Letters to
the editor

Interpreting Nietzsche

Martin McKenzie-Murray (“Still in the woods, fighting a lost war”, September 13-19) notes Eric Abetz quoting Friedrich Nietzsche’s words that “There are no such things as facts, only interpretations.” Senator Abetz was criticising the ABC’s “Fact Check” feature. McKenzie-Murray calls his citation “interesting” – Abetz being a “Christian Calvinist” and Nietzsche “one of history’s most fierce atheists”. But Nietzsche was a funny kind of atheist. He contrasted the “facts” mentality with a “perspectivism” comparable to a photographer interpreting a subject’s true essence by shooting from multiple angles. Such photographers aren’t proving the subject doesn’t exist. Perhaps the fiercest atheists are Calvinist fundamentalists – with “Christian Calvinist” being an oxymoron. Their deity “double predestinates” – creating some souls bound for hell, others for heaven, regardless of how they live. And their mono-angle on
the Bible resembles the Islamic State’s stance on the Koran. Calvinists cannot abide Pope Francis. Nor, perhaps, might the ABC, if they listened carefully.

Arnold Jago, Nichols Point, Vic

Taking Abetz’s meaning

Martin McKenzie-Murray reported that Eric Abetz divined a truth that “anyone who asserts a capacity to determine and divine the truth and facts in all matters should by definition be treated sceptically ...” Okay Senator Abetz, consider yourself ignored by me, at least.

Peter Slade, Indooroopilly, Qld

Ignorance is no excuse

It was a particularly brilliant front-page article by Martin McKenzie-Murray about the minister for employment, Eric Abetz. Such is the quality of our current political frontbench (and I might well say the same for Labor when it’s next in power) that the qualification for a ministry is the subject you have the least idea about. No doubt Gina Rinehart will start showing an interest soon in order to correct your, to her, obvious bias.

Leigh Smith, Brisbane, Qld

Keep following the money

Mike Seccombe’s article on the current ICAC [Independent Commission Against Corruption] inquiry into prohibited election donations (“Funds raze party name”, September 13-19) quite properly raises the question: why did the then NSW Liberal opposition buy the 2011 election it had already won. But this is a question that ICAC may not be able to answer, as it is charged with discovering the existence of corruption, not its consequences. Not only must we ask did the then Liberal opposition unnecessarily spend all of the money it raised from prohibited property developers in winning the last election. We must also ask a further question: did the Liberal Party squirrel unspent prohibited monies away to use in the 2015 election, when the chances of success may quite accurately have been seen as likely to be more problematic? It would be a public disgrace upon a public disgrace if no further urgent independent public inquiry was made to answer these other questions. Otherwise we risk having the Liberal Party in 2015 winning yet more parliamentary seats throughout New South Wales with the assistance of property developer donations, as it did in the 2011 election in the Hunter Valley and Central Coast.

Tom Kelly, Balmain, NSW

No end to the bloodshed

It is amazing that so many people still think, after thousands of years of almost unending wars, that the next one is going to make a difference. Obviously our current leader is one of those who does or he would
not be so gung-ho about sending our young people to the other side of the world to be uselessly slaughtered. There is no such thing as a war to end all wars. All wars lead to more wars. Peace, if we are very careful, can lead to more peace, but I suspect that very few of us have the courage to resist the blandishments of those who insist that war is the only way out. I have little hope for the future – even if we can avoid the idiots on our side, there are the crazies and unthinking fanatics all over the world who know they are right regardless. See you (or not) in the next one.

Alice Caseleyr, Mount Pleasant, SA

Looking for tall poppies

Helen Razer’s review of Brilliant Creatures (“Howard’s Australia”, September 13-19) began with a touch of self-loathing about being Australian. Barry Humphries, Robert Hughes, Germaine Greer and Clive James are people I greatly admire, Humphries in particular, but I see the despairing depiction of the average Australian by Razer as too blinkered. Look at the contribution to Australia by Gough Whitlam, Lionel Murphy, Jim Cairns and Bill Hayden.

Des Files, Brunswick, Vic

Novel ideas on gender

I taught English in the NSW Education Department for 37 years and female authors were always part of the experience that students received in the schools where I worked. To deny students this wider perspective would have been almost criminal. I believe Samantha Trenoweth’s experience (“Of Mice and Women”, September 6-12) requires her daughter’s school to take immediate remedial action. One of my great joys in teaching was to have “boofy” young men appreciate the great insights that Jane Austen could provide to her strong female characters. One such student went on to buy a complete embossed set of her novels.

Les Matthews, Roseville, 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 September 20, 2014.

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