Elections 2010 – The Ugly

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Election 2010 - the good , the bad, and the ugly

The ugly get very ugly.
These are the groups that – given any power – would do considerable damage to the country. Beware: there be monsters here.

Senator On-line: D
This party has no policies.
This may sound strange, unless you take the populism that exists in the campaign to the extreme.
The party plans to be merely a bum on a senate seat, and propose that all significant legislation be put to online referenda.
Sounds like a great idea, until…
Who would like to vote for lower taxes? And how about increasing government spending across the board? Most people?
This party is the quickest imaginable route to bankruptcy, as the Californian example of a similar system – though far less radical over there – demonstrates.
Professional politicians are elected precisely to make difficult and at times unpopular decisions in the national interest. This party’s vision transfers that decision making to the realms of narrow self interest.
And the party has yet to outline how it will draft amendments or if it even intends to provide checks and balances for the House of Representatives.
In short, Senator online is a disaster waiting to happen.

Shooters and Fishers: C
This is another single issue party that has sprung up over the past few years.
The focus of the party is fairly self explanatory, except that they seek to elevate the rights of the states over the rights of the federal government. This is essentially taking the nation back to federation where the nation was a committee of fractious states.
They are also focused on the issue of hunting/fishing to the exclusion of all else. Their main platform is: if something goes against the right of someone to hunt or fish it should not be allowed.
Their other point is “an immediate moratorium on (all) new immigration applications. Such moratorium to remain in place until the Commonwealth has carried out an audit of Australia’s natural resources, in particular, water and energy, and until a referendum is held to set the optimum population levels.”
No statement as yet whether they plan to shoot boat people.

One Nation: D
There was the rise of Pauline Hanson, then the fall, and now we have the continued irrelevancy of our very own far-right party. And obscurity suits them.
The party seems to be in complete disarray, and their website is amateurish, providing very little useful information.
Two points should be made about this party:
1) The One Nation candidate at the Higgins by-election actually seemed to improve the perception of the party at an environmentalist event by virtue of the fact that nobody could understand him.
2) On their website the party make the very rational and reasoned argument: “One Nation has no friends in corporate Australia. Mainly because corporate Australia is 90% foreign owned, and they know we represent Australians only.”
Enough said.

Christian Democratic Party: E
The Christian Democrats, or the Fred Nile group, have some wonderful policies.
They support religious freedoms and they advocate managing the environment in a sustainable manner. They are also strong on education and supporting rural communities.
If only they would stop there they might seem like a viable third party; however, as with many unsound groups and philosophies, if you get their proponents talking, the silly ideas escape into the open.
For example they claim as a Christian nation, we should be giving preference to immigration from Christian countries, because such people will have an easier time integrating into Australian society (no comment whether an Ethiopian Coptic Christian will get preference over a Bhuddist from England).
And they are for the internet censorship.
And for a moratorium on all Islamic migration to determine if Islam can viably be integrated into Australian society.
And they are for the state sponsoring Christianity as a state religion.
Mixing Church and state is only seems like a good idea if it is your religion being accepted. It is hell on the others. Especially when those at the mixing bowl are nutters like Fred Nile.

Socialist Equality Party: E
There are a few parties around the country who have not read a newspaper since 1990. For such folk such as members of the Socialist Equality Party, let me sum up the last 20 years. The Cold War is over and Russia (or the USSR as they would prefer it) lost.
The language of the party is the sort used in underground literature from decades past, and calls on the workers of the world to unite, focusing on nationalisation of everything and destruction of all free enterprise…
Then they start to get silly.
Some of the quotes from their election statement:
“The official 2010 election campaign is a fraud. It is not being held to provide the Australian people with a “democratic” choice… The only purpose of the election is to put an electoral stamp of approval on the June 23-24 political coup that removed Kevin Rudd, and on the fashioning of a new, far more right wing, government.”
And yet they are still participating in this fraud.
“Behind the elaborate facade of parliamentary procedure and national elections stands the naked dictatorship of capital.”
“There is no peaceful solution within the existing social and economic order. Once again humanity confronts the danger of imperialist war unless the capitalist profit system is overturned by the international working class”

Socialist Alliance: E
The Socialist Alliance seem to be cut from similar cloth to the Socialist Equality.
They come across as a small group that meets at university campuses to discuss politics with  people who already agree with them.
Still, they manage some beautiful hyperbole:
“The Socialist Alliance stands for socialism – a democratic society run by and for working people, not the greedy, destructive elite that now rules.”
“The Socialist Alliance is made up of people who, like millions of others, are sick of being ruled by warmongers, racists, union-bashers”
Some of their brilliant policy includes:
“Cap rent and mortgage repayments at 20% of income.” Ignoring what will happen when many Australians will not be able to afford rent? Shipped off to government sponsored housing? Who will pay for it? Really, it’s a case of, the same homeless levels, just with far higher taxes.
“Bring back all troops from Iraq and Afghanistan; isolate apartheid Israel.”
I know I promised not to bring Israel into these reviews, but when it is a party’s only fully articulated policy, it is hard to ignore.
The distance between this party’s policies and reality is the equation of the Afghan war and what’s currently happening in Israel. Also, we have to ask, are these socialists against Afghan women’s emancipation? Do they support the brutal anti-intellectualism of the Taliban who are fighting against the Australians?
And of course there is the standard call for a dedicated Israeli war crimes tribunal, along with calling on the end of the occupation, the right of return etc.
And not a word on Darfur. Or Zimbabwe. Or Saudi Arabia. Or China. Or Burma…
Are these socialists concerned with human rights or do they prefer jumping on the the beloved leftist cliches and hobbyhorses.
Don’t forget this is a socialist party concerned with the workers’ ability to take over the means of production, as well as universalism. And yet their only developed policy is about destroying Israel.

Citizen’s Electoral Council: E
How could a party with such an innocent sounding name be so evil and hate filled?
There are many follies to point out, such as their call to nationalise all mineral wealth in the country and much inspiration from notorious Fascist, Lyndon LaRouche. To understand the LaRouche movement, it is worth noting the wording of a placard at a LaRouche rally: “Global Warming – As fake as your girlfriend’s orgasm”. They also support colonising Mars.
They seem to want high spending and lower taxes, but everything that we need to know about this party can be summed up in the first paragraph of their policy on electoral reform:
“The current spate of State and Federal calls for ‘electoral reform’ are a sham, with but one purpose: to negate the rising popular support for the pro-national sovereignty Citizens Electoral Council, and to entrench the existing, private financier-owned “major” parties (including the Greens) in power, as the world and Australia along with it plunge into the greatest economic/financial collapse since the Black Death of the mid-14th Century. ”
Nationally they got 0.22% in the lower house and 0.07% in the upper house. Yep I’m sure it is the major parties preventing their rise.
For other similar gems, browse their website. Comedy gold.

Secular Party: E
If all we had to go on was a name, there would be many people would might find the Secular Party a very good idea: a party to ensure the separation of church and state.
Great! I’d support that.
Unfortunately that does not describe this party. If you want a genuinely secular – as opposed to anti-religious – party, vote for The Australian Sex Party.
The Secular Party is best described as religiously atheist. They hate God and the religious in any manifestation. Their main aim is to legislate for the supreme trust in the power of science. This is, of course a false dichotomy: numerous scientists are religious.
Their philosophical framework isbased on ‘humanistic secular values’ as if these are absolute. They conveniently ignore the clear evolutionary link between such values and the Judeo-Christian tradition.
They also claim that “religious beliefs impose and give rise to an increasing intrusion on civil liberties and provide an unwelcome source of social disharmony.” This is an example of poor logic that is all too common among atheist fundamentalists: the assumption that all evil in the world has its origin in religion.
So how do they plan to ensure that everyone in the world remains rational and irreligious?
Firstly, they assure us that despite their strong language, they do not intend to interfere with individual religious practise. In their own words: “Only secularism can guarantee religious freedom, and we endorse this freedom. However those who adhere to faith-based morality frequently seek to impose their religious views on the entire population”.
Lovely – except such tolerance can only go so far. The Secular Party are vehemently opposed to “religious attire at schools”, so a Muslim woman would not be allowed to cover her head in contradiction to the laws of her religion and Jewish men and boys would be similarly constrained. Truly free. Our great protectors.
Their policy at schools do not end there. “The Secular Party believes that the religious indoctrination of children in schools violates the rights of the child.” I would take this to assume any religious education classes will become illegal, thus opening the way for them to indoctrinate children in their own rational ways.
There are two ways to separate church and state.
The first is to clamp down on all religion so that it does not leave people’s homes. Then the secularists can rule the streets.
The second is to allow everyone the freedom to act in a way that suits them, whether at home, at a government building, or at school.
The secular party have taken the former approach. What would their goals be long term? A delegitimising effort similar to the type taken against smoking? Only selling religious artefacts in plain white wrapping?
And their language is full of bile and venom, bested in this campaign only by Mark Latham.
The language is frankly offensive to anyone with even the smallest amount of religious feeling, and it covers every corner of their website.
Even though I do not want to bring Israel into the discussion, I feel I must share with you all the single most ridiculous solution to the Middle East problem of the entire campaign.
The Secular Party on Israel:
“The only possible long-term solution to the Middle East problem, consistent with principles of honesty, compassion, freedom and justice, is a unitary secular state in which all people have equal rights. This will perhaps require a degree of compromise that all sides will find painful to accept. To allay Jewish fears that a specific homeland is required for their security, the Secular Party proposes that a coalition of countries be formed that will guarantee their asylum in the event of their persecution. [emphasis is mine]”
To keep the stand up routine going they then claim “Astoundingly, it seems that perhaps no political leader anywhere has ever put forward this proposition.”
I wonder why.

Stephen Conroy: E
Ok, I know I already wrote about Labor, but Conroy is a very special case.
He is the architect of the internet filter – that wonderful piece of proposed legislation that allows for the government to hold a secret list of banned sites – not all of them pornographic, and they will decide what is too sensitive for our eyes to see.
Conroy has earned the disgust of the global internet community and even the Obama administration for trying to introduce this filter, which only has parallels in some of the most despotic countries around the world.
The places that enjoy comparable filters are China, Iran and North Korea. Definitely beacons that we should be following.
It is for this reason that every responsible citizen in Victoria should take the time to vote below the line and place Conroy last at number 60 on the Senate ballot paper.

So this concludes the review of parties standing at the coming election. Remember, it’s important to vote below the line on the Senate ballot so that your  preferences are not left to chance. There are two places that can help organise your votes below the line:

http://www.clueyvoter.com/

https://www.belowtheline.org.au/

And put Stephen Conroy last!

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50 Responses to “Elections 2010 – The Ugly”

  1. Avi Chapman says:

    I would disagree with your assessment of the Secular Party. While the Secular Party’s website reflects the views of a portion of its constituency (atheists), its policies do not. It’s policies reflect the secular ideal to a much greater extent than the impression you’ve been given.

    Please feel free to contact me on avichapman@secular.org.au if you wish to discuss your impressions further. I’d be happy to see if I can’t change your mind.

    Kind Regards,
    Avi Chapman
    Secular Party Candidate for Boothby

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    • Yaron Gottlieb says:

      Avi,
      Are you asking me to believe that it is not what you say is the philosophy of the party, but rather the policies as if these two can be neatly separated?

      Just to be clear, this is not about Tony Abbott being Catholic as an individual or Julia Gillard being an atheist within a broader party structure. This is the foundations of your party.

      As a religious person I find it highly offensive when my views are described as ‘false’ ‘wilful blindness’ ‘harmful to society’ ‘unfounded and mythological’ ‘unjustified presumptions’ and ‘venal and sinister’ and then tell me to ignore this language and read the policies instead. Disagree with me, but don’t belittle me.

      Looking up your profile on the website you are from a Jewish Orthodox home. I am wondering if you use this sort of condescending language to your family? If not please don’t use it when talking to others.

      As for your claims of rationality because you follow science, I would like to quote one of your high priests that you are so fond of quoting – Albert Einstein (who believed in God) “Scientists were rated as great heretics by the church, but they were truly religious men because of their faith in the orderliness of the universe.”

      Good Shabbos

      PS Would you be the author of that wonderful Middle East policy direction? And you call that rational?

    • Blamer .. says:

      Yaron,

      Two rejoinders…

      >>As a religious person I find it highly offensive when my views are described as ‘false’ [...] and then tell me to ignore this language and read the policies instead.

      Of course. But whether you’re views are religious or not is irrelevant. Being “highly offended” can be claimed (and true) about anything. (Danish cartoons perhaps) Causing offense is no reason for agreeing to accommodate the offended person’s view. (Although fear perhaps is)

      >>As for your claims of rationality because you follow science, I would like to quote one of your high priests that you are so fond of quoting – Albert Einstein (who believed in God) [...]

      False.

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  2. Voice Of Sanity says:

    Yaron, you are a fool Sir.

    Anyone reading, take his views with a grain of salt, although I do agree with some of his statements about the lesser parties:

    Socialists = Idiots
    CEC & CDP = Idiots
    S&F & SOL = Idiots
    But then again, Liberals = Idiots & some of the Labor tools are Idiots too..

    I’m voting Secular, not for any religious or not religious reasons, but because RELIGION SHOULD HAVE ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH THE RUNNING OF THE COUNTRY, and they deserve a chance to screw up like every other party has.

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    • Yaron Gottlieb says:

      Voice of Sanity

      Thank you for pointing out my folly from behind the screen of anonymity.
      What do you fear? A religious war against all those who vote secular.

      As for your ‘argument’ it basically comes down to this: “Take his view with a grain of salt because I said so”.
      I bring evidence and you bring belief. And this from the great believers in rational thought.

      In addition to your other sins, you seem not to be able to process the written word, as I clearly wrote:
      “If you want a genuinely secular – as opposed to anti-religious – party, vote for The Australian Sex Party.”

      The Sex Party will separate church and state. The Secular Party wants to kill off religion

  3. Yaron, nothing you subsequently said about the CEC backed up “evil and hate-filled”.
    Do you write your own stuff, or copy and paste?

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    • Yaron Gottlieb says:

      Robert,

      I am pasting information from your website to prove a point. I is called evidence, and the CEC have posted plenty of it on their website.

      So how would you classify these statements:
      “The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) is a virulently anti-human body”
      “It is only by understanding that the global financial 
      system  is  hopelessly  bankrupt,  that  one  can  explain 
      how  all  sorts  of  strange  creatures  have  the  audacity  to 
      come  crawling  out  of  the  woodwork  now  to  express 
      their  genocidal  ideas” when discussing the environmental movement
      “International Fascism: Microsoft Will Kill More Youth than Hitler”
      “unreconstructed Nazi, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands”

      But despite the CEC seeming addiction to comparing people to Hilter, lets come to an agreement – I will drop the charge of hate filled and evil if you will agree to a charge of paranoid and nuts.

      For evidence of this:
      “The idea that the north of Australia is short of water is sheer lunacy—but promoted by the CSIRO. ”
      “The Oasis Plan outlined by Lyndon LaRouche refers to a program encompassing already-proposed water management, transportation, and other projects, combined with the large-scale use of nuclear power to desalinate water, to establish systems of canals, energy supplies, and new freshwater sources throughout the Middle East-North Africa region, through strategic growth corridors, on a scale equivalent to adding the water volumes of new, “man-made River Jordans.”"

