Saturday, May 10, 2003
Age of Consent for “Gay” sex
THE NEW SOUTH WALES Labor Government intends this week to introduce a Bill to lower the age of consent for homosexual relations from eighteen years to sixteen years.
The advocates for this Bill seek to give the false impression that a differential age of consent somehow infringes on personal liberty. No boy of sixteen years has his personal liberty infringed by being partially protected from sexual advances by older males. The present legal position recognises the reality that many male homosexuals pursue partners on the basis of “the younger the better”. The present legal position recognises also that boys below the age of eighteen are very commonly in a situation where an older male has a position of influence or even control, which might be abused for self-gratification.
If this Bill is passed, then the effects will include:
* The catchment area will be greatly widened for homosexuals who seek to seduce young men.
* Boys from the age of sixteen will be deprived of a legal protection which presently provides them with one defence against expert seducers who target lonely and depressed youngsters and whose weaponry includes a range of drugs, particularly alcohol and marijuana.
* Boys from the age of sixteen will be at greater risk of being inveigled into a lifestyle decision which could be regretted rapidly, and which could contribute to long-term depression and even suicide.
* Boys two years younger than at present will be exposed to the greatly increased risk of AIDS, Hepatitis, the whole range of venereal diseases, and the infections of the gastro-intestinal tract which are common among homosexual males.
It is reported that the major parties will allow their members a conscience vote on this important issue. Within the Liberal Party, newly elected Upper House Member Hon David Clarke MLC is certain to perform strongly in opposing the Bill. I look forward to hearing from other Liberal Parliamentarians from both Houses who intend to oppose the Bill.
Comments? Email Michael Darby
Friday, May 09, 2003
Tolerating the intolerable
Excerpts from an article by R.E. Tyrrell
It is a peculiarity of modern times that as the brutality rises to a more atrocious level, we become inured to the atrocity. I first became aware of our modern tolerance of the intolerable when product-tampering became a social problem. Very few of us here in America expressed the horror that I would have expected at the emergence from within our midst of monsters poisoning consumer products on the shelves of retail outlets for the purpose of extorting money or of redressing some personal grievance. Companies simply created "tamper-proof" packaging and passed the expense on to consumers.
On a more diabolical scale, society seems to have accepted the emergence of the "suicide bomber." Many even accept the pro-Palestinian claims that these murderers are driven to their grisly deeds by "despair" or "desperation" caused by Israel's commitment to its security. Why did other aggrieved peoples not think of this useful expedient? During Nazi occupation, why did the Poles or the Czechs not wrap themselves in explosives and blow up a German officers' hang out?
So the suicide bombers are Israel's responsibility. It reminds me of the Cold War, when every effort we made to protect ourselves was seen by the anti-anti-communists as the cause of communist insecurity and militarism.
The calm with which the world witnesses the use of young suicides as instruments of war is startling. It is particularly startling given our many pieties. We are against child labor, and there are boycotts in the Western world against "giant corporations" that employ child labor in the Third World, though such laborers may be bettering themselves financially and living far better than when unemployed and sitting in the dirt of a backward village. We oppose the skin trade, and of course we oppose Third World parents selling their children into slavery. So where is the outrage when the Saudis and Saddam reward Palestinian families whose children commit homicidal suicide? Is it more acceptable to sell one's daughter into suicide than into slavery?
In Araby, these suicides are accepted not merely with serenity but with open admiration. What other civilization has admired human sacrifice? Well, long ago some ancient Chinese favored such grim conclusions, as did the adepts of early Hinduism -- but both groups were only intent on improving the humors of their dyspeptic gods. Among the great civilizations willing to practice human sacrifice, only the Aztecs favored suicide both for religious and military purposes -- and they did it on a grander scale than have the Palestinians, at least so far. In suicidal war and in religious ceremonies, as many as 20,000 Aztecs, historians tell us, sought to please the sun god in happy dispatch, which might also explain why the Aztecs never really had much of a population problem.
Is it too disturbing to think that the modern suicide bomber is following a course hitherto only approved of by 15th century aboriginal peoples devoted to the humors of the sun god? Or is it simply that so few modern minds think about the past? In so doing, we have come to accept the grotesque and the macabre as part of life.
Comments? Email Michael Darby
Thursday, May 08, 2003
Megaphone for a Dictator: CNN's Coverage of Castro's Cuba, 1997-2002
Five years ago, CNN became the first U.S.-based news organization with a full-time news bureau in communist Cuba in nearly 30 years. As an independent and highly-regarded news organization, CNN's mission was to transmit the reality of Castro's dictatorship to American audiences. In 1997, then-White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry told reporters that "reporting of truth about the conditions in Cuba would further... peaceful, democratic change in Cuba." CNN officials also had high hopes. Incoming Havana bureau chief Lucia Newman assured viewers "we will be given total freedom to do what we want and to work without prior censorship."
CNN's Havana bureau now has a five-year track record that can be evaluated, and the results are not good. Media Research Center analysts reviewed all 212 stories about the Cuban government or Cuban life that were presented on CNN's prime time news programs from March 17, 1997, the date the Havana bureau was established, through March 17, 2002. MRC's analysis found that instead of exposing the totalitarian regime that runs Cuba, CNN has allowed itself to become just another component of Fidel Castro's propaganda machine.
CNN gave spokesmen for the communist regime a major advantage, broadcasting sound bites from Fidel Castro and his spokesmen six times more frequently than non-communist groups such as Catholic church leaders and peaceful dissidents.
CNN's stories included six times as many sound bites from everyday Cubans who voiced agreement with Castro and supported his policies than quotes from Cuban citizens disagreeing with the government. This left American audiences with the impression that Castro's communist government is overwhelmingly popular among the Cuban public.
CNN provided very little coverage of Cuba's dissidents, who were the focus of only seven of the 212 Cuba stories broadcast during the past five years, or about three percent of CNN's total coverage. That's fewer than half as many stories as 4. CNN produced in just the first three months of 2002 about alleged human rights abuses by the United States against prisoners held at its base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
CNN also practically ignored Cuba's lack of democracy, a topic which was featured in only four stories (or just under two percent). One of those reports, in January 1998, consisted of Lucia Newman trumpeting Cuba's rigged election as superior to those in the U.S. because they have "no dubious campaign spending" and "no mud slinging."
Much of CNN's coverage of Cuba focused on the tiniest slices of everyday life, which created the sense that Cuba was basically a normal country, not one in the grip of a dictatorship's secret security apparatus. Instead of focusing on the regime's human rights abuses, CNN showed Cubans waiting for ice cream cones, profiled a promising young ballerina, and interviewed a 94-year- old guitar player.
On CNN, Castro was treated more as a celebrity than a tyrant. Rather than revealing the dirty secrets of his dictatorship to the world, CNN reported on Castro's 73rd birthday celebrations and, in February 2000, featured the dictator's office in the "Cool Digs" segment of CNN's Newsstand.
The MRC report concluded that "CNN could have used its unique bureau to add to the American public's knowledge of the only totalitarian state in the Western hemisphere. But instead of enlightening the public about the regime's repression, CNN's Havana office has mainly provided Castro and his subordinates with a megaphone to defend their dictatorship and denigrate their democratic opponents."
