Commenting on No Place for Sheep

4 May

I’ve run an excessively  lenient comments policy on Sheep for all of its life. I don’t like silencing people. Unfortunately, that has to change.

I don’t mind robust discussion. I don’t mind strong language. But the personal attacks are out of hand, and enough is enough.

Please speak to one another as if you were face to face. Please respect one another as if you were face to face. Fight about your differing views as much as you like, but any personal abuse and I will delete the entire comment and if you persist, I will ban you.

If some of you abused each other like this in my house I would throw you out.

I don’t have the time to thoroughly read every comment. If anyone has a complaint please address it to me.

I am still really upset about this.

That is all. Have a good day.

98 Responses to “Commenting on No Place for Sheep”

  1. doug quixote May 4, 2013 at 8:27 am #

    I think the exercise of mature judgement is what is lacking in many of the commenters here. Juvenile taunts and some sort of slanging match take the place of arguments from logic or even the expression of feelings.

    It seems self-evident to me that the Gillard Labor government is governing in a difficult situation under difficult circumstances, severely handicapped by the financial realities and frustrated at every turn by a negative opposition determined to get its way at any cost.

    And it also seems self-evident that a desire to punish such a government for its alleged departure from all the high ideals which many seem to think it should insist upon is self-defeating.

    To cut off one’s nose to spite one’s face seems to appeal to some commenters here.

    Well I for one reject that approach. The Labor Ministry is man for man and woman for woman far and away better than the alternatives available, and no amount of nay-saying can deny that fact.

    Labor policies are far and away better than those of the opposition on NBN, climate change, superannuation, workplace rights and social justice issues, and the economy is the envy of all the developed world. Find me one opposition policy which is superior.

    The only thing voters can decide come September is this : “Who will govern Australia for the next three years.” It is not a question of “punishing” or of “you didn’t do as well as you should have” so we’ll get in the Vandals and the Wreckers and see if they can do better!

    We KNOW just how badly the opposition will do, it is plain as a pikestaff.

    Who will govern Australia for the next three years? That is the question.

    Mature judgement requires that Labor be returned with a workable majority. The rest follows inevitably from that conclusion.

    Think upon these things.


  2. Elisabeth May 4, 2013 at 9:13 am #

    I tend to agree with you here, DQ. I am fearful of how things might develop were Abbott’s party voted in in September. For although the present government is pretty crass in its apparent handling of asylum seekers, I understand from folks who work behind the scenes that by and large asylum seekers are treated more humanely under this government than they were under Howard’s. And it does not look as though they’d be treated any better under Abbott. That’s not to say they are all treated with compassion under Labor.

    And sadly, I fear this government might be reflecting community pressure from the many people here who fear an inrush of asylum seekers in the belief that there is not enough to go around. A culture of scarcity seems to fuel much of the animosity that quells people’s capacity for empathy such as we see often in the asylum seeker debate.

    I’m writing this here now because I sense it might be safe to come out of hiding. I hope others feel free to join me. I value your blog immensely Jennifer, for your insights and your capacity to express these insights in such powerful and pithy language, but I have been scared off speaking about all things political until now. And I am wary of the dichotomies. If only we could get beyond politics and political parties into thinking more deeply about the issues themselves. I suppose we can only try.


    • Marilyn May 4, 2013 at 5:18 pm #

      This government is treating asylum seekers worse than any government before them.

      No other government has ever forcibly returned one group of people without due process, none has ever kept innocent people in prison for life without review based on the word of one public servant, no other government has knowingly and deliberately built hellish racist prisons to deliberately lock up innocent men, women and children for a minimum of 5 years based on no law at all.

      No other government has released thousands of people without work rights, no other government has deliberately ceased all processing of claims for people from just two countries for no reason then punished the victims.

      They are not treating them well, pregnant women are sleeping on the floor and going hungry while at least one pregnant woman forced to Manus and force fed anti-malaria drugs disguised as vitamins has miscarried.

      Under Evans and Rudd they were treated better, under Gillard it is now worse than under Howard and that is not just my opinion but the opinion of insiders like Harry Minas and Louise Newman who quit.


      • doug quixote May 4, 2013 at 7:20 pm #

        Your opinion is a genuine one and I hear you.

        Do you have any concrete suggestions as to how their treatment may be improved?


        • Marilyn May 4, 2013 at 8:54 pm #

          Well as they have the same legal and civil rights as us Doug what is wrong with treating them just like us?

          That is the law as it is written, this continual criminal abuse of people has to stop.


      • paul walter May 5, 2013 at 1:21 am #

        Marilyn, asylum seeker policy is not the only criteria by which the public will vote next election.
        Very, very few find it easy to disagree with you and Hypo as to the issue itself, but are just puzzled at some unspelt out implications as to sovereignty and a consequent fear of disempowerment (eventually even to the same level as the refugees themselves?) , thus the question of (equitable) implementation.
        We’d love to see a reciprocal effort from the big powers and their financial and corporate based string-pullers, btw, as to disarmament and the resource wars that drive the flow, btw.
        Just reading an article on the sham 1938 conference of Jewish refugees, history does repeat itself. Our old friend Sol Salbe commended it.
        Fwiw, I agree with the idea offered by Marilyn, Hypo, Jennifer and others that a return to universal standards of (habeas corpus and humitarian) law is the answer, but it requires a phenomenal imagination to believe that vested interests will allow it to happen when their own misguided goals are threatened.
        So, best guess, it remains a race to the bottom, as to standards and decency.
        Now, off to finally finish that long piece you commended at IA.

        As for the rest, love me or loathe me, will wish all a good weegend.


    • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) May 10, 2013 at 4:22 am #


      I have long suspected that there are regular viewers of Jennifer’s blog who have remained ‘in hiding’, as it were, with respect to commenting. I for one hope that you sense correctly that it may be now safe, for you and others, to come out of hiding. Your observation that “If only we could get beyond politics and political parties into thinking more deeply about the issues themselves” is certainly something that resonates with me.

      I recall Jennifer having recently observed on Twitter that “people on my blog, no matter what the subject I post upon, always seem to end up arguing about politics”, or words to that effect. I can no longer find the specific tweet, but that is no great surprise given the ephemerality of Twitter. Perhaps Jennifer has deleted it. If I am misquoting or misrepresenting Jennifer’s views, I trust she will correct me.

      I note the interest you express in your own blog in the reasons for which people write in the Fifth Estate, the blogosphere. I occasionally post on ‘Sheep’ largely as a means of placing something on public record, taking advantage of the opportunity ‘Sheep’ provides of no word (or for that matter post-frequency) limits in developing what can prove to be complex and nuanced arguments, in the event of substantive engagement by other posters. ‘Sheep’ also provides the opportunity for revisitation of issues that may have lain in abeyance for some time, thus permitting the posting of updating information of a nature that the Fourth Estate, the MSM, would seemingly prefer to see suppressed. The problem, as always, being as to the existence of perceivable relevance to something raised in, or tangential to, Jennifer’s blog post for such ‘public record’ comment to be justified in the first place.

