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Contradictions

The breakdown of the market liberal right, and the accompanying rise of tribalist politics, is producing some interesting contradictions, most of which are embodied in the Institute of Public Affairs. David Leyonjhelm, a longterm IPA member has staged a provocation by inviting racist troll Milo Yiannopoulos to Australia under the banner of free speech. The Senate condemned him for providing a platform to someone who “incites abuse and harassment of women, jews, and members of the LBGTIQ and multicultural communities”. When the words of the motion were quoted back at him, Leyonjhelm threatened legal action, and stated his general willingness to use defamation law against his political opponents.

Meanwhile, at the same time as backing an IPA campaign to remove charity status from environmental groups that engage in political advocacy, Malcolm Turnbull is supporting amendments to the equal marriage bill, pushed by IPA alumnnus James Paterson to preserve the charitable status of groups that oppose the law.

What’s happening here, I think, is that a group that has always assumed itself to be part of the silent majority of “real Australians” is being faced with evidence that it is actually a shrinking minority, regarded by the majority as a set of noisy and unpleasant bigots. One reaction is to double down on aggressive assertion of its views, treating things like the outcome of the marriage survey as a temporary aberration. The other is to seek the protections traditionally accorded to minorities, appealing to the rhetoric of tolerance and diversity.

This contradiction can’t be sustained for long, although that won’t stop them trying. But how should the decent majority deal with this problem. The answer is to remember that everyone will be in the minority some time. We should reject the attempt to stop charitable groups from engaging in advocacy, even if we don’t always like what is being advocated. As regards free speech, we should resist the temptation to use legal bludgeons, but make it clear to the promoters of racism, and those willing to line up with them, that they will be called out for what they are. This has already happened to the LNP in Queensland and WA following disgraceful alliances with One Nation. One of the few encouraging signs from the right was Turnbull’s recent declaration (motivated by fear rather than principle) that the Federal LNP would do no preference deals with Hanson.

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  1. may
    December 6th, 2017 at 15:16 | #1

    milo?

    i didn’t know you could buy milo in Greece

    moral majority?

    looks looks like the parliamentary pious play plopped.

    (face it JQ, the self confessed alliterative idiotchild can’t help it.)

    but you are right,

    they want to have their cake and eat ours too.

  2. Newtownian
    December 6th, 2017 at 16:00 | #2

    One of the funniest pieces I’ve seen on Milo Yiannopoulos is this offering by New Statesman contributing editor Laurie Penny – well worth a look to understand what lunatics we are dealing with here and for getting a good belly laugh. She is an excellent writer. In this instance she seems to be channelling Hunter S Thompson at his peak when he encountered Nixon in the lou.

    https://medium.com/welcome-to-the-scream-room/im-with-the-banned-8d1b6e0b2932

    When you read this you have to wonder how you deal with this deafness to reason – now running at 38% in the USA based on the current percentage support for he shall not be named?

  3. Smith
    December 6th, 2017 at 16:17 | #3

    A tweet is not a threat of legal action. It is Internet bluster. If Leyonjhelm were to get his lawyers to write a letter threatening to sue unless the comment is withdrawn and an apology made, that would be a threat. He won’t. He is all talk and no action. He is George Christensen with a better vocabulary and without the stomach stapling.

    Turnbull’s support of the religious freedom amendments is very strange. Nobody thinks he actually believes they are necessary or desirable, and he is not going to win over his Party’s right by being so patently obsequious. If anything, this will cause them to hold him in ever greater contempt than they do now, if that is possible.

  4. hc
    December 6th, 2017 at 16:55 | #4

    Milo is gay and Jewish. He has also authored a best selling book. Throwing rocks at police sent to protect him, trying to suppress his right to speak and trying to kick him out of the country involves committing most of the sins being wrongly attributed to him. We will not be poisoned by listening to him.

  5. John Quiggin
    December 6th, 2017 at 17:18 | #5

    @hc

    Reread the post. You appear to be replying to an imaginary opponent.

  6. Julie Thomas
    December 6th, 2017 at 17:20 | #6

    @hc

    hahaha nobody will be poisoned by listening to him because the mind that can listen to his schitk without feeling sorry for him is already ‘poisoned’.

    You need to explain what the sins are that are attributed to poor Milo and that the protesters are committing. I don’t understand this reasoning. I only accuse him of needing some therapy to understand why he is so needy for attention and goes to such lengths to prove he is important or to make a profit of course. It could just be that he’s doing it for the money.

    But I do agree that it is silly and not a good idea to demonstrate against him. I say let him go on showing how empty and foolish he is. I do find it is reassuring and pretty funny that this is the best that righties can do in the way of argument for their complaints about the end of civilisation.

    But hc why do you reckon the protesters are doing it? They must be virtue signalling or looking to make a profit in some way or they are just facists?

  7. hc
    December 6th, 2017 at 17:25 | #7

    It was an observation about Milo supporting his right to present his views. .

  8. John Quiggin
    December 6th, 2017 at 17:31 | #8

    @hc

    How about the right of Australians to express their views of Yiannopoulos and his sponsor, David Leyonjhelm, without threats (or bluster if you prefer) about legal action? That was, after all, the topic of the post.

  9. hc
    December 6th, 2017 at 17:57 | #9

    That was understood and appreciated. DL did seem to display hypocrisy. Sorry if I went off topic.

  10. I am and will always be Not Trampis
    December 6th, 2017 at 18:00 | #10

    I am with Harry.

    It seems to me the best way to deal with the Milos of this world is to ignore them not have noisy demonstrations and use or threaten violence against the prats who turn up to listen to him.

    As for the result of the postal survey it seems to me john is seeing way to much in it although it understandable given his secular views.
    We have no qualitative polling from the result and until we do reasons why people voted and whether this relates to other moral positions are mere speculation.

    comparing changes to charities on if they pursue political agendas and whether denominations should continue to have tax exemptions is comparing apples with oranges.

    I do not recall a denomination attempting to pursue a course to influence an electoral result.
    If some charities do then they must bear the consequences. No contradictions here at all

    another case of john and others catallaxysing themselves!!

  11. sunshine
    December 6th, 2017 at 20:13 | #11

    I have to admit that I am not sure but I think nasties like Milo should be publicly confronted .Logic and reason dont always just naturally prevail. Looking the other way may not make it disappear .In my opinion, in reality, and when it comes down to it , they have most of the established power on their side. Meeting their threat publicly does allow a false equivalence between Left and Right to be drawn and does give them some extra publicity- but they already have alot ,far too much. It will also harden the resolve of the most committed bigots. From what I see when I attend there are Lefties that are willing to physically defend others ,and a very small number even occasionally do unnecessary property damage ,but as far as violence goes there is no equivalence at all ,ask the police they know. I realise yelling in the street isnt the only way to do it but its important to let the downtrodden know that we wont let this happen.

  12. bjb
    December 6th, 2017 at 23:02 | #12

    “We should reject the attempt to stop charitable groups from engaging in advocacy, even if we don’t always like what is being advocated.”

    It irritates me intensely whenever GetUp is mentioned in the media, and every time on the ABC, it is always referred to as “the activist group, GetUp”, in a mildly pejorative tone. We never hear the IPA introduced as “the right wing activist group, the IPA”.

  13. Ken Fabian
    December 7th, 2017 at 06:41 | #13

    @bjb
    “We never hear the IPA introduced as “the right wing activist group, the IPA”.
    Or the right wing activist group, NewsCorp. I don’t see News Corp referred to as a campaign organisation either but that is what it looks like to me – one that spends an astonishing lot on paid commentary as well as quieter political lobbying on attacking and undermining any kind of activists or activism – or journalism – that doesn’t agree with their reactionary politics.

  14. Julie Thomas
    December 7th, 2017 at 07:16 | #14

    Contradictions? That is a polite way to describe the behaviour of IPA adherents.

    It seems to me that all these mismatches between what they say they believe and what they actually do, is rank hypocrisy and the dedicated application of their belief in self-interest as the meaning of life.

  15. suburbanite
    December 7th, 2017 at 08:10 | #15

    I am and will always be Not Trampis :
    I do not recall a denomination attempting to pursue a course to influence an electoral result.

    Just to clarify, are you implying that you can’t recall a denomination trying to influence an electoral outcome?

