Wednesday, April 8, 2009

David Penberthy, Twits a Twittering, Stephen Conroy and the war in Aghanistan

Poor old David Penberthy gets himself all a twitter about twittering and Delusional twits turn on the West.

Apart from a strange ambivalence about twittering - somehow thinking it involves inane self-absorption, as opposed to a newspaper columnist opining for the greater glory of civilization - his main gripe seems to involve the way anti-war protestors have taken to twittering to get their message out, though I don't know that many of them would have invited David to share a tweet.

Perhaps he's tracking the loons as a public service.

Anyhoo, he gets very agitated about the way thousands of twits and tweets manage to ignore what's going down in Afghanistan, while at the same time demonizing the demonic Stephen Conroy.

A couple of stories stick in his mind. One concerns a Pakistani businessman, caught selling compact discs, a practice forbidden by the Taliban. But he doesn't mention if they're pirate CDs, or what happened to the businessman, except that he seems to have been threatened with death. Well of course in the west, we'd only lock him up for being a pirate, fine him, take away his home, and send him off into penury, especially if he didn't have access to a decent lawyer while battling the music companies and the film studios.

David also gets very upset about a story on the ABC which mentions how a group of female teachers have been forced by local mad mullahs to stop teaching. Guess he missed the story about Hamid Karzai introducing a law to restrict women's rights, which is as bad as anything the Taliban could muster.

And he's supposed to be our ally? Remind me again what we're fighting for? Women's rights?

The third thing that gets David upset is an incident in Pakistan's Swat valley, where a woman was publicly flogged and the event was caught on amateur video.

Appalling and deplorable. The only trouble is David, the war isn't being fought in Pakistan, which is another of our glorious allies, and another key problem the allies face. It's being waged in Afghanistan. It just so happens that Taliban sympathisers have, as a result of the war in Afghanistan, taken firm root in Pakistan, and the inept government hasn't been able to do anything about it, except cede a truce which has flung away the whole valley.

As we currently respect Pakistan integrity (I use the word loosely), apart from the odd border incursion deliberately kept quiet out of respect for Pakistan's current government (I use the term loosely), there's bugger all anyone can do about it.

In short David, please explain exactly how you see the war going, and exactly how we will achieve a different result to the one the Soviets waged relentlessly not so long ago? Wars usually produce an opposite, if not equal reaction, and where once the US cultivated the Taliban as a convenient opposition to the Soviets, now they have a lot of cuckoos in the nest and little clue what to do about them.

Let's hope - for the sake of the women in Afghanistan - that the next wave of troops introduces a better anti-insurgency strategy, because they're getting diddly squat help from the central government at the moment, and even less from the hopelessly corrupt and inefficient Pakistani government.

Which is a long way around explaining to David that he must be twittering with the wrong twits, because there's a lot of tweets I've come across expressing alarm, as well as a lot of television programs (including a recent extensive offering on 4 Corners) that generate that cause for alarm.

So let's sort out the tweets from the chaff in your twitter post:

1. Conroy is in fact a twit and his sinister-sound website blacklist, which is ostensibly aimed largely at shutting down child porn sites, is in fact both inept on a technical level and a dud policy on an intellectual and practical level. To say so isn't to waste groovy energy, it's to deplore the kind of Taliban-like stance the Labor party has recently taken on censorship, in a bid to beguile the senate and outflank the Liberals. Okay, the Catholic Church, of which Conroy is a member, has always taken on censorship, which all too often reflects the kind of fundie thinking assorted religionists adopt around the world. Remember David, porn is guaranteed the constitution of the United States of America, and let no person, including Conroy, interrupt its valiant secular fight against deluded moralists, prudes, and Taliban loons.

2. Using twitter to make your point about being anti-war doesn't necessarily mean you believe in shutting down an economic and political system you say people purport to despise, presumably because you think all anti-war twitterers are the one and the same as the small bunch of radicals who turned up at the G20 to bung on a do. This kind of stereotypical thinking is about all some journalists can ever muster, but it beats me why they need more than 140 characters to tweet out this twittery.

3. Wondering what exactly will be achieved by shifting the war from Afghanistan to Pakistan to help out the women of the Swat valley seems worth a tweet or two, especially as the Pakistani government has been spending its collective energy on its never ending war with India, while its intelligence services have opened the door wide to Taliban insurgents and terrorists.

4. Talking about people ignoring our real enemies, when the government of Afghanistan has enacted one of the most wretched pieces of anti-women legislation in recent history - in a move which profoundly embarrassed the USA - makes me wonder exactly why you're so confident you know who our real enemies are, as opposed to our real friends, who sometimes seem to act just like our real enemies.

I'm as terrified as the next person by Islamic fundamentalism, not to mention Catholic fundamentalism, and Stephen Conroy fundamentalism, but I'm just as disturbed when a tweet runs together about three different strands of thinking, merges them together irrationally and illogically, and blames the resulting stew of his own making on enemies of the west, and the treasonous few within.

That's the kind of logic that gets a reader to write in and suggest that anti-war protestors should be shot like the spineless cowards they are. Poor David has to say his reader's a bit over the top, but what did he expect, after the treat of twittering he offered up to the world.

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