      Just recently, I clicked on the link in this tweet:

      The statistic, in the linked article’s ninth paragraph, that “just 30,527 votes* separated the ALP and Coalition after the 2010 [Federal elections] poll” caught my attention. It did so because it is a figure smaller than the seemingly anomalous disappearance of around 44,000 enrollments of 17-year-old provisional electors that the AEC records as happening in the 22 days between 30 June 2010 and 22 July 2010, when the rolls closed for those elections.

      One of the possible explanations for the disappearance of those 44,000 or more names from the 17-year-old cohort of the aggregated electoral rolls at the 2010 elections is the very logical one that those provisional enrollees turned 18 and became electors, thus moving forward into the 18 & 19-year-old grouping of enrollments in the official enrollment statistics. The reason such would have been anomalous is that there is no way that there would have been such a concentration of birth dates in just a 22-day period as would have allowed that to routinely and legitimately happen.

      Should it have been that there had been some sort of manipulative emplacement of provisional enrollments over the up to 12 months preceeding 22 July 2010, it is not impossible that if votes were unlawfully claimed in these names at the Federal elections for those votes to have altered the composition of the Parliament from what it may otherwise have been.

      Manipulative emplacement of provisional enrollments is but one opportunity of potentially many for providing a basis for distortion, in due course, of electoral outcomes by unlawful means. I wonder to what extent, was this possibility to be given serious consideration, the nature of politics, and political discourse, within Australia might be altered? The stultifying effect of the ‘debate’, as it has come to be seen upon ‘Sheep’, from entrenched almost-tribal positions based on what well may be a total misunderstanding as to what may be the true underlying expression of views by the electorate, upon “deeper consideration of issues” can perhaps be sensed from this Twitter exchange:

      * It will be seen that the figure “30,572” from the article is itself a text link to an AEC summary of the Two Party Preferred Vote by State in the finalized Virtual Tally Room record of the outcome of the 2010 Federal elections. Although not directly stated, that figure can be derived by subtracting the Liberal/National Coalition total vote from the ALP total vote shown in the bottom line of the table.


      • doug quixote May 10, 2013 at 7:34 am #

        “people on my blog, no matter what the subject I post upon, always seem to end up arguing about politics”

        That may not any longer be true : on Desire Yearning and Despair, only one ring-in mentioned politics and was quietly ignored.

        Perhaps things are looking up.


  3. gerard oosterman May 4, 2013 at 9:45 am #

    It makes one wonder how a country that stands almost totally alone together with some of the North European countries, mainly Scandinavia, having survived the WFC, is somehow painted as being a dismal failure. It is not a coincidence that those countries also have had ,by and large, the benefits of social democracies.
    It is miraculous that Australia is about the only country in the western world to have low unemployment, low inflation, low debt levels and also having passed legislation such as the plain packaging of cigarettes, the carbon initiative and now the disability scheme.
    The only blight that I can see, is our appalling treatment of refugees.
    Perhaps, that treatment is part and parcel of grudgingly having accepted hundreds of thousands of people from foreign countries in the past. There were riots at migrant camps in the forties with suicides and the army being called in as well. (Look up Bonegilla)
    We were housed in unlined Nissan huts on arrival, something my parents could never have imagined while still in Holland watching Australian Embassy movies of an Australia with the SMH being chucked in sunlit tropical gardens, with smiling occupiers of large houses waving cheerfully to the post-man or baker. It was all so happy and glorious with waving palms and white picket fences.
    It is ridiculous to think we could be overrun by hordes of boat people but I remember similar idea being spouted in the fifties and sixties. They were the Italians and Greeks that were going to overrun our country, take our jobs and if at all possible, our wives and daughters.
    And now, what would we do and how would we live without olive oil, pasta, garlic, herbs and spices, Greek salads, Italian salami focaccia at Bar Italia?


    • doug quixote May 4, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

      I agree Gerard. Asylum seeker treatment is a blight which has to be addressed. I do not think there is any simple solution, and there may not even be a difficult solution. We need some way of processing the asylum seekers more quickly.

      Admitting the genuine refugees is not the problem; we admit every single one of them who is not judged to be a security risk.

      The problem is what to do with those who are not genuine refugees and who can not or will not return to their own country, if any country will have them.

      Hurling abuse at those who have a contrary view to one’s own is juvenile and immature, and ultimately counterproductive.


      • Marilyn May 4, 2013 at 8:55 pm #

        No, we have to treat everyone as if they are genuine human beings with legal and civil rights without discrimination.

        95% of Indians who apply for asylum are not refugees but we don’t torture and abuse them just because they fly here.


        • doug quixote May 5, 2013 at 1:19 am #

          I suppose that is because when someone flies in they must have travel documents, passports and visa and all the rigmarole before they can get on a flight. Once landed they can claim asylum, but it can be assessed quickly and those adjudged not to be refugees are quickly deported.

          One problem with the boat arrivals is that they rarely have any papers. This may not be their fault, as someone fleeing for their lives will not bother applying to the regime that is oppressing them. But certainly some believe it is in their interests to not have/destroy papers to extend the process in the hope of bluffing their way in. Some are good enough at it to delay the process indefinitely, and lead to them staying in detention for months if not years. And some of them fool the refugee advocates into supporting them; a few actually get in.

          I am sure most of the refugee advocates are genuine dedicated individuals who are seeking to make a difference. I may have made less charitable comments about them in the heat of debate in the past, but over the years my views have changed; change is possible in many things if the cause is good and the advocates are persistent. Perhaps treatment of the detainees will improve over time as well.

          We live in hope.


          • Marilyn May 5, 2013 at 6:13 am #

            It has nothing to do with not having papers, almost all of them have some form of ID sent to them within 2 weeks, they just don’t have passports because they could be sent straight home if they carry them.
            The myth of ID destruction has been debunked about 4 million times and I am sick to my stomach that people put a frigging non necessary document before human rights.


            • paul walter May 5, 2013 at 8:05 am #

              Sorry DQ, that is very old hat, well and truly with Marilyn on this one.


              • doug quixote May 5, 2013 at 10:58 am #

                Old hat? When as Marilyn says, with travel documents they can be sent straight home?


            • doug quixote May 5, 2013 at 11:01 am #

              The documents aren’t necessary for a claim to be accepted, but they allow for very quick processing.

              A large part of the problem is that unjustified claims are clogging up the process for the justified claims, causing long delays.


              • Marilyn May 5, 2013 at 2:46 pm #

                No they don’t, if people have ID within 2 weeks why are they still in jail in 2 or 3 years time and why are almost 1,000 people deemed to be refugees years ago still in prison?

