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153 responses to “Overflow Thread”

  1. Iain Hall

    [Moderator note: this comment references a discussion that has been redirected by moderators to Overflow from the _Abbott Heads For The Past As Labor Contemplates The Future_ thread]

    Well I’m waiting for you here Paul are you up for it?

  2. Paul

    What is to debate, your a denialist, I am for a Price on carbon, you have yet to prove that climate change is not happening and to why the price on carbon is not working.

    I have read your crap, you follow Bolt the dolt, follow JoNova as if it is a religion, your whole site is just for climate change denialists, anti muslim, anti labor and green, considering I cannot post on your site, what is the point of arguing here and ruining this great site.

  3. Iain Hall

    Paul
    Paul

    What is to debate, your(sic) a denialist, I am for a Price on carbon, you have yet to prove that climate change is not happening and to why the price on carbon is not working.

    As I said earlier I have never denied that the climate is changing, its very evident that it is extremely dynamic indeed the question that grown ups consider is not about change or no change but the extent to which it is attributable to human activity. That point is very debatable indeed given the wide range of natural variability.
    But the question you need to answer is this, do you just believe in a “carbon price (tax)” or do you believe in doing something about CO2 emissions? because there is no reason at all to think that you have to have the former to achieve the latter. But you yourself said that the carbon taxes elsewhere were not working yet you still insist that I have to “prove” that the price on carbon is not working.? that is just a total logic fail on your part.

    I have read your crap, you follow Bolt the dolt, follow JoNova as if it is a religion, your whole site is just for climate change denialists, anti muslim, anti labor and green, considering I cannot post on your site, what is the point of arguing here and ruining this great site.

    I real lots of different things Paul,some that I agree with and a great deal that I don’t and all of it becomes grist for my blogging mill. Add to that the simple fact that I am not the only Author there and my friend Ray is a dyed in the wool Labor man who often takes a very contrary position to mine on just about every political question de jour and my blog is far from the extremist’s paradise that you think it to be.

    If you are really that keen to post comments to my own site rather than following me around the net like a lost puppy I will allow it on the condition of you behaving well which means no name calling or personal attacks and remaining on topic and amiable.

  4. Ambigulous

    You two: go and get a blog, please.

  5. Paul

    I read a lot to hall, but the sites you follow are just that, denialism, climate change does not exist, you have said it before and you will say it again.

    I believe in climate change, I believe that man is one of the greatest risk to this world if something is not done now, since the beginning of the industrial revolution man has damaged the environment, to the extent that some places in the world will never be the same.

    As for a carbon price, I said they are not working because of the govt’s around the world are not doing enough, I believe they should be doing more, not less like your hero, the Abbott who is rescinding the carbon price and implementing something called Direct action, but that policy does not even exist now, according to the liberal web site, so what is he going to do about Climate change, ABSOLUTE NOTHING.

    The author’s on your site [personal comments redacted ~ Mod]. The others that comment over on your site are just sockpuppets created by you.

  6. tigtog

    Mod note: Paul, make your arguments without personal insults please, or take them elsewhere.

  7. Terry

    Meanwhile, Britain is pursuing a low-carbon energy future by going nuclear.

  8. Iain Hall

    Paul

    I read a lot to(sic) hall(sic), but the sites you follow are just that, denialism, climate change does not exist, you have said it before and you will say it again.

    [personal comment redacted ~ Mod]

    I believe in climate change, I believe that man is one of the greatest risk to this world if something is not done now, since the beginning of the industrial revolution man has damaged the environment, to the extent that some places in the world will never be the same.

    [personal comment redacted ~ Mod]

    As for a carbon price, I said they are not working because of the govt’s around the world are not doing enough, I believe they should be doing more, not less like your hero, the Abbott who is rescinding the carbon price and implementing something called Direct action, but that policy does not even exist now, according to the liberal web site, so what is he going to do about Climate change, ABSOLUTE NOTHING.

    It does not matter what the reason for it not working because you were asking me to provide a proof of failure for something that you already know is not working by your own repeated admissions. I suggest [redacted] a rather simple idea, namely that it is better to do nothing than to spend a great deal of effort and treasure on something that can not possibly be of any use in solving the problem..

    Clearly what you are keen on is the act of climate piety involved in paying a carbon tax, funnily enough that was the same business model for the old practice in the catholic church of selling indulgences whereby the faithful could buy their place in Heaven.

  9. Paul

    Thank you tigtog, will behave.

  10. Paul Norton

    Iain @8:

    Clearly what you are keen on is the act of climate piety involved in paying a carbon tax, funnily enough that was the same business model for the old practice in the catholic church of selling indulgences whereby the faithful could buy their place in Heaven.

    Interestingly enough this argument is also made against the use of economic instruments for environmental policy by people such as environmentalists of a “deep green” and/or traditional left ideological persuasion, who would not agree with Iain on much else.

  11. Helen

    Yes Paul N, if a carbon trading scheme is set up by neoliberal governments with a wishy washy commitment to climate change mitigation (ie. the last governments of either stripe here), the “compensation” to industry and the pay-to-pollute system makes it indeed very similar to the old religious indulgence trade. Why that should be an argument AGAINST an *effective* carbon pricing scheme I have no idea.

  12. Terry2

    [Moderator note: comment redacted because it is not an overflow from an existing discussion, please repost on the Open Thread.]

  13. Iain Hall

    Helen & Paul Norton

    The point that I have been trying to make is that one can be a deeply committed believer in AGW but still reject the notion that the “best” approach is some sort of “market based mechanism”. Why more pro AGW people don’t advocate for the better use of regulation to mandate better energy efficiency (which can be endorsed by skeptics like me just on their economic grounds) never ceases to amaze me. Instead we get into “angels on the head of a pin” territory about how the perfect ETS scheme could work when he simple fact is that no scheme has thus far came anywhere near being workable or making any real difference.

  14. Helen

    Iain, just because we have successive Laborial neoliberal governments getting in by the skin of their teeth, why do you assume that we (at LP) agree with all their policies? Many of us aren’t even voters for either of the major parties. There has been plenty of criticism of “market based” ETSs here and elsewhere.

  15. Fran Barlow

    Iain Hall

    one can be a deeply committed believer in AGW

    an accepter of sound science on the drivers of climate change Let’s get our terms right …

    but still reject the notion that the “best” approach is some sort of “market based mechanism”

    Indeed that’s so. A number on the far left (Dr Tad for example) regard the ETS as a purely neoliberal approach and would prefer direct investment and regulation. John Davidson, who isn’t on the far left, has in this place plead for a defence of RECs and for better use of regulation. Others (like James Hansen) favour a carbon tax. I’ve suggested inter alia a phase out of the tax deductibility of ‘dirty energy’ but I certainly have no fundamental ethical problem with more swingeing regulation either.

    I favour a suite of measures — precisely so that CO2e-intensive activities that might evade one measure are caught by another. It’s worth keeping in mind though that an ETS is (or at any rate could be) quite a cost-effective cross-jurisdictional tool. We are reminded all the time that action to mitigate needs to go beyond the borders of Australia, and purely regulatory measures or even direct investment in low emissions technologies cannot affect emissions outside our borders.

    So not either/or, but both, IMO.

    how the perfect ETS scheme could work when he {the} simple fact is that no scheme has thus {so} far came {come} anywhere near being workable or making any real difference. {my edits for tidiness}

    That’s not entirely true. The CEF package, which included a fixed price component seems to have accelerated interest in low-emissions technology and a number of coal plants have been mothballed. Victoria has had to work harder to prevent wind farms from starting, and likewise Campbell Newman in Queensland has had to work harder to undermine industrial-scale solar, both of which are surely good signs.

    Yes the scheme here lacked ambition, largely for the same reasons as the European scheme — the desire not to prejudice the interests of big exporters or the agricultural or transport sectors. That’s a problem of political will rather than something intrinsic to carbon trading schemes.

    OTOH, the successful roll out of a modest scheme that most people now accept made a modest contribution to abatement without wiping Whyalla and other places off the map or leaving the poor out of pocket does make it possible to argue that other jurisdictions can safely adopt the same template. If they did then the progress we have seen here would be duplicated and everyone would stand modestly the better for it.

  16. zoot

    Fran, you must be a bloody good teacher, you have the patience of a saint. I dips me lid to you.

  17. Fran Barlow

    Zoot

    Fran, you must be a bloody good teacher, you have the patience of a saint. I dips me lid to you.

    Why, thank you. It is true that abundant patience is part of the position description of teachers. More than half my current load is in Year 7 and I also have two Year 8 groups. Things often need to be explained in a variety of ways, but I’m OK with that. I find puzzling out what will work best for each group an interesting pedagogic exercise.

  18. Iain Hall

    Fran

    one can be a deeply committed believer in AGW

    an accepter of sound science on the drivers of climate change Let’s get our terms right …

    I call it how I see it.

    but still reject the notion that the “best” approach is some sort of “market based mechanism”

    Indeed that’s so. A number on the far left (Dr Tad for example) regard the ETS as a purely neoliberal approach and would prefer direct investment and regulation. John Davidson, who isn’t on the far left, has in this place plead for a defence of RECs and for better use of regulation. Others (like James Hansen) favour a carbon tax. I’ve suggested inter alia a phase out of the tax deductibility of ‘dirty energy’ but I certainly have no fundamental ethical problem with more swingeing regulation either.

    I am actually aware of these arguments but my point was to explain to Paul Wello that one can roundly bag the whole ETS/carbon tax approach and not be entirely evil.

    I favour a suite of measures — precisely so that CO2e-intensive activities that might evade one measure are caught by another. It’s worth keeping in mind though that an ETS is (or at any rate could be) quite a cost-effective cross-jurisdictional tool. We are reminded all the time that action to mitigate needs to go beyond the borders of Australia, and purely regulatory measures or even direct investment in low emissions technologies cannot affect emissions outside our borders.

    Well that’s fine Fran except for the nature of politics will make such measures at a global level all but impossible which makes small economies like ours doing anything rather pointless. apart from making the climate pious feel good about their righteousness.

    So not either/or, but both, IMO.

    No, its neither the only sensible game is adaptation if and when such measures are needed

    how the perfect ETS scheme could work when he {the} simple fact is that no scheme has thus {so} far came {come} anywhere near being workable or making any real difference. {my edits for tidiness}

    With respect Fran please don’t edit quotes from me

    That’s not entirely true. The CEF package, which included a fixed price component seems to have accelerated interest in low-emissions technology and a number of coal plants have been mothballed. Victoria has had to work harder to prevent wind farms from starting, and likewise Campbell Newman in Queensland has had to work harder to undermine industrial-scale solar, both of which are surely good signs.

