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People have strange ideas about “rights”!

“Here’s the thing about rights. They’re not supposed to be voted on… That’s why they call them RIGHTS!”

Rachel Maddow

Recently a woman has been charged because she suggested on social media that we should “burn down all mosques”. She’s arguing that she can’t be charged under the religious vilification laws because she doesn’t accept that Islam is a religion.

Which is an interesting defence. “I’m not guilty of murder, your honour, because I don’t accept that anyone who supports Tony Abbott is human, so when I bludgeoned my brother to death over Christmas lunch, it was merely cruelty to animals, for which I”ll happily plead guilty!”

Apparently various people commented that this was another example of “pandering to Muslims”. I wonder if the same people would think that an Islamic speaker suggesting that we should burn synagogues or churches should be charged, or would that be pandering to Jews or Christians?

But it’s easy to see how confused simple folk can become when our politicians seem so at odds with each other – sometimes even within the same party. At the start of the month, Liberal MP, Andrew Nikolic informed us that the debate about civil rights was now redundant. Speaking in a parliamentary debate he went on to say, “This usually comes down to those who say they are merely defending human rights in objecting to counter-terrorism measures. But in doing so they are making life even more difficult for those charged with the responsibility of actually protecting these same rights for all Australians while at the same time keeping us safe.”

So imagine my surprise when I discovered that the Liberals gained a new taste for civil rights just a few days later. You see, some felt that when the head of ASIO, Duncan Lewis, called some MPs to suggest that their inflammatory rhetoric on Islam wasn’t helping, it was an attack of free speech.

Apparenlty, the head of ASIO doesn’t have the same right to free speech even if it’s done via a private phone call. He’s not there to get into politics. He’s just there to do his job. And that certainly doesn’t involve pointing out to Liberal politicians that they’re actually making his job harder.

One could point out that it was only a suggestion, and there was no suggestion of punishment if they failed to comply, but that’s the thing with the Right: Any suggestion that perhaps they shouldn’t say what they’ve said is infringement on their right to free speech. It doesn’t matter it the reason is that it’s actually helping terrorists, or – as in the Andrew Bolt case – what they were saying was wildly inaccurate, any suggestion that they should perhaps think before speaking is a violation of their right to free speech.

It doesn’t help to point out to them that as Australia doesn’t have a Bill of Rights, they don’t actually have any right to free speech, because then the argument will shift from the idiocy of what they’re saying to their insistence that we don’t need a Bill of Rights because we all know what our rights are and this is Australia, so nobody’s going to take them away from us.

Taking them away from other people, however, is quite ok. Like “illegal immigrants” who have forfeited their rights by coming here in the first place. In their case, the penalty for “illegal immigration” is incarceration for a period of time longer than any penalty they’d actually receive for entering the country illegally until they face trial for “illegal immigration” which we can’t try them for because they’d use the defence that they’re seeking asylum which isn’t a crime and we’d have to respect their human rights.

And as for Gillian Triggs having the right to freedom of speech, well, she’s on that Human Rights thingy, so she shouldn’t be partisan at all. I mean, if she’s going to criticise us then she should criticise everyone. You can’t have someone criticising one side of poltics and not the other. Never mind that she was critical of Labor too. It was the timing of her report that meant she’d forfeited her right to speak. She should have released her report before it was finished while Labor was still in power.

Or take the ABC, it should be editorially independent and not just a mouthpiece for the government. However, that doesn’t mean it has the right to be more critical of the government than the rest of the mainstream media – who, by the way, have a right to be biased so don’t complain if they’re critical of Labor or The Greens. The ABC have no right to be biased and, should therefore, simply reflect what all the other biased media are saying.

Yep, it seems to the Right that “rights” are something they automatically have, and everyone else has to earn by right behaviour. And by “right behaviour”, we mean “correct” behaviour. And by “correct” that means agreeing with the Right.

Perhaps the confusion is because the words are the same. Let’s face it, Tony Abbott never seemed that good with language and he was considered their spokesperson.

P.S. While Christmas is meant to be a slow news time, has anyone else noticed how many announcements on things like approvals to Adani and cuts to Medicare procedures are being announced in the past few days? Ah, the Turnbull government it just never rests. No wonder it thinks that penalty rates are for wimps…


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  1. Ginny Lowndes

    In every public servant’s job description it is written that part of their job is to provide ‘frank and fearless advice’ to the government of the day. Duncan Lewis was doing his job quite properly. It’s just that the government of the day only has one policy to use to stay in power – fear mongering with Muslim bashing.

  2. kerri

    We should stop calling this government “The Right” !!
    Because they are not!

    Well said Rossleigh and well said Ginny Lowndes!

  3. Terry2

    When Tony Abbott asked the ABC, ‘whose side are you on ?’ he honestly didn’t see the irony of what he was asking.
    His question implied that the ABC to be independent had to follow the government line ; just as the government follows the News Corp. line.

  4. donwreford

    We have seen the exporting of jobs to I presume make more profits for companies and corporations? I cannot see why we cannot have our government overseas such as China governing Australia and saving taxpayers money for cheap labor, as you know only to well Bronwyn Bishop having cost taxpayers big money on helicopter rides would all be alleviated if we had a overseas government?

