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Mark Latham: Universities have become the antithesis of freedom, from Peter Myers

(1) Mark Latham: Universities have become the antithesis of freedom. They should lose Public Funding

(2) No enthusiasm for enthusiastic consent reforms

(3) La Trobe University backflips on decision to ban Bettina Arndt’s “rape crisis” talk

(4) How a monoversity tried to shut up Bettina Arndt

(5) They Is Going Too Far

(6) I’m transgender. Please don’t normalise transgenderism


(1) Mark Latham: Universities have become the antithesis of freedom. They should lose Public Funding

{ Mark Latham was leader of Aust Labor Party some years ago. Now he & the ALP are poles apart. Latham is Australia's Trump}

Latham’s law, by Mark Latham

28 July 2018

Before his death in July 1826, Thomas Jefferson wrote the epitaph for his own gravestone and insisted it carry ‘not a word more’. It read: ‘Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom and Father of the University of Virginia.’ He could have listed much more. Third President of the United States, Vice President, Secretary of State, Congressman, Virginian Governor, writer, lawyer, scientist, architect – he filled the sweeping categories of a universal man. Yet he wanted to be remembered as the author of two statements of freedom and the founder of a university.

How incongruous it seems today: to link higher education to the higher ideals of liberty. Universities have become the antithesis of freedom. Their governance has become weak and self-serving, in the hands of vice chancellors incapable of resisting the institutional takeover of the Left. Campuses are now riddled with PC restrictions on speech and academic inquiry. Students and staff are herded into the identity groupings of race, gender and sexuality, losing the freedom of individuality. Post-modernism has infiltrated every faculty, every discipline, demanding the rewriting of history and the recasting of our civilisation as the work of bigots and barbarians. These things are true in Australia and comparable countries, including the United States.

Two centuries later, would Jefferson still want such an association, his life memorialised by the civic embarrassment of the modern university? I doubt it. Higher education has deteriorated so badly, so quickly we are now involved in a civilisational struggle to bring it back into the mainstream of society. This is critical work, requiring a new approach to university funding and staffing. Institutions that abandon the Australian values of freedom, pluralism and meritocracy can no longer expect to be funded by the Australian taxpayer. To earn the gift of public money they need to serve the public interest. The evidence suggests universities now serve themselves, having been colonised by mutant strains of left-wing activism.

How can the scale of the takeover be measured? Fortunately there’s a ready reckoner: the essays published daily on the Conversation website, billed by Australia’s university sector as ‘unlocking the knowledge of researchers and academics to (solve) society’s biggest problems.’ I’ve read this material for the first three weeks of July, a total of 122 items, reflecting the priorities of the nation’s scholars.

What type of issues are they interested in? By far the largest category is environmental advocacy, with 27 articles or one-quarter of the total. This includes a couple of global warming gems. Academics have discovered that ‘instant coffee has the smallest carbon footprint’ and ‘artists can put us in touch with our feelings about climate change’. Mainly BS artists. I was fascinated by the findings of a Melbourne University research fellow on the ‘psychology of meat eating’. As a keen carnivore, apparently I’m suffering from ‘unconscious bias’ against the ‘mental lives of animals’. It sure doesn’t taste that way.

The other categories were predictable enough. There were seven essays on Aboriginal victimhood, three on refugees and ten on foreign policy, mostly Trump Derangement Syndrome. Left-feminism was also prominent, with ten items. My favourite was an explanation of ‘Why couples sleep better in more gender equal societies.’ I also found out how women have abortions because of ‘male violence’ and the way in which companies need to manage ‘menopause in the workplace’.

A key goal of neo-Marxist politics is to interfere in the nuclear family, to spread Safe Schools-style notions of gender fluidity. Universities are taking this a step further, shadowing the decisions of parents in how they raise their kids. One in nine of the Conversation essays were about children. A special section has been developed on ‘evidence-based parenting’. Australian academics have become obsessed with other people’s children – a creepy, new dimension to university life.

The remaining essays focused on miscellaneous left-wing themes, such as supporting the ABC, re-regulating the economy, increasing education funding and legalising cannabis. None of them called for a cut to Big Australia immigration. Only one of the 122 articles advocated micro-economic reform as a way of lowering unemployment (via greater labour market flexibility). The brave fellow who wrote it now has a job security matching my tenure at Sky News

The university system is a striking example of Insider/Outsider politics. As taxpayers, the Outsider majority of Australians are forced into funding the wacky, self-indulgent research of an Insider minority. This is one of many ways in which we have become a divided nation.

