International house of fruitcakes

Allona Lahn is standing for the next Australian Federal Election, representing IMOP (involuntary medication objectors Party).

In case you’re a little mentally lethargic today, they’re a group of anti-vaxxers.

Here’s an irony that’s presumably lost on the party of personal freedoms; they are standing for an election where voting is compulsory by law.

Here’s another irony; vaccination isn’t compulsory in Australia, as witnessed by the current outbreak of measles in wanky middle class tofu-eating areas.

The IMOPpers have presumably confused not being able to work in government departments, particularly in the healthcare sector, or not being able to send your kids to public schools unless vaccinated as being compulsory vaccination. They are also upset about the so-called “no jab, no pay” policy, which sounds quite draconian but the “pay” concerned refers to government benefits.

If they’d truly thought the libertarian argument through they would have realised they still have the choice to work elsewhere, to home-school their children and, frankly, if you need to rely on taxpayer largesse to afford to have children, perhaps you should consider the possibility you can’t afford to have children.

What’s also intriguing about the IMOPpers is that they have a “cultural adviser” to provide an Aboriginal perspective on immunisations. Presumably this starts with the words, “thank you, white people, for immunising our people, at least that rules out one potential cause of early death and an infant mortality rate equivalent to a sub-Saharan shithole“?

Bill’s Opinion

At least we can be sure there is still some semblance of free speech remaining in Australia; if you really wanted to cement their commitment to conspiracy theories, you’d try to prevent them from campaigning.

You can do your own research on the correlation and likely conclusions about the potential harmful side-effects of vaccinations versus the clear benefits (do you personally know of anyone who has died of a transmittable disease for which there is a vaccination?).

It’s great that anti-vaxxers exist and have a platform as it indicates we’ve solved all of the other major issues facing humanity. Let’s face it, no-one in a poverty-stricken third world country is refusing to vaccinate their children, most likely because they’ve already learned the hard way by burying several already.

“Free speech” isn’t just the speech you agree with, Fitzy

An Australian rugby player has annoyed people on social media by posting evangelical Christian beliefs.

An ex-Australian rugby player, now a columnist, has called for his contract to be suspended until he apologises and, in his words not mine, repents.

Slow news days in Australia tend to be like this.

Peter Fiztsimons has a good point; Israel Falau’s contract with the ARU does have restrictions on his public behaviour and speech. In that regard, by signing the contract he has agreed to further limitations, beyond those already on the law books, to his freedom of speech.

This is a matter between employer and employee.

So far, so boring. We all have a range of views on the topic Folau has posted about on social media, some of us have multiple opinions on the same topic depending on the time of day. That’s not really the point.

What’s fascinating here is the use of the term “repent” and the suggestion that Folau’s behaviour is homophobic. To risk bringing the concept of nuance and subtlety to a nation not previously known for its philosophers and intellectuals, could we suggest that there’s actually no proof that Folau is homophobic?

Sure, he’s stated that homosexuals are on their way to hell, but that’s simply repeating a view endorsed by, among others, the Catholic Church, most Anglican denominations and Islam. So, it’s a view shared wholly or at least partially by almost 5 billion people, i.e. more than half of humanity.

It’s worth noting that he’s never stated that he hates homosexuals or that he believes they are deserving of eternal damnation, just that his understanding of scripture suggests that’s where they’re heading.

Again, a subtle point but we do need to try to pull the conversation back to what was said, not what we think was in the mind of the speaker. None of us are mind-readers.

As for Fitzsimon’s call for Folau to repent, it’s not clear what form this would take for it to be acceptable. An apology for breaking the terms of his contract of employment doesn’t seem like it would satisfy Peter. By the use of the verb, repent, he seems to be suggesting a change of opinion is the only acceptable way to seek forgiveness.

In other words, he needs Folau to stop believing something that he, presumably, holds as true as part of the core teaching of his faith.

Bill’s Opinion

I don’t want to know what sports people’s beliefs are on matters of religious doctrine. I really just don’t give a fuck. I don’t share Israel Folau’s views on this or many other philosophical areas of discourse. I do like the way he can catch a ball, sprint and side-step, however.

I also don’t want the world I live in to be one where bandana-wearing columnists get to call for the termination of someone’s employment for having the wrong faith.

There is much whataboutery we could invoke at this point. For example, we could ask for just a single example where Fitzsimons has defended anyone with an opposing opinion to his to hold that opinion without being hounded off social media, out of their employment or other similar consequences.

The easiest job in the world is to defend someone’s right to believe the same things as you.

Where are the April Fool articles?

Stop reading this. Open a new browser window and go to your favourite news source (I’m talking about Australia here).

Where are the April Fools joke articles?

Traditionally, editors have a bit of fun on this day, publishing articles on Italian spaghetti trees or the Olympics creating a backwards 100m event.

Perhaps I’ve not looked hard enough but there seems to be nothing that qualifies as an April Fool on the main Australian news sites. I’m not dismissing the possibility that I’ve been gullible and walked past one and assumed it was true.

Please correct me in the comments.

Bill’s Opinion

Perhaps we are in a “post humour” era where every joke offends someone, somewhere and, because of this, all jokes must be silenced.

Oh wait, we’re saved; The Sydney Morning Herald have one;

Here come the freedom restriction laws

A good knee-jerk reaction is only worth doing if it’s quick enough, especially in election season (which, to be fair, is every second year in Australia);

Media bosses face jail over sharing content.

Hasty legislation is so very tempting to those in power as they feel under pressure to be seen to be doing something, anything, in the wake of exceptional or unique events.

The Australian government is therefore making noises about introducing legislation enabling the prosecution of the leaders of technology companies on whose platforms the video footage of the Christchurch murderer’s crimes were shared should similar situations occur in the future.

Our confirmation biases trick us into thinking there is merit with this approach. There are multiple problems with what has been proposed in this thought bubble of a policy description however. Let’s list them and see if you agree:

1. Opportunity cost – given finite resources of time, money and personnel, is this the best and most urgent response the legislators and law enforcement authorities can take to minimise the risk similar murderous violence doesn’t re-occur? I say “minimise the risk” because, despite what anyone would like to think, there is no palatable way to completely prevent murders occurring. The shooter was hiding in plain sight on various internet discussion forums, perhaps some more diligence on behalf of those tasked with crime prevention might be the better priority?
2. Legislation requiring innovation – a law that would deliver jail time to the CEO of Facebook Australia for hosting a snuff movie is, in effect, demanding the company either throw thousands of content moderators at the problem 24×7 OR they invent 100% foolproof algorithms to automatically remove the content the moment it is uploaded. Neither of which is particularly likely, which brings us to problem #3….
3. The law of unintended consequences – the CEO will be extremely motivated to remain at liberty and without a criminal record, therefore they will scale back their content and offering to the Australian market. 99.9999% of livestream content breaks no law, yet faced with the risk of jail, an intelligent CEO is going to simply pull that functionality and content from the Australia IP addresses. Worse, the risk to the CEO has still not gone away due to problem #4…..
4. Virtual Private Networks – VPNs are cheap and easily procured. If content is blocked in Australia, it’s likely users could hop on to a VPN and spoof their location to a different geography and see it anyway. Anyone who enjoys using torrent services that are geo-blocked in Australia already knows this. Faced with this risk, perhaps the tech companies would withdraw or scale back their Australian office footprint?
5. Who defines what content is banned? – if we were to legislate against “dangerous” content, hasty legislation would be a mistake. The definition of what is to be banned is going to require significant discussion and debate, followed up with extreme legal scrutiny to ensure the legislation is unambiguous and not simply providing a censor’s charter to a future government.

Bill’s Opinion
In a crisis, people revert to what they know. Politicians know how to announce and create rapid, ambiguous legislation that satisfies the expediency of being seen to act but fails the test of sustainability and desirability over the long term.

Expect more of this.

Also expect legislation to make subscription to a VPN illegal once someone explains their use to the politicians.

Longbowmanship over Christchurch

As suggested earlier, in the wake of a major atrocity or tragedy, it’s safer to steer well clear of all forms of social media. There’s likely to be some truth available and even some cool heads but finding it amongst the virtue signalling and calls for further limitations to freedom will be nigh on impossible.

Some of the rubbish washes up on the shore regardless of how little time one tries to spend on websites and apps where it lives.

Blame is being directly thrown at a wide range of targets.

Let’s be clear; The person responsible for the decision to murder 50 unarmed men, women and children last week, was the same person who stockpiled the weapons and fired them.

Nobody else.

It’s a shame I feel the need to have to state that axiom, but it seems like a day doesn’t go by without a serious commentator claiming other sources of blame which, utterly coincidentally, reflect their previously-stated biases.

Examples follow;

1. Trump – the go-to blame focus for all that is bad in the world. The shooter’s own manifesto states that he likes Trump because of his ethnicity but can’t stand his policies. On that basis, anyone in the Whitehouse who was white might be blamed. Trump’s actions, words and opinions have been documented in detail for decades, yet there’s nothing we can point to encouraging violence against Muslims. Longbow.

2. Candace Owens – anyone who took the shooter’s claims that she was his greatest influence at face value is clearly not paying attention and has not read or listened to her opinions. The shooter is trolling the media and they’ve taken the bait. Longbow.

3. CNN – on a recent podcast, Scott Adams suggested CNN have contributed to the misinformation by focusing on race and identity. Longbow.

4. Facebook, Twitter, etc. – various political figures are stating the platforms are responsible because live-streaming functionality enabled the shooter to have a far wider audience. Do we think he wouldn’t have murdered anyone if he was unable to live-stream? Longbow.

5. Gun laws – The NZ parliament is bound to pass stronger gun legislation in the next few weeks. New Zealand’s gun laws are far looser than Australia’s, however, despite there being far more guns in circulation per capita, the ratio of guns deaths was (prior to this incident) about the same. Do we really think the legalities of gun ownership are a factor in a murderous extremist’s decision to slaughter 50 people. Longbow and, unless there is a massive search and confiscate programme, pointless virtue signalling.

6. “Islamophobic” comments by politicians – Waleed Aly seems to conflate criticism of a violent interpretation of Islam with taking a gun to kill unarmed citizens. Longbow.

And then there’s this;

Internet service providers and mobile phone network operators took the decision to block a group of websites, ranging from a financial discussion forum (Zerohedge) to the home of those crazy 4Channers. Curiously, the ISPs all decided to do this together at the same time, almost as if they were instructed to do so.

As the screenshot above points out, these smaller players had a minimal percentage of the traffic of the killer’s video compared to Facebook or YouTube, yet these didn’t get banned.

I checked this for myself and can confirm that, for a while, the block was in place but could be bypassed by use of a VPN. The block has since been lifted.

In other more ridiculous news, there’s a push to rename the local rugby team, the Canterbury Crusaders, to something less offensive to the residents of the holy land circa 1095 to 1492. May I suggest The Canterbury Cucks?

Perhaps while they’re at it should they rename Saracens to something less offensive to people living in Spain in the 12th century and the Barbarians to a name that won’t upset the residents of Rome living there in the year 410?

Bill’s Opinion

Shutting down speech, particularly the blocking of internet discussion forums (I want to write “fora” but I know that makes me pretentious) is not a road we should travel any farther along.

The New Zealand government has already been tacitly involved in the de-platforming of Stefan Molyneaux and Lauren Southern and the Kiwi media were clearly incredibly biased in their interviews.

The Australian government has had three positions in as many weeks on whether or not Milo Yiannopolous would be granted a visa, despite allowing him to visit 2 years ago and, as far as I am aware, he’s not committed any criminal offences in the meantime.

Gavin McInnes and Tommy Robinson remained banned.

You don’t have to agree with anything these people say to question whether it’s a smart move to prevent the people who would want to listen to their views from doing so on Australian or Kiwi soil. They can still consume their output via the internet.

Blocking the websites where these views can be read or heard is impractical, as proven by use of a cheap VPN last week.

But, if you wanted to disprove the widely-held belief of the crazies that there’s a global conspiracy against them, private companies blocking websites would be about the worst possible action you could take.

I want these violent crazies to have a public forum to spout their views, for two clear reasons:

1. People who are sane can argue with them and show the insanity of their claims, and

2. If they’re speaking this shite in public we at least know who they are.

The alternative is that they go deeper down their rabbit holes and end up communicating via in game messages on Fortnite, private Whatsapp groups or a range of similar covert technology solutions. The conspiracy would be easily-believed by newcomers if that were to occur.

