Should Uthman Badar’s talk “Honour killings are morally justified” have been cancelled by the Festival of Dangerous Ideas?

25 Jun


Uthman Badar is the Media Representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir, an Islamic organisation whose goals are described on its website as follows:

 4. Hizb ut-Tahrir’s Work

The work of Hizb ut-Tahrir is to carry the Islamic da’wah in order to change the situation of the corrupt society so that it is transformed into an Islamic society. It aims to do this by firstly changing the society’s existing thoughts to Islamic thoughts so that such thoughts become the public opinion among the people, who are then driven to implement and act upon them. Secondly the Party works to change the emotions in the society until they become Islamic emotions that accept only that which pleases Allah (swt) and rebel against and detest anything which angers Allah (swt). Finally, the Party works to change the relationships in the society until they become Islamic relationships which proceed in accordance with the laws and solutions of Islam. These actions which the Party performs are political actions, since they relate to the affairs of the people in accordance with the Shari’ah rules and solutions, and politics in Islam is looking after the affairs of the people, either in opinion or in execution or both, according to the laws and solutions of Islam.

Badar was until today scheduled to give a talk at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas titled ” Honour killings are morally justified.” After a public outcry, Mr Badar’s session has been cancelled.

The fact that I have great reservations about Badar’s proposed talk, and question the title and accompanying précis, does not mean I think it should have been cancelled. The fact that I don’t believe a festival of ideas is a platform for defending or advocating murder does not mean I think Mr Badar’s talk should have been cancelled either, in light of the story becoming rather more complicated with Mr Badar’s assertion that FODI dictated both the title and the content of his presentation, and neither were of his choosing.

It’s a mistake in a debate about free speech to assume that questioning or contesting an opinion equates to a demand for silencing that opinion. It is possible to hold two apparently opposing views simultaneously, for example, objecting to a position while allowing it to be presented and argued. It doesn’t seem possible in today’s climate to argue against a point of view, without an assumption being made that you are attempting to silence that point of view. My right to freely express my doubts and objections is not synonymous with me calling for the speech I’m questioning to be banned. Indeed, accusing someone of denying someone else free speech when they are robustly questioning a perspective, is an effective way of closing down debate.

We still have, if by the skin of our teeth, legal protections in place for when free speech becomes an incitement to perpetrate harm.

If I see a talk advertised under the title “Honour killings are morally justified,” given by an individual who advocates Shari’ah law, I’m not going to read that title as ironic, as has been argued by some. I might if, say, The Chaser used it. I have never associated irony with proponents of Shari’ah law, which might well be a grave misunderstanding on my part, however, the dire consequences of the implementation of that moral code, particularly for women and girls, lead me to believe a statement such as “honour killings are morally justified” is more likely to be literal than ironic when it apparently originates from an advocate of Shari’ah law. I am not Islamaphobic, xenophobic, racist, closed-minded, in favour of censorship, or a denier of free speech, when I question a talk that purports to commence from the alarming proposition that honour killings are morally justified.

It was once in Western culture perfectly acceptable to drown women suspected of exercising supernatural powers, which may not be vastly different from murdering women suspected of offending male sensibilities. I seriously doubt, however, that a talk with the declarative title “Drowning women who might be witches was morally justified” could be offered as an “exploration” of the topic.

Badar has been denied access to one platform, arguably not a particularly large one. He has other platforms available to him from which he is at liberty to express his views. To claim that his freedom of speech has been denied is ludicrous. Should he now post his talk on his website, for example, I’m fairly sure he’ll have a much wider audience, given the publicity, than he’d have enjoyed at the festival. Far from curtailing him this outcry, should he take advantage of it, will allow him to explain his opinions to a much wider audience.

Badar claims he did not want the title used, or the accompanying précis in which he argues that the West’s attitude to honour killings is a form of Orientalism, following Edward Said’s ground-breaking work. In itself this is a problematic thesis as the abhorrence of killing women and girls who have allegedly “shamed” their menfolk is an abhorrence of ghastly murder, rather than an abhorrence of Muslims. Like any other cultural practice, it can be and is employed in racist slurs, but to assume all objections to honour killing are racially motivated is ridiculous.

That the West’s position on honour killings is hypocritical is beyond doubt, given the numbers of women killed by their male family members in Australia alone every year. If this is the direction in which Mr Badar intended to take us, then FODI would have done well to better explain his intentions, and the talk would indeed have been dangerous.

Given that Badar denies that he supports honour killings, albeit it with the caveat “as they are understand (sic) in the West,” I think his talk should have gone ahead. I suspect FODI did not have the appetite for the demonstrations it would likely provoke, and so refused Badar access to their platform. However, if Badar’s claims are true, and FODI orchestrated both the content of his talk and its publicity, one has to wonder what their moral justification might be for the exploitation of honour killings of women and girls, in the pursuit of controversy and publicity.

Those of us who challenged Badar’s advertised thesis have not silenced him. FODI removed him from their platform, with Simon Longstaff, Director of the St James Centre for Ethics, claiming he would not be given a fair hearing. In other words FODI is unable to deal with the public reaction to a dangerous idea they proposed, apparently in their terms and contrary to the beliefs of the speaker, which, when you think about it, makes the whole purpose of FODI rather open to question.

This morning Longstaff tweeted as follows: “The session to explore ‘honour killings’ has been cancelled. Alas, people read the session title – and no further. Just too dangerous.” Unfortunately the session title does not suggest an exploration. It is a declaration: Honour killings are morally justified. Presumably the FODI publicists are aware of the power of a title, and the belief readers are entitled to hold that titles are an indicator of content, unless of course we’re reading News Corpse.

I do not accept there is a cultural context that warrants the barbaric practice of honour killings, anymore than I accept that the Puritans should have tied alleged witches to a stool and thrown them in the river. Therefore, quite what there is to “explore” on the topic is a mystery to me. The slaughter of women and girls for the alleged crime of offending male sensibilities is not a topic for clever intellectual play. Shame on the FODI for considering it to be such.









84 Responses to “Should Uthman Badar’s talk “Honour killings are morally justified” have been cancelled by the Festival of Dangerous Ideas?”

