Archives For Australia

Eric Abetz (LNP) is proving to be no mediocre politician. His speech from July last year remains relevant, making his message one of the best ever entered into the Australian senate’s Hansard.[i]

This year the Senator for Tasmania provided us with a sequel. Speaking about ‘Political Discourse’ Abetz went head to head with cancel culture and the Left’s double standards.

The speech highlighted Queensland University Law professor, James Allen’s piece for The Australian on the June, 16th.

He gave a long list of examples where people were being bullied into submission, and their livelihoods cancelled because of a small, boisterous percentage of people online, and within corporations, looking for oppression, prejudice, malice and racism in everything.

Under Cancel Culture, it no longer matters whether or not a perceived offense was intentional or unintentional (or accidental). These are often labeled micro-aggressions. All that matters is the perceived outcome.

This is what Jonathon Haidt called ‘outcome over intent’ [ii]. Haidt explains that micro-aggression theory is the life blood of cancel culture. If the outcome is perceived to be offensive, intention doesn’t matter.

Appearance and accusation, follows emotional reasoning. Feelings are then placed as lord and master over evidence based reasoning. If something feels offensive, than that something, or someone, is no longer deemed worthy of life or livelihood.

Not only is this culture unstable, it’s unsustainable, and as Abetz argues, ultimately destructive.

Make no mistake about it. Cancel culture is a “life unworthy of life” prescription that echoes the same kind of ideology which allowed Stalin’s Gulags, and purges, along with Nazi Germany’s Auschwitz, Dachau, Ravensbruck and Buchenwald (among others).

This should send a chill up and down the proverbial spine of Western society. The same callous boney fingers which gripped Europe in the 20th Century, is wrapping its hands round the necks of Western society.

It gives us a strong reason to step back, assess and rethink any agreement with, or participation in such a culture and its ideology.

For these reasons alone, I don’t think it a stretch to say here that, yet again, Abetz is spot on in both his warning, and rebuttal of Cancel Culture’s, “life unworthy of life” prescription for cultural suicide.

Full Transcript of Eric’s five minute speech:

“If an individual were to engage in self-loathing, relentlessly finding the fault with self, and ridiculing and denigrating all their past endeavors, we would rightly conclude the individual had issues. Counseling might be in order.

So to with a society; if a society is willing to engage and embrace those who relentlessly spread negativity, and wallow in fault-finding it will have an extremely bleak future. A mature reflection of self or of society recognizes the good, with the not so good.

We should learn from past mistakes, not to tear down and destroy, but to build an even better future. This is how our society has progressed, and why we are where we are today as a nation – the envy of the world.

Let’s be clear. One of the great freedoms we have in Australia is the liberty to leave if we don’t like it. I don’t see any of the professionally and perpetually outraged leaving Australia for North Korea, Cuba or China.

For its alleged and real faults, Australia is the favored destination of the peoples of the world seeking freedom and opportunity.

As professor [James] Allen so eloquently wrote, “you know you’re living in George Orwell’s world, when speech is considered violence, and violence is considered speech.”

And that is exactly what we are witnessing today. Ugly double standards courtesy of the Anarchist Left; when conservatives speak they are accused of violence if they take a view contrary to the “woke” Left, but if the same language is used by the Left, it as indication of empathy, and “wokeness” – always excused.

Bettina Arndt’s award earlier this year was vehemently attacked by Labor senate leadership team. That same team of two women remain as silent as a rock, over the more recent award to that purveyor of ugly, sexist violence to women and anti-Semitic tweets, Mike Carlton.

Reason? He’s from the tribe. He’s from the Left. Similarly the treatment of Cardinal George Pell, and Paul Bonjornio, both in a seminary with that horrific pedophile, Ridgedale.

Pell should have been fully alert and known all that went on. Bonjornio on the other hand, fully excused, “of course, he couldn’t have known.”

The difference of treatment? Pell is of a conservative disposition; Bonjornio from the Left. We see the “woke” Left attacking statues of former Coalition leaders and Captain Cook, possibly the world’s greatest ever navigator; for allegedly being racist.

But a Labor leader [Arthur Calwell] who supported the ‘White Australia Policy’, and famously (or infamously) said, “two wongs, don’t make a white” sits in the pantheon of Labor leaders. As does another Labor leader [Gough Whitlam] who referred to Vietnamese refugees “[expletive deleted], Vietnamese Balts.”

