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Name: Antony Loewenstein
Home: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Confused priorities

Federal Labor MP Michael Danby is clearly a very busy man. If he's not defending the Zionist cause, slamming opponents or forgetting that he's actually an Australian politician, he's working feverishly on goodies for his lucky electorate. It seems, however, that attention to detail isn't his strength. Today's Australian reports (no link available):

"Michael Danby, federal member for Melbourne Ports, had a brainwave of sorts three years ago; he sent his constituents fridge-magnet calendars, highlighting public and religious holidays as well as school terms. Trouble was, he listed April 24 as Anzac Day. This year he got Anzac Day correct, but the good news ends there. He apparently still doesn't know what day of the week it is. Danby shaded in the NSW school holidays - of little use to local Victorians who include Simon Crean and Greg Combet. Labour Day is shaded in as being on March 20 - it's the 13th. He has listed most of the Christian and Jewish holidays, but only one Greek, and not a mention of any Buddhist, Hindu or Muslim significant dates. Oh yes, and there were a couple of misplaced suburbs in the map of the electorate. But the sin to end all sins was Danby's omission to register the biggest religious/public holiday of all - the Melbourne Cup on November 7."

Memo to Danby: spend less time on fighting the Zionist cause and more energy on actually providing useful information for your electorate.

12 Comments:

Blogger James Waterton said...

"slamming opponents". Much better.

Thursday, February 02, 2006 6:51:00 pm  
Blogger Melanie said...

Well I've his fridge magnet calendar right in front of me and it has Anzac Day as the 25th. It also has cup day on Tues. 7th Nov. etc.
Furthermore I can't see where you linked from so I'll assume the nonsense is coming from Antony.

Thursday, February 02, 2006 8:00:00 pm  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

"slamming opponents" ... I think "urging publishers to make sure certain views he dislikes never make it into print" would be more accurate, but it doesn't roll off the tongue quite as well.

Friday, February 03, 2006 2:09:00 am  
Blogger OshKosh said...

You would hope that the electorate was educated enough to know those dates.

Friday, February 03, 2006 3:26:00 pm  
Blogger James Waterton said...

Even if it did, Edward, what's your point?

Friday, February 03, 2006 11:22:00 pm  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

James Waterton said...
"Even if it did, Edward, what's your point?"

It would have made for a more accurate statement.

BTW, do you think urging a publisher to make sure certain views one dislikes never make it into print constitutes an attempt to limit freedom of speech on a topic?

Saturday, February 04, 2006 1:44:00 am  
Blogger James Waterton said...

No - not if the person has no power to enforce his opinion. You could argue that Danby does - however if he did exercise the power of his office in such a way, it would constitute an abuse of that power vested in him by his electorate. And of course there is no evidence that this is what he did. He publicly called for MUP not to publish the book (as is his right) and MUP ignored him (as is their right). So what's your problem?

My point right from the start is that Danby didn't censor Loewenstein. Nor was he quashing dissent. He was exercising his right to voice his opinion. Calling it anything other than that is resorting to hysterics.

Saturday, February 04, 2006 7:53:00 am  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

James Waterton said...
"No - not if the person has no power to enforce his opinion."

So, for example, if a homeless guy calls for a book to never see the light of day, that's NOT an ATTEMPT to limit the freedom of speech because the homeless guy believes he has no influence over the matter.

And similarly, like the homeless guy, if a federal politician, calls for a book to never see the light of day, that's NOT an ATTEMPT to limit the freedom of speech if the federal politician believes he has no influence over the matter.

There does seem to be a question arising from this however. Why would a federal politician make such a public statement, calling on a publisher to stop publication IF he thought it would have absolutely no influence over the matter? Surely if he thought he had no influence he might say it to friends over coffee, etc., but wouldn't make the statement in such a public manner. Indeed, given that he must have known there would be something of a political cost due to the inevitable media blacklash over the statement, as a rational being, he must surely have believed there was a better-than-chance probability that it would have some influence (viz. his preference would be realised). That, it seems, is the most plausible case: that the federal politician DID believe his call would have some influence over publication and thus did, by your definition, attempt to limit the freedom of speech.

I thought it was obvious that the fact that it was an unsuccessful attempt is neither here nor there, but maybe not:

"My point right from the start is that Danby didn't censor Loewenstein. Nor was he quashing dissent. He was exercising his right to voice his opinion."