  16. I am and will always be Not Trampis
    December 7th, 2017 at 08:22 | #16

    I am not implying it. I am saying it. If you wish to show otherwise go ahead.I could be wrong but I certainly do not recall such an episode.

  17. fred
    December 7th, 2017 at 08:56 | #17

    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/federal-election-2016/election-2016-catholic-schools-urge-parents-not-to-vote-for-greens-20160624-gprbvs.html

    “It is not the first time the Catholic Education Commission has intervened in an election – they advised parents not to vote for the Greens in four inner-city seats ahead of the 2014 state election. “

  18. fred
    December 7th, 2017 at 09:06 | #18

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2010-10-29/catholics-urged-not-to-vote-for-the-greens/2318336
    2010
    “Melbourne Catholic Archbishop Denis Hart encourages Catholics to question policies on abortion, euthanasia and welfare before casting their vote.”
    http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2011/03/21/australian-bishops-warn-catholics-against-voting-for-greens/
    “Nine bishops from the state of New South Wales have joined Sydney Cardinal George Pell to warn Catholics about voting in the state election for the Greens, who have gained “significant” influence.”

    http://catchthefire.com.au/2013/08/federal-election-christian-values-checklist/

  19. I am and will always be Not Trampis
    December 7th, 2017 at 10:45 | #19

    fred I really do not think that qualifies. No sign of getupness at all.

    Advising people and trying to influence a result alah Get Up are twp different things.
    any ads , handing out leaflets, et al?

  20. Ikonoclast
    December 7th, 2017 at 11:23 | #20

    @I am and will always be Not Trampis

    “Tens of thousands of Victorian Catholic school students have been sent home with letters warning their parents against voting for the Greens in next week’s federal election…

    It is not the first time the Catholic Education Commission has intervened in an election – they advised parents not to vote for the Greens in four inner-city seats ahead of the 2014 state election. ”

    Are you going to get legalistic and claim a letter of this kind is not a hand-out or leaflet?

    Even your attempt to delineate between “Advising people and trying to influence a result alah Get Up” does not hold water. What is “alah Get Up”? I guess it means direct action, which can mean things like,

    “The Catholic Education Commission of Victoria has circulated the letter to schools in marginal seats, seats where MPs are retiring and electorates where the Greens are hoping for a win.

    These include Batman – which the Greens hope to pick up thanks to its rapidly changing demographic– and the Greens-held seat of Melbourne. The letters were also stuffed into school bags in Wills, Corangamite, La Trobe, Bruce, Chisholm and Dunkley.”

    Personally, I have no problem with religions trying to influence voters in this way but I do have a problem with the hypocritical pretense that it does not happen. Usually, the religions shoot themselves in the foot with these ham-fisted attempts. I am always in favour of allowing them to shoot themselves in the foot. And anyone who is weak enough or brainwashed enough to listen, well that is just sad… for them.

  21. Svante
    December 7th, 2017 at 11:42 | #21

    Sure, in those instances thousands of under age couriers hand delivering highly partisan ‘advice’ can’t be counted. Clearly beneath contempt.

  22. rog
    December 7th, 2017 at 11:55 | #22

    I think Milo’s protestors should be given the same freedom that Milo craves and Leyonjhelm should be given as much freedom as he allows his opponents.

  23. I am and will always be Not Trampis
    December 7th, 2017 at 13:07 | #23

    sorry I see no similarity between what you allege and what Getup do all the time.

    Advocating a vote against the Greens is while being highly sensible is not changing a Government.

    It is a bit like advocating a vote against One Nation.

  24. Moz of Yarramulla
    December 7th, 2017 at 13:12 | #24

    I largely agree with rog, except that I don’t think even Leyonjhelm deserves the restrictions he imposes and wishes to impose on others. The “freedom to live in fear of gun nuts with a grudge” is not a freedom I think Australia needs or wants, whatever the people who voted for Leyonjhelm think.

    I’ve protested against nazis and fascists before and I’ll do it again. Those saying we should just ignore Leyonjhelm , Bolt, Trump, Le Pen and Farage are deluded. Tell me again how well ignoring Al Queda and Janjaweed went. For that matter, wasn’t there a great deal of “ignore WWII, it’ll never affect us” going on in the USA before Pearl Harbour? As Bush the Lessor so memorably said before the second 9/11 attacks “focus on the important bits”.