    I have my doubts about the viability of wind farms because of the toll they take on bird life and when it comes to PV solar I wonder just how long many of the installations will remain viable without expensive subsidies.

    Yes the scheme here lacked ambition, largely for the same reasons as the European scheme — the desire not to prejudice the interests of big exporters or the agricultural or transport sectors. That’s a problem of political will rather than something intrinsic to carbon trading schemes.

    How can you claim that? The essence of any carbon trading scheme is well dodgy, its not as if there is any sort of meter on any smoke stacks so its essentially an accounting exercise based on guesswork. But more importantly such schemes only drive the so called “dirty” industries to jurisdictions not subject to such schemes and often with even lower overall environmental standards.

    OTOH, the successful roll out of a modest scheme that most people now accept made a modest contribution to abatement without wiping Whyalla and other places off the map or leaving the poor out of pocket does make it possible to argue that other jurisdictions can safely adopt the same template. If they did then the progress we have seen here would be duplicated and everyone would stand modestly the better for it.

    Surely though the fact that the Australian people have overwhelmingly rejected the Labor/Greens scheme suggest that you are wrong here. The problem is that such schemes have to show some measurable benefit if they are to be accepted by the people. As I was trying to suggest earlier it would be far better if those who believe in AGW were to be suggesting and encouraging energy efficiency because it makes better economic sense and seeing any emission mitigation as a fringe benefit. The public will be much more amenable to such an approach rather than the sack cloth and ashes and we are all doomed hyperbole that the doomsayers have been delivering for many years now.

  19. Fran Barlow

    Iain Hall

    one can be a deeply committed believer in AGW

    an accepter of sound science on the drivers of climate change Let’s get our terms right …

    I call it how I see it.

    You can, but since in this case you’re wrong, it would be better if you didn’t, and nearly as good if you didn’t project that onto me. If you don’t like my reframing, then choose a neutral descriptor. eg. One can support the IPCC-led consensus position allows you to put distance between yourself and the consensus without characterising AGW as a matter of personal belief.

    With respect Fran please don’t edit quotes from me

    I like tidiness. If it is in my post, I’ll feel free to tidy up syntax and orthography without changing what I take to be your intent. If you wish, you can reciprocate and I’ll be thankful. For the record, “with respect” is almost always a weasel term and best dropped IMO.

    I have my doubts about the viability of wind farms because of the toll they take on bird life

    On the best studies I’ve seen, the toll is negligible and certainly orders of magnitude less than other more or less uncontroversial human usages — (e.g new housing estates, motor vehicles, forestry, hazard reduction burning, heavy industry etc …

    Adjudged against other energy sources it displaces it certainly scores very well. There are arguments of course for tweaking their placement to avoid flightpaths of raptors and bats or turning them off around dusk during peak flight times in areas where this is a hazard. In Australia, this is much less of a problem of course.

    and when it comes to PV solar I wonder just how long many of the installations will remain viable without expensive subsidies.

    Well you can wonder all you please, but the likelihood is that they will be in service for a good 25 years or so, With the cost of panels coming down and supporting infrastructure in place in a context where electricity is likely to rise in cost in real terms those that are near end of life are likely to be replaced. In the US, schemes are being rolled out that allow people to buy shares in “community solar” often placed in fields or on the rooves of warehouses and shopping centres.

    As to subsidies, you really ought to turn your attention to the massive subsidy given to thermal hydrocarbon plants and the transport sector more generally to pollute for free. That subsidy is huge and the price on carbon put only the tiniest of dents in it. I’m against subsidies — provided there is a genuinely level playing field.

    I understand the coal industry some years back claimed that CC&S would cost them about $100tCO2e. This sounds a little light to me, but even if I accept that, I note that this is a lot more than the starting price of $23 in the CEF. Regulations prohibiting releases of CO2e to the atmosphere would be a good deal more costly than any ETS likely to be approved here.

    The essence of any carbon trading scheme is well dodgy, its not as if there is any sort of meter on any smoke stacks so its essentially an accounting exercise based on guesswork.

    Hardly. Coal and gas plants for example, have been operating for a very long time. We can easily model the relationship between the carbon content of the fuel inputs, the thermal efficiency of the plants and draw conclusions. It’s always open to a plant operator of course to measure its emissions at the stack if it thinks this will lead to a lesser figure.

    But more importantly such schemes only drive the so called “dirty” industries to jurisdictions not subject to such schemes and often with even lower overall environmental standards.

    Again, the fugitive emissions claims have never stood up to scrutiny. The most obvious victim of proper carbon pricing in Australia in the tradeable sector is Victorian aluminium, but that’s pretty much the dirtiest aluminium in the world. It’s also heavily subsidised — last time I looked the industry was getting an effective subsidy of about $250,000 per job. I doubt that they would be giving that up in a hurry. There’s also the question of the sunk cost in their plant and casting that aside. Most likely, if they did shut down they’d simply move to QLD which is much closer to world parity and would involve less disruption and demurrage.

    Places like Iceland might get some of our market, but Iceland produces its aluminium with a combination of about 75% hydro and 25% geothermal, so they clearly aren’t going to be dirtier than us.

    Surely though the fact that the Australian people have overwhelmingly rejected the Labor/Greens scheme suggest that you are wrong here.

    I don’t accept they have done any such thing. While people were certainly stirred up over the constant leadership wrangling, and the perception created by the Murdoch press that the government was dysfunctional and lurching from one crisis to another and came to identify the ALP with all manner of corruption, I heard very little complaint from people about carbon pricing during the campaign. Initially, there was some angst of course, but within 6 months of its implementation, Abbott himself was de-emphasising it or rather wearily reiterating his promise to ‘axe the carbon tax’. I’d say the numbers for and against would have been pretty even — and those against would have been largely tribal coalition voters rather than thoughtful critics of the scheme.

    I regularly spoke to people who evidently supported the coalition, and they often forgot to mention the issue at all. When I prompted very few could actually explain the mechanics of the scheme, where the cost imposts were, who was being compensated and the role it played in the tradeable sector. Most had very little idea what “direct action” entailed and assumed it was Abbott’s pretend policy on carbon mitigation. None that I spoke to could outline how many trees would be planted, who would maintain them or at what cost.

    So I wouldn’t call that anything like informed consent.

    The public will be much more amenable to {pressing for energy efficiency} rather than the sack cloth and ashes and we are all doomed hyperbole that the doomsayers have been delivering for many years now.

    That’s just a strawman. Nobody close to public office has proposed anything of he sort. Nobody holding a position of trust that I’ve heard on the mitigation side of the debate says “we’re all doomed”. If they did, they couldn’t argue for policy could they?

    The main doomsayers are amongst those opposing mitigation policy. They are the ones who said that major industrial cities in this country would be wiped off the map and that beef or lamb would be $100 per pound. In some countries they’ve asserted that the whole mitigation movement is aimed at returning humanity to pleistocene era usages, and world soc|alism and high taxes or something. They haven’t forgotten to project their doomsaying onto us however.

  20. Fran Barlow

    Mods: could I have one more end blockquote after : I call it as I see it.

    [Done ~ Mod]

  21. Patrickb

    “As I said earlier I have never denied that the climate is changing, its very evident that it is extremely dynamic indeed the question that grown ups consider is not about change or no change but the extent to which it is attributable to human activity. That point is very debatable indeed given the wide range of natural variability.”
    Ian, there is a mountain of evidence that demonstrates a very strong correlation between human activity and climate change. The theory of AGW has very strong empirical underpinnings. The arguments used to try and refute this science are weak and often made be people, such as yourself, who have no qualifications. You attempts to slink away from presenting a coherent argument that refutes AGW are transparent to all except, it would appear, yourself. That’s the true mark of the denial/delusion – ist

  22. Russell

    Fran – here’s something you might enjoy for Christmas: direct from Book Depository.com into my letterbox today, I find a copy of
    For Who the Bell Tolls: one man’s quest for grammatical perfection. Just published by Guardian Books.

    Your year 8 boys’ attention would surely be caught by examples such as “the importance of capital letters to avoid ambiguity in such sentences as ‘I helped my Uncle Jack off his horse’.

  23. Fran Barlow

    Russell

    Your year 8 boys’ attention would surely be caught by examples such as “the importance of capital letters to avoid ambiguity in such sentences as ‘I helped my Uncle Jack off his horse’.

    I have Year 8 boys and girls.

    I’ve seen that one before. There’s a good PG rated example on punctuation that’s also kind of fun.

    •Dear John:
    •I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we’re apart. I can forever be happy—will you let me be yours?
    •Harriet

    •Dear John:
    •I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever. When we’re apart, I can forever be happy. Will you let me be?
    •Yours,
    •Harriet

  24. Iain Hall

    [Moderator note: 2401 words of comment redacted because Bloody Wall O'Text Hell. That is what *your* blog is for.]

  25. Helen

    Fran @19: Sterling work. Thanks.
    Fisking the deniers always has to be done over and over again, so I appreciate the effort.

  26. Fran Barlow

    Helen

    Always glad to help …

  27. Helen

    The words “Augean stables” come to mind… 😉

  28. Fran Barlow

    Helen

    The words “Augean stables” come to mind…

    Given the “gish galloping” that deniers do, I can see that. Mind you, the 2nd and 6th labours of Hercules (the 9-headed hydra and the Stymphalian birds) also appeal as analogies … 😉

  29. tigtog

    *wearing moderator hat*
    A reminder to all to keep your comment length down, please. Comments requiring more than one screen-down break up the flow of discussion and discourage others from joining in.

  30. Iain Hall

    Tig tog

    At the risk of earning your ire for disputing a moderation decision here(but I am moderated anyway ) rather than by email but I feel that you are being most unfair in “redacting” my comment for the reasons stated, especially as this is an “overflow thread” . On top of that there has never previously been any rule here about comment length.
    Finally my comment may have been long in total but more than half if its word count was quoting parts of other comments so that It would be totally clear to my interlocutors just what part of their comments I was referring to.
    While I can understand and appreciate the desire for brevity in a more popular thread surely an overflow thread should allow those who participate to explore their arguments with greater depth and if necessary greater length as well.

  31. tigtog

    there has never previously been any rule here about comment length

    From the LP comments policy, Iain, linked every week this year in the Saturday Salon and unchanged for many long years:

    Unacceptable content:
    Any comment judged unacceptable may be deleted at the discretion of moderators. Unacceptable comments include but may not be limited to:
    […]
    * Excessively long comments, which break up the give and take of discourse. Please post such screeds on your own blog and post a summary in comments with a link to your own post. Rule of thumb: think hard before adding a fourth paragraph to your comment – rewrite it for brevity and clarity.

