Poor old Paddy McGuinness, still living somewhere in the twilight years of the Syndey Push, can’t seem to shake the addiction to the politics of victimhood that characterises so much of the Australian (and even more the American) right. In his recent column in praise of Keith Windschuttle and Bjorn Lomborg, he asserted “
Lomborg will not be speaking at any university campus, since these have become hotbeds of political intolerance where unpopular views are shouted down and the speakers often physically attacked
He doesn’t seem to have noticed that Windschuttle (whose quasi-racist views that the Tasmanian Aborigines were responsible for their own extinction by virtue of their degraded morals are far more offensive than anything Lomborg has to say) has repeatedly appeared on University campuses in debates that have been extensively reported in the blogosphere.
More directly to the point, his claim that Lomborg won’t be speaking on Australian campuses is false, a fact which was certainly known to Lomborg’s sponors, the Institute of Public Affairs, which obviously supplied McGuinness with his information. Lomborg will be speaking at the University of Queensland on October 1 (unfortunately, I’ll be in Canberra, at the Conference of Economists). When challenged on this blatant falsehood by Paul Norton of Griffith, the SMH provided the following response
Dr Jennifer Marohasy who provided some of the information about Lomburg to Paddy had the following experience when arranging for him to speak. PAddy did not have this most recent information when he wrote the article. An extract of Dr Marohasy’s email is included here.
When I (Jennifer Marohasy) first broached the idea of him (Lomburg) speaking in Brisbane at the University of Queensland campus my contacts in the Life Sciences Faculty were unhelpful and uninterested – and concerned that such a lecture would be controversial and divisive! Thus we were to hold the lecture at Custom’s House, a University property, but in the city.
However, given the nature of Bjorn Lomborg’s work and the relevance of it to those studying ecology etcetera I ended up going back to the Life Science’s Faculty accusing one of my old PhD supervisors along the lines of your article – and it was throw back at me that I now work for a right wing organisation, politically motivated etcetera etcetera. However, in the end the University did agree to host the lecture and on campus.
The quibble about the Customs House is nonsense. This is the University’s standard venue for speakers of general interest – in the year I’ve been here I’ve attended half a dozen university events there, and spoken at a couple of them. Marohasy knew when she briefed McGuinness that Lomborg could speak at UQ if he wanted to. As Norton points, out in an email, Griffith University wasn’t even asked, although it has regularly hosted speakers whose views could be presumed to be unpopular.
Reading McGuinness’ piece as a whole, the striking feature is the implicit assumption that while it’s OK for Paddy and his friends to dish out the vitriol, it’s blatant victimisation when they get a serve of their own medicine.