  25. Moz of Yarramulla
    December 7th, 2017 at 13:15 | #25

    is not changing a Government.

    That sounds very retrospective of you. By that measure nothing the ALP or its supporters did in the last federal election counts as political campaigning since no change of government resulted. In fact, nothing the government of the day does can ever be a political campaign, since they’re not going to demand a change of government (self-defeating stupidity might count, but I’m not sure they intend that to result in a change of government so it probably fails an intentionality test of some sort).

  26. Svante
    December 7th, 2017 at 13:53 | #26

    “Turnbull’s recent declaration … Federal LNP would do no preference deals with Hanson.”

    In Qld Labor made a it big deal about preferences and coalition with PHON, but Nicholls LNP made it about coalition only. Federally there’s no such chance of any coalition with PHON needing consideration.

    Sweeney stepped in from Qld state executive to change LNP local branch preferences from ALP last to Greens last. This alone likely saved ALP’s No2 Trad. They swapped preferences with PHON in some places, in others they couldn’t, in others they directed preferences to PHON without a swap. Sweeney didn’t step in everywhere. If Turnbull’s LNP federal machine does similar his declaration would amount to more waffle presently and opportunity for much more such innovative waffling in future.

  27. December 7th, 2017 at 14:04 | #27

    “One of the few encouraging signs … was Turnbull’s recent declaration (motivated by fear rather than principle) that the Federal LNP would do no preference deals with Hanson.”

    I wouldn’t take any encouragement from this. The only statement that matters from Mr Turnbull or the Libs on this topic would be for them to say that they are putting One Nation last on their how to vote cards.

    The Qld LNP technically didn’t do a deal with One Nation in the recent Qld state election either, but they still chose to put One Nation above the ALP and Greens. This has led directly to One Nation winning a seat in the Qld Parliament – something that would not have happened had the LNP not chose to give their support to One Nation.

    This shows the Libs are prepared to support and legitimise One Nation, even in the absence of any preference deal. Until Mr Turnbull explicitly rules this out, we can only assume they will do the same at the next federal election, particularly in Qld seats.

  28. Svante
    December 7th, 2017 at 14:08 | #28

    “This has already happened to the LNP in Queensland and WA following disgraceful alliances with One Nation.” – JQ

    How so? One from opposition close to holding their own and that with similar policies to those they went into opposition with and with PHON preferencing sitting LNP members last. The other a tired government of a big bust after a mismanaged huge boom and past its used by date clearly seen desperately horse trading with PHON.

  29. Svante
    December 7th, 2017 at 14:58 | #29

    bjb :“We should reject the attempt to stop charitable groups from engaging in advocacy, even if we don’t always like what is being advocated.”
    It irritates me intensely whenever GetUp is mentioned in the media… We never hear the IPA introduced as “the right wing activist group, the IPA”.

    This afternoon the IPA have their man, Gary Johns, in place to head the ACNC and do the 5 yearly review that’s due, with review of the ACT itself due soon…

    ****—***-theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/dec/07/charities-criticise-bizarre-appointment-of-anti-charities-campaigner-as-head-of-regulator

    GetUp’s revenue amounts and sources aren’t top secrets. The IPA’s are. The religious institutions have huge revenue secrets. Perhaps at least half of all political parties’ revenues are also top secret. All should be publicly audited at least to the extent that GetUp currently is, but the aim should be complete transparency of all, including individuals and corporates.

  30. I am and will always be Not Trampis
    December 7th, 2017 at 15:05 | #30

    @Moz of Yarramulla
    okay attempting to change a government which anyone but a pedantic prat would have realised.

  31. Moz of Yarramulla
    December 7th, 2017 at 16:01 | #31

    @I am and will always be Not Trampis

    That’s not better – you’re still exempting the current government. My point was that the idea of “had the effect of changing the government” couldn’t be legislated. It would need to be reworded as “actions intended to influence the outcome of an election” or something, because that would be possible to decide before the election and independent of the result.

    But ad homenim comments aren’t really my thing.