Thursday, January 15, 2009

Albrechtsen, Canadians, activist judges and the silly delusion of human rights

A friend pointed out that Janet Albrechtsen had landed back in The Australian with Rights charter is from 2009 BC, and it's true I didn't pay any attention.

But then the column in question is not up to the standard we expect of our very own Catwoman, who usually wields the cut-throat razor in a way that makes men flinch and put a protective hand down around their balls. There's nothing like an Ann Coulter approach to liberal reform and conservative penpersonship to get those limp-wristed pansies pretending to be men into some kind of line.

Albrechtsen takes the easy way out by going to Canada and then indulging in Canada-bashing. It's a bit like eel-bashing - get an axe handle and flail about. Canadians are such hapless and unfailingly polite wretches, they'll just lie down and take it (and a big hello to all those wimpy Canadians who come here in search of Canadian TV journalist Mike Duffy, who shares a name but bugger all else with our own esteemed Michael Duffy).

Albrechtsen does include this memorable line: "the claim by charter advocates that human rights are universal, immutable and absolute is demonstrable rubbish". Well, there goes the Declaration of Independence, the constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights, that pantheon of immutable clauses that fundamentalist strict interpreters return to again and again the way religionists return to the Bible for unwavering truth and insight. Forget those noble words: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness".

What kind of drugs were the founding fathers on?

As Albrechtsen would happily point out, this nonsense only applies to men - no women are mentioned. Typical. Sounds almost Canadian. And if a judge got to thinking about it, well truth is, he wouldn't. Just like those activist judges in the US who think the clock stopped in the eighteenth century, usually Republican and dumb, and spend all their time sending us back to the founding fathers.

Albrechtsen gets herself into a lather about the way a Canadian polygamist has used the Canadian Charter of Rights to challenge the criminal code on polygamy. (It would have been wonderful to read her full blooded denunciation of the Exclusive Brethren at a time when John Howard courted them as a way of hanging on to power in the most distasteful way imaginable, since its treatment of women goes way beyond anything the average polygamist could manage).

All this is really only an excuse for Albrechtsen to conclude with a typical rant about judicial activism and decision-making being left to "a small group of unskilled, unelected judges whose hubris is usually matched only by their ignorance of anything not taught at law school or in a law practice".

There's a peculiar, Freudian form of self-loathing here, since Albrechtsen practised as a commercial lawyer and worked as a legal academic. You have to suspect she experienced some life-changing trauma in the bruising world of law before turning to commentary, and thereafter became fixated in an unhealthy way on bringing down lawyers. Now this is fair enough, a pox on lawyers, first kill all the lawyers, and so on and on.

But who does Albrechtsen put her faith in? Politicians. Decisions on marriage and society's regulation of human relationships "should be made by elected politicians in the furnace of the political process". That's right, by a small group of unskilled elected tools whose hubris is usually matched only by their ignorance of anything not learned in law school, since that's where most Liberals gain their experience, or the union movement, since that's the breeding ground for Labor.

You have to think she's either seriously deluded or wonderfully optimistic to place all her faith in one branch of government. The funny thing is, her complaint about Canada actually boils down to a failure by politicians to exercise a 'get out of jail' clause in the charter available to them when things get sticky: "Politicians have been too timid to enact a law that expressly limits so-called human rights in the charter".

Oh no, first judges, then politicians, and anyway, human rights is just a silly concept when you come to think of it. "So-called human rights"! Bring back slavery, I say. (Well actually Americans have managed an ersatz form of this already, by bringing in Hispanics to do all the hard work).

Welcome to the logic-free twilight zone of Janet Albrechtsen. And sweet kind caring Canadians, if you invite a viper into your midst, expect to be bitten.

Unless I've got it all wrong. Maybe this an Amazonian plea for female polyandry? Who knows, only time will tell, but if we have to spend a year listening to Albrechtsen rabbiting on about judge and lawyer activists, it will be a very dull time for all. Can we have at least one other tune, please Catwoman, please?

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