Festival of Gerard’s Ideas

Cranky old typist Gerard Henderson – oh, sorry, “his dog” – lists some notions he’d like to see discussed at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas. The problem is, what discussion could suggestions so asinine really prompt?

Here’s Nancy’s suggestions for some really dangerous ideas which would challenge leftist sensibilities. Namely: (i) “Abortion Is Murder”, (ii) “If We All Become Gay, Western Civilisation Will End”, (iii) “George W. Bush is America’s Greatest President and Tony Blair is Britain’s Greatest Prime Minister”, (iv) “If The Arab States Were As Good as Israel, The Middle East Would Be A Better Place”, (v) “Julian Assange Should Stand Trial For Treason In the United States”, (vi) “Germaine Greer Has Become A Dreadfully Boring Media Tart”, (vii) “Only Re-Colonisation Can Solve Africa’s Problems”, (viii) “Private Schools Are Best”, (ix) Human Induced Climate Change Is A Load Of Crap”, (x) “Greed Is Good and (xi) “Vietnam Was a Just War”.

i) Can Gerard – sorry, “Nancy” – genuinely not see a distinction between abortion and murder? He thinks someone who shoots a person in cold blood is no worse than a woman who takes a pill that separates a collection of cells post-conception from her own womb? Maybe Gerard would like a discussion on the subject “A Pregnant Woman Is A Walking Incubator Owned By The State Without Rights To Her Own Body”.

ii) Who’s suggesting we “all” become gay? When we finally legislate marriage equality, does Gerard envisage divorcing Anne and shacking up with a bloke? Is Gerard’s opposition to marriage equality because he thinks gay marriage will become compulsory? Wow, that’s a misconception that should be easy to clear up. And with his apparently main concern resolved, well… Welcome aboard, Gerard!

iii) Who’s going to argue the pro- side for this ridiculous proposition? Do even conservatives believe either of those claims? Does Gerard? I’d have thought he’d prefer Reagan and Thatcher to Bush and Blair. AND LET’S NOT MENTION THE GFC.

iv) Well, yes, a region of semi-democracies with some approximation of the rule of law would be better than a region of brutal, unstable dictatorships ruling over impoverished citizens – but it would still be a terrible place. It’d still be a collection of militarist countries founded on religious bigotry in which human rights are regularly abused. It’s pretty pathetic that the defenders of Israel make excuses for its atrocities by looking over the fence and whinging, as a petulant child, “but those guys are worse!” Of course they are, but that’s no excuse for your behaviour. And unlike the disenfranchised masses in those countries, most of your citizens are in a position to demand much better. In the same way, Gerard, you and Tony criticise the Australian government and would be unimpressed by its defenders responding with “hey, if the US/UK governments were as good at managing economies as Australia’s, the world would be a better place”.

v) Julian Assange stand trial for “treason” in the US? Why? Julian’s not a citizen of the US. How can you be a “traitor” to a country that isn’t even your own? Also – would you rather the US military got to blow up journalists and cover it up? (It’s okay, you don’t need to answer that.)

vi) True. Who’s going to defend Germaine’s recent celebrity appearances?

vii) Hey, Forget The Last Two Hundred Years, We’re Better At It Now! Trust Us! Has Gerard ever actually met anyone from Africa?

viii) Perhaps at the moment “Private schools are best” – but that’s the problem. Better than what precisely – public schools? So what happens to those kids? The question is why should any child be denied that quality of education? Because that’s precisely what the charging of fees for schooling does. It excludes children on the basis of their parents’ ability or willingness to pay. Gerard wants fortunate kids to have a “better” education than other kids. He might be perfectly happy to ignore the consequences for those kids, that disadvantage at the elementary level of their basic education – but he can’t then pretend that we live in a meritocracy.

ix) …Because The Atmosphere Magically Can Take Without Consequence Absolutely Anything We Throw At It.

x) Somebody take Gerard’s stuff and see how much he likes other people’s greed.

xi) Vietnam a “just war”? In what way?

Amusingly, Gerard’s understanding of debate is that the “pro” question be framed in a way with which he agrees – his “abortion is murder” suggestion is pretty much exactly the same topic as the “a foetus is not a person” discussion the Festival is actually going to have and that he complains about.

If Gerard’s planning on having a forum at his “Sydney Institute” where people are actually given the opportunity to argue with him on these or any of the above topics, he should let us know.

PS “Can you bear it?” at the end of each section? Well – can you?

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19 responses to “Festival of Gerard’s Ideas

  1. Excellent response to all the individual points of Gerard’s inanity. Beyond that though, Gerard seems to have completely no idea on what something means to be a “dangerous idea”, i.e. an idea that threatens existing, entrenched, and often oppressive power structures. OTOH, maybe he actually thinks that we are being oppressed by post-colonial Africans, gay people, women, scientists etc.

  2. Regarding the issue of abortion, Jeremy, talk of ‘walking incubators owned by the state’ is a little bit of silly undergrad hyperbole isn’t it?

    The only pertinent and vexing question is at what point does it stop being about only the mother? At what point do we extend society’s protection from premature death, and how do we justify this?

  3. narcoticmusing

    The moment, Howard, you stop considering the mother, is the moment that you relegate her to being ‘walking incubators owned by the state’. It is not hyperbole. It is a case of liberty and ownership of one’s own body in a circumstance where she is the only party obliged to take responsibility for the situation. At what point to you believe we should deny a person the right to self determination? The right to liberty and freedom of movement? This is an environment where women are having choices made for them – that is complete subjugation and control of their free will, liberty and a form of denial of habeus corpus by the State.

  4. Splatterbottom

    It mystifies me that a leftist groupthink wankfest would call itself a “Festival of Dangerous Ideas”. This perfervid circle jerk should be renamed “The Parade of Pious Progressive Platitudes.”

    The vicious fascist attack on free speech led by the “progressive” Greens is a sure indication that any ideas ventured at the “Festival of Dangerous Ideas” will most definitely not be such as to offend the precious sensibilities of the pompous tossers who attend such events but rather ideas that arouse them to a semen-soaked frenzy of white-water wristing.

    “Can Gerard – sorry, “Nancy” – genuinely not see a distinction between abortion and murder? “

    The real problem is when utter nutters like prominent Greens supporter Peter Singer can’t see the distinction between abortion and murder and start advocating after-birth abortions.

  5. Here here Narc. The moment you decide that the state should be granted the authority to force women to carry a child to term against their wishes then you are, in effect, treating them as walking incubators.

    That’s just a fact, and those who rail against it merely illustrate their unwillingness to address a core element of the pro-choice position.

  6. Wait, did you just take a list of ironic suggestions made in jest, then respond to them with outraged sarcasm? This is getting a bit too meta for me, but I suspect both Henderson and Sears are actually advocating the same side of this one…

  7. I don’t think there’s a consciously ironic bone in Gerard’s body.

    PS That name brings me back… (SOH CAH TOA).

    PPS SB?

    The vicious fascist attack on free speech led by the “progressive” Greens

    I must have missed a huge story. Haven’t seen anything from the Greens that could even vaguely be described by a sane person as a “vicious fascist attack on free speech”.

  8. I don’t think there’s a consciously ironic bone in Gerard’s body.

    Well, he did call someone “dreadfully boring”. He – Gerard Henderson – called someone else “dreadfully boring”. Could he possibly be that lacking in self-awareness?

  9. Splatterbottom

    “I must have missed a huge story.”

    If you don’t mind the government censoring the press then you won’t think it a huge story I guess. Just business as usual form the party that gave us Clive “suspend democracy” Hamilton.

  10. If you don’t mind the government censoring the press

    It’s not proposing to do that, as well you know.

    Although the ALP and the Libs are proposing to massively increase ASIO’s powers to dig into anything you do online. Hopefully the Greens can do something to stop them.

    Just business as usual form the party that gave us Clive “suspend democracy” Hamilton.