                It’s all a lie Doug, it was invented by Ruddock and never contradicted by the lazy racist ALP.


                • doug quixote May 5, 2013 at 5:32 pm #

                  That is difficult to answer without knowing the details of individual cases. The unsatisfying answer probably involves the security risk factors, the inability to return some of them to their country because it will not take them, and the refusal of other family members to leave detention without the one, the only one, who is required to be held.

                  Do you think DIAC really wants to detain these people to torture them? I don’t. Therefore there must be reasons for their continued detention.


                  • Marilyn May 5, 2013 at 6:28 pm #

                    Yes they do. They are only trying to sit inside a deranged little non-existent quota per year so if they have too many they will keep them in jail for years on end.

                    When 80-90% of their so-called failed decisions are over turned on a simple merits review over a 20 year period you have to understand that they are keeping people in prison on purpose.


  4. Hypocritophobe May 4, 2013 at 10:05 am #

    So the sheep win and sock puppets win.
    Well done.This will be like Ellis in no time.

    Vanilla only.


    • silkworm May 4, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

      What sock puppets?


    • paul walter May 5, 2013 at 1:05 pm #

      Can’t you say something constructive, for once?


    • hudsongodfrey May 5, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

      Again we see thing from differing perspectives. This place is if anything a respite compared with Ellis’ site. Much as I love the old curmudgeon some of the posters there are freaking insane! They dominate many of the conversations making outrageous claims then have the unmitigated gall to make a habit of turning very nasty on a personal level if they’re confronted on any issue. I don’t know how he puts up with it!

      It pretty much ended for me when Bob finally revealed that somebody who’d been posting under a hitherto unknown identity had the same computer as another who’d earlier been banned. The person in question hates me and a few others with a vengeance and had wasted no time in maliciously deconstructing my comments for no apparent reason besides being an utter troll. Realising I was wasting my time I found myself losing interest in being a contributor soon thereafter.

      So if you want to know about socket puppets then I think Bob’s blog is sadly overpopulated with the same. If it’s sheepish to quit butting your head against the brick wall of their inevitable obtuseness then I feel no remorse. Having been left feeling more like the lamb that refused to go to slaughter, I just don’t find myself having the time to entertain their relentless gibberish any longer. Suffice to say that the kind of people who write comments that are either too short or too cryptic to be meaningful have become exceedingly boring to me.

      Why it is that some people think winning an argument for its own sake is more worthwhile than weighing ideas on their merits is beyond me. I suspect they hide ulterior motives that may have something to do with religion or some other misbegotten ideology that they refuse to own up to because it would mark them for the idiots that they truly are.


  5. Anonymous May 4, 2013 at 10:05 am #

    Thank you Jennifer, for caring so much. I am mindful of the fact that this is your blog, and that you put a lot of yourself into it. It’s always dangerous to put yourself out into the public sphere, because despite everybody’s best attempts at anticipating what reaction might emerge, it seems humanity’s ability to keep surprising , delighting, and disappointing, remains stubbornly one step ahead of even the best minds. Normally this is a good thing, but sometimes it isn’t – and so a little control and self-protection is always a good option.

    I value and enjoy your blog immensely as well, precisely for the qualities that Elizabeth is alluding to, ie your capacity to focus on the issues underlying the sorts of day-to-day occurrences which sometimes clash with our sense of how things should be, yet which we often struggle to identify why. I completely trust your judgement in deciding which comments are appropriate and which aren’t, and I very much hope that having this reassurance in place will encourage more people to put their thoughts down here. For my part I think you have tapped into a very important, but perhaps neglected vein in society’s need to examine itself – which as a first stab I might descibe as an intellectual, self-critical, and uncompromisingly ambitious approach to making the world a better place. We are sorely in need of this sort of debate in this country at the moment… so let’s see what happens from here!


    • paul walter May 5, 2013 at 5:37 pm #

      I agree with above, there IS heat, because the issues are that serious and the exploring can be painful when allowed to work through to a conclusion of substance.
      The debate over asylum seekers has reached anything but a conclusion, but HAS shown up a fracture line that divides two approaches, represented above in today’s contentions from Marilyn and Doug Quixote.
      We know now the problem, if not a solution.
      The pragmatic and idealist viewpoints allow no accommodation of each other; is there a solution to be discovered that can alter this seemingly irresolvable antipathy?


      • Marilyn May 5, 2013 at 6:29 pm #

        Obliterate the entire human race, problem solved. The fact is there is no debate, the refugee convention has 34 articles that are legally binding on all nations who ratified it.

        WE observe precisely none of them with any degree of decency.


        • paul walter May 5, 2013 at 7:56 pm #

          Well, there is no doubt the misery will continue unless something is dreamed to resolve the irresolvable.
          First time ever, people before profits?


          • paul walter May 5, 2013 at 10:34 pm #

            It is the system, like Cassandra, your great blessing and your great curse, is to see as it is, unlike many others.


  6. gerard oosterman May 4, 2013 at 7:19 pm #

    The horrific cruelty to asylum seekers and boat people has resulted in all exports and processing of those same people including their children, to off shore islands to be stopped immediately.
    Hang on, it only applies to cruelty to animals.

    Oh, hang on. This only applies to


  7. Julia May 4, 2013 at 10:37 pm #


    visiting a person’s blog IS exactly like visiting under their roof.

    and the visitor should ALWAYS respect the householder
    behaving, even in dissent, with decorum as a guest

    not butting and thrusting like a bunch of testosterone fuelled rams
    breaking the furniture and trampling all over

    and never actually saying anything new
    just baa baa baa

    send them off on the next live transport to Egypt

    would u like to borrow my kelpie x blue heeler?


    • helvityni May 5, 2013 at 9:45 am #

      We used have a kelpie x border collie, he was pretty amazing, without any training he used herd our Alpacas when they needed to be moved from one paddock to another. Of course the Alpacas being almost like pets, easy to handle creatures , did not really need any herding, maybe just a few new-comers that felt a bit lost when they came to our farm to be agisted..


  8. 730reportland May 4, 2013 at 11:43 pm #

    ha ha
    You lot got in trouble 🙂


  9. hudsongodfrey May 5, 2013 at 10:43 am #

    Okay so three posts in a row on the same subject indicates that there must be a problem, and yet nobody has been singled out and no specifics mentioned. And without getting down to specifics I don’t think that the problem will go away.

    It can’t be actual words because those are easily censored by simply changing a few settings in WordPress, and I don’t believe Jennifer particularly minds or takes offence to the occasional fricative imperative scattered about the place as long as theres a point to it all.

    Nor does it really work to say keep the conversation pitched on a level suited to your host’s living room in real life. For me this conjures images of the dreaded Xmas dinner conversation where so many of the very topics we want to discuss here are so far out of bounds that you’re limited to cricket, the weather and complementing the cook. Surely we don’t want that to happen.