  32. Iain Hall

    [Moderator note: comment redacted because it is arguing a moderator decision. FYI: I am not the only moderator on LP, the Cat Herding Cabal only gets notifications of comments that are filtered into the moderation queue, and that is why comments in the mod queue are more likely to be redacted by one of the CHC than comments which are not automoderated. ~ tigtog]

  33. Graham Bell

    {{Moderator, kindly allow this off-topic question to go though}}
    Fran Barlow @ 28: No worries about the Labours of Herakles …. but what the heck is “gish galloping”??

  34. Tim Macknay

    Graham, try here.

  35. tigtog
  36. Paul Norton

    With reports that Yasser Arafat’s death may well have been murder most foul by polonium poisoning, it’s natural that people would speculate about who would be responsible, if in fact it was murder. Palestinian officials are saying that Israel is the prime and only suspect, but for political reasons they have to say that. Here are some thoughts of mine on the matter.

    1. Poisoning usually requires the action of someone in the immediate company and with the trust of the victim, in this case a friend, relative, employee or other associate of Arafat.

    2. On the other hand, polonium poisoning requires, at some point, the assistance of a state with a reasonably well developed nuclear capability, or one of its proxies or allies.

    3. The most significant development in Palestinian politics since Arafat’s death has been the growth in strength of Hamas at the expense of Fatah and the Palestinian Authority.

    4. It is not hard to think of reasons why Arafat’s demise would expedite the waxing of Hamas at the expense of Fatah and the PA.

    5. It would likewise not have been difficult for any intelligence service operating in the region to work out that this would be a likely outcome of Arafat’s death.

    6. It is not hard to imagine how a person with ultimate (albeit secret) loyalties to Hamas might have been able to win their way into Arafat’s inner circle.

    7. There are a number of states in, or involved in, the region with a record of past or current support for Hamas, and/or whose decision-makers might consider the waxing of Hamas to be advantageous for them, and which would have access (directly or indirectly) to polonium.

    8. There are a number of states in, or involved in, the region with a record of attempting to, shall we say, reorientate internal Palestinian politics to their advantage.

    9. Israel is one of the states that points 7 and/or 8 could refer to, However, it is certainly not the only one. Others include Syria, the former Ba’athist regime in Iraq (although it had been deposed by the time of Arafat’s death), the former Gaddafi regime in Libya, Iran, Jordan, Egypt, various Lebanese factions, Saudi Arabia. The US, France, Russia and the UK could also be possibilities. Of course some of these suspects (my intuition says Syria and iran) are much more likely than others.

    What is certainly true is that the revelation that Arafat’s death was quite possibly murder will have further set back prospects for a peaceful settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

    Food for thought, perhaps.

  37. Paul Norton

    The other point I’d add is that anyone who remembers the Iran-Contra arms sale affair of 1986 should know that virtually anything is possible in Middle East politics.

  38. Fran Barlow

    I have to say Paul that personally, I’m doubtful the Israelis are close to this one. I don’t doubt they’d do it if they thought it would serve their interests but it’s hard to see why, suddenly in 2004, killing Arafat would be a priority for them.

    The chances of him dying of natural causes in the ensuing decade were pretty high and he had already been revealed as corrupt, which was scarcely going to help those attached to the cause of reversing 1967 or 1948. One can speculate that Israel might have thought that his death might have helped if they could pin suspicion on Hamas or encourage more internecine fighting, or that rogue elements in the IDF seeking a more robust policy of brutality against Palestinians than was in progress might have done it.

    There are obviously other good suspects though. If Arafat was involved in shady dealings, then a ‘business associate’ who felt he’d been cheated, perhaps with connections back to the Russian FSB might well have been involved.

    And of course, there are any number of fundamentalists in Gaza and the WestBank who might have been keen. IIRC, the best theory was that Arafat’s poisoning took place in a public restaurant, and his clothes were saturated with the PO210. The person need not have been that close to Arafat to carry it off and believe he could make good his escape.

    Really, it’s all pure guesswork. I doubt the truth, if it ever emerges, will surprise me.

  39. Paul Norton

    Yes, Fran, that’s all quite plausible. The other thing that can be said about Arafat is that throughout his career he displayed considerably less strategic sense than most leaders of nationalist movements. It can be argued that it would have suited Israel to have Arafat remain alive and at the helm. Then again it can also be said that Ariel Sharon (who was Israeli PM at the time) had considerably less strategic sense than some other Israeli leaders (made worse in Sharon’s case by being combined with higher than average levels of tactical cleverness).

  40. tigtog

    Val wrote on Climate Clippings #86:

    I’m probably still persona non grata around here but

    Being placed into pre-moderation definitely does not mean that you are persona non grata. As with other people who post here regularly who are also pre-moderated, it means that there has been a history of intermittent breaches of the comments policy which has made unwelcome work for the moderators cleaning up the mess once other people respond to the breaching comments, and the moderator team has taken action as a result.

    Pre-moderation merely enables the moderators to redirect off-topic/threadjacking comments to more appropriate threads preemptively rather than redacting them and replies to them post-publication. Comments which are neither off-topic nor threadjacking will always be published in full.

  41. Graham Bell

    After Kevin Rudd’s announcement that he will retire from Parliament ….
    ——————–
    Faustusnotes:
    Wondering why you don’t feel comfortable calling the original inhabitants of Australia “Aborigines” any more but prefer to march in step with the land re-stealers and other crooks by calling them “Indigenies” – after all, if enough “useful idiots” go along with this fashionable new term then land re-stealing will be so much easier.

    You missed my error …. I said that Japanese ARE avid readers of # Kingdoms …. I should have said that the generations of Japanese educated before the 1947 reforms and quite comfortable reading Kanji WERE avid readers of 3Kingdoms …. I really do not know whether the current young generation are so or not. Were you so blinded by your rage against “Racists!!” (real or imagined or conjured) that you missed that error of mine? 🙂

  42. jules

    Dude Jimmy Chi coined the term “indigenies”.

    I don’t think he’d appreciate being called a “land re-stealer” or some other sort of crook.

    Fran – Alexander Litvenenko was the last high profile person to die of polonium poisoning. Not long after he wrote an article accusing Putin of being a pedophile. Litvenenko had a long list of other reasons that could have lead to his death tho. He pissed off lots of people with the power to have enemies killed.

  43. faustusnotes

    So Graham, you’re going to compound your nasty little piece of racism by adding a sneering reference to modern Japanese people’s inability to read kanji? I see you haven’t bothered defending the original claim about chinese deviousness either.

    And your ranting on “indigenies” (wtf?!) is just ridiculous. You’re a right wing concern troll, pure and simple.

  44. Taylor

    Oh come on. Graham said that Rudd was devious (ie subtly cunning) in a way that was Chinese-like, as expressed in the Art of War and Hundred Battles. Can deviousness be expressed in a way that has cultural attributes? I think so. Given that Rudd is a Sinophile, it doesn’t strike me as racist in the context.

    The commentary here ought to strive to be less about internecine linguistic analysis and more about social justice: I highly recommend Brian Barry’s Culture and Equality as a useful antidote to this tendency.

  45. faustusnotes

    Taylor, referring to Asians as devious has a long and nasty racist history. Just because you can fall back on a few books you think you can interpret as devious in some Asian way doesn’t make the trope any less nasty. It’s like referring to lusty blacks or lazy arabs.

    Can you think of an English book that extols deviousness as much as Art of War? Or a French one? Why didn’t Graham refer to Rudd as having “scarlet pimpernel-like” deviousness? Because he was recycling a racist trope, rather than trying to describe Rudd’s deviousness. He does this a lot and then defends it with some kind of hipsterish irony, but it’s funny how his sense of irony always enables him to fall on the side of right-wing and racist tropes, don’t you think?

  46. Taylor

    Faustus

    I think the context in which something is said is important: “falling back on a few books” doesn’t really describe it.

    Also, I know the history of the expression but I think it is near-obsolete as a racist epithet. To suggest that all Chinese people are essentially naive might be different, but would probably be considered bizarre by most Chinese.

    I do think it is odd that the actual point Graham was making was completely overlooked, in focussing on the way in which he expressed himself as manifest evidence of racism.

    On the other hand, if people are just interested in doing linguistic analysis (not that I recommend it) I think it ought to be done methodically and conscientiously, not in a rush to judgment.

  47. Val

    Graham Bell @ 41
    Graham in response to some comments you’ve made at my blog I have been trying to explain to you politely why some of the things you say could be offensive to Aboriginal people and suggest what you could do about it – but I have been feeling a bit frustrated that I’m not getting through, so I suggest you should listen to some of these blunter comments here and reflect on them

  48. jungney

    This turn to linguistic hygiene is like watching the Municipal B Team clean the walls of public conveniences.

  49. Chris

    Can you think of an English book that extols deviousness as much as Art of War? Or a French one? Why didn’t Graham refer to Rudd as having “scarlet pimpernel-like” deviousness?

    If he did would that too have been a racist comment?

  50. jules

    Anyone who thinks the Art of War or Unorthodox Strategies is about “deviousness” is wrong. Graham was when he wrote his original comment. They are about maximising your strengths and the enemies weaknesses, and about minimising your weaknesses and the enemies strengths, specifically in the context of fighting wars. (But i guess you could apply that to any context.)

    If you want to talk about war strategy and deviousness then why not John Boyd and his concept of OODA (Observe Orient Decide Act) loops? There may be some overlap, but the whole point of getting inside someones OODA loop is that you con/direct them into courses of action that you can predict and take advantage of. It happens on a rugby field when a talented back steps someone trying to tackle them. A big part of it is committing your opponent to responding to a course of action they assume you’re about to take. IE Conning them into thinking they are inside your loop is the best way of getting inside theirs. (It doesn’t really apply to Rudd v gillard tho.)

    That sort of “deviousness” is not uniquely Chinese. Its not even uniquely human.

    Thinking that is all there is to the Art of War … have you even read it? Rudd’s application of the principles of that book had less to do with deception and more to do with an accurate assessment of Gillard’s weaknesses and how to take the most advantage of them with minimal effort. Rudds media strategy while Gillard was in power wasn’t devious – it was obvious, and that is what led to its success against her.

  51. jules

    Also, while it seems that Rudd understood The Art of War, perhaps he didn’t.

    If he was fighting a war on 2 fronts (against Gillard then Abbott) the way he fought against Gillard cost him against Abbott. One of the major things Sun Tzu goes on about is the actual cost of fighting. The 3 year war of attrition Rudd waged on Gillard cost him when the serious contest between him and Abbott rolled around.