      I could go on for a long time pointing out the insanities of the CEC.

      LaRouche claims to have pop star status in the Arab world (witness Dubai – and their subsequent bankruptcy). It would be better for all of us if the whole movement would just move there and leave us alone.

  4. Avi Chapman says:

    Yaron,

    I do not talk to my family like that, and you may have a point about our unmitigated philosophy. After all, the philosophy reflects our innermost thoughts and possibly shouldn’t be broadcast anymore than yours or mine.

    There is room for reasonable people to disagree, and I can certainly see how a religious person might disagree with some of the statements on our website, but remember this: We are dedicated to the protection of minority religions (and yes non-believers) from the tyranny of the majority religions. Why should Jewish shops have to be closed on Chol Hamoed Pesach just because it happens to be Easter? Christians have no right to dictate that Jews follow their holidays. Stopping that kind of practice is what secularism is all about.

    Can we agree to disagree on motivation and still agree that the end effect is to the good?

    Shabbat Shalom,
    Avi

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    • Yaron Gottlieb says:

      Avi,
      Agreeing to disagree is wonderful and I would agree to it, but agreeing to allow violent hatred, even if it is only in the written word, against any group but especially against oneself is nothing short of insanity.

      The secular party have taken the line of attack against all religions.

      I could understand if you claim I was wrong as I would for you, but to make me out as an embodiment of evil is going a bit too far.

      As for the protections that the Secular Party claim to give out to the electorate, why would you prevent an optional religious education? I would want any children that I have to have a Jewish education at school and dress as a Jew at all times. Why does this threaten you? Does this not counter all the arguments you put forward?

  5. Mohan says:

    Mr Gottlieb does not seem to have evne read the sites of the Socialist Equality Party and Socialist Alliance. Vote climate has placed Socialist Alliance polices on climate change ahead of the Greens. And what is this opposition to “free enterprse”. as if enterprises like, mining, banking, shipping ar open for all to start operating.

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  6. Mohan says:

    Just another addition, Mr Gottlieb has seen it fit to condemn parties mere on the basis of “seem to”. The criticism would be credible if he at least takes the trouble of reading their platform and their publications and inform himself of their activities.

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  7. noam says:

    It would be a scary scary place if these people got in…interesting how anti the internet filter you are…I will also be bloging about a similar issue

    in the mean time i also wrote a blog on some of the’viral’ videos the major parties are producing feel free to take al ook and make a comment

    http://noamemarketing.blogspot.com/2010/08/election-and-social-media-networks.html

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  8. samantha says:

    I have seen many of the candidates that you have spoken about on this blog at The Wheeler Centre,

    Turnball,Clive Hamilton etc .

    I only hoped that Waleed Aly ran, such a smart guy and smart enough not to enter politics.

    Cheerio and lets wait and see what happens.

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  9. [...] is a reference to a blog on the analysis of the “ugly” political parties running candidates in the coming [...]

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  10. melina says:

    im sorry i think this blog has become ugly with some of the comments by michael and the secular party.

    people have an inferiority complex.

    it was lovely… your’e a champ Alex!

    Thanking you heaps… Melina

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    • Lev says:

      melina – who is michael and what has he said ? i cannot see anything from him

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  11. Swinging Voter says:

    I am not connected to the Secular Party, but checked out their website. I may be wrong, but I think their views on religion have been mis-represented by Yaron. The Secular Party appears to be of the view that religion (like sex, alcohol, driving cars, voting) is something for adults to make up their mind about. It is not something that should be forced on children by adults. The idea that Secular Party policy is anti-religion is equivalent to say current policies in Western countries about age of consent are anti-sex, anti-drinking, anti-driving, anti-voting. As we all know, young people freely engage in all of these activities when they reach the age of consent. The same would almost certainly be true of religion. One other comment is about Senator On Line. The Swiss people voted in favour of an increase in tax rates at a referendum when I worked over there in the 1990s. What happens when you have citizens referendums is that the citizens, when given the responsibility, actually learn to make sensible choices based on what is best for the community as a whole. People given responsibility tend to learn to be responsible. It wouldn’t necessarily be as disastrous as Yaron describes. Switzerland runs like this and while not perfect the country is certainly not a disaster – either economically, socially, or politically. On most other points I tend to agree with Yaron. What about the Republican Democratic Party – another minor party with candidates for the Senate in the 2010 Election.

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    • Yaron Gottlieb says:

      Swinging Voter,
      All education is indoctrination. Even educating secular humanism.
      The direction of education should be left open. If you want your children to learn about humanism, Judaism or any other religion that should be the parents choice.
      My point is that we educate, then they make up their minds, but to ignore the education when they are children, we are by proxy destroying the religious communities in the country.

      As for the Swiss, it is true that they have a level of direct democracy, and they may be responsible, but it is not letting them onto the floor of parliament.

  12. Yaron Gottlieb says:

    Blamer,

    I am not offended when people attack religion, Judaism or any other idea that I hold dear to my heart.
    It is the context that is offensive, and the language on their website is what is gives the party the context. To claim that religion is wrong and to point out areas where it can be improved is part of normal discussion. This can be constructive. When the implication of the language is that I am a childlike delusional moron with no capacity for thinking – that is offensive.

    As for Einstein I believe we should let him speak for himself:
    “In view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human mind, am able to recognize, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what really makes me angry is that they quote me for the support of such views.”

    It would seem you have angered your high priest. I am sure that retribution shall be swift.

  13. Mohan says:

    All educatuion is indoctrination! Where did Mr Gootleib acquire this jem of pedagogical wisdom? Great idea, let us indoctrnate children that the earth is flat, the first humans were Adam and Eve, that the world wac reated five hundred years ago at 5 pm etc etc.

    No need for evidence, experiment, testing, practice, deduction, proof etc. etc. Just indoctrinate them with “eternal truths”.

    I suppose my GP could be indoctrinated to treat a cold with arsenic instead of antibiotics.

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    • Yaron Gottlieb says:

      Mohan,
      The way in which a child is educated is the way they will act in later years. Even if they rebel, it is a rare human being who completely breaks out of their educational roots.

      But let us take your ideas and explore the logic.

      Suicide bombers are prevalent on the Arabian peninsula amongst the indigenous population, yet does not find its way into European populations.

      If it is not the education of the youth that gives them the ideological framework to blow themselves in a crowded restaurant then you must be implying that the DNA of the European is superior to that of the Arab.

      But that must be the case since it could not possibly be the education that does it…

  14. melina says:

    Alex is right and that’s why she is a champ.

    That’s a very smart girl to see my comments for what they are without any explanation by me at all.

    I leave the blog out of respect to her and her online persona/brand of which she had the guts and creativity to produce.;)

    Cheers Melina

    I do not know the blog’s creator personally or professionaly in any capacity

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  15. Alex Fein says:

    Thanks Melina. You’re too kind :)

    Based on past form, I don’t see Michael Barnett or his partner and Secular Party candidate, Gregory Storer, having the wherewithal to deal with Yaron directly.

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  16. Jeff Keogh says:

    Hi Yaron,

    I have been a member of the Secular Party since 2007, and am a Senate Candidate in Tasmania.

    I read with dismay your assessment of my party, since it paints an untrue picture of our intent and policy.

    The Secular Party is categorically not an atheist party, although it could correctly be said that the majority of its membership is either or both agnostic and atheist. There is a clear distinction between a party of atheists and an atheist party, but you have not perhaps made that distinction.

    We do not oppose religion per se; what we oppose is the muddling of religion and government.

    Regards,
    Jeff

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    • Yaron Gottlieb says:

      Jeff,

      Thank you for being willing to respond to the issues, I enjoy the debate.

      Over the course of the article and the responses there have been a few issues that have been raised, and I would like to hear your response to these.

  17. Mohan says:

    Thank you Mr Gootleib for putting a racists twist into a rational argument. I had made a clear distinction between education – in a formal sense – and indoctrination. Suicide bombings have been seen in Sri Lanka, India, Afghanistan and Japan (WW2). they are often the result of indoctrination or the response of a weaker side to the military power of the enemy.

    So where does European superiority or lack of it come into the picture when the discussion is about reason, testing, evidence and logic ?

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  18. Avi Chapman says:

    Hello again,

    I just thought that I’d provide my two cents on the issue of education versus indoctrination. I think that you are right that education and indoctrination are the same. However, I believe that this is only true up to a certain age. Children have a way of believing anything an adult in authority tells them. Teaching facts without proof is indoctrination. It becomes education when the child gets older and starts asking ‘why’. If you can come up with a good reason, it stops being indoctrination and starts being eduction. (The Jewish education system is famous for its students asking ‘why’)

    This is why both religious and secular groups believe that it is so important to shield their children from outside influences. I can see why you would consider a secular education a threat to propagating the Jewish faith, since in the early years you want to prevent them from picking up and believing something that is untrue.

    But what is true? You believe that the messiah hasn’t come yet (assuming you’re not one small subset of Lubavitch). A Christian believes that the messiah came 2000 years ago. You can’t both be right.

    The compromise that the Secular Party proposes is that government funded schools only teach the things that can be proven – such as the behavior of an object when dropped or the mathematics of addition. Any further facts can be supplied by parents and rabbis after hours. Meanwhile, you can be sure that the schools won’t tell your children that their parents are wrong, because that too cannot be proven.

    Maybe I should have called this my $2.

    Kind Regards,
    Avi Chapman

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  19. SAM says:

    http://www.spectator.co.uk/essays/all/6201038/how-jewish-are-the-milibands.thtml

    VERY APT ARTICLE ON A POSSIBLE JEWISH PM DURING THIS ELECTION!!!

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    • Yaron Gottlieb says:

      Sorry Sam,

      The only Englishman I have ever been excited to hear that he was Jewish was Fred Trueman.

      A Jewish tearaway fast bowler from the Yorkshire mines…

      Now there is a cultural stereotype if I ever heard of one.

  20. Jeff Keogh says:

    Hi Yaron,

    Unfortunately I am without the time to be involved in a lengthy discussion of issues. You may or may not be aware, but there is an election of sorts coming up! Also, tomorrow my family and I are leaving for a brief holiday (which had been planned and booked months before the election was called) during which I will be without internet access.

    It has been a point of some discussion within the party over the last week that the website can give a misleading impression, and I gather that’s been the source of your conclusions about the party.

    That is regrettable.

    It is not our intention to expunge religion from Australian society. Nor is it even our desire to do so, although it is common currency amongst the membership that a thoroughly rational society would be the ideal. More utopian than ideal, however, as the majority of us recognise that for the most part religion is a part of the human condition.

    Those of us who are without supernatural belief will, I suspect, always be in the minority.

    It *is* our intention to expunge religion from the government, however. We feel it is unacceptable that laws (affecting the many) based upon religious strictures (followed by only the few) rather than ethical decisions are in place.

    Likewise, we feel that government has no place in religion. History has shown us that that path leads only to misery and ignorance.

    Perhaps the greatest irony is that the Secular party should not exist at all. Australia was founded upon secularist principles, in that religion and government are entirely separate and all citizens are free to follow their conscience. This has been somewhat subverted over the last 30 years, which has led to the formation of this party.

    Regards,
    Jeff

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    • Morry says:

      We feel it is unacceptable that laws (affecting the many) based upon religious strictures (followed by only the few) rather than ethical decisions are in place.

      Let me see, some of the laws based in religion you object to would be, say, the ban on murder and theft, which come directly from the Judeo-Christian 10 commandments, and would therefore be deemed unacceptable.

      The thing you clearly don’t get is that your entire set of ethics, no matter what you believe, come directly from Judeo-Christian values. It’s why in this society we don’t cut people’s hands and legs off for theft … our values are based in a very different religion.

      Remove religion from the equation, and the values begin to quickly drift and stray. For how the world looks in an absence of religion you might look to the Russian Gulags for example. And before you go to that atheistic giantkiller “look at how many people have been killed in the name of religion”, you should first check if those actions were consistent with the religion. Certainly the Spanish Inquisition and the various persecutions would seem to directly contravene the ethics and values of Christianity.

      In one sense you’re right, religion and politics are a poor mix. But to demand to keep religion out of schools is to say that you want to deny children any access to value judgements, the learning of right and wrong, and the various values and ethics that this society is based on and driven by.

      It’s simple enough, Jeff, a teacher catches two children fighting, what does he do? There are many possible ethical responses ranging from “hit him back harder so he learns to pick on someone else” to the Judeo-Christian value of “discuss, don’t fight”. These values are all equivalent and you will find somebody to believe in every part of that spectrum. We choose the particular one of “fighting is no way to resolve things” because of the religion that drives the values we consider right … whether we choose to call ourselves “Atheist, “Christian”, or “Jew”. Each is as much an article of faith as the other, a religion. The only problem is that the atheists set of values isn’t locked into any established set of ethics (no Bible or Koran here), but shifts like sand, and the further an atheist strays from the religion that gave birth to his/her ethics, the more blurred those ethics will become, and more driven by sefish base desires, like power, or hedonism, than the charity that is so much a part of most religions.

      Pity the child that grows up with a solid grounding in maths, but no awareness of how to behave, or what is right and why (the only why being “we believe it to be so”). You see a teacher can’t say “Don’t hit Johnny, you wouldn’t like it if Johnny hit you” …. that is pure Judaism and pure Christianity … you know, the “do unto others” and “love thy neighbour” bit.

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  21. jenny batesman says:

    mt scopus was on sbs insight a couple of years ago and the girl on the panel when asked a question by the host was very confused…. that’s indoctrination sorry guys.

    i do respect the teachings of religion but they also must be well rounded adults, that can FUNCTION in the real world which would make a more well rounded individual.

    jenny

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  22. Yaron Gottlieb says:

    Jeff,

    I would like to congratulate both you and Avi on presenting the best face of this party forward.

    Unfortunately there are others in the party who seem to be giving you a bad name. Specifically your candidate for Melbourne Ports Gregory Storer and his partner, Michael Barnett (Lev in this comment thread), who have been slinking around in the shadows and getting very nasty and personal, even attempting to use my relationship with Alex as a negative (not sure how though).

    I hope that you and your kind win the day in the party and it becomes what it was intended to be.

    As for your argument, there is a strong case to made for separating church and state (as I made when I spoke of the Sex Party). However every person carries their personal beliefs around with them and MPs will do so even in the corridors of parliament.

    Therefore we would ask a religious MP not to bring his religion into his decision making, and yet we want them to be honest real. If we take it to the extreme we would demand of our MPs to betray their personal ideals for the sake of the separation of church and state.

    So the challenge for you and your party (as well as myself and anyone else who believe in separation of church and state) is how to achieve that end. The answer is of course to find some middle ground and achieve a balance, but the difficult part is how.

    Enjoy your holiday.

    • Jeff Keogh says:

      Yaron, you’re quite right that all members of parliament must act as directed by their conscience. (Or by their party, but mostly the two coincide).

      That is not the same thing, however, as imposing one’s religious beliefs on the rest of society. Tony Abbott’s opinions on abortion and euthanasia are a case in point. His objections to them are not based in the compassionate interest in the individuals involved, or what course of action is the most ethical. He intends to make laws based solely on his religious beliefs, whether or not they are shared by the remainder of the population.

      This is unacceptable.

      However, this is a very grey area, and really not one of the major concerns of the Secular Party. Our concerns relate more to overt cases of the blurring of the line between religion and politics. Examples are the Chaplaincy program, which to all intents and purposes is putting evangelical preachers into state schools, and tax exemptions for religious bodies regardless of whether they are involved in charitable works or not.

      The money spent on chaplains would be much better spent on professional, fully qualified counselors and psychologists.

      I note, in your conversation with Avi, that you are under the impression that scientific theories are constantly being overturned, and it is therefore folly to teach them to youngsters as fact. This is an oversimplification. The major scientific theories now have so much evidence supporting them that they will not be overturned, and this includes the Theory of Evolution.

      Evolution has occurred, and is occurring. The only questions relating to it now are what the exact mechanisms involved. The only ‘controversy’ with evolution comes from religion, not science.

      Education should be designed so as to give each child not only the facts of the world as they can be objectively determined, but in addition children should be given the skills to critically examine ideas; a skill which is sadly not taught to our youngsters, leaving them with little ability to distinguish good ideas from bad.

      Religious institutions already have the means by which children can be taught the doctrines/dogmas/beliefs. There is no place for this in publicly funded schools. I take it as a given that you would not appreciate your children being proselytised by a Baptist minister. I would be most unhappy.

      Cheers,
      Jeff

      PS. I’m very naughty to continue this conversation. If I suddenly fall silent it’s because I’ve had to walk away, for which I apologise in advance.

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  23. Yaron Gottlieb says:

    Avi,

    I would like to thank you as I did Jeff for the manner in which you are responding. Even though I am sure we will disagree with each other after this discussion I am sure we will at least walk away respecting each other.

    There are a few points to be made about your views on education:

    1) Robert L. Weber said “It is disconcerting to reflect on the number of students we have flunked in chemistry for not knowing what we later found to be untrue.”

    Scientific theory is changing on a regular basis as things are discovered and the old is being debunked. Which of these truths do we teach. At least the subjects of Judaism and Christianity are constant and not liable to change.

    Do we teach evolution? Which theory? Darwin’s original view or one of the many offshoots and variations?

    So once we get into the unknowns, why should a Jewish child not learn about Jewish culture and religion as part of the curriculum as an opt in subject, just as later in school there are electives as in drama.

    2) Albert Einstein said “Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.”

    Childhood is the most important time for education and any suggestion that these important years should be spent educating other then as the parents would wish gives the competing ideology a beach head in the minds of the next generation.

    And I would return to my previous point – what would happen if a parent does not want their child to learn about evolution, after all it is far from a certain fact.

    3) You said “Any further facts can be supplied by parents and rabbis after hours”.

    I love that someone from the Secular Party is suggesting that learning Judaism is fact :)

    • Avi Chapman says:

      Hi Yaron,

      You seem to be under the impression that science is constantly overturning itself with new theories. This is not exactly true. It’s true that once in a while a new theory comes along and augments the old, but the old usually remains valid.

      For example, we originally had a theory that the Earth was flat. This theory was very useful for making maps of areas on the order of 10 or even 100 km square. Eventually, a new theory came along that the Earth was round. The flat-earth theory remained valid for making those small maps, but the round-earth theory was very useful for making large maps.

      By the same token, if your child was taught about Newtonian physics in school, their knowledge would still be valid and useful once Einstein came along with his theory of relativity.

      As you rightly point out, evolution has underwent several variations as well. The earliest theory needed some tweaking around the edges to account for the facts as they emerged, but the basic fact of descent with modification and natural selection have been observed to happen both in the wild and in the lab within a single human’s lifetime.

      Why don’t you want your children learning about evolution? I assume that you believe the Earth is 5770 years old. If I’m wrong, please forgive me. (I’m happy to discuss the age of the Earth with you in another post) For now, let’s play with the idea of a young Earth. New species have been observed to be created within a 30-year timespan in some extreme cases. In 5770 years, a lot of new species can emerge. Isn’t it possible that this was part of G-d’s plan?

      Kind Regards,
      Avi Chapman

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  24. Yaron Gottlieb says:

    Jeff,

    You raise a number of points that I feel are worthy of discussion, and I would hope to see these further developed as party policy for the next election (hopefully at the expense of some of the more negative and inflammatory parts of the party).

    1) Religion is obviously a very important part of peoples lives, but should not be totally tax free. But how would the party deal with a Church or Synagogue that was barely scraping by? Would they impose land taxes? How many places of worship would be affected by this and what would be the effects on society should these be closed?

    2) Evolution is far from fact, and the more I look into it, the more silly it sounds to me.
    I do however believe in evolution, the only way it does make any scientific sense. A supernatural being was guiding it.

    3) I would not be comfortable with a priest teaching my child, nor would I as a rabbi feel comfortable in an attempted indoctrination of someone elses child. That is why I asked Avi why it could not be an elective subject for people to opt in to, still offered at state schools.
    This leads me to my final point:

    4) There are many areas where government supports interests of only a section of the population.
    Sporting teams are supported financially even though not everyone enjoys sport.
    Nature reserves and local parks are maintained even though many of us will not go there.
    Theater gets mountains of cash from various governments (and tax breaks) to produce what most of us would consider as utter crap.
    Yet we still do it.
    With so many people dedicated to formalised religion should the governments not support it a little bit?
    Now let the debate begin with how much.

