Archives For July 2019

Correcting someone is no easy task. Correcting that someone who happens to be your own child, when they think they’ve ace’d a technique but haven’t, and the task can be downright painful.

When correcting a bad technique, it doesn’t matter how much planning is put into the delivery and tone, there is going to be drama because there’s no soft alternative to “you’re doing that the wrong way, here’s why.

Correcting a bad technique is nowhere as difficult as landing a jet on a short metal strip floating in the ocean, but I think the analogy works.

The plane is lined up with the runway, we have green lights flashing back at us, the approach looks good, flaps are down, and everyone’s happy. This is until the actual landing, when your approach doesn’t go as well as first imagined. The landing is sloppy, the plane slams down on the runway, but the hook grabs the cable and violently snaps everything safely into place. You walk away with bruises, mission complete.

Correction works in a similar way. It involves confrontation and conflict. Tears and frustration are an almost unavoidable part of the job. It’s better to be aware of this, and plan to counter the reaction by making room for tears and frustration, than getting caught in the wave of emotions that will leave you feeling like the worst parent in the world.

Correction held in balance with compassion, is a loving act. It’s better to address the incorrect technique now, than ignore it, and let our children think they’ve got it right. I’d prefer a little heat to come my way now, after I’ve corrected our homeschooling child’s musical technique, than stay silent out of fear of hurting their feelings and have to deal with their sense of betrayal later. Better a little frustration with me now, than betrayal and anger born out of embarrassment, when they go to perform using that musical skill, thinking it’s correct, only to be told by others it’s not.

What would be wrong is me not loving my children enough, to tell them where, and when they have gotten something wrong. It’s self-serving to stay silent; to act out of self-preservation for fear hurting their feelings or fear of entering into an uncomfortable conversation, because of the inevitable conflict attached.

Correcting my kids is one of the hardest parts of being a homeschool dad. I don’t like the task and loathe being the “bad cop”. However, by taking on Paul’s advice in Ephesians 4:15 and speaking the truth in love, I’m saying to my kids that I refuse to abandon them to the world, their mistakes, or to a life of avoidable failure. I’m showing them that I am fighting for them, not against them; that I will fight for them, even if it means saying “no” to them.

Correction develops resilience and character in both of us. This application of speaking truth in love transforms an awkward job into a learning opportunity; through the tears and frustration, we find a path towards setting up our homeschoolers for success.

Not every confrontation can be planned ahead in advance, this doesn’t have to mean that we are doomed to crash and burn as parents or home educators.

Going back to the plane analogy, have the courage to land, even when fear compels us to avoid the subject. Have the best approach possible and keep in mind the axiom, that any landing you can walk away from is a good one.


Photo by Spencer Imbrock on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2019

Last weekend, ‘thugs for hire’ terrorized the town of Yuen Long, Hong Kong, beating up anti-extradition, pro-freedom, pro-Democracy protesters.

Two days ago, University of Toronto professor, Lynette H. Ong in an article for the Washington Post, noted that there were reports the “thugs for hire” were connected to organized crime, however Ong said that there was evidence to suggest ‘that the attacks were orchestrated by pro-Beijing forces, with one pro-Beijing lawmaker reportedly congratulating the attackers.’ [i]

Whether from a plausible deniability angle or open allegiance, authoritarian governments are historically known for outsourcing organized 3rd party mobs to do their bidding. The most famous being the Sturmabteilung (Nazi Storm Detachment/Troopers). According to Ong, it’s likely that “thugs for hire” offers the Communist regime an ‘expedient strategy to intimidate pro-Democracy protesters. This allows authorities to skirt responsibility for any violence that may take place.’ Ong continued, stating, ‘short of rolling in tanks, outsourced violence arguably may be the most effective means to ward of protesters.’ [ii]

Lily Kuo in the Guardian gave some geographical context, writing that Yeon long is ‘one of the more remote areas’ where pro-Democracy protesters ‘hadn’t planned to demonstrate’ against the extradition bill. This changed when ‘commuters returning from dinner, going to meet friends or some coming back from the pro-democracy rally in Central Hong Kong, were met by dozens of masked men in white T-shirts, armed with rattan rods (martial arts sticks) and other weapons’. [iii]

In the shadow of China’s incarceration of Church leaders, destruction of church buildings, and general persecution of Christians, including the Chinese Government’s reported reeducation camps where up to ‘one million Uighur Muslims’ have been detained, the concerns of pro-freedom, pro-Democracy protesters in Hong Kong appear justified.

According to Kuo, the change in law would ‘allow the extradition of suspects to mainland China [iv]; supporters say the amendments are key to ensuring the city doesn’t become a criminal refuge, but critics worry Beijing will use the law to extradite political opponents and others to China, where their legal protections cannot be guaranteed.’

The violence wasn’t just isolated to Hong Kong. On the 25th, pro-Beijing Chinese students clashed with pro-Hong Kong Chinese students during a protest on Brisbane’s, University of Queensland campus. The ABC described the clash as ‘four hour’ standoff between the two groups.

Alex Linder of Shanghaiist said that the standoff and subsequent ‘pushing and shoving’ began when pro-Beijing Chinese students ‘arrived blasting out China’s national anthem, chanting slogans, and later grabbing [anti-Communist] protesters signs and ripping them’. [v]

If Ong is right and the white shirts are “thugs hired” by the Communist regime it’s an escalation which reinforces the concerns of pro-democracy protesters. It’s doubtful that this well-worn authoritarian tactic of political intimidation will have the desired effect.

The events in Hong Kong on the weekend are also noteworthy for their similarity to Antifa. Semi-uniformed thugs wearing masks, rampaging against anyone wearing a MAGA hat, all reflect Antifa’s modus operandi – the stand out example being Antifa’s brutal assault on journalist, Andy Ngo, back in June. An event Quillette Magazine called ‘a wakeup call for authorities and journalists alike’, stating:

We are ‘hoping that our fellow journalists might awaken from the delusion that Antifa is a well-intentioned band of anti-fascists with a few bad apples sullying the cause. As Quillette reported last month, a simple statistical study serves to show that the journalists who cover Antifa most often and most energetically have turned their outlets into pro-Antifa propaganda organs. Indeed, this bias is so entrenched that some left-wing media responded to our report not with introspection, but with paranoid and maudlin claims that Quillette and its authors must be secretly in league with Antifa’s fascist enemies.’

If Antifa are true anti-fascists, where are they’re protests in solidarity with pro-Democracy Chinese demonstrators? Where is Antifa’s stand against real suffering under oppressive authoritarianism in countries such as Communist China, Venezuela, Iran, and North Korea?

As important as Ong’s tentative conclusions about pro-Beijing “white shirts” are, her conclusions also lead us to question Antifa’s origins, and backing. Are Antifa also “thugs for hire”? If so, who’s fitting the bill?


References:

[i] Ong, L.H, 2019. In Hong Kong, are ‘thugs for hire’ behind the attacks on protesters? Here’s what we know about these groups, Washington Post. Sourced 26th July, 2019

[ii] ibid, 2019

[iii] Kuo, L. 2019. All Hong Kongers are scared’: protests to widen as rural residents fight back, The Guardian, Sourced 26th July 2019

[iv] Kuo, L. & Yu, V. 2019 What are the Hong Kong protests about?’ The Guardian, Sourced 26th July, 2019

[v] Linder, A. 2019. ‘Chinese students interrupt pro-Hong Kong rally at Australian university, chaos ensues’. Shanghaiist, Sourced 26th July, 2019.

Photo credit: TYRONE SIU/REUTERS

Originally published on Caldron Pool, 27th July, 2019

©Rod Lampard, 2019

 

Activists trying to rally Australians around the idea of Indigenous Australian representation in Parliament have tied their argument in knots. Their message is vague, and their reliance on the simplistic slogan, “Indigenous voice” provides little clarity about what direction they’re advocating Australians take.

As a result the push for an “Indigenous voice” has been interpreted as a one of two things: a) call for another advisory group, or b) a call for an entirely new governing body. [i]

The latter can only be interpreted as a push for a ‘third branch of Government’, and the former, as a push to return to a system like the failed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) advisory committee established in 1989. If the former, why isn’t the new advisory group, National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) good enough?

If you’re not familiar with the history, ATSIC replaced NAC, which was established in 1980. NAC replaced the NACC which was established in 1973; all had the express purpose of ‘advising the government on Indigenous affairs policy.’ [ii]

The aim was to have a committee made up of Indigenous Australians who were democratically elected by Indigenous Australians, to provide a platform for specific Indigenous Australian representation.

Why? Perception drives demand. General elections aren’t seen as doing enough. It’s assumed that the collective vote of Indigenous Australians is so small, that an Indigenous Australian “voice” in how Australia is governed is rarely, if ever, heard. The inclusive constitutional democratic vote made by ALL Australians of voting age, is seen to only serve the non-Indigenous Australian majority, thus the assumed necessity for a specific ethnic advisory committee such as NACC, NAC and ATSIC.

In 2005, ATSIC was discontinued by both the LNP and Labor because of corruption. ATSIC was no longer functional or practical when it came to providing Indigenous Australians with the most effective help.

Criticisms of ATSIC, not connected to corruption, suggest that activist calls for an “Indigenous voice” are in fact more than just calls for another advisory group.

Before ATSIC’s demise, it was attacked  from within the Indigenous community, for not having enough authority. The perception was that ‘advice fell on deaf ears’; that ATSIC ‘produced a white bureaucracy because it couldn’t employ its own staff’, it was over-regulated, ‘not properly representative’, and didn’t have enough women on the board. [iii]

This rebounds against some criticisms from now ex-Liberal M.P. Christopher Pyne, who in 2003, called ATSIC a ‘gravy train’.

