Isn’t it wonderful that leaders who were previously fanatical in outlawing “hate-speech” have seen the light? Well, it would be if they had, but there is not the slightest hint that they have changed any of their opinions. They have seen an opportunity to achieve two useful results. Continue reading “Hate-speech legislators discover freedom of speech”
[Published at Catallaxy Files 12/01/2021]
In 1942, the Special Services Division, Services of Supply, United States Army, published a booklet called Instructions for American Servicemen in Australia. The first section includes this:
The Australians have much in common with us – they’re a pioneer people; they believe in personal freedom; they love sports; and they’re out to lick the Axis all the way. But there are a lot of differences too – their ways of living and thinking on all sorts of things – like tea, central heating, the best way to spend Sunday, or saluting officers and such.
[Published at The Orthosphere, 20/12/2010]
You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44
On November 9th, Tucker Carlson offered the following prescription for curing the ills of the USA.
Let’s all stop lying. Lying about everything that matters, every day of our lives. That’s what we’re doing now. Have you noticed? How many times did you lie today because you had to? Let’s repeal our national dishonesty mandate (it’s a law never codified but still ruthlessly enforced) and tell the truth instead. That’s our only hope. Tell the truth about everything. Continue reading “The Father of Lies”
[Published at Catallaxy Files 27/11/2020]
Edsgar Dijkstra became a programmer in 1951. He is one of the early giants in a field that saw an unprecedented explosion of intellectual activity. When multi-processing came to computing, the phenomenon of deadlock began to make a pest of itself. Processes would just sieze up, something that anyone with a personal computer or smartphone has probably observed. Dijkstra studied this problem, and in one of his simple, elegant expositions, showed that systems reached a point of no return before there are indications of trouble ahead. Processes could do essentially the same things thousands or millions of times without problems, then two or more of them would deadlock, no one of them able to continue. Until that happened, there would be no warning; yet, at some earlier moment the rubicon had been crossed, and it was only a matter of time.
There has always been a contempt for the rubes within the ruling class. Different rules have always applied. There has at least since the advent of mass media been manipulation of public opinion. Powerful agencies of government have always chafed against the restraints of law and representative government. There has been a widespread awareness of this malignancy – it is part of the background, it is part of what is thought of as normal. It is an assumption for those who have disconnected entirely from the “news” and the goings-on of politics, as it is for those who make their living, on way or another, from politics. So it is that no-one noticed any change in the character of the times. The Zeitgeist flailed and raged much as it had before. Continue reading “Deadlock”
Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) was a philosopher, economist and writer on jurisprudence. He is most well-known for his development and expounding of utilitarianism. He considered that the object of legislation should be “the greatest happiness of the greatest number.” Bentham was an atheist, and a strong proponent of the separation of Church and State. In 1827, John Stuart Mill edited Bentham’s writings on jurisprudence into the five volume Rationale of Judicial Evidence.
His opinion concerning the seal of confession is of topical interest. In Rationale, Bentham considers the case where priests can be forced to testify concerning any felony, but the application to the case of child sexual abuse is obvious, though less widely applicable.
Bentham takes as context for his arguments a country in which Catholicism is “barely tolerated,” and its withering desired, though no coercion is applied to that end; for example, the United Kingdom of the early nineteenth century. Of countries where Catholicism is granted equal standing with other religions – contemporary Australia for instance – he writes that the necessity of protecting the seal of confession “will probably appear too imperious to admit of dispute.” Apparently not. Continue reading “Jeremy Bentham on the seal of confession”
On the morning of April 7, national television relayed the announcement of my verdict from the High Court. I watched in my cell on Channel 7 as a surprised young reporter informed Australia of my acquittal and became still more perplexed by the unanimity of the seven justices.
That is George Cardinal Pell writing on My Time In Prison for First Things magazine. The surprise and perplexity reflect the response of the majority of those hearing this news. Those of us who were delighted by the news had long experienced perplexity, though not surprise, at the years of relentless persecution of George Pell. We were in a tiny minority. We still are.
Was Cardinal Pell’s eventual acquittal, then, a victory for the Australian justice system? Was it a re-affirmation and consolidation of the principle of the rule of law? Has justice been served? Continue reading “Who won?”
[A version with slight differences was published 27th April, 2020 on Quadrant Online QED.]
The previous “pandemic”, commonly know as Swine Flu, was caused by a type of Influenza virus known as H1N1. Spanish Flu was also caused by an H1N1 variant. The disease was first detected in Mexico in 2009, and initial reports gave what was eventually seen to be an exaggerated view of the morbidity and mortality of the disease, but, as a paper on the response of Australian emergency departments put it, [a]lthough the severity was subsequently shown to be of less concern, the initial response was, and necessarily had to be, based on the information available at the time. That assumption is invalid, for reasons to be outlined. Nonetheless, the response to that pandemic was somnolent compared to our betters’ instituting a totalitarian state (with a sunset clause) just 10 years later.
First written 11th June 2020. Submitted unsuccessfully to Quadrant and Catallaxy Files.
Black Lives Matter has its own website. That’s no surprise. The About page summarises BLM (Emphasis mine.)
#BlackLivesMatter was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer. Black Lives Matter Foundation, Inc is a global organization in the US, UK, and Canada, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. By combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy, we are winning immediate improvements in our lives.
[Originally published by Quadrant Online on 30th December 2019. Published in Quadrant Magazine March 2020.]
The conviction of the guilty is just; it is the unremarkable business of a just criminal jurisprudence; but the conviction of the innocent strikes at the heart of Justice. If it happens through error or negligence, it is bad enough; when it happens by design, it is an abomination that corrodes trust in the law itself.
Maimonides in the 12th century, in this commentary on Exodus 23:7 (Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent and righteous, for I will not acquit the wicked) concluded, “it is better and more satisfactory to acquit a thousand guilty persons than to put a single innocent man to death once in a way.”
The April 2015 edition of First Things included an article by Sir Roger Scruton, titled The End of the University. As Scruton points out, the university as an industrial-scale certification factory is in ruddy good health, enrolling an increasing proportion of the population. Nonetheless, his article is not about some distopian future in which these enterprises collapse, but about the distopian present, in which some essential capacity of the university has been vitiated.
It addresses also the other meaning of the phrase, “the end of the university”; exploring the process by which Scruton himself began to question his purposes in teaching: to what end?
…I asked myself what exactly I was trying to teach, and why.Continue reading “The Samizdat University”