Saturday, September 12, 2015

David Leyonhjelm and Michael Moore debate nanny statism on Lateline

I've long been interested in the idea of freedom of speech. Without it, we don't really have true democracy, after all. But the whole concept is open to interpretation -- as well as being highly emotive -- so double standards often apply.

In past decades it was the conservative side of politics that was most censorious. Significant battles like the Oz obscenity trial come to mind. But these days it's clearly the Left who really want to control what we can say. Deceitful and sinister, political correctness is a truly poisonous form of censorship.

This idea that the government knows what's good for you better than you do yourself comes through in other ways such as bike helmet laws and plain packaging of cigarettes.

There was an interesting debate about the idea of this creeping "nanny state" last night on Lateline. In it, Senator David Leyonhjelm debated Michael Moore, CEO of The Public Health Association of Australia.

Leyonhjelm is clearly an intelligent and rational person. I can see why his prescriptions would infuriate many on the Left. They are primarily motivated by emotions, in particular an inflated sense of their own virtue. One of the ways they feed this is by "caring" for others. But that "caring" often morphs into control. Look at any communist state and you'll see just how far that can go!

Leyonhjelm's more detached view can be seen throughout the interchange, but particularly in this segment about health damage caused by smoking:

EMMA ALBERICI: Let's talk about a nanny state issue then, smoking, is that a nanny state issue? 


EMMA ALBERICI: But doesn't smoking have the ability to cause ill health to other people around you? 

DAVID LEYONHJELM: Yes. Secondary smoking, and I'm not denying that and nor does anybody on my side of the argument deny that. What we do argue is that it's a personal choice when you're not affecting somebody else and yet we have nanny state measures such as plain packaging, such as very, very high taxes that are intended to stop people from smoking, irrespective of whether they are harming somebody else. 

EMMA ALBERICI: But won't they harm the economy overall if they end up becoming sick and in fact, very sick because we know that smoking causes a lot of harm and kills

DAVID LEYONHJELM: It does. It makes people die earlier. And that actually saves the economy money.

Lefties watching that bit would have thought he was the devil incarnate! But he was just being rational. If you're going to talk about cost then you must look at things dispassionately, like an accountant. Can't have it both ways.

Speaking of detachment, and lack thereof: Michael Moore was brusque and borderline rude to his opponent. He was also dismissive of the whole idea of the nanny state, as if it was some sort of wacky conspiracy theory.

This is a favourite tactic of the Left. Keep saying that grounds for criticism just don't exist, that the arguments are so ridiculous as to be laughable. It's a way of implying that opposition is mad, bad or both and can be extremely effective if done in a concerted way.

He ended on a patronising note:

EMMA ALBERICI: Michael? A final view from you.

MICHAEL MOORE: Absolute nonsense of course. I think David is quite confused. One minute he says yes we should have it on this, we shouldn't have it on that. The reality is and I suppose this is almost where we agree, is that there is a balance between personal responsibility and good government stewardship as outlined by the Ethics Committee. So it's that good stewardship that we want inform ensure that we have an appropriate level of freedom as individuals as we should have and an appropriate level of government stewardship.

"Appropriate." Sounds reasonable. But just as one man's meat is another man's murder, appropriate for some is suffocating for another. Something tells me he'd support a much greater level of "government stewardship" than I'd be comfortable with, which is why I'm glad there are people like Leyonhjelm in positions of power to question it.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Laurie Penny and Tariq Ali on Q and A

For last night's Q and A I suspect that the team of sneering hipsters who monitor the tweets had been told to lay off the bongs so they didn't let any obscene handles through. And yes, there were no disasters there. So, well done kids!

Basically, they got it back to business as usual: A constant flow of PC cant and infantile abuse from quarter-witted pinkos without the spine to use their own names.

The guests, and their views, repeated the show's notoriously dreary right-on bias. The panel included three of the Left's most well known slebs. Renowned on the festival circuit as big thinkers, all they offered on the night was a barrage of bolshie bollocks. Most of it was funny. But some was kinda sinister. Can't cover it all but here's a bit of a roundup:

The show began with a discussion of the Ashley Madison hack and its social ramifications. Feisty feminist pixie-person Laurie Penny was the first to offer her wisdom:

BRIDGET DOMINIC: Hi. In a recent case in the US involving Tinder, a judge handed down what many considered to be an extreme punishment calling the use of the app totally inappropriate behaviour for which there is “no excuse whatsoever. Vanity Fair also published a scolding article criticising the hook up culture of the app. The moral outrage seems to mirror that which surrounds the Ashley Madison hack. Do you think technology breeds cheating and casual sex or merely facilitates inevitable human behaviours? 

TONY JONES: Laurie Penny, this question was made for you, I think.

LAURIE PENNY: Well, when people ask about hook up culture and is it good or bad, I think what people mean by hook up culture is casual sex and generally I'm for that. It’s not a political position per se but the idea being promulgated is that sex itself is bad for women and I think, as a feminist writer, this is kind of what I'm expected to say but actually it’s not sex that's bad for women. Sexism is bad for women. What is disturbing about the Ashley Madison hack is that we are using very new technology to, sort of, promulgate Victorian moral values which are around shame, around punishing people for private behaviour which is not abusive. I mean, cheating on your partner, lying to your partner, makes you a dick. It doesn't make you an abuser and let's be very clear on the distinction here. What I'm learning from this is that, really, monogamy isn't working for a great many people and people are using technology to get around that and I don't have a problem with that really.

She clearly has a very cynical attitude to relationships if she thinks that cheating does nothing more than make you "a dick". But while it couldn't be called abuse in a legal sense it's still very destructive. Infidelity breaks hearts, ruins relationships and makes it very difficult for those who've been so betrayed to trust again. If she thinks that such major deception of someone you're in a deep and intimate relationship with is no biggie, what does she think of using falsehoods in other contexts?

Penny's swipe at Victorian morality was echoed by Tariq Ali and Naomi Klein to some degree. They seemed to think that monogamy was too big an ask.

But this is one of the key tenets of marriage, as we all know. Given that, it seems odd they'd they be supportive of "marriage equality" (which I'm sure they all are). Do they think it's liberating for homosexuals to endure the same sexual, emotional and spiritual incarceration the straight Ashley Madison members found so unbearable?

Snowcone Tony Jones was clearly impressed by Penny's erudite elfin insights because he asked her: "Did you think the hack was some sort of backlash from moral conservatives?" 

You can understand why he'd think that. But it did seem a bit of an odd link to make even for him, given that the Left love to see themselves as sleek geeks and conservatives as mouldy ol' Luddites. Maybe Snowcone thought the hacker was from Tony Abbott's PR office?

Never know. Coulda been. Anything's possible, I s'pose ... Well, one thing's for sure. It wasn't Dyson Heydon.

In her answer, the sassy social media sprite was closer to the mark:

LAURIE PENNY: I think the hack was chancers trying get hold of people’s private information and that is the thing we should be worried about when it comes to services like this and instead of being outraged that people's private data is being stolen by criminals and that all of our data is increasingly insecure and could be used for all kinds of nefarious purposes, including by States, we are jumping on this band wagon, shaming people saying gleefully rubbing our hands trying to figure out who has been cheating on who. You know, three people have committed suicide after being exposed by the Ashley Madison hack and I'm sure, sadly, that there may be more and this is a serious matter and instead of, you know, asking ourselves, you know, are we sliding into some kind of moral decline because of technology, I think the real moral decline is that we are still prepared to shame each other in this way.

Hmmm. If suicides have resulted from a dating site being hacked, then you can only wonder at the collateral damage caused by Wikileaks. Wonder what her views on this issue are?

Penny supplied more clangers as the night went on, including a completely irrelevant, utterly cringeworthy nod to land rights. Her insincerity was obvious from the self-conscious manner in which she acknowledged the area's "traditional owners" and struggled to pronounce their tribal name correctly.

But she did make the effort. So Jones approved, natch.

When the discussion turned to Border Force, Veteran Tariq Ali beclowned himself with his predictable regurgitation of the local loony Left take on the exercize.

Interestingly he was much more ambivalent about bona fide tyranny. He even waxed lyrical about Iraq under Saddam Hussein:

TONY JONES: Tariq, would Iraq be better off with an authoritarian regime is the question the questioner asked? 

TARIQ ALI: Compared to now, without any doubt. I have no doubt about that at all, and ...

TONY JONES: So what about Syria under Assad? 

TARIQ ALI: Saddam was at his worst when he was an ally of the West. That's when the Kurds were attacked with poison gas, during the Iran Iraq War when the West was backing him. But of late, despite the sanctions and all that, he kept that country together and people have no idea now, because we live in a world where amnesia is more or less encouraged, but that effectively the social gains made in Iraq during Saddam's period, and others before him: education, health, women's rights, that in the 1980s, Baghdad University had more women teaching at every level than there are women teaching at Princeton today. These are the figures. So, there were lots of social gains made and these gains have all been lost by this crazy war. There is no rational logic for that war, except the maintenance of American power and probably Israeli pressure put on the United States to destroy larger countries who have independent armies. There was no other real reason for that war and we are now paying the price.

Gawd, he sounded like that Sean Penn puppet from Team America. (He'd been to Iraq, you know!)

The unshockable Ali went on to say ISIS should be left alone, too. Maybe he thinks that like Saddam they'll eventually be able to hold Iraq together? Given their propensity for separating individuals' heads from their bodies, I find it hard to get enthusiastic about their plans for uniting the nation.

There was another telling little interchange that showed where Ali's sympathies were. That was right at the end, when talk turned to the Virginia shooting after a questioner asked if extremely violent images should be shown on mainstream media:

TONY JONES: So there’s a case for actually suppressing press freedom in this instance, is there? 

MIROSLAV VOLF: I don't think suppressing press freedom, I don't think that’s going to happen, but there is a moral case for appealing to people not to show.

TARIQ ALI: I agree with that actually and I found it very repulsive, for instance, when Saddam Hussein was being hanged, all that footage was shown on the screens, when Gaddafi was being butchered, without any trial or any attempt even to have a serious trial.

He said more but I found that first bit most intriguing. The question related specifically to the horrific slaying of two completely innocent people. Yet the first thing that came to Ali's mind was the rough justice meted out to those two mass-murdering arseholes. Revealing, eh?