    If you want to have a blog that exists only for the articles and admirers thereof, then admirable as the articles here may be, welcome to the ABC. Many of us know that as a well moderated site when a lot of work went into doing that it was pretty good until comments just started disappearing and eventually they started closing things for comment often before any discussion was able to occur. And it is discussion that attracts many of the readers to blogs.

    People want to be able to interact. It’s great to be able to discuss topics that are otherwise off limits in a more or less risk free environment. I don’t have to deal with clients and colleagues reactions to my opinions because they don’t know who I am here. I have a number of close friends in whose company I’d happily exchange thoughts about a range of similar issues but even then being too direct about politics is not always something I’d as cheerfully tackle there as here.

    Perhaps there should be more limits, perhaps we need somebody to set them. I try to see the kind of conversation that we have for what it is. When I feel people are being genuine but immoderate I forgive their outbreaks of tourettes and try to hear what they have to say and make my own thoughts heard on the matter. Once or twice we’ve been down what looked like the rabbit hole of no return and come up trumps. Those few and far between conversations have been worth their weight in gold to me, even if others reading them might be put off by an argumentative tone.

    Of course there are trolls and spammers, we see them pop up and often get ignored or seen off without great delay. But we’re not talking about the real trolls here, we’re talking about people who become abusive when they start to lose and argument, or people who won’t allow that the subject of the conversation can’t always be their current favourite hobby horse. Should I start demanding apologies I imagine I’d be kept waiting an eternity so there’s really no point other than to try and deal with moderating others myself if nobody else is going to deal with it for me. Is it feeding troll like behaviour among people who aren’t really meaning to be trolls but wind up being nuisances anyway? Am I being a nuisance by engaging them at all?

    I’m not afraid of a stoush in general but there are blogs a few of us are aware of where the trolls outnumber anyone genuine by a factor of 10 to 1. Not all trolls are created equal and many are just ordinary people with a bad attitude to being confronted by what are to them disagreeable ideas, but that doesn’t mean they have to be indulged. And what I’m hearing is that there’s such a thing as vigorous debate of the issue at hand as opposed to indulgent debate over issues that others bring back to the table time and again like a dog with a bone. If you can’t handle vigorous debate then either the site stops advertising itself as a place for it, or people like myself will either be moderated out or simply lose interest as I’ve done in those other sites I mentioned.

    I think rules about needing to stay on topic and personal attacks are norms on many blogs. But blogs being not such familiar territory to all and sundry the rules often need to be posted and reinforced with gentle moderation. I think taking down the odd post with a warning can be a good thing.

    Think also about whether the technology is available to allow people to flag posts for that kind of attention when they need to be.

    And if you really have to then run a language filter. It seems dumb to me too, but people tend to moderate their tone when some of their favourite words are denied them.


    • doug quixote May 5, 2013 at 11:42 am #

      A thoughtful consideration of the issues, as usual HG. Ultimately it is a matter for the blog host, and clearly Jennifer is not amused by the tone of many recent conversations. I suppose she is hoping that the strong warnings will have the desired effect and not have to ban people. I think certain argumentative posters have been subtly banned in the past; I have in mind a certain ‘from the pub’ person as one example.

      I’m all in favour of vigorous debate, as long as the exchanges are civil. Name calling and insult should have no place in debate. As for me, I will reply politely if I am addressed politely, obvious trolls excepted.

      Perhaps the ‘on topic’ idea needs to be enforced more vigorously, and perhaps old articles need to be closed off – I’ve noticed ‘bot type trolling on articles a year or more in the past.


      • hudsongodfrey May 5, 2013 at 12:50 pm #

        Thanks Doug,

        I’m not that worried about the bots, do they do any harm? Is whoever runs them depending on somebody to answer them?

        Anyway what would bother me more is having comments as curtailed as the ABC site now is. I hate that.

        I think the on topic idea can and should be adhered to or gently policed by everyone. It should not however be used as something to hide behind when we’re trying to discuss politics and somebody wants to make a point by extension. You can’t for example say that we only want to discuss Welfare if somebody genuinely thinks that the problem is that Defence spending is a drain on the budget.

        As for immoderate personal insults, chastened as we may now choose to present ourselves there have been times in the past and elsewhere when under severe duress from people who probably deserved it sprays were sprayed more willingly than perhaps they ought to have been. At the end of the day many of us don’t want to leave a conversation on that note or be forced to depart an entire blog because haters are allowed to ruin the experience. But it has happened, including once or twice to some hosts.

        Lastly there probably is one parallel to dinner conversation worth mentioning, and that is, don’t be boring!

        I find myself in repetitive exchanges that I’m fully aware are boring, and they do need to stop, they’re even boring me. They need to stop at some point and it becomes a problem that I feel compelled to defend myself or my ideas for the record, yet I seem to be encouraging others to say anything and everything that they can think of to stay in a state of permanent argument long after I’ve tried to agree to disagree.


        • doug quixote May 5, 2013 at 1:24 pm #

          A difficult question is when to abandon a thread. One does not want to leave the field of battle to the opponent, but there comes a time when you have said all you want to say and the “final say” by the opponent is not worth rebutting yet again.

          What I find annoying is that people often speed read or skim over a post and put in a reply which is half-cocked; when their error is pointed out there is rarely any apology – “Oh, sorry I misread your post” would defuse many an argument, and some posters seem determined to keep defending the indefensible.

          As for boring, the odd humorous item breaks up the tedium.

          I’m not sure when you came to this blog, but I came when MTR started her defamation threats, to lend support to Jennifer, the most benign of blog hosts I have come across (admittedly not many). For perhaps the last year I have only blogged here and at Bob’s site, and rarely at Pobjie’s (though that is difficult and very patchy). Work often gets in the way (!) and replies can be hit and miss.


          • hudsongodfrey May 5, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

            Yes I reckon I first came here at around about the same time, and also looked in on Bob at Helvi’s urging because it also coincided with the virtual demise of what used to be unleashed, (now very much leashed and the worse for it).

            I have as you’ll know pretty much desisted from commenting on Bob’s site much as I often appreciate the forthrightness of his articles. The self appointed literati trolls bored me to tears in the end. I don’t know how you stand them!


            • doug quixote May 5, 2013 at 5:52 pm #

              I suppose because I have an agenda. I am broadly in support of Bob’s worldview, and I see dreadful downsides to the election of the federal opposition. They are largely unreconstructed remnants of Howard’s regime, and have no genuine claim to being returned to power.

              The Labor government for all its faults is man for man and woman for woman a far better team to be in charge of the Ministries which affect our daily lives. What we have seen of the Lib/Nat policies certainly has done nothing to change that view.

              And besides that, it is fun to satirise the conservatives who like to beard the lion in his den. 🙂


              • hudsongodfrey May 5, 2013 at 6:22 pm #

                As you know I broadly agree. Or at least I can’t see that we’ll ever halt an unseemly drift to the right by voting for conservatives.


