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A new Menzies Era

3 Nov

My mother, when a North Shore matron, invited a number of her friends over to show off her son recently returned from National Service having spent a year of the two in Malaysia, as an infantry Malay Language interpreter. 

I arrived to join this assembly of the North Shore sensibilities having just received the news in a city pub that a regular soldier with whom I was on friendly terms had been cut in half by a Viet Cong machine gun.  My late friend wanted to leave the army, when I knew him.   He was intelligent, capable of successful tertiary study and keen on beginning a family.  His wife was exceptionally beautiful and attracted the attentions of officers when my friend was away on exercises.  We had worked out an army exit strategy involving mature age study supported by student allowances, etc.  He decided to sign up for one more three year stint in the army so build up some capital and was sent to Viet Nam.

This tragic story was just one of the many that represented the costs borne by Australians and Vietnamese as a result of the con job perpetrated upon the Australian electorate by the Menzies Government for no better reason than its desire to retain power – self-interest regardless of the human costs.

I asked my audience of North Shore ladies why they had voted for Mr. Menzies.  The consensus was that the avuncular Mr. Menzies’ wonderful speaking voice inspired confidence.

The most remarkable traits of the Menzies Government were those which conspired to engender within the electorate a soporific acceptance that the Government had things under control, knew things which we could not know, was a repository of wisdom – in short, we should leave the running of the country to the Government and not concern ourselves in things we were ill-equipped to intelligently consider.  In a similar vein, Malcolm Frazer stated upon taking office that it was his first priority to take politics off the front page of the newspapers and have the electorate leave it to those  who  were best equipped to take care of such things (one assumes those born to rule).

The Abbott Government has quickly settled into this born to rule mode of dealing with the public – press conferences are few and far between – the suppression of news about asylum seekers and their demonisation so that we don’t care about them anyway – the shutting down of climate change monitoring.  In the best anti-intellectual, science-denying traditions of the Catholic Church pressed upon him through the tutelage of Bartholomew Augustine Santamaria,  Tony Abbott believes that whatever happens to the climate will be God’s will, as indeed, will be every act perpetrated by his Government.  Let him deny that this is his ultimate belief.

So dear Australian electors, settle back and watch God eke out his will upon us through his instrument Tony Abbott.  It is your choice.  Perhaps it is time to stay the hand of God with the voice of reason.


Dawkins v Pell on Q & A in Australia

15 Apr

Talk-back television is perhaps not the best kind of forum to advance serious thought about the validity or otherwise of the notion of an omnipotent, omniscient god, whether as the core belief of organized or unorganized religion. 

Pell turned up for a debate and relied upon his researchers to trawl through the blog musings of Dawkins to look for shades of inconsistencies in positions Dawkins may have taken over the years: an ad hominem, gotcha exercise altogether worthy of this prelate who has shown himself more concerned with defending the bureaucracy to which he belongs, the Catholic Church, which accords him power and status, than the flock over which the Church arrogates authority to him .  Truth for Pell and his like is of no concern and may be completely disregarded if it does not serve their ultimate self-interest.  Pell’s court attendance in support of one of his colleagues, a pedophile, against the interests of his colleague’s victim is a case in point.

Dawkins, jet lagged as he mentioned, was overly sensitive to the ill-informed and largely irrelevant reactions of the audience, and allowed Pell to get away with the kind of logical nonsense that that is typically uttered by anyone who concocts arguments to support of an irrationally derived belief rather than examines the validity of arguments in order to discover the truth.  On the one issue of substance put to Pell – why Pell’s omnipotent, omniscient god should insist upon his adherents acting with love and compassion in their dealings with the species homo sapiens while this same god facilitates the grossest forms of torture, staving, and all manner of sufferings upon homo sapiens, even the most innocent, children below the age of reason, on this issue Pell confessed to being flummoxed.  Furthermore, Pell effectively conceded that the Christian notion of Original Sin was a nonsense because, in the nature of evolution, there could not have been any single male and female pair we could point to as being the homo sapiens Adam and Eve.  Thus, even that uniquely theological notion of guilt by genetic inheritance is expunged as the excuse for the Christian god torturing and staving children to death. 

Of course, the moderator, Tony Jones, was more interested in interrupting his two guests so that he could keep the show rolling and, to that end, allowing all and sundry – the studio and viewing audience – to have their say.

Perhaps Q & A can run a show on brain surgery techniques, quantum theory or whether one plus one make two if you really don’t want it to: let the punters have their say and make a show of it. 

There are some issues which of their nature, political issues for example, are the subject of legitimate public debate, the stuff of a democratic society.  Talk-back television is not suited to the consideration of matters which general audiences cannot be expected to have an informed view.  The adherents of religions can be expected to know what their religions teach and what they have been brought up to believe or they find emotionally appealing as an antidote to the notion of nothingness following death, but they cannot be expected to contribute to the debate about the truth of their beliefs unless they have studied theology and/or philosophy.

Non ad hominem.