Saturday, June 02, 2007

Julian Burnside Update

Update - Free Speech Victoria has sent me a response to my letter suggesting that they should ask Julian Burnside to return his Voltaire award. I'm a little busy until Monday I will post it then.

Update - Julian Burnside has commented again on things I publish his comment below.

You think I am trying to suppress expression of honestly held opinions. I am not.It is time to take action against dishonest politicians, and it would not be difficult.Most members of the public see honesty as a core value in our society. In personal dealings, dishonesty on matters of any significance is rightly regarded as an unacceptable breach of standards. In commerce, section 52 of the Trade Practices Act prohibits companies from engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct.Politicians fill a vital role in our society. Why should the behaviour of politicians fall short of the standards Parliament has set for business, and which we all set for ourselves? There are many different ways of lying. Notoriously, telling only part of the truth is a way of misleading the unwary. It is the way generally favoured by politicians, because it is less easily exposed than a direct falsehood. In Parliament, politicians are not allowed to mislead the house. They should not be allowed to mislead the public – they are the servants of the public, paid from the public purse, and representing the public interest.Most people believe politicians lie. Some politicians lie more than others. It is not a trivial problem. Every time politicians lie to us, they betray the public in a fundamentally important way. But honesty in politicians is important for another reason. Politicians’ vision for the future generally does not extend past the next election. Anything over that magic horizon is put aside for another time, unless it is worth some votes. If politicians could be punished for misleading and deceptive conduct, they would have to confront long-term problems much sooner.Global warming is a recent, although possibly a contentious, example. The science concerning global warming has been clear at least since the Independent Panel on Climate Change Report of 1995. Politicians confronted with the scientific evidence have a future choices: they can say they believe it is true and that there is a problem; they can say they do not believe it is true, and that there is not a problem; or they can say that they do not know or do not care. But if the opinion they express is not an opinion they truly hold, then they mislead us. If politicians were forced to express an honest opinion – that is to say an opinion they honestly hold – rather than one peddled by vested interests or lobbyists, we may have begun the conversation about global warming a decade ago. Enforcing honesty in politicians would help extend the policy horizon beyond the next election.Several commentators have dismissed the idea of a law which would punish politicians for engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct. Laurie Oakes suggested that it should be judged and dealt with at elections. Unfortunately, this is no solution at all. It has been shown repeatedly that it does not work. The reason is simple. A vote at an election is dictated by many things, only one of which is an assessment of the candidate’s honesty. Generally speaking, a candidate whose dishonesty has been exposed will nevertheless be supported in the election if he or she offers a sufficient inducement – lower interest rates, higher Centrelink benefits, or whatever. By contrast, Courts have vast experience in judging whether a person has engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct. It is a question which courts can abnd should decide. One thing is certain: if it is possible for a politician to be jailed for misleading the public, we will hear a lot more truth from them. That has to be a good thing.


I still haven't had time to do much with FSV's response but I publish it here. I will comment on it in detail in a day or so, but one thing I will say is - FSV defends Burnsides comments as being said in jest, I can't see anything of that defence in Julians response to me. I reckon FSV is just intellectually corrupt and desperately looking for excuses for the words of their favourites.
FSV Response.


We thank Mr. Williams for his letter; though it was addressed to me (The Treasurer) I am certain that I will reflect the views of my fellow committee members in my reply.

It is not our role to define, identify or defend the political affiliations or views of our
‘Voltaire Award’ recipients nor for that matter our members.
As for our award recipients I doubt if Stephen Mayne and Allen Fels would fall under Mr Williams’ definition of “left wing”. We don’t think Andrew Wilkie was left wing until the government made him so. In fact he is specific in his book about being politically conservative.

Mr. Williams agrees with us in the fact that governments both Labour and Liberal may in turn “restrict freedom of speech and freedom of information” .We suggest that free speech issues often are directed toward the ruling government of the day – so what ever personal persuasions we may be of, we will be concerned with any legislative diminution to the right to free speech of the current government.
Mr. Malcolm Frazer and Pauline Hanson attest that criticism of government policy is not the exclusive prerogative of the left.

I believe for Mr. Williams to suggest we are overtly bias is naïve, if not totally unjustified, our guest speakers at our annual meetings are proof of the opposite.

In regard to Mr. Williams’s opinion on Julian Burnside being a worthwhile recipient of the Voltaire award we can only strongly disagree.

It is of no consequence but Mr. Julian Burnside has publicly declared he once voted for John Howard.
Our system of the secret ballot prevents us from knowing if he still does.

I suspect when Julian Burnside recommended the incarceration of politicians who lie
he did so in wry humour, in the glorious tradition of ‘Rumpole of the Baily’.
As to Julian Burnside’s view on climate change, we understand this to be a topic of open and at times controversial debate. Mr. Williams may be persuaded that
Mr. Burnside is lying. We have no opinion on Mr.Burnside’s views on this particular issue nor that of Mr. Williams’ other than recommending the continuation of an open debate.
It is hardly the basis of a valid criticism of Free Speech Victoria or a test of our credibility.

Perhaps if every one who lied were forced to drive on the Monash freeway at eight o’clock in the morning there would be a traffic jam.

Mr. Williams praises our contribution to Victoria but refuses to be a member; his prediction of our “slow death” might be seen as a self-fulfilling prophecy.
It is hardly a genuine statement of support.

We thank him for contacting us

Franciscus Henri
Hon Treasurer .



More to come soon.


5 comments:

Julian Burnside said...

You think I am trying to suppress honestly held opinions. I am not

It is time to take action against dishonest politicians, and it would not be difficult.

Most members of the public see honesty as a core value in our society. In personal dealings, dishonesty on matters of any significance is rightly regarded as an unacceptable breach of standards. In commerce, section 52 of the Trade Practices Act prohibits companies from engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct.

Politicians fill a vital role in our society. Why should the behaviour of politicians fall short of the standards Parliament has set for business, and which we all set for ourselves?

There are many different ways of lying. Notoriously, telling only part of the truth is a way of misleading the unwary. It is the way generally favoured by politicians, because it is less easily exposed than a direct falsehood. In Parliament, politicians are not allowed to mislead the house. They should not be allowed to mislead the public – they are the servants of the public, paid from the public purse, and representing the public interest.

Most people believe politicians lie. Some politicians lie more than others. It is not a trivial problem. Every time politicians lie to us, they betray the public in a fundamentally important way.

But honesty in politicians is important for another reason. Politicians’ vision for the future generally does not extend past the next election. Anything over that magic horizon is put aside for another time, unless it is worth some votes. If politicians could be punished for misleading and deceptive conduct, they would have to confront long-term problems much sooner.

Global warming is a recent, although possibly a contentious, example. The science concerning global warming has been clear at least since the Independent Panel on Climate Change Report of 1995. Politicians confronted with the scientific evidence have a future choices: they can say they believe it is true and that there is a problem; they can say they do not believe it is true, and that there is not a problem; or they can say that they do not know or do not care. But if the opinion they express is not an opinion they truly hold, then they mislead us. If politicians were forced to express an honest opinion – that is to say an opinion they honestly hold – rather than one peddled by vested interests or lobbyists, we may have begun the conversation about global warming a decade ago.

Enforcing honesty in politicians would help extend the policy horizon beyond the next election.

Several commentators have dismissed the idea of a law which would punish politicians for engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct. Laurie Oakes suggested that it should be judged and dealt with at elections. Unfortunately, this is no solution at all. It has been shown repeatedly that it does not work. The reason is simple. A vote at an election is dictated by many things, only one of which is an assessment of the candidate’s honesty. Generally speaking, a candidate whose dishonesty has been exposed will nevertheless be supported in the election if he or she offers a sufficient inducement – lower interest rates, higher Centrelink benefits, or whatever.

By contrast, Courts have vast experience in judging whether a person has engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct. It is a question which courts can abnd should decide. One thing is certain: if it is possible for a politician to be jailed for misleading the public, we will hear a lot more truth from them. That has to be a good thing.

Franciscus Henri said...

I stand accused of being
"intellectually corrupt".
In the face of "Common Sense" I rest my case.
Common sense however is a dangerous sword. It determined the earth as flat and the centre of a rotating universe,it has (and still does in places) determined the social superiority of white males on the basis of gender,race and at times religion.
It has in its time been the cause of much sadness.
I fail to see how my celebration of free speech has so obviously offended you.

sfw said...

Well Mr Henri certainly has put me down there. My lack of extended formal education leaves as a 'flat earther' unable to understand the complexeties of advanced thinking and education.

Well I reckon he is full of bullshit, He and FSV have made an excuse for Mr Burnside namely that his remarks were to be taken in jest. Mr Burnside to his credit has not tried to qualify his comments with such a feeble explanation, what is far worse is that FSV used it. FSV is intellectually corrupt, they are engaging in doublethink Orwell would have been proud, well maybe not Orwell but O'Brien would have been proud. More on Mr Burnsides response to me later.

The Polarizer said...

Mr Burnside,
The example you use for lying in politics, Global Warming, is a very poor example to use.
Poor in the sense that you may well have to arrest a swag of Global warming activists.

The far ranging forecasts about the potential damage of Global Warming, is certainly not consistent and the variance in Doomsday scenarios could lead one to believe some may be exaggerating certain scenarios.

Does this not constitute 'misleading and deceptive conduct' and thus liable for punishment under your belief?

You say the science of Global Warming is clear, then why do all the leading political activists have such an unclear and inconsistent view of what damage Global Warming will cause?

Mr Henri,
I find your examples of Flat Earth and racial superiority, (to explain away why Common Sense is a faulty mode of rationale), quite simply, patronizing and deceptive.
What you are doing, to use a colloquialism, is 'playing the Race card'. The question of Race and Religion has not been raised in this debate, yet you manage to use these emotive terms.
I will try not to jump to conclusions, but I am dubious why you had to resort to this form of discussion.

I trust you are both well meaning and good hearted individuals, but you will have to rethink your positioning on certain views before I support your causes. I genuinely believe you are both very unclear of what you are doing.

Anonymous said...

God, Burnside is a long-winded bore. And not very bright either. It's as if he thinks that if he keeps rabbiting on, a grain of enlightenment might be uncovered. Sorry, not even a fleck.
Slattery