There’s nothing edgy about ‘honour killings’

I can’t believe this needs to be said, but the choices of the Festival of Dangerous Ideas suggests it does.

Uthman Badar, spokesman for Hizb ut-Tahrir in Australia, will be speaking at the Festival on the topic “Honour killings are morally justified”.

How clever.

It has been many years since FODI has shown any desire to live up to its name. Their existences hinge on the flow of government grants, directly or indirectly through the units that make up the art establishment. It’s not here to disrupt the status quo. It is here because, as a Facebook friend snarked, “the whole idea of a Festival of Dangerous Ideas [is to be] some white–person wankery for inner–city latte drinkers to indulge themselves in a trip to the opera house and [provoke] the special feeling of belonging to that special part of society that attends ‘cultural’ events.

So whilst I am openly impressed that FODI has actually gone and proposed a dangerous idea in that context, as far as dangerous ideas go this is quite safe… which is what makes it so dangerous.

It is dangerous in the first instance because the material is justifying murder. Violence is generally accepted as dangerous.

For anyone who, say, might like to think of themselves as culturally enlightened, the barest of philosophical forays will lead you to the subjectivity of morality and/or its experience by the individual.

Armed with this, it is totally conceivable that people who commit what we call “honour killings” have reasons for doing so. It’s a scary rejoinder to the idea of monstrosity as other and seemingly perfect for a crowd seeking “danger”.

This makes it a safe bet. It’s destined to light up blogs like this, and papers and talkback tomorrow, and possibly the 6pm news from earlier this evening. Helen Dale – who has lit up the local media a few times, including this week – called the decision to give Badar a platform “the intellectual equivalent of streaking”, which is so right not just because it’s flashy, insubstantive, and guaranteed to get your eyeballs on the dangly bits, but also because it isn’t novel.

We know that attention will be paid because we have had these debates before. We have had these debates before because there are millions of people who believe murder is a prurient respond to the exercise of certain kinds of autonomy – but they’re other, safely ‘over there’, and the unbridled, uncritical acceptance of the other is how the worst sort of unthinking leftist gets their counter-cultural jollies.

It will be controversial. Why millions of people would hold values so far removed from our own always will be.

And thus we have Badar at FODI, surrounded by the latte elite, who have already started falling over themselves to demonstrate their open-mindedness by paying to listen to a man who fronts the national arm of an organisation that opposes the close-mindedness of a Western liberalism that would go back to stoning women if the culture wasn’t so close-minded.

If an open-mind is worth keeping on this issue this is still not a justification for FODI’s decision. The point of keeping an open mind is to think, judge, and close it eventually. If it never closes it is no great feat of mind, but the simple abrogation of critical thought. FODI is, by choosing to give this violent idea a platform, abrogating that responsibility in the name of whoring themselves out for attention. This is not an act without consequences; what we say in public sends a powerful message about (are you ready for this?) what is is acceptable to say and do in public.

They’re not concerned about that, nor are they actually concerned about whether we should kill slutty sluts for slutting. They’re concerned about how they can leverage Uthman Badar and the Hizb ut-Tahrir brand and the white guilt that creates the cultural relativism that baby leftists are injected with when they submit their first protest poster for assessment, in service of painting the Festival and it’s supporters as open-minded, critically engaged and edgy, and getting the attention that gets them paid. With taxpayer dollars.

If open engagement is what we desire there’s an endless supply of literature on the subject that could be privately consumed. Somehow I don’t think that’s what Hizb ut-Tahrir wants.

That is what I find the most dangerous – it’s lovely to have organisations like FODI that self-consciously hike their skirts and whore their stages in the pretence of glorying in liberalism while trying to undermine it. These ideas don’t deserve to be paraded on a platform as flimsy as amusement. There is no honour in giving a microphone to a man who doesn’t want to give the microphone back, when he will use it to promote a ban on microphones.

FODI sets its own agenda. They made a considered choice to offer the stage to a lobbyist for Islamototalitarianism to promote the murder of (mostly) women.

If FODI wants to truly be provocative, there are orthodoxies far better challenged than the secular, liberal, individualist democracy that permits people – including women – to pursue the free thought that allows them to consider and reject the killing women who exercise autonomy could be totally sweet.

FODI has the right to offer the PR flak for totalitarian organisation a space on its platform, and its secular “cultural establishment” type audience is mature enough to consider the idea without accepting it (the way the Murdoch-media-swilling general publicans apparently cannot, no doubt). Minds aren’t likely to slip out from under the warm, prosperous blanket of liberalism for the rock hard reality of whatever backwards logic makes it okay to kill for a contorted derivative of honour. 