  1. boeufblogginon June 26, 2014 at 11:08 am #

    Your piece raises the dilemma of living in a democratic society where freedoms are taken for granted by the people and yet are constantly under threat from Governments. None is more obvious than the current brouhaha over the FODI’s cancellation of a highly outrageous, distasteful and totally unacceptable topic dealing with ‘honour killings’ of women; a misnomer if ever there was one.

    Freedom of speech entails giving the right to those who give voice to a point of view totally repugnant to a large section of the populace. The limitation to this freedom should be inciting violence against groups that make up our disparate society. As the topic justified the ultimate violence to women by a small extremist religious group this talking point being silenced has been defended by those whose decision it was.

    My view is that the discussion should have been allowed to continue, and my right to boo and throw my left slipper to the speaker concerned should also have been allowed. In that way both our freedoms of expression have remained untrammelled.

    The FODI does not emerge well from this PR debacle.


  2. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) June 26, 2014 at 11:31 am #

    I feel perhaps just a little compromised in seeking to respond to this blog post. For those having some background knowledge of Jennifer’s views on women’s clothing styles, these tweets may offer some insight as to why that could be so:

    Cognisant as I am as to Jennifer’s possible views as to the extent of my compromise, to wit:

    I feel I must highlight the ‘leggings perspective’, one to which the background and currency of which is given more fully in this link, just in case you cannot get it from the embedded tweet above:

    You see, as one largely indifferent as to the wearing of leggings by women, I feel particularly potentially exposed, in the circumstance of any spread of Islam as defined by Badar, to the prospect of something akin to an ‘honour killing’. One would also expect that this is the unspoken threat hanging over some of the Iranian parliamentarians mentioned.

    With Uthman Badar now claiming that the cancellation of his presentation on the moral justification of honour killings by the Festival of Dangerous Ideas (#FODI) is islamophobic, to wit:

    I feel honour bound to help limit the collateral damage of that possibly misbegotten decision by at least discussing it, as far as can be done in the absence of the talk itself. After all, by Badar’s own claim, it will not be islamophobic to do so. And who knows, he may even post the text of his proposed ‘dangerous idea’ presentation here on ‘Sheep’!


  3. Marilyn June 26, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

    But many more men die for the sake of honour, Dubya started a war and invaded a nation to honour his daddy, the Orange and the Green kill each other in the name of honour.

    Come on girls, don’t buy into the glaring lies told by the liberal party and their rancid media hacks.


  4. Marilyn June 26, 2014 at 4:09 pm #

    In fact it’s not really that long ago that men had duels of honour where one always ended up dead, that is in the west.

    I do get tired of hypocritical ramblings every time a muslim opens their mouth, or in this case says nothing at all.

    The festival was planned months ago, the outrage happened yesterday. Why is the question because it seems to have been well orchestrated by the rancid Murdoch hacks to take away from the conviction of Coulson.


  5. paul walter June 26, 2014 at 7:45 pm #

    The problem is that the ham-fisted banning is self defeating.

    It is not going to get any issues or attitudes out into the public forum to be aired, that can clear misconceptions on the part of Australians or allow for a grounded conversation involving Muslims as to how this community may feel about the thinking behind cultural practices we may find abhorrent.

    It has to be remembered that it is likely that some practices have intensified in parts of a Muslim world in deep turmoil, partly at least down to over a century of Western Imperialism, Colonialism and neo Colonialist violence and relate to changes in both material and cultural economies difficult for people extant at village level to cope with.

    In short , I agree with Marilyn and that includes in the raising of the issue of the Coulson Brooks trial, which goes to the heart of how power and wealth are disbursed globally from the centre, from a sick Oligarchy itself, which can no longer comprehend the damage it does elsewhere in pursuit of its own greed driven goals.

    Just thinking on it, weren’t male and female collaborators after WW2 publically humiliated and even executed for breaches of public solidarity?

    I suppose I’ll have to add that some of the cruder practices in these “old” cultures are personally offensive to me, but then, our braying hypocrisy, ignorance and smugness is also a great irritant.


  6. paul walter June 26, 2014 at 8:08 pm #

    Just a thought. Reading today’s newspapers I see at least two examples that could indicate a drift back to feudalism in our society, the Turnbull attack on public broadcasting and further (ideoligically driven?) cuts to CSIRO funding.

    The weird Tea Party illness that has affected our part of the world in the wake of the Global Financial Heist is surely derived of a similar uncertainty as to the future as affects other parts of the world and doesn’t uncertainty thrive in a dumbed down culture where people are denied the information to judge reasonably and live successfully?


  7. paul walter June 26, 2014 at 8:24 pm #

    Fascinating parallel to this post I’ve this minute discovered at today’s Guardian entitled, “Uthman Badr: both Islamophobia’s victim and unwilling accomplice” (no, not even going to try to link it ), by Yassir Morsi.

    This identifies a number of issues also spotted by Jennifer Wilson, although from an expected and subtly different approach to Jennifer’s.

    You really have to wonder at the the meddling by organisers, as to the event.


  8. doug quixote June 27, 2014 at 2:29 pm #

    Astonishing that anyone could think that there is any discussion at all to a topic “Honour Killings are Morally Justified”.

    Totally absurd.

    If Islam wants to stay mired in the 8th century that is their business, but they should not expect that any civilised person would want to join them there.

    Freedom of Speech does not extend to being required to provide a platform for people to proselytise ideas which are not only unlawful but morally reprehensible. Nor is anyone compelled to provide a platform for his enemies and opponents to attack him.


    • Marilyn June 27, 2014 at 3:33 pm #

      Oh dear Doug, you quaint little man – Christians are still mired in the 1st century and jews are mired 3000 years BC. And you call the muslims backwards, I suggest you watch an excellent documentary called East meets West to see who the backwards scum really are.


    • paul walter June 27, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

      Yet another dill who has gone off half cocked, unaware that the topic was chosen by the event organisers rather than Uthman Badr.

      Can’t you see Doug ?

      He was set up.

      Those who want discussion on cultural issues and the community broken out of tabloid cultural memes developed at times of high emotionality in an information vacuum are rubbing their hands with glee.


    • paul walter June 27, 2014 at 6:48 pm #

      Last words on this ought to be considered in the light of today’s article at the Guardian, ” Are “honor” killings really too dangerous to be discussed in public” by Carolyn Strange, who convened a similar forum at ANU a while back “without a hitch”, because of the way the thing had been set up properly, not slapdash, including the phrasing of relevant questions.

      Apparently Badar is not in favor of honor killings and Muslims themselves are keen do ameliorate the practice, more prevalent out in the less educated boondoggles.


  9. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) June 27, 2014 at 3:59 pm #

    This may be a little tangential to Jennifer’s post, but in the absence of Uthman Badar’s intended/prescribed presentation to the Festival of Dangerous Ideas, it is perhaps excusable. Interesting to see paul walter in his post of June 26, 2014 at 8:08 pm, use the term ‘dumbing down’. As it happens I have used it recently in relation to Twitter.

    As you may be aware, Jennifer uses Twitter to announce posts to her blog under the Twitter ID of ‘@NoPlaceforSheep’. Twitter users might get to see such tweets in their own Twitter timeline if they are ‘following’ @NoPlaceforSheep AND looking at their own Twitter timeline when they are put up, but the more universal method of perusing tweets by, or mentioning, ‘@NoPlaceforSheep’ would be by the performance of an ‘@username search’. This particular post to ‘Sheep’ has been announced a number of times in differently worded tweets, together with the appropriate link. It seems to me that there has been significantly less of the resultant conversation, both on Twitter, and on the blog, that such announcements usually generate.

    I have just recently noticed changes to the way an ‘@username search’ displays on Twitter, and I suspect these changes may be behind the seeming reduction in the level of conversation both on Twitter and ‘Sheep’. The interesting thing is that I have been unable to find any announcement or explanation of these changes on the Twitter site, or by searching on Google. Change by stealth? The dumbing down of Twitter?

    Until recently, and since around 2010, when a Twitter user did an ‘@username search’ they got a display of ‘Top Tweets’ by, or mentioning, that user as the default display. There was a button that could be clicked to give an alternative display of ‘All'(relatively recent) tweets in timestamp order of posting. The search could be performed by either manually entering the ‘@username’ in the search panel and then pressing ‘enter’ on the keyboard, or by commencing to enter ‘@username’ in the search panel and then selecting one of the auto-complete choices from the accompanying drop-down menu and entering it. The display delivered was the same no matter which method of entering the search was used.

    Now, for Twitter users in SOME places in the world, the ‘@username search’ display you will get differs significantly depending upon whether you manually type the whole ‘@username’ into the panel, or enter ‘@username’ from the auto-complete drop-down menu choices. You can still get the ‘Top Tweets/All Tweets’ display that you have been used to if you type in the full ‘@username’ into the panel and enter. But if you select from the auto-complete choices the ‘@username search’ display will be FUNDAMENTALLY DIFFERENT and show no replies or mentions related to ‘@username’! This certainly seems to be how Twitter search is operating at least in relation to Australian and UK users for searches originating in Australia.

    Interestingly, a ‘@username search’ for a US user made from Australia still yields just the one (old) display irrespective as to how one enters the search. I have no idea as to how a search made from the opposite direction presently displays to a US, or for that matter, a UK user.

    Maybe I have simply shown my own ignorance in relation to the Twitterverse, but the seeming lack of awareness, let alone comment, as to the potential significance to the Twitter and blogosphere conversation at large of these changes surprises me.


    • paul walter June 27, 2014 at 4:44 pm #

      I’ve had people try to get me use twitter and found it a rigid and clumsy thing.


    • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) June 28, 2014 at 5:54 am #

      “Interestingly, a ‘@username search’ for a US user
      made from Australia still yields just the one (old)
      display irrespective as to how one enters the search.”
      -Posted by Forrest Gumpp June 27, 2014 at 3:59 pm

      It seems I am watching the roll out of this change to Twitter ‘@username’ search displays as it is progressively happening.

      Contrary to my statement quoted above from my earlier post, an ‘@username’ Twitter search originating in Australia for ‘@carwinb’ (Alexa O’Brien, a US-based user) made by selecting from the auto-complete drop-down menu choices as at 0500 AEST Saturday 28 June 2014 yielded the new, IMO, dumbed down display.

      You can still get the well known ‘Top Tweets/All Tweets’ display by manually entering the full user name in the search panel, or by selecting the matching UN-HIGHLIGHTED plain text auto-completed option at the top of the drop-down list of suggestions.

      I am still unable to find any reference to this change on the Twitter site or in Google searches. If the change passes unremarked by most Twitter users, and most also use the highlighted auto-completed choice to commence their searches, the ability of users to assess response to tweeted information will decline markedly IMO. This will have a knock-on effect upon the volume of Twitter, and blogosphere, conversation.


  10. hudsongodfrey June 29, 2014 at 11:21 am #

    I still have time to read even if circumstances don’t always permit me time to comment. However I do have one question about the statement below:

    “It is possible to hold two apparently opposing views simultaneously, for example, objecting to a position while allowing it to be presented and argued.”

    I think it’s only possible to appear to violate the principle of non-contradiction, perhaps as a result of faulty inductive reasoning by an outside observer. Or if you’re a hypocrite which I think we’ll probably agree many religious apologists like Badar frequently are, I expect a half decent intellectually honest opponent in debate would be able to dispense with such a ridiculous topic in summary fashion. I offer these thoughts therefore in fond memory of Christopher Hitchens…..

    Thus my first observations would be that a debate would be a preferred forum for the topic which would clearly be better broached as an open question “Are honour killings morally justifiable?”

    That said, I know enough about how this kind of religious thinking works to know that unless they’re refuted its supporters will treat any contrary encounter no matter how desultory as an intellectual victory of sorts while their munted logic goes unrefuted. It therefore becomes a problem for any such festival entering the marketplace of ideas if it raises the topic without drawing the conversation about it to the best possible conclusion.

    The danger in this festival of ideas therefore is that while we agree what we think the answer to this question should be the important intellectual work of persuading some others of the rational soundness of the arguments against honour killings. It isn’t a trivial matter of entertainment to those suffering the ongoing effects of such misplaced zealotry as a defence for socially entrenched misogyny.