  5. Kaye Lee

    Interesting morning….TWO ministers standing down! Jamie Briggs apparently did something bad in a Hong Kong bar to a “female public servant” and Mal Brough is standing down pending the AFP investigation.

  6. Rossleigh

    Yes, Kaye Lee, and that was AFTER my comment about this being a slow news time. What can we else can expect before midnight? A minister facing charges? Tony Abbott to replace Turnbull now that the government’s popular again? Bronwyn Bishop has been given her own private helicopter to ensure that there’s no more need for investigations to exonerate her?

  7. Terry2

    Wonder what happened in that Hong Kong bar ; evidently an apology from Briggs wasn’t enough, she insisted on an official complaint.

    Obviously what happens in Hong Kong doesn’t stay in Hong Kong.

    memo to Malcolm :”To lose one Minister may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness.” – apologies to Oscar Wilde

  8. terry

    don’t matter how u win , as long as u win with this mob , brough got his pension . u could nearly write the script , be early election

  9. Kaye Lee

    Arthur Sinodinis, Mal’s strategist, when asked about the timing for an election, said it will be held when they think they can win. Even elections are playthings for these people. It’s hard to see how they will play this. Their idea of cutting company tax will create a furore considering that companies don’t pay any tax. They are trying to pass the buck on raising the GST to the states and on getting rid of penalty rates to FWA. Their inaction on climate change has been exposed for the lie that it is with emissions going UP not DOWN. They have said this morning that they will not fund the last two years of Gonski despite us being the innovation nation. Sussan Ley is bouncing around paying every consulting group known to mankind for report after report, but she still can’t hide her attack on universal healthcare.

    Speaking of which, as of January 1, chemists will have the “option” of discounting the co-contribution paid by customers for scripts by $1. Not only will this be a death knell for community pharmacy, what they haven’t advertised is that this, along with the removal of several common medications from the PBS, will mean that concession card holders will have to fill an additional 11 scripts before reaching the safety net. They will be worse off because they will reach entitlement later and be on the free list for a much shorter time. The smoke and mirrors will hurt the worst off yet again.

  10. Matters Not

    I see that Jamie has promised that the name of the public servant who reported him will not be released.

    Hilarious. A quick glance at the ‘organisational structure’ suggests the names of two most likely (no hidden meaning intended). One will not respond to questions while the other will deny it was her.

    Already journalists, ministerial staffers and at least half of Canberra will know which one it is. Be interesting to see how she is treated. Expect movements.

    Not sure of the level involved but it’s unlikely she’s a union member, but I hope she is because her ‘rights’ will be tested.

  11. Kaye Lee

    Jamie Briggs’ resignation from the junior ministry after an incident with a public servant in a Hong Kong bar is being mourned by few of his colleagues, with Nationals senator John Williams saying his departure will only improve the quality of the ministry. “With Briggs leaving it means there will be no deterioration in the overall quality of the ministry, in fact it should improve,” Senator Williams said on Tuesday.

    One Liberal who did not wish to be named said Mr Turnbull had removed two of the Ministry’s most internally loathed members: “The IQ quota has gone up and the talentless arrogance quota has gone down with this move,” the Liberal said.

    What does that say about Turnbull’s judgement? He is just handing out rewards to talentless fools like they are gifts.

  12. diannaart

    Kaye Lee; “Even elections are playthings for these people.”

    Oh my goodness, yes, elections are like simply Toys-4-Them.

    As Terry2, noted “When Tony Abbott asked the ABC, ‘whose side are you on ?’ he honestly didn’t see the irony of what he was asking”.

    There is a huge vacancy where democracy used to exist – but not any more, oh no, politics is a rigged game for self appointed ‘adults’ – nothing to do with the welfare of a nation; silly idea that was.

  13. paul walter

    Ross Leigh, thanks for the pic at the beginning. Now I know what a mentally deficient person looks like.

  14. paul walter

    Folks, could it be that we end up likening Australian democracy to a fly blown sheep, fresh meat, fast foods you could say, parasited off by witless, lazy blowflies and greedy grubs and only pain for the productive host and victim.

  15. Sir ScotchMistery

    Get your very own”Over 50 and still voting LNP. Why, for heavens sake?” T shirt from Redbubble today.

    Older Australian women in general vote as their fathers did, which of course calls for a head-butt. On each and every LNP “representative”.

  16. Fiona

    Sir ScotchMistery,

    Older Australian women in general vote as their fathers did

    Where is your evidence, sir?

  17. Sir ScotchMistery

    My 80 year old neighbour. And a few of my other customers.

  18. Kaye Lee

    My parents never asked each other or me who they voted for. They instilled in me that it was my democratic right to choose without their input. I know that some people will vote how their family has always voted (particularly Nats voters), but thankfully some parents teach their children the value of independent thought.

  19. paul walter

    Yesw, Kaye Lee, same here. It is personal and it is not required that a voter hop on a soapbox and loudly confess their voting patterns to the assembled multidudes immediately on exiting a polling booth.

    What should be important is whether or not someone entrusted with this function of voting takes it seriously and thinks about serious issues before casting a vote. To me voting is part of my appreciation of a world view that allows for improvements in the human lot.

  20. diannaart

    Older Australian women in general vote as their fathers did

    Award for Generalisation of the Day?

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