Constitution was broken once intercontinental ballistic missiles were capable of delivering nuclear warheads and a 3 minute warning was not long enough to hold a vote.

To Marxists, the real war used to be between the workers and the owners of capital. Since the Soviets lost the argument, many Marxists pivoted to looking for wars between ethnicities and gender, resulting in much of the lunacy in which this organ finds hilarity.

In the meantime, a massive war is playing out, hiding in plain sight, as illustrated by our Hierarchy of Kung Flu:

Where do you sit on this scale? Have you been Instagramming pictures of inedible home-baked sourdough and stodgy cakes?

Chances are you’re currently on the winning side of the war.

Now flip all of those statements upside down and put yourself in the shoes of that person. Obviously, the lower levels regarding health are universal, they could happen to all of us.

The real point of bifurcation between the combatants is the level 3rd from top; “I am a keyboard warrior; my income is unaffected“.

Depending on whether this is true for you is the difference between this period being a relaxing skive on your sofa, consisting of lazy mornings, online yoga, perfecting your barista technique on your Gaggia, chatting with your colleagues on Zoom, baking sourdough like an 18th century crofter, some online shopping, an early start on the Briar Ridge rosé and a pleasant evening with the significant other binge watching a streaming series OR absolute desperation as you deplete your sparse savings and watch your livelihood destroyed in just a few days by the stroke of a ministerial pen.

At its bluntest level, this is war between white-collar and blue-collar workers. Sure, it’s a fuzzy line; there are previously well-paid office workers who are now unemployed and wondering why they took out such large mortgages and there are blue collar workers who are still building and billing for their time.

In general though, the metropolitan types are having a lovely war, the people in the ‘burbs are staring down the barrel of destitution.

Magnify that out from your comfortable 1st world reality and look at the less developed countries.

India has hit “CTRL C/V” on the western world’s approach to COVID19 and enforced a 21 day lock down. Millions of the lowest paid workers have been told to somehow travel back to their home villages and have no additional source of income.

The human cost to this, in terms of malnutrition, riots, suicides, murders, etc. will clearly not be zero. Quite the opposite, in fact, it is probable there will be an appalling increase in harm to the population.

It puts the current 1st world problems into context but they are versions of the same issue.

Bill’s Opinion

The modern global economy has a complexity that is beyond the reach of current human understanding. Dismantling it at the stroke of a government pen has unintended consequences. It is not yet obvious from the available data which is worse; the effects of the virus or the consequences of the lockdowns.

It’s possibly a false dichotomy anyway. The choice isn’t and shouldn’t be framed as binary. Shutting down India as if it had an economy and society that operates like Switzerland seems like a regrettably poor choice.

Similarly, shutting down an economy in a consistent way across an entire national geography without reference to the multiple differentiating factors between regions isn’t logical.

The result is highly likely to be a continuation of the decades-old wealth transfer from the poorest to the richest. If you think you’re in the second category, I would warn against complacency; this trend is coming for you and yours.

Have a look at your luxury car, 2nd home, children’s private school, photos from expensive overseas holidays, etc. and take a moment to appreciate what might prove to be a view of the past during the “Roaring 2,000s“.

Inviting the kids into the candy store

“What did you learn in school today, kids?”

“I learned you’re a cisgendered bigot, Mummy”.

Remember, you’re the bigot:

“You just know that the people pretending to be livid that a drag queen read a book in a school are also the people who run out to buy their kids the latest Grand Theft Auto on release day.

“Your homophobia is transparent.”

That’s Mhairi Black, SNP MP tweeting at you.

Here she is sitting at the table to the right of Cruella DeVille.

When we drop our children off at primary school every morning, what are our expectations of what will and won’t happen to them during their day?

Well, obviously a collection of educational outcomes; they will be better able to read, write and count than they were yesterday, for example.

Perhaps also some level of improvement to their ability to function socially, learning how to behave reasonably around others.

Perhaps the most obvious requirement is that they will be kept safe, both physically but also mentally. We shouldn’t be setting them up for nightmares.

Erm:

Bill’s Opinion

Does it need to be said?

Men who perform sexualised acts in nightclubs whilst dressed as women should not be allowed in our children’s schools.

When did we forget this?

For fucksake, these people shouldn’t be allowed within 500 metres of a school.

In other news, the Scottish education system is going backwards in its most basic responsibility; teaching kids to read, write and count.

Keep voting SNP, Scots. I’m sure they’ll improve things for you eventually.

UPDATE

A rather clever Twitter thread on the subject here.