‘PC’, Orwellian censorship, official lies and the perils of modern ‘democracy’

Many from the ‘Left’, progressives, Cultural Marxists and activists keep trying to stymie democracy with their shrill, often illogical, Orwellian and ideological views. The following articles provide evidence.

Australia’s Victoria State goes 1984

Australia’s Victoria State goes 1984  By Janet Albrechtsen, The Australian, 11 August 2017

“We’re destroying words — scores of them, hundreds of them, every day. We’re cutting the language down to the bone …

“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.”

My son is studying George Orwell and we chatted about Nineteen Eighty-Four over breakfast this week. If he chooses to look, this book is jumping to life all around him. Books are cleansed of words that must not be said. Books by Enid Blyton, mind you. And Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn,too.

Speaking at university has become dangerous if you don’t repeat ortho­dox thinking. Comics have given up playing to snowflake student audiences. Words such as sexual assault and sexual harassment are being defined down to include the telling of a bad joke. At his school, boys were told not to use the word moist because it could offend girls. The cleansing of language and ideas has become disturbingly quotidian.

And this week’s live-streaming of Nineteen Eighty-Four comes to us from Australia’s biggest social laboratory where the Andrews Labor government has a tighter grip on thought crimes than on it does on marauding South Sudan­ese gangs. On Thursday, Victorian Minister for Transport (and censorship) Jacinta Allan banned Sky News from television screens at Metro Trains stations because one host conducted one interview with far-right ratbag Blair Cottrell last Sunday. Sky News apologised and leading Sky names such as David Speers rightly condemned giving a platform to a moron who likes Hitler. But the Labor government banned an entire news organisation so that train commuters “can see something they may be a bit more comfortable with”, to quote Allan, who maybe hasn’t spent much time perusing her portfolio platforms. The Cottrell interview was not part of the Sky News feed that plays at train station screens.

Allan has snookered herself with her hysterical over-reaction. The Transport Minister can’t switch platform TVs to an ABC news feed or the Seven Network or Ten because all of them have aired or tried to air Cottrell. Perhaps a 24-hour stream of E! News and Kimmy K will keep commuters “comfortable”. When the state decides to censor for comfortable ideas, we have reached a deeper level of trouble for our liberty.

Victoria’s Nineteen Eighty-Four moment a week earlier involved the state’s Department of Health and Human Services telling public servants what pronouns to use, with the first Wednesday of each month set aside as “They Day”.

A video for public servants made by public servants features enforcement officer Naomi Shimoda and others talking about the need for inclusive gender-neutral pronouns. It allows people to “self-define” and to “make space so their pronouns are legitimate and respected.”

Some will say that people should be able to choose whatever pronoun they want and that it is only polite that others respect that choice. Others will say “blah, blah, blah” and wave the kerfuffle away as just another episode of nutty political correctness by busybody social activists. The sceptics know to be beware of the blah, blah, blah because the battle over gender-neutral pronouns in other countries is a hint of where we may be headed. Not for nothing, the self-appointed pronoun police behind the “They Day” video included an enforcement officer. Silly-sounding nonsense has a habit of attracting enforcers, be they vigilante-style citizens or bureaucrats and legislators, who tell us what we are allowed to say, read, watch, even laugh at. And inevitably, what we are allowed to think. It is the death of liberty by a thousand cuts.

Language police in the ACT Labor caucus want to do away with references to Mr, Miss, Mrs or Ms in the ACT parliament. No more Madam Speaker. And it is Member Smith instead of Mr Smith. The Bolsheviks wanted to do away with gender too, so why not just call him Comrade Smith, source some bleak-coloured Bolshevik uniforms and declare victory?

Labor’s proposals are not about respecting diversity. This is an agenda to force the same grey and genderless linguistic uniform on everyone. Cleansing gender from pronouns is about killing difference. Being polite is one thing; but political correctness moved beyond civility long ago, if that was ever the aim. When the cleansing of language is backed by directives, regulations or laws, it compels us to speak in one particular way. By stopping us from speaking freely, the aim is to stop us thinking freely. And that is antithetical to freedom in a liberal society.

An obscure Canadian psychologist became a cultural rock star because he explained, in a calm and reasoned manner, why he would not be forced to use speech prescribed by the state. Nor would he stop using words proscribed by the state. Less than two years ago, Jordan Peterson took a stand against Canada’s proposed Bill C-16, which effectively compels the use of gender-neutral pronouns by adding legal protection to “gender identity” and “gender expression”.

Peterson was on to something long before the rest of us. Within six months of the bill becoming law, Lindsay Shepherd, a teaching assistant at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, was called into a university administrator’s office and condemned by professors for showing a clip that was “threatening” and “transphobic”. Her professorial accusers said it created a “toxic climate” for students and was the equivalent of “neutrally playing a speech by Hitler”. She was accused of breaching C-16 laws. Shepherd’s crime was to show her students — during a tutorial on how language affects society — a televised debate between two people with different views about gender and pronouns. One of the speakers was Peterson.

We know the details because a teary Shepherd recorded the meeting, which could be slotted seamlessly into chapter 5 of Nineteen Eighty-Four just before Winston discusses with Syme, a specialist in Newspeak, how the dictionary of approved language is progressing. C-16 has weaponised gender-neutral pronouns in the hands of human rights bureaucrats and complainants, and that is a chilling threat to freedom.

Ten years ago, the Alberta Human Rights Commission investigated a complaint brought against Ezra Levant for publishing the Danish cartoons of the prophet Mohammed. The complaint was dropped, but not before a bur­eaucrat questioned Levant about his intention in publishing the cartoons. The interrogation reminded Levant of Hannah Arendt’s “banality of evil”.

“No six-foot brown shirt here, no police cell at midnight,” he wrote. “Just Shirlene McGovern, an amiable enough bureaucrat, casually asking me about my political thoughts, on behalf of the government of Alberta. And she’ll write up a report about it, and recommend that the government do this or that to me … I had half-expected a combative, missionary-style interrogator. I found, instead, a limp clerk who was just punching the clock … In a way, that’s more terrifying.”

O Canada! How it has made a mockery of being “The True North, strong and free”. A free society is curtailed by stealth when out-of-sight bur­eaucrats investigate the free expression of words, ideas and cartoons. And freedom lost is not easily reinstated. An Australian law compelling us to use certain pronouns may not be far off because we have followed Canada before. We pick­ed up Canada’s gift to the world, multiculturalism. And just as the Canadian Human Rights Commission has gone awry, accused by founder Alan Borovoy for falling into disrepute, our own Australian Human Rights Commission has wrecked its reputation, too. When was the last time the AHRC focused on core human rights such as free speech or property rights? Instead, it is a bloated bureaucracy whose enforcers protect hurt feelings, not human rights.

And dob-in-a-dissident was sanctioned when Race Commissar — oops, Commissioner — Tim Soutphommasane touted for business when The Australian’s Bill Leak drew a cartoon that threw into sharp relief the complex issues of individual responsibility and the dismal plight of indigenous children. Yet Soutphommasane had nothing to say about a dance performance in Melbourne this year where white people were told to wait in the lobby while the performance began inside the theatre. His departure is a blessing for anyone committed to genuine human rights.

The AHRC’s wretched handling of complaints against three Queensland University of Technology students who posted on Facebook about the absurdity of racial segregation only confirmed its role as an anti-human rights bureaucracy. The career epitaph of former commission boss Gillian Triggs should read: “Sadly you can say what you like around the kitchen table at home.”

Examples abound of bureaucracies that have run amok when armed with social engineering laws that were once seen as innocuous nonsense. Applauding the recent decision of the US to pull out of the UN Human Rights Council, Liberal MP Julian Leeser has pointed out that this council is not some harmless bureaucracy.

Delivering the 2018 B’nai B’rith Human Rights Address, Leeser said that human rights had often been hijacked and “in the (UN) Human Rights Council we see a blatant attempt by those who oppose liberal democratic ideals to commandeer the apparatus of human rights so that they might hide and obstruct its abuses”.