  52. faustusnotes

    Taylor, go check the thread. Bell fell back on a few books when the lazy and racist nature of his original comment was pointed out. He wasn’t thinking of sun tzu when he wrote the original comment, he was thinking of inscrutable orientals and how terrible they are.

    Also, analyzing the words a person uses is not “linguistic analysis.”

    Chris, it’s not possible for a white man to be racist against Frenchies. They are white. Which is my point. There are plenty of examples of deviousness in the English language, but Graham Bell didn’t pick them. His interest was in a racialized epithet. It’s like saying someone has “jewish greed” or “African lustfulness.” Go pick over the bones of that.

    I’m in agreement with Jules when he wonders if any of you have read the Art of War. Or anything else from China.

  53. Graham Bell

    Sorry about the delay in getting back here, y’all. Here in Redneck county, we had a storm; our white hoods got soaked through, we couldn’t relight the cross and the power went off halfway through singing “Strange Fruit” …. and I also lost the text of what I was sending to Jules about the story of the empty fort being only a tiny fraction of the stories in the multi-volume book “Romance Of The Three Kingdoms”.

    faustusnotes: How is the reduction of the number of kanji characters from 7500~8000 (with many thousand more available) to only 1840 after the post-war education reform in any way “racist”? b.t.w. If Kevin Rudd’s expertise and interests were in French culture I might have referred to his “scarlet-pimpernel deviousness” (but more likely to his Asterix-like deviousness”). Since when were white-supremicists and rabid-racists granted a monopoly on the use of particular words?

    Jules @ 51:
    That is a very good sensible point. I did wonder myself what the hell he was up to – did he lose the plot completely after applying what he knew so effortlessly elsewhere? Disagree with your @50 though …. and I certainly didn’t imply that Chinese were the only ones who admire and emulate deviousness – although throughout the Anglosphere there seems to be a preference for crude lying, blunt cheating and primitive swindling rather than for intelligent, purposeful deviousness..

  54. Graham Bell

    Everyone:
    I’ll own up to a lot of things: being iconoclastic when needs be – poking fun at peoples’ superstitions and cherished beliefs – kicking “sacred cows” around – pointing out that the Emperor’s clothes aren’t real – looking at things from a different viewpoint.

    However, those who say that I am “racist” are not only grossly insulting, they are making fools of themselves. Why should I strike back with my accustomed vigour against such a false accusation when those who make it are also making their own punishment for doing so? All I have to do is sit back and watch the splatter when it hits the fan – nothing like schadenfroh – and all for no effort at all. :-).

    Now, how about we get back to Mr Rudd and his efforts?

  55. tigtog

    Graham Bell, most regulars at LP are sophisticated enough to distinguish between performing an action that carries some racist historical baggage and being “a racist” (“that’s racist” =/= “you’re racist”). You were initially challenged for the former rather than accused of being the latter, and you’re disingenuously conflating the two (and you’re not the only one). Doing/saying something with racist overtones does not necessarily make one *a* racist, but arguing that what was done/said couldn’t possibly actually be racist in any way at all because one is totes not *a* racist is an act of erasure, trivialising how effectively casual reinforcements of racist tropes perpetuate prejudice, discrimination and oppression.

    Let’s take it as read that it’s impossible to be an Australian without having been socialised from infancy with some racist historical baggage hanging around our vocabulary and attitudes. Any one of us can and probably will at some time do/say something racist because it’s something we heard/learnt when young and have never had the occasion to think/examine/reflect on the origins/subtext/baggage that it carries. The progressive response is not to cry “it wasn’t racist because I’m not a racist” but to take stock and say “wow, that’s some toxic baggage I never recognised before – time to jettison that bullshit”.

    This applies equally to other forms of bigotry as well as racism, of course. Bigotry against the French is more properly described as francophobic jingoism, for instance, and any Anglophone has plenty of toxic baggage to shed in that quarter.

  56. adrian

    jungney @ 48 – spot on!

  57. drsusancalvin

    @42 For years I have referred to Australian Aborigines as “Originals”. It feels accurate, positive, and has little baggage. I haven’t come across it elsewhere, but I wonder if others have. (And if I have completely missed seeing a possible negative connotation in this usage, please let me know.)

  58. adrian

    Chris, it’s not possible for a white man to be racist against Frenchies. They are white.

    WTF???

    Which is my point.

    Are you sure?

  59. Paul Norton

    The original expression used by Graham was “Chinese-like deviousness”. The subsequent literature review should not distract us from the simple clarity of this expression and of what is wrong with it. If someone used a phrase like “Jew-like avarice”, “Irish-like stupidity”, “Arab-like mendacity” or “Aborigine-like lethargy” I don’t think anyone would have trouble recognising such a phrase as a foul libel of an entire people based on an odious stereotype. It’s much the same in this case.

  60. Paul Norton

    Chris, it’s not possible for a white man to be racist against Frenchies. They are white.

    I wonder how much comfort this will be to generations of kids from Central, Eastern and Southern European migrant backgrounds that were called various derogatory epithets by their Anglo-Celtic schoolmates.

  61. jungney

    It’ll doubtlessly come as a welcome surprise to Thierry Henry as well to the descendants of Chevalier de Saint Georges to know that they’re ‘white’.

  62. drsusancalvin

    @59 Thank the goddess that this level of awareness wasn’t around in the olden days: a cornucopia of works would not have seen the light of day. There’s at least three decades of television that could not have been made, and we might be the poorer for never having known such well drawn, complex and erudite characters as Ming The Merciless, Dr No, and the “Craw”. sarc/>

  63. tigtog

    “Race” is the exemplar of a social construct, seeing as there is no biological reality to the concept of distinct human races, merely clusters of phenotypes around various ethnicities which are perceived as typifiers but none of which are unique to any one ethnicity, and which are therefore fundamentally unreliable as indicators of any underlying essential attributes. “Race” used to be a far more general term referring to nationalities/ethnicities/clans/tribes compared to how the term is used today, but it’s still no more fundamentally reliable a concept now that society tends to be stricter about labelling races according to “objective” physical traits such as skin colour, eye shape and hair texture.

    i.e. just because “race” isn’t an empirical reality doesn’t mean that “racism” is not a well-evidenced sociological phenomenon. It is entirely possible for humans to be racist on the grounds of any denigrated physical/cultural difference.

  64. faustusnotes

    Graham at 53, unless you can read and write more than an appreciable number of kanji, it may not be racist but it is certainly in poor form to be slating modern Japanese for their inability to read kanji. But I would go further and say that it is either racist or ignorant to say an entire people are illiterate, which is what you seemed to be getting at.

    You are also wrong: the government did not “reduce the number of kanji,” they set a minimum standard for literacy of 1840 characters, to be attained by the end of compulsory schooling. This process also didn’t happen in 1947, but was ongoing from the Meiji restoration. You certainly won’t get by reading a modern newspaper or textbook on those 1840 characters and no one expects you to – most people know more than that. Now a case could certainly be made that Japanese are not as good at Kanji (whatever that means) as Chinese, but that case would have to be a lot more nuanced than the blanket dismissal of everyone born after 1943 that you managed to chuck into your comment. But I have noticed that you don’t really do nuance very well.

    Also, telling everyone you refuse to use the generally accepted non-racist terms for Aborigines, and using ancient racist stereotypes of Asians, is not “iconoclasm.” Which Aboriginal icons are you dragging down to their rightful place with your insistence that they are not indigenous? Exactly who is the emperor that you and only you have noticed is naked? If you’re going to answer this, try to do a bit better than your standard string of invective without content (“land re-stealers,” wtf?)

    Adrian and Paul, point taken re: the French. Actually I was thinking of an English man insulting the French, not the broader pantheon of whities. For an Englishman to say (as the Daily Mash often do) that Frenchies are smelly, for example – I don’t classify that as racism. They’re the same race. Or another way of looking at it – can someone called “Adrian” really be racist towards someone called “Adrien”? Only, I would contend, if there was a significant power differential between them based on skin colour. Do you think there is, in general?

  65. jungney

    tigtog:

    The progressive response is…

    But what do you mean ‘progressive’?

    The socialist movement, as for example in the ‘actually existing socialism’ of the USSR, hardly showed itself to be a model of anti-racism when it came to pogroms against Jews and other minorities. So, what is the foundation for anti-racism in current ‘progressive’ politics?

    For mine it is because racism militates against the formation of a broadly inclusive liberal democracy by denying the necessary respect and recognition that people require in order to participate fully as citizens. This however may be a minority position. I think it useful to always locate such discussions in relation to first principles in which case the question of what you mean by ‘progressive’ is relevant.

  66. Paul Norton

    [email protected], it’s worth noting that the Australian Football League has found that it is a contravention of its Code on Racial and Religious Vilification for an Anglo Australian player to call someone an “Irish git”, and Irish people with whom I’ve discussed the issue consider “racism” a fitting term for phenomena such as signs in English pubs saying “No dogs or Irishmen allowed”.

  67. paul burns

    drsusancalvin @ 62,
    While in no way condoning GB’s stereotype of Chinese/Japanese culture, I’d like to point out that, IIRC, “Ming the Merciless” comes from an alternative Scottish spelling of Menzies, i.e. Minges, that was seized upon by his Labor opponents and added to 1930s Sax Rhomer cliches of the “evil Oriental”. God, just typing that makes me feel awful.

  68. Casey

    In regards to race and southern european otherness, I was reading in Richard Dyer’s White how Hitler thought the North Italians were aryan but the southerners were not. Ie, there is a form of whiteness as you head south of Europe which is regarded as a deficient kind of whiteness – not quite white whiteness. So about growing up here as a Southern Italian, yes there was racism, right, but not quite white is so very close to white eventually it becomes white – as we have seen here in this country. Now everyone has an Italian or Greek relative. So white on white racism becomes a bit hard to keep up after a while cause it’s such a fantasy. And because of Southern European whiteness’ proximity to anglo whiteness, I don’t think you can compare it to the racism endured by the Indigenous peoples. White Australian racism towards them is a particularly loaded one as it carries with it the guilty awareness that white Australians took their land.

    Oh dear Graham Bell, I did not call you racist – I said you made a racist comment. This is called ‘reading for nuance’, something you can’t do well. Now you did make a racist comment. ‘Chinese-like deviousness’ was the term. Well may I ask, have you considered where your deranged-like compulsions in slipping in these little racist asides in every chance you get come from? No you haven’t? Well never mind, as if you would, and I don’t wanna know forget I asked. Nor do I care to read your psychological compensations where you call yourself an iconoclast when everyone else has something else in mind altogether. It’s just a bit too embarrassing for everyone, really.