    • paul walter June 30, 2014 at 8:02 pm #

      I still say we should have the trial before the lynching.

      It is true that without that debate, sabotaged by design or stuff-up, we cannot assume Badar guilty, except by circumstantial association for lack of evidence, since the debate never took place, with advocacy of medieval practices.

      As I mentioned above, it appears Sadar himself is not in favor of honor killings; without the debate, stuffed by others rather than Sadr himself or good faith debaters concerned with the topic rather than the individual we must presume that Sadar’s role would have been as an explainer of how the practice had evolved, rather than an advocate for it.

      As if the West, with its own violent history and current global conduct could be in a position to judge others and other cultures, is likely, a bit risible.


      • hudsongodfrey June 30, 2014 at 10:43 pm #

        Seriously I think if Badar gets a word in edgeways at all it’d probably seem like he was doing more harm than good if he attempted to argue as a voice of moderation against honour killings while still apologising for less extreme forms of unacceptable discrimination towards women. Which is what I predict he might do.

        I mean, none of us really imagines he’s going to take a strong feminist stance…. do we?

        So my point would be that his is potentially the voice of the cautionary tale. An opportunity to compare what we have with what others are faced with, and reflect upon those relative positions in the serious light in which they ought to be considered.

        My objection to not doing so therefore relates to whether we’re willing as with so many other cross cultural issues to disengage when it all gets too hard for us to confront.

        I think we do that a lot in this country, and we really ought to put a stop to this wholly disingenuous approach to the real world outside of Strailya!


        • paul walter June 30, 2014 at 10:56 pm #

          Oh yes.. we are a long way off the pace. We will be mocked one day as we mock mid Victorians putting table cloths on tables to hide the legs.

          From Heart of Darkness, to Apocalypse Now, to DR Haneef to this very time, everything changes and nothing changes.


        • doug quixote July 3, 2014 at 9:27 pm #

          Well it would be a comparatively cautionary tale. Islamists want us to become a Muslim country with Sharia law and rule by Imams, and the caliphate. Not straight away of course; it is a gradual process of Islamisation. France for example is much further along the road but not as far as is Nigeria.

          Badar will present a relatively benign face of Islam because he is relatively rational, unlike some who would seek to convert or kill us all (they are the alternatives) or be martyred in the attempt.

          Get off the fence for once, HG. Those splinters must be painful.


          • hudsongodfrey July 5, 2014 at 3:51 am #

            G’Day Doug….

            I noticed this only belatedly because Chrome’s not liking the WordPress toolbar of late.

            Anyway! From a properly atheist perspective this is entirely a sociological issue, because as we know religion is a wholly cultural construct. So perhaps for once I’m less on the fence because I don’t think the sides we’re notionally placing ourselves on are anything less than the most classical of false dichotomies.

            What rubber there is meets the road when people harm others. Something that is so certainly and clearly evident in honour killings and all the lesser degrees of underlying misogyny which inform them that I don’t even think there is any real question of morality to be raised here. The most pertinent response I can think of to offer at all relates solely to the dire need of education and dialogue with and among people whose cultures still entertain such abominations. How we mean to pursue that while shutting down the very attempt to broach the matter in a forum for public intellectual discourse I am at odds to imagine.

            Maybe you’re of the view that condemnation alone will work. As an atheist who takes a rather dim view of religious people condemning my position however….. How long I wonder will it be before the penny drops, and we all realise that apologetics exist in large part precisely because people have been directing their questions, condemnations and a general sense of unreconciled cognitive dissonance towards these guys for eons!

            My sense of it is that the last thing that serves the interests of fair minded atheists is to take a belligerent stance towards people of faith, or any one faith in particular, because that’s often precisely what they want, and in some cases desperately need you to do.

            Kicking the ball as it were any distance towards that particular thicket requires at a minimum some understanding of how religious figures tailor their arguments for different audiences. Most of it is preaching to the converted in heavily contextualised terms that seldom if ever make sense to anyone less steeped in their dogma. For the most part any attempt to engage atheists or other outsiders also comes with an agenda either to convert or to impress their fellow travellers in faith that the unsaved are clearly cut from inferior cloth. Yet, in open debate they take the risk that somebody will outwit them, which I suggest is abundantly possible if only as their opponents we decline to enter into predicable, dare I say confected, hostilities. They can blather all they like just so long as the end result is that they’re forced acknowledge that atheists can be genuinely good and thoughtful people capable at a pinch of such civility under duress as to be worth looking into as a genuine alternative to creeds that we know many, if not most, faithful harbour profound misgivings about.

            I’m not sure you really asked for that answer, but then how otherwise might I better convey a sensible position on these matters.


            • paul walter July 5, 2014 at 11:50 am #

              Yes, you are dead right, it is so infinitely more complex than some will allow for.


              • doug quixote July 8, 2014 at 1:14 pm #

                Not at all. You are both in error.

                No amount of jawing or writing will alter the religious fundamentalists views one iota.

                Don’t waste any time on these issues.


                • hudsongodfrey July 8, 2014 at 2:19 pm #

                  If you know any atheists at all then you may have considered the prospect that some of them started out somewhere on the spectrum between cultural identification with their former faith and something more fervently fundamentalist. Often its the fundamentalist for whom the house of cards comes crashing down more readily.

                  Granted you won’t get the scales to fall from the eyes of people like Badar or Pell, but progress still happens. It’s better to be untroubled by religious faith in today’s world than during the inquisition for example. So dare we not hope that a significant proportion of people in the Middle East and Subcontinent can be dissuaded from murdering their womenfolk over matters of dubious infidelity?


            • doug quixote July 8, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

              You fail to address any of the issues raised in my post.


              • paul walter July 8, 2014 at 5:33 pm #

                That’s pretty unfair DQ, because he doesn’t agree word for word with your comment, doesn’t mean he’s not engaged withthis topic.. he just wants you to step back a bit, loosen up a bit on it.


              • hudsongodfrey July 8, 2014 at 6:56 pm #

                By the way, I do basically distrust the generalisation you’re making when you say that “Muslims” want to transform Australia into an Islamic Caliphate. I’m wondering how many Muslims you personally regard as a representative sample, or whether you’re just buying into mainstream media demonisation of a Muslim stereotypes we’ve grown all too inured to in the years since 9/11 and the wars it spawned.

                It would seem to me to be extraordinarily naive to think “Muslims” who supposedly wish to convert us would be the ones drawing any attention whatsoever to the theocratic notions like Sharia law when it is blatantly obvious what huge negatives those are in the eyes of most Australians.

                I mean seriously! They have a hard enough time trying to explain why Cat Stevens had to go and change his name…..

                Not that I’m saying you couldn’t find Muslims who pretty much do fit the extremist mould, just that I’ve met a heck of a lot more who don’t. I even have the extraordinary privilege to know one family who’ve been in the country for generations members of which fought with us in WW2. And yes, I know how rare that probably is, and very much do interpret it to make the point about the veracity of impressions gained by exception. So, the fact remains that I think we fall victim in more ways than one to unreliable stereotypes. When they highlight negativity that runs completely counter to our intuitions about what others’ supposed goals might entail then I can find no way to regard them as even slightly persuasive.


                • doug quixote July 9, 2014 at 1:02 pm #

                  Lift you game HG! I did not say that.

                  I’ll requote it:

                  “Islamists want us to become a Muslim country with Sharia law and rule by Imams, and the caliphate.”

                  Islamists! Not all Muslims, probably very few if they are here and have any sense at all.

                  Straw Men are only good for burning.


                  • hudsongodfrey July 9, 2014 at 5:03 pm #

                    Qualified statements at 50 paces is it? Like I said I’m sure you’ll find one or two people who qualify as dead set “Islamists”, but if they’re unrepresentative on the whole then they fully deserve to be treated as an irrelevancy, and we’d be in danger of building a straw man to take their agenda seriously.

                    Maybe Badar represents such a tiny and irrelevant portion of Muslims in Australia, that engaging him in any kind of public discourse errs on the side of giving his views more credit than they deserve. That’s an argument I guess I’d have to give some credence to, but not I think one you were trying to make, nor one I prefer if it means I’ve to eschew the opportunity to try and do or say something in support of women’s human rights.


                    • doug quixote July 10, 2014 at 7:25 pm #

                      Do not misquote me. The evidence is here for all to see.


                    • hudsongodfrey July 10, 2014 at 9:22 pm #

                      I think you’re confusing opinions with evidence because the opinions happen to be your own.

                      I think you’d do better to step back at least far enough to entertain the implications of societies’ tendencies to form negative stereotypes about those with whom we disagree, because they can be quite prejudicial.

                      I’m far from convinced their religion is the only source of friction commonly found between Muslims and non-Muslims. Yet if finding ground for tolerance were to prove an insurmountable obstacle then the most dangerous aspect of the righteous indigation we tend to get in its stead is that it has more or less the same effect on religious people that it does on anyone else. They get defensive, claim persecution and tend to form the view that disdain shown towards them only confirms their version of righteousness.

                      The question for people who struggle upon finding that the one thing they can’t tolerate is intolerance isn’t who to blame, it’s whether we’ve any real alternative but to keep on trying to persuade at least the majority of the intolerant to seek some middle ground before we all destroy one another.

                      As for the statements you made. I think “some Islamists” can be the kind of qualification one makes in trying to distance oneself from an unacceptable school of thought even while expressing the kind of opinions that seem no more tolerant. I’m left wondering what posible good is meant to come of that? And by that question I do mean that the technical veracity of what you said doesn’t concern me in the least. I just don’t understand why you say it?


                    • paul walter July 12, 2014 at 12:01 pm #

                      I’d say it’s not just the fringe elements of Islam who are problematic.. just look at the latest violence from Israel directed against Gaza.

                      Our own fundamentalist Xtian religious crackpots are as desolate as any other ones, also.

                      In Sri Lanka and Thailand the supposedly gentle Bhuddists have killed Muslims and in India Hindu and Muslim sectarian violence remains endemic.

                      It is a human thing rather than some thing applicable to one specific group.

                      If you say religious fanatics, or even ideological fanatics, it is fairer than singeling out one example of many ( eg Muslims)


                    • hudsongodfrey July 12, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

                      I guess you could draw a Venn diagram with overlapping circles for things like religion, ideology of which it is a subset and perhaps even map the influence of civilization itself for good measure. But I think the problem in looking for where traits like non-violence or ethical behaviours prevail is that while you’re going to find large areas that overlap on some, maybe even most things, only really small numbers of people tend to completely agree on everything. So while we might hope agreeing on “everything” doesn’t have to be the standard for some kind of human solidarity to exist I think we know all too well that the ability to agree on enough things to more forwards together can be elusive.

                      I don’t know that we’re bound to strive so hard for common ground as to deliberately overlook all our differences, but then nor do I think we’re bound allow them to rule us when we could deal with them by exception. I think chipping away at the exceptions is what tolerance recommends, and on the whole that seems wiser and perhaps a little more civilised. It’s the difficulty we have in remaining tolerant when the stakes are so serious and the issues so emotive that makes it almost impossible to ignore the fact that a lot of what divides us does so under circumstances where someone is deliberately manipulating it to suit their own political ends. If only we’re able to see through those agendas maybe we’ll stop playing into their hands by reacting the way that they expect us to. That at least would be a small first step in the right direction.


                    • doug quixote July 12, 2014 at 10:10 pm #

                      You have done it again.

                      Not “some Islamists” .

                      Islamists – every last one of them.

                      Don’t confuse me with someone who will sit on the fence the way you do. Get off the fucker before the splinters reach your vital organs.

                      To Paul: We were discussing Islam, but just for you I will extend the attack to all fundamentalists. Is that “fairer”?


                    • hudsongodfrey July 13, 2014 at 12:26 am #

                      Okay its a fair cop to say I quoted you saying “some Islamists” instead of just “Islamists”, but I do think it more than fair to presume that you don’t mean all Muslims and are therefore nitpicking over what qualification to apply.

