Honestly, what’s happening to free speech in this country! It’s got to the stage when a politician can’t even use the phrase “girlie man” without being considered sexist. He didn’t mean it in a sexist way, Cormann was only suggesting that Shorten was “girlie” as opposed to Mr Abbott who’s rather “boyie”.
And, as for Mr Spurr’s comments on various subjects – including women and people of a different colouring – what’s racist about calling Desmond Tutu a “witch doctor”? What’s so bad about calling Nelson Mandela a “darkie”? Why should Tony Abbott be offended by being called an “abo-lover”?
As Mr Spurr says this was just part of some game where he mocked extreme language by using it, in much the same way that one could mock the language of the left by referring to various members of Abbott’s front bench by calling them “out-of-touch, Nazis, who lack not only empathy but basic the basic competence to organise themselves into groups of two”.
Free speech is being shut down by these politically correct wowsers who can’t take a joke. If it were up to me, I’d ban the words “sexist” and “racist” just so we could all feel comfortable again.
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In correspondence seen by Fairfax Media, Professor Spurr said the emails were part of a longstanding joke with another person.
“These statements are not reflections of my views or his,” he said.
“The comments that you refer to are largely to one recipient with whom I have had a whimsical linguistic game for many years of trying to outdo one another in extreme statements.”
They were part of a game “that mocked extreme language”, he said.
The Sydney Morning Herald, October 16th 2014
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Now, of course, if some of my blogs were selectively edited, then there’s plenty of stuff where people could say, “Look at what this guy wrote.”
Even the initial passage has me supporting various racist and sexist comments. However, the most cursory examination of any views I’ve ever expressed seriously either privately or to the general community would demonstrate that I support ideas of equality and have no notions that my views and values are of more worth just because I’m a WASP from a middle class background.
Which is, of course, the big problem with Barry Spurr’s comments. If they were “mocking” extreme language, the rest of us aren’t in on the joke, so it’s only his public statements that will help us see why he feels that merely using the same language counts as “mocking” it.
In the context of the review of the Australian Curriuculum, where Spurr was appointed by two old, white Australian males to advise on the study of English, what did Bazza suggest?
Among his statements were the following (my emphasis added):
In the three points on which all curriculum subjects must be focused – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples; the Asian region, and sustainability – mandating priorities that could be a distraction from the core work of the curriculum, bearing no direct relation to the educational and disciplinary purposes that the curriculum for the study of literature in English is designed to facilitate and fulfil
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Creativity in any of the arts is best nurtured, especially in the pre-adult years, by a thorough grounding in what others have achieved – and with recognised distinction – in these fields. The idea of pupils as ‘creators’ of literature in English needs to be kept firmly in check.
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At the very least, the major poets in English must be studied, at one point or other, in a robust and rigorous curriculum of literature in English. For example: Chaucer, Shakespeare (as poet), Donne, Milton, Pope, Wordsworth, Keats, Tennyson, Yeats and Eliot.
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As with poetry, every effort must be made to represent the great writers in the tradition, at one point or other, in a robust and rigorous curriculum of literature in English. For example: Jane Austen, George Eliot, Charles Dickens, Henry James, Thomas Hardy, Joseph Conrad, DH Lawrence, James Joyce (Dubliners, for example, for the short-story form), Patrick White, Tim Winton.
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The biblical story of Noah’s ark is an obvious example of the kind of text to which the youngest children will be drawn and it can begin their introduction to the ‘great code’ of literature in English, the Bible, ‘the single most important influence in the imaginative tradition of Western literature’
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It’s not that I disagree with everything he says; it’s that it’s clear from his report that he has a particular view of the importance of English Literature. On that he’s not completely wrong, but it’s his belief in the depth with which it should be studied by all students that has me concerned. That, along with the fact that he mentions no writers from any other culture except The Bible and Australians. (And even they need to studied in terms of their relationship to English Literature.) No suggestion of the need to study Balzac, Dostoevsky, Kafka or Melville.
So, I guess, that’s the thing about irony. When you have a man whose views seem to so English-centric, suggesting that using words like “sluts”, “darkies” and “abo-lover” is a “joke”, one wonders what the joke is? However, if I complain about the Abbott government not having enough people who were actually born here, then it’s reasonable to conclude that I’m being ironic, because – in spite of my views on the Abbott government – I have no history of being hostile to immigrants, so the irony should be clear.
Of course, when Andrew Bolt starts arguing that immigration should be restricted and that people who don’t approve of Australia should go back where they came from, the irony is even clearer.
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