Finally, in all this blame-chucking, I’ve yet to see a single suggestion that there has been a failure of the domestic intelligence services. The killer was apparently prolific on the various Internet forums and platforms, what monitoring is in place to alert the security services of the threat? For fuck’s sake, it was all there in plain sight to anyone with a computer, they didn’t even need the police state internet snooping legislation of recent years to view it.

Don’t be evil (please define evil)

If you are ever in any doubt how bad an idea it is to simply accept the moderation and policing of content by large technology companies, compare and contrast their willingness to “deplatform” those who have the wrong opinions against this; Google and Apple have an app to help prevent Saudi women running away from home.

Nice.

In his recent interview with Joe Rogan, Jack Dorsey struggled to articulate Twitter’s policies on censorship.

On one hand, that’s an embarrassing admission for the CEO that he’s not across what is arguably the most controversial current issue facing his organisation. On the other, perhaps it’s an indication that the policy is more along the lines of, “whatever we decide it is at the time”.

Ultimately, the big technology companies, Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, etc., are private companies, nobody is forced to use their product and their terms of service are whatever they want them to be.

If Google wants to assist the Chinese government in monitoring its citizens, that’s Google’s business decision. Likewise, if Google and Apple are happy to host apps used by Saudi men to monitor their wives and daughters, fair enough. Obviously, we can judge them accordingly.

Bill’s Opinion

Morality is a moving target over time and geography. What was considered acceptable in 1909 or even 1969 is quite different in 2019. Just ask the US politicians who are being berated for costumes and comments being unearthed in their school year books by Offence Archaeologists.

Similarly, social attitudes in Saudi Arabia differ considerably with those elsewhere in the world.

The technology companies have to navigate these border differences. As individuals we also have the added risk over time; who knows today whether an anodyne social media post this year might be regretted if re-published in twenty years’ time? It’s tricky.

The technology companies seem to simultaneously want to pretend that they are simply dumb platforms, like the postal service or telephone carriers, yet kick off those deemed to be holding incorrect opinions. With such questionable views on what constitutes ethical behaviour, these platforms might not be the best places to store one’s data or express opinions that are outside of the norm.

The shoe is on the other foot

When you buy a ticket for the Woke Intersectional Express, sometimes you find the train stops at unscheduled stations.

Nike upsets muslims who claim the design of a new show looks a bit like the Arabic script for Allah.

Muslims urge Nike to recall shoes with logo some say resembles word Allah

Saiqa Noreen, who created the Change.org petition demanding that the footwear and apparel brand remove the Nike Air Max 270 from store shelves, said the symbol on the bottom of the shoe “will surely be trampled, kicked and become soiled with mud or even filth.”

“It is outrageous and appalling of Nike to allow the name of God on a shoe. This is disrespectful and extremely offensive to Muslims and insulting to Islam. Islam teaches compassion, kindness and fairness towards all,” he continued.

Ok, I’m pretty sure I can find some verses of the Koran that contradict that last assertion but please do tell me more about your reasonable demands.

It urges Nike to review the rest of its product line too, and to recall any merchandise with logos that resemble the word Allah.

“We also request stricter scrutiny of products before they enter the market,” the petition read.

Who gets to decide what “resembles” means?

Some of the petition’s signatories included their personal reasons for signing — with most saying they thought the Nike design was “disrespectful” and “offensive” toward their religion, and that they are owed an apology from the sportswear giant.  

How does an apology to the believers help? It’s Allah who’s apparently been slighted, surely?

In fact if you’re a follower of Allah, recall that “Islam” means “submission” or “surrender“. It would seem a bit late in the process to be looking for apologies once you’ve agreed to submission.

Nike did not return CBS MoneyWatch’s request for comment.

Strange…. one would have thought the team who came up with the Colin Kaepernick campaign would be all over this like a cheap suit, surely?

Ibrahim Hooper, director of communications for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, declined to take a position on the issue, saying that the organization is in ongoing discussions with Nike.

“It’s obvious that some people perceive it as a slight. Whether is actually is or not, that still doesn’t get rid of the perception of some people,” Hooper told CBS MoneyWatch.