No their names are not to be vilified or desecrated. Instead they are hallowed. Why? Because they are from the Left, whereas the Coalition leader [Tony Abbott] who voluntarily dedicated a week per year assisting Indigenous communities without media fan fare, needs to be vilified for his alleged racism.

Go figure!

Refusal to acknowledge any good in others, and any possible failings in the tribe has become the mantra and justification to remove people from employment, films and books from the public; for sports people to kneel for a cause and close businesses.

So much for the celebration of diversity – everything is judged in terms of claimable victimhood, division and partisanship.

The tribe excuses each other and accuses everyone else – the recipe for disharmony, anarchy and societal collapse. Facts, evidence, objective truths are junked in favor of bullying, sloganeering, and emoting.

The time has come to stand firm, push back and advocate the cause of our wonderful heritage bequeathed to us by our forebears; an heritage of civility, a system of democratic government, the rule of law, personal freedoms, and the standard of living, all of which makes Australians the envy of the world.

I for one will continue to be thankful and defend and promote that heritage, because for all its faults I know no better country.

I know no better people.”

References:

[i] Abetz, E. Freedom of Speech, 2nd July 2019.

[ii] Haidt, J. & Lukianoff. G. 2018. The Coddling of the American Mind Penguin Books Ltd.

[iii] Allen, J. Cowardly Elites appease bullies of Cancel Culture The Australian, 16th June, 2020

First published on Caldron Pool, 25th June 2020.

Photo by Mateus Campos Felipe on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2020

Sitting state Labor members defending the Communist Chinese Party, while simultaneously attacking their federal government colleagues is not a good look for Australian Labor. The attacks against Andrew Hastie, George Christensen, and Scott Morrison, reveal a party divided by arrogant far-left factions advancing Australia further into a social, cultural, moral, political and economic abyss.

The reason why Labor governments in both Western Australia and Victoria warm to any “kiss and make up” approach between the Australian and Communist Chinese governments, is because Labor has political capital invested in the relationship.

Tapping into China’s flawed totalitarian powerhouse, gives them the illusion of gaining power, and the hope of maintaining it. As long as it furthers their self-interest, their ideology, and assuages the egos of Communist Chinese sycophants on their payroll, to hell with the constitution and our national interest.

Victorian Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan, when questioned on whether Victorian Labor will use the newly signed ‘belt and road initiative’ deal with the Chinese Communist party to fund white elephant projects sinking deeper into the red, danced around it.

Despite Chinese officials denying that new 80% tariffs on barley exports were related to Australia’s push for a COVID-19 inquiry, Victorian treasurer, Tim Pallas gaslighted the Morrison government, saying the China’s new tariff war ‘was a consequence of the way that the federal government had conducted themselves.’ Sky news also reported that Pallas accused the LNP of ‘vilifying’ China.

Labor’s Western Australian “Asian Engagement Minister”, M.P, Peter Tinley hit out at Andrew Hastie in a long-winded rebuke of one of the few Australian politicians taking a principled stand in the ‘defense of Australian sovereignty, prosperity and security.’

Calling criticism of China “harmful”, Tinley aligned with the Victorian government, former LNP foreign minister, Julie Bishop, and former W.A. LNP premier Colin Barnett, advocating for ‘quiet diplomacy’. Which means surrender because it seeks to subdue, subvert and silence open criticism of the Chinese Communist regime within Australia.

The good news for Labor is that not all within the party share the same views on China. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Victorian Labor Premier, Daniel Andrews isn’t getting absolute support from his federal Labor colleagues.

“Some Labor MPs said the Victorian Labor Treasurer’s intervention was another concerning example of the Andrews government interfering in Australian foreign policy, after Victoria refused to cancel its Belt and Road agreements with the Chinese government.”

Contrary to Andrews, Premier Mark McGowan said “he had not spoken to the China’s consul-general in WA over the trade war, arguing he did not want to be accused of meddling in foreign affairs, which is a responsibility of the Commonwealth.”

Even somewhat Labor statesmen, Graham Richardson refrained from shooting blame in direction of the Prime Minister. Richardson hit the pause button talking about China’s guilt, and stated that ‘the biggest bully on the block can’t run, and can’t hide.’ So China should just own up to mistakes made in relation to COVID-19.

