Andrew Bolt, Race and Identity Politics

WARNING: VERY LONG POST

In a recent court decision, conservative commentator Andrew Bolt was found guilty of breaching the Racial Vilification Act (Eatock vs. Bolt, see http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/FCA/2011/1103.html ).

From the classical liberal perspective, the good intentions behind the Racial Vilification Act do not justify the existence of the Act; Free Speech is an absolute right which is only bounded by fraud (for example, in the case of actual defamation) and coercion (i.e. making threats of violence or similar forms of extortion).

I am not a viewer of Andrew Bolt, although in full disclosure I did once send him an email which corrected a philosophical mistake of his; he accused Postmodernism of being Metaphysically Subjectivist (i.e. people’s minds literally remake reality). I believe that to be mistaken since Postmodernism is Epistemologically Subjectivist, typically on philosophical grounds derived from German Idealist thought. This has been my only interaction with his work in the past, and I know little about him. Although I was pleasantly surprised when reading his Wikipedia page that he’s an Agnostic rather than a religionist.

But the reason for this post is that I found a specific comment about the Bolt case interesting from the perspective of political philosophy.

Commentator Brian F. McCoy argued that the ultimate issue in the Bolt case wasn’t freedom of speech. He identified the core issue as “freedom of identity” (see http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=28512).

What a fascinating concept.

“Identity” in the context of the case was referring to social identity or the groups with which one identifies.

The following article is not so much a deliberate argumentative essay per se. Rather, it is a set of commentary on a series of interconnected issues raised by the Bolt affair. In it, I will cover epistemological and philosophical considerations relating to the concept of “social identity” and I will also discuss the various analytical frameworks and assumptions that are used when dealing with the concept. Ultimately I will launch into a discussion of Brian McCoy’s “freedom of identity.”
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US Nanny-Staters pushing for Criminalization of Seat Belt non-usage

While the seat belt issue has long been lost over here, in the US there is still fiery debate on the issue in a number of states with the Feds determined to enforce it despite strenuous opposition. This article is a guest post by Eric Dondero, which appeared in “Pundit Press.” As the issue still rates discussion here, I am putting it up for your consideration. LR has been a consistent campaigner on this issue for some years.

 

Don’t Wear your Seat Belt – Go to Jail

By Eric Dondero

It’s happening all over the country, all of a sudden. No doubt a result of ObamaCare and the push to cut costs at the expense of individual freedom and choice.

Right now 18 States are holdouts. Seat Belt non-usage is considered a misdemeanor punishable only by a small fine. But the Transportation Committee is making a concerted effort to get all 50 states to support full criminalization.

And in case you thought nobody goes to jail for not wearing a seat belt, check out this Q&A. Even though it may be a misdemeanor, if you fail to show up for your court appearance, or protest the law through civil disobedience, you can go to jail, in some states for up to 6 months. Continue reading

On Bullying And The Debate About Corporal Punishment In Schools

The recent launch of anti-bullying campaigns in Australian high schools has brought up public discussion on whether or not the use of corporal punishment should be re-implemented in Australian education.

This, as is par for the course in newspapers, is accompanied by a stew of other articles complaining about our youth in decline. Youth binge drinking and violence against teachers are other examples. The Myth of Cultural Degeneracy is unfortunately alive and well, in spite of the fact that there is simply no conclusive proof things are actually worse these days. Really, the news just can’t find something else to panic about so they manufacture another worry to make us watch news reports.

The stabbing of Elliott Fletcher, a 12 year old student at St. Patricks Catholic boy’s school, is an undeniable tragedy, but there is absolutely no reason to believe that it is somehow indicative of a systematic increase in bullying as a whole. Regardless, the incident did trigger Kevin Rudd to speak on the subject of bullying, and the federal Opposition to introduce an anti-bullying policy.

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Democracy in action.

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. – H.L. Mencken

Creatures of the state will generally argue that in these complex times it is necessary to have a strong centralized authority to control and regulate the activities of the general population. In reality however, the more complex things are the less equipped a central authority is to deal with it as it is too remote from where the action is. Smaller autonomous jurisdictions close to the local populations will always have a better feel for the needs of the local population, and as to whether any action is needed at all.

The following is a great example of just why government decisions need to be as far as possible decentralized to the smallest possible level.

From Ben and Bawbs Blog.

Here in Fly-Over country, we have long been on the receiving end of endless mandates and edicts spewed forth by the “elites” on both coasts regarding how to run things out here. These dictates usually come from big city weenies whose feet have never left pavement (let alone stepped in cow shit) in their lives, who think meat is “produced” under plastic in the back of supermarkets, and who have never, ever had the occasion to “pee behind a tree”.

For instance, I believe it was a female senator from New Yawk State who proposed Federal budget savings (an admirable goal if you know what the heck you’re doing) by firing all the cattle guards in the Western United States. The only problem is that cattle guards are not “guards” per se, but rather a device consisting of steel rails that is implanted in the roadbed. Livestock are not able to cross over these cattle guards. Thus, vehicles can travel roads freely without stopping to open and shut gates at every fenceline.

These edicts, arbitrarily produced with absolutely no input from the regions affected, usually prove to be utterly unrealistic, totally unworkable, and downright asinine. Not that that is, in governmental logic, any reason to rescind any previous fiasco nor to stop spewing forth more. Read the rest here.

This is a classic example of an elected idiot thinking that being a member of the ruling elite, confers some sort of infallible wisdom.

Central government always pushes for a one size fits all solution, ignoring the fact that different regions have differing economic situations, cultural values, aspirations and so on. This combined with their unacknowledged ignorance, conceit, arrogance, and delusions of relevance, conspires to inflict bad results on most occasions.

Update!

The story above has proved to be apocryphal, which is unfortunate as it has spoilt a rather promising thread. As some of the comments indicate, there is plenty of stupidity to go around in government so its a pity this happened.

A Rant Against Video Game Censorship

Recently, at the video game blog Kotaku (www.kotaku.com), South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson made a series of arguments in favor of preventing an R18+ rating for video games (and it is because of this that Silent Hill Homecoming is being delayed for its Australian release whilst they censor the hell out if it) . Readers responded with a series of arguments arguing that the current scheme is distortionary, and that MA15+ games often include content that should be R18+, and thus Atkinson’s stance is not only confusing parents but actually harming the children.

I am not a fan of “for the children” arguments and thus I posted my argument on Kotaku’s commets page a while ago. I am reposting here:

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Free Enterprise Psychology.

One of my regular reads is Dr Sanity. The doctor who lists her occupation as an M.D. (Psychiatry/Aerospace medicine) has very pro-liberty views, and is very strongly opposed to the antics of the socialist left. What follows is an interesting argument (one of the best I have seen in a long time) for capitalism. This is quoted in her most recent post, but was originally from another post, “KARL MET SIGMUND AND THE REST IS POSTMODERN HISTORY.”

 Capitalism allows the basic nature of man to creatively express itself by mastering the physical world. The instinctual energy Freud spoke of is directed away from the destructive pursuit of power over other people and sublimated toward acts of creation, which further both the individual’s life and all of civilization.

 The Marxist intellectuals’ big mistake was in not recognizing the difference between repression and suppression. And in not understanding the way psychological defense mechanisms work (particularly the healthy or ‘mature’ defense mechanisms such as sublimation, anticipation, humor, altruism and supression.) Continue reading

Nanny-State Government is like a bad road trip with an annoying back seat driver.

img0504by Jeff Wartman

 This is a post that appeared in Libertarian Republican recently as a précis of a longer article by Jeff on his own site. In view of our recent controversy, this might be timely in order to get the thinking back on track.

 To illustrate my own philosophy of government, I’ve often used an analogy of a road trip. The route and destination are analogous to the choices you make in life and the level of freedom you possess.

Too many big government Democrats want to drive your car for you. They feel that if they know the route better, it’s in your own interest to just sit in the back and let them drive the car for you — they will be able to plan the best route and will be able to get to the destination according to the way they think is best. It doesn’t matter if you feel that a different route may be better, because they know how to get there better than you do.

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