Pyne argued that ‘a lack of accountability has turned ATSIC into a bureaucratic, inefficient organization that squanders taxpayer funds…By failing to confront ATSIC’s problems, advocates of indigenous interests have reinforced the talkback-radio caricature of Aborigines as rorters of the system. If Aboriginal interests are to be advanced, ATSIC cannot continue to escape scrutiny. While the ATSIC gravy train rolls on, ordinary Aborigines continue to suffer.’ [iv]

The problems with ATSIC, the vague message and reliance simplistic slogans from advocates for an “Indigenous voice”, should intensify concern about what advocates want an “Indigenous voice” to look like. We can add to these concerns any proposal to enshrine ethnicity into Australia’s constitution under the term “Indigenous voice”; as is proposed by Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt and the Referendum Council.

Daniel Wild of the IPA rightly red flagged the notion, stating:

“…91% of Australians voted in 1967 to change the Constitution to remove references to race. This was an important step towards achieving equality for indigenous Australians. It is disappointing that now, 52 years later, both major political parties want to put race back into the Constitution. Indigenous Australians and non-Indigenous Australians are all first and foremost Australians who share a common country, legal system, and destiny. A ‘voice’ is not able to represent only one segment of the Australian population, because all policy decisions apply to all Australians regardless of their race.” [v]

Indigenous Australians already have a higher representation in the official Australian calendar, than any other ethnicity. Eleven events enshrined in the national calendar, including a satisfactory level of Indigenous history taught as part of the Australian Curriculum proves that Indigenous Australians have a voice.

For example:

3 February – Anniversary of the Apology (2008)
21 March – National Close the Gap Day
26 May – National Sorry Day
27 May – Anniversary of the 1967 Referendum
27 May – 3 June – Reconciliation Week
3 June – Mabo Day
7-14 July  – NAIDOC Week
4 August – National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day
9 August – International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples
4 September – Indigenous Literacy Day
13 September – Anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People

This list doesn’t include Ken Wyatt’s Ministry position, which gives indigenous Australians representation, or welcome to country ceremonies. Nor does this list include Indigenous Australian flags flown next to Australian flags on, or near, every Government building. In addition, this list doesn’t include the specialized Government programs only accessible to Indigenous Australians such as Abstudy, nor does it include privatised ethno-centric schemes which specialize in only serving Indigenous Australians by providing further assistance when buying a home.

It’s an enormous credit to every Australian that our Indigenous neighbours already have a voice like this in our community.

We as a nation already share the responsibility of giving above and beyond to those vulnerable in our community. This includes giving Indigenous Australians the tools needed for them to liberate and launch themselves from Government dependency into self-sufficiency.

So why are there calls for an ‘Indigenous voice’ when it’s obvious Indigenous Australians have one?

The naysayers who spread the toxin of white guilt and white privilege want more. They prefer we sign on to a Marx-esk revision of history, redefining history with terms like “first nations” instead of tribes, all in order to bolster their attacks on Australia Day, in support of the dubious term “invasion day”.

To the naysayers, we as a nation aren’t carrying our fair share of responsibility for our Indigenous neighbours. To them Indigenous recognition doesn’t go far enough, even though Indigenous Australians have the highest (and only ethnic) representation on the national calendar, and as an ethnic group now have their own ministerial department.

The naysayers forget that individual responsibility trumps government programs. It’s true that we may need to reform these programs, but we don’t need more of them.

We certainly don’t need a new third tier of the federal government; one where membership is solely based on ethnicity, tribe, dialect, melanin, blood and soil, and not on merit or election via the constitutional democracy process that gives a voice to all Australians.

As said the great ANZAC, General John Monash, who went to India, in a clear refusal to not entertain those trying to get him to head a Communist-inspired coup in Australia during the 1930’s:

”…Depend upon it, the only hope for Australia is the ballot box, and an educated electorate.” (Roland Perry, Monash. 2004:509.)

Indigenous Australians have recognition. They are already an integral part of the Australian voice and cultural identity.

Beware of those who say otherwise.


References:

[i] Bennett, S. & Pratt, A. Current Issues Brief no. 4 2004-2005: The End of ATSIC and the future administration of Indigenous affairs, Parliament of Australia.

[ii] Anthony, T. 2010. Learning from ATSIC, The ABC.

[iii] This seems to have been confirmed by The ABC, in an article from Thalia Anthony called “Learning from ATSIC” (2010).

Thalia pointed out that since the disbanding of ATSIC, ‘lobbyists for Indigenous representation at a national level have been drawing up blue prints for a national Indigenous body. At the fore has been the proposal by the Australian Human Rights Commission for a National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples in Our future in our hands. The Commission’s proposal consists of a National Congress, which constitutes 128 delegates from across Australia. Some delegates will be appointed based on merit and other will be elected from Indigenous organizations. The Congress will then elect a National Executive of six part-time members and two full-time Chairs, with a requirement of 50 per cent female representation. In addition, an Ethics Council of senior Indigenous peoples to oversee the work of the National Congress.’

[iv] Pyne, C. 2003. Why the ATSIC gravy train must be derailed, The Age.

