catholic church george pell
(Image: AAP/Joel Carrett)

Does the right’s response to the Pell judgment show an erosion of conservatives’ respect for rule of law? Cries of a “loss of faith” in the legal system seem laughable, wrote Michael Bradley, but do show a startling inversion of the norm — and Crikey readers were inclined to agree (though the development isn’t wholly surprising, they wrote). Elsewhere, readers tackled the crisis in teaching and came to the defence of campus Confucius Institutes.

On Pell and the rule of law

Chris McLenaghan writes: Pell represents to the right an edifice that must not be toppled, lest one of the key pillars of the right’s perceived sources of power crumbles and falls. To let the light of justice in here would see their fundamentalist world view have to cater for a reality they do not wish to accept. To admit Pell’s guilt means they must admit they were wrong, were fooled and the absolutes of their outlook have been shaken, if not shattered. It is a bridge too far for them. In doing this, they are complicit in the proven crimes of the one they continue to defend, with nary a thought to the true victim and his family and friends. This latter point is the true injustice here.

Harvey Walsh writes: My concern is how to engage the faithful unbelievers. How to talk with those whose faith in the man and the Church is blocking their faith in the rule of law? How do we get across the conservative principle that, if a law is perceived to be unjust, we should seek to change that law, but not subvert the rule of law? For to have faith in God is one thing, but that is not faith in the man of God. And to fight against an unjust law is one thing, but to fight against the rule of law that includes provision to fight injustice, that’s another thing too. Indeed, it’s this very justice system being used right now by Pell’s believers.

Allan Hogan writes: Michael Bradley thinks that Pell’s defenders “have signed out from the police, the prosecutors, the courts, the jury system, the burden of proof and the entire rule of law”. That certainly is a harsh judgement about Justice Weinberg, although I’m sure the eminent judge would not describe himself as a “Pell defender”. Whatever the excesses of the “paper warriors” on either side of this controversy, I think Justice Weinberg’s thorough and balanced judgment is worthy of great respect, and clear evidence that the rule of law is functioning as it should.

On the teaching crisis

Maureen Boller writes: Young ex-teachers of my acquaintance cite poor pay and conditions, excessive workload, increasing and increasingly meaningless administrative tasks, constant demands for unpaid extra activities, constant accountability, learning and teaching becoming a joyless chore, policy handed down from people who clearly have never been near a classroom… Sadly, the ones who leave are often from among the most clever, energetic and creative young teachers. Several I know have better paying jobs with way better conditions in related fields. They’ll never go back. Why would they?

On Confucius Institutes

Professor Duncan Ivison, University of Sydney: I’m assuming your anonymous contributor to yesterday’s hints and tips has never been to our Confucius Institute. If they had, then they’d know that the kinds of activities that are held range from music and dance performances, Chinese calligraphy and painting, martial arts and Taiji, culture and language courses. To celebrate Moon Festival each year, there are also Chinese tea appreciation classes and even moon cake. We encourage anyone who is curious to visit, see for themselves what’s going on and maybe have a moon cake or two!

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Peter Fray

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