              • Garpal Gumnut May 5, 2013 at 6:56 pm #

                doug, you just do not know whether the Libs would be or not be better than the ALP. The evidence is there for a chaotic, misspent, overpromised, on the run, unprovisioned 6 years under Labor. Your allegiance to the ALP is admirable, but failing to see any good in t’other side is misplaced. My view of the ALP frontbench and the PM mirrors Shakespeare, “A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.”


                • hudsongodfrey May 5, 2013 at 8:36 pm #


                  The idea that we may not know the opposition’s policies on everything but we know them pretty well on some things at least. Governments also make policy announcements during election campaigns about initiatives they intend to adopt and pursue if re-elected. So valid as the quote from the bard may be a valid one I suggest that it applies to all politicians. For many of us here thoughts of Abbott as leader and Morrison as immigration minister are not very comforting in terms of at least one area of policy we’d like to see improved upon.

                  Mindful as I am that we ought to steer this back onto the topic of how the conversation is conducted I see that with your opening statements you’re practically telling us that your tendencies, dare we say allegiances, may tend towards the opposition parties. Let me be clear in saying that as long as you’ve a point to be made then I’m more than happy to hear it and that if we can do the seemingly impossible and keep the conversation civil then I’d love to hear whether somebody who has quite the opposite perspective from my own things Labor’s problems are a failure perhaps in the same terms as I do or for completely different reasons.

                  My take on the situation in a nutshell, (you may be aware that I explored this at greater length recently), is that Labor has failed it’s own supporters by veering too far to the right. It therefore strikes me as problematic that we cannot logically obtain redress for those excesses by voting for the conservative parties, especially when their leadership are so far right as they appear to be.

                  What case I wonder would you make to refute any of that?


                  • Garpal Gumnut May 5, 2013 at 8:48 pm #

                    Thanks hg for the chance to reply.

                    On Immigration policy I am basically supportive of the Liberal position. There is a limitless number of people who for reasons of persecution or economics, are willing to risk their lives coming to Australia. Labor by it’s inaction has encouraged this.

                    I accept and understand your humanitarian stance but don’t agree with it. I believe we need to have strong borders and planned immigration, and more of it, from all corners of the world.

                    On the matter of the ALP moving to the right, I cannot agree. They just move, hither and thither and are poll driven, cabal and sector influenced ( unions, factions, etc.)


                    • hudsongodfrey May 5, 2013 at 10:57 pm #

                      Okay I’ll accept your last point if not your first two. In fact I think you’re very wrong on both of the first two and an tempted to educate you on the matter, but it may be neither productive nor relevant. Let’s see if we can come back to immigration later and press on with the matter of your perspective on Labor’s follies.

                      I agree that the poll driven politics has been a failing first of Rudd and later and some would say more so of Gillard. But are they entirely mislead I wonder or simply entirely Machiavellian? After all and for what polls are worth it does appear to emerge that they’re pandering to a select group of people in marginal seats who believe stuff that isn’t very different than what you’re saying about climate change and refugees.

                      So okay I guess I am going to have to go there, a little…. What in your opinion is the difference between the Labor and Liberal positions on refugees.

                      To me they’re almost equally abominable, but I have a slight sense that some within the Labor party are amenable to relaxing the more draconian measures if only to appease Greens in the Senate. I’ve argued long and hard that in many ways Labor stands as the lesser of two evils because I think there’s a chance that freed from the strictures of minority government they may have chosen to act differently.

                      Abbott is by now so deeply committed to his “stop the boats” rhetoric that quite apart from our bemoaning who that appeals to, his greatest challenge may well be trying to deliver upon those promises. I don’t think he can or will because I’ve looked at the evidence and I think it points to push factors. And I think that means he would be bound to fail, and fail miserably because even the failure wouldn’t make the tainted agenda that it’s premised upon go away.


                • helvityni May 5, 2013 at 9:53 pm #

                  A fool thinks himself to be wise, but the wise people know he is a fool and will not vote for him (only fools will want a foolish man like Abbott as PM)


                  • paul walter May 5, 2013 at 10:29 pm #

                    Don’t forget, this is Australia..


    • paul walter May 5, 2013 at 10:31 pm #

      An older wiser person once told me, “If you are getting kicked up the butt, you must be in front”.


      • hudsongodfrey May 5, 2013 at 11:10 pm #

        Hmmm! On a lighter note, that puts me in mind of a lovely Dorothy Parkerism. When making her entrance to some event or another she was chastised by an older woman with the saying “Age before beauty”, to which she retorted entering anyway, “No, pearls before swine!”

        Just my way of saying I’m not so sure who’s in front but thanks for the support anyway 🙂


  10. paul walter May 5, 2013 at 7:57 pm #

    Garpal Nutgum, how can you succeed in reversing the truth so comprehensively?


    • silkworm May 5, 2013 at 8:00 pm #

      I bet Garpal is also a climate change denier.


      • Garpal Gumnut May 5, 2013 at 8:19 pm #

        silkworm, I am a sceptic, I find the word denier has medieval connotations. I would hate to end up in a basket below a fire lit by believers. It has been quite a warm summer nonetheless.


        • hudsongodfrey May 5, 2013 at 8:46 pm #


          I’m a sceptic too and both the Sceptics Society of Australia and Michael Shermer’s support the sceintific evidence based approach to climate science on which there is currently the greatest consensus. We real sceptics reject conspiracy theories, paranormal and pseudo-scientific claims from a responsible scientific viewpoint.

          I agree entirely with your sentiment even while pondering whether the actual medieval procedure might involve suspending said victim over the roasting flames, with any luck after a quick garrotting.


          • Garpal Gumnut May 5, 2013 at 9:00 pm #

            I would agree hg that the consensus in the scientific community and the popular scientific press is for global warming, then again when I was a lad, it was for global cooling.

            Roll-on deodorants would appear to have saved us from the latter.

            I distrust modelling.

            Give me a Popper any day.


            • helvityni May 5, 2013 at 9:58 pm #

              Give me science any day, dear.


            • hudsongodfrey May 5, 2013 at 11:06 pm #

              With all the respect that I hope you’ll realise frankness implies, I think you want to distrust modelling. But it’s all we’ve got when our preference must be to do the best we can on limited information we have over conducting destructive testing with ourselves as the guinea pigs. Not that I think the situation is likely to be that alarming, but seriously we’re a slovenly lot and we need some kind of prodding to realise that there is such a thing as a precautionary principle if we’re really unsure, and if we’re only moderately unsure then there’s still no such thing as a prerogative to pollute!


              • Garpal Gumnut May 6, 2013 at 12:02 am #

                Modelling I do distrust hg, particularly of climate, or as I prefer to call it weather.

