Leading article Australia

Tinpot Torquemadas

20 April 2019

9:00 AM

20 April 2019

9:00 AM

Just when freedom of speech has been under attack through the Passion of Israel Folau, this week proved the ‘woke’, no-platformers and intellectual latte-sippers don’t always get their own way.

The Federal Court struck a ringing blow for freedom in finding James Cook University wrongly and unjustly censured and then dismissed professor Peter Ridd for challenging the climate change zeitgeist. Professor Ridd’s ‘crimes’ were to dare suggest certain evidence for man-made climate change causing the Great Barrier Reef to bleach was sexed up for public consumption, and consistently defending his own position that there is no definitive empirical evidence of a causal link between human activity and the claimed state of the Reef.

The Court vindicated Professor Ridd on no less than 17 points, including declaring his dismissal invalid. His victory is one we all should celebrate.  Like Galileo, Professor Ridd has been determined to uphold his own scientific views in the face of condemnation by a hostile hierarchy. Unlike Galileo, however, attempts to force his recantation failed.

Universities as places of free thought and inquiry are keystones in the Western intellectual tradition. In Australia, that freedom of thought is being defined and interpreted by self-appointed academic inquisitors who put their own arrogance, bias and intolerance of dissent from their own distorted beliefs ahead of testing hypotheses and evidence to form a correct view of the nature of things. They are but thuggish guards in intellectual concentration camps, where any dissent must be crushed.

It’s not just climate change. As the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation is finding, in university after university these tinpot Torquemadas declare war on the very essence of their academic being: the world-conquering intellectual and cultural traditions of the West that are the very basis of our own society. It was therefore a great day when Professor Ridd won his case against JCU so resoundingly.

Professor Ridd’s intellectual courage is inspiring, and his victory is timely for Easter. As another free speech martyr, rugby’s Israel Folau, could tell you, Jesus was crucified because he dared challenge the authority of the leaders of his own Jewish faith, and the Roman overlords of his country, Judaea. Christ’s sacrifice, the fundamental basis of Christianity, was brought about precisely because he exercised his own freedom of speech and thought so powerfully that his enemies in positions of earthly power were desperate to destroy him. But the rise of Christianity showed they couldn’t be Ridd of him either.

Comedy cops

Life of Brian turns 40 this year but it’s hard to imagine Monty Python’s hilarious movie could even be screened at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. The po-faced jamboree has just announced that its major prize — the Barry Award — will no longer be named after the festival’s co-founder Barry Humphries, apparently because he has not been toeing the line on transgenderism.

The comedian who spent half his professional life in a twin-set and pearls has rankled the political correctness czars by daring to describe gender reassignment surgery as ‘self-mutilation,’ to criticise Caitlyn Jenner and to decry the ‘new puritanism.’

Mocking a transgender icon is no joke in Melbourne. One can only hope that the comedy cops are too young and too poorly educated to have seen the Python classic or they would no doubt call for it to be banned, or at the very least bowdlerised.

Imagine their horror at the scene where Stan announces to his comrades in the People’s Front of Judea that he wants to be called Loretta and persuades them to fight the Oppressors for the right of men to have babies. Reg asks, ‘What’s the point of fighting for his right to have babies when he can’t have babies?!’ To which Francis replies, ‘It is symbolic of our struggle against oppression.’ ‘Symbolic of his struggle against reality,’ observes Reg.

The Left is no longer simply content to struggle against reality. They insist that everyone else play along with them. The price for not humouring their delusions is to be cast out from polite society, to be denied a platform, to have your name removed from a tennis arena if you are Margaret Court, or from an award in this case. But who would want their name associated with a festival that is so censorious?

The condemnation of Mr Humphries by the Melbourne comedic establishment is, as Oscar Wilde put it, ‘the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass.’ Mr Humphries has lamented that ‘the far Left is so conservative, paradoxically, inflexible, doctrinaire and humourless’ and that you can’t describe the world as it without getting jumped on.  Luckily, Mr Humphries doesn’t mind.  Asked if he gets jumped on, he chortles, ‘I’m happy to say I do.  I give offence therefore I am.’  Long may he continue to do so.

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