Thursday, January 26, 2012

Burden of Proof

The Good Wife episode 2 "The Death Zone" (season 3) aired last night on Australian TV. 

If you need anymore straightforward a contrast between UK Libel laws and US equivalent laws you need not go past this line from the UK Council character, the evil Mr Thrush, who taunts  "Do you know the key distinction between the libel laws in you country and mine? The burden of proof is reversed." 

Australian Defamation law with some variations pretty much slavishly follows the UK model. 

What will not quite be clear to those unaware of Australian/UK Defamation laws, though hinted at in this episode, is there is a further noxious element to this reversal of burden of proof. That though the initial burden may be met and truth demonstrated, one can still be found to have defamed the aggrieved complainant because a reasonable person may be caused (by the writings or statement) to think less of him, the aggrieved party.

So there is even more burden on the defence to establish, not only truth but as well demonstrate there is a pattern of behaviour which can then be shown contributes to a "Duty to Inform" and, as inThe Good Wife episode, that there can be a successful defence mounted of "Qualified Privilege".  

Under the Australian/UK model who benefits?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

An Islamo-Phobia for criticism

Just read this post from Ophelia Bensen "there are other critics of the word islamophobia" and it prompted me to follow it up with some personal reflection and reiteration of the message therein.

Firstly I'd point out it is my position that those who declare all who critique Islam with a blanket accusation of "Islamophobia" are themselves phobic of criticism and guilty of a declaration of false racism, diminishing the suffering of those experiencing very real racism.

What is a declaration of false racism?
I recount the following experience as one example. Others will possibly have had more significant reportages than my slightly banal event but it illustrates my point never-the-less and it is my experience to recount.

When driving some years back my partner and I were very lucky not to be shunted into a rail-hoarding at a level crossing by the erratic overtaking of another driver. Unfortunately a little further ahead this mad man did smash into another car which was making a legal turn. We stopped to offer our assistance as witnesses and to make sure no one was hurt.

The erratic driver launched on a short tirade accusing us of being "friends, you are his relatives" of the driver he'd smashed into. He was of course referring to our race as we and the other driver must have all "looked" to be from the same race perhaps. My partner is from Greek and I from Anglo-Germanic heritage, the other innocent driver perhaps anglo? We didn't know the nationality of the erratic driver before or even following stopping, he could have been Chinese, it wasn't the issue. He drove like a maniac and caused an accident and damage. The other driver deserved witness support and we were in the position to offer it. We reiterated he'd nearly driven us into a rail-hoading and he was clearly in the wrong with the subsequent accident. Though this was obvious he was adamant he was being targeted by a racist agenda. Though he could have encountered much real racism prior our encounter, on this occasion his was a declaration of false racism.

When is racism, real racism?
Though born in Australia my partner has suffered direct racism most of his life. At school he was astonishingly informed by the then Principle that "his kind deserve what they get" when bullied by older boys for being "a wog". The experience of being treated as an inferior would emerge later at work, occur socially (then and still now!) and from strangers in the street "go home wog" as the most popular of the "enlightened" racist directives.

Real racism by example is therefore to be called or treated as a "wog", a term which, in Australia, is intended as a derogatory reference (there is some claim this is largely defused now and intended as a term of endearment between buddies - I'd like to see the survey data backing this claim up). If it is yelled out in the street by a stranger, or used in an argument to put down the opposition by declaring their inferiority based upon their race and origin, what does it mean then..."buddy"? Second and third generation migrants still suffer gibes and outright hate in public or private from other second and third generation migrants, as they presumably are from better European origins? Ultimately anyone not Aboriginal is a new-comer or born from migrant stock but how long before an Australian is an Australian? This is without covering, though not with the intention to ignore, the racism and abuse suffered by Australia's  first nation peoples, Aborigines.

Australia at a basic level struggles to acknowledge that racism remains as a distinct under current within its "nationalist" character. It is more than unacceptable to be yelled at to "go home wog" at all let alone on a street in your country of birth, though this happens still and it means this country has a long way to go.

All things considered though does this mean due to the obvious sensitivities surrounding certain sections of the community I cannot robustly critique German, English, Greek, Italian, Aboriginal or Chinese, etc., on grounds of politics, religion or social/cultural/political concerns where warranted, because it would be "racist" for me to do so?

One of the problems for anyone daring to be a critic of Islam is they are lumped in amongst those declaring unveiled intolerance and ignorance. Critics of Islam are very successfully dismissed as being "racist" because this message, though frequently intelligently challenged, this isn't as successful a message as the accusation of racism.

A primarily leftist social and political position supports and perpetuates the myth that the critic and the comment is "racist" first and due to a racism born of the critics' fear of Islam. Though effective, because no one wants to be considered "racist" or "islamophobic", this is is just a blunt object not any sort of valid counter argument and is one used to chill speech and stifle real debate.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bite your tongue and trade in your freedom

Freedom II

Three months ago in Jerusalem, Pediatrician Dr Channa Maayan "bit her tongue" when told a male colleague would have to accept for her an award for her publication and work advancing knowledge on hereditary diseases common to Jews. The acting Israeli Health Minister decreed the event would be conducted under strict ultra orthodox conditions. Women and men in the audience, male and female guests were segregated, no women were allowed on stage. 

For a secular democracy such an occurrence lead by a member of parliament is a disaster. The New York Times article goes on to state many have not kept quiet (Dr Maayan would have been unprepared all she could have done is leave) and the backlash internally within Israel is building momentum but will it be able to resist what is a strong and increasingly belligerent religious orthodoxy? Recently in January 2012 at a conference on “Innovations in Gynecology/Obstetrics and Halacha [Jewish law]” all women were banned from speaking and the audience segregated on gender. In addition there are "rules for playing Kosher Music" and a "black list of non-Kosher music" controlled by a religious committee.

These very public examples of ultra orthodox interference in Israeli public and political life demonstrate Israel is a secular democracy under stress from internal religious fundamentalism.

Concessions have been made by successive Israeli governments to either, at worst, simply win votes from this growing community sector or, at best, to demonstrate an altruistic tolerance. Which is not an exclusive Israeli mistake as even in Williamsburg, Brooklyn Hasidic leaders complaining women who ride bikes represent a "safety and religious hazard" were appeased. If mostly as an attempt to be inclusive and tolerant it seems it, appeasement and concession  isn't a success particularly as the examples above demonstrate it requires that  the human rights of others are detrimentally affected. In Israel not only is this ultra-orthodox section of the community becoming more intolerant of its internal neighbors it is doing so whilst ignoring the external equally intolerant religious forces attempting to annihilate them and their fellow countrymen and women. As a community within Israel they are purportedly an overrepresented drain on the social welfare system. Though the women generally do work, amongst males there is high unemployment as they are permitted by their community and their state to focus upon study of the Torah rather than gainful employment, joining the army, learning other skills or pursuing education other than for advancing their religion and knowledge of it. The only productivity of note from the community it seems is it's high birth rate, which, if nothing else changes will only increase the stress on the already stretched social sector a worrisome fact for the future of Israel. 

It begs the question what is wrong with religions where it is the case that for it to be practiced human dignity, freedom and advancement, must be subsumed and suffer reversals? Separation of religion and state is the cornerstone of successful secular democracy. Without it we would be required to weigh all matters in the context of all religious edicts/laws/conventions.

Orthodox Judaism and Islam particularly have problems operating within a secular democratic context, one that separates the Church and State. Each it seems desire or demand they have access to their own religious courts. Each particularly are at pains to control female believers (and those who simply cannot escape) by strictly regulating their conduct within the community confines and outside it. Female believers are 'confined'; in dress, education, work, social connections, marriage, sexual activity and procreation functions, behavior and social position all aspects are controlled and monitored with zeal. It is a zeal supported by the religious texts which focus upon the female as a sexual possession, a commodity as a wife, booty in war or acquisition to trade family reputation or wealth upon(1). Whether we reside by fortune in a secular democracy or not this is profoundly illegitimate to be continued and considered acceptable 'cultural' or religious practice. It is a denial of an individual's right to free-expression, free-association and self-determination. These are human rights abuses so we do not bite our tongues, as these abuses should never be tolerated within any secular democracy.

If freedom is the first casualty of religious rule then soon to follow is dignity, then imagination and finally concept of mind in the Platonic sense. Human nature embraces spirituality in our thoughts, concepts and metaphors (imagination) and we use reason with which to find structure and meaning within our physical world and attempt to understand the unknown. This is what religious law rejects. 

Crazy religious zealots bent on the implementation of religious law have little regard for human advancement and are destroyers of human dignity, just ask the 8 year old Israeli girl harassed and spat upon by Ultra Orthodox male Jews because they found her child's attire religiously offensive. Other women had reported similar treatment for a few years now but the child's report produced the overdue community outcry.

So, perhaps the paragraph above should begin …"If female freedom is the first casualty of religious rule…". 

As the referenced articles demonstrate Ultra Orthodox Jews ban women from public participation, denounce them publicly for religious transgression, and further to this enforce segregation within and without the synagogue. It is the imposition of Halacha or Halakha, Jewish law, upon a society built around secular democratic principles.  Similarly Islam is intent upon its own religious laws taking precedence with a push to introduce Sharia Law into UK family courts. Equitable pluralist secular rule of law, where all rights regardless of gender are weighed, is viewed as inferior if not blasphemous. Males have greater worth than females is what this religious message very loudly declares. 

Remaining silent for fear of backlash or causing offence isn't an option, biting your tongue to demonstrate tolerance of another way when it impinges upon your own rights and freedoms isn't an option. 

Women and men who enjoy freedom and human dignity with equal justice must be outspoken in defense of it, as they are free to do so. 

1. Torah (Old Testament) Deuteronomy: 20.10-18; 21.10-13; 25.5-10; 31.17-18…
    Koran: The Merciful 55.46-58, 44.54-56; The Cow 2.223, 2.228; The Believers 23.1-3; The Confederate Tribes

Article Link Sources:

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Website for 2012 -

"little reaper" see fragments gallery - a study for a larger
work not yet commenced. 
In lieu of being able to again produce, complete or put thought into new work and ideas proper I've just launched for 2012. Artistic pursuit is fragmentary at best currently, so this is a way to proffer some continuity.

Three galleries offer fragments, dreams (doodles) and things (more doodles) selected from as recently as 2011 though mostly from much further back, 2002 or earlier.

The fragments gallery contains drawings that are fragmentary in idea and are drawn onto torn or off-cut fragments of beautiful art papers (these paper swatches are a variety of art parchments, a gift from a friend). The dreams and things galleries contain doodles in pen or ink. These were mostly drawn/doodled during a variety of travelling or transit like situations.

The new site includes some of the very last precursory ideas I'd been working on until being sued by Cripps literally put an end to all artistic pursuits in April 2011.
Studio shot, taken whilst testing a new camera in April 2011 (pre-Cripps' writ). Not much has changed to this date. The drawing shown behind the lamp is the last one worked on "universal time" see fragments gallery.
My studio otherwise remains dormant.

About Leeanneart

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Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
We are first and foremost human with a responsibility to the humanity within us and not to any faith, political, apolitical, social or societal group, union or faction. We are responsible for our own reputation, and for what deeds we do and what achievements or otherwise in life we enjoy. The rest is nonsense.