                I am a student of chaos theory, strange attractors and Edward Lorenz.

                Where one begins the modelling has as much effect on the outcome as the data input.

                This I believe is the main error in the popular scientific belief at present.


                • hudsongodfrey May 6, 2013 at 12:36 am #

                  Okay so look at it this way. Socrates said “I know nothing except for the fact of my ignorance”, and it was great advice, but it didn’t stop informed men from passing down their best guesses as to how the sun and planets made their revolutions around a flat earth.

                  We do the best we can with the tools and knowledge that we have. We should otherwise be so irresponsible as to do nothing?


                  • doug quixote May 7, 2013 at 7:49 am #

                    You both have access to all the published scientific papers and the opinions of world experts, yet you seek to convince each other in a blog thread?

                    Why not discuss how many angels can dance on the head of a pin – just as effective and rewarding, HG.


                    • hudsongodfrey May 7, 2013 at 11:52 am #

                      It’s a fair point but it does seem that too many people fall prey to being blinded by science. They don’t understand it well enough that when presented with a few selective snippets of pseudo-science that they want to believe they’re able to resist the temptation.

                      I include myself in this. I’m not persuaded by the data at first hand. I’m persuaded by a consensus of credible opinion that makes a case for the precautionary principle because a case for anything more definite than that just isn’t within our grasp.

                      In that sense I think opinion does matter whether we’d prefer it to hold quite the sway that it does or not. We have to meet the agenda driven kind with something that is better informed. And to do that there’s no better tool than the Baloney Detection Kit, googling those words and looking at the material you’ll find is one way to separate the real sceptics from those who practice selective hearing loss.


          • Garpal Gumnut May 5, 2013 at 11:26 pm #

            I’m replying to your post hg, beginning

            “Okay I’ll accept your last point if not your first two. In fact I think you’re very wrong on both of the first two and an tempted to educate you on the matter, but it may be neither productive nor relevant.”

            As there was no reply button after your post, I will post it here.

            From my reading of your argument it appears to me that the crux of our difference is push and pull factors in migration.

            You believe in inevitable push factors in unpredictable migration to Australia, and I do not.

            One must remember that so called boat people are a small number in our total immigration and many are desperate and long term homeless. I share your angst over their fate.

            Nonetheless, I live in Northern Australia, and share the foibles and beliefs about such historical facts as the “Brisbane Line” and live less than 100m from a site which suffered a direct hit from a Japanese aircraft in WW2.

            We are all bound by our environment, beliefs and prejudices.

            The people of Northern and Western Australia see the increase in boat arrivals as a direct threat to the stability of the borders at which they live closer than city folk in the South.

            The filly faddling of the ALP and the massive increase in arrivals under their watch is unwelcome and threatening.

            Tony Abbott, much as you would disagree provides a simple effective answer to the boat arrivals, as John Howard did.

            To stop them.

            There will always be refugees both humanitarian and economic and Australia has a system in place in which to welcome them.

            This is preferable to refugees being loaded on unseaworthy boats by criminals.

            Lastly, I am in favour of a larger Australia, more diverse, and with more immigration.

            As for the wider argument on the ALP vs LNP, perhaps it is better for another post.


            • hudsongodfrey May 6, 2013 at 12:17 am #

              If you obtain a free (potentially anonymous) WordPress account there’s always a reply button in the toolbar that appears across the top of any WordPress blog page.

              I don’t believe in pull factors because the evidence of how many are actually drawn to our region out of the overall diaspora from the world’s various war torn regions is disproportionately small. Our sense of our being the “lucky country” is it would seem exaggerated.

              But then what of the push factors. How are people finding their way all the way down here? I think the answer is in a series of little pushes along a path of least resistance given that so few countries offer refugees even the modicum of hope they have in coming here to face life in cruel and unnecessary detention.

              Either way the push or pull factors are not at the crux of the argument. I haven’t ignored your point to do you a complete injustice, but the facts are that as you say we do have a humanitarian program and currently in conducting it we single out people who arrive in boats disproportionately. We treat them appallingly inhumanely given that most are found to be genuine refugees and this the very people we mean to help. This is simply not good enough, and nor is it in any sense of the word about numbers of refugees in our region. I won’t go on in the hope that in sharing “angst over their fate” I shouldn’t have to.

              I do have to correct you that apart from operating the odd unseaworthy vessel at exorbitant rates it is wrong to characterise the operators of asylum seeker boats as criminals. Seeking asylum is simply and unequivocally not a crime, and nor is providing transport for such purposes in violation of anything more serious than travelling without a visa, by the crew.

              The matter of push versus pull factors then is one of whether Howard stopped the boats or there was a time during which the numbers of people seeking asylum within our immediate region briefly declined. There is evidence for the later but an even stronger argument in terms of the very real admissions we need to face up to in terms of Labor’s failure in creating a regime that has now equalled or exceeded Howard’s in unaccountable cruelty towards refugees. If deterrents were going to work then they surely locking up women and children and sending people to Manus and Nauru would already have done so. Trying to think of new ways to be exceedingly unpleasant towards refugees is simply not something Australians as a people who regard themselves as civilised ought to entertain. Especially when it isn’t even working to do something that we frankly don’t need to achieve!

              The numbers that can be identified within our region as liable to risk boat journeys with the certain loss of some lves is relatively small. We have a quota of 20,000 per annum that would allow us to make a serious dent in the Indonesian camps and in all likelihood stop having to worry about this insane obsession with boat arrivals…..

              The real question then is why we don’t and the answer is the politics of fear, xenophobia and expendable little coloured people who our politicians are using as pawns in the disgusting spectacle of carping and dog whistling that has become the race to the bottom.

              If you want to know what a real Liberal politician looks like then please by all means ask Malcolm Fraser’s opinion. He as some views that I think would be a vast improvement upon those of either of the current major parties….

              Otherwise you’re right we’ve digressed perhaps a little further than our invitation permits and should revisit the topic at a later date.

              I will justify this on a plea bargain as evidence that we did in fact manage to canvass the content of our political disagreement without resorting to personal attacks.


              • Garpal Gumnut May 6, 2013 at 12:43 am #

                Thanks hg, as always you make me think.

                I agree that our treatment of migrants on Manus and Nauru is not good.

                The politics of fear and xenophobia are universals, and all too close to the surface in Australia.

                I have lived in cultures where I was the ” the little coloured white person ” and it is not pleasant.

                Border protection is probably where we differ.

                You see the influx of uncontrolled arrivals as being finite, containable and capable of assimilation.

                I do not.

                Keep up your justifiable rage, and I will defend your right to do so, without necessarily always agreeing with you.

                Notwithstanding the three line posting muppets surrounding our conversations.


                • Marilyn May 6, 2013 at 6:25 am #

                  It has nothing to do with our frigging borders, it has to do with the legal protection of a tiny number of people who ask.

                  What is wrong with you people.


