Guest Notes

New Year’s musings

6 January 2018

9:00 AM

6 January 2018

9:00 AM

Love me do

I think we all understand how ‘user pays’ works. Say you go to the local municipal swimming pool. People who want to swim have to pay a fee. So you pay that and in return you get to use the pool, which also provides lifeguards to look out for you and everyone else.  But now suppose the pool said to you, ‘Those people over there want to drown you. This is an extra hassle for our lifeguards. So we’re going to charge you five times the usual charge that everyone else pays.’ Annoyed? Probably wondering why you have to pay the costs created by others who seek to break the law. Their actions, not yours, are costing you a lot of money. It all seems rather Kafkaesque, no? And yet that’s what is happening around this country, particularly in Melbourne, when left-wing ruffians attack venues where people on the right wish to hold an event and hear someone speak. The police ask the law-abiding people holding the event to pay – and to pay tens of thousands of dollars – because of the costs imposed by the rioters and lawbreakers on the left. You’d think right-of-centre politicians might, you know, do something about such a gross travesty.  Make the rioting law-breakers pay perhaps?  Afterall, this amounts if not to a heckler’s veto, then at least to a rioter’s massive cost imposition on the precise people they’re trying to silence – a win-win for the louts.  Come on Libs, grow one of those backbones you may have read about.

I’m sure all of us are now convinced that the term ‘sexual assault’ is being applied across such a massively widespread range of actions that it has more or less lost any meaning.  If the accusation is out and out rape, you will hear it described as ‘sexual assault’.  Ditto if the accusation involves sexual intercourse that was consensual, but where the consent may have been influenced by too much to drink.  Then we move away from any sexual intercourse at all, say to groping or touching of breasts. This used to be assault but now it too is described as ‘sexual assault’.  Then there is the misplayed pass, say a hand on the knee or an attempted kiss.  Again, more than a few deem this to be ‘sexual assault’ as well.  Heck, in that statistically meaningless research Australian universities recently spent a small fortune commissioning even a risqué, tasteless joke that was offensive – or to be precise, that the listener deemed to be offensive – were counted as ‘sexual harrasment and sexual assault’. As I said, the terms are slowly being drained of content and becoming a rhetorical tool to indicate ‘bad’. But be clear, there are plenty of costs in this sort of imprecise lumping of anything from bad manners on up in with vile criminal behaviour. By contrast, the long-term benefits are hard to see.

What’s good about rights-related international law?  I mean that as a serious question.  First off it hasn’t got a democratic bone in its body.  Not one.  Take a few treaties chock full of vague and amorphous moral entitlements in the language of rights.  Stir in a United Nations Human Rights Council (‘UNHRC’) with member states from which no sane person would ever take moral advice.  Leaven it with unelected UN bureaucrats (who don’t pay income tax let me note) and unelected domestic judges who use these amorphously broad entitlements to condemn western liberal democracies and second-guess elected legislatures. Meanwhile the world’s truly nasty regimes ignore these treaties and UN bodies with impunity.  Then finish it off with the fact that there is a noticeable left-wing identity politics slant to everything that comes out of rights-related international law, including in the democratic world’s law schools that genuflect at its feet while constantly running down democratic legislatures. Let’s be blunt.  Rights-related international law is worse than what the West’s elected legislatures produce but better than what the rest of the world produces. And if you want a sure confirmation of all of this, go and read the latest UNHRC report on Australia – it could have been produced in Green Party headquarters and oozes left-wing political ideology. In my view, it isn’t worth the paper it shouldn’t have been written on.

Just before Christmas, my wife and I gave ourselves a present. We went to hear Paul McCartney in Brisbane. It was a blast. The Fab One and his band played for three hours before near on 40,000 fans. The voice was that of a septuagenarian, albeit that of a legend still able to play any instrument in sight. The crowd knew almost all the songs. The stories he told were fantastic. The lefty politics were kept to a bare minimum.  McCartney used up more energy in one night than Malcolm Turnbull expended during the entirety of the last election campaign. And some bits of the playlist at times reminded one of the trajectory of this Team Turnbull – ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’, ‘Love Me Do’, ‘Golden Slumbers’, ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’, ‘In Spite of All the Danger’, ‘Helter Skelter’, ‘Live and Let Die’ and ‘The End’

Let me finish these New Year’s musings by saying what a pleasure it is to write for The Speccie, not to mention to pick up each week’s offerings from here and the UK and be educated, entertained and invigorated. Fingers crossed I’ll get to meet Rod Liddle one day. And Taki. I even love the bridge column, which my kids would say tells you all you need to know about moi. Over time you even get to know the other regular writers for our Australian edition.

Sure, Malcolm Turnbull may have the Midas touch when it comes to turning conservative against conservative but all of us on the sane side of politics have a strong interest in helping this publication flourish. Buy a subscription for your friends or children. In the long-term it’s one of the best presents you could get them.

Happy New Year. And all the best in 2018.

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