Wilson a smart choice, or has Keane lost his mind?

Neil James, executive director of the Australia Defence Association, writes: Re. “Keane: why Tim Wilson is a good (if ironic) pick for the HRC” (yesterday). Bernard Keane again hits the nail on the head. As he did with his balanced analysis of the HRC last January.

From the beginning, the advocacy role of official human rights bodies has increasingly clashed with the scrupulously non-partisan stance necessarily required of all public servants and all taxpayer-funded bodies. This non-partisanship imperative is a major Westminster system democracy check and balance, both formally and informally throughout society.

Whatever its other stances are or are perceived to be, the IPA has a long-established reputation as a champion of liberty, even if from the individual as opposed to the collective viewpoint.

What is of significant concern, however, is the HRC media release ostensibly welcoming Wilson’s appointment. This included the disturbing sentence: “Mr Wilson has seven years experience as Policy Director at the Institute of Public Affairs and is particularly concerned to support Liberal approaches to freedom of speech.” As well as its poor English expression generally, the capitalisation of L in “liberal” reflects very poorly on the HRC’s impartiality. At best it demonstrates insufficient proof-reading skills and “apolitical nous” up to the commission’s highest level.

Hopefully it does not prove unconscious bias, inadequate understandings of the concept of liberalism, or a deliberate demonstration of the type of day-to-day bias — including by omission or perception — that only gives objective fuel to the HRC’s critics across the political spectrum.

Martyn Smith writes: Wednesday’s edition of Crikey continued “the best and the worst” performers of this year series. I hereby nominate the best and the worst of yesterday’s Crikey.

I nominate Jane Caro’s interesting and humourous comments as “the best” and Bernard Keane’s sad and feeble attempt to pillory left-wingers and promote Tim Wilson’s elevation to the HRC as the worst.Wilson’s nomination (along with many others) is yet another example of the Abbott government’s similarity to Orwell’s 1984. Keane must, or should, know this. I think Keane is overwrought and should take a Bex and have a nice lie down … he clearly needs a rest.

Anchorman and movie marketing

James Burke writes: Re. “The legend of Ron Burgundy: movie marketing for a new age” (yesterday). Careful, Guy Rundle. It’s one thing to take issue with the annoying publicity campaign for Anchorman 2, another to claim that it is part of a wave of unfunny American comedies. Humour is subjective, as Christopher Hitchens discovered when he revealed that his idea of comedy didn’t include women creating it … at the very moment that Tina Fey and Sarah Silverman were launching their assaults on Mount Funny.

All Will Ferrell movies are worth a look (even a lazy throwaway like Step Brothers has a couple of LOL moments), and Anchorman is one of those comedies that reward a repeat view — every stupid statement becomes more profoundly stupid the more times you hear it. The Zucker Brothers started it with Airplane! — a film that I can repeat virtually word for word but that still reduces me to hysterics. Relentless Stupidity (wasn’t that a Fast Forward skit?) has a comic momentum all its own.

Maybe Guy feels like Mugatu in Zoolander — “It’s the same look! Doesn’t anyone else see it? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!” Will Ferrell’s pompous outraged line reading cracks me up every time. Stay classy.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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