Richardson aligned with the sentiment in LNP’s trade minister, Simon Birmingham’s push-back against China’s ‘cheap politicking’, calling the Chinese ambassador’s glib remark about Australia ‘being a joke’, ‘a silly, childish pique’. [i]

The bad news for Labor is that this indicates a party in disarray, fundamentally fractured by divided loyalties. The Labor party appears divided between those loyal to Australia and those loyal to the Chinese Communist party; a division emboldened by a thirst for totalitarianism inherent in the utopian leftist ideological paradigm they serve.

Serving and protecting their own political, and ideological self-interests, appear more important than serving, and protecting Australia’s national interest.

This was made apparent when states went against federal advice, and buoyed by the teacher’s union, ran COVID-19 fear campaigns in order to keep schools shut.

While this may reflect the life-force of our vibrant, robust federalism, it wouldn’t be unfair to ask, if this is a sign that our federation is stuffed. How long will it be until Daniel Andrews declares Victoria’s succession, and rebirth as a province of the Communist Chinese regime?

The states turning against the Federal government isn’t new. States turning against the Australian constitution is. Daniel Andrews’ foray into foreign affairs gives him a newfound power, and he will yield it. With China’s ‘belt and road initiative’ Daniel Andrews doesn’t just have Chinese Communist party backing; he has the backing of its military. And vice versa, the Chinese Communist Party has the Andrews government’s backing, and now a beachhead on Australian shores.

Zero transparency equals zero accountability.

This smoke and mirrors deal, rightly condemned by commentators as an unconstitutional overreach into foreign affairs by Victorian Labor, binds Victorians to the Communist Chinese Party.

Furthermore, Victorian Labor has undermined Australia’s relationship reset with the Chinese Communist Party.  If Daniel Andrews won’t respect the Australian constitution, there’s no way he’ll be able to hold the Chinese Communist Party back from bypassing or even overthrowing the Australian constitution. Contempt for it is already sown. The proverbial cat is out of the bag. Good luck trying to put it back in.

The rise of the Victorian “Vichy” government under marshal Daniel Andrews, and their Communist Chinese puppet masters, has tightened the noose already being quietly wrapped around the neck of all Australians.

Though some may cheer, “all hail the Victorian “Vichy” Government and her Chinese Communist puppet masters.”

Let the rest of us say, “We will not go quietly into that cold night. We will never surrender. We will rage, rage against the dying of the light.” [ii]

May God have mercy on us all.


References:

[i] Richardson, G. Biggest Bully on the block can’t run and can’t hide, The Australian, paper edition, sourced 20th May 2020.

[ii] Dylan Thomas paraphrased

First published on Caldron Pool, 24th May 2020.

©Rod Lampard, 2020

In a speech for the National Press Club on Wednesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, delivered the equivalent of a State of the Union address. From its content to his delivery, it was obvious that the Prime Minister was addressing the nation, not just the top end town.

His address didn’t present a government in damage control, but a government that is in control. Morrison was right to not use the opportunity to give ground to noisy dishonest critics on social media. Many of whom come across as detached from everyday Australia, and seem to exist only as a deliberate distraction anyway.

Morrison kept his cool during the peak of that crisis. Neither being dismayed nor swayed by the selfish, loud-mouthed distractions which have sent many a leader running to the hills in fear of social media disapproval.

By not following the crazed rabbit down its self-absorbed rabbit hole, Morrison communicated that he is unlike his haters, who seem to be feverously ranting on social media 18 hours a day. Unlike his dishonest critics, Morrison talked to, not at the Australian people. What a nation of hard workers heard was that like them, Morrison has his sleeves rolled up. He is hard at work with and for them, actively looking to implement practical solutions to genuine national concerns. Not chase speculation, or stroke over-inflated Twitterarti egos and emotion, by constantly apologising to them, or making decisions based on a false need to appease their abuse.

Former Sky News political commentator, David Speers partly shares this view, calling the speech a ‘double-down, rather than a ‘reset’, showing a leader ‘who knows his own weaknesses – is on the defensive, unwilling to cede ground to his critics’.

Morrison isn’t a saint, and he knows it. This ability to use what Speers calls “knowledge of his own weaknesses” is a strength. Rather than weakening his leadership, Morrison inadvertently triggers those who’ve deemed him to be the enemy, simply by being a Prime Minister in the truest send of the word – first servant; a servant leader. What’s left exposed isn’t a death wound to the Morrison government, but the existence of a bigoted minority; flapping their hands in a furious attempt to keep control of their false narratives, quickly trying to shred the evidence that reveals their true nature, manipulative strategies, and dubious ideological agendas.

