There’s a strawman…

….waiting in the sky, he’d like to come and meet you but he thinks he’ll blow your mind.

With apologies to Saint Bowie.

This cartoon appeared in a national newspaper. It presumably got past the editor without too much difficulty.

The sycophantic responses to the cartoonist Cathy Wilcox’s soshal mejia post with this are instructive. Not a single reply pointing out what’s depicted is not “speech”.

What does that tell us? One possible explanation is that her little corner of Twitter is an echo chamber. Or, following the recent purges, perhaps that describes all of Twitter. I don’t know, I steer well clear of the modern Bedlam, only dipping in when people send me links.

Bill’s Opinion

To suggest the cartoon is guilty of falling for the strawman fallacy doesn’t seem anywhere near adequate a description of what’s going on here.

We have to assume one of two things are happening; either the cartoonist and editor have a wildly immature grasp of the concept of free speech, or they deliberately changed the definition.

If the latter, why?

I’m not a mind reader, I’m not going to speculate.

It saddens me though that the left seem to be currently taking great joy in encroaching or at least cheering the idea of encroaching on actual freedom of speech whilst hardly any of their team is suggesting moderation.

Remember when freedom of speech was the left’s cause while the religious right were the ones trying to shut it down?

If you don’t, let’s remind you of the true story behind the quote in the film, The Blues Brothers, “I hate Illinois Nazis“.

Can you imagine the ACLU defending that case today?

How about we all try a bit harder to define and agree a principle and then apply it objectively? The alternative doesn’t bear thinking about.

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.

We sleep soundly at night….

……because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us.

Winston Churchill

Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith was photographed cheering on an American soldier drinking from the prosthetic leg of a suspected Afghan militant whose death is now the subject of a war crimes investigation into the war hero.

The world is divided in to exactly three types of people;

  1. Those who see the photo above and think, “so what?”,
  2. Those who see the photo above and think, “that’s disgusting, get the lawyers in The Hague on the blower”, and
  3. Those who see the photo above and think, “the infidel dogs in the west must die”.

The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald have obtained two photographs that show Mr Roberts-Smith, the country’s most decorated living soldier, posing with the prosthetic leg which was used as a novelty drinking vessel.

Obtained” or, in English; “paid top dollar for“.

The photographs appear at odds with claims made by Mr Roberts-Smith’s lawyer in the Federal Court last year that the war hero was utterly disgusted by the use of the leg as a drinking vessel. Lawyer Bruce McClintock stressed Mr Roberts-Smith “never drank from that thing … Because he thought it was disgusting to souvenir a body part, albeit an artificial one from someone who had been killed in action.”

He’s not drinking from it. He’s next to a person drinking from it, neither of whom probably realised that, years after risking their lives on our behalf, investigative journalists would be frothing up a story where front line soldiers in Afghanistan are judged by standards applicable to wine bars in Glebe.

The fake limb gained further notoriety earlier this month when photos of soldiers and non-commissioned officers drinking from it were leaked to The Guardian. The photos supplied to The Guardian did not include any images of Mr Roberts-Smith posing with the leg.

In other news, I visited Dallas once but the authorities are still struggling with collecting the evidence necessary to convict me of assassinating JFK.

The Guardian story, written by freelance journalist Rory Callinan, included photos of two soldiers with faces blurred posing with the boot. The story claimed “rank-and-file” soldiers believe they have been unfairly criticised by the Brereton report and suggest that drinking from the boot could be classified as the war crime of pillaging because the leg was property taken without the consent of its owner.

Rory Callinan’s Twitter feed is to be found here. It is fair to say he posts little else other than allegations of Australian war crimes and the reporting of the investigations. That’s fair enough, he can be a single issue journalist if he wants. Readers may wish to bear this obsession in mind when reading his output, however.

“…drinking from the boot could be classified as the war crime of pillaging“. Perhaps this is technically correct, but when detailing the backlog of various breaches of the Geneva Convention to be prosecuted and in what order, this may be close on the list to the whole of class detention your child got last week because two other kids were misbehaving. Collective punishment is a war crime under the 4th Geneva Convention, after all.

Perhaps it’s time for a comment from an adult:

Australian Defence Association chief executive Neil James wrote on Friday that, “to our national detriment, much of the public discussion on war crimes alleged to have been committed by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan is focusing on secondary, peripheral or irrelevant issues.”

Quite.

Bill’s Opinion

Unfortunately, I’ve no doubt war crimes have been committed in my name. I am certain, at times, armed forces acting for my country have shot first, asked questions later. After the fog of war has lifted, it’s correct to investigate these incidents and take appropriate action against the individual and to examine whether it indicates a culture that should be addressed.

However….I don’t give a flying fuck about our “rough men” drinking out of a dead Taliban’s false leg. In fact, send me the GoFundMe page link and I’ll chuck a few quid in to buy a round of beers for them.

My suspicion is this is the view of most people outside of the ABC, Sydney Morning Herald and Grauniad’s news rooms.

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”.