                      I’d add that as an atheist in some ways I agree with you that I’m not on one side of the fence or the other. Or at least not if the two sides are either Christian and Muslim or even pro-Muslim versus anti-Muslim. And I don’t think even you’re saying you’re anti-Muslim, just anti-Islamist fundamentalism. So the points I’m making most strongly here are that I don’t think athesim requires one to take the view that the Muslim god is somehow any more absent or their faith misguided than anyone else’s, and nor can I see why anyone would imagine taking an intolerant stance furthers the cause of changing the minds of the other equally intolerant people who make up the ranks of “Islamists”.

                      And yes sure, I’d agree with you that your Westbro Baptists are every bit as good at hating their fellow man as any Islamic fundamentalist. But there again noting that there are some people who never listen to anyone long enough to be persuaded by outsiders on any subject is nowhere nearly as pragmatically pertinent as knowing those people are very much in the minority.


                    • doug quixote July 13, 2014 at 2:19 pm #


                      If I wasn’t an atheist I’d say God give me strength.

                      The splinters have got to your brain.


                    • hudsongodfrey July 13, 2014 at 7:45 pm #

                      Since we’re periphally on the topic of religion anyway, there was some kind of Biblical metaphor about treating the splinters in someone else’s eye without first removing the plank from your own!

                      Seriously, if I want to be able to say to others to keep their pious noses out of my business I have to be willing to keep mine out of theirs. The line that is crossed however when women are subject to abuses, mysoginy and things like honour killings isn’t a matter of religion its a matter of human rights! I think confusing the two by blaming the religion instead of a lack of tolerance by some of its practitioners is so clearly misdirected and obviously counter productive that if I wasn’t an atheist I’d swear it took a miracle to have so many people miss the point!

                      Once more for the cheap seats!

                      I cannot take an ethical stance about the religion itself since the question is a moot point in the reasoning of anyone taking the position that god as defined by the religious does not exist.

                      However, I can and will take ethical positions against subjecting others to religiously motivated abuse.

                      Failing to make the distinction tends to get characterised as taking more of an interest in persecuting the religious than in helping the abused. I’m pointing out what a distraction that is from the actual problem here……

                      If the cap doesn’t fit then don’t wear it! Just quit shooting the messenger whenever I make that point!


                    • doug quixote July 14, 2014 at 12:51 pm #

                      There! I knew you could do it! 🙂


  11. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) June 29, 2014 at 1:47 pm #

    While continuing to try to feel out the effects of the aforementioned Twitter ‘@username’ search display changes, I scored a top of the TopTweets status for a time on the ‘@emptywheel’ (manually entered) search display timeline with this tweet:

    Here is the proof:

    Following up with a search of ‘#Orwell’, where my tweet also scored ‘TopTweet’ status, I came across this tweet, which caught my eye because of the anniversary and birth date involved:

    Click the link in it if you dare! I but hold up a mirror …

    Just in case the link in the embedded tweet doesn’t work, here is a direct link to the ‘@brainpicker’ website page:


  12. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) July 16, 2014 at 9:33 am #

    Just embedding a few tweets here for future old times’ sake. Sensing that their subject matter may not be utterly unrelated to the Twitter changes I have commented upon in this thread.

    The background is one of further recent revelations that software tools have been developed for, and used by, such entities as GCHQ for disrupting or biasing social media conversation.


  13. Ashly July 20, 2014 at 2:08 am #

    Hello! Do you know if they make any plugins to safeguard against
    hackers? I’m kinda paranoid about losing everything I’ve worked hard on.
    Any suggestions?


  14. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) July 29, 2014 at 10:20 am #

    I’m embedding these few tweets here to illustrate a problem that we seem to have with respect to the interfacing of the blogosphere with the main stream media. The conversation, for me, kicked off here:

    David Marler, ‘@Qldaah’, is a fairly prolific tweeter who describes himself as the Queensland political reporter for (‘@nofibs’ on Twitter), an online citizen journalism website. Jenna Price is a Canberra Times columnist.

    Because of either the settings or limitations of WordPress the totality of the conversation cannot be embedded at once, so I have had to pick the eyes out of the conversation for the illustration of the problem. Here is the crux of the problem as I see it, in Jenna Price’s reply to my tweet embedded above:

    This was my tweet in response:

    Now I’ll grant that my written expression can be a little obscure at times, cumbersome, and convoluted even. Superimposed on that is the character limitation of Twitter, which sometimes makes it difficult to get a concept across regardless of writing style.


    The general subject of both the Twitter conversation, and my (opportunistically off-topic) posts here on ‘Sheep’, is that of subtle (or not so subtle) interference with various social media platforms and related public fora so as to suppress or censor particular points of view or topics of discussion. Can Jenna Price be so out of touch with these possibilities for censorship that she truly did not understand what my tweet was about?

    Alternatively, does she expect the mechanisms for such biasing of public debate to be simple, straightforward, and lying in plain view for all to see? I entered this particular Twitter conversation because I thought that ‘@Qldaah’s experience of what he thought (incorrectly, as it happened) was one of being ‘blocked’ by ‘@couriermail’ may have in reality been an illustration of the GCHQ capabilities described in the link posted in the tweet of Michaela Banerjee (‘@LaLegale’) that I embedded earlier in this thread on ‘Sheep’.

    Now Michaela Banerjee, and her infamous dismissal from her position in DIAC (now DIBP) for tweeting her views whilst incognito as a public servant, would be someone one would think to be well known these days to the world of main stream journalism in Canberra, within which milieu Jenna Price operates. Wouldn’t you think the involvement of such persons becoming suspicious of covert censorship being used against them might provoke a little more enquiring interest by MSM journalists? Or are the surf and scroll aspects of the blogosphere yet to be experienced by some?

    Returning to the Twitter conversation, this tweet by ‘@Melapaku’, referring to the work of ‘@Qldaah’ at NoFibs Citizen Journalism, perhaps sums things up best:

    Here endeth the rant.


  15. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) August 4, 2014 at 9:00 pm #

    Seriously, Jennifer, you could be missing out on some very good Twitter:

    This one worth preserving!


  16. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) August 5, 2014 at 11:37 am #

    Not only have ‘@LaLegale’ and ‘Qldaah’ experienced interference with the functionality of their Twitter accounts, but so too have I now run into the sort of interference of the like of which @LaLegale warned in her earlier tweeted link. The ability to tweet a link to some other tweet, document, or article on the web is a fundamental aspect of Twitter.

