Tony Abbott and the Great Australian Witch Hunt

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Witch Hunts. They still happen today.

First, a little history.

The witch hunts that took place from 1480 to 1700 were in part facilitated by the negative perceptions of women during the time period of their occurrence. Statistics reveal that females typically comprised about 80% of the total amount of “witches” executed, implying that, for every male victim (and how many of them were homosexuals?), four females lost their lives.

Writing ‘The Hammer of Witches (Malleus Maleficarum)’,the monks Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger entrenched this misogynist bent into official witch-hunting doctrine. Kramer and Sprenger describe a woman as inherently more fallible than her male counterpart, and from her very nature, as one originating from an improperly bent rib, prone to evil. However, Kramer and Sprenger also write that, though women are susceptible to evil influences, they can also be “very good” when they use their impressionable qualities in a certain manner.

Given the heavily patriarchal nature of their time period, the monks may have been suggesting that the proper place of a woman is to obey male influences, so that her imperfections may be compensated for by the males’ lack of such fallibilities. The threat of being branded a witch more readily than a male would be might have served as a deterrent for women from defying the commonplace expectations imposed on them by the social and religious paradigms surrounding them.

Women like Alice Prabury, who diverged from the expected role of a woman as a mundane housekeeper and instead obtained uncommon skills to cure people and animals of diseases, were targets for persecution. The Churchwardens of Gloucestershire may have filed their accusation of witchcraft against Prabury due to their disapproval of the excessive independence that the woman manifested, as exemplified in her refusal to tell others, including the representatives of the dominant paradigm, the unique means by which she went about performing her work.

Thus creative, individualistic, and independent women were most often the targets of the two-century-long spree of witch hunts. Such persecution unfortunately destroyed many talented individuals who could have lived fulfilling lives and made tremendous advances in the arts and sciences.

Now, cast your minds back to the campaign of vilification that was unleashed by the Liberal Party against Julia Gillard, the lawful Prime Minister of Australia.

I think you can see where I am going with this.

How well-read is our own Mad Monk in the Catholic Canon? How have his perceptions of women in contemporary society been informed by what he has learnt during his years of education as a Jesuit, both at school and in the Seminary, while he was there? How has his own misogynist bent been used to inform the campaign of abuse, humiliation and vilification against Prime Minister Julia Gillard? An openly proud Atheist and Non-Conformist to the social doctrines that Tony Abbott is steeped in?

Now, of course, when Tony Abbott is accused of being a misogynist towards the Prime Minister, people spring to his defence by saying, “Look how well he gets on with his wife and daughters. Look at his Chief-Of-Staff. She is a woman! They are powerful women. He’s obviously OK with powerful women. Your accusations have no substance!” However, I put that down to a differential perspective. In Abbott’s eyes, as quoted above from ‘The Hammer of Witches’, ‘good women’ are those who behave in ways that receive approval from men, conform to the ‘Male as Dominant’ paradigm and the social and religious conformity expected of them by religious males. That is, these women are married, or single young women on the pathway to marriage, and thus conform to Tony Abbott’s idea of what a good woman is. Hence he is happy to treat them favourably. Why wouldn’t he? As people say about him, he is basically a decent person when around the people in his social milieu. Who get the tick of approval from him.

Of course, I must single out Julie Bishop for special mention here. She may not be married to her partner Peter Nattrass, or have produced any children. Also has been as career-driven as the Prime Minister was; however, she conforms in as much as she knows her place in the Tony Abbott Coalition hierarchy, and that place is as a submissive woman to ‘The Leader’. Also, how can we know what Tony Abbott’s innermost thoughts are about her? Nevertheless, Ms Bishop has not become dominant over Mr Abbott, so is not in the same category as the Prime Minister.

So, the woman who does not conform and has broken the mould, is thought to have succumbed to evil influences. Therefore is a witch and a justifiable target for persecution, in the mind of a devoutly religious man.