They used to hate us for our Freedom

Thousands of NSW businesses have less than two weeks to implement digital registration systems to record customers’ contact details before authorities will start issuing fines.
Businesses required to comply include hospitality venues, entertainment venues, public swimming pools, beauty salons, zoos and strip clubs.

We can perhaps have a chuckle at the consternation this announcement will have induced in the NSW Union of Stripclub Owners when considering the impact on their businesses when punters have to sign in digitally and be logged on a database every time they attend their premises.

Today is November 12th. Australia has had almost a week of no locally-acquired cases of Kung Flu. The peak of known cases of the virus in Australia was in April.

Curious minds might ask why, seven months later, we now need intrusive data collection mandated by law (and its inferred monopoly on violence)?

More curious minds might also wonder why the commentariat and public voices in the media are not asking the same question?

Bill’s Opinion

As I wrote in April, the rush to further legislate into the day to day minutiae of regular people going about their everyday lives is disproportionate and very certainly not temporary, as our “war on terror” lessons have shown.

Almost all of this legislation will never be wound back. Freedoms are rarely expanded, particularly when they were initially removed “for the public good“.

I, for one, am not OK with this, at all.

Are you?

The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.
H. L. Mencken.

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.

Things to do in Stoke Newington

Today’s title refers to an Alexi Sayle line from his 1980s era (when he was funny and radical, rather than boring and radical):

I write for a newspaper called ‘Things to do in Stoke Newington’. You may have seen it; it’s a big sheet of paper with ‘FUCK ALL’ written on it.

Stoke Newington in the 1980s was an utter shithole, replete with slums, gangs, drugs and corrupt police.

The corrupt police are the focus of our interest today. A culture of planting evidence, re-selling seized drugs, racism and heavy-handed policing was exposed by Operation Jackpot in the mid-90s.

Obviously, a healthy distrust of the police by almost everyone in the area was the result of this failure. It remained a limiting feature of Stoke Newington for years.

Perhaps a similar situation is developing before our eyes in Melbourne. Maybe not so much corruption but certainly a frightening willingness of the police to leverage their monopoly on the use of violence to enforce nascent laws, yet to be tested in the law courts or, indeed, the court of public opinion.

The increasing number of videos circulating on social media showing Melbourne police arresting citizens for social media transgressions, standing in their neighbours’ gardens or breaking curfews are redolent of South American juntas, not a democracy with the long precedents of Common Law.

The most worrying aspect is the enthusiasm of the police force for these brand new laws. I may be mistaken, but no senior member of the force has felt it necessary to speak up on the subject of the risk to the relationship between the public and the police by criminalising much of what was considered everyday life 6 months ago.

What can we infer from this silence?

Bill’s Opinion

It’s very subjective but, to me, it seems like the high tide of personal freedoms is far behind us on the rear view mirror.

In fact, the trend that became evident during those halcyon days of The War on Terror, has intensified in 2020.

The Peelian tradition of policing by consent must feel a very ancient and lost concept to my friends in Melbourne.

How do the Victorian Police recover their respect and credibility after this phase? Worse; do they even want to?

Every problem has a solution

The culture war has come for England rugby supporters; calls to ban “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” as it is cultural appropriation.

Bill’s Opinion

This former frequenter of Twickenham Stadium does not appreciate being “told” to do or not do things.

You can try politely asking me, of course.

In the meantime, even if you aren’t a rugby fan, it might be worth tuning in to the next fixture just to watch how precisely they think they’ll enforce this ban, particularly when the fans could legitimately wear these to cover their mouths:

The ballad of Israel Folau

We’ve been following the petty story of Israel closely for some time now. It was obvious it wasn’t going to end well for Rugby Australia and, lo it came to pass.

They’ve settled with him before the court case, probably because of the minor difficulty that they forgot to insist on a social media clause when his contract was renewed 10 months ago.

I’d guess that mistake is worth about 5 years’ of his salary, so somewhere between $7m and $8m.

The missing social media restriction clause would have been no more than 50 words. So, about $150k a word.

Even Ed Sheeran doesn’t get paid at that rate.

In the main, the commentators on this organ knew what was going on; this was the latest skirmish in the Great Culture War of 2019. Obviously, ever the contrarian, Bardon decided Folau wouldn’t win the case.

If he’d gone to court, perhaps he wouldn’t. But, as we say in our house, “if me mam had wheels she’d be a trolley“.

I daren’t look at Pirate Pete’s opinion piece on the settlement. I genuinely haven’t read it but I imagine it will contain virtue signalling to the diverse (but not religious brown people), wokescolding against the religious bigots (but only one type), and soft criticism of Rugby Australia for signing inadequate contracts of employment.

Bill’s Opinion

As I have said repeatedly on this subject, I don’t care nor want to know what an athlete’s views are on theology.

I also would prefer to live in a world where those views, as long as they don’t call for violence, don’t result in them losing their job either.

Finally, the heuristic remains; if you need to quickly determine what is correct or to predict the future, check what Peter Fitzsimons has preached and assume the 180 degree position.