                  • paul walter May 6, 2013 at 12:53 pm #

                    You think WE are crook?
                    Go read some of the savage stuff up on the asylum seeker thread at On Line Opinion.


                • helvityni May 6, 2013 at 8:39 am #

                  GG, the people on Manus island live in conditions that I would not let my sheep, cows or dogs experience ,not even for a day. Hot stuffy tents, mosquitos, no medical care…try it for week and see how you go…
                  You call them migrants, or is it economic migrants, I thought they desperate people looking for an asylum, refugees…

                  So sorry for you, how dreadful to be called ‘little coloured white person’…

                  I don’t care what you call me, and you have called me by many names, “heartless” should never been one of your ad hominems directed at me, and of course not at Marilyn either.


                • helvityni May 6, 2013 at 9:33 am #

                  GG, we all love Hudson, he has plenty to say, yet he manages to leave the insults and ad hominems out of his posts. Your referral to “the three line posting muppets” adds nothing to the discussion….
                  I defend Hudson’s right to write longish posts and mine to keep them short.
                  .Here I’m with Abbott, he says “no more tax” , I say “lets pay more tax”…
                  He says “turn the boats back” , I say “let them in”.


                • hudsongodfrey May 6, 2013 at 10:16 am #

                  Thanks I guess, even if I do take some exception to the notion of assimilation. We’re not the Borg collective from Star Trek, some of us actually believe that the Australian experience of Multiculturalism has been a positive one, despite what the Europeans seem to think of it.

                  I’ve also lived in places where racism was directed against me and I think the unpleasantness of that experience informs my attitude towards others in that I’d never want to become the enemy, the hateful person who makes other members of our community live with the constant reminder that they’re just outsiders or second class citizens.


                  • helvityni May 6, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

                    Multiculturalism has indeed worked pretty well in Australia. Then Howard started waking up xenophobia by saying : we are the ones who decide whom we let in. Of course Hanson’s sentiments did not help either, there are ‘ rednecks’ in every country, the shock jocks have done plenty of damage, and now we have Scott Morrison with his anti asylum seekers talk.( I believe he is racist)

                    I don’t think that Abbott and Gillard are personally racist or refugee haters, they just believe that keeping the boats and people away off Oz shores is a major vote winner. It worked for Howard after all.


                    • hudsongodfrey May 6, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

                      I agree that it has been a vote winner but I think we’ve reached a point where it has gone too far. It appeased the sensibilities of some people outside the Southern States by doing the wrong thing. We we should have had leadership to lead us away from xenophobia we had politicians who tallied the numbers and took the easy path. The problem now is that path has consequences and one of them has been to divide society over these largely confected issues.

                      Having a conversation as we can here where everyone doesn’t simply divide and scatter back to their entrenched camps when confronted with things like the taint of racism on our national character is a very good think. It may even be worth biting our tongues and listening to other views from time to time.


                    • paul walter May 6, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

                      But its still a disturbing set of policies- is it the”real world” some claim to have been warning Australians of?

                      On a slightly different issue, today’s On Line Opinion indicates the depth of some sections of the public’s hostility to asylum seekers.
                      Comparatively speaking, this site is a beacon of moderation.


                    • helvityni May 6, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

                      Paul, I see that hatred on The Dum on any asylum seeker blog. I expected better from ABC, they ought not to publish the ugliest, most hateful posts.


              • Marilyn May 7, 2013 at 6:32 am #

                No we don’t have a quota of 20,000 per year. WE pretend we are importing 12,000 refugees who already have protection in other countries and then keep a miserable 8,000 visas for those who are entitled to seek asylum here.


                • hudsongodfrey May 7, 2013 at 11:28 am #

                  No we don’t pretend anything. On the published figures we’re no reason to suspect that the 12,000 don’t actually come here.

                  What are you trying to say? That Burmese and displaced people from Africa are somehow less deserving of humanitarian assistance on an equivalent basis.

                  Many of us are rightly outraged at the kinds of things we’ve seen on Four Corners the other week. Our failed for a second time detention policies are callous in the extreme, and should be stopped. But I think it is going to be a waste of time if we misdirect the upwelling of outrage in us by allowing it to coalesce around an ideological position that is simply unacceptable to so many Australians.

                  The problem that I have with the distinction that most Australians seem to be drawing as reflected in our politics it that arguments around orderly process and border protection are transparently code for a kind of xenophobia that has as its particular focus people of non-white complexion arriving in boats.

                  The problem I have with the distintion you’re drawing between humanitarian programs focused on border entrants as opposed to overseas applicants is that most of the worlds trouble spots are so distant from Australia that we do better by people when we do offer them the means of transport to get here. Or at least something has to be said for the benefits of not requiring people to take the risk of drowning at sea in order to press their claims for protection.

                  We shouldn’t hate or fear boats, that has always been a ridiculous and perplexing response not to mention a disappointing one. However it is clear that the best solution is to do what Fraser did. Find out where the boats are coming from and accept genuine refugees from those sources with as little delay as practicably possible.


        • helvityni May 5, 2013 at 10:02 pm #

          …and your beliefs, GG, a tad too medieval, methinks, a bit Abbotty.


          • paul walter May 5, 2013 at 10:32 pm #

            Never mind numgut, just a troll..


            • helvityni May 5, 2013 at 11:09 pm #

              I know Paul, when banned from there , they come here, or vica versa….


              • paul walter May 6, 2013 at 12:02 am #

                Yes, recognised the name.


      • silkworm May 6, 2013 at 1:06 am #

        I was right about Garpal. He is a denier, and he is in denial about it! Quelle surprise! All he has given us is pseudoscience. Climate = weather? Really? These right-wing ideologues are so predictable.


        • hudsongodfrey May 6, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

          Okay Silkworm, it’s all well and good that you have a difference of opinion with somebody that you’re prepared to state, but we’re not here to discuss what’s wrong with others’ opinions so much as to improve our own standard of conversation at Jennifer’s request and those of others.

          Labels such as “denier’ and “right wing ideologue” have their place when applied to the kinds of collective sentiment that they describe. They should in my view be used far more sparingly if at all in relation to individuals lest we be accused of ad hominem attacks.

          I also have to register my despair when some people seem to think that anyone who isn’t within a hair’s breadth of the exact same political orientation as them is some kind of troll! Surely the question that the topic asks here is why we can’t disagree without wanting to attack one another?


          • silkworm May 6, 2013 at 6:46 pm #

            How is “denier” an inappropriate description? If one denies the science of climate change, then one is a climate change denier, not a skeptic. “Skeptic” is not an appropriate description. That is a term the deniers have adopted to give themselves a veneer of scientific respectability but which is undeserved. The Australian Skeptics Society has distanced itself from these people.


            • hudsongodfrey May 6, 2013 at 7:26 pm #

              I made the point about the Australian and American Sceptics or (Skeptics) Societies myself. I think if you wanted to treat this as if it were a defamation case where truth is a defence then maybe you could, but we’re not talking about that right now. The topic is about how to make the conversation better by leaving aside the ad hominem and personal attacks, and the problem I see with labels that we give to others is that they’re almost regarded as epithets and lead to ill feeling. Which is one very good reason to avoid them if your intention in the conversation is to be constructive.


    • Garpal Gumnut May 5, 2013 at 8:11 pm #

      paul, I believe Jennifer suggested we keep the ad hominem out of it. Argue your case, without the cheap shots, lest I be tempted to alter you to an anchor.


  11. paul walter May 5, 2013 at 8:12 pm #

    And whose army is helping you?
    Seriously, just a humorous way of reminding another poster not to deliberately present falsehoods.


  12. paul walter May 5, 2013 at 8:13 pm #

    Got it in one, silkworm.


  13. doug quixote May 5, 2013 at 11:18 pm #

    Garpal Gumnut (aka Garbled Bumfluff) is a troll excluded from Bob Ellis’ blog. What makes it think it will be welcome here? Running out of places to go, Bumfluff?


    • hudsongodfrey May 5, 2013 at 11:33 pm #

      Okay so if we’re going to do the right thing and stick to the topic of how the conversation ought to be conducted here then lets take a look at our approach to the poster you’re decrying here.

      Sorry GG if I’m talking about you within earshot as it were.

      I’m interested Doug in whether your approach isn’t too quick to pull the trigger on somebody you obviously know and I gather distrust more than I do. After all I don’t think that civilly disagreeing by holding views we may share a distaste for is actually trolling in and of itself.

      I welcome the opportunity to interrogate the views of one whose perspective is different to my own. To test as it were the relative merits of our arguments if we are allowed the chance in this hoped for absence of personal vitriol.

      But of course the personal is political and this may not be possible. We shall see. I will tolerate disagreement. I think we are resolved that I nor anyone else should not have to tolerate personal abuse. If we are then I hope I am supported by swift and decisive action of the political turns personal and if we aren’t then who knows, we may actually learn something 🙂


      • Garpal Gumnut May 5, 2013 at 11:45 pm #

        doug, Rather unfair comments, considering yours above and preceding.

        Many would consider it an honour to be excluded from Mr Ellis’ blog.

        And I was not banned, I banned Bob, and this is a matter of record.

        He was most discomposed, and I am told, has not recovered.

        hg, your ultimate paragraph is disconcerting. I have behaved with courtesy and argument to you, and the threats of swifts is unsettling and I would seek a retraction.

        I do enjoy and learn from your thoughts.


        • hudsongodfrey May 6, 2013 at 12:31 am #

          I am placed in a position of having to agree that some of the things I said would indeed be disconcerting. I offered fair warning in advanced and judged their inclusion to be necessary for Doug’s benefit.

          Nor do I dispute your courtesy nor extend anything less than the same in kind. You have once again my sincere apology that these things needed to be said. I hope you’ll understand that a retraction would be deeply hypocritical and therefore won’t be forthcoming.

          If you’re under any illusion that you’re on probation here then I think you’re wrong on a couple of fronts, because a) we all are Jennifer has made that much abundantly clear, and b) it would be arrogant of me in the extreme to regard myself as the arbiter of said probation. I’m just saying that I wish to see the personal attacks curtailed and hope to see the sum and breadth of our conversations here flourish in their absence.


          • paul walter May 6, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

            Fair comment.


          • samjandwich May 6, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

            Again, I think Jennifer has pretty well-developed ideas on what constitutes abuse and what doesn’t. To answer your question some way above HG, it would seem Mr Atomou was primarily responsible for sparking this thing off. Kyle Sandilands would I’m sure be proud to hear of his personal style having been taken up by the likes of that dummy-chewing individual.

            Trolls are one thing, but people who get involved ostensibly for the right reasons only to turn virulent are the most offensive. I think in this case the person concerned was given ample opportunity to demonstrate exactly what kind of person he was, such that there was little doubt about the kinds of behaviour that come naturally to him, in the linear sense…


            • hudsongodfrey May 6, 2013 at 1:24 pm #

              I have also found Atomou to be one of the best and most intellectually stimulating of contributors at times so to use a metaphor he could easily expand upon at length each of us have personalities that can at times be double edged swords.

              If I can have a civil conversation with GG with whom I disagree a lot more than I do with Hypo or Atomou then I think it is a pity that sometimes when we get closer to agreeing we get so much more picky about the minutiae of the issues we’re discussing.

              I don’t see the point in picking out individuals for criticism any more than I see the point in shitting in our own nest.


              • samjandwich May 6, 2013 at 1:45 pm #

                Yes well me too re atomou. He did have a lively and intelligent imagination to be sure, and it is difficult to find interesting people to talk to these days. But that only made his abusiveness all the more disappointing.

                It is true that people like me who work in the community sector possibly do have a heightened sensitivity to instances of abusiveness, because we are aware of the damage it causes, and so when we see people like atomou engaging in behaviour that is qualitatively not that far removed from domestic violence and bullying then perhaps we react more strongly than other people might… though I would maintain not without good reason.

                On an unrelated note, I’ve never really been into Bob Ellis’ blog, but I’m still on the mailing list of OLO, which does turn up some gems every now and then – like this one from today, for example:

                Commentators seem to be thinning out there unfortunately. What’s going on??


                • paul walter May 6, 2013 at 8:32 pm #

                  Diffusion is killing the old sites,they now go to fb twitter or big organisationally-controlled sites at newspapers, or if they’re lucky, the Drum..


              • Garpal Gumnut May 6, 2013 at 6:33 pm #

                Very good points hg. I do agree with you by the way on Manus and Nauru and Guantanamo for that matter.

                What makes us truly sentient beings is being able to understand another’s suffering, and what it must be like for those people living in such an inhuman space.

                Where we disagree is on what has led to those places existing, the collateral issues surrounding the problem, the wider problems and how to go about dealing with them.


                • hudsongodfrey May 6, 2013 at 7:17 pm #

                  We may have discussed this elsewhere and I don’t recall, but I don’t know that we agree or disagree about the details nor assume that we do on the basis of the short and recent conversations that we’ve had here.

                  There’s a thread called the Happy Place where you’re welcome to go off topic and introduce conversations of your own if you wish to.



  14. doug quixote May 6, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

    Regarding Gumnut, don’t say you weren’t warned.


  15. hudsongodfrey May 6, 2013 at 7:02 pm #

    Just so that others know that it happens to the best of us….


    • paul walter May 6, 2013 at 8:33 pm #

      Yes, I guess so.


  16. paul walter May 6, 2013 at 8:38 pm #

    Doug, GG will rise or fall on the quality of the posting and ideas. One more shouldn’t hurt.


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