    I first ran into some sort of interference with the ability to successfully enter a link into the Twitter tweeting pane when I attempted to tweet this to ‘@sfmnemonic’ (Mike Godwin, the enunciator of Godwins Law), who follows me on Twitter:

    The link to ‘@JoshGnosis’ tweet that I had entered had shown up in the tweeting pane, but upon return to my own Twitter feed I noticed that the link did not display in my tweet. I immediately replied to my own tweet with this:

    It was too good an opportunity to miss, happening to be on the timeline (TL) of such a well known net identity, when I first encountered interference. Prospects for a wider audience in a milieu that matters seemed to be good. Next I tweeted this:

    You will note that it contains a link to a TwitPic, one that I had to type into the tweet pane manually, because the pane refused a copy-and-paste from my TwitPic tab in my browser. The TwitPic of a screenshot constitutes proof and a relatively non-transient record of Mike’s @ search TopTweet TL display at the time of tweeting. Just to make it clear to viewers of Mike Godwin’s TL what my tweets are about, and as a further non-transient record, I tweeted this:

    In further clarification to ‘@LaLegale’, who was an info addressee in this Twitter conversation, I next tweeted this:

    My next tweet into Mike’s TL was this reply to one of his own tweets that had fortuitously shown up in a screenshot of the display:

    It was starting to look like I was deliberately spamming his TL, but that was not my intent. I suspect the reason my tweets displayed so consecutively in his TL was because of the fact that it was the weekend when most were tweeted. That, and the time/dateline difference between Washington and Oz.


    • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) August 5, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

      Another little opportunity presented itself for publicising this linking interference:


    • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) August 28, 2014 at 8:24 am #

      Another reference to possible online interference with Twitter:


      • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) August 28, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

        I suspect this tweet, which I have just found in my ‘Notifications’ TL after side-stepping some suspected interference seemingly associated with my TwitPic tab, may be the erstwhile missing tweet:


        • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) August 28, 2014 at 5:31 pm #

          Without knowing anything as to the precise nature of what was seen as bullying, this sequence of actions establishes that the initiative in this matter of the outing of “LaLegale’ lay with DIAC, or at least one person within the departmental structure, not with Michaela Banerji.

          Should it have been that there was a scheme intended whereby the Ombudsman was to be ‘set up’ as having partisanly colluded with Senator Hanson-Young via emailed scripted questions for her to ask him at certain Committee hearings, an employee of DIAC would have been believably brandible via warrantless surveillance as a ‘leaker’ as at no later than 9 May 2011, should the need for a leaker subsequently be seen to arise in connection with excusing any coming-to-be-suspected ‘insider’ elicitation of the Ombudsman’s emails.

          There did, after all, come to be suspicions as to the prospect of insider information having tipped-off several journalists when the press beat-up over the emails in due course occurred.

          A believable culprit, one knowing nothing, would have been to hand.


        • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) September 2, 2014 at 7:54 am #

          It is interesting to note in Jennifer’s text link “tweeted critically” in the fourth paragraph of her blog, the 5 March [2011] date on one of Sandi Logan’s tweets used as an example that elicited a purportedly critical response from Michaela Banerji (‘@LaLegale’). Sandi Logan was at that time the official spokesperson for DIAC on Twitter. This would imply that some form of social media surveillance of responses to the official DIAC spokesperson’s Twitter account was occurring at least as early as that date.

          I have a recollection that the then Commonwealth Ombudsman, Allan Asher, had given a public address some time in February 2011 which he later described in a tweet as “The speech that sank the Ombudsman”. I’m just wondering as to whether ‘@LaLegale’s accusation as to the illegality of Immigration Detention Centres in that example tweet was seen as being reflective of what the Ombudsman had said in that speech. If it was, then it was not so much ‘harshly critical’ of government as it may have been (howsoever distilled) ‘inconvenient truth’ based upon the Ombudsman’s official findings.

          Given that Michaela Banerji has claimed that Logan’s complaint as to her Twitter comments was made in response to her complaint as to his workplace bullying of her, it would be interesting to know the precise form the bullying took. There is reason to believe the identity of Michaela Banerji as ‘@LaLegale’ may have been known within DIAC for quite some time before the bullying which elicited her complaint.


  17. August 6, 2014 at 10:56 pm #

    Do you have a spam problem on this website; I also am a blogger, and I was wanting to know your situation; many of us have created some nice practices and we
    are looking to swap solutions with other folks, be sure to shoot me an e-mail if


  18. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) August 7, 2014 at 9:10 am #

    Just for phun:


  19. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) August 14, 2014 at 11:13 am #

    In the on-going fight against ephemerality, the Twitter Police have recourse to the world of the blogosphere. This is one of their embeddings.

    Given that this thread has through no fault of its own morphed into one wherein the medium has somewhat become the message, it seems appropriate to reveal a little vignette as to the prehistory of Twitter and the origins of flame wars. One really does have to read the (short) essay linked in the opening tweet of this conversation.

    I couldn’t resist making this response:

    Given the perhaps unexpectedly early fulfillment (in an oblique sort of way, the Germans [Huns] having invented flame-throwers during WW1, in which you-know-who fought) of Godwin’s Law in that tweet, I felt obliged to make that response more respectable by enunciating a lemma to Godwin’s Law.

    I hope Mike Godwin finds it agreeable.


  20. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) August 16, 2014 at 11:38 am #


  21. Sociology Essay August 25, 2014 at 9:17 pm #

    I feel it could be a Dangerous Idea for those. who don;t want to involve in this.


  22. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) August 28, 2014 at 8:53 am #

    The theory of political cartoonery in one graph:

    I’m sure Jennifer would like this. It would be a shame if it just ephemerated away into the outer reaches of the Twitterverse.


  23. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) September 4, 2014 at 12:35 pm #

    Here is an example of real engagement on Twitter:

    Ellen asks a genuine question, and gets a straight answer from Peter Brent (‘@mumbletwits’). The preamble to her question reveals a willingness to think for herself, a propensity not as common as may be assumed. The around 90% ‘Yes’ vote at the 1967 referendum to repeal Section 127 of the Constitution, and to remove the words “, other than the aboriginal race in any State,” from Section 51 placitum (xxvi.) is most unusually high.

