Saturday, June 28, 2014

Thursday, June 26, 2014

hizbull part 1

Yesterday I got into an internet conversation about the “Festival of Dangerous Ideas” at the Sydney Opera House, and the decision to invite Hizb ut-Tahrir to give a talk justifying crimes of honour.

The Daily Telegraph gives an example of what crime of honour means:
…the murder of a woman by relatives who feel she has dishonoured the family by, say, being raped...

“Have you read what Wikipedia has to say about Hizb ut-Tahrir?” asked TO’s cousin. I dutifully read it, then threw up. 
For the sake of readability [not to mention spellability] I’m going to call this “branch of Islam” “hizbull”.

While the content of the Daily Telegraph article matters, the first thing I noticed was that Miranda Devine [the female Andrew Bolt] was the author... Sure enough, the first comments on the article reflected Miranda’s two favourite mantras:

1. why are the feminists silent?; and
2. why don't moderate muslims speak out ?

Maybe a clue to the feminist angle can be found in the headline "Trendy lefties giving a voice to barbaric crime". Is the expression “trendy lefty” meant to be a tautology? Subtext: ALL feminists and/or leftists are so stupid they support a mysoginistic ideology rather than be oppressive of others. 

As for moderate Muslims speaking out, to do so they would have to have a voice. Do media moguls make money out of asking for – or even passing on – what moderate Muslims think? 
Even journalists who care about representing the moderate Muslim viewpoint all seem to have Waleed Aly’s name and number at the top of their contacts list, and no others underneath it. Bolt says Aly was once a spokesman for the Islamic Council of Victoria, but the last time I went searching for other contacts I didn't have a lot of success. [Maybe I should be paranoid and wonder why they don't want me to find them?]

I have a lot of respect for Waleed Aly. Unfortunately, like every other human on the planet today, there is nothing he can say that can’t be turned against him. Quite simply, we live in a world of snippets and rarely get to hear what someone has said in its original context. Here, for example, is a Boltism:

Aly protects the media class from having to confront the difficult: is Islam a threat?

I wonder if Waleed ever gets sick of it. The quality of the following clip is not the greatest, but it speaks volumes in just 41 seconds:

Decent Muslims struggle to distance themselves from so-called “Islamic” terrorists just because the name of their faith has been co-opted, so I’m going to re-brand hizbull and the like: Forget fatwas, from now on I’m going to call these pseudo-Islamic terrorists pwefbas – piss weak excuse for being assholes.


Freedom of speech is one of those issues that leave me conflicted. It’s a right and a good, but something that lends itself to abuse. Yes, there are laws about libel and slander and inciting hatred, but nothing can stop people from saying naughty things in a whisper. In any case, technologically speaking the horse has bolted. We can’t silence these pwefbas completely, but I’m not sure we should be actively promoting or supporting hate-mongering sessions. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

the fkn franchise

Say hello to Geoff Shaw, the local Frankston Member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly. Geoff has a government car and taxpayer petrol allowance, which is handy because he sells hardware and sometimes needs to move stuff from one place to another.

Geoff was an endorsed Liberal candidate when first elected, but has since decided to go it alone. The Liberal Party said yeah but, like, vote for our bills, won’t you, there’s a good chap.
Geoff is still my local member, but he’s sort of not. I could feel disenfranchised having an elected member not allowed into parliament, but no more disenfranchised than usual.

Geoff does not approve of abortion. He made a comment about “tummy eggs” and got everybody talking about abortion. In fact, he got the whole world talking about abortion. Geoff just sees this as proof he is a good rep who constantly raises the profile of Frankston.

Dear Geoff Shaw, if you really do know a lady with eggs in her tummy, that's not a baby. That's worms. #tummyeggs

Say hello to Victoria’s Liberal Premier, Dennis Napthine, aka napthaline aka naptime. 

Dennis is a vet by trade, but doesn’t want to pass Oscar’s Law because he thinks most puppy farms are well run.
He was very disappointed with Geoff Shaw’s performance, defection etc. In turn, I am very disappointed in Dennis because, in addition to his stand on puppy farms, he wants to build a bloody big hole under Royal Park rather than deal with transport issues.
I’m very attached to Royal Park, but perhaps that’s a story for another day.

Say Hello to Daniel Andrews, leader of the Labor opposition in Victoria. 

He was hoping he could trick the Liberal Party into calling an early election as a means of getting rid of Shaw altogether. Andrews doesn’t seem to understand that Naptime can’t be as stupid as he seems: No one could be that stupid… could they?
Say hello to Helen Constas, the Labor Party’s answer to Geoff Shaw. Daniel Andrews reckoned Helen should be a shoo in at the next election.

