There was a German university that, for a century or so, was in charge of administering the prize held in perpetuity for creating a proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem (which was finally cracked in the 1990s). There were so many entrants that the university created a form letter that read: “Dear X, thank you for submitting your proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem. The first error is on page X. That renders the proof invalid. Yours, etc.”
We need a similar document for articles by Kevin Donnelly, who has made a rare return to The Age op-ed pages to say that he does not like this Andrews government and its multiculturalism. The Vic government’s new piece of social engineering guff (what Labor’s “socialist left” does instead of socialism these days) has Daniel Andrews saying that “everyone should have the freedom to be themselves” and that we should “celebrate the things which make us different” while observing that “there is one law for all”.
Donnelly’s first error in assessing this occurs in paragraph three. 
“The contradiction is that it is impossible to celebrate diversity and difference while at the same time asking all to commit to a common set of beliefs and values.” 
“Some cultural practices are unacceptable. Extreme examples include child brides, female circumcision …” 
Yes Kevin, they are unacceptable. That’s why they’re AGAINST THE LAW, and in that regard I would refer you to the quote you included from Daniel Andrews in paragraph two.
That renders the argument invalid. The more general and obvious point is that looking for a “shared set of beliefs and values” to which everyone should subscribe is a recipe for an authoritarian regime that destroys the possibility of autonomous institutions.
Take the Catholic Church that auspices Kevin Donnelly’s current employer, Australian Catholic University. If there’s a shared value in our society, it’s that of gender equality. Yet the Church, which uses its tax-deductible charity status to grow its vast property portfolio, does not permit women to be priests or bishops. Should it retain its tax-deductible status given that standing disregard for a value the vast majority of people now hold deeply?
Go further. Recent polls suggest that up to 70% of Victorians — our little Sweden Down Under — support legal abortion and euthanasia. Catholic schools teach that abortion is a sin. In places where they have the clout to enforce such as law — Ireland and Central America to name two –women die in significant numbers (many of them rape victims) from being forced to take a pregnancy to term, and in circumstances as appalling as the worst female genital cutting/mutilation.
Given that access to abortion is a widely shared value, should we not ban Catholic schools from teaching the sinfulness of abortion, a form of indoctrination that might make it less likely that a young woman who needs an abortion will seek one? By Donnelly’s argument, there is a case for that. After all, we have been told all through the endless Western intervention in Afghanistan that we were fighting for “the equality of women”, and that that is a universal value. Appears to stop at the door of the cathedral, however.
Personally, as a pluralist, I believe that Catholics should be free to advocate whatever beliefs they like, no matter how unpopular, and to build institutions to do so. Though I disagree with their teachings, I’ll defend them against the Donnellys of this world, who want everyone to conform to narrowly interpreted “shared values”.
How does Donnelly get to the point where he is undermining the basis of the university that employs him? Because the “common values” he wants us to subscribe to are a fantasy specific conservative Australia, comb-overs and cut lunches, which has long since disappeared, except in Donnelly’s head. The Oz publishes him because they’ll publish all and any of that crap. Ironically, his Victorian-specific articles get published in The Age because, even though 90% of their readers will hate it, Donnelly’s presence gives the appearance of diversity.
Yes Kevin, in The Age, you’re a token quota hire. The proof is rendered invalid, even before the article starts — Guy Rundle

Peter Fray

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