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Victimhood

September 18th, 2003

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.

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  1. cs
    September 18th, 2003 at 18:58 | #1

    Yes, it’s victimhood, but in the Australian context it’s also playing the politics of jostling for underdog status, a touchstone for our highly paid, highly publicised, highly predictable and highly conforming right-wing columnists.

  2. September 18th, 2003 at 19:03 | #2

    The Left sure doesn’t like having to swallow the medicine it has dished out so generously over the years.

  3. September 18th, 2003 at 19:25 | #3

    “The Left! The Left!” Your one-dimensional oogedy-boogedy schtick is getting rather tiresome, Mr EvilPundit. It reminds me of Southerners in the US complaining about the War of Northern Aggression.

  4. September 18th, 2003 at 19:39 | #4

    You don’t like the taste of that medicine, do you, Graham?

    Are you going to criticise John Quiggin for complaining about “the Australian (and even more the American) right” above?

    Or do you have a different standard for pundits of the Left?

  5. Dave Ricardo
    September 18th, 2003 at 20:48 | #5

    If I understand you correctly, Evilknieval, you’re conceding McGuinness is full of shit, but that’s OK, because he’s dishing it out to the dreaded Left, and that’s an Eight Men in a Cage Match, with No Referee, No Holds Barred, and Loser Must Leave Town.

    Taking the wrestling metaphor further, Paddy McGuiness is fast becoming the Big Bad John of the Australian commentariat (there’s even a physical resemblance), managing the stable of bad guys who always have foreign objects hidden in their trunks. (Keith Windschuttle plays the Brute Bernard role to perfection.)

    The problem is, while it’s good for a laugh and a bit of boo-hiss, everyone knows it’s fake, and no one, but no one, takes it seriously. Which leaves poor Bjorn Lomborg with a problem. His selling point is that he used to be a Good Guy but he saw they aren’t realy good, and now he has turned, just like Spiros Arion.

    The problem is, no one is going to oppress him, so what’s so interesting about his show? He’s just a political scientist offering his inexpert opinions about bits of scientific literature, selectively chosen by him so that his conclusions fit the prejudices of his audiences and his sponsors.

    How nice for them, and how boring for everybody else.

  6. September 18th, 2003 at 20:52 | #6

    John points out that Paddy (and his IPA mates) is either a fool or a liar, and that demonstrates the left’s inability to swallow its own medicine? Puh-leeez.

  7. September 18th, 2003 at 21:20 | #7

    Dave, I can’t tell if you understand me correctly or not, because nothing in your comment makes any sense at all.

    Robert, I am merely pointing out that John’s criticism of the “right” for an “addiction” to the politics of victimhood is a bit rich, given that the Left has been playing victim for decades.

  8. John
    September 18th, 2003 at 21:58 | #8

    EvilPundit, I think your irony detector needs adjusting. Didn’t it strike you when I picked out the title for my post that I might have been aware that claims about the other side ‘playing victim’ are a standard piece of rhetoric on the right?

  9. goodpundit
    September 19th, 2003 at 01:15 | #9

    evil needs to shape up or ship out

  10. September 19th, 2003 at 01:49 | #10

    Told!

  11. September 19th, 2003 at 15:19 | #11

    That be a poor excuse fer a broadside, lubbers. Yer ship be listin’ to the left, and on her way t’ Davy Jones’ locker. Yarr!

  12. September 19th, 2003 at 16:16 | #12

    Ahoy, Grudnuk! I be findin’ another one-dimensional blogger for ye!

    Ye’d best be keelhaulin’ the swab right smartly, now!

  13. September 19th, 2003 at 18:52 | #13

    Are you taking the piss? Because that’s what it sounds like.

    And summoning Grudnuk is not a good idea.

  14. Me No No
    September 20th, 2003 at 15:13 | #14

    I used to be fat, smelly and predictable with a penchant for black. Now I’m not.

  15. September 23rd, 2003 at 22:13 | #15

    John, I hope you noticed the reluctant correction in today’s Paddy piece.

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