    Just as long as you understand none of your subsequent word piles of nonsense have obscured the fact that it is a racist term. Now go play with your golliwog that so prepared you and all Australian children in dealing with the sight of Aboriginal people or whatever your last justification for the goodness of racism was, I can’t quite remember, it was a bit too Lucy in the sky with diamonds for my taste.

  69. Paul Norton

    Taylor @44:

    Oh come on. Graham said that Rudd was devious (ie subtly cunning) in a way that was Chinese-like, as expressed in the Art of War and Hundred Battles. Can deviousness be expressed in a way that has cultural attributes? I think so. Given that Rudd is a Sinophile, it doesn’t strike me as racist in the context.

    It’s by no means obvious what the logic of this passage is, but it seems to be along the lines that if somebody calls me a c***, the fact that a majority of my friends are women means that using the word as an insult isn’t sexist “in the context”.

  70. Chris

    Chris, it’s not possible for a white man to be racist against Frenchies. They are white. Which is my point.

    I have a lot of trouble accepting that exception to racism. So if I said what Graham did, then it wouldn’t be a racist statement because I’m Chinese? How does that work on the internet where most often you really don’t know a person’s background anyway. Does all racial stereotyping sit in this sort of meta-state until you know more about the commenter? If Graham revealed that his great great great grandfather was Chinese would his comment suddenly be ok?

    I wonder how much comfort this will be to generations of kids from Central, Eastern and Southern European migrant backgrounds that were called various derogatory epithets by their Anglo-Celtic schoolmates.

    Or as I’ve seen in news reports Irish complaining about racism from people in other parts of the UK.

    tigtog @ 63 – I broadly agree with you there. Though I think the use of the word racist in a very wide range of circumstances (say from what I’d say is racial stereotyping in views to the other extreme of going around killing/bashing people because of their background) diminishes the impact and meaning of the word.

    I think there is kind of a use to being able to distinguish between having a description of someone who yells racial abuse as they drive past, or refuses to serve someone or physically abuses them because of their racial background, and someone who sometimes makes statements containing racially based stereotypes. The latter of which I’d classify as rude (depending on context, may be ok and I’m one of those who does believe intent is important), but otherwise fairly shrugworthy (there’s lots of rude people around). Using the racist label on the latter too often and the word loses some of its power as people start thinking of the latter when they hear the word rather than the former cases.

  71. Russell

    What about if people use those words/phrases as a joke – meaning that the words are funny because we all see now those were words were just stupid stereotypes; irrelevant and meaningless now, but once so wrong-headedly full of force? Words can change their meaning in that way. If I described Angela Merkel as full of hunnish arrogance, wouldn’t the word hunnish signal I was just having fun with the word?

  72. Paul Norton

    [email protected], I think antisemitism is one of the examples that best illustrates your point. Jews are not a race, and the world’s Jewish population includes members of a myriad of what are termed racial groupings, yet there is no doubt that antisemitism is racism and is festooned with tropes about the supposed “racial” characteristics of Jews.

  73. Graham Bell

    Thank you for your thoughtful response @ 55. I do appreciate that even though I do not agree with everything you said. Before I answer your many points, I shall respond to some of the clamour that came after it, if you will kindly excuse me for a short while.

    [email protected]:
    Well, now that you ask …. yes, I can; sufficient to let a few curatorial wallahs know what they have in their collections …. but sadly, I do have to resort to my pre-1947 small kanji dictionary (which has only about 5000 characters) quite a bit when carrying out such a task.

    You neglected to mention that the older generation of Japanese could, with a little awkwardness, read directly from a classic written in the literary style (wenyan) of Chinese, despite the huge difference between the modern spoken Chinese and the modern spoken Japanese. Unless younger Japanese have learnt or acquired – for whatever reason – a lot more kanji than is in their schoolbooks, they would have great difficulty reading and understanding one of the Chinese classics. Of course, if a classic was translated from wenyan Chinese into modern Japanese, there would be no problem at all. Modern-day Chinese face similar difficulties with a disconnect, in the ready availability for readers, between works written in traditional characters (fanti) and those written in simplified characters (jianti) after the 1957 language reforms …. and this comes on top of the 20th Century disconnect between classical styles and vernacular styles. In Japan as in China, there are young people who delight in striving to learn how to read traditional literature in the original …. a similar thing is happening in The West with the revival of Latin among young people.

    All of this is just a fact of life …. so where is the “sneering” and where is the “racism” in that? “Blanket dismissals”? None this side of the horizon.

  74. Val

    Jungney @ 48
    “This turn to linguistic hygiene is like watching the Municipal B Team clean the walls of public conveniences.”

    I was going to ignore this, but then I thought why? Can you explain what on earth you meant by this, and who you were trying to insult? (Since you are clearly trying to insult someone)

    Because I think if you are trying to put down those of us who are – sometimes awkwardly – trying to find a way through the minefields creates by 200 years of colonialism and racism, then I think you are probably being offensive not only to us, but to the Aboriginal or Indigenous peoples of this country.

    Trying to be sensitive to the feelings of people who have been profoundly affected by this 200 years is actually not a bad thing. And if you think you can do it better, do it, but I haven’t seen any evidence of that.

  75. Graham Bell

    [email protected]:
    Wow! More tangents there than in a high-speed turbine with collapsing bearings. All of them completely untrue when you attribute them to me …. if you want to make a fool of yourself, go right ahead; I shan’t demand an apology, after all, you are giving some a good chuckle on a rather dull Friday afternoon.

  76. Tim Macknay

    Paul @66, the original “Ming the Merciless” was the chief antagonist in the 1930s comic strip Flash Gordon, in which he was portrayed as an evil Chinese-looking emperor who ruled a planet called “Mongo”.

    No doubt you are correct on the linguistic coincidence which enabled the ALP to apply the epithet to Menzies.

  77. Paul Norton

    GB @75, I wasn’t attributing anything to you other than your own quoted words, and I’m glad you don’t subscribe to the views embodied in the other hypothetical examples I gave. I used those examples to try to illustrate what was wrong with your original remark.

  78. Graham Bell

    Gentlefolk:
    Why on earth does “Deviousness” have to be evil? I’m astonished at the over-the-top hostile reactions to my use of the word and at all the assumptions that underlie that hostility.

    Deviousness can be beneficial. Or is that a concept so alien to many of those commenting here that they must close their minds to it lest they catch some dreadful disease?

    Deviousness has prevented wars and it has won bloodless victories. That is one of the many, many reasons so many Chinese respect and admire skilled practitioners of deviousness and why they fear and despise those who blunder through regardless of the trail of devastation they leave behind. Many other peoples admire deviousness too. The Spartans allowed a victorious battlefield commander to sacrifice a chook …. but they allowed a commander who outsmarted his enemy without a sword being drawn or a drop of blood being spilt to sacrifice a whopping big bullock!

    When I said that Kevin Rudd was devious, that was in admiration of him, certainly not in condemnation of him at all. He was a superb practitioner – at least, until he lost the plot or became tired or whatever caused him to lose his magic touch.

    Anyway, in all the anti-racism frenzy, nobody has yet answered my original wondering about what Kevin Rudd will do next.

  79. Taylor

    Dear God what a waste of time.

  80. Graham Bell

    [email protected]:

    Let’s take it as read that it’s impossible to be an Australian without having been socialised from infancy with some racist historical baggage hanging around our vocabulary and attitudes.

    Are you asking me, then, to deny my upbringing – which, from what I learnt in the feminism stoush a few weeks back – now seems to have been extraordinarily progressive and tolerant? Wherever I become aware of linguistic laziness on my part, I hope I do try to correct it …. that said, I refuse to allow racists and bigots of all sorts to have the exclusive use of particular words for their own nasty purposes- if they want a word, let them invent their own and not highjack words from our general vocabulary.

    Where I have mentioned my upbringing as an influence on my life, it is because it is reasonably safe to do so. I found out the hard way that, on the internet, it is not a good idea to reveal too much of one’s personal life or current lifestyle or working life. Many of the regulars here know or can guess at many of the things about me – but there is a heck of a lot (much of it quite basic) that I prefer to keep out of a public forum like this.

    What I do find alarming – in the wider world – is the worsening intolerance of difference as well as the worsening pressures to conform to only one particular outlook. Believe what I believe! Obey my dictates without deviation. Fight what I want you to fight and nothing else. Believe-Obey-Fight. That’s the essence of Fascism, isn’t it?

    On being /behaving racist: If you think I was ” disingenuously conflating the two” then that certainly was not my intention at all.

    @63:
    Agree wholeheartedly – but anyone in public health who dares mention different rates of morbidity for various diseases or conditions among different groups in our communities runs the risk of upsetting the NeoPuritans.

  81. paul burns

    Tim,
    Thanks for that piece of trivia. Much appreciated.
    Menzies got the attribute ‘Merciless’ possibly from the way he dealt with his opponents in the UAP, especially Earle Page. His attack on Page in the late 1930s shocked both sides of politics. (It makes the recent crop of suicidal Labor people look like Teddy Bears, and its all in Hansard forevermore. When it came to ruthlessness, Rudd was a baby. )

  82. faustusnotes

    Graham, you don’t have to resort to a pre-1947 dictionary to piss off “curatorial wallahs” – every modern dictionary worth anything has more than 5000 (JDIC has 6500, for example). My electronic dictionary – the cheapest I could buy 5 years ago – contains 11000. Also, the facility in old Chinese that you describe is not a pre-war phenomenon either, every student who sits a university entrance exam for any university better than a tanki daigaku has to do this under exam conditions.

    Which is why I say you are saying things that are ignorant or racist: because you’re making sweeping, false generalizations about the literacy level of a whole nation.

  83. faustusnotes

    and at 79, wtf are you talking about with public health neopuritans? Have you ever read a public health article of any kind? It’s very standard to include “race” in all kinds of analyses.

    Sheeesh.

  84. jungney

    Val @ 74: sure, happy to expand on my rustic comment to the extent that some respondents here, when they take umbrage at another comment, one that breaches their hallowed subjective etiquette, are, like the Municipal B team sent out to clean public toilets of offensive material, incapable of doing so without smearing sh*t everywhere.

    Does that help?

  85. zorronsky

    Yea Tim for bringing up Flash Gordon although at the time I thought his machines were unlikely to fly very far.
    My hero cartoonist then was Emile Mercier (see avatar Tripalong Hoppity) who parodied popular comic and film characters of the day.
    Wocko the Beaut rode a pushbike to his superhero escapades. Superduperman and Mudrake the Magician all featured in Women’s Weekly comic strips at different times. Pure Gold I thought.

  86. Graham Bell

    faustusnotes:
    @82. Thank you ever so much for telling me something I have known for years – I was commenting on a blog, not writing an encyclopaedia, hence the brevity which you have wrongly asserted was racism and ignorance. My exact words were

    Unless younger Japanese have learnt or acquired – for whatever reason – a lot more kanji than is in their schoolbooks, they would have great difficulty reading and understanding one of the Chinese classics.

    so you are saying, then, that the words “for whatever reason” must exclude university entrance. Cute.
    The translating of documents I did was definitely not in the AWM or the V&A, I was simply helping volunteers in a community museum. The only Japanese dictionary available to them in that country town was one for teaching bLOTE – which is why they then called on me. Clear enough now?

    @83: Do not even think of trying to shove down my neck that a lot of good people haven’t died well before their time because over-precious administrators and other do-badders thought it improper to mention “race” lest they be thought “racist”. Everybody whinges about what the missionaries did to Aborigines and conveniently ignores the other culprits who also acted “with the best of intentions”. Never mind what was in obscure professional journals, look at what happened to real people out in the real world. Thank goodness we can now talk openly about conditions, such as diabetes, without being slandered; thank goodness Aborigines can now have proactive measures that enable them to lead long and fulfilling lives.

    @43: But I did make a further comment on deviousness – that deviousness can be beneficial …. it has prevented wars … etc, That was on 15th at 2:18pm. It shows up as 78 on my screen annotated “Your comment is awaiting moderation” [2013-11-16 11:04AM moderator is now logged on]

    Casey @ 68:
    [personalised remark redacted by moderator]

  87. Val

    Jungney @ 84
    Well thank you for explaining it, but I don’t think it makes any difference.

    Look, basically there is world of brutality, loss and grief that underlies contemporary Australia, ok? Some people are trying to find a way forward for us all, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, which includes caring about the language we use, but you find it easier just to sling off. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s how it looks to me.

  88. PavCat

    Graham, is has nothing to do with whether or not deviousness (or anything else) is evil. The basic definition of ‘racist’ is ‘equating a particular characteristic or characteristics to a particular race’. Your phrase ‘Chinese-like deviousness’ fits the bill.

  89. PavCat

    *it*

  90. faustusnotes

    Graham, do you ever write anything that has even a grain of truth to it, or do you spend your entire time living in a fantasy world? I have been working in public health for 18 years and I can assure you that the discussion of race and illness has been part of Australian public health discourse for that whole time. The particular problems Aboriginal people have with diabetes, drugs and alcohol and heart disease are well understood – this is why we have departments of Aboriginal health, you know. Surely you are aware that a special type of petrol is sold in some Aboriginal townships, that was developed specially to prevent petrol-sniffing? Do you wonder why that stuff is not available in the city?

    And I’m not talking about “obscure professional journals” here – you can find reference to Aborigines’ particular health issues in the Medical Journal of Australia going back as far as its records allow. THat is the official journal of the AMA. Do you have any sense at all of how ludicrous the things you say can be?

  91. jules

    Graham you still owe Jimmy Chi an apology for calling him a “land re-stealer” or some such rubbish.

  92. Val

    This is a carry over of the discussion on nuclear energy from the Saturday Salon
    Fran @ 81 on that thread – I think what you are saying is strategically very sensible and would like to endorse it.

    One of my objections to those pushing for nuclear (apart from the fact that I’m opposed to nuclear as such) is that it diverts energy from the cause for renewables and weakens advocacy.

    It helps deniers.

  93. faustusnotes

    continuing Val’s carry over – the link Fran posted about Japanese solar panels is interesting. That rapid expansion would be having so much more effect on emissions if it were offsetting pre-existing gas plants rather than playing catch up to coal and gas plants that have been brought back from the dead because of the nuclear failures. How many GW of catch-up is being played here?

    I don’t think pushing for nuclear helps deniers at all – nor am I “pushing” for nuclear. I just think we should be swapping our baseload power sources as quickly as possible, and given the questions about the reliability of solar, and the potential need to reconfigure power systems, nuclear seems a better immediate option.

    And absolutely the worst option right now is phasing out already-existing nuclear due to misplaced fears …

  94. Fran Barlow

    FN

    I just think we should be swapping our baseload power sources as quickly as possible

    I don’t disagree. The question is: in practice what is the quickest way to get that done. In Australia, that is not going to be nuclear which is in practice at least 20 years away.

    and given the questions about the reliability of solar,

    There are no questions about the reliability of solar. It’s entirely reliable. Yes, the output may vary, but we can do demand management and reticulate the system and use hydro and draw down from the batteries of cars connected to the grid and use biogas and other forms of biomass and much else.

    and the potential need to reconfigure power systems

    Which to the extent it’s needed can be done far more quickly than you can build even the first nuclear plant.

    nuclear seems a better immediate option.

    It’s not going to be anything like immediate here. In fact, anyone who thinks nuclear power is as important to decarbonisation as you seem to be saying here ought to press the Australian government to fund the engineering courses needed for fuel processing and GenIV plant design and implementation in places where there are no institutional constraints and where there are substantial CO2-intensive energy sectors. We can’t build here, but there’s nothing to stop us helping others so inclined to build elsewhere. That would be a much closer to immediate project and probably make more difference on the relevant timeline. It would also remove one of the obstacles to development here, which is the lack of engineering capacity available, even if we did have a sea-change in policy.

    And absolutely the worst option right now is phasing out already-existing nuclear due to misplaced fears …

    Well yes and no. Yes it’s irrational and to be opposed strenuously, but no, it’s not the worst thing. There are all manner of nasty things happening — shale to oil/keystone; that gas project in Queensland with a footprint bigger than Keystone …

  95. Taylor

    Wrong on two counts I’m afraid PavCat.

    First, you did not read the whole of the text that Graham wrote. But, as Johan Steyn once said: “Language can never be understood divorced from its context.” You divorced the phrase from the context and therefore did not understand the text. The context made it clear that Graham was referring to cultural expressions of cunning, not essential attributes of a race. What Graham said was no more racist than the phrase “Florentine cunning” would be, followed by citation of The Prince.

    Second, it cannot be the case that any attribution of characteristics to a race can be complained of as racist. If that were so then the phrase “English ingenuity” would be racist. That would be absurd.

  96. Fran Barlow

    Taylor

    Second, it cannot be the case that any attribution of characteristics to a race can be complained of as racist. If that were so then the phrase “English ingenuity” would be racist. That would be absurd.

    Your definition of “context” is too narrow. Context is not merely linguistic but social. The term “racist” refer not merely to the attribution of specific qualities to race/ostensible ethnicity but to the mobilisation of the power of one or more identifiable and empowered ethnic coalition against its ostensible (and marginalised/disempowered) rivals.

    The English have not, to the best of my knowledge ever been disempowered in relation to any other ethnicity — and certainly not on the timeline when concepts such as “race” came to be used in contemporary language. That’s the principal reason why calling “English ingenuity” racist would be absurd. A better term for this, if uttered by an Anglophile, would be “chauvinist”.

    I’m not even sure there are any widely used negative attributes associated with “Englishness” — which is itself an acknowledgement of the place of the ethnicity in culture and therefore by extension of “Englishness” in language.

  97. Taylor

    Fran

    I think you were distracted by my reference to the English. The phrase “Indonesian ingenuity” would also not be racist, in a way to which sensible complaint could be made.

    Also, while the circumstances in which a statement is made should form part of the relevant context, they cannot conceivably be given the same weight as the words themselves, and the broader the circumstances the less weight should be given. That is only fair to the individual charged with making a racist statement.

    I’ll leave aside the question whether the Chinese are “disempowered” at all any longer, as I don’t think that is relevant, given what I’ve said above.

  98. Fran Barlow

    Taylor

    The phrase “Indonesian ingenuity” would also not be racist, in a way to which sensible complaint could be made.

    No, that would fall in a space bounded by the vacuous, the patronising and the obscure. It would refer to nothing in the culture. OTOH, if you spoke of “the Javanese propensity for barbarism” then that clearly would be racist. There is a long history in this country of regarding Asians as an existential threat.

    Also, while the circumstances in which a statement is made should form part of the relevant context, they cannot conceivably be given the same weight as the words themselves

    It very much depends on what we are discussing. Shooting an eagle is either an environmental atrocity or a triumph on a golf course. During the election campaign of 2008 in the US, references to “fried chicken” with images of Obama in the southern states were clearly not about chicken about negative trade on his ostensible ethnicity. The social context can have greater weight than “the words themselves” (whatever that may mean). The conjuring of words is a social act — communication — and so the social is ever present — sometimes hard to see and sometimes blindingly obvious.

  99. Taylor

    Fran

    I don’t understand your first paragraph. PavCat said that it would be racist to attribute any quality to a people. I pointed out that attributing the quality of ingenuity to a people (say “Indonesian ingenuity”) could not sensibly be described as racist. You agree, but then assert further that Indonesian ingenuity has no cultural meaning at all.

    Why? I take it you agree with me on the point I was making, but I think you have started a further argument altogether (with which I do not agree).

    I agree with your second paragraph insofar as every social utterance depends on the context. However the weight to be given to elements of the context is important. Accusing someone of having “Indonesian ingenuity” is unlikely to have a racist connotation in most contexts, simply because the positive connotation of ingenuity is so strong. (I make the point again that I can easily imagine contexts in which the phrase “Indonesian ingenuity” is meaningful).

  100. Casey

    Oh dear taylor, go buy yourself a dictionary.

    http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/racism

  101. Casey
  102. Taylor

    Casey

    Thanks, but I disagree with you if you are suggesting that it is relevantly racist to describe a people in positive terms without denigrating another race by comparison. And I don’t think the primary meaning suggested by the dictionary supports your view.

    By the standard you suggest it would not only be offensively racist to refer to Indonesian ingenuity, but to say that Australians are generally friendly people, or that most modern Japanese prefer peace to war.

    I think most reasonable people would disagree with that attitude to racism. It would give rise to absurd complaints, as I suggested above.

  103. Casey

    Okay then, but don’t argue with me, argue with whole body of academic word done on racism and all the dictionaries you can find.

    Good luck widdat.

  104. Casey

    *word = work

  105. Taylor

    Casey

    I don’t need to do that, but thanks anyway.

  106. mindy

    Dear God what a waste of time.

    Said Taylor at comment 79 and yet…

  107. Val

    FN @ 93, Fran @ 94
    The WWF report on transitioning to 100% renewables by 2050 is here http://awsassets.wwf.org.au/downloads/cl043_our_clean_energy_future_100__renewables_powering_australias_future_24sep12.pdf

    I am not qualified to critique the modelling, but I would be interested in your comments

  108. jungney

    I am less convinced than ever that any of the respondents on the topic of racism, here on this thread, are operating within the parameters of any set of first principles about why they are opposed to racism. It’s just so much bourgeois, parlour game posturing and one upmanship. If you do have a rational argument for why you are opposed to racism, let’s hear it and the more so because, if you are fair dinkum an anti-racist rather than a progressive politics dilettante, then one of the things you must be able to do, in order to combat racism, is explain why you are opposed to racism and do so in terms other than merely that it offends your private ethics.

  109. Fran Barlow

    Perhaps you should try meeting your own benchmark first Jungney …

  110. jungney

    @ 65 Fran:

    For mine it is because racism militates against the formation of a broadly inclusive liberal democracy by denying the necessary respect and recognition that people require in order to participate fully as citizens.

  111. GregM

    For mine it is because racism militates against the formation of a broadly inclusive liberal democracy by denying the necessary respect and recognition that people require in order to participate fully as citizens.

    Well I’m sure we all agree with you on that. However it’s hardly a novel or minority argument.

    So your point is?

  112. Fran Barlow

    In my case Jungney, I am inter alia an egalitarian. Every human being has the same ethical claims on everyone else to the scope for the pursuit of the pleasures of life, as they understand them.

    ‘National’, ‘ethnic’ or religious particularism (of which racism is an exemplar) is simply incompatible with that paradigm.

  113. jungney

    Thanks for your considered response Fran. I don’t see any incompatibility between egalitarianism and democratic participation; they are complementary. I think that participation and the politics of presence, active presence in the agora, are means of achieving egalitarian outcomes.

  114. Taylor

    Jungney

    It is a good question. My short answer is similar to yours and Fran’s. Every human being is entitled to be treated equally in the distribution of civil and political rights in our society. That is the basis for respect for other individuals.

    Language that is pejoratively racist, sexist etc is offensive to any egalitarian liberal for similar reasons. Positive references to race that do not make invidious comparisons obviously do not fall into the same category. This is why section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act only makes unlawful those acts that are reasonably likely to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person.

    Of the two, the enforcement of equal rights is in my opinion generally more important than the policing of language. This is especially so when the scrutiny of language takes the form of insisting on equal recognition of all groups all the time. That requirement is impossible to comply with, and simply provides fertile ground for some people to fling accusations of prejudice at others whenever convenient, often with scant regard for natural justice. I agree with Brian Barry that those who call themselves progressives should adjust their priorities. They should focus on rights, not language.

  115. jules

    Jungney @ 108

    I’m opposed top racism cos I’m not white and grew up in Australia.

    I’ve got friends whose close family members died in police cells under very dodgy circumstances. I’ve been bashed by cops and racist fuckwits for no reason other than the colour of my skin and that i didn’t take shit from them. There are still people in towns round here who won’t serve me in shops without a snarl on their face. Damn right it offends my “private ethics.” Do you have a problem with that?

    Graham Bell called the man who penned these lines (and coined the term “indigenie”):

    “There is nothing I would rather be
    than to be an aborigine
    and watch you take my precious land away.”

    a land “re-stealer” and a crook.

    He was probably trying to sound edgy or something, but came across as an ignorant racist knobhead instead. He then went on about “Chinese-like deviousness” as if it exists. Its no different to referring to “aboriginal-like welfare grabbing and laziness”. He’s just making shit up to hang it on people who are “different”.

  116. drsusancalvin

    @ 114

    Positive references to race that do not make invidious comparisons obviously do not fall into the same category.

    “Positive references” attributed to people can also be offensive. To see a person and assume, based on their appearance, that they can “naturally” sing, or dance, be musical, are better with money, or have greater spiritual connections, or run faster or be good in a small business, have greater sexual prowess or whatever is not a compliment. It is racist. It avoids dealing with that person as an individual, and provides a short cut that when examined seems ludicrous.

  117. faustusnotes

    jungney, I’ll tell you why I’m anti-racist when you can explain adequately why you’re anti-Islam. Until then I’ll just assume the question has no merit.

  118. jungney

    Faustnotes, you need to learn how to exercise intellectual and conversational continence between threads. It defeats the spirit of dialogue to constantly drag up statements made on another thread, out of context, with which to confuse the issue here. If you want to state why you are an anti-racist, do so, if not, don’t.

  119. Russell

    “It is racist. It avoids dealing with that person as an individual”

    Isn’t that stereotyping, rather than racism? Go to the U.K. and they will think that as an Australian you will of course be good at tennis and swimming – I wouldn’t call that racism.

  120. Fran Barlow

    Russell

    Isn’t that stereotyping, rather than racism? Go to the U.K. and they will think that as an Australian you will of course be good at tennis and swimming – I wouldn’t call that racism.

    Nor would I for the reasons I outlined above.

    The term “racist” refers not merely to the attribution of specific qualities to race/ostensible ethnicity but to the mobilisation of the power of one or more identifiable and empowered ethnic coalition against its ostensible (and marginalised/disempowered) rivals.

    In the example you cite there’s no asymmetric power context to the stereotyping so at worst it’s a socially inept generalisation.

  121. Taylor

    Dr Susan

    I think you are describing a class of positive statements that are actually derogatory comparisons (and which I accept above are offensive).

    To say that black people are only good at dancing, or to say sneeringly that they good at dancing is obviously offensive, because it suggests that they lack other qualities. I think those statements would fall within s 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

    On the other hand, to say that Australians are generally friendly or modern Japanese generally peaceful (as I said above) is not offensive. To say that Australians are good at sport (Russel’s example) probably falls into the same category.

  122. Helen

    Faustnotes, you need to learn how to exercise intellectual and conversational continence between threads. It defeats the spirit of dialogue to constantly drag up statements made on another thread, out of context, with which to confuse the issue here.

    Jungney, you can’t slag off the LP moderators by claiming that they come in to clean up metaphorical shit and thereby spread metaphorical shit everywhere, and at the same time demand thread moderation yourself.

  123. Helen

    Well, you *can*, that was the wrong word. But you probably shouldn’t.

  124. drsusancalvin

    @121

    To say that black people are only good at dancing, or to say sneeringly that they good at dancing is obviously offensive, because it suggests that they lack other qualities.

    At the risk of labouring my point Taylor, even when delivered in a cheery, positive, enthusiastic, encouraging or admiring fashion, to generalize is to deal with this person not as an individual, but as a blank screen onto which you project your assumptions. Compare “Do you like to dance?” as opposed to, “You people all have natural rhythm and are great dancers”. It doesn’t have to be sneering to be offensive.

  125. paul of albury

    Both positive and negative stereotyping focus on what makes us different rather than what makes us similar, killing empathy.

    And it stands to reason that if a group of people are better at one thing, they’re worse at another. Hence if you people are all good at dancing, it’s easier to believe you might also all be less intelligent, honest etc.

  126. Russell

    Not convinced Dr.

    If I were talking to an Indonesian and said “Indonesians have beautiful manners” I doubt whether the person would be offended. They might think me stupid and wrong, but they would almost certainly see it as an intended compliment or positive observation.

  127. Russell

    “And it stands to reason that if a group of people are better at one thing, they’re worse at another”

    Like a footballer can’t be a lawyer? Or a doctor be a musician? Is it so bad to say that Italians have a flair for design or Americans are can-do sort of people? – obviously these things are not true of all Italians and Americans, but are there no national characteristics?

  128. jungney

    @ 122. Dearie me. I didn’t realise I was calling for moderation when I suggested to fn that he was in breach of common online courtesy; it wasn’t intended to usurp modetorial roles.

  129. faustusnotes

    yes jungney I’m sure you’d like to spout your faux-progressive rhetoric and appear all high-handed and intellectual without having it pointed out that on other threads about asylum seekers you’ve made it very clear that they are – what was the word you used? – barbaric, and should all go back where they came from. But it doesn’t strike me as a trick you should be able to get away with.

    And on a left-wing forum, having just compared a critique of racist language to ineffectual toilet cleaning, your question to others as to why they are anti-racist seems to be suggesting that you really don’t know why anyone would be anti-racist. So the question of why you’re anti-islamic seems to have more merit than your sly attempt at trolling.

  130. Graham Bell

    Everyone:
    I was tempted to mention the pioneering work of some researchers, half-a-century ago, which pointed out the limits and the follies of national stereotypes …. then changed my mind …. in case I was falsely accused of promoting this-or-that unpopular cause.

    Casey @91 and [email protected]:
    You both owe Jimmy Chi and ME apologies because Jimmy Chi and I would probably agree on just about everything except the word “Indigenous”. (b.t.w. join the club – I was beaten up by the cops too – so what’s new?).

    faustusnotes:
    I did say earlier upthread

    Many of the regulars here know or can guess at many of the things about me – but there is a heck of a lot (much of it quite basic) that I prefer to keep out of a public forum like this.

    It would seem that your career path in public health and mine would never ever have crossed. I was down at the grubby, hazardous, nasty, tiring, underfunded end dealing with real people in real distress in sometimes unpleasant environments or in remote places at all hours of the day and night: there’s nothing like trying to resuscitate the participant in a “horizontal hanging” to brighten up your evening. Down where the disconnect between the fine literature of the learned journals (such as the AMJ) and decision-making (and decision-dodging) in the real world happens and where real people are hurt whenever that disconnect happens – and you should have guessed by some of the expressions I’ve used that I must have had more than 18 years in it [how’s that for snarky one-up-manship? 🙂 ]. Where do you think I learnt to despise do-badders and others who indirectly cause unintentional manslaughter? Oh, and by the way, that’s where I learnt of the difference between Aborigines and “Indigenies” – I did bother to listen to what people told me; I did pay attention to their own concerns.
    How I came to be in that field and was asked to remain in it is a long story (for some other time perhaps).

    If I am supposed to be the virulent “racist(??)” you have confabulated – they why do I move so comfortably among people of other races, ethnicities, cultures, religions and so forth? Why do I bother to speak their languages and enjoy their food (so far as I can with a specific food allergy)? Why do you think I survived in very dangerous situations where others perished? To chuck your own words back at you (from @ 90): “Do you have any sense at all of how ludicrous the things you say can be?” Ha-ha-ha-ha.

  131. Brian

    jungney and fn, that’s more than enough. Please let it be.

  132. Graham Bell

    Russell @ 127:
    It’s not a zero-sum game …. though many on The Left and The Right act as though it is. . Many doctors are damned fine musicians too.

    Whch is why I dared mention the limits to national stereotypes.

    Many, certainly not all, Australians are good at (thugby) football and cricket because they are popular sports in Australia. It is unlikely that Finland will win The Ashes any time soon because, among many reasons, cricket is not widely played in Finland. That does not mean that a Finn is incapable of surpassing Bradman, Tendulkar or Lara if he or she moves to a place that gives great support to cricket and to cricketers; it is simply a reflection of the cultural and economic environment in which they operate. Just because someone is an Australian it certainly does not mean they must be passably good at (thugby) football and cricket – they might even hate both sports – it simply means that there is a higher likelihood of finding individuals who play these sports in Australia than in, say, Finland; that’s all. So although national characteristics can be a handy shorthand for specific tasks, they cannot and should not be all-inclusive.

  133. Casey

    Casey @91 and [email protected]:
    You both owe Jimmy Chi and ME apologies because Jimmy Chi and I would probably agree on just about everything except the word “Indigenous”. (b.t.w. join the club – I was beaten up by the cops too – so what’s new?).

    Again, I have no idea what you are talking about or what produces these onslaughts of tumbling, random words. The original point was that you said Kevin Rudd had “chinese-like deviousness”. This is a racist term, this is a racist statement.

    Nothing you say can obscure that, Graham.

  134. Taylor

    Dr Susan

    I do not think that a statement such as “Australians are friendly” or “Indonesians have beautiful manners” (without anything more) is unlawful under s 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. It is not reasonably likely to offend.

    Just to be clear, I also do not think the Act should be amended to make such statements unlawful. And I think any party that took such a policy to the Australian electorate would be roundly criticised.

    Nor do I think that anyone should be criticised for making such statements in everyday conversation. It would do more harm than good to police these statements.

  135. faustusnotes

    Graham, your experience of “horizontal hangings” has nothing to do with the factual content of your claim, which was that the “do-badders” and “neo-puritans” of the public health world will not say or allow others to say that there is a relationship between race and health. I have pointed you to the official documents of the inner circles and elites of these “neo-puritans” and “do-badders” and shown that they do openly say the things you claim they stifle. I also pointed you to direct and effective action taken by those “neo-puritans” on the basis of their having said that race and health are connected. So, rather than rattling on about irrelevancies, either contest my evidence or concede my point.

    This is why I don’t bother to engage you in any thread that’s actually of interest to me: you live in a fantasy world and you run a Gish gallop of ignorance whenever you have anything substantive to say on anything. Almost everything you write down here is almost immediately shown to be either ignorant or wrong, and it almost always has a wolf-in-sheeps-clothing right-wing concern troll element to it. Your lyrical but almost entirely incorrect descriptions of vague groups of people as “do-badders,” “land re-stealers” etc. might have a hint of poetry to them but they are absolutely and completely irrelevant to anything in real life.

    For example, you still haven’t explained what a “land re-stealer” is and you continue to rail against a word – “indigenies” – that I have never in my life seen used by anyone in Australian public life. Which is why comments addressed to you so frequently contain the three letters “w”, “t” and “f”.

  136. Russell

    Casey – But the Chinese are devious – I know because I’ve read all the Judge Dee novels

  137. paul burns

    Fu Man Chu is more devious than Judge Dee.

  138. Casey

    And witches, Russell, really do hex men’s testicles and turn them into cat toys.

    I know because …

  139. zoot

    [email protected]:

    I’ve been bashed by cops and racist fuckwits for no reason other than the colour of my skin and that i didn’t take shit from them.

    Graham Bell @130:

    … (b.t.w. join the club – I was beaten up by the cops too – so what’s new?).

    Just to clarify – GB, were you beaten up by the cops because of the pigmentation of your skin?

  140. Taylor

    This is what Graham actually said:

    One of Kevin Rudd’s main characteristics is his Chinese-like deviousness: he probably has The Art Of War(sunzi bingfa) and Hundred Battles (baizhan) on toast for breakfast each morning.

    There is a very reasonable argument that this is not offensively racist. It can be expressed in the following propositions:

    1. All humankind has the quality of deviousness, but each culture expresses this in a distinctive way.

    2. The Chinese have their own culture.

    3. Therefore the Chinese express the quality of deviousness in a distinctive way.

    The quality suggested by proposition 3 can be expressed more concisely as “Chinese-like deviousness”.

    In summary, Graham as I understand was saying that there is a Chinese quality of deviousness (as expressed in the texts to which he makes reference), not a devious quality of Chinese.

    If you disagree with this conclusion, you must disagree with proposition 1 or 2. But this would be either anthropologically naive (in the case of proposition 1) or racist (in the case of proposition 2).

  141. faustusnotes

    or he was characterizing deviousness as a typically oriental trait, and giving specific examples. Take your pick.

  142. Taylor

    Faustus

    I’ll take that as a very proper concession that you may well have been wrong.

  143. faustusnotes

    and I will take that as a concession that you would rather give the benefit of the doubt when someone deploys a classic racist trope. Fair enough, but inconsistent with my understanding of Graham Bell’s right-wing concern troll methods.

  144. Graham Bell

    faustusnotes and others:
    If you still believe “Indigenous” is an exact synonym for “Aboriginal” then run that concept past a Senior Counsel and see what emerges.

    drsusancalvin @ 57 was probably closer than most of you to saying something that might give comfort to those Aborigines who wonder, with good reason, what will be the next sneaky white man’s trick to deprive them of what is rightfully theirs.

    fn: Repeated exposure to you trollery has given me immunity to it so please feel free to continue raving on. I did say

    Down where the disconnect between the fine literature of the learned journals (such as the AMJ) and decision-making (and decision-dodging) in the real world happens and where real people are hurt whenever that disconnect happens

    Do you have trouble understanding the concept of a disconnect, a break, a conflict between what is said on high and what happens down where the work is done? Further, it was probably obvious to everyone else that when I said

    look at what happened to real people out in the real world. Thank goodness we can now talk openly about conditions, such as diabetes, without being slandered; thank goodness Aborigines can now have proactive measures that enable them to lead long and fulfilling lives

    I was speaking of what things were like early in my career compared with the vastly improved situation now, in 2013.

  145. Taylor

    Faustus

    With great respect, that response is consistent with your attitude to fairness, at least as expressed in this thread – notably in the 9 hour delay between your unsubstantiated accusation at 117, and the inadequate attempt to justify it at 129.

  146. Val

    Slightly digressing – have you noticed how when someone suggests that a person is behaving in a way that might be racist or sexist, the response is often along the lines of: ‘you have accused me of being racist or sexist, which is a Very Bad Thing to say about me, therefore I can rightfully accuse you of being a Very Bad Person’ ?

    Give Graham his due, he doesn’t really run that line!

  147. Graham Bell

    Everyone:
    Just a suggestion ….
    wherever you find a term or a word or a point-of-view used in a comment on LP to which you object or imagine others may object , that BEFORE you resort to the cudgels and to virulent abuse you do try to elicit an explanation or an expansion. Try asking WHY. Who knows but you might actually learn something by doing so …. and even if you don’t learn anything, asking “Why …. ?” will surely prevent you running off at embarrassing tangents.

    Besides, a little courtesy never hurt anyone.

    I have put up with the appalling abuse I have endured here, not because I enjoy being a punching-bag, but, because some of it has been so far removed from reality and so close to fanaticism and so lacking in insight as to be downright hilarious …. and I enjoy a really good laugh..

    The surprising causes of such bad behaviour and the types of people who prefer it have been discussed at length off-line and, for the moment, no good purpose will be served by repeating that on-line.

    Robust debate is a lot more fun and it is a lot more purposeful than mere vilification and ignorant abuse.

    You can make a start by asking WHY whenever you come across an opinion or a word you don’t like – it won’t hurt you.

  148. faustusnotes

    Taylor, jungney is on the record here at LP repeatedly stating that he thinks Muslims are barbarians, that they shouldn’t be allowed into Australia, that they are anti-enlightenment, backwards, you name it. Look through any of the old threads on asylum seekers for your evidence (and don’t be fooled by the name change). He’s not alone – a few others here have similar views – but he was most vociferous. He also once described the Chinese as “animals” and can be pretty callous in his general discussion of most of east Asia. So no, my comment was not based in a lack of fairness and my justification was not inadequate. Go look it up for yourself if you doubt me – there is a reason that Brian told me to knock it off, he’s seen this debate before.

    As for Graham Bell – I don’t care one whit what his reasons are, what he said was racist. If you think I should extend fairness, ask yourself this: if I were to comment negatively about a greedy playwright or literary scholar by saying he had “jewish-like avarice” and defended that statement with reference to The Merchant of Venice do you think I would be greeted with general consideration for my wittiness in being able to link the playwright’s negative character to a work relevant to his field? Or would you think I had just sullied this board with a piece of nasty anti-semitism? Would it matter if my intentions were genuine?

    Now you may be able to extend that much fairness in consideration of someone you have never met before, but it doesn’t change the content of their comment, and I put it to you that it’s not unreasonable to judge such a comment harshly and criticize it.

  149. Val

    Except that Graham @ 145 then turned around and did what I said he had not been doing – ie accused other people of “appalling abuse” because they suggested his comment was racist!

    Disappointing

  150. Val

    Graham @ 146 I mean

  151. Taylor

    Faustus

    Thanks for the response. I think we will have to agree to disagree.

    In particular, I do not agree that your example at paragraph 2 is relevant.

    There is no work of classic Jewish literature that I know that is a cultural expression of Jewish avarice. The Merchant of Venice is not at all, and Shakespeare was not a Jew (unless you accept some fringe theory). The theory of Jewish avarice is a hateful biological theory that is indisputably racist.

    On the other hand if you said that a scholar of Jewish thought (not Jewish himself) had “the Judaic capacity for melancholy, as best expressed in the letters of Maimonides”, that might be a comparable example to the one we are discussing. I think that kind of statement would be found fairly frequently in the pages of the literary reviews, and most readers would not find it offensive.

    With regard to fairness, Graham’s comments at 147 above make sense to me. The main thing is to try to avoid the hypocrisy inherent in prejudging a claim of prejudice.

  152. jungney

    Oh great. fn re me:

    He also once described the Chinese as “animals” and can be pretty callous in his general discussion of most of east Asia.

    Bollocks. Moderators, an outright lie and a slander. Do I have a right of reply here? If so, fn, link to that a quote that substantiates that claim or admit that you need to [this phrase needs re-phrasing, jungney - mods].

    As to Muslims in general I say threadjack.

    Mods, all due respect, and without wanting to clutter up this blog responding [really should have stopped there and deleted this sentence ~ mods]

  153. Graham Bell

    Food for thought in this limited but quite interesting discussion – which included blasphemy, the misunderstanding of words, taking offence as a game-playing strategy and the like http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/bigideas/should-god-or-his-prophets-be-protected-from-insult3f/5088758