    5) re: Tony Abbott’s religious views – how would you describe Julia Gillard and Penny Wong’s views on gay marriage?

  25. Gedalia says:

    senator online has two observant orthodox candidates in WA. I personally do not support their concept, but its interesting to see that the Jewish influence and proportionally large number of Jewish candidates for this election spans the complete political spectrum.

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  26. Yaron Gottlieb says:

    Avi,
    Firstly there are many significant rabbis who agree with the theory of evolution and that the world is significantly more then 6000 years old, but I agree with you that it is a discussion for another time.

    I am aware of the development of scientific theory, as a trained scientist myself, but let us move away from these areas to discuss the idea of ‘hard fact’ in other areas.

    Psychology is hardly an established science. There are even many who dispute many of the facts.
    History is constantly being reinvented by academics.
    Pluto was a planet until only a few years ago.

    For a rational party how much ‘fact’ does something have to be before it is taught in schools?
    Could the Jews leaving of Egypt (and the historical basis for the Jewish religion) be considered fact enough to be taught?

    • Avi Chapman says:

      Yaron,

      I would say that there are two sorts of facts that a secularist would agree to see in a state school.

      1 – A fact that can be demonstrated, either in theory or in practice. This might include the behaviour of gravity (a readily demonstrable fact) or quantum physics (a fact that is theoretically demonstrable, but would require an advanced degree to know enough to follow it) A school would lay a ground-work of easily demonstrable facts, such as Newton’s law of motion, and then move on in later years to the later kind of fact.

      2 – A fact that can be inferred from circumstantial evidence. To infer a fact with any degree of confidence, you would need a lot of evidence. The existence of Queen Victoria would be a fact inferred from hundreds or even thousands of pieces of evidence – busts, coinage, historical accounts, etc. The Babylonian exile is less well-supported, but there is some evidence, such as Babylonian records, Israeli archeology and the Tanach. The exodus from Egypt is not very well supported. There’s the account in the bible and very little else. It doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, but being so long ago there is no surviving evidence. As in point #1, a rule of thumb is that the younger the child, the more well-supported you want your evidence to be.

      Does that help any?

      Cheers,
      Avi

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  27. Mohan says:

    Great argument Morry. Religion – And Judeo Christian religion at that -is the basis of ethics and morality. Yes and the fight against the inquisition, the witch burning, the banning of experiments, the selling of indulgences, the massacres of non-believers, infidels, idolators, stoning people to death, etc etc. Not to emntion the Shas, Meir Kahane and Barauch Goldstien.

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  28. SALLY JONES says:

    ALBERT DADON AND JULIAS HUSBAND TIM IN TODAYS AGE MAKES FOR INTERESTING READING…?

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  29. James says:

    Even though I dislike religion and by extension the people, the Secular Party seem like a one issue party based on the idea that us poor atheists are being oppressed and we need some kind of France style secularism. Wake up.

    It’s a good analysis Yaron and I’ve favourited the blog.

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  30. Timaahy says:

    Haha… Yaron, you’re funny.

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  31. melina smith says:

    Great result of having the first Jewish candidate in Josh.

    And the first indigenous member

    Well done to his family and campaign staff

    Times are changing for the better.

    My last post this time ….Cheers!!;);)

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  32. Alex Fein says:

    Lev, the reference is to Michael Barnett who wrote some utterly bizarre things on my Facebook wall in a “discussion” with a third party. There were considerable, inappropriate sexual overtones to his abusive language. I think he is very angry because his partner is standing for the Secular Party and Yaron did not give that party a high score.

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  33. Lev says:

    how do you know what melina was referring to ? it sounded like she was referring to your blog to me

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  34. Yaron Gottlieb says:

    Lev,
    It Michael has been busy speaking quite negatively about myself and Alex on facebook and other places around the internet.

    It would seem that his big scoop was that Alex and I are engaged (true) and that the fact that we had not revealed this fact on the blog meant something (not sure what) and called into question everything that I have said in the past few posts.

    In the mean time Michael and his partner, Gregory Storer, who is the Secular Party candidate for Melbourne Ports have run away from debating the issues on this blog.

    I would welcome this direct approach, rather then the slinking behind my back to attack my relationship with Alex and my integrity without addressing the issues that I have raised.

    It would seem that Michael and Gregory do not agree.

  35. Lev says:

    it seems the person gregory you refer to is commenting on the galus australis site :

    http://galusaustralis.com/2010/08/3428/for-separation-of-church-and-state-vote-secular

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  36. Yaron Gottlieb says:

    And he seems to be doing quite a poor job of defending himself, even though he is controlling the issues as the writer of the article.

    Makes me skeptical that he would be willing to debate someone who has gone through their entire website before and after I wrote the article. Seems to be afraid of a fair fight.

    And I am sure that he knows that I wrote this as both he and Michael are regulars here on the blog.

    Incidentally I did not see any mention in Gregory’s article about Michael being his partner – double standard?

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