“We read Orwell as a warning; they read Orwell as a textbook,” he said. The young MP then took aim at the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, established by Kevin Rudd’s Labor government. Leeser, who has served on the committee for two years, called for its abolition on the grounds that it is not really a committee of the parliament.

“It is a bureaucracy that has appropriated the name of the parliament. The committee is about bureaucrats judging parliament, rather than the parliament judging human rights.” And just about every report attacks the government’s legislative agenda “in the form of rehashed talking points from left-wing and social justice groups that have no connection to ‘real’ human rights”.

In 1994, before he became prime minister, John Howard warned about the rise of cultural McCarthyism in this country. Talk about mission creep. Who could have foreseen their reach and influence? Short of securing legislative wins, social engineers under­stand that getting, holding and extending their power through unelected bureaucracies is critical to the pursuit of creating public-free zones where real power vests, far away from prying democratic processes. No one knows how the current batch of social experiments will end. But history shows that something that sounds harmless, like a friendly video about gender-neutral pronouns put out by bureaucrats, can end up curtailing our liberty.

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Forces of reason fight back against the PC brigade

Forces of reason fight back against the PC brigade  By Kevin Donnelly, The Australian, 10 August 2018

There’s no doubt the cultural Left’s political correctness movement is all-pervasive and dominates our universities, schools, businesses, the media (especially the ABC and Fairfax), politics and way of life.

Almost daily there are examples: “safe spaces” and “sensitivity tool kits” in universities; Qantas and defence force manuals abolishing “he” and “she” in preference to gender-neutral pronouns such as “they”; junior sports abolishing score-keeping because it’s wrong to have winners and losers.

I first wrote about political correctness in 1993 when I discovered an American book titled The ­Official Politically Correct Dictionary and Handbook. It was satirical and lighthearted, and included­ ­examples such as “personnel access structures” for manholes and “chemically inconvenienced” instead of alcoholic.

Today, it’s clear that political correctness is no longer a laughing matter. Instead it represents an insidious and invasive ideology imposing censorship and groupthink in areas such as multiculturalism, race, the environment, gender and sexuality, capitalism, and the benefits of Judeo-Christianity and Western civilisation.

Dare to question multiculturalism, and you are labelled racist and a white supremacist. Criticise Islam and you are Islamophobic. Argue against the Safe Schools gender and sexuality program, and you are attacked as hetero­normative, homophobic and transphobic.

Defend Western civilisation and our Judeo-Christian heritage, and you are Eurocentric, ­binary, guilty of privileging whiteness and, worst of all, Christian.

Attacks on former tennis champion Margaret Court for opposing same-sex marriage prove the PC movement refuses to tolerate disagreement and open debate. Those who question or criticise Aboriginal culture are especially at risk. This was evidenced during a lecture by Uni­versity of Sydney academic Fiona Martin in which she attacked the work of The Australian’s former cartoonist Bill Leak — who died in March last year — before saying: “may he rest not in peace”.

Such is the dire nature of the situation that American feminist Camille Paglia says: “We are plunged once again into an ethical chaos where intolerance masquerades as tolerance and where individual liberty is crushed by the tyranny of groupthink.”

One of the foundations of Western civilisation is an education system based on rationality and reason, but even here the political correctness movement has spread its infection. A rainbow alliance of theories including neo-Marxism, radical feminism, post­modernism, deconstructionism, and gender and postcolonial theories dominate the academy.

British academic Michael Young said knowledge was simply a social construct employed by those more powerful to dominate and control so-called victim groups. French Marxist Louis Althusser said education was a key part of “the ideological state apparatus” without which capitalism could not survive.

Not only do those committed to deconstructionism deny the referential quality of language, thus making reasoned, impartial debate impossible, but radical feminists denounce reason and rationality as a phallocentric, binary concept designed to enforce male dominance and control.

Notwithstanding the unparalleled benefits of Western civilisation, politically correct academ­ics argue a liberal view of educa­tion must be overthrown as it promotes whiteness. Omid Tofighian from the University of Sydney says whiteness leads to “different forms of domination and marginalisation — such as ­racism, sexism, classism, historical injustice and prejudice based on religion”.