In other words, “oh fucking hell, how are we ever going to convince everyone we aren’t loons and murderous psychos when idiots get upset about a squiggly line on sports shoes?

He suspects that any offense caused by Nike was inadvertent.

Ya reckon?

As opposed to what, a bunch of marketing execs sitting in a room whiteboarding ways to piss off the jihadis?

Bill’s Opinion

Compare and contrast the media response to the occasional reports of poor Catholic peasants who discover the face of Jesus on burnt toast or half an orange.

Ridicule? Pity at best, as this example illustrates.

One wonders how those brave Buzzfeed journalists battling the forces of evil are reporting this latest “Allah on a shoe” rubbish?

Well, we will keep wondering as there’s nothing on their website when one searches for the story.

Voltaire didn’t say this, an actual neo-Nazi (as opposed to just someone who didn’t vote for Hillary) did, but it’s quite pertinent nonetheless;

To determine the true rulers of any society, all you must do is ask yourself this question: Who is it that I am not permitted to criticize?

Rejoice! Clementine Ford returns in 2019!

For some unfathomable reason because most of her opinions are subject to cognitive dissonance, Clementine Ford has been suffering from depression but made it through the festive season without offing herself and has even managed to knock out another couple of hundred words of insanity and/or mendacity.

Trigger warning; You may want to sit down before reading the next sentence.

Clementine Ford doesn’t like the things Louis CK said in a recent comedy routine.

No, really.

She was fully onboard with all of his previous material, such as;

I don’t have a gun, but if I did, I would shoot a baby deer in the mouth and feel nothing.

And she’s fine with his monologue on the N-word;

Take responsibility. They found a way to say nigger—because when you say ’the N-word’ you put the word nigger in the person’s head. You say ’the N-word’ and I go ’Oh, she means nigger.’ That’s just white people getting away with saying nigger. Don’t hide behind the first letter like a faggot.

She really appreciated his joke about pedophile child murderers;

When you fuck a kid, you’ve gotta toss ’em. The guy could just call you, ‘Hey, I fucked your kid. You want me to drop him at soccer?’

And Clementine laughed aloud at his joke about wanking in the time between the two towers falling on 911;

How long after 9/11 until you started masturbating again?

But the material on a recent leaked audio following his #MeToo moment is really beyond the pale for Clementine, resulting in her swooning onto her chez longue in horror;

Leaked audio from a recent show lasting almost an hour laden with racism, ableism, transphobia and the good old-fashioned outrage of a white man who can’t take responsibility for his actions.

Of course, she’s not actually listened to it otherwise she would have written this sentence far more accurately;

There was the commentary on the Parkland shooting victims, who shouldn’t think they’re interesting just because they got shot.

Nope, he doesn’t say that on the leaked audio.

What he does say is that the children who didn’t get shot didn’t magically become imbued with the wisdom of experts on constitutional policy relating to gun crime. That’s a very different and subtle nuance that we wouldn’t expect Clementine to pretend to hear.

And does anybody really believe this statement by La Ford (highlighting mine);

I’m not offended by the idea that any of these topics could be fodder for comedy. But they have to be done well, by the right people, and without the laugh relying on the kind of lazy punch down that all too many comedians reach for because they’re actually far less skilled at their jobs than they think they are.

Pray tell, who gets to decide who the right people are?

But the most telling sentence in Clementine’s first masterpiece of 2019 is the following;

In a recent speech, the genuinely clever and evolving comedian Hannah Gadsby spoke of “the line in the sand” that separates good men from bad men, but that all men reserve the right to be in control of.

If you you are wondering what an “evolving comedian” might be, I suggest you seek out some of Hannah’s work.

Bill’s Opinion

Louis CK has always been a controversial comedian dancing on the edge of good taste. To expect him to suddenly start doing knock knock jokes is to not understand how he’s made people, a lot of people, laugh for several decades.

Hannah Gadsby, on the other hand, is a totally dull scold who plays the room for nods of approval rather than the visceral belly laugh generated by actual comedy. “Evolving comedian” is Clementine’s code for “not fucking funny in the slightest”.

As for Gadsby’s speech on men sexually harassing women, we’ll let you draw your own conclusion on the likelihood of it ever happening to her.