Well of course he didn't censor A.L. because his call to action was dismissed. He didn't crush dissent because the publisher refused to do as he asked. And yes, he was exercising his right to call for mature adults to be allowed to see what an author had written.

Sunday, February 05, 2006 3:31:00 am  
Blogger James Waterton said...

It's not an attempt to limit free speech whoever makes such a call. Requesting a publisher not publish a book is exercising one's freedom of speech, and it's not removing those of another. If Danby made a case to MUP regarding why they shouldn't publish, and MUP reviews their decision based on the merits of the case and decides not to publish, then that isn't censorship - that's a standard commercial decision. Antony has a number of options available to him to get his views heard. He doesn't have a right to be published. Just because one does not get a book published does not mean their freedom of speech is curtailed.

Look, I'm absolutely certain that Danby realised MUP would ignore his demands. I imagine that Danby went public with his demand because he was

a) responding to his constituents
b) playing up to his constituents
c) acting on his own personal beliefs

Anyway, this is a tedious, tangential path you've dragged us down. The seminal point I was making was that Danby did not attempt to censor, nor did he quash dissent etc. However, Antony has claimed that he's done both. I merely commented that "slamming opponents" was a more accurate description.

Sunday, February 05, 2006 5:47:00 pm  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

James Waterton said...
"Requesting a publisher not publish a book is exercising one's freedom of speech, and it's not removing those of another."

Of course Danby is exercising HIS free speech ... to call for SOMEONE ELSE'S free speech to be eliminated. The fact that Danby is USING free speech to attempt to eliminate someone else's freedom of speech does not somehow mean that the attempt DIDN'T OCCUR! It's a pretty basic principle of classical (Millian) liberalism that one's rights extend only up to the boundaries of someone else's rights. If it is reasonable to expect that the exercise of a right will extinguish another's right (in this case the very same right), then on classical liberal principles that is an illegitimate extention. It seems to me that a plausible case can be made for holding that Danvy did reasonably believe the exercise of his right to free speech would extinguish the right of A.L. to his.

"I'm absolutely certain that Danby realised MUP would ignore his demands. I imagine that Danby went public with his demand because he was...."

This is obviously the source of disagreement. I don't think he was doing this MERELY 'for show' in order to garner support from his electorate. If that were the case he could have simply sent out a letters to his constituents expressing his dislike of A.L. and his views, or perhaps expressed the same via the local newspaper. That's what politicans normally do when addressing a specific target constituency. Danby did NOT do this. He addressed the publisher explicitly and made a direct appeal to not publish. Thus, the reason you have supplied for being "absoluely certain" is less plausible than the alternative.

Sunday, February 05, 2006 11:30:00 pm  
Blogger James Waterton said...

Even if the publisher listened to Danby (or anyone else who made such a demand) and decided not to publish the book, that STILL does not constitute an extinguishment of free speech! Neither Antony nor anyone else has an inalienable right to have a book published by a third party! And there is no reason why a company cannot go back on its initial decision to support an author - there may be consequences due to contractual arrangements, granted - but a publisher is under no obligation to publish a book. This is so incredibly obvious it's scary.

"That's what politicans normally do when addressing a specific target constituency."

One size does not fit all. You have absolutely no basis to make such a claim. If anything, constituents like their representatives to be proactive. Especially over an issue like this.

Monday, February 06, 2006 1:07:00 am  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

James Waterton said...
"Even if the publisher listened to Danby (or anyone else who made such a demand) and decided not to publish the book, that STILL does not constitute an extinguishment of free speech! Neither Antony nor anyone else has an inalienable right to have a book published by a third party!"

Nice try to shift to the publisher. We're talking about the actions and intentions of DANBY here. He attempted to ensure that someone else's views didn't see the light of day because he didn't like them. Because that it is the situation, bring in hypotheticals about autonomous decisions of the publisher is irrelevant.

"constituents like their representatives to be proactive."

And another ferfy - this time about the role of political representatives: Representatives have an obligation to protect the interests of their constituents - but as noted in Liberalism 101 above - they does not extend to curtailing the basic rights (such as speech) of others.

What is scary is how apparent defenders of free speech can abandon the principle so easily when the speech is about something they disapprove of.

Thursday, February 09, 2006 3:36:00 am  

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