June 25, 2015 | Graham

Q&A mistake a category killer

By putting Zaky Mallah to air the ABC made a category mistake. They categorised an existential threat to Australia as being just an ideological disagreement.

They are not the only ones making category mistakes about terrorism and terrorist organisations, and until we sort them out our response to Islamic State, and it’s certain successors, will be ineffective.

IS is not, as the Prime Minister claims, a “death cult”. It is a quasi-state actor using an historically successful method, to build a real state, if not an empire, in Asia Minor.

For millenia bands of unprincipled men have become kings and emperors and their nobles, by brutalising their neighbours. In the first degree they do it by seizing land, raping women, and killing all the men. In the second degree they use terror and standover tactics to extort obedience and taxes without the need for genocide and direct theft.

Our upper house is named the Senate, after the upper house of the Roman legislature. When it comes to barbarism and theft IS cannot hold a candle to the Romans, yet it is from the Romans that we take much of our civilisation.

Rome shows how successful the method can be.

IS needs to be treated as the equivalent of a state, and its adherents as allies or members of a foreign power.

That moves Mallah from the status of dissident or criminal to enemy combatant at best, and traitor at worst. In this case his right to free speech is, and should be, severely curtailed.

While it is generally reasonable to represent all sides in a domestic political debate, that does not apply when the spokesman stands for a foreign power.

If it were WWII would the ABC consider it reasonable to do live crosses to the Japanese High Command to correct the record, or get the other side of the story?

In today’s confused world they just might.

It’s not that long ago that Paul McGeough from the SMH allowed himself to be used by Saddam Hussein, broadcasting live from Iraq during Operation Shock and Awe.

I was always surprised that his career survived his infamous broadcast when he claimed from Baghdad Airport that the US was lying because they weren’t at the airport.

So we’ve been making these category mistakes for a while and it’s about time they stopped. Certainly heads should roll at the ABC in a display, less brutal than IS, that this is war, and you really do have to decide which side you are on.

Posted by Graham at 8:42 am | Comments (35) |

June 17, 2015 | Graham

Climate ‘skeptic’ out but eugenicist in at UWA

I’m not sure how this works, but the University of Western Australia decided it couldn’t accept federal government money to host Bjorn Lomborg’s Australian Consensus Centre, but it is happy to host a lecture by Peter Singer, a man who advocates infanticide, eugenics and bestiality.

Lomborg’s sin was apparently to question not the official IPCC position on global warming, but whether trying to mitigate global warming was the most pressing issue that the world faces.

This is not only a reasonable position, but the position that almost everyone in the world has taken as we collectively refuse to do anything substantial to halt the use of fossil fuels.

Indeed, fossil fuel use is expected to continue to rise.

Singer is an extreme utilitarian whose views on eliminating weak members of the species have things in common with Adolph Hitler. They are not views that are generally accepted.

I’m not suggesting that Singer shouldn’t be able to give a lecture, abhorrent as I find his views to be. Nor that majorities are the way to determine what may or may not be discussed.

What I am suggesting is that the university has surrendered itself to the fascist tendency of a tiny minority by rejecting Lomborg, and that it is not surprising that that tiny minority, given their tendencies, are untroubled by Singer, and therefore the university is perfectly happy to host him.

Lomborg is motivated by trying to save people’s lives. Singer is happy to destroy them.

One is a civiliser and the other a savage, but it appears that the modern university is on the side of the savage.

I am also troubled that a university would be prepared to devote more resources to a man whose views are anathema to most of us, than to one who is in the mainstream.

Universities are places where the strange and the weird can be investigated and discussed. But universities lose their utility when the strange and the weird is the focus of the investigation and where the mainstream itself is treated as strange and weird.

At that point they have completely lost their way.

Posted by Graham at 7:14 pm | Comments (6) |