As a result of universities teaching “postmodernist gruel”, Paglia says, we have reached a situation where “history is a narrative; every narrative is a fiction; objectivity is impossible, so who cares what’s real and what’s not?”.

Author and Sinologist Pierre Ryckmans, who taught at the Australian National University and Sydney University, went as far as saying that, as a result of postmodern theory, universities were “doomed to founder in the shallows of farce and incoherence”.

Given recent events that prove the dominance of the political correctness movement and the success of the cultural Left’s long march, it might be reasonable to conclude all is lost.

Fortunately, that is not the case. Such is the bizarre and doctrinaire nature of political correctness that there is a growing groundswell of opposition based on the belief that reason and sanity are preferable to ideology and indoctrination.

The Institute of Public Affairs’ Western Civilisation Program, the PM Glynn Institute at the Australian Catholic University and the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation provide evidence of a resurgence in acknow­ledging and defending a liberal education within the Western tradition.

Seminars exploring the significance and importance of Western civilisation organised by the Perth-based Dawson Society and Mannkal Foundation also illustrate that all is not lost.

Kevin Donnelly is a senior research fellow at the Australian Catholic University and author of How Political Correctness is Destroying Australia (Wilkinson Publishing).

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Slacktivism – beware the plastic witch hunt

Slacktivism, beware the plastic witch huntBy Nick Cater, The Australian, 24 July 2018

The party is over for plastic straws, declared The Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday as Hungry Jacks followed Macca’s and Ikea in banishing the evil tubes from its counters.

The speed with which corporations and governments have surrendered to this eccentric campaign is a triumph for slacktivism, the one-click, cost-free way to take a stand for humanity or the planet.

Eighteen months ago, plastic straws were merely a cheap, efficient and effective way of pumping milkshake into kiddies. Now they’re hunted down by just about every petty government regulator on the planet.

Milk bar owners in Seattle face a $US250 ($336) fine for issuing straws or plastic utensils to customers; Toowoomba Regional Council wants them banished from the mountain; Adelaide City Council is debating the issue ­tonight in response to a motion from Deputy Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor.

“It sends a very strong message about Adelaide,” Verschoor told the ABC, as indeed it does.

It is difficult to find a rational explanation for the rise in public anxiety over plastic, the ubiquitous and versatile mainstay of modern manufacturing and distribution that delivers unrivalled functional properties at low cost.

Plastic food packaging cuts waste and significantly extends shelf life, making fresh food cheaper. It is strong, safe and exceptionally light. It reduces transport costs, warehouse back injuries and fuel emissions.

Having made a noble contribution to modern life, plastic can be given a decent burial as odourless, toxin-free, compacted landfill, where its stabilising and anti-leaching qualities make it the tip manager’s best friend.

Despite our best endeavours, however, some plastic waste escapes to the ocean, where its impact on the marine environment is poorly understood.

A Senate inquiry on the threat of marine plastic two years ago acknowledged that waste was a growing problem, but it was restricted in making firm recommendations by vast “knowledge gaps” in marine and waste science.

Knowledge gaps present the kind of opportunity that scaremongers thrive on. Unknown and unquantifiable threats are their stock in trade; all they need is an everyday object to which to apply them.

It is unlikely that banning plastic straws and single-use bags will make a noticeable difference to the amount of plastic in the ocean. Government estimates suggest that only 2 per cent of single-use plastic bags end up as litter, and only a quarter of those make their way to the sea.

A submission by one non-government organisation to the Senate inquiry found that plastic bags and other plastic wrapping accounted for less than one in 20 items of plastic waste collected from beaches.

On a global scale, the impact of Australian plastic waste is insignificant. A study published in ­Science in 2015 found that more than a quarter of the 12.7 million tonnes of plastic washed into the ocean comes from China.

Australia contributed less than 0.08 per cent.

The moral panic about plastic says more about us than the state of the oceans. It reflects a heightened susceptibility to fear in an uncertain world, a phenomenon examined by sociologist Frank Furedi in an instructive book published last month.

Moral panics are not new. The witch-hunts in early modern ­Europe, the 19th-century fear of airborne diseases emanating from city slums, and the syphilis scare that took hold between the wars are prime examples.

The question Furedi tries to answer is why seemingly irrational fears are so prevalent in a world we like to imagine is ordered by science and why moral panic grips people who consider themselves more sophisticated than their ancestors.

In Furedi’s view, the culture of fear is driven by a lack of agreement about how to make sense of threats to the social order. During periods of social disruption, fear can break free from institutional control and acquire an unpredictable dynamic. Communities respond by seeking refuge in simplistic solutions, like banning plastic bags, building windmills or taxing sugar, even though the effectiveness of such measures is highly contested.

Justification is sought in ­science, but the empirical basis for the fears, and the measures that are demanded, is often flimsy, to say the least.

Social reformer the Reverend Charles Kingsley drew attention to the dangers of “blind fear” in a speech on superstition in 1866.

Rational fear is natural and wholesome, said Kingsley, and stemmed from the instinct for self-preservation. Blind fear, however, “fear of the unknown, simply because it is unknown”, leads to terrible follies.

Kingsley warned of the tendency to “erect … superstitions into a science”, as people struck by blind fear attempt to impose order on the unknown.

The science adopted by the anti-plastic movement is questionable to say the least. The UN Environment Program claims that “51 trillion micro-plastic particles — 500 times more than stars in our galaxy — litter the seas”, costing “at least $8 billion in damage to marine ecosystems”.

“According to estimates,” UNEP says without so much as a footnote, “by 2050, oceans will have more plastic than fish if present trends are not arrested.”

Common sense tells us these are guesstimates at best, hunches dressed up as facts to give coherence to an irrational fear about the coherence of modernity.

The same unfounded, unknowable and unverifiable assertions are repeated time and again by the slacktivist entrepreneurs who compete for our attention, and our dollar, in a world saturated by worthy causes.

They repeat the fatuous claim that “seemingly small daily decisions” like rejecting plastic bags and renouncing plastic straws, have “a dramatic effect on our oceans”.

Dramatic? Hardly. We are not supposed to argue, however, but simply to comply.

The faux science of marine plastic, like the faux economics of a sugar tax or the false promises of renewable energy can no longer be questioned. Scepticism itself is cast as a reason for fear.

“Fear itself has become a perspective through which life is interpreted,” writes Furedi.

“A palpable sense of intolerance towards freedom, particularly towards free speech, is intimately connected to the working of the culture of fear.”

How Fear Works: Culture of Fear in the Twenty-First Century, by Frank Furedi, is published by Bloomsbury Continuum.

Nick Cater is executive director of the Menzies Research Centre.

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About Peter Senior

I'm a very experienced and pragmatic management consultant. I've reviewed and led the restructuring of many organisations - large and small corporations and Government Departments, much of the time as President of the New Zealand Institute of Management Consultants. Before that I was General Manager of a major NZ newspaper; earlier, an analyst for IBM UK. I gained an honours degree in engineering at London University, and studied management at Cambridge University. This wide range of experience has left me frustrated: I continue to see too many examples of really bad management. Sometimes small easily fixed issues; sometimes fundamental faults; and sometimes really tricky problems. Mostly these issues can be fixed using a mixture of common sense, 'management 101' and applying lessons from years of management experience. Unfortunately, all too often, politics, bureaucracy and daft government regulations get in the way; internal factors such as poor culture and out-of-date strategies are often evident. So what's gone wrong, and why, and most importantly, how to fix 'it'? I hope there are like-minded people 'out there' who will share their thoughts enabling 'us' to improve some significant management failures that affect the general public. If you just accept bad management, you don't have the right to complain! If you'd like to share thoughts on any aspects of management, send me an email to petersenior42@gmail.com . My latest project has the interim title 'You’ve been conned. Much of what you were taught and read is largely irrelevant, misleading or plain wrong – this is the REAL story of life: past, present and our possible future.' The working paper so far comprises 105 pages, many listing references and interim conclusions. The main problem is finding sufficient credible evidence, and realising the more Iearn, the more I realise I don't know!
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