It certainly serves as a philosophical justification, if nothing else, and a salve to any sort of a guilty conscience Tony Abbott might have felt, if only initially and long since passed, as he began his public attacks on a woman with verbal violence of a ferocity never before witnessed in Australian politics. In fact, I’m hard pressed to think of any other female leader of a country or political party who has been so publicly demeaned by her male political opponent, as has Julia Gillard. Without remorse and relentlessly.

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Finally, let me leave you with some more history about Witch Hunts(as supplied by G. Stolyarov II), to reflect upon and as it pertains to the ‘Carbon Tax Lie’ vendetta against the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard:

Political rivalries, too, were motives for accusations of witchcraft. Among the victims of such ploys was Mayor Johannes Junius, who, though entirely innocent, was confronted with a trial whose proceedings were clearly not aimed toward an objective determination of guilt or innocence, but rather at causing Junius to “confess something, whether it be true or not.” The trial was rigged against Junius, and there was to be no possible outcome but his death. Such a case could not have existed had Junius not possessed rivals who wanted him eliminated at all costs. A vacancy in the post of mayor could, after all, assist someone’s political ambitions, either to occupy the position or place into it a man acceptable to some religious or political faction with the means to carry out witch hunts.

Junius = Julia? It’s not as ridiculous a proposition as it may at first seem. Of course, an actual death is not possible. However, a political death is an eminently desirable outcome for the protagonists in our political game. And not beyond the realms of possibility, as a perfectly justifiable game plan, for our own Mad Monk.

Why I Am Still A Member Of The ALP

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I’m sure by now we have all read the article by former ALP Member, former ALP Candidate for the federal seat of McEwan, Andrew McLeod, which appeared in the Fairfax media on Monday, titled, ‘Why I Left the ALP’. If not, here it is for you to read so that you can be informed and get the context around what I am about to say in reply to that piece.

http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/why-i-quit-the-alp-20130526-2n50x.html

I’d like to say I support the sentiments of Andrew McLeod, former ALP candidate for McEwan in 2001, and author of the piece in The National Times on May 27, 2013, titled ‘Why I Quit the ALP’.

But I cannot.

I think his logic is flawed.

I, too came to a turning point in my life as a result of ‘Tampa’ in 2001. The actions of Howard revulsed me so much that I went quickly and decisively from being just a supporter of Labor at the ballot box, to a member of the party. I wanted to no longer be someone who shouted at the Howard government from the sidelines, but instead an active participant in their overthrow. Also because the Pacific Solution disgusted me. Locking genuine refugees up until they went mad, in hell hole camps in Australia, for all to see, or in equally depressing gulags on desolate Pacific atolls, was just a bridge too far.

Luckily, the election of a Labor federal government in 2007 put an end to this, and a more humane regime was instituted.

However, this is where the issue becomes complicated and more than the essentially unsophisticated analysis of Andrew McLeod has allowed for.

The Federal Labor government tried to lead the discussion Andrew pines for. However, they have been thwarted at every turn by an opportunistic Coalition Opposition seeking to rekindle the flames of xenophobia and bigotry so expertly exploited by John Howard from 2001 on, and, frankly, an opportunistic group of People Traffickers, who have seen the federal Labor government’s attempted generosity towards Asylum Seekers as a weakness to exploit. And exploit it mercilessly to Labor’s cost they have. To the point where, combined with the Abbott Opposition’s advantage-taking tactics, the federal Labor government have been placed into a Lose-Lose situation. Unable to please the likes of Andrew and unable to please those in the electorate who can see Australia being taken advantage of by the People Traffickers and their boat-borne Asylum Seeker cargo. To the sickening point where the life of the Asylum Seeker is no longer sacred & they can die at sea for all the People Traffickers care, as long as they have banked their $.