[v] Wild. D. & Begg. M, 2019. Race has no place in the Constitution

©Rod Lampard, 2019

“Love is love” is slogan that assuages all sexual sin.

If “love is love” is the new moral standard, then adultery, promiscuity, bestiality, and number of other sexual sins are not only justifiable, they are permissible.

This is because “love is love” falsely elevates sexual sin to a morally superior position, where anyone who stands opposed to the assumed “love is love” standard, is belittled as “unloving and immoral”.

Heterosexuals who spout “love is love” know that in the current climate, “love is love” covers a multitude of sexual sin, so why not jump on the bandwagon? Especially when embracing the slogan, enables them to pursue an anything goes ethos.

In the light of this, it’s easy enough to see how the widespread support and use of the “love is love” slogan, isn’t as altruistic or as selfless as it seems. From this perspective, heterosexual support for SSM, and homosexuality, in general, is pure self-centeredness.*

In the words of psychiatrist Karl Menninger, ‘the lure of profit exceeds the prestige of prophet.’ [i]

Pornography also contributes. Many a breakup and the continuing dysfunction of marriages can be attributed to the mythic, false and distorted view that pornography creates in men, about women and sex.

What’s more, these points uncover just how asinine the “love is love” slogan is.

Love cannot define itself.  Love is defined by God. Love comes from who God is. He cannot be anything, or anyone other than who He is.

The very fact that God is love means we cannot say in reverse that love is God. The noun precedes the verb, not the reverse.

Love is defined by the One who exists outside of humanity. His love enters time and space, and graciously seeks out relationship with us.

Love is defined by the One who comes to humanity from outside itself, as both grace and command. God is love and He presents knowledge about Himself to humanity, through His covenant with Israel, and by His revelation in Jesus Christ.

Love is defined by the One who seeks human response, the One who builds life, and gives order to creation; the One who doesn’t abandon His creation to its own inclinations, or the terror of the abyss. In the words of John, ‘we love because He first loved us.’ (1 John 4:19, ESV).

This is the ‘sovereignty of His love’, which doesn’t ‘exercise mechanical force, to move the immobile from without, [or] to rule over puppets or slaves, but rather to triumph in faithful servants and friends, not in their overthrow, but in their obedience, in their own free decision for Him.’ [i]

The ‘sovereignty of God’s love’ liberates humanity from subjective, abstract and artificial alternatives. We are emancipated from the burden of the oppressor, who defines love by whatever he or she decides it should or could be.

To borrow from G.K. Chesterton in Orthodoxy, those who seek to define love by itself, seek the moon, and its morbid light. Then in confusion, ponder about why it doesn’t produce life. Leading G.K.C to conclude: hence, ‘the moon is the mother of lunatics and has given them all her name.’

The individual who jettisons the ‘the sovereignty of God’s love’ from love inevitably asserts a definition of love made in their own image and desires.

Under the “love is love” slogan, no one is allowed to challenge this definition. Any reasoned disagreement outside this abstract idea of love, is measured as an act of hatred, betrayal and treachery – anti-love.

Therefore, to assert that God is love is to enter into a revolt against it.

As a revolt it asserts that love is not Lordless. Love is not meaningless or without purpose. Love is defined by what God does, and what God does comes from who God is [ii].

Love cannot define itself any more than the slave or abused child can define freedom. The sin of others has distorted their view of the world. Lies replace truth. They’re been taught to believe the abuse he or she receives at the hands of their oppressor is normal. In this way, “love is love” fails the oppressed and gives legitimacy to the oppressor. Love that defines itself negates itself.

Alternatively, the ‘sovereignty of God’s love’ encompasses both His “yes” and “no”. God’s “yes” to the genuinely oppressed, raises humanity up to challenge the claims of the oppressor. In this way, God’s firm “yes” and loving “no” to the oppressed and the oppressor are an outworking of His sovereignty. Love is not Lordless.

That, God is love, means love cannot be love without God at its center.

Likewise, human freedom grounded in love cannot be true freedom without the One who loves in freedom. It cannot be true freedom without the ‘God who frees man and woman to be free for Him and free for each other.’ [iii]

Without God, love becomes a cheap commodity, whose meaning is traded and swapped for whatever sells best. Love is downgraded to emotion, sex, money and the satisfying of an individual’s selfish desires.

“Love is love” is newspeak; a tool used to uphold human claims to ownership of what love is. Love is then determined to be anything the oppressor wants it to be.

Roger Scruton helps to brings this into clearer focus, noting the Communist practice of controlling language and meaning, under ‘the communist conviction that you could change reality by changing words […]The purpose of communist Newspeak, has been to protect ideology from the malicious attacks of real things.’ [iv]

For example, if the slogan “love is love” is taken to its logical end, aren’t the obscenely wealthy, or the national socialists justified in their love for money, nation or race, and to hell with the consequences?

If “love is love” justifies lifestyle choices, such as its promotion as a legitimate argument for same-sex marriage. Then doesn’t “love is love” justify servitude to a Führer, the State, and his/her ‘ism, and the reign of terror that often follows?

In light of this, aren’t “love is love” advocates, especially those who protest crony capitalists, who love their money, in the end just hypocrites selling something no one should ever want to buy?

Under this shadow, “love is love” is lordless, abstract, confused and empty. “Love is love” is a cover-up, and like all self-justification, “love is love” is proven to be a lie. [v] It cannot sustain a working definition of what love actually is.

The first cause of change in attitudes towards homosexuality and same-sex marriage is the erosion of heterosexual marriage. This erosion includes the downgrade, and dismissal of Biblical theology which asserts that God is love, and that under ‘the sovereignty of His love’, ‘woman is free for man, man is free for woman, and together both are free for God’. This comes by way of the covenant fulfilled in The Gospel, where, in His costly reconciling of humanity to Himself in Jesus Christ, God proves who and what love is.

“Love is love” is no substitute for this. It is no substitute for the One who was, and is, and is to come.

Maranatha.


References:

[i] Menninger, K. 1973. Whatever Became of Sin? Hawthorn Books Inc.

[ii] Barth, K.1942 CD II/II: The Election of Jesus Christ  Hendrickson Publishers p.178

[ii] ibid.

[iii] Barth, K. 1951 CD III.IV The doctrine of creation Hendrickson Publishers pp.170-180

[iv] Scruton, R. 2015. Fools, Frauds & Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left Bloomsbury Publishing, (p.8)

[v] Torrance, T.F. 2008. Incarnation: The Person & Life of Christ, IVP Academic

* I don’t doubt that there are sincere believers in the slogan, the evidence provided by James, however, suggests that such believers might be few and far between.

(Originally published on The Caldron Pool, 12th July, 2019)

Photo by James Lee on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2019

Of all the console games released in the past year, ‘Subnautica’ is the only standout that, I can say with confidence, fits the homeschool friendly category.

Subnautica’ is best described as a science-fiction version of the ‘Swiss Family Robinson’ and ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’. The game itself is structured around survival, and creativity. Struggling against the aquatic environment makes up a large part of the interactivity. This includes crafting, exploration, and making use of the alien, aquatic fauna and flora.

Subnautica’s’ free play style allows the player to stay as long as they want to on the planet. In my opinion, coming from a home education perspective, following the storyline is the better approach. I teamed up with my two youngest homeschoolers, taking turns at moving through each aspect of the game on survival mode. It took us about two weeks (14 evenings and one Saturday) of casual game time to complete.

My application of ‘Subnautica’ for homeschool involved teamwork, planning and an informal round-table application of ideas. We discussed our approach, thought through all the possible ways that would help us solve dilemmas. Most often these were dilemmas we’d caused for our character, by overlooking an important bulkhead, running too low on food, battery life; right down to being too far away from a water source.

Another major educational bonus is the technology available in the game. ‘Subnautica’ begins with a basic escape pod. Players build up from there to complete an underwater sea base (or bases, depending on how big or small you want to go), with Seamoth, Prawn Suit and the mighty, home-away-from-home submarine called the Cyclops – or as we affectionately called ours, The GSS Ned Land (GSS, Grateful Soldier’s Ship).

The underwater geological structures, flora and fauna ultimately make this game the complete package. Underwater plant life is luminous, and provides a range of applications. The sea life is just as varied. This includes a cuttlefish pet, which can be hatched from an egg later in the game.

Some of the downsides of ‘Subnautica’ included the absence of any weather mechanic. Apart from the day and night cycle, and a few clouds, the sun shines all the time. There are also glitches when diving into deeper parts of the ocean. These can be frustrating, but are easy to spot and just as easy to avoid. There aren’t as many clues, making the gamer more dependent on wiki forums than other games.

The storyline also rests on evolutionary dogma, without qualification, and has one very small questionable PDA voiceover that wasn’t necessary to the storyline. Due to the dark, unknown areas that have to be explored, and because these areas are populated by surprising predators, the storyline isn’t suited to kids under 9 years of age. This doesn’t mean that the game is unplayable for that demographic. Creative mode still has a lot to offer.

In the end, we triumphed in our struggle, launching back into space on the Neptune, leaving our marooned existence behind, and taking with us the data PDA’s of survivors, whose disappearance was as mysterious, and intriguing to investigate, as the planet itself. Overall, ‘Subnautica’ is an educational, and enjoyable underwater action adventure, well suited for parents who engage with their kids on all technological platforms.


[Disclaimer: I received no remuneration for this review of any kind].

Official Website

©Rod Lampard, 2019

Under current defamation law, social media users can be held legally responsible for third-party content on any post they make.

The guiding rule seems to be: You posted it. You incited it. Ergo, you’re responsible for it.

In other words, anything someone posts on my timeline or writes in the comments section, that is deemed offensive, defamatory or “hate speech” could end in a lawsuit.

For those who only have a private Facebook account, there is currently no mechanic to prevent this from happening. The only real preventative measure is to keep an eye on comments or keep your friends and comments list small, simple and drama free.

For those who choose to have a public Facebook page, there are two ways to solve the problem before it becomes one. First, Facebook’s mechanism for pages allows content providers to filter (block) certain words. The second way is to have dedicated moderators screen every comment.

Anti-defamation and anti-discrimination laws are great servants, as long as they remain a shield. However, these laws make for a terrible sword in the hands of an opportunist who views everyone not in agreement with them as a traitor, hater or “literal Nazi”.

Defamation laws weren’t written with social media in mind. David Rolph, professor of law at UNSW, highlighted this in his piece for Sydney Morning Herald, where he advocated reform, stating that ‘the last consideration of defamation law by the Australian Law Reform Commission was almost 40 years ago, decades before the advent of the internet.’ (SMH, 2018)

Rolph also mentioned the need to ensure a balance between upholding freedom of speech, and policing false speech; ensuring that people don’t have their reputations unfairly damaged, and can find ‘effective redress, through last resort financial compensation, or more easier remedies of retractions, corrections, and take-down orders’ for online content that is clearly false or blatantly misleading.

The Australian took to an editorial last week to call upon the government to ‘overhaul defamation laws’ after a recent supreme court ruling looks set to establish a precedent, making ‘media companies legally responsible for comments made by other people on the company’s social media pages.

In essence, companies with a public Facebook page are liable for third-party content on their pages. The editorial noted, however, that ‘moderating, blocking or hiding comments, is untenable because of the volume of material that works its way through pubic pages, and the amount of resources it would take to do so; and even though Facebook hasn’t provided a mechanic which allows for comments to be turned off, Facebook isn’t held responsible.’ (The Australian, 2019)

In a recent case related to this, conservative Facebook page, Political Posting Mumma, administrated by mum of four, Marijke Rancie, was sued and pressured into agreeing to a large financial settlement out of court, because of third party content on her Facebook page.

While some third party comments were obviously wrong, and defamatory, Marijke’s original post and comment wasn’t intended to be so. Despite this, and the fact that Facebook doesn’t have a disable comments section, Marijke was, under current defamation law, considered liable for the comments made by others on her Facebook page.

This was confirmed twice by BuzzFeed who cited the plaintiff, Adele Moleta, saying that ‘she was defamed by multiple (200) comments on the post and that Marijke is, for legal purposes, the publisher of those comments’. (BuzzFeed, 2018)

In a disproportionate response, apparently designed to intimidate Marijke, Moleta was backed up by a ‘lawyer on a no-win, no-fee basis, and two pro-bono barristers, one of whom is a QC’ to fight her case against Marijke.

Those looking to make an example of Marijke, because of her outspoken “no” against Same-sex marriage, concerns about the ‘Safe Schools’ program, and concerns about teaching LGBT ideology being given centre stage in schools, found a reason, under current defamation laws concerning third-party content, to do so.

It’s worth noting that while BuzzFeed acknowledges the alleged pain and suffering caused to Moleta by Marijke, BuzzFeed has, since December 2018, posted four articles by Sainty Lane, revisiting the cause of that alleged pain and suffering in minute detail.

Lane also published an article this week discussing the need to vet comments, referring to the same court ruling as the editorial from the Australian.

Lane confirms the problem of defamation laws and third party content, yet gives no mention of the case against Marijke. Even though, Marjike was sued under the premise that her Facebook page was a media company.

Lane also acknowledged the difficulty in policing third party comments, stating that there is ‘no official way to turn off comments’ [i] on Facebook, citing solicitor, Hannah Marhsall as saying “I feel like the legal system and the internet are on this collision path. And what’s going to happen next is really hard to figure.” (BuzzFeed, 2019)

One of the biggest challenges to any reform of defamation law is the contentious term, “hate speech”. This is broadly defined by Facebook as anything that is

 ‘a direct attack on people based on what we call protected characteristics — race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, caste, sex, gender, gender identity, and serious disease or disability. We also provide some protections for immigration status. We define attack as violent or dehumanizing speech, statements of inferiority, or calls for exclusion or segregation.’ (FB, 2019)

Facebook provides no explanation of the latter, and seems to be content with filing it in under the banner of “hate speech”.

Social media companies appear vague and unconcerned about users being sued for defamation because of third party comments made on their own social media posts. These companies also appear to be aloof when providing an objective rounded definition of what ‘dehumanizing speech’, ‘statements of inferiority’, ‘calls for exclusion’, or ‘segregation’ are.

If dehumanizing speech is “hate speech”, why hasn’t Facebook addressed Leftists who use pejorative terms for Christians on their platform? Why does Facebook allow comments that falsely equate Donald Trump with Hitler, or falsely equate any person who gives Trump a cautious “yes”, a Nazi, homophobe, Islamophobe or racist?

And as Republican Senator, Dan Crenshaw said to Google this week, ‘we fought the Nazis. It makes sense to conclude that by you calling a person a Nazi, you’re inciting violence against them.’

Though the term is widespread, no one really seems to know what “hate speech” actually is; it’s as vague and asinine as the phrases “woke”, and “love is love”. [ii]

From Marijke’s example, The Australian, and BuzzFeed’s Saintly Lane’s own observations, it’s easy to see how ambiguous terms like “hate speech”, and unreformed, complex defamation laws, could be used to the advantage of anyone wanting to justify forcing conservatives and Christians out of the public sphere. These could also be used to the advantage of anyone wanting to punish Christians because of perceived wrongs, or because the Spirit and Truth that Christians uphold, does not align with whatever, and whomever, the zeitgeist (spirit of the age) tell us all to worship.

Some LGBT lobby groups already police speech, seeking to punish people for using “incorrect” gender pronouns or for misgendering someone who identifies as LGBT. With the large amount of resources and financial backing for LGBT lobby groups, it would be naïve to think that surveillance of high profile Christians and conservatives on social media doesn’t happen.

Chris Tomlinson, from Brietbart, reported a case this week, where a 52 year old Swedish man, who was an administrator for Facebook group, ‘Stand up for Sweden’, was convicted of “hate” comments made by other Facebook users. The page was reported to police by an ‘online social justice activist group, called Näthatsgranskaren, which has been touted as being responsible for a rise in investigations and prosecutions for online hate speech in Sweden.’ (Breitbart, 2019)

Dialogue is the higher ground in conflict resolution. Lawsuits are a last resort. No one should be bullied, sued or intimidated for speaking truth in love, or be reprimanded and silenced for sharing their faith. Nor should they be punished for providing fair criticism, or for sharing their concerns about socio-political issues with others online.

Continue to speak boldly, and with grace, but until defamation laws have been reformed, and until Social Media companies improve their user interfaces, vet comments because if third party content can and be used against you, it will be.


References:

Rolph, D. 2018. Australia’s defamation laws are ripe for overhaul, Sydney Morning Herald, 9th Dec. 2018 Sourced, 2nd July, 2019

Sainty, L. 2018. One of the faces of the SSM “no” campaign is being sued over a Facebook post, BuzzFeed 20th December, 2018. Sourced 2nd July, 2019.

Saintly, L. 2019. How a Queer woman took on a prominent conservative activist and won $100,000, BuzzFeed, 18th June, 2019. Sourced, 2nd July, 2019.

Saintly, L. 2019. “Political Posting Mumma” has issued a rare apology over comments on one of her Facebook posts, BuzzFeed 24th January, 2019. Sourced 2nd July, 2019.

Saintly, L. 2019. The Woman behind “PPM” has Apologised after being sued over a Facebook Post, BuzzFeed, 4th June, 2019. Sourced, 2nd July, 2019.

Saintly, L. 2019. This Court ruling on Facebook comments is a huge headache for  the Media, BuzzFeed, 28th June, 2019. Sourced 2nd July 2019.

Tomlinson, C. 2019. Swedish Man Convicted of hate comments he did not make, 28th June, 2019. Sourced, 2nd July 2019.

[i] The Facebook mechanic for pages is useful, but their user interface is ultimately useless to anyone looking to moderate a page by themselves. Comments are piled into one notification, and each individual comment has to be viewed in order to see them. If you have 100 plus comments every post, it’s the equivalent of a fulltime job just to keep up. Even turning comments off, if that function was available would cause problems. This is because comments are an important part of the Facebook algorithm when it comes to bumping posts on newsfeeds.

[ii] Back in February, a 70 year old Swedish man was charged with “hate speech” for posting on Facebook that “Somalis are lazy”.

Photo by Wesley Tingey on Unsplash

Originally posted on The Caldron Pool, 3rd July, 2019.

©Rod Lampard, 2019

Eric Abetz gave one of the most important short speeches in Australian political history this week. Yet few Australians would know he even spoke a word, let alone know who Abetz is or what he stands for.

Eric Abetz was born in Germany in 1958, and came with his family to Australia in 1961.

In the 1980s, Abetz worked his way through ‘University as a part-time taxi driver, and farmhand. Once completing his law degree, he went on to practice law in Hobart’s northern suburbs’. [i]

He joined the Liberal Party in 1976 and was appointed to the Senate in February, 1994.

During the Howard era, he worked in various ministerial departments, later becoming Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. After Malcolm Turnbull’s coup against Tony Abbott in 2015, Abetz took a back seat, where he remained a consistent voice for Western Civilisation and the healthy traditions built on a Biblical Christian foundation, such as classical liberalism and freedom, and its correlative individual rights and responsibilities. [ii]

Two years ago, the L.N.P Senator for Tasmania was among the few LNP politicians brave enough to give his “no”, to the then L.N.P Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnball’s, rush to push changes to the Marriage Act into law.