Comments? Email Michael Darby
Wednesday, May 07, 2003
WHY THE U.S. AND ISRAEL ARE HATED BY INTELLECTUALS
Excerpts from: “Among the Bourgeoisophobes” by David Brooks. Written over a year ago but still relevant today
AROUND 1830, a group of French artists and intellectuals looked around and noticed that people who were their spiritual inferiors were running the world. Suddenly a large crowd of merchants, managers, and traders were making lots of money, living in the big houses, and holding the key posts. They had none of the high style of the aristocracy, or even the earthy integrity of the peasants. Instead, they were gross. They were vulgar materialists, shallow conformists, and self-absorbed philistines, who half the time failed even to acknowledge their moral and spiritual inferiority to the artists and intellectuals. What's more, it was their very mediocrity that accounted for their success. Through some screw-up in the great scheme of the universe, their narrow-minded greed had brought them vast wealth, unstoppable power, and growing social prestige.
Naturally, the artists and intellectuals were outraged. Hatred of the bourgeoisie became the official emotion of the French intelligentsia. Stendhal said traders and merchants made him want to "weep and vomit at the same time." Flaubert thought they were "plodding and avaricious." Hatred of the bourgeoisie, he wrote, "is the beginning of all virtue." He signed his letters "Bourgeoisophobus" to show how much he despised "stupid grocers and their ilk."
Of all the great creeds of the 19th century, pretty much the only one still thriving is this one, bourgeoisophobia. Marxism is dead. Freudianism is dead. Social Darwinism is dead, along with all those theories about racial purity that grew up around it. But the emotions and reactions that Flaubert, Stendhal, and all the others articulated in the 1830s are still with us, bigger than ever. In fact, bourgeoisophobia, which has flowered variously and spread to places as diverse as Baghdad, Ramallah, and Beijing, is the major reactionary creed of our age.
This is because today, in much of the world's eyes, two peoples--the Americans and the Jews--have emerged as the great exemplars of undeserved success. Americans and Israelis, in this view, are the money-mad molochs of the earth, the vulgarisers of morals, corrupters of culture, and proselytisers of idolatrous values. These two nations, it is said, practice conquest capitalism, overrunning poorer nations and exploiting weaker neighbours in their endless desire for more and more. These two peoples, the Americans and the Jews, in the view of the bourgeoisophobes, thrive precisely because they are spiritually stunted. It is their obliviousness to the holy things in life, their feverish energy, their injustice, their shallow pursuit of power and gain, that allow them to build fortunes, construct weapons, and play the role of hyperpower.
And so just as the French intellectuals of the 1830s rose up to despise the traders and bankers, certain people today rise up to shock, humiliate, and dream of destroying America and Israel. Today's bourgeoisophobes burn with the same sense of unjust inferiority. They experience the same humiliation because there is nothing they can do to thwart the growing might of their enemies. They rage and rage. Only today's bourgeoisophobes are not just artists and intellectuals. They are as likely to be terrorists and suicide bombers. They teach in madrassas, where they are careful not to instruct their students in the sort of practical knowledge that dominates bourgeois schools. They are Muslim clerics who incite hatred and violence. They are erudite Europeans who burn with humiliation because they know, deep down, that both America and Israel possess a vitality and heroism that their nations once had but no longer do.
Today the battle lines are forming. The dispute over Palestine, which was once a local conflict about land, has been transformed into a great cultural showdown. The vast array of bourgeoisophobes--Yasser Arafat's guerrilla socialists, Hamas's Islamic fundamentalists, Jose Bove's anti-globalist leftists, America's anti-colonial multiculturalists, and the BBC's Oxbridge mediacrats--focus their diverse rages and resentments on this one conflict.
The bourgeoisophobes have no politburo. There is no bourgeoisophobe central command. They have no plausible strategy for victory. They have only their nihilistic rage, their envy mixed with snobbery, their snide remarks, their newspaper distortions, their conspiracy theories, their suicide bombs and terror attacks--and above all, a burning sense that the rising, vibrant, and powerful peoples of America and Israel must be humiliated and brought low.
Bourgeoisophobia is really a hatred of success. It is a hatred held by people who feel they are spiritually superior but who find themselves economically, politically, and socially outranked. They conclude that the world is diseased, that it rewards the wrong values, the wrong people, and the wrong abilities. They become cynical if they are soft inside, violent if they are hard. In the bourgeoisophobe's mind, the people and nations that do succeed are not just slightly vulgar, not just over-compensated, not just undeservedly lucky. They are monsters, non-human beasts who, in extreme cases, can be blamelessly killed. This Manichaean divide between the successful, who are hideous, and the bourgeoisophobes, who are spiritually pristine, was established early in the emergence of the creed. The early 19th-century German poet Holderlin couldn't just ignore the merchant bourgeoisie; he had to declare the middle classes "deeply incapable of every divine emotion." In other words, scarcely human.
Holderlin's countryman Werner Sombart later wrote a quintessential bourgeoisophobe text called "Traders and Heroes," in which he argued that there are two basic human types: "The trader approaches life with the question, what can you give me? . . . The hero approaches life with the question what can I give you?" The trader, then, is the selfish capitalist who lives a meager, artificial life amidst "pocket-watches, newspapers, umbrellas, books, sewage disposal, politics." The hero is the total man, who is selfless, vital, spiritual, and free. An honest person might ascribe another's success to a superior work ethic, self-discipline, or luck--just being in the right place at the right time and possessing the right skills. A normal person might look at a rich and powerful country and try to locate the source of its vitality, to measure its human and natural resources, its freedom, its institutions and social norms. But for the bourgeoisophobe, other people's success is never legitimate or deserved. To him, success comes to those who worship the golden calf, the idol, the Satanic corrupter, gold.
When bourgeoisophobes describe their enemies, they almost always portray them as money-mad, as crazed commercialists. And this vulgar materialism, in their view, has not only corrupted the soul of the bourgeoisie, but through them threatens to debase civilization itself and the whole world. It threatens, in the words of the supreme bourgeoisophobe, Karl Marx, to take all that is holy and make it profane.
Some of the more pessimistic bourgeoisophobes come to believe that the worst is already at hand. "Our poor country lies in Roman decadence," the French conservative poet Arthur de Gobineau lamented in 1840. "We are without fibre or moral energy. I no longer believe in anything. . . . MONEY HAS KILLED EVERYTHING." (A great place to read bourgeoisophobe writing is Arthur Herman's "The Idea of Decline in Western History." Bourgeoisophobia is not Herman's theme, but his book does such a magnificent job of surveying two centuries of pessimistic thought that most of the key bourgeoisophobes are quoted.)
And once the bourgeoisophobes had experienced the basic spasm of reaction, they soon settled on the Americans and Jews as two of the chief objects of their ire. Because, as Henry Steele Commager once noted, no country in the world ever succeeded like America, and everybody knew it. And no people in the European experience ever achieved such sustained success as the Jews.
So the Jews were quickly established in the bourgeoisophobe imagination as the ultimate commercial people. They were the bankers, the traders, the soulless and sharp dealmakers who crawled through the cellars of honest and noble cultures and infected them with their habits and practices. The 19th-century Teutonic philosopher Houston Chamberlain said of the Jews that "their existence is a crime against the holy laws of life." The Jewish religion, he said, is "rigid," "scanty," and "sterile."
The American bourgeoisophobe family, the Adamses, contained more than its share of anti-Semites. Brooks Adams lamented that "England is as much governed by the Jews of Berlin, Paris and New York as the native growth." Adams compared the Jews to a vast syndicate and declared simply, "They control the world." Henry Adams protested against the interlocked power of "Wall Street, State Street and Jerusalem." Later, the English historian Arnold Toynbee argued that the Jews, with their "consummate virtuosity in commerce and finance," had infected Western civilization with a crass materialism. Through their arrogance and viciousness, they were responsible for capitalism, godless communism, and the Holocaust, and so had contributed to Europe's decline.
Comments? Email Michael Darby
Tuesday, May 06, 2003
ISLAMIC TERRORISTS IN WEST NEW GUINEA
I do not have the resources for independent verification of the following deeply disturbing item from West Papua New Guinea. The people of West Papua New Guinea (West Irian) have suffered great wrongs. Their voice deserves to be heard.