As ye sow, so shall ye reap!

New MH2

How precious are we? Our once endearing trademark of “taking the mickey” and our propensity to laugh at ourselves has been hijacked and bleached to suit the bland, spiritless pests whose only industry is selective finger pointing. The Keating days of thought control, when dissidents were bullied and a compliant PC brigade apportioned scorn are returning like spores of mould on a rotting manifesto of evil.

Just weeks ago footballer Adam Goodes wailed about racism, heard around the world when a 13-year-old girl called him an ape. An ad campaign against perceived racism in which Goodes is an actor appeared on TV just days later. The free publicity was worth millions. In another ad running "Say no to racism" Goodes says “…by the way, I’m indigenous—not that that matters.” Bollocks, it mattered enough for him to make it matter. 

More recently, a bolt from the heavens. The Deity of Affectation granted the PM a miracle; Howard Sattler is sacked for his boorish question to her about the First Bloke’s sexuality. Sattler asked the question to which millions would secretly like to know the answer. And now, the nation is left hanging. Is Tim a poof, how ponderous can a question be?

Was Sattler’s question based on myth, probability, or knowledge? According to Psychologist Edgar Gregersen “…In the English-speaking world, male hairdressers and ballet dancers are generally homosexual…” Call that stereotyping if suits your purpose.

Sattler’s question might be offensive—but enough to have the “man” sacked? Would the same condemnation have ensued were the question asked by one of Julia’s “Women for Julia?” After all, who is queer and who isn’t, no longer holds importance. Does it? What was once thought deviant is now accepted. Isn’t it? Reality TV shows invariably shoves a gay couple to centre stage. As do an increasing number of TV commercials.

Australia hosts one of the world’s largest Gay Mardi Gras during which lurid antics by near naked exhibitionists cause most hetros to retch. Gay soldiers march in uniform. Furthermore, Michael Kirby, AC, CMG, former Justice of the High Court of Australia is proud to be gay; enough to course the world telling whom ever will listen, especially young college boys, that being queer is good, it’s OK, come on in lads the water’s fine. Gays are encouraged by society to “out” themselves and be proud of it. The new badge of honour.

Clearly, the goalposts of morality have been moved and if being gay is so socially accepted, normal, and cool, why was Sattler sacked?

Hypocrisy is the answer.

If Julia Gillard was a clever leader instead of a mere political opportunist the question of whether or not her hairdresser boyfriend is gay would have, and should have been laughed off with something like: “well Howard, and I thank you for your question but I think the grin on my face should answer your question, if not you’ll have to ask Tim.”

Ms Gillard chooses to play Prime Victim via her manyfold drives to raise sexism. That she called Christopher Pyne a “mincing poodle” matters not but Sattler had his livelihood terminated. That question, however, almost went through to the keeper, until he pressed her more than once, and then the penny dropped. Gillard took him down, as did Fairfax with Michael Smith for his questions about the PM and her part in the continuing AWU scandal.

As political destruction for Labor descends like a pea-soup fog we witness their front bench cracking under pressure. Gillard’s strategy is to spin the same tired old chestnuts that didn’t work before. 

In its current rant against sexism, Labor bleats about the lack of respect for the office of the Prime Minister and its holder. Is it not Ms Gillard’s behaviour and that of her coterie of shrill, fishwives that damaged that office? And forget not the political grubs Windsor and Oakeshott who betrayed their constituency by maintaining support for Gillard. Trust is trashed and respect ruined.

Couple that with society today where nobody is responsible for anything, except “offending” someone. It is an era where parents are lawfully denied control over delinquent brats, where police, emergency workers, nurses, and the elderly are openly abused and often brutally assaulted—daily.

Could it be that Gillard, the denigrator of her office and self, doesn’t know that the majority Australians have acquired and unprecedented and unhealthy opinion of her? Does she understand why school children are pelting her with sandwiches? Was she truly shocked by a spoof menu about quail’s thighs? Would a scheming, political back-stabber, a spruiker of lies and broken promises be shocked about such trivial nonsense?

Is anyone offended if Tim is a poof—new society norms say no?

Meanwhile, Gillard’s confected tirades over banalities continue to divert our attention from border protection, a $300 billion plus Commonwealth debt, unprecedented policy failure and epoch-making social disunity. Further to Labor’s mess is the possible return of Rudd, suitably dubbed the worst prime minister in Australia’s political history.

Compared to that lot, Sattler’s question has the validity of a Gillard promise.

Is there a place for women in the “Arab Spring?”

