Pray for political debate

Marcus L’Estrange writes: Re. “Only Malcolm can save us” (yesterday). Only Malcolm can save us from the crushing emptiness of political discussion in Australia right now, Crikey says, yesterday. Crikey is right.

In facing up to ‘Group Think’ or ‘The Herd Instinct’, or ‘go with the flow, be modern, with it etc, believe in the majority view point, get your views from ‘The Herald Sun’ and other similar media, some things should be remembered why there is a crushing emptiness.

Group Think usually means you have handed over your mind, body, soul, conscience to the head of the herd or the master of Group Think, to tell you what to think, say and do. This is the case in the good ‘ol’ of USA where the masses have fallen mindlessly for the National Riflemen’s Association and their complete opposition to gun control and the dire consequences.

In conversation on same sex marriage, abortion on demand and indeed almost any topic it might be polite to disagree but … is it constructive? Sometimes we need to invite provocation, put our (figuratively) dukes up and battle it out. How else can we challenge each other and change our minds?

What is wrong about the whole idea of regulating feelings in discussion is that different things can upset different people. Although feelings can be influenced by external factors, ultimately they are a matter of personal choice. No matter how ill informed or obnoxious the words, our reaction to someones else’s words is always up to us and we should not try to censor or stop the discussion.

Unless words are coercive — threatening, misleading, or forcing us to do something against our will — we are responsible for how they are received. Obliging others to share in our feelings of offence is petty and trivial.

George Orwell:  :If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not what to hear’.

Remember also the words from Zorba: “A man need a bit of madness or else … he never dares cuts the rope and be free” … from Group Think  and the importance of escaping the echo chambers of like-minded thinking and people.

On data retention defensiveness

Chief Executive Officer of Internet Australia Laurie Patton writes: Re. “Don’t mention the data retention” (yesterday). As you rightly point out, a year ago the government allocated $128 million to fund the costs of ISPs implementing the data retention scheme. However, so far not one dollar has made its way out of the Attorney-General’s office. Worse still, the way things are going it will a good two years after enactment before this legislation will finally be in place. That’s for a law that was rushed through Parliament because Tony Abbott said it was urgently needed in the fight against terrorism. There are potentially 400+ ISP’s expected to comply with the Data Retention Act, and nobody knows right now what, if anything, the majority are doing about their requirement to store everyone’s ‘metadata’ for two years. The only consoling fact in this legislative mess is that there is actually no evidence from overseas that data retention has had an impact in the war on terrorism.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey