Missing Link Friday – 10 December 2010

This week at Missing Link Friday — bloggers tangle with the Wikileaks story, Ad Astra expresses his disappointment in Tony Abbott, Mr Punch falls victim to political correctness and the War on Christmas continues.

Tangling with the cables guy

A lot of bloggers are writing about the cables guy — Julian Assange of Wikileaks. But almost as many are writing about people writing about Julian Assange.

After reading media reports about Assange’s relationship with the two Swedish women making complaints against him, Naomi Wolf wrote a sarcastic piece for the Huffington Post. She suggested that “the alleged victims” were “using feminist-inspired rhetoric and law to assuage what appears to be personal injured feelings.”

At Crikey Guy Rundle writes that the case is turning feminists against each other. Kerryn Goldworthy at Still Life with Cat agrees.

In a post titled The Assange Case and the Great Feminist Schism of 2010, Kerryn writes that Wolf’s article “starts out funny”, and ends up “downright offensive”. The Assange case will damage women’s rights, she says, “if only by weakening and watering-down the views of those most likely, in other circumstances, to support those rights.”

At Larvatus Prodeo, Kim urges readers to stop and think about what it all means .. or at least I think that’s what she’s doing:

This is a fast moving feast … and whether it’s just a human need for a narrative, or an inability to accept uninterpreted information holding all sorts of possibilities, and events that do not conform to standard patterns, those walls I was talking about are being well and truly re-built. All over the shop.

Here at Troppo, the walls of this fast moving feast also seem to be all over the shop. Or to put it another way, there are a lot of different issues to think about. Paul Frijters attempts to grapple with some of them in a recent post.

Also at Troppo, Ken Parish complains about the mainstream media’s coverage of the Wikileaks and offers links to discussion online.

Update: Guy Rundle objects that I’ve put the wrong emphasis on his piece in Crikey. In the comments thread he reiterates his argument that second-wave feminism "as a single movement can no longer overcome the contradiction of the fundamentally different philosophies that people bring to it". In his piece for Crikey he wrote:

… the Assange case is proving to be the final process by which the second-wave feminist coalition formed in the late 1960s splits substantially, with feminists with differing attitude to Western state power finding themselves on different sides of the debate.

What does Tony Abbott stand for?

The Political Sword’s Ad Astra was about to take a break from blogging but then he started thinking about Tony Abbott.

After digesting George Megalogenis’ Quarterly Essay: Trivial Pursuit – Leadership and the End of the Reform Era and the opposition leader’s performance on Insiders, Ad Astra set to work:

I searched for the Abbott and Coalition narrative and found mountains of negativity, a tiresome recital of the problems that he insisted Labor had created that he would fix. I looked for his positive plans for the nation should he become PM and found a tiny mound. I looked particularly for his reform agenda for crucial areas such as education, health, industrial relations and foreign affairs and found almost nothing. I examined his contribution to policy matters such as climate change, economic management, paid parental leave and water, and found a confusing set of contradictions and in the case of his ‘savings’ and ‘costings’, ineptitude and deception writ large.

It’s time journalists confronted the alternative Prime Minister about his lack of vision, writes Ad Astra. But the media prefers “to laugh off” the negativity, the inconsistencies and the lack of vision “as the quirks of this sometimes eccentric, but eminently likeable Tony Abbott.”

Ash at Ash’s Machiavellian Bloggery, has also been watching Tony Abbott’s Insiders interview. He’s not impressed. According to Ash, Mr Abbott hasn’t come up with new policies, he’s just reworked his slogans. “Stop the waste” has become “lower taxes”, “stop the boats” has become “stronger borders” and so on.

That’s the way to do it!

Apparently Tony Abbott was “humbled” by his election to the leadership. Newly elected leaders always say they are humbled, writes Ad Astra. When “when they are really as pleased as Punch.” And that made me wonder — who is Punch?

As Pat at the Grammarphobia blog explained a couple of years ago, Punch is the comic villain of the British Punch and Judy shows. As you’d probably know, Mr Punch is an extraordinarily violent character. Jack Caldwell at I Think Mining remembers the shows from his childhood:

When I was young, growing up on a mine, East Geduld, in South Africa I had the full set of puppets for a Punch & Judy show. There was Punch with his curved nose and dropping hat. Judy had a big floppy hat and an inane grin. Recall the tragedy: they fight and Punch clobbers Judy to death dropping the baby along the way.

Jack used to put on shows at an annual charity fete. These days he puts on shows for his grandchildren. But because their mothers disapprove of the violence, he has to tone it down … until they leave the room. Then we “relapse into visceral and primitive tales of good and evil, the noble versus the ignoble, tragedy played to comedy, and the kids love it.”

So it seems that amusing displays of domestic violence and infanticide were once a normal part of childhood.

Meanwhile at The Unbearable Lightness of Dutch, Dawson covers the debate over an R18+ rating for video games.

The war on Christmas is older than you think

At this time of year it’s traditional for America’s cultural warriors to pen articles about the ‘War on Christmas‘. From early November through to Christmas day, faithful warriors are on the lookout for banned nativity scenes and banners that say “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings” instead of “Merry Christmas”. Like many American traditions, it’s been picked up in Australia.

At a Western Heart, JR reports that a Montessori preschool has banned Santa while Mike Robinson at Turn it Up Mike comments on the story that nativity scenes would be banned from Centrelink offices.

Grinchy attempts to ban Christmas are usually blamed on aggressive secularists, but as CLS writes at Classically Liberal, some of the earliest foes of Christmas celebrations were Christians:

When Calvinist Oliver Cromwell took over England he and his fellow fundamentalists made it illegal to celebrate Christmas. This ban on Christmas lasted for about 15 years, until 1660. The fundamentalist cousins of Cromwell, the Pilgrims, banned Christmas celebrations in America as well. From 1659 to 1681 Christmas was outlawed in Boston. Christmas did not become a federal holiday in the United States until 1870 and those horrible Founding Fathers actually had the first Congress in session on Christmas Day in 1789, after the Constitution was ratified. Of course those were the nasty “secularists” who had Post Offices open on Sundays for until the mid 1800s.

Some Cromwell fans dispute that he personally banned Christmas arguing that it was an initiative of his parliamentary party rather than him personally. And for anyone interested in legal history, a 2007 post at the Law Librarian Blog has the details. EHT at History is Elementary has more on the Pilgrims and Christmas — “They disapproved of the way their fellow Englishmen celebrated the day with parties, feasting, drinking, and bawdy behavior in some instances.”

Update: At Catallaxy Rafe’s Roundup has links on economic topics. And at Hoyden About Town Tigtog and her readers have plenty of links on the Wikileaks issue.

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7 Responses to Missing Link Friday – 10 December 2010

  1. guy rundle says:

    you’re putting the wrong emphasis on my article – i wasnt saying that wikileaks was making feminists turn on each other, catfight, mother-daughter blah blah, i was saying that it shows that second wave feminism as a single movement can no longer overcome the contradiction of the fundamentally different philosophies that people bring to it – radicals like naomi klein focused onj global state power and its misuses, and liberals like libby brooks in the guardian, willing to side with the state as an agent of social change, even at the risk of endorsing state power and injustice.

    im not sledging here – im analysing. I’m saying its a 40 year movement which always had contradictions within. now those have become dominant and a fundamental recomposition is under way. same happened to liberalism and social democracy. thats how history happens

  2. Cybersquatter takes Larvatus Prodeo‘s domain? Click on it and see.

  3. Ken Parish says:

    Someone else commented earlier that there was a problem with a link to LP, but it doesn’t happen when I click on that one or yours Gavin. Have you tried refreshing?

  4. DailyMagnet says:

    I can’t get any LP links – I have cleared my browser, rebooted, tried a different computer different links, googled – I cannot get anything but the link saying the site domain is expired.

  5. Don Arthur says:

    Guy – Thinking about your comments led me to this piece in Overland by Tanya Serisier & Mark Pendleton. They write:

    In the 1980s and 1990s, however, in the aftermath of divisive internal conflicts around issues such as pornography – and in the context of a political ‘backlash’ – feminist discourse moved towards conceptualising sex primarily as a site of harm. Feminist sexual politics came to focus almost exclusively on protecting women from unwanted sex. Concretely, this meant focusing on law reform and other campaigns calling for the criminal justice arm of the state to regulate sexual encounters.

    They go on to say that “Consent has become the primary means through which sex is defined and categorised: a good sexual encounter is consensual while a bad one is non-consensual.” While acknowledging that the idea of consent can be valuable, they claim that consent:

    … remains trapped within a model of harm and passivity. No-one ‘consents’ to something that they really want, and it is impossible to simultaneously initiate sex and consent to it.

    They argue for a positive politics of desire and resist the idea that increasing the power of the state is the way to achieve it. The conclude by writing:

    It seems obvious to us that the only way people can be protected from sexual harm is by changing the cultural politics of sex. Such changes will not come through intensifying restrictions on sexual practice – public or private – but by increasing the public space for discussion and realisation of sexual desire. This means not allowing the state to control what counts as acceptable expression, art or speech around sex.

    Is this the kind of tension you were referring to?

  6. Pingback: Club Troppo » Missing Link Friday – 10 December 2010

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