Helen had a faceache page, on which she made a vague statement about education, and on which I made a comment about her statement. About ten minutes after my comment was published it was deleted and comments for the faceache page were disabled altogether. This made me feel powerful, as it might mean someone actually read my comment.

Daniel Andrews is very lucky Premier Naptime was not stupid enough to call an early election, because Helen Constas has resigned as Labor candidate /shoo in for Frankston.

Constas was forced to settle a $500,000 bullying claim against her out of court. I’m sure the settlee signed a confidentiality agreement, which is usually a sure sign that the settler – who in this case would have the resources to price the settlee out of his/her legal rights – was really and truly scared the truth might out.

So, here is democracy at work:

1. the Labor Party does not want my input [unless I join up and pay for the privilege of being trampled by branch stackers]

2. I could vote according to the general philosophy of a party [as suggested by Peter Costello]. Victorian Liberal philosophy, apparently, includes not giving a damn about puppy farms or public transport.

3. I am currently unrepresented in State Parliament. Does this make an ounce of difference?

4. I don’t know of any candidates for the next state election other than Geoff Omelet. Hee Haw.

5. The federal government [courtesy the Curtin government’s monopoly on income tax and s 96 of the constitution] now tells states what to do – state’s blame feds and feds blame states and nobody takes responsibility for anything. We should abolish states and use the money saved to actually achieve something worthwhile.

An opinion published on the ABC website discusses the issue of political dissenters.
We might enjoy the odd politician crossing the floor, but the deep-seated need for stability leads voters ultimately to relegate political dissenters to nothing more than a romantic diversion, writes Paula Matthewson.

i.e. Hmm, it’s nice when people stand up for a principle we admire, but what if they stand up for something we don’t admire?

Geoff Shaw a romantic diversion? Or, from my side of the fence, Helen Constas?

I think Paula Matthewson gives our system of democracy more credit than it deserves.

Let’s say I don’t approve of breeding chickens in cages: I can withhold my money and let store keepers know that I want free range eggs/ poultry. If I don’t approve of my political options, all I can do is withhold my vote. 
The only real “spending” power I have in democratic terms is if someone from a motoring enthusiast party or a wizard offers alternative products. Gosh, as it is parties who are endorsed by a majority of voters don’t give a shit about what product[s] we want. Label it anything, then give us crap. Oh, but so long as it's stable... well, better than a poke in the eye with a polling booth pencil, I guess.

Of course, if I really believed we get the democracy we deserve, I could apply TO THE GOVERNMENT for a permit to express my view in a public space. Then if I was really, really lucky, I would find people who agree with me, vote for me, help without hijacking my party: I could rise to the ultimate position of power and end up flying around the world - only to lose it all for chucking a wobbly if someone tried to feed me a sardine sandwich on the flight home. I would heave my guts up but be mortified and apologetic afterwards - but my credibility as a person of honour and principle would be destroyed.

Eggs would be better than sardines – preferably free range rather than tummy eggs.  

Monday, June 2, 2014

one of our favourite expats

Clive James, now 74, may have emphysema, leukaemia, and not long to live, but it seems his irrepressible cheekiness is … well… still irrepressible.

Despite his illness, he spoke at the Australian and New Zealand Festival of Literature and Arts in London on Saturday. His aim, he said, was to impress Tony Abbott's daughters. 

James himself would probably appreciate The Australian’s report  – a report that tells us he appeared “wearing black trousers, a black skivvy and a brown jacket…an ensemble in pre-war Hitler colours”, The Australian accompanying their report with a photo of him clearly wearing a tie.

His TV show brought us things like this snippet from 1987, long before the internet could share them with the entire world in a matter of hours. 

One thing people will still be denied when they see things like a picture of Knackers Crackers is his unique commentary… no one is a better exponent of the art of alliteration, a better purveyor of puns, or has a better sense of the absurd.
Clive James on Television was reality TV at its best.

James is a multilingual lover of all things Japanese; amongst other things, he says, the Japanese are great lovers of puns. 
No episode of Clive James on Television was complete without snippets of the Japanese TV show Endurance.

Here, contestants found themselves in a hot hunk of desert near the Nile, leaning against sheets of metal that had been baking in the sun…

… encouraged to stay upright by the careful placement of cacti.

The idiotic challenges issued during Endurance were unbelievably over-the-top, sometimes to the point of cruelty that could have made one cringe – but didn’t because contestants were free to give up. Perhaps it was contestants’ willingness to “stick at it” just made the silliness funnier.

James is a prodigious author, and although his droll wit permeates his writings  I must confess I never managed to finish Unreliable Memoirs, nor did I ever bother to try any other books he has written. Perhaps it was because his mobile eyebrows and bemused smile were missing from the word picture.

Just as well Clive prefers Tony Abbott’s daughters to Tony himself, because I’m sure the humour would be wasted on our Minister for women’s affairs.