Roxon’s politically correctwitch-hunting season

‘I’ll have you up in front of the Commission if you call me Cretinous Plain Jane again!’

The worst government is the most moral. One composed of cynics is often very tolerant and humane. But when fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression.


The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is very apt to spread discontent among those who are.

– H L Menken

In the paralysis of non-government that is the Gillard ‘mousepack’ [1] personified, her Attorney general, Nicola Roxon, has come up, against all expectations, with yet another proof that well-meaning idiots are idiots all the same.

It may make sense to consolidate dated and separate anti-discrimination legislation into a single statute, but on what basis is it thought a good idea to find a respondent to a complaint guilty until proven innocent?

Surely this turns upside down every principle of law outside the Islamic world, where guilt is similarly arbitrary and dependent on the whim of assembled clerics.
I am at a loss for words to describe the imbecility of the people who came up with the notion that it would be a good idea to force people to prove their own innocence, at their own expense, in a star chamber setting of a Human Rights Commission that is virtually unaccountable.

I have heard it said that the Commission is staffed with lawyers no one else wants to pay, and bureaucrats who are used to making arbitrary rules to suit themselves.
That’s probably unkind, but it remains salient that this body has the power to destroy reputations, bankrupt individuals and companies, and create in its zeal greater injustices than the ones it attempts to rectify.

The difficulty of applying anti-discrimination legislation is undoubtedly a complexity hard to grapple with. Discrimination is often quite subtle except to the victim, and may be hard to prove if there are no witnesses, or, at least, none willing to come forward.

However, this does not mean that the anticipation of a pot of free money in compensation should encourage unscrupulous people to make frivolous allegations that are equally hard to disprove. There ought to be stiff penalties for egregious misuse of the legislation, and the nous of proof must always be on the party bringing an accusation, not the other way around.

Menken was right. Witless idealists are much more dangerous than cynical pragmatists. They rush in to ruin institutions, customs and lives where much harsher, humourless people would hesitate and consider carefully what greater harm they might cause by trying to do good.

Some small sign that not all has turned rotten in Canberra is that Fairfax and News Corp journalists are apparently united in opposing the Roxon doctrine on politically correct witchhunting. We’ll see for how much that may count.

See the Sydney Morning Herald reportage here. The Australian newspaper, of course, is now hidden behind a pay-wall to make Rupert Murdoch even more obscenely wealthy than anyone imagined could be possible, and to remove the last vestige of public benefit from his ‘news’ operations in Australia.

[1] The term ‘mousepack was coined by former Labor spin doctor Bob Ellis. See the review of the kiss-and-tell book in which he savaged the Victorian Labor Left here.

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