The strategy of resolve and resilience is working for the LNP. This is proven by the steady hand of the Prime Minister’s leadership, which includes his response to targeted and co-ordinated attacks during the Bushfire crisis. Look at how these full frontal assaults appeared to have the direct involvement of Twitter. When tweets from Leftist commentators, motivated by opportunism, all saturated with hate, showed up in the newsfeeds of unrelated accounts, it looked suspiciously like a Twitter backed Leftist attack on the Prime Minister.

Morrison’s first major speech of the year reasserted the strength’s of his government, dot pointing the LNP’s achievements since the May, 2019 election. Packaged into the address was an outline of goals and initiatives.

Summarising one of the Prime Minister’s major points, Speers rightfully identified how the speech sought to indict the states in culpability for the Bushfire crisis. Instead of leaving responsibility at the feet of the states, the Prime Minister proposes to ensure that the Federal Government has more of an ability to remedy, rescue from and respond to natural disasters, navigating constitutional concerns, and cutting through bureaucratic red tape.

As Morrison stated:

‘To date, the role of the Commonwealth has been limited in responding to natural disasters has been limited to responding to requests for assistance from state governments. They judge the time and form of support needed in making that request.
But I must say, the scale of the bushfires this season – not least their simultaneous reach across many borders – has demonstrated to me the limits of these arrangements…
…As I’ve said before, I have been very conscious of testing the limits of constitutionally defined roles and responsibilities during this bushfire season.
But I believe there is now a clear community expectation that the Commonwealth should have the ability to respond in times of national emergency and disasters, particularly through deployment of our defence forces in circumstances where the life and property of Australians has been assessed to be under threat at that scale.’

Ex-Tony Abbott staffer, Peta Credlin gave the Prime Minister ‘full marks’, calling this is one of two things Scott Morrison ‘did very well’ during the speech. First, ‘He wrapped up the government’s response to the Bushfire crisis declaring that the national government was no longer going to take the back seat in national disasters.’ Second, the Prime Minister outlined clear, decisive, pre-emptive actions that they hope will protect Australia (and subsequently the Government) from the Coronavirus crisis currently impacting China. The Sky news host acknowledged how problematic these initiatives might be, and voiced support for the idea of a referendum, which would seek to give the federal government constitutional powers to act during a national crisis.

The ideas and initiatives laid out by the Prime Minister are pragmatic. Morrison’s address to the nation is a win for the LNP and it should resonate well with the Australian people. Especially those who are fed up with being shouted at by anti-Morrison fanatics on social media platforms.

I still am tempted to view Scott Morrison as a compromise between what Australians need, and what some loud mouthed Leftist Australians want. For all of his resilience and resolve, Morrison is still silent on abortion. The religious freedom bill aside, he appears elusive and unsupportive of Christians unjustly targeted by LGBT activists, and he still seems to be unsure about how to respond to the largely Marxist, apocalyptic climate change cults.

Still, along with the current LNP line-up, Scott Morrison has shown his government to be a political force to be reckoned with. If Morrison can continue to follow this path, and not kneel in fear before the vanity metrics of social media, and the hateful hashtag trends on Twitter, the LNP will be more than well on their way to being the government Australians voted for. May it be so.


References:

FULL Transcript of Scott Morrison’s speech, sourced 30th January, 2020

First published on Caldron Pool, 31st January, 2020.

© Rod Lampard, 2020.

Nicholas Best recounts a little known story about two Lancaster bombers. One crewed by Canadians, the other by Australians*.

Early on April 29th, 1945 the two Lancasters took off from East Anglia. They flew along a previously agreed upon ‘corridor’. The route was ‘prescribed by the occupying German forces in Holland, who being cut off from Germany due to the Allied advance’, had uncharacteristically turned to the Allies for aid.

They did so, on behalf of the Dutch who were suffering through a famine triggered by the Nazis. Similar to German occupation of Belgium in World War One, the German starvation of the Dutch was a means of punishment for assisting the Allies, by way of a rail strike, which had ‘prevented German reinforcements going up against the Allied assault in Arnhem during 1944.’

Best writes that the situation was dire, Holland, ‘after months of disruption as the fighting came closer, had finally run out of food.’ The situation was so bad, that ‘many Dutch had eaten their pets, and were now living on grass, sugar beet, and tulip bulbs.’

Despite ‘not having the authority to agree to a ceasefire’ [i], level-headed German officials who had sought out the Allies, reached an accord of truce. Thus, allowing the Allies to send much needed humanitarian aid.

