Weekend reflections

This regular feature is back again. The idea is that, over the weekend, you should post your thoughts in a more leisurely fashion than in ordinary comments or the Monday Message Board.

If anyone has any thoughtful comments about how we should respond to terror attacks like the one we’ve just seen in London, I’d be glad to read them. Unfortunately, the thread below went into partisan pointscoring at the second comment, and was derailed thereafter, despite a few attempts to focus on what we have in common. I’ve been too busy to respond today, but from this point on I’ll delete or disemvowel anyone who, in my judgement, is more concerned with scoring points against domestic opponents than about dealing with Al Qaeda.

That said, part of the fight involves carrying on with normal life, so feel free to comment on other topics.

Please post your thoughts on any topic, at whatever length seems appropriate to you. Civilised discussion and no coarse language, please.

65 thoughts on “Weekend reflections

  1. Not a prediction, just a friendly reminder. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice. Shame on me.

  2. Ian Gould – I was waiting for somebody to raise those two cases. I acknowledge that Australian citizens should not have been detained, however in both cases the individuals presented as illegal entrants and their mental illnesses made it excessively difficult for those responsible to positively identify them. In fact, those examples make the case for those who have nothing to hide having nothing to fear – they effectively hid their Australian Citizenship, unintentionally due to mental illness, but hid all the same.

    Transposing the Rau experience to that of the ASIO Anti-terrorism Legislation, would you expect that if ASIO received intelligence of individuals planning terrorist actions, upon interviewing them, would immediately say – we think they are just wackos so we’ll let them go? I don’t think so.

    I get pulled over occaisionally to do a breathalyser test – it is an inconvenience, but I put up with it, I don’t have anything to hide so I don’t worry about it. The same applies now in relation to the ASIO Legislation. If I was now detained and questioned by ASIO, I would see it as my civic duty to assist them in any way I can.

  3. I love it when people insist that “there’s absolutely no evidence that the Government is/would abuse its’ powers” and then as soon as they ARE presented with irrefutable evidence immediately respond “See, the system works!”.

  4. Ian Gould – you could get killed a car accident. Do you still use the roads? It is a terrible risk to take!

  5. I’m sorry Razor, shouldn’t you be hiding under your bed in case of a terrorist attack?

  6. Razor – there is this strange concept called ‘liberty’, often couched as ‘ancient freedoms’, which is an entity we generally acknowledge as worth defending. It is particularly dear, I have to say, to people on the Right of politics.

    There are many reasons why people kick up a stink about the erosion of these conceptual necessities, but the notion of the slippery slope is pretty central. We should not build the tools of control that can be perverted by oppressors, because sooner or later, the oppressors will get enough control to get them out. Then we are doomed.

    Think Queensland. Think Bjelke-Petersen.

  7. So David Tiley, perhaps we should let everyone out of prison because they may have been incorrectly found guilty and incorrectly imprisoned? I didn’t think so.

    But, all this chicken little behaviour is ridiculous. I believe the minimal cost of the ASIO measures will be significantly outweighed by the benefits the Nation gets from having them in place.

    Terrorists only need to be lucky once, we need to be lucky all the time.

    Ian, just as you use the road networks, understanding the risks, I too get on with my life.

  8. Luis,
    what you said is true: there are organizations that provide materials, training, etc. As long as there’s demand, there will be a supply chain; just as surely as that as long as people want to use illegal drugs, illegal drugs will be sold.

    There isn’t much we can do about it on the supply side, I’m afraid, short of creating a police state where everyone and everything is watched at all times. I’m assuming this is not an acceptable solution.

  9. Razor: Ian, just as you use the road networks, understanding the risks, I too get on with my life.

    Yes but I don;t use the threat of traffic accidents as a rationale to call for the return of Red Flag laws and shoot-to-kill powers for parking meter attendants.

  10. Ian and Alpaca, that is because we set ourselves acceptable levels of perceived risk. Aircraft safety is a significantly higher standard than road vehicle safety because the public demand it, yet you are more likely to suffer injury or death on the road. Similarly, defence forces train at different levels of combat realism based on a whole range of factors – a peace time Reservist Unit has very tight safety restraints on training making it unrealistic as compared to the SASR who fire live ammuntion in very close proximity to each other because they accept the level of risk. Bank Tellers these days are behind plexiglass cages, where they used to be open – the change is because the risks were seen as unacceptable.

    The risks from Terrorism are unacceptable.

  11. The risks of dying from terrorism within Australia on all empirical evidence to date is effectively zero.

    Can I suggest that mashing all your food to avoid possible choking hazards is probably a more rational course of action than worrying about terrorism?

  12. Ian – I suggest you try and get elected on that. Perhaps you could get some of the Bali Bombing survivors to hand out how-to-vote cards.

    Is the reason that there has not been an attack on Australian soil because the enemy do not want to? Or, because they have been unable to due to our security measures? I’m sure tha Bali and Embassy Bombers in Indonesia would love the opportunity to attack us in Australia if they were given the chance.

  13. In other words, you’re arguing for changing a system that already works superbly well.

  14. Ancient freedoms were certain specific freedoms (though often misrepresented). They were not the same as liberty more broadly understood.

    It goes back to the shifts in thinking and practice in and around the 17th century in England. You find liberty in general condemned as the conduct of libertines, in Spenser a couple of generations before. And generations later you find the wholly abstract concept of liberty as practised by American rebels, which did not blink at slavery or the deportation of loyalists.

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