La Ford’s faux outrage at the comedy routine reminds us of this excellent summary;

But perhaps the final word should go to the left wing comedian, Jonathan Pie, who increasingly seems to be travelling the road of enlightenment previously taken by Dave Rubin;

That would be what we pay you for then, n’est pas?

The unfortunately named Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick, has suggested that Britain would be less safe after a “no deal” Brexit because, well, there would be some more paperwork to complete to extradite suspects from overseas.

To be fair, that’s not quite what she said but it wasn’t far off;

Ms Dick told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the UK’s policing co-operation with the EU was based on a framework of “legal instruments” which would have to be replaced after its exit.

While she hoped the two sides would end up with “something very similar”, she accepted that if the UK left without a deal, this would be “very difficult to do short term”.

Newsflash for Ms. Dick; the referendum was in 2016, you’ve had 2 years to plan for a “no deal”. You are surely not suggesting that this planning has only just commenced, or worse, hasn’t yet started, are you?

Also, please could you explain how a delay to an extradition makes the British public less safe? Thinking this through, an extradition request generally requires a crime to have been committed already so, in the case of a violent crime, the victim is already lying in a hospital bed or worse. It matters less that the perpetrator is languishing a little longer on the Costa Del Sol before facing a trial.

Bill’s Opinion

Either mature plans are already underway for the “no deal” option and Ms. Dick is deliberately scaremongering for political purposes, or plans are not in place and she and her colleagues are guilty of extreme professional negligence.

In the meantime, perhaps she could divert resources from investigating hurty tweets and towards the current knife crime crisis.

Oh Canada

For decades, Canadians were the butt of many cruel jokes about how pathetic and effeminate their nation was, with a vague notion that they were the indolent, slightly retarded younger sibling of the successful USA, smoking weed in their underwear and playing video games whilst the older brother was pulling double shifts at work.

In 2015, Canadians thought long and hard about how to deal with this unfair criticism and came to the collective conclusion that the best plan of attack would be to elect a former ski instructor, gap year backpacker and professional trustafarian, Justin Trudeau, as their leader.

As a consequence, they’ve deservedly got legislation such as this gem;

Canadian government nationalises journalism.

Actually, that should probably read “Canadian government further nationalises journalism” as they already annually spunk half a billion Canadian dollars (about $75.43 US and a couple of Tim Horton donuts) on the CBC. One supposes an addition $120m a year isn’t going to be that noticeable, therefore.

Anyone with the mildest knowledge of history and just the slightest tendency toward cynicism will find the language used to announce this “innovation” (yes, that’s how one likely recipient of taxpayer largesse described it) has creepy echoes from a previous time;

An independent panel comprised of members of the news and journalism industry will flesh out the application of the moves announced in Wednesday’s fall economic statement. In particular, the group will decide which journalism jobs and which news organizations are eligible for the new funding.

Independently deciding who amongst them will receive free money? Yes, that sounds fine, I’m sure.

Oh, and it’s not an across the board subsidy then? Not every news outlet and journalist will benefit?

The government said the package will aim to help “trusted” news organizations, but will leave it to the media industry to define the application of the new initiatives.

Trust is a difficult thing to define, isn’t it? It’s almost easier to define the conditions where one doesn’t have it. After all, as the man said, “there’s only two men I trust in this world; I’m one and you ain’t the other one“.

Bill’s Opinion

As with so many issues facing us on a daily basis, it is a dangerous mistake to assume a single cause. The legislation has an underlying assumption that there is only one major cause to the economic decline of the traditional media sector; that digital media has broken the business model.

That may well be a major contributing factor but what hasn’t been considered is that there may be another cause of similar importance. Amusingly, there’s a clue in the press release; Canadians are no longer prepared to pay for traditional media because the speed of delivery and far wider choice of digital sources has opened their eyes to quite how biased and limited the traditional media has been. They’ve lost trust, in other words.

So now they have the worst of both worlds; Canadians are going to pay for journalism they don’t want to read……forever.

Forever?

Yes; ask yourself, under what circumstances will a Canadian government ever be able to announce a closing of this funding source once it has been embedded for a couple of years?

The independent media will wail and moan from the highest steeples and undermine any political party that so much as hints that the time has come to stop subsidising journalism that nobody reads.