    It did no such thing. Hamilton’s public profile preceded and succeeded his brief candidacy for the Greens. And his apparent personal support for an internet filter was not Greens policy, since the Greens were the only party that stood consistently against it.

  11. Splatterbottom

    “Hopefully the Greens can do something to stop them.”

    At least on this we are in roaring agreement.

    A free press is essential for democracy to survive. The Greens model has less to do with that than it has with the Putin model.

    My read on it was that Brown became peeved with the fact that people who had a different view on global warming were getting a good run in the Australian. In Fairfax and the ABC those critics were only mentioned to dismiss them. ( I can recall one Fairfax article where one of the critics, Bob Carter, got a column to put his views, and that was about it.)

    After embarrassing himself on 7.30 because he couldn’t remember that The Australian had given him a column to espouse his opinions and that he was being quoted from that column rather than being misrepresented by News, Brown made is push for a government censor – and there is really no other word for it, (even if it is “independent” it will be as about as independent as the Climate Commission with Flannery in control).

    If that model is accepted you will have smug dishonest leftists treating dissenting voices in the same way the Russian authorities are treating Pussy Riot. You will have vindictive mendacious comparisons to the Nazis lapped up by an idiot poltroon of a tribunal and free speech will receive one more stab in the guts as it is “progressively” gutted. The Bolt case was only the beginning. It was the logical next step after the anti-semite Toben was jailed for not shutting up.

  12. My read on it was that Brown became peeved with the fact that people who had a different view on global warming were getting a good run in the Australian. In Fairfax and the ABC those critics were only mentioned to dismiss them. ( I can recall one Fairfax article where one of the critics, Bob Carter, got a column to put his views, and that was about it.)

    My read on it is that the progressive side of politics is so utterly certain of the “rightness” of their views on the question of AGW that they believe suspension of ordinary democratic principle is justified in order to save us all.

    Although, to be fair, if it turns out that they actually are right then suspension of ordinary democratic principle is probably a good idea.

  13. Splatterbottom

    “Although, to be fair, if it turns out that they actually are right then suspension of ordinary democratic principle is probably a good idea.”

    I had never thought of you as a proto-fascist before, Mondo. :-)

  14. Has SB ever referred to the Libs as “the party that gave us Pauline Hanson”?

  15. Well when faced with a choice between:

    (a) Global environmental destruction on a massive scale; or
    (b) State control of the media

    I would choose the latter. All rational peopple would.

    Of course I don’t actually believe we’re faced with that dilemma and so the point is somewhat moot.

  16. Splatterbottom

    RM, Hanson was booted from the Liberal party for her offensive idiocy.

    The Libs are the party that gave us the racist lying rodent john Howard. Even so, the Greens attack on free speech is worse than anything Howard did.

    Mondo, as you rightly note, that is not the real choice. I cannot see a circumstance where it would be good to give the state control over the media. It is too fundamental a freedom and without it democracy can’t survive. Too many people have died for this principle for it to be sacrificed on the alter of an aging prophet’s vain delusions.

  17. “My read on it is that the progressive side of politics is so utterly certain of the “rightness” of their views on the question of AGW that they believe suspension of ordinary democratic principle is justified in order to save us all.” – Mondo

    I think I managed to miss this piece of earth-shattering news.

  18. Gadj – my “take” on things is not often reported anywhere as news: earth shattering or otherwise. It’s thus not entirely surprising that you were unaware of it.

    I’m sure that you, like many on the progressive side, are frustrated by the recent backslide in public support for action to address AGW. Again, like many others on the progressive side, you have undoubtedly attributed much of this backslide to the nefarious influence of the Murdoch (and broader conservative) press (who I agree are unashamedly pushing a denier viewpoint).

    But why do you care? What’s wrong with a media organisation pushing a particular perspective onto the public?

    After all – media outlets have been doing this for as long as I can remember.

  19. OK. so it’s just some SB-esque attribution of nefarious motivation.

    On the AGW thing – I don’t see much significant “backslide’ in public opinion. Fortunately, most people still think that we should act.

    The reasons for changes in public opinion are complex, but are more political/economic than media-driven.

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