Abetz presented a well reasoned explanation of the problems associated with shredding up the traditional concept a marriage, by surrendering that concept to subjectivism and the insecure and ever-changing, progressive (and increasingly Marxist) understanding of gender, history, theology, society, ethnicity and culture. He publicly lamented the changes, stating with conviction, “it’s a change I regret for the sake of our children”. [iii]

In that same speech, Abetz was right to call out the ‘Safe Schools program’ as “Orwellian”. He was right to call out corporate overreach, as big business marched with contempt for those in their employ, who refused to raise the rainbow flag, or march under it, during the Same Sex marriage survey. He was right to warn Australians that the SSM bill “wasn’t a simple amendment”, accusing the bill of going “a lot further than that which was approved by the Australian people” [iv]. Abetz was right to concede, that the “challenge of parliament is (was) to deliver on both same-sex marriage and the full protection of our freedoms.”[v]

Two years on, with high profile cases such as the firing of Israel Folau, the bullying of Margaret Court, the car bombing of the ACL headquarters, and the public head butting of ex-Prime Minister Tony Abbott, we can say that the challenge to protect freedom, is now a challenge the Australian parliament has failed to meet.

Alongside his speech on the Same-Sex Marriage bill, the Senator’s words this week are a reminder to the Australian parliament of its dismal failure to uphold its determined commitment to preserve freedom, on balance with its corrosive placating of Leftism and LGBT ideology.

Once again Senator Abetz stood up for ALL Australians, stating,

“Today, our society is in grave danger of losing this rich heritage, together with its attendant benefits. That is why I have taken this, the first opportunity the 46th Parliament has afforded me, to make a plea to defend our freedoms. To fail to do so is to squander the legacy bequeathed to us…”

Once again, the Senator was right when saying that,

“In an exercise of Orwellian proportions, these sports stars were targeted for exclusion in the name of inclusion and discriminated against in the name of tolerance. You don’t have to agree with Izzy to agree with his right to express his religious views, or his wife’s right to back him.”

The Senator then outlined why the Folau precedent a threat the freedom.

“Today it’s Izzy’s religious views and his wife’s loyal support. Yesterday it was the Professor Ridd’s scientific views. Tomorrow it might be somebody’s political view. The next might be someone’s environmental view.”
This is a fight for freedom of speech which impacts us all. The government must, and I am confident will, respond to the expressions of the quiet Australians on 18 May and ensure our freedoms, which were bought with the highest of prices, are not sacrificed and squandered on the altar of political correctness. As Sir Robert Menzies so articulately encapsulated in ‘We believe’: ‘We believe in the great human freedoms: to worship, to think, to speak.’”

Senator Abetz’s words are a welcome change to the sleight of hand drivel that often keeps the “quiet Australian” at arm’s length from Australia’s bureaucratic caste.

The Senator’s speech is also in stark contrast to Greens politician, Adam Bandt, who yesterday posted a call to “fight for the Welfare State” on Twitter:

“This LNP gov wants to destroy the welfare state & we need to stop them. We need a big movement that fights for services, not tax cuts, and that won’t cave in to the Libs when it matters. Be part of the fight for a more equal world.”

Instead of advocating for more laws, less freedom and bigger government, Bandt, like many of Australia’s public servants need to get “woke” to what is unraveling freedom and address the corrosion of it.

In the words of Augusto Zimmerman, ‘we need a restoration of freedom’s bill, not a religious discrimination act, one that restores free speech and freedom of association for all, a law against the incitement of religious violence would also do more good than one against religious discrimination’. [vi]

We need less laws and more clarity on tried and true old ones, not more. Prime Minister Scott Morrison should begin by removing or reforming, the contentious 18C amendment to anti-discrimination law. Then insist that a basic understanding of civics, theology and history (without the biased Marxist lens) be essential to a holistic high school education.

In failing in their commitment to preserve freedom, politicians are showing Australians that the well-funded and resourceful relationship between public servants and Leftism comes first.

In failing in their commitment to preserve freedom, as was promised during the Same-Sex marriage survey, Australia’s public servants are showing the rest of us, that they would rather march under a different flag and culture, to that of the Anzacs, whose sacrifice handed us a mandate to preserve the healthy traditions that they so bravely laid down their lives to protect.

It’s this point of contact with history that gives Tasmanian Senator’s speech gravitas:

“Freedom is worth defending. Freedom is worth nurturing. Freedom is worth championing. As our national anthem extols, ‘Australians all let us rejoice, For we are young and free’. Let’s keep it that way.”

Video:

https://www.facebook.com/SenatorAbetz/videos/2274673139509493/


References:

[i] Abetz, E. About Eric, Abetz.com.au Sourced 7th July, 2019.

[ii] ibid, 2019

[iii] Abetz, E. 2017. Speech to the Senate – Marriage Bill, 27th November, 2017. Sourced 7th July, 2019.

[iv] ibid, 2017

[v] ibid, 2017

[vi] Zimmerman, A. 2019. We need a restoration of freedom’s bill, not a religious discrimination act.  The Spectator Australia, 3rd July, 2019. Sourced, 7th July, 2019.

Full transcript to Speech to the Senate  in Support of Freedom of Speech.

Originally posted on The Caldron Pool, 8th July, 2019.

©Rod Lampard, 2019