Nearly two years after the start of Arab Spring uprisings, Arab women
are facing the reality that toppling dictators was only the beginning of
their fight for freedom and equality. Barbara Slavin reports from a
recent conference, during which a group of young Arab women activists
discussed and debated these challenges.

(Thanks reader Abe)

Saudi Woman Detained for Defying Driving Ban


RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Authorities detained a Saudi woman on Saturday after she launched a campaign against the driving ban for women in the ultraconservative kingdom and posted a videotape of herself behind the wheel on Facebook and YouTube to encourage others to copy her.

Manal al-Sharif and a group of other women started a Facebook page called “Teach me how to drive so I can protect myself,” which urges authorities to lift the driving ban. She went on a test drive in the eastern city of Khobar and later posted a video of the experience.

Human rights activist Walid Abou el-Kheir said al-Sharif was detained by the country’s religious police, who are charged with ensuring the kingdom’s rigid interpretation of Islamic teachings are observed.

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world to ban women — both Saudi and foreign — from driving. The prohibition forces families to hire live-in drivers, and those who cannot afford the $300 to $400 a month for a driver must rely on male relatives to drive them to work, school, shopping or the doctor.

Women are also barred from voting, except for chamber of commerce elections in two cities in recent years, and no woman can sit on the kingdom’s Cabinet. Women also cannot travel without permission from a male guardian and shouldn’t mingle with males who are not their husbands or brothers.

So where does it say in the Koran that women can’t drive?

I’m pretty sure the Prophet Mohammad didn’t plan on banning women from driving.

And The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils would like to introduce Sharia Law here in Australia.

How come Greens Senator Sarah Hanson Young doesn’t complain about the treatment of women in Saudi Arabia? She seems to have an opinion about everything else but is noticeably quiet on women’s rights.

Andy Semple

Speak without fear and question with boldness.

Reminder: Women are not allowed to VOTE in Saudi Elections


So why aren’t all the feminists here shouting from the roof tops? Where are Germaine Greer, Eva Cox, Anne Summers and the Minister for the Status of Women Kate Ellis? Why don’t they condemn such inequality?

How come the progressive left media in this country doesn’t report on the inequality against Muslim women?


Activists among Saudi Arabia's women, who can't drive or vote and need male approval to work and travel, are turning to the type of online organizing that helped topple Egypt's Hosni Mubarak to force change in a system that they say treats them like children.

The 'Baladi' or 'My Country' campaign is focused on this year's municipal elections, only the second nationwide ballot that the absolute monarchy has allowed. The election board said Monday that women would be excluded from the September 22 vote.

Another group, the Saudi Women's Revolution, citing inspiration from the Arab activism that grew into revolts against Mubarak and Tunisia's Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, is pressing for equal treatment and urging international support.

The wave of anti-regime protests hasn't translated into mass demonstrations in the kingdom that holds the world's biggest oil reserves. Saudi rulers have taken steps to ensure it won't, pledging almost $100bn spending on homes, jobs and benefits. They deployed thousands of police in Riyadh on March 11, when a protest was planned by Internet organizers – a group that increasingly includes Saudi women.

"Women are raised to fear men and to fear speaking out," Mona al-Ahmed, 25, said from Jeddah. She said she joined Women's Revolution after her brother refused to let her take her dream job, as a biochemist, because it would involve working in a mixed-gender environment.

"I opened my eyes one day and said, 'This is not the life I want,' " al-Ahmed said.

Like other Saudi opposition and protest groups, the women's movement faces a tough task. The kingdom ranked as the least democratic state in the Middle East, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit's 2010 Democracy Index.

On its Facebook page, Baladi said that Saudi women "are like other women in the world who have hopes and ambitions" and must be allowed to vote.

While Saudi Arabia placed in the top one-third of nations in the UN 2010 Human Development Report, its score for gender equality – which includes assessments of reproductive health and participation in politics and the labor market – put it 128th out of 138 nations, below Iran and Pakistan.

Saudi Arabia enforces the Wahhabi version of Sunni Islam, and its clerics say that requires strict segregation of the sexes, including in workplaces and public spaces.

Other areas of discontent include family law. A Saudi man can end his marriage by telling his wife, "You are divorced," while women must go to a court or an authorized cleric to get a dissolution. Custody of children above a certain age is usually granted to the father.

Saudi Arabia is also one of the few countries with a high rate of executions for women, Amnesty International said in a 2008 report. Adultery is among the capital offenses.

"Authorities continue to systematically suppress or fail to protect the rights of nine million Saudi women and girls," Human Rights Watch said in a January report.

In an open letter earlier to Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, it urged his government to meet pledges it had made to end "male guardianship over women, to give full legal identity to Saudi women, and to prohibit gender discrimination."

Those are among the goals of the Women's Revolution group, which began as an exchange of Twitter messages among like-minded women and now has more than 2,000 Facebook supporters.

"Women are treated like minors, except if they commit a crime," it said on Facebook. "Then they are equal."

Saudi King Abdullah, 86, has pledged to improve women's status. He opened the kingdom's first coed university in 2009, appointed its first female deputy minister, and has promised steps to improve access to jobs for women, who make up about 15 percent of the workforce.

A change of policy in 2008 let women stay in hotels without male guardians, and an amendment to the Labor Law allowed women to work in all fields "suitable to their nature." Women can now study law at university, without being allowed to practice as lawyers in courts.

Gaining the vote would help change the world's perception of Saudi women, as well as improve their lives, the Baladi campaigners say.

"The stereotype of women in Saudi Arabia is that they are unaccounted for, incapable of reacting to their surroundings and vulnerable to cruelty," the group said. "It is vital to contribute to change such perceptions."

Via Arabian Business

Andy Semple

Speak without fear and question with boldness.

Women don’t need a quota

Lydia-Bevege Introducing a quota for female representation within the Liberal Party would be a step back, not forward, writes Lydia Bevege.

Last week, Victorian Liberal Senator Judith Troeth called for a quota system to be introduced in the Liberal Party to bolster the number of female Liberal MPs. The Op-Ed, published in The Age, advocated requiring 40% of pre-selected Liberal candidates to be female in the first Federal election after 2010/2011.

I disagree with Senator Troeth regarding the need for affirmative action in the Liberal Party. We need only look at the embarrasing results of parliamentary quotas in the Australian Labor Party to see the negative consequences of affirmative action.

The enforcement of gender quotas upon the pre-selection of ALP candidates has resulted in the election to Parliament of some female MPs who are, to put it politely, not exactly rising stars of the Labor movement. Take, for instance, Amanda Rishworth, Labor MP for Kingston, who is known widely by her ALP colleagues and Press Gallery journalists as 'Noddy Rishworth' due to her only apparent role in the Labor Party – to nod vigorously behind the person at the dispatch box during question time.

Or, consider Julie Collins, Labor MP for Franklin, whose only claim to fame has been to provide the Liberal Party with advertisement fodder by spectacularly failing to answer a question on the Government's tax on mining – you can see the ad here.

Indeed, male Labor Senators are so disparaging of their female colleagues and the fact that they had a more cushy ride to pre-selection that they openly refer to female Senators as ´quota queens´. Gender quotas have only bred hostility and resentment between male and female MPs in the ALP, rather than creating a more gender-equal caucus, as proponents of affirmative action envision.

Of course, some might argue that without Labor's affirmative action policies, we may not have a female Prime Minister today. This argument looks tenuous, however, when you consider the fact that if Julia Gillard is ruthless enough to roll an elected Prime Minister to get to the top office, then she is probably not so oppressed or victimised as to need a quota system to get her in to Parliament in the first place. Her victorious battle against the Victorian ALP factional heavy weights to achieve pre-selection is a testament to just how much she didn`t need affirmative action to get into Parliament.

By contrast, female Liberals around the country occupy important leadership positions and have done so without the help of affirmative action. Consider the Deputy Federal Leader, Julie Bishop, South Australia's Opposition Leader, Isobel Redmond, and Victoria´s Deputy Liberal Leader, Louise Asher – all women.

Many of the Party´s rising stars around the country are also female – Shadow Cabinent Minister Sophie Mirabella, recently elected member for Higgins, Kelly O´Dwyer, and preselected candidate for Corangamite, Sarah Henderson. The next NSW Liberal Government is likely to feature many senior female frontbenchers, including former Sex-Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward. Indeed it was the Liberal Party, under the Howard Government, that saw the nation´s longest serving female Cabinet Minister – Amanda Vanstone.

In the youth wing of the Liberal Party, female members are also taking on leadership positions. The Immediate Past President of the Federal Young Liberals is Rachel Fry, whilst the Australian Liberal Students´ Federation have just elected Sasha Uher as President.

To suggest that any of these talented women would have required affirmative action to get where they are today is frankly an insult to them. The problem with any sort of quota system is that it assumes that women are too weak, too incompetent and too lacking in political skills to get to the upper echelons of politics without a helping hand. Instead of obsessing over the percentage of women in Parliament, proponents of affirmative action should instead consider just how talented the women who are already in Parliament are, as well as those women who have been pre-selected by the Liberal Party to run for Parliament.

