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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE (2012), HUMANITY ENHANCED (2014), and THE MYSTERY OF MORAL AUTHORITY (2016).

Saturday, December 24, 2011

I get that Barnaby Joyce is trying to be funny... ho! ho! ho! ...

... but would anyone think it was so funny if a leading federal politician, here in Australia, wrote like this about any other group?
You can hear yourself muttering under your breath, ''I wish you would go drown yourself, you pseudo-intellectual Gucci flea.'' They write letters to complain about the incorrectness of carols at the school and picket the Christmas tree. To not insult their religion, you must no longer follow yours. They yearn for the fallacy of a vacuum and they demand that you join them in that philosophical void.
We can, of course, have debates about the rights and wrongs of singing Christmas carols in public schools. Is it a pernicious state endorsement of religion? Well, there's an argument for that. Or is it a bit of harmless tradition that no one need get too fussed about? Richard Dawkins, for one, might tend to think the latter. In any event, I'm not too worried about kids singing traditional songs ... not in the Australian context, at any rate.

But whatever you think, is it really a great idea for a senior politician to be going around publicly fantasising about a group of people whom he dislikes drowning themselves?

5 comments:

Dan Gillson said...

Good idea or not, I always appreciate good, comedic irreverence. Then again, if I were a politician, I'd be PR's worst nightmare.

steve oberski said...

I'm sure some of his best friends are atheists ...

Svlad Cjelli said...

Our "carols" are about gnomes getting drunk. Once again, the english-speakers of the world are just weird.

Russell Blackford said...

Songs about gnomes getting drunk sound like a great idea.

James Sweet said...

I think there is some room for debate on whether religiously-oriented carols are permissible in schools as a matter of tradition. I think the problem is when people get all indignant at even the suggestion that this might make some religious minorities feel excluded. One can be in favor of carols in schools without being flippant about it. It's an issue that demands some sensitivity, even if you come to the conclusion that some religiously-oriented carols are permissible.