Letters to
the editor

Senate result helps Abbott

Sophie Morris’s article (“WA and the art of ‘schmoozing’ ”, April 5-11) reveals two dilemmas for both the government and the new-look senate that may provide good outcomes for both groups. It’s likely Tony Abbott sincerely wishes his much-maligned parental leave scheme to be torpedoed by rational senators, while not appearing a blatant breaking of election policy. His scheme always appeared disingenuous, knowing initial support would soon evaporate in this current “dire budget predicament”. As well, it’s clear that Abbott’s Direct Action plan on tackling climate change will meet similar resistance. Given their open hostility to climate change science, the government would likely be more than happy with the destruction of their core environment policy. The new senate may appease Abbott by removing some major policy headaches, but will likely leave many voters wondering where their interests belong in all of this.

– Mike Anderson, Campbell, ACT

Waiting for change on asylum seekers

Once again with his characteristic forensic skill, David Marr (‘‘Race, votes and free speech’’, April 5-11) reveals the underlying manipulation concerning asylum seekers. It is sadly true that both sides of politics quite shamelessly appeal to the worst in human nature, but there are many human activities no longer thought to be acceptable (slavery and public executions come to mind). The change in attitudes to these activities was brought about slowly by heroic men and women who stood up to majority indifference. So we know change is possible.

– Ruth Boschen, Balwyn, Vic

The right to be a bigot is wrong

I am neither black nor Middle Eastern nor am I of Asian appearance, so I don’t know what it is like to be a victim of racist behaviour in today’s Australia. However, until just a few decades ago, people like me from a Mediterranean background were the main target of racism. Whether you were at school, in the workforce, or just shopping, chances were you would cop a slagging from a supposed “real Aussie” shouting at you with venom and abusive language, such as “Go back to your own country your fuckin’ wogs” or “Speak fuckin’ English.” Sometimes their abuse was physical. Yet I consider us lucky compared with those people who are now the target of racism, because we did not live under any government that had any of its chief ministers publicly proclaim people have a right to be bigots. Having your government give you the blessing to be a bigot will only increase the level of racist behaviour – not only verbally but possibly physically.

– Con Vaitsas, Ashbury, NSW

Humans ruled by trinity of emotions

Ah, yes, Clem Bastow (‘‘Bible bashing’’, April 5-11), I agree attacking religion is rough on believers and is usually counterproductive. God, or nature, depending on your beliefs, made us different to other animals by endowing us with larger brains with greater capacity in three areas. We have the sense of our mortality, which gives us fear. Fear is a powerful emotion, one that can be manipulated and in this sense it is even more powerful than love. Fear once ruled the world, witches were burnt, sacrifices made, demons purged, all until moderated, organised and expropriated by faith. Faith provided the certainty in an uncertain world, and still does, although the threats continue to change. But fear can be exposed by reason – we found that the sun would come up every day, there were no evil spirits and the rains came whether we sacrificed a lamb or not. Our capacity to reason is immense and still far from completely realised. And this unholy trinity of emotions gives us the rock, paper and scissors with which we gamble away our lives and civilisations. Fear can, and far too often has, overwhelmed reason. Reason can be used for good or evil but will challenge faith. Faith can calm fears but has at its very core the need to banish reason, and faith without reasoning is fundamentalism, a despot in any realm.

– Don Owers, Dudley, NSW

Believers in the minority

Clem Bastow’s flaky plea for non-believers to be nicer to believers is misplaced in a nation where a cabal of “believers” prevented the preselection of a politician who voted to decriminalise abortion. The grotesque reality is that in a society where regular worship has exponentially declined, and where opinion polls consistently show overwhelming majorities in favour of unhindered access to contraception, abortion and euthanasia, some politicians’ minority “religious” views continue to trump the views of the majority. Our constitution provides minimal protection for the separation of religion and state, the chaplaincy system in our state schools has no popular mandate, and religious enterprises continue to receive favourable taxation treatment. Certainly those advocating an economy geared to achieving maximum profit without entitlements ought to recognise the incompatibility of this objective with “traditional values” and act in good faith to remove the privileges still attached to belief.

– Timothy James Brown, Footscray, Vic

In the footsteps of ...

It’s a bit rich of the Anglo-West to complain about Putin occupying Crimea after the Bush, Blair, Howard invasion of Iraq. While two wrongs don’t make a right, one wrong sure sets a nasty precedent.

– Richard Blackburn, Coogee, NSW

Letters are welcome: [email protected]
Please include your full name and address and a daytime telephone number. Letters may be edited for length and content, and may be published in print and online. Letters should not exceed 150 words.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on April 12, 2014.

A free press is one you pay for. Now is the time to subscribe.