INDONESIAN GOVERNMENT AND MILITARY DEPLOY PRO AL-QAEDA FORCES IN WEST PAPUA
Comments? Email Michael Darby
Monday, May 05, 2003
AUSTRALIA’S “HEAD OF STATE”
Again and again we hear from opponents of constitutional monarchy the chanting of the mantra "We must have our own Head of State".
This writer has explained frequently and at length that while the term "Head of State" not used in the Australian Constitution, (and is in fact superfluous), by any reasonable definition Austrlia's Head of State is the Governor-General.
Republican enthusiast Malcolm Turnbull - a well educated man - was in no doubt on this point in 1993 when he wrote "The Reluctant Republic" (ISBN 1 86330 417 7, 1994, Reed Books Australia, 22 Salmon St, Port Melbourne Victoria 3207 Australia).
Commencing at page 81, under the heading "The Ceremonial Duties of the Head of State", Mr Turnbull writes: "The duties of the Governor-General (in common with State Governors) can be divided into three parts. The largest part of the Governor General's work is almost entirely ceremonial or community work. This appears to occupy about 80 per cent of the Governor-General's time. The balance of the time is taken up with government fucnctios where the Governor-General acts on the advice of the Government of the day.
The author continues: "As Head of State the Governor-General acts as the official representative of the Australian Commonwealth. He or she receives ambassadors and visiting dignitaries, is invited to open art festivals, cattle shows, learned conferences and so on."
Earlier in the same Chapter ("The Office of the President") Mr Turnbull correctly states: "The Governor-General is described in section 68 of the Constitution as being the Commander-in-Chief of the naval and miliatry forces of the Commonewalth. Theoretically, he could call out the troops and instruct them to call out the troops and instruct them to arest the Prime Minister and machine-gun his Ministers. The generals commanding the army, however, would be most unlikely to take any instructions from the Governor-General on this, or any other, matter."
Comments? Email Michael Darby
Sunday, May 04, 2003
IRENE GLEESON, AUSSIE HEROINE IN UGANDA
(Text by courtesy of the Rotary Club of Balmoral)
Irene Gleeson is a teacher and grandmother with 4 children and 10 grandchildren from the Sydney northern beaches who previously financially "sponsored" 23 children from Uganda 12 years ago a country ravaged by famine and warfare. She decided to sell her home in the northern beaches and moved to the remote region of Northern Uganda near Kitgum and initially used her own funds to establish the "Victory House" compound a facility to feed, educate, provide clothing and medicine for currently 2,000 Ugandan children.
These children come from the surrounding countryside where they often live in a grass hut and exist on a piece of dried fish and millet daily. They often sleep on the ground with insects and mites. Sanitation is the bush and water supplies bore water some 2km away.
The day starts at Victory House with classes and education and training on areas to facilitate the building of other improvements to the compound. These skills will be passed on to others as the education/training program continues. "Porridge" made from maize flour is served midmorning and sustains the children throughout the day.
Importantly, all Australian workers are unpaid receiving only food & shelter.
The philosophy encompassed is that of Galileo:
"Give a man a fish you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish you feed him for lifetime"
The mission of Childcare International is over the next 12 months:
1. To sponsor fully 2,000 children at a cost $1 per day for a year.
2. Build an AIDS hospice costing $200,000 for people dying of AIDS to die with dignity.
3. To rescue the other 58,000 orphans in the district and alleviate their suffering with food, schooling, clothing and medicine.
More than once Irene's life has been endangered by thieves with machetes attempting to rob her of Childcare International's money.
Support of the children can be achieved by sponsoring one or more children at $1 per day and details can be obtained from Childcare International (Sydney) 9948 5344. Email: paulz @ amaze.net.au
Comments? Email Michael Darby