Henderson replies

Gerard Henderson writes: Re “Chapman: sorry, Gerard, I actually am an authority on health (Monday). My attention has been drawn to Simon Chapman’s piece in response to my claim that he is not “scientifically” qualified to be regarded as an “expert” on the health effects of wind farms. Professor Chapman states that the Faculty of Medicine at Sydney University contains, among others, biostatisticians, historians and social scientists most of whom do not have undergraduate degrees in medicine. Fancy that.

All I know is that if I am seeking advice about a health issue I shall not be rocking up to Sydney University’s Faculty of Medicine to receive “scientifically” based “expert” advice from a guy who has a B. A. (Hons) in sociology, philosophy, psychology and English plus a PhD on the topic of cigarette advertising. Simon Chapman’s formal qualifications refer. I am saddened to learn Dr Chapman was disappointed when he participated in a discussion with Ainslie Van Onselen on tobacco labelling at The Sydney Institute in June 2011. He was expecting an audience of “social policy scholars” in a “well appointed auditorium”. But, alas, the professor was confronted with everyday Australians (at whom he sneers) in a “tatty living room”. Shucks.

The Institute’s office at 41 Phillip Street, Sydney is a heritage-listed building which is expertly maintained by the Dexus Property Group. Some years ago, the writer Yung Chang addressed audience of over 100 at 41 Phillip Street on Australia Day. She commented favourably on the historic building set in the Sydney CBD on the site of the first Government House. The audience was around 50, double Chapman’s estimate — a reasonable turnout for a not very stimulating topic. Contrary to Chapman’s claims, the audience was not all “superannuated types” (some were quite young), no one came from Mosman in a Daimler and no port was served. By the way, when Professor Chapman addressed The Sydney Institute he was in his 60th year — which suggests that age, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

The human toll of American snipers

Richard Middleton writes: Re “Rundle: American Sniper is the self-hating nihilism of a nation in decay” (yesterday) Guy, you have excelled yourself. Excellent article on the horrendous sentence passed on Eddie Ray Routh. Something that we would find indescribably despicable if it came from medieval times, not this Nation on the Hill. It does not matter that this sentence will not only drive the poor sod even further down the path, even as it punishes the slayer of Goliath the Sniper, but private enterprise will make a great deal of money out of this the very worst kind of torture … a win:win for God’s (second tier) own people. We can only despair that this is the country with all those nuclear weapons and boots in almost every country in the world, not forgetting the war they are fomenting and fighting in the Ukraine. God help Eddie Ray Routh. God help the rest of us.

Political distractions

Leigh Simpkin writes: Re. “Razer’s Class Warfare: top five moments of political distraction (including the apology)“. As La Razer pointed out in today’s piece, the storm over the vilification of Professor Triggs is overshadowing the quality of the Human Rights Commission work in the report.  At risk of not pushing past the circus I still think it is important to find out what was said.  It seems that Professor Triggs’ account of the role being dangled before her can only be consistent with what the minister said in parliament and Moraitis said in Senate Estimates (that is, no offer v a specific role formally on the table). If the specific role was not one technically in his power to offer, for example some role with an international body that is usually an appointment made by that body on the recommendation of the government of the day.  So “no offer was made” but a conditional offer might perhaps have been made — “you quit and we will see what we can do for you about [x].” Maybe there’s an advisory role to the UN or one of the regional international agencies going at present?

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey