The question for Good Friday: What is truth?

3 Apr

 

orwell truth

Yesterday, human rights lawyer George Newhouse won his defamation case against News Corp blogger Andrew Bolt. A confidential settlement was reached, with News Corp paying Newhouse’s costs:

Justice McCallum found the five defamatory imputations pleaded by Mr Newhouse were capable of arising. These included that Mr Newhouse “has fraudulently represented to the public that people whom he represents are refugees when they are not”; that he “lied to the High Court”; that he is “motivated by deceit” and that he has “acted immorally”. 

In 2011, Bolt was found guilty of breaching the Racial Discrimination Act with a blog in which he’d implied that light-skinned people who identified as Aboriginal did so for personal gain. 

In 2002, magistrate Jelena Popovic was awarded $246,000 damages for defamation after suing Bolt and the publishers of the Herald Sun over a 13 December 2000 column in which he claimed that she had “hugged two drug traffickers she let walk free.”

Obviously, Bolt is in the business of mischief-making, as is his employer. There is a certain satisfaction in witnessing this activity come back to bite them both, however, Bolt’s narrative genre, bereft as it is of truth or any pretence at interest in it, is a vehicle for the conservative ideology that is currently struggling for control of western democracies.

Bolt’s blogs largely consist of great swathes of unsubstantiated personal opinion, that if subjected to a moment’s elementary Socratic interrogation would disintegrate into dust. The only way to deal with the man is to haul him before appropriate courts, an option open to very few. The cost to News Corp is little in the scheme of things, and is no doubt outweighed by the talent the man has for rousing ugly public opinion that favours conservative prejudices.

In conservative politics and in the media that support the ideology, truth long ago exited stage left and won’t be coming back. Prime Minister Tony Abbott boasts of his own dodgy relationship with the truth, and the ABC’s “Promise Tracker” records the number of pre-election assurances by the coalition that have been broken since Abbott assumed power.

Does truth matter? It would seem we’re in an era of norm renegotiation: at one time in our social evolution a man’s [sic] word was all that was required, and any man who broke his word was ostracised and shamed for it. We have apparently devolved to a state in which the leader of our liberal democracy can quite cheerfully say whatever he likes at any particular moment, then blame his audience for being daft enough to believe him.

On Good Friday, the day on which Christians such as Prime Minister Abbott grieve the death of their Christ, it seems appropriate to recall Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor who handed Jesus over for execution by literally and symbolically washing his hands of the whole ghastly affair and asking, rhetorically, Quid est verities? What is truth?

Prejudice, arrogance, entitlement and ideology have triumphed over truth in Australian political discourse. Truth is now regarded with the same jaundiced mocking eye as is compassion. It matters not if Andrew Bolt and Tony Abbott spin narratives bereft of truth, populated with stereotypes, peppered with clichés. Truth is crucified. Ideology rules. OK?

 

 

 

 

 

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49 Responses to “The question for Good Friday: What is truth?”

  1. hudsongodfrey April 3, 2015 at 12:01 pm #

    I am using part of a religious holiday I’ve no interest in observing to catch up on my reading here. I guess that frames how I relate to slippery ideology masquerading behind the inscrutable mask of so called truth.

    As best I can tell people have always had that sense of an internal moral compass to be guided by, but it takes a peculiar kind of solipsism to conflate that with self-interest so thoroughly as to cut oneself off from all external evidence to the contrary.

    I think all I can say on the matter is that substituting your personal beliefs or opinions for truths that you have evidence for is quite obviously a slippery slope when the two are compared side by side, which is why they never are.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson April 3, 2015 at 12:10 pm #

      I’m delighted that you’re using some of your free time to browse here, HG. 🙂

      Like

      • paul walter April 3, 2015 at 2:29 pm #

        I’m enjoying the quieter day also. A bit of Grisham, a bit of washing clothes and cleaning up, some telly and now the internet.

        I always find the personal animus against Christ a bit strange (no, not you HG). He ‘s always struck me as a sort of Che Guevara type; someone who made a brave misjudgement standing up to corrupt officials and a fascist occupying power on behalf of his community and got tortured to death for it. Have things changed or is it a universal and eternal story applicable to generations before, now and in the future?

        No, I don’t beleive in all the mystical stuff, but I think there is enough in the story to identify with respect and maybe shame- most of us wouldn’t have the guts- as the story of one more dissenter savagely paid out for opposing the people running things.

        As for religion, well, people will always question or ponder the meaning of life and that means religion, philosophy and ideology.
        Personally I leave religion alone, but I think the backstory for Easter has enough in it to be an interesting one and why people seem so uncomfortable with it, contines to intrigue me.

        The other chthonic holiday, if you like that we observe is ANZAC day, and similar elements are there, including self sacrifice, deaths of the innocent and the stupidity and even greed of those running things.
        It can be a jingoistic thing, but it doesn’t have to be.
        it can also be a cause for a time out contemplating value and meaning, the human story and condition and even realising that life isn’t always beer and skittles, even for Australians

        Liked by 2 people

        • hudsongodfrey April 3, 2015 at 5:27 pm #

          I prefer the Life of Brian to The Meaning of Life during easter 🙂

          As for Hippie Jesus cast in the role of anti-hero; if the churches’ current day attitudes to the kinds of beliefs early Christians living in cooperative societies might have held is anything to go by then its his own followers he’d need to convert.

          Chthonic. That’s a rare and apt word for it. Perhaps we ought to draw a line between ANZAC and Easter that converges upon the phrase “Lest we Forget”, in a way that reassures us upon any moral foundation you can imagine the arc of history bends away from violence.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Jennifer Wilson April 3, 2015 at 6:07 pm #

          I agree with you about Christ,PW. Can’t be bothered with the God stuff, but enormously interesting, powerful character.

          Like

    • Marilyn April 3, 2015 at 5:30 pm #

      I dozed until 4 pm, not interested in their silliness. There has never been a skerrick of evidence found that this Jesus person ever existed, there was certainly no way Joseph and Mary could have survived the flight over the deserts to get to Jerusalem for the phantom birth.

      The bible is long discredited, it’s mostly bullshit invented hundreds of years later and it was invented to oppress women and grab the land of the wealthy to the relevant thrones.

      Liked by 1 person

      • hudsongodfrey April 3, 2015 at 6:00 pm #

        Parts of this are actually interesting to think about because it was a thinly disguised attempt to link the figure of Jesus with the Jewish messiah prophecy. The auspicious lineage to the House of David, virgin birth, the census that never happened much less required people to return to their birthplace as described in the Bible, and even the slaughter of innocents are all completely contrived. Yet a case could be made that they point to a story being spun around an existing figure who may have existed.

        If it was the divine word of an omnipotent deity then you wouldn’t need contrived narratives to situate people and events in places you might have realised historians would later disprove. You might even be smart enough to figure out demonstrating the House of David link was unnecessary by dent of the mathematics of genealogy. Almost a millenium later you could practically guarantee the preeminent ancestor’s genes had spread throughout the entire known world in the same way that modern scholars tell us we’re all related to Charlemagne or Henry VIII.

        Even the Jews after concerted archeological efforts have been forced to concede no evidence for the exodus from Egypt has ever been found much less the slightest sign any Hebrew peoples were ever in the land of the pharaohs.

        Personally the point where I thought we could’ve stopped taking things literally was nearer the beginning with the talking snake.

        Prior to the enlightenment religion and politics were seldom thought of as separate constructs, and indeed I am told much of the Muslim world still thinks that way. It was our first and therefore least refined attempt to explain the nature of our existence. The fact that they got stuff wrong should surprise few people. The fact that so many stay anchored to those immutable ancient texts however should be cause for alarm.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jennifer Wilson April 3, 2015 at 6:10 pm #

          The talking snake is the best bit

          Liked by 1 person

          • paul walter April 3, 2015 at 8:28 pm #

            If it is a purple snake with green and pink hoops.

            Liked by 1 person

          • doug quixote April 4, 2015 at 8:54 am #

            The burning bush has a lot going for it.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Jennifer Wilson April 4, 2015 at 8:57 am #

              Mwahahahaha I’m taking that as innuendo

              Like

              • hudsongodfrey April 4, 2015 at 12:33 pm #

                No, innuendo was when the Greeks invented sex, before the Italians tried it with women!

                Doug was referring to the joke about Philippe the French fighter pilot who liked to go down in flames!

                Like

      • Jennifer Wilson April 3, 2015 at 6:09 pm #

        True, Marilyn, the figure is entirely fictional, but interesting nonetheless minus the religious claptrap

        Like

        • Marilyn April 3, 2015 at 7:03 pm #

          I was thrown out of Sunday School at 6 for calling it all crap, haven’t changed my mind yet and still don’t find it remotely interesting.

          it is disturbing to me though the number of sheeple who use this sort of crap to justify any sort of abuse, land theft and oppression they feel like.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Jennifer Wilson April 3, 2015 at 8:31 pm #

            Not to mention wars

            Like

            • hudsongodfrey April 3, 2015 at 10:51 pm #

              Sadly the problem with wars is that when you take away religion people still keep finding ways to justify them.

              If that sounds like I’m blaming people instead of religion then that’s just because religions are all made up by people. They justify some of their most regressive and reactionary behaviour, discrimination and prudishness with it, why wouldn’t they justify wars?

              Liked by 1 person

          • doug quixote April 3, 2015 at 9:25 pm #

            We see eye to eye more than you think, Marilyn. I was dragged along to church most Sundays until I (deliberately) embarrassed mum enough to earn my release.

            Liked by 1 person

            • hudsongodfrey April 3, 2015 at 10:39 pm #

              I remember many things about being bundled off to church. The boredom punctuated by giggling and some frustrated woman in the choir who thought she could sing. The priest who fiddled with the alter boys. One kid who on a very cold day sat alone in the front pew silhouetted in the morning light through an open door blowing perfect smoke rings with his breath.

              My fondest memory still was of the kid a couple of rows back when a collection passed putting his mother’s coin onto the plate and announcing in the kind of clear child’s voice that fills a quiet room, “we’ve paid, can we go now!”

              And oh how I wished along with so many other kids that it was me.

              Liked by 1 person

              • paul walter April 4, 2015 at 12:49 pm #

                The whole lot of you.

                The ingratitude of three or four people for the unrecognised efforts of your elders and betters to drum some morality and Christian decency into your dense heads and callow hearts.

                For shame, and I a poor chronicler for such a darkened age.

                Anyway, I had to go to sunday school, too.

                My old man gave me beltings if I refused. I worked out much later the real reason why he was so desperate to get me out of the house, btw.

                Liked by 1 person

                • hudsongodfrey April 4, 2015 at 1:49 pm #

                  He didn’t know about vaseline then?

                  You put it on the doorknob when you require privacy 🙂

                  Liked by 1 person

            • Marilyn April 4, 2015 at 7:33 pm #

              At 14 I reported my abusive father to the local Anglican priest and he laughed and said it was not true because my father had built the new golf club house – he actually stole my mothers inheritance from her father to do it.

              Like

  2. doug quixote April 3, 2015 at 3:08 pm #

    Christ!

    A man of 33 years, with the muscles of a carpenter, is alleged to have died of crucifixion within a few hours of being nailed up*. This surprised Pilate, and just about everyone else; but the man on the cross gave every sign of being dead.

    The only intervention ‘recorded’ is that he was given “wine mingled with gall” and later “wine mingled with myrrh” – or was it some soporific which gave the semblance of death?

    Was the man so quickly taken down and put into a tomb actually still alive?

    The entire Christian Myth depends upon death upon the Cross.

    If he did not so die, the whole religion is built upon a lie and is one of the greatest frauds ever perpetrated.

    What is truth?

    * – it was usual for people to survive for two or even three days once crucified. Stronger men lasted longer than weaker ones. It was cruel, slow and disgusting. Obviously the soldiers could not leave until the victims were dead, and they often hastened the process by breaking leg bones, which induced asphyxiation in the weakened victim. This was not needed in Christ’s case, so we are told.

    Liked by 1 person

    • hudsongodfrey April 3, 2015 at 5:14 pm #

      The Gospel of John has him pierced through the side in an act of what some interpreted might be mercy. The “holy lance” even became a sought after relic.

      The church is notable for its failure to embrace euthanasia despite those passages of scripture…

      We have little beyond conjecture that could rationally explain a series of events the retelling of which is so imbued with mystical significance as to make any real thought of evidence quite beyond the point. Not only aren’t you meant to try but nobody is particularly open minded when you do strive to explain it,

      The take away message matters but I don’t think you require an exposition of the faith from me to conclude that it is most fallible and far from divine on any number of counts. Once you get your head around that I think you’ll find that bobbing for apples in the metaphysical backwash of clotted religion is quite rightly a dying art.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson April 3, 2015 at 6:12 pm #

      This truth business took a right battering with postmodernism when everyone made like Abbott & suddenly declared there’s no such thing.

      Like

  3. eroticmoustache April 3, 2015 at 4:06 pm #

    Well, I just spilled red hot meat pie gravy on my groin, so my day hasn’t all been fun, but I’m also enjoying part of it writing another piece for my blog and browsing this one. A glass of reasonably drinkable cheap red isn’t hurting the process any.

    P.S. Good Friday has got to be the most ridiculously named day ever, aside from the “Friday” aspect which I can hardly contest …

    Liked by 1 person

    • doug quixote April 3, 2015 at 4:12 pm #

      Beware the Good Friday curse, Mr Moustache. A little hot gravy, even in the groin, isn’t the worst of it. Beware crosses.

      Like

      • eroticmoustache April 3, 2015 at 4:34 pm #

        Yeah, I think you pretty much nailed it. Did you know Jesus could turn water into rice wine, hence the phrase: For Christ’s Sake.

        Liked by 2 people

        • doug quixote April 3, 2015 at 4:49 pm #

          Seems like a waste to me. If he was going to turn water into wine, then at least it should be a good Bordeaux or perhaps a Grange.

          Liked by 1 person

          • paul walter April 3, 2015 at 5:25 pm #

            He knew only nobs would get to enjoy that.

            Liked by 1 person

            • helvityni April 3, 2015 at 7:13 pm #

              Mr Pell seems to know what’s good wine and what’s not.

              I don’t think he learnt that at his parents pub.

              Liked by 1 person

        • hudsongodfrey April 3, 2015 at 5:30 pm #

          Perhaps you’d like to know it is a true fact that somebody has a genuine certified crucifixion nail for sale on ebay.

          I was shocked I thought they only came in the boxed set.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Jennifer Wilson April 3, 2015 at 6:13 pm #

          You “nailed” it? Bwahahahahahahahahahahaha

          Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson April 3, 2015 at 6:12 pm #

      Um, you should have been eating fish pie then you wouldn’t have been cursed…

      Liked by 1 person

      • eroticmoustache April 3, 2015 at 6:24 pm #

        Oh, God, you’re right. My Catholicism is more lapsed than I thought.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. eroticmoustache April 3, 2015 at 5:38 pm #

    With respect to the article – poor ol’ Andrew, got pinched again, huh? Maybe he can’t help who he is and therefore some measure of compassion is due. In cases like Bolt, though, it’s surprisingly difficult to actually maintain that ethical position even though you know you should.

    As to truth. There’s no truth in politics. Never has been. There is only perspective and what you can convince people of. e.g. the appropriateness of never ending a sentence with a preposition. Proposition, fine, but never a preposition.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson April 3, 2015 at 6:14 pm #

      Andrew will be writing of his hurt in the next few days I’m sure

      Like

      • eroticmoustache April 3, 2015 at 6:18 pm #

        We probably should organise a sandbag depot.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Marilyn April 3, 2015 at 7:04 pm #

        He will be whinging poor widdle Andrew for months to come I would imagine.

        Liked by 1 person

        • eroticmoustache April 3, 2015 at 8:13 pm #

          Oh, years I suspect, Marilyn. There’s a bit of the pachyderm about that one ..

          Liked by 1 person

  5. paul walter April 3, 2015 at 8:31 pm #

    He is a piece of fascist garbage, like most Murdoch puppets. All Bolt’s example shows me is, only liars get rich.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson April 3, 2015 at 8:32 pm #

      What is so offensive is how the richest people so often have have the worst aesthetic……

      Like

      • paul walter April 4, 2015 at 12:40 pm #

        Reminds me of Leo Genn’s priceless Petronius and that exquisite final letter as he suicides in protest at Nero and his obscene rule in the Biblical spectacular Quo Vadis.

        ” .. I can forgive you murdering your wife and your mother, for burning our beloved Rome, for befouling our fair country with the stench of your crimes.
        But one thing I cannot forgive- the boredom of having to listen to your versus, your second rate songs, your mediocre performances. Adhere to your special gifts, muder and arson, betrayal and terror. Mutilate your subjects if you must, but with my last breath I beg you- do not mutilate the arts. Farewell, but compose no more music.
        Brutalize the people, but do not bore them, as you have bored to death your friend, the late Gaius Petronius”

        Liked by 1 person

      • doug quixote April 4, 2015 at 6:25 pm #

        Their aesthetic is just as bad as nearly everyone else’s; it’s just that they have the vast amounts of money needed to prove their poor taste to the world.

        Just as youth is wasted on the young, so wealth is wasted on the wealthy.

        (DQ sighs)

        Liked by 1 person

        • paul walter April 4, 2015 at 8:52 pm #

          Amen to both.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Jennifer Wilson April 4, 2015 at 8:59 pm #

          I always thought I had pretty good taste, though I know you think my taste in men leaves much to be desired DQ….

          Like

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