Last Saturday I was in the seat of Longman, north of Brisbane, campaigning with the Liberal Democrats candidate Lloyd Russell. It’s a microcosm of middle Australia. The voters there had three big priorities: cutting immigration, ending political correctness and creating jobs. They are a world apart from the abstract leftism of university interests. People in Longman lie awake at night worrying about their family budget, while inner-city academics are paid to study the sleeping habits of Mr and Mrs ‘Gender Inequality’.

We can’t continue as two Australias. People in the suburbs and regions have real-life problems requiring serious solutions. If the university system is off on a tangent, peddling irrelevant sludge, it should be defunded. Only by returning to the mainstream can it be worthy of public support and public money.

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(2) No enthusiasm for enthusiastic consent reforms

Lorraine Finlay with Bettina Arndt

2 August 2018

Like most people watching the I am that girl story on Four Corners a few months ago I felt enormous sympathy for the woman in question, Saxon Mullins. There is no doubt that the incident involving Luke Lazarus was devastating for her, and that this was only aggravated by the lengthy trial process that followed. It is easy to understand why the NSW Government wanted to do something, with the NSW Law Reform Commission being asked to review sexual consent laws to determine ‘if the law needs to be amended to protect victims better’.

The problem here is that the something being considered may actually make things worse, not better. A key issue being considered by this review is whether NSW should introduce an ‘enthusiastic consent’ standard, also known as ‘affirmative consent’ or ‘yes means yes’ laws. The Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Pru Goward, has suggested that ‘this is where the law in NSW needs to go’, describing the standard as requiring a person to ‘explicitly ask for permission to have sex. If it’s not an enthusiastic yes, then it’s a no’.

This is a significant departure from the existing legal standard in NSW, which defines consent as ‘freely and voluntarily’agreeing to sexual intercourse. To obtain a criminal conviction for sexual assault in NSW it is necessary for the prosecution to prove not only that there has been sexual intercourse without the consent of the victim, but also that the accused knew that the victim did not consent. If an accused has reasonable grounds for believing that there was consent, the offence is not established. In their submission to the NSW review, the Law Society of New South Wales opposed amending the legal definition of consent, stating that the existing law ‘strikes the right balance’.

The current legal standard focuses on establishing an absence of consent, whereas an ‘enthusiastic consent’ standard inverts this by requiring consent to be affirmatively established in order to avoid liability. There are significant legal and practical problems with this approach, as I discussed recently in a video interview with Bettina Arndt.

The key legal issue is that enthusiastic consent laws undermine due process and the presumption of innocence. When we require consent to be affirmatively established we are starting from the presumption that there is no consent, meaning that all sexual intercourse is unlawful until proven otherwise. This is contrary to the fundamental legal precept that individuals are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.

At a practical level, the problem is that these laws are simply not workable. They fail to account for the way that humans interact in reality, and they transform any sexual encounter into a potential legal minefield. They also unacceptably blur the line between a bad sexual experience and an unlawful one. A ‘yes means yes’ standard makes it disturbingly easy for an individual to re-evaluate a regretted sexual encounter and to retrospectively withdraw consent, with some advocates in the USA going so far as to claim that ‘regret equals rape’.

Indeed, there are cautionary tales aplenty when we look at jurisdictions that have introduced this standard. Variations of ‘yes means yes’ laws have been adopted in a number of American States, including California and New York, and by an estimated 1,400 higher education institutions across the USA. There are countless examples of ‘yes means yes’ laws broadening the definition of sexual assault in a way that sacrifices fairness and balance in the attempt to support victims and secure convictions.

For example, Judge Carol McCoy found that the affirmative consent standard imposed by the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga ‘improperly shifted the burden of proof and imposed an untenable standard upon [the accused] to disprove the accusation that he forcibly assaulted [the victim]’. These same types of concerns drove 28 members of the Harvard Law School Faculty to publish an open letter opposing a new sexual harassment policy introduced at Harvard University and was the reason for the American Law Institute rejecting in 2016 an attempt to amend the Model Penal Code to impose an affirmative consent standard.

The concerns that ‘yes means yes’ laws significantly broaden the definition of sexual assault and may lead to miscarriages of justice are not misplaced or far-fetched. Indeed, some advocates see this as the very purpose of such laws. For example, American journalist Ezra Klein acknowledges that the ‘yes means yes’ law ‘creates an equilibrium where too much counts as sexual assault’ but argues that ‘its overreach is precisely its value’. He argues that to lower rates of sexual assault ‘men need to feel a cold spike of fear when they begin a sexual encounter’ and that it is necessary for the law’s success that young men are convicted of sexual assault in ‘genuinely ambiguous situations’.

This is the absolute antithesis of what our justice system is meant to be about. The most basic principle of our criminal law is the presumption of innocence, resting on the idea that it is better that 100 guilty men go free than one innocent man is convicted. The proposed enthusiastic consent reforms in NSW undermine this fundamental standard and should be rejected for this reason.

Lorraine Finlay is a Law Lecturer at Murdoch University, lecturing in constitutional law and international human rights. She is also a former President of the Liberal Women’s Council (WA).


(3) La Trobe University backflips on decision to ban Bettina Arndt’s “rape crisis” talk


Aug 2, 2018

La Trobe University has backflipped on its decision to ban psychologist Bettina Arndt from addressing a student Liberal Club event.

The well-known sex therapist was initially banned from giving her talk ‘Is there a rape crisis on university campuses?’ by La Trobe University.

“They eventually backed down,” Ms Arndt told Tom Elliott.

“We think we’ll put it off for a few weeks.

“They also said they might charge students extra for extra security and we know what that means.”

The university initially denied the club a room to hold the event on August 14 for about 100 people, with two administrators allegedly telling Liberal Club members that Ms Arndt’s planned address did not align with the university’s campaign against sexual violence.

La Trobe University have since provided 3AW with the following statement:

La Trobe welcomes diversity of opinion and free speech. They say no decision has been made about security yet but if there is security required however like anyone, the organiser will have to cover that cost. The services being offered to students are existing and are already funded by the university.


(4) How a monoversity tried to shut up Bettina Arndt

Andrew Bolt, Herald Sun

August 2, 2018 9:18am

Our universities are really monoversities -  enemies of intellectual diversity: 

Administrators at Melbourne’s La Trobe University have done an about-face on a decision to block sex therapist Bettina Arndt from addressing a student Liberal Club event, but have told the club it will have to pay for extra security...

La Trobe initially denied the club a room in which to hold the event on August 14 for about 100 people, with two administrators allegedly telling Liberal Club members that Ms Arndt’s planned address did not align with the university’s campaign against sexual violence.

A sex therapist and psychologist, Ms Arndt was a critic of a report compiled by the Human Rights Commission that alleged sexual harassment was endemic to Australian campuses.

Her address — titled “Is there a rape crisis on university campuses?” — will continue her argument that the commission’s report overstated the incidence of rape on campus and actually showed “hardly any rape and only a lot of unwanted staring”.

The university yesterday changed its position on the talk, with administrators contacting club organisers to confirm the event could go ahead so long as the club was prepared to pay the costs of any extra security it might have to put on for the occasion...

The club is yet to find out how much the extra security will cost

The university has said it will cover the cost of any counselling required if students who attend the talk are upset by its content.

So pathetic. First the universities promote a wildly dodgy survey that exaggerates the risk of the sexual assault on campuses, and one then tries to block a speaker who calls them out.

Just one more example of how our universities are the enemies of the reason and free inquiry they are funded to advance.

(5) They Is Going Too Far

Andrew Bolt, Herald Sun

August 2, 2018 9:03am

What business is of the Victorian Government or their public servants to tell people what to say?:

THE state government is behind a campaign to replace “he” and “her” with the gender-neutral pronouns “they” and “them”...

The centrepiece of the campaign is a professionally shot mini-documentary uploaded to YouTube featuring staff from multiple state government departments advocating the use of gender-neutral terms “they” and “them”.

The documentary is titled as produced “on behalf of Victorian Department of Health and Human Services Pride Network”...

The DHHS video features public servants from departments including education, justice, health, and premier and Cabinet discussing gender identity and language...

A Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman said: “The Pride Network did not receive government or departmental funding for this event or the associated video, and it was not compulsory for staff to attend”.

It is understood the video was produced and edited by a Pride Network member on her own equipment, and filmed in a state government office in Melbourne.

If the tiny, tiny proportion of people who seriously don't like their pronoun want their colleagues to choose another, let them say so. No problem.

To make the millions of others walk on linguistic eggshells seems an overreaction - and one that gratifies bullies.


(6) I’m transgender. Please don’t normalise transgenderism

Libby DownUnder

20 November 2017

We don’t normalise having cancer and we don’t normalise medical conditions, yet society is normalising transgenderism, which trivialises my grief and pain. My earliest memory of sensing that I might be different to the other kids was as a four-year old boy trying on a white frilly girl’s dress. It felt comfortable, but I didn’t give it further thought after that. At that stage in life I didn’t exhibit behaviour and thought typical of acute early onset gender dysphoria, such as using a nail clipper to try to cut off my penis. I was just a typical boy who had an inkling that he might’ve been different to the other boys.

I started to play around in my mother’s wardrobe during primary school, and it wasn’t until I was 11 did I start to feel I was in the wrong body, and recognise that I was experiencing gender dysphoria. My dysphoria grew naturally, and started to eat up a lot of my time on a daily basis. Despite frequent contact with healthcare professionals during my teenage years, none were willing or able to support my parents in understanding my life debilitation, which didn’t start to alleviate until I started my male-to-female transition circa 2010.

Fast forward to 2017, the normalisation of transgenderism in Western society has been a swing too far to the left. In the early years of my transition, I felt justified in believing this would be good for society. It was an immature Roz Ward-style response to the perceived injustice I experienced as a teenager. But I’ve come to realise that I was wrong – as a trans woman I should’ve known better about the dangers of normalising transgenderism in society.

Transgender people should be vetted thoroughly before receiving medical treatment, and should be rare. Once upon a time it was rare, and generally stigmatised by society. While I’m grateful that the stigma has significantly diminished in recent years, I am disturbed by the social normalisation and demedicalisation of transgenderism. Despite receiving the best ongoing medical treatment for gender dysphoria I could ever ask for, my dysphoria still causes me grief and pain. But that’s my grief and pain to carry. And it’s the responsibility of adults to deal with the struggles of life.

Sadly, some adults in positions of power think it’s okay to send the message to children that they can be whatever gender they want to be. The push to normalise transgenderism in schools breaks my heart. My grief and pain has turned into a political football, known as radical gender theory, for children to play with under the guise of Safe Schools and similar programs. Transgenderism should stick to the doctor’s room, not the classroom.

With the exception of a tiny minority of genuine cases of gender dysphoria, children are not capable of experiencing gender dysphoria. I myself a genuine case of gender dysphoria, did not experience serious gender dysphoria until my teenage years. Known research on this matter show that many children who think they have gender dysphoria will grow out of it. We should be thankful that children can grow out of the grief and pain that I still experience. After all, children are impressionable.

The life that awaits a transgender child is a life of grief and pain, that is, if the child does genuinely have gender dysphoria. Indeed, it’s much more difficult these days to tell if a child does have real gender dysphoria or not. The rise of “rapid onset gender dysphoria”, or ROGD, is the result of the normalisation of transgenderism.

ROGD, as opposed to traditional early onset gender dysphoria, which is what I have, has only appeared in the past decade in Western society, in which teenagers suddenly identify as transgender, without any typical childhood history of gender dysphoria. This out-of-the-blue phenomenon is cause for concern, and will only continue to pervade society as we continue to normalise transgenderism. This is all more the reason why Safe Schools and the like have to go.

Whatever happened to the healthcare professional’s moral obligation to “first, do no harm”? Medical treatment should always be the last resort for treating children with alleged gender dysphoria, and I don’t take that position comfortably. As it turns out, I, a 20-something-year-old trans woman, genuinely have gender dysphoria since childhood, but it didn’t even become serious until my teenage years.

My message to the adults who support Safe Schools: just because we may have had it hard growing up and beyond, it doesn’t make it right to pass the pain and grief onto our children. Our children are impressionable. They’re vulnerable. Why would we want them to go through with it early in life when none of that’s necessary? Let kids be kids, and as adults, we have a moral responsibility to ensure that.

Libby DownUnder is an Australian video blogger on social media (mainly Facebook). She’s in her late twenties, and she transitioned to the female gender in her early twenties.

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