    Might I suggest that Ellen’s premise that “racism [in 1967] was rife”, is not a correct one? As an elector who voted at that referendum, let me assure you that the bipartisan campaign for a ‘Yes’ vote emphasised that the changes were to ensure aboriginal persons would be eligible to vote, and to remove the claimed offensive condescention attaching to Section 127 that aboriginal persons somehow ‘did not count’ in the Australian polity.

    Here is the wording of the repealed Section 127:

    The expression “people of the Commonwealth” in Section 127 is reflective of that very technical terminology used in the unrepealed Sections 24 and 25 in relation to the formula for determination of the number of members of the House of Representatives chosen in the several States. Section 127 had been there to prevent a State with a relatively large aboriginal population from using that aboriginal population even if it largely chose not to participate in the electoral process to obtain more, effectively ‘whitefella’, representation in the HoR in relation to other States. That there was no condescention or dismissiveness intended in Section 127 is borne witness to by the fact that aboriginal persons were counted in each and every census of the Commonwealth from federation onward.

    It must be remembered that this 1967 referendum was held five years before the Whitlam government came to power. The concepts of making special laws for the indigenous population, and multiculturalism, were as yet at that time utterly foreign to the vast bulk of electors. In hindsight, the bipartisan ‘Yes’ campaign was one of deliberate deception of the electors. The last State to have denied the franchise to aboriginal persons had legislated for them to have the vote by 1965. In the Commonwealth electoral process they had had the vote since Federation.


  24. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) September 5, 2014 at 6:34 am #


    • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) September 5, 2014 at 1:32 pm #

      The previous embedding was a test as to whether I could embed what I suspected may have become a deleted tweet. I suspected deletion because a link to it I subsequently posted in a tweet to another user, ‘@emmaZbolland’, failed to show any content when viewed after a search done on one of her TLs. Yet I knew that it must have been viewable at some stage because there was a response:

      It seems the original tweet was not deleted. The reason for its non-appearance in the user’s TL remains unclear. One of Twitter’s little mysteries.


  25. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) September 14, 2014 at 7:09 am #

    For those following the blog, but not the Twitter:

    See you here and there when you are ready. In the mean time best wishes.


  26. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) September 18, 2014 at 10:22 am #

    Fur Jennifer, sans umlaut:

    Und fur die rekord.


    • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) October 2, 2014 at 11:22 am #

      In juxtaposition, and also for the record:

      “The real threat to the life of the nation, in the sense of a people living in accordance with its traditional laws and political values, comes not from terrorism but from laws such as these.” Lord Hoffman, in a dissenting judgment under the UK’s Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act, as quoted by Melissa Parke MP in her speech.

      Just to juxtapose everything properly, Melissa Parke also quoted Mark Day, “… How fortunate it was for the government that the raids [to which the Devine Miranda refers] came precisely as the parliament was considering new anti-terror powers — tougher laws to protect our freedoms by removing them. …”


  27. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) September 21, 2014 at 7:44 am #

    Something else for the record:

    Consider it the equivalent of at least a thousand words.


  28. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) December 17, 2014 at 10:08 am #

    Further to some of my earlier tangential posts to this thread in relation to what I describe as the general dumbing down of Twitter, it seems an appropriate place to comment on the recent hashtag conversation ‘#blockedbybishop’. And in due course I shall get to that.


    That hashtag conversation has been overshadowed by a media event, the Martin Place Lindt Cafe hostage drama, in consequence of which developed the world top trending ‘#illridewithyou’ hashtag conversation.

    Whether serendipitously, or as intended contemporary developments accompanying a putatively orchestrated hostage drama, it seems to me that a concerted attack upon, or attempt at discreditation of, Twitter as an alternative to an increasingly propagandistic MSM may be in full cry.

    I embed this twitter conversation here for the record and as a start point for a foreseably recursive set of observations in relation to these, as I see them, related matters:


    • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) December 17, 2014 at 10:15 am #


    • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) December 19, 2014 at 6:13 pm #

      This snippet too, may come to be important in unraveling some Twitter changes from smokescreening suspected disruption tool operation by some third party against targeted users that have superficially similar twitter-crippling effects.

      I’m experiencing some loss of functionality on my PC twitter, but none on a different device even though logged in as the same user! So it can’t be the Twitter platform that is determining the reduced functionality. And my reduced functionality is across-the-board, not merely in respect to just any users who might have used the new Twitter blocking feature.


  29. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) January 3, 2015 at 7:25 am #

    This is a test post. I have been encountering an inability to post to Jennifer’s blog since I called out possible use of the GCHQ twitter disruption tool ‘Angry Pirate’ on the Foreign Minister’s (‘@JulieBishopMP’) twitter @ mentions timeline recently. Although not blocked by her twitter account, one of my tweets to ‘@162recce’ that also included her twitter handle in it initially failed to appear in her @ mentions ‘All tweets’ display.

    After an UNSUCCESSFUL attempt at embedding that tweet here on ‘Sheep’, it mysteriously did appear in the FM’s timeline, this time with some of the ‘Sheep’ intro stuff that comes up when one tweets a link to a ‘Sheep’ post.

    Interesting, because all of this shows that much of the ‘#blockedbybishop’ twitter conversation may have been engendered not from within the operation of the FM’s twitter account, but from the deployment by some third party of a twitter disruption tool.

    It is interesting to note my first encounter with this possible disruption tool deployment was back in July in association with a purported blocking of ‘@Qldaah’ by the Courier Mail twitter account. See some of my earlier posts in this thread.


  30. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) January 13, 2015 at 9:58 am #

    Things would have been so much easier back in the Viet Nam era if “Je suis Charlie” badges were being worn by those who were concerned.



  1. 74th Down Under Feminists’ Carnival | Pondering Postfeminism - July 8, 2014

    […] * Jennifer Wilson at No Place for Sheep asks: Should Uthman Badar’s talk “Honour killings are morally justified” have been cancelled by the … […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: