Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Australia: Social media on trial over racism
Socialism has been at least as deadly as racism (See Stalin, Mao etc.). Why not ban socialism too? Both are just belief systems. There are no grounds for banning one and not the other
AUSTRALIA'S Race Discrimination Commissioner wants an urgent national summit to address the harm being caused by hateful and racist comments on internet blogs and social media sites.
"I'm quite upset by what has been happening in the past three weeks," Commissioner Dr Helen Szoke said yesterday after complaints prompted Facebook on Friday to restrict Australian access to a new page called 'Are Abos Scum?'
A Facebook spokeswoman said while it did not share the distasteful views, and the page did not violate the company's terms, local access had been restricted "out of respect for local laws".
Ms Szoke said she also was disturbed by "really horrific" online anti-Jewish pages.
She said the problem of hateful online meme pages seemed to be getting out of hand and she would take "a more direct approach" to the problem next week.
"This has now reached a point where we really have to look seriously at what the full options of management of this issue might be and I think it's a multiple approach," she said.
Last night Peter Wertheim, executive director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, said Facebook and YouTube could not disclaim all responsibility for the way their platforms were used.
He said there needed to be a multi-faceted effort by governments, the media and internet service providers to deal with racist material on the internet.
Multiculturalism still has a long road to travel to reach all in Australia
There was much intimidation and considerable violence to and from the Muslim demonstration outside the United States consulate in Sydney on Saturday. The banners included such messages as "Behead Those Who Insult Islam!!!" and "Obama, Obama, We Love Osama!!!". But what was of particular interest was the destination.
Perhaps it is understandable angry Muslims in the Middle East or Africa would demonstrate outside American diplomatic missions against the apparent circulation of a YouTube video mocking the Prophet Muhammad by a person based in the US. There is no such excuse for Australian Muslims.
Citizens and residents of Australia know we live in a democratic society in which the government does not, and mostly cannot, engage in acts of political and religious censorship. That's why Americans have not been able to get the cheap film deleted from the web. And that's why footage of beheadings of non-believers by Islamist extremists remain on the web.
Some Muslim leaders in Australia have condemned Saturday's violent demonstration in which several members of the NSW Police were injured. Others have not. Whatever the response of Muslims, the incident provides yet more evidence that multiculturalism - after a promising start - has failed. If some Australian Muslims do not understand how democracy works, it's time for a rethink.
Some contributors to the debate ran the familiar left-liberal line that, when a small minority get violent, it is not entirely their own fault. Yesterday the Monash University academic Waleed Aly criticised the demonstrators but then went on to refer to the plight of a "humiliated people" who are angry about "the West's disrespect for Islam".
Last year, Aly made a similar point about al-Qaeda's attacks on the US on September 11, 2001. Writing in The Sun-Herald on the 10th anniversary, Aly commented that "it is worth considering how we got sucked into contributing to the process".
Get it? Somehow or other, the West contributed to al-Qaeda's attacks on the US in which Christians, Jews, Hindus and Muslims died. Even though this occurred before the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Interviewed about Saturday's demonstration on ABC Radio 702 yesterday, Aly criticised only one person by name: Tony Abbott. No surprise there - since Aly is on record as claiming the Opposition Leader "embraces a reactionary form of monoculturalism". If Aly were just another leftist academic, this would not matter much. It's just that he presents the influential ABC RN Drive program.
Paolo Totaro, the foundation chairman of the NSW Ethnic Affairs Commission, weighed in with a not dissimilar rationalisation. According to Totaro, "if we have children in the streets calling for beheadings, the fault is not of multiculturalism, but of those - all of us - who have not taught, in enough depth, the democratic values of multiculturalism". In other words, don't blame the advocates of arbitrary beheadings. Blame us all, instead.
Mohammed El-leissy, the Melbourne-based Muslim community worker, had a somewhat different take. He told the ABC Breakfast program yesterday: "When I looked at the footage coming out of Sydney, I didn't really see young Muslims. I saw a lot of angry men from Lakemba … I don't believe in the argument that multiculturalism has failed; I certainly believe that Lakemba has failed". He called for more services.
Most Muslims have settled well in Australia. The notable exception involves some of the Muslim Lebanese who were given special privileges by Malcolm Fraser to settle in Australia around 1976 under what was called the "Lebanon Concession", and their descendants. Much of this group is based in Lakemba. As El-leissy has pointed out, "quite a lot of them have very low employment and a huge lack of education". Some other Muslims identify with this group's alienation.
Where El-leissy's analysis falls down is his solutions. All Muslims in Australia came here voluntarily and/or were born here. All have experienced the generous education, health and welfare benefits available to Australians. The rest of the country are not responsible for any alienation that they feel. Such anger will not be dissipated by the provision of more taxpayer-funded services.
It doesn't matter if the disaffected in a democracy are Catholic-born members of the Irish Republican Army or Muslim-born supporters of bin Laden. If a radicalised group in a Western society does not accept democracy and engages in terrorism or violence, there is only one response. It's over to the police to enforce the law with the assistance, where necessary, of the intelligence services. Then it's up to the judicial system.
Australia is a viable democracy in which virtually all groups have prospered, including the vast majority of Muslims. If last Saturday's demonstrators don't appreciate this, tough. It is not our fault.
Disagree with British Liberal leader? You’re a bigot!
Nick Clegg’s dismissal of gay-marriage opponents as ‘bigots’ reveals much about how the political class operates
It was quickly retracted, but nowhere near quick enough. UK deputy prime minister Nick Clegg’s press release marking the end of the consultation on gay marriage made it very clear what he thought of opponents of gay marriage: they are bigots.
Following an uproar on Twitter and in the media, a spokesperson for Clegg rapidly recalled the press release, claiming it was an uncorrected draft. That might be what Clegg thinks of critics of gay marriage, the spokesperson seemed to imply, but he is shrewd enough to know that is not something he should say in public. A new, sanitised version of the press release was promptly sent out with ‘bigots’ replaced by ‘some people’. (Given the right intonation, of course, ‘some people’ could easily convey the same meaning to those who, like Clegg, think gay-marriage opponents are just prejudiced idiots.)
It seems that behind closed doors, ‘bigot’ is a commonly used term among the political class. Clegg’s slip immediately brought to mind former prime minister Gordon Brown’s ‘Bigotgate’ moment in the run-up to the 2010 General Election. Furious at having had to talk to 65-year-old Rochdale resident Gillian Duffy about immigration levels while on the campaign trail, Brown was overheard by Sky News calling her a ‘bigoted woman’ to an aide afterwards.
Unlike Brown, however, Clegg was using the term defensively. He was trying to fend off criticism from those who think that there are more important things for the government to be focusing on than trying to push through gay marriage. ‘Continued trouble in the economy gives the bigots a stick to beat us with’, he was quoted as saying. ‘[These bigots] demand we “postpone” the equalities agenda in order to deal with “the things people really care about”.’
This image of poor embattled liberal politicians under attack from stick-wielding bigots is bizarrely divorced from reality. The opposite is the case. In the UK and further afield, gay marriage has become a cause célèbre for the political and media classes, a means for politicians and commentators to demonstrate their right-on credentials. And if you’re not on the gay-marriage bandwagon, you’re a bigot, one of those people who typifies everything that is wrong with Britain today. There’s no middle ground in this Culture War. It seems you can’t even suggest that the government should have other priorities during a double-dip recession. You’re either with Us, or you’re one of Them.
While Clegg himself may have sought to distance himself from the B-word, there were many willing to pick it up and use it on his behalf. Some even chastised him for lacking the bottle to use it more openly. ‘OED defines bigot as “obstinate and intolerant adherent of a creed or view”. [Clegg was] perfectly right’, tweeted an editor at the Financial Times. A writer for the Guardian and New Statesman tweeted, ‘Nick Clegg’s response to this should be: “Yes, I did - because they are.”’ At the Independent, Simon Kelner used his column to implore Clegg to ‘tell it like it is… there are bigots everywhere’. According to Kelner, ‘There are bigots who stalk the land: some of them are in the church, some of them are in politics, and some are, yes, in the media.’
On immigration, on gay marriage, indeed, on any issue where the public may not share the views of the political class, the solution, it seems, is not to engage in a debate - rather, it is to try to shut debate down by branding one side as ‘bigoted’ and thus beyond reason. Labelling those who disagree with you as ‘bigots’ is about marking ‘some people’ out as unworthy of debate and argument. Such people can’t be enlightened; they need to be publicly named and shamed into adopting the right position or browbeaten into shutting up.
As we have highlighted on spiked previously, there are actually some sensible reasons to criticise the government’s plans to implement gay marriage: it is a top-down initiative bereft of anything like a groundswell of public support; it will allow the state ever-more powers to meddle in our private lives; and the centuries-old institution of marriage, which has great meaning for many millions of people, is being hollowed out to suit the whims of the elite. Even the terms ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ face being casually airbrushed out of some official documents.
Even those who may favour gay marriage should be concerned by Clegg’s ‘bigot’ comment. For it exposes the censuring tactics of the gay-marriage lobby. That is, in the name of equality and tolerance, proponents of gay marriage are branding those who disagree with them as people whose views must not be tolerated. That this tactic of labelling and silencing comes at the end of the government’s so-called consultation on gay marriage reveals the whole exercise to be a fait accompli. This was never a consultation; it was a crusade. As the political elites continue to try to find purpose through their battle against the bigoted hordes who disagree with them, we should ask ourselves: who are the real bigots here?
Britain: Christian B&B owner 'had a human right to turn away gay couple' who wanted to share a double room
A Christian bed-and-breakfast owner who turned away a gay couple acted within her human rights, her lawyer said yesterday.
Michael Black, 64, and John Morgan, 59, are seeking damages of £1,800 each for sexual orientation discrimination after Susanne Wilkinson refused to give them a double room.
The couple, who have been together for eight years, said they were ‘shocked’ when they were not allowed to stay the night at the Swiss B&B in Cookham, Berkshire, in March 2010.
A court heard that the men booked a room online but when they arrived Mrs Wilkinson told them it was against her religious beliefs for them to share a bed, adding: ‘This is my private home.’
Mr Black and Mr Morgan said they were refunded their £30 deposit and asked to leave. Their case echoes that of Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy, who won £3,600 damages from the owners of a Cornish guesthouse after the owners refused to give them a double room in 2008.
James Dingemans QC, defending, said it was against Mrs Wilkinson’s religious beliefs for two unmarried people to share a bed under her roof, adding: ‘This is protected by the Equality Act 2010 and the Human Rights Act 1998.’
He said a person offering bed and breakfast in their home was entitled to refuse to permit guests who were not married or in a civil partnership, regardless of their sex, to share a double bed.
Denying there was a case for direct or indirect discrimination, he claimed she would have been happy to provide the couple – who are not in a civil partnership – with single beds, but none were available.
He explained: ‘It was not the sexual orientation that she objected to but the sexual behaviour.’
Giving evidence, Mrs Wilkinson, 56, told Reading County Court: ‘At my daughter’s wedding I had my own niece and her boyfriend visit from Switzerland, and they very much wanted to spend the night together in a room but I did not let them.’
Mr Morgan, an IT consultant, said: ‘She said that for two men to share a bed was against her convictions. She was polite but firm that we couldn’t stay.’ Mr Black, a writer, added: ‘She wasn’t rude, I’m not claiming that. We were just very concerned that we weren’t allowed to stay.’
Mrs Wilkinson, who lives in the seven-bedroom property with her husband Francis, 58, and their children, said: ‘All we ever wanted was to be able to live and work in keeping with our faith.
‘Christianity isn’t just something we do in church on a Sunday – it affects every area of our life, including our home and our business. Surely there is room for that in modern British life.’
The mother of four told the one-day hearing that she asked for police protection after the story was first covered by the media, due to a string of death threats. ‘We had thousands of pieces of hate mail and very abusive phone calls. I had a hand-delivered letter put through the door saying that my house would be burned down,’ she recalled.
‘I had to call the police. They were very concerned and patrolled the lane we live on for five months and checked on us regularly.’
A verdict is expected within two weeks.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.