Not completely trusting of the German truce accord, the Allies flew a test mission along the agreed upon corridor.

The test flight, as Stephen Dando-Collins wrote, ‘had all the hallmarks of a suicide mission.’ These bomber crews were ‘guinea pigs’ testing out the German agreement to not fire on the Lancaster’s flying low to deliver humanitarian aid to the starving Dutch. [ii]

The ominous mission was a success, and it kick-started Operation Manna – an unprecedented humanitarian air drop, which involved 200 bombers, flying at low levels, dropping much needed supplies into Nazi occupied Holland.

The first bomber, ‘Bad Penny’, flown by Canadian, Bob Upcott led the way. He described the event in detail, testifying that,

“when we passed the Dutch coast we saw anti-aircraft guns that pointed their muzzles in our direction. We even saw tanks that tried to keep their gun barrels on us. We were looking right down a number of barrels. All the guns were still manned…The Australian pilot was on my port side [left], flying echelon port. I dropped first when we were over the race track, while the Australian dropped almost the same moment.” [iii]**

The second Lancaster was flown by F/O. Peter G.L Collett, from Sydney. He was 21 at the time, and already a veteran. Along with the Canadian crew of the first Lancaster, Collett and his Australian crew* effectively spearheaded the humanitarian mission.

Collett passed away in 2012. Although his heroics are mentioned in passing chapters about Operation Manna/Chowhound, no Australian books have been written about him or his crew. Collett’s bravery isn’t taught in schools. His efforts and heroism currently only exist as a footnote.

While Upcott and his crew are celebrated, the same cannot be said for Collett.  Unlike Collett, Upcott and crew remained on as an integral part of the Manna Operation, drawing a bigger spotlight on the original flight into the unknown than was given to Collett.

Collett’s absence from the spotlight appears to have been due to him being reassigned to Operation Exodus. Collett’s service record reflects as much. From the dates 1st February, 1945, to 19th May, 1945, under 101st Squadron, right next “Bomber”, below the word “Bombing”, and above the word “Exodus”, sits the word “Supplies”, where the word Manna test flight should perhaps also be written.

Exodus ran from the 3rd April to the 31st May, 1945. It involved the repatriation of liberated Allied POWs from Nazi camps in Europe. Exodus itself was an enormous undertaking, ‘1,000 people per day were brought into British receiving camps; totaling 354,000 ex-prisoners of war by the end of May.’

At 21, Collett piloted a Lancaster bomber full of humanitarian supplies, at low level, with a full crew, on a mission of mercy into occupied Nazi territory. All based on the assurance of Nazi officials who had said that the ‘mercy drop’ would be allowed to proceed without harassment from the well-armed occupying German forces.

Collett is a national hero. Yet, his heroism and the heroism of his crew, isn’t mainstream knowledge in Australia. Even the Australian War Memorial’s official page for Operation Manna, called ‘Food from Heaven’, is silent about the test flight.

For an Australian/s to have played such a significant role in the relief operation, and for there to be little to no recognition of their daring and bravery, shows a real blind spot in how Australians are taught history, and how Australians embrace the importance of knowing what History teaches.

This is something to lament. This is something, we as a society, need to correct. If not for the men and women whose bold shoulders we now stand upon, at least for the generations they saved, in order to pass on the freedoms and responsibilities that allowed their own generation to stand against tyranny, in all its devouring and grotesque forms.

Lest we forget.


References:

[i] Best, N. 2012. Five Days That Shocked The World, Osprey Publishing, (pp.83-85)

[ii] Dando-Collins, S. 2015. Operation Chowdown, St. Martin’s Press (p.119)

*Confusion over Collett’s crew reinforces my point about the lack of historical interest in the Australian contribution to Operation Manna, from Australians. There are contradictory reports from various sources about whether his crew was an all Australian crew, British or mixed British and Australian.

** ‘NX579, No. 101 Sqn. Piloted by F/S Bob Upcott of Windsor, Ontario. Up at 1207, returned at 1444. 274 bags of food dropped. Second aircraft was PB350, No. 101 Sqn. Piloted by P/O Peter Collett of Sydney, Australia. Up at 1215, returned at 1442, 284 bags of food dropped.’ (RAFCommands)

First published on Caldron Pool, 15th December, 2019.

Windmill pic credit:  Vishwas Katti on Unsplash

© Rod Lampard, 2019

It’s a peculiar thing to see Australians, who naturally have a caustic view of Americans, along with contempt and suspicion of any kind of pageantry and ceremony, embrace American cultural traditions which involve pageantry, and ceremony.

If the irony fits, wear it. None of what I’ve just said is untrue.

Remember the hate and mockery thrown at Tony Abbott when his government reinstated knights and dame honors for Australians? Only to have Malcolm Turnbull ditch it, after he lead the take down of Abbott’s reign as Prime Minister, and was himself enthroned as Prime Minister in a bloodless coup.

Should Australians completely surrender and adopt the American tradition of Halloween, (one that reflects pagan ritual more than the All Saints Day it is founded upon), why stop there?

If we’re going to go “all the way with LBJ”, let’s also adopt great freedom loving American traditions such as being able to freely wear the Christian faith on our sleeves, without the fear of being dismissed, and ridiculed, as bigoted, religious nut jobs. If we’re to follow Uncle Sam’s sometimes misguided children and accommodate Halloween, why not also accommodate the mighty North American Thanksgiving holiday – albeit with a unique Australian flavor?

It’s not too far of a stretch. Australia already has an unofficial National Day of Thanks. The day became a reality in 2003, is mainly practiced by Australian Christian community groups and happens on the last Saturday of May each year. More to the point, Norfolk Island residents already celebrate Thanksgiving, following the ‘legacy of American whaling ships that would make frequent stops to the island during the late 1800’s.’ So why not go the extra mile?

After all, it’s the cohesion brought about by a deep gratitude for family, faith, and freedom, all packed in with a sense of responsibility, respect for history and a binding community, that makes those national days work in Canada and the United States.

These are embedded attributes of a cohesive community that Australian’s have lost, and in some respects may never have had in the first place; largely due to our worship of self. Our inherited, arrogant enlightenment, hyper-individualism, the i/it in “me culture”. The me, myself & I, over against the i/thou.

Aussies who fail to understand this reality will ultimately fail in adequately adopting American traditions. They’ll find themselves stumbling in the dark in fruitless attempts to celebrate them.

Such an embrace of tradition, ignorant of that tradition’s meaning and history, is a dangerous, foolish participation in an empty ritual. It goes from one innocent flirtation to an embarrassing gullible embrace of anything and everything.

In the case of Halloween, it unnecessarily places vulnerable children, and a society wrestling with its insecure agnostism, weakened identity, and anxiety ridden lack of self-understanding, in harm’s way.

As put by Saiko Woods, a Pastor on Facebook who simplified the content of Paul’s words to the Romans:

“Yes men” and gullible women are the lifeblood of EVERY cult!” (Romans 16:17-18, ESV)

The simple, blunt truth is that Americans know how to do community far better than Australians. For all its benefits, enlightenment individualism has created a cavernous hole in Australian society. This chasm isn’t hard to see. “Me culture” has meant that families become strangers, rarely meeting more than once a year. Neighbors no longer know each other’s names, let alone neighbors knowing anything about each other. This makes seeing groups of children dress up, and troll the street asking for lollies seem clumsy, and hollow, even desperate.

It’s also not unreasonable to suggest that Australians adopting Halloween is a sign that the religion of secular humanism is found wanting.  The embrace of Halloween is a symptom of longing for the transcendent, that which exists outside of ourselves; a longing for God, faith, family and community.

Australians adopting Halloween could been seen as a longing for familial dysfunction to end; a longing for the gaping hole produced by enlightenment individualism – endemic to Australian society – to be filled. If so, the tragic irony is that God, family, faith, and responsibility, the very things which can fill this chasm, are often the very same things written off as anachronistic, too awkward, worthless, or inconvenient.

This is ultimately why adopting American traditions may fail or even become destructive. The only antidote to this is for Australians to also adopt, and accommodate, the fundamental foundations so closely associated with those who celebrate these traditions. We cannot have one without the other.

These foundations are built on faith, which both justly binds and compassionately set frees. These foundations built in freedom, under grace in Christ, ground healthy families and bring community together.

If Australians are to embrace Halloween, let this be a cautious, informed embrace, with room allowed for it to be rejected. If Australians are to follow North America, let it include Thanksgiving, and a strong sense of freedom, responsibility, community, faith and family. All of which, despite its forced dysfunctional decline over the years, is still very much part of what made and makes America great.


First published on Caldron Pool, 1st November, 2019

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2019

Light. Shine. Bright.

#Jesusisvictor ✊🏻

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