The outstanding calibre of women in leadership roles in the Liberal Party is something to be applauded, not shamed because the number of those women fails to meet some arbitrary percentage.

In my current position as the Secretary of the University of Melbourne Student Union, I see the result of affirmative action policies on an daily basis. Women at the union demand that Students´ Council meetings be conducted to a 'progressive speaking list', whereby females are given first priority to speak on issues ahead of male councillors because of supposed gender inequality. Do we expect the Liberal Party Room to conduct its meetings in the same way? Or should female MPs be given their own Party Room to meet in, so that they can conduct meetings in a 'safe place' away from the male dominance of Party Room?

I know that such a scenario sounds far-fetched, but it´s important to remember that while quotas may seem relatively innocuous, they hail from the same ideological space as the policies I outlined above do.

I believe that the Liberal Party is an attractive organisation to many women because it treats females as equals, not weak incompetents who need a quota to be elected as they cannot succeed on merit alone. This is perhaps the reason why the Liberal Party has attracted and continues to attract so many women of such a high calibre. To adopt the affirmative action policies advocated by Senator Troeth would jeopordise the Party´s appeal to the next generation of outstanding female Liberals.

Lydia Bevege is the Secretary of the University of Melbourne Student Union and a member of the Liberal Party of Victoria.

What Australian women really want

The Australian feminist lobby speaks on behalf of very few Australian women, writes Nona Florat.

It is a matter for grave concern that politicians of an Emily's List mindset presume to speak for Australian women. As an Australian woman, I take strong exception. It was pointed out by Sen. George Brandis that the Deputy Prime Minister is not a parent. Neither am I. But I warmly congratulate Tony Abbott for having the courage to speak up for the dignity of the human person, and for family values that have been recognised throughout human history.

Sensational and hackneyed phraseology of so-called "angry Australian women", is typical of an aggressive minority, which is a remnant of the 1960s version of feminism. The agenda of such a group is out-of-touch with women of the 21st century.

Women are not a minority. We constitute half the population, and are capable of taking our rightful place in the public square, as well as in academic and professional life, without relying on patronising "spoon-feeding", such as affirmative action.

In the political sphere, a discerning voter does not cast his or her vote based on gender, ethnic background, religious affiliation, or other such characteristics of a candidate. The only authentic criteria are policy and competency. Membership of a party is taken into account, but the determining factor is appraisal of an individual politician as our representative.

Highly vocal militant lobbies do not speak for those groups whom they are supposed to represent. Radical feminists do not speak for women, aggressive homosexual activists do not speak for persons who experience same-sex attraction, and terrorists do not speak for the Muslim community. The list can go on. Recognition of the intrinsic dignity of every human person is the focus of civilised society. If that line is crossed, any faction forfeits its own dignity and credibility.

It is astounding that many seem unaware that an obsession with an imposed sexualisation of youth, and promotion of adolescent promiscuity, is responsible for the proliferation of teen pregnancy and STDs. That is far from being healthy or normal.

For instance there is a huge problem with teen pregnancy in Britain, among other countries. 
To combat this, taxpayers' money has been poured into "comprehensive" sex education. In spite of this, or rather because of this, the problem has been aggravated. That is no surprise to those who are guided by common sense, rather than by political correctness.

In discussion concerning a proposed Bill of "Rights", parental rights have been conspicuous by their absence. It is common knowledge that motherhood is an anathema to an aggressive feminist lobby, and fatherhood is even more disparaged.  This runs counter to the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights

  • The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State. (Article 16,3)
  • Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection (Article 25,2)
  • Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children (Article 26,3)

Marriage is a public recognition of the responsibility of parents for the children whom their union brings into the world, and of concomitant parental rights.

Irresponsible promotion of "recreational sex", "recreational drugs", "recreational violence", "recreational smoking", or whatever, indisputably produces harm for society, and especially for victims who fall prey to such misleading messages. A suggested solution of "harm reduction", is, if possible, is even more deleterious. The only valid solution is to address the source of the problem. Imagine doctors daring to tell patients what to do with their bodies!

Imposition of beliefs on society, wrongly attributed to religious influence, can, in most cases, be easily traced to an agenda of militant lobbyists, who seem incapable of distinguishing between freedom and licence.

Tony Abbott was exercising a right to speak as a parent, and was not proposing legislation. It is not a role of government to legislate for moral principle, but it is a duty of government to protect parental rights.

Nona Florat is a retired academic librarian. Her website can be found at