However, the solution is not, as Andrew appears to suggest, throwing your hands up into the air and throwing open the borders again by rescinding the excision of the mainland. That way lies a bonanza for the People Traffickers which they would gladly and eagerly exploit to the max. And Australia, for all the good intentions of Andrew and his kind, simply cannot take every Asylum Seeker/Refugee who wishes to come to Australia. Our fragile environment simply could not stand it and our social fabric would be rent by it. Surely, Andrew, the people who live here already, the citizens of Australia, the electorate, get a say in all this? Form a new party, by all means, but at the end of the process democracy means respecting the will of the people as expressed at the ballot box and via the votes in parliament of their representatives, and, at the moment, that collective will is saying that they don’t want all power to reside with the Asylum Seekers and the organisers of their boat journeys. No matter how genuine is their cause. The Australian people want to retain control over their Immigration system.

That is why I have stayed a Member of the ALP. It is the only party that has tried to find a humane solution to this complex problem that will no longer stand for simplistic solutions such as the sort Andrew appears to be advocating.

That is why I support the Bali Process and the Regional Processing Centre on Manus Island, which the Prime Minister and the Papua New Guinea prime Minister signed an Agreement for the week before last, because it will finally bring the ‘Justice is Blind’ principle to our region’s refugee intake.

No longer will those who come by boat get preferential treatment to settle in Australia compared to those who languish in camps, unable to afford the People Traffickers fee. Nor will they be able to guarantee that if they make it to Australia, that they get to stay in Australia. Now they can end up in any one of a number of regional countries.

That’s why I am still a member of the ALP. Because they are the only ones who have shown the courage and leadership required to tackle this complex issue head on from all angles & have come up with the most humane and rational solution respectful of all players in this issue. Asylum Seekers, the Australian People, and the Environment of our beautiful country, which I, for one, do not believe can cope with an overburdening of Australia. Despite others well-intentioned words.

Disinformationists & Disrupters

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“If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.” Thomas Pynchon

I don’t know about you, but I find it incredibly frustrating when I come up hard against a commenter on the internet whom I consider a ‘Disinformationist’ or a ‘Disrupter’ .

We all know them, if not immediately at first contact, then ultimately by their behaviour.

Or, at least I hope we all might be able to better spot them by the end of this helpful ‘How to’ recognise them heads-up.

It may save you the time you may otherwise have expended engaging with them in order to try and change their minds.  Because you won’t.

They do not exist to be persuadable.

Let’s just start by understanding what Disinformation is(from Wikipedia):

Disinformation is intentionally false or inaccurate information that is spread deliberately. For this reason, it is synonymous with and sometimes called black propaganda. It is an act of deception and false statements to convince someone of untruth. Disinformation should not be confused with misinformation, information that is unintentionally false.

Unlike traditional propaganda techniques designed to engage emotional support, disinformation is designed to manipulate the audience at the rational level by either discrediting conflicting information or supporting false conclusions. A common disinformation tactic is to mix some truth and observation with false conclusions and lies, or to reveal part of the truth while presenting it as the whole (a limited hangout).

Another technique of concealing facts, or censorship, is also used if the group can affect such control. When channels of information cannot be completely closed, they can be rendered useless by filling them with disinformation, effectively lowering their signal-to-noise ratio and discrediting the opposition by association with many easily disproved false claims.

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Such are the sorts of verbal attacks that we see every day, from Left and Right, from one or another group, political party or individual commenter, against one or another party. Of course, globally, but specifically in our own neck of the internet woods.  Mainly on other blogs because this one is moderated by active not passive moderators.

Passive Mods on other blogs appear to be hog-tied to Jay Rosen’s ‘Voice From Nowhere’ paradigm, assuming an objective perspective that sits back to let all flowers have the chance to bloom equally on their blog, even if some of them are the equivalent of internet weeds. In contrast with Active Mods, such as we are here, who are constantly on the look-out for the blog trolls that simply seek to disinform and disrupt. Who then get weeded out, so as to keep the garden blooming, unchoked with deliberate distractions from the disrupters.  Who seem to be just like any other commenter, until you start to see some constant similarities to the way they, and others of a like mind, go about their posting.

So, as a service to us all I just thought I might outline some of the ways they do this so you can tell them apart from people who genuinely have a different point of view to you. Basically so that you don’t waste your precious time and energy on trying to change their minds, with facts and rational argument. Such people will never change their mind because that is not the reason they are where they are, interacting forcefully with you.  They are trying to spread manure in the garden to burn the flowers and allow the weeds to grow and take over.

Eight Signs of a Disinformationist

1) Avoidance. They never actually discuss issues head-on or provide constructive input, unless engaged in faux ‘constructive input’ such as a Gish Gallop, generally avoiding the citing of references. Rather, they merely imply this, that, and the other. Virtually everything about their presentation implies THEIR authority and expert knowledge in the matter without any further justification for credibility.

2) Selectivity. They tend to pick and choose opponents carefully, either applying the hit-and-run approach against mere commentators supportive of opponents, or focusing heavier attacks on key opponents who are known to directly address issues well.

3) Coincidental. They tend to surface suddenly and somewhat coincidentally with a new controversial topic under discussion. They likewise tend to vanish once the topic is no longer of general concern. They were likely directed to be there for a reason, and vanish with the reason.

4) Teamwork. They tend to operate in self-congratulatory and complementary packs or teams. Of course, this can happen naturally in any public forum. Sometimes one of the players will infiltrate the opponent camp to become a source for straw man or other tactics designed to dilute opponent presentation strength.

5) Aggressively Mainstream/Anti-Conspiratorial. They almost always have disdain for non-mainstream or ‘conspiracy theories’ and almost always are defending the official narrative of your political opponents.

6) Artificial Emotions. An odd kind of ‘artificial’ emotionalism and an unusually thick skin — an ability to persevere and persist even in the face of overwhelming criticism and nonacceptance, no matter how condemning the evidence, they simply deny everything you present as evidence, and never become emotionally involved or reactive. The net result for a disinfo artist is that emotions can seem counterproductive.

With respect to being thick-skinned, no amount of criticism will deter them from doing their job, and they will generally continue their old disinfo patterns without any adjustments to criticisms of how obvious it is that they play that game — where a more rational individual who truly cares what others think might seek to improve their communications style, substance, and so forth, or simply give up.

7) Inconsistent. There is also a tendency to make mistakes sometimes which betray their true self/motives. This may stem from not really knowing their topic and simply being interested in an intent to disrupt the flow of an argument which is trending towards their opposition
8) Time Constant. Recently discovered, with respect to News/Social Media Groups, is the response time factor. There are three ways this can be seen to work, especially when envoys of an empowered player are involved in a cover up or disinformation operation:

  • ANY Blog/Social Media posting by a targeted ‘truth teller’ can result in an IMMEDIATE response. The envoys of the empowered players can afford to have people sit there and watch for an opportunity to do some damage.  Since disinfo in a Blog/Social Media setting only works if the reader sees it-fast response is called for, or the visitor may be swayed towards the truth.
  • Or, when dealing with a rebuttal to a truth in the public arena, such as in the form of a chain disinformation email, a delay in the response usually occurs. This allows a sit-down team discussion on response strategy for best effect, and even enough time to ‘get permission’ or instruction from a formal chain of command.
  • In any News Media/Social Media forum, it will often ALSO be seen that bigger guns are drawn and fired after the same, usually 48-72 hours delay – the team approach in play. This is especially true when the targeted ‘truth teller’, or their comments, are considered more important with respect to their potential to reveal truth. Thus, a serious truth sayer will be attacked more than once for the same sin.

Well, there you have it. A rough outline of what I believe we are up against, as web warriors for the Progressive cause, as we go into battle on a daily basis for what we believe in and wish to defend.

I’m not saying that the above is true of every encounter with the ‘enemy’ that we have, just to be aware that probably not all of them are ‘weekend warriors’, just engaging in the verbal battle for altruistic reasons simply. I’m pretty sure that eloquent exponents in our corner, the Progressive corner, are well known to the o(O)pposition, and are targeted accordingly so they don’t become too influential in the day to day ideological debate that has started to go on since the internet and other forms of Social Media flung open the Doors of Perception.