Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Piers Akerman, Freedom of Speech, Islamics Secularists and Atheists

That fine Melbourne band Tism - yes of course sweet Melbourne has a cultural life as well as heat - contributed a number of notable lyrics to the pantheon of rock.

I've always liked their Yob song:

If it's a party, fight
If its winning, skite
If its politics, right
If its flatulence, light
If its tabloid, believe it
If its broadsheet, don't read it

(And so on. There's a couple of other verses but you catch the drift).

You could even add a few wrinkles:

If it's Akerman, owlish buffoon
If it's Albrechtsen, 2D cartoon
If it's Henderson, pompous paltroon
If it's Tim Blair, gadfly maroon
If it's Duffy, McMansion cocoon
And if it's Bolt ... dunno, never read the man, not even to save the readers of this blog the pain they must endure if they decide they want a genuine Melbourne experience. There's only so many loons can be tackled in a lifetime.

The masked Tism lads (as fine a bunch of lawyers and neer do wells as you could meet) posed some great existential questions in their rhymes, as in their song Whatareya:

You're a yob or you're a wanker -
Take your fucking choice
So who is your favourite genius
James Hird or James Joyce?
You ever seen a live performance?
Join the wanker club
You thought I meant table top dancing?
You're a yobbo, bub

And so on, down to the final lines

Yob or wanker - wanker or yob
Pass me the brush to tar ya;
Make your choice then live your life;
Come on pal, what are ya?

(Here it's necessary to explain, for the benefit of people who don't understand the reference - or indeed anything about the sociopathic society that can somehow embrace Andrew Bolt and AFL football - that James Alan Hird was once the captain of the Essendon Football Club, sometimes known as the Bombers because of their ability to bomb out whenever the going gets tough).

But you know much as I like Tism, they set up a false dichotomy with their lyrics. These days, with the power of syncretism and synergistic thinking, we are able to understand (in a kind of three into one, one into three, holy ghost sort of way) that it's possible for a chappie like Piers Akerman to be both a wanker and a yob.

True, it requires a special kind of genius, and an understated humility about the genius, but Akerman manages to wank in a yobbish way whenever he writes. We can only watch him on the high wire with bated breath, marvelling that he never seems to fall.

This day the fat owl is noble in his defence of freedom, personning the barricades like a brave soldier in Fighting for the right to speak without fear . (Unless of course you happen to be a leftie, a progressive, a liberal, a secular humanist, a dingbat, a pinko, a commie, an arty wanker, or a smart arse young 'un, or a drop dead fucked up do gooder, in which case the humble Akerman will show you what it's like to speak up and cop a shellacking).

Akerman at first seems most moved by the plight of The Fiji Times, which happens to be owned by dear fearless leader Rupert, and which recently copped an A$83,000 fine for publishing a letter critical of Fiji's High Court.

But then he goes on to take in the bizarre case of the wretched Harry Nicloaides, sent down in Thailand for selling ten copies of a  book which made reference to the royal family (okay, fair point).

Then it's on to the Islamic bashing, the Dutch and MP Geert Wilders and his film, and the evils of giving in to Islamics.

Here's what I find funny about all this. Back in the day, it was the hippies that refused to stand up in picture theatres when they played God Save the Queen and all the conservatives hissed or even shouted abuse at the seated figures. That's right, they used to play a British national anthem in Australian theatres, and everybody stood up. The hippies put an end to that nonsense. You only find the new and dreadful anthem being played at football matches for the bogans to sing along to.

And back in the day if you got taught by Dominicans or Sacred Heart types, the nuns would be roaming around in black or brown crow-like clothing that covered them from top to bottom, and in summer in particular it led them to have the most bleak and bitter sweaty look about them. (They looked as funny and as silly as the full head dress worn by traditional desert tribes in the shopping malls of western Sydney). 

These brides of christ, apart from being peculiar in the head as to their marital status, took peculiar delight in torturing small children in the way they themselves were being tortured by the church.

Now apart from the intrinsic absurdity of it all, what changed all this? I'm offering up secular humanists, or just plain old secularism, which found the spectacle so absurd that the various church groupings, in a desperate attempt to remain relevant, ended up abandoning their penguin suits (except when heading off to Rome for a big papal end of year party).

So when Akerman comes up with some examples of what should be done to enrage the Islamics, who does he turn to? Well naturally it's arty types - Danes publishing cartoons, or piss Christ or "the portrait of the Christian Madonna made from elephant dung which has been exhibited in Australian galleries".

But here's the problem for Akerman and his mates. Whenever a secular humanist or an arty wanker bungs on a do, they're usually in the first rank criticising them for taking cheap pot shots at Christianity, at Christ, loons like Cardinal Pell or that aberrant heresy Jensenism.

Let's remember this for a long time:

Dictators don't want the truth told about their governments, kings don't want to be shown to be mortal and religious zealots want to be able to dictate to their followers without fear of being questioned (just like right wing commentators when it comes to global warming).

Civilisation has progressed through a series of challenges and enlightenments, not through censorious diktats.

We must cherish the freedoms of speech and press that we have and we must fight to maintain and expand them or we, too, will see our culture retrogress into the dark ages of humbug and zealotry.

... we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills, we shall never surrender ... some chicken, some neck.

Oops, that last bit was from Churchill, but it seemed to fit so well with what the fat owl was saying, about personning the battlements and bashing up the Islamics.

Clearly it's possible to be both a wanker and a yob. Akerman shows how.

But finally, in the end, my beautiful friend, here's the rub old chum, you need to get the arty wankers and the secular humanists and the secularists and the good old atheists on your side. They're the ones who think Islam is just a crock of crap like all the other crocks of crap that have been sold to the punters over the last few thousand years.

I'd like to see that. Akerman riding into battle with the atheists. Bring it on, horseman of the apocalypse, let's ride to save civilisation together, but then you must foreswear your vile ways when it comes to scientists, feminists, lefties, atheist commies, black heathens, pro choicers, lesbians, poofters in general, idealists, pornography lovers, optimists, bondage devotees, academics with a secularist tendency, people who care about the earth, gaia freaks, and new age types as loony as Ruth Ostrow. You know, all the ones that get bashed by Islamic fundamentalists and right wing columnists.

Choking on it? Surely not. The earth and freedom of speech is there to be saved, you just need to wank in a new way with a new bunch of chums. Come on Akkers, come on, close your eyes, think of England and do your Churchillian duty.

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