Letters to
the editor

Elitist language

The word “elite” appears no fewer than 13 times in Rick Morton’s article (“The age of entitlement”, November 11-17). Instead of the media giving publicity to private schools by continually referring to them as “elite”, why not tell it like it is: private schools are a drain on the public purse, they selectively choose the dogma that will inform their teaching and they produce graduates who are not representative of Australian society. The media is hardly “on the hunt to concoct a story to discredit” private schools – private schools supply enough evidence of their antisocial behaviour without the media needing to hunt for it.

– Patricia Farrar, Concord, NSW

Important lessons

One would hope that having read the comments surrounding the murder of Lilie James by Paul Thijssen, many parents who send their boys to expensive private schools would be questioning whether they are doing the right thing. Yes, they may very well gain a place at the prestigious law schools of the universities of Melbourne and Sydney, but they may also come out as entitled, misogynistic men. Perhaps the answer is for parents to recognise the limits of same-sex education, and that socialising youngsters to accept and respect others is just as important as school-leaving results. These boys are exactly the same as anyone else – except their parents can pay more for their education.

– Jean John, Adelaide, SA

Facing fear

The current indifference to measures proved to reduce Covid spread, particularly mask-wearing, is interesting (Karen Middleton, “What the latest Covid-19 wave means for Australia”, November 11-17). It does not show a callous indifference to others but more a sign of balancing personal convenience against risk to self, friends and family. Vulnerable people can reduce their risk by 80 per cent with mask-wearing in public. The failure of governments to run ongoing campaigns to promote regular immunisation, testing and staying at home if infected, and early anti-viral treatment, is puzzling. Recommendations for mask-wearing, particularly in hospital and care settings, would be advisable, but compulsion to wear masks in day-to-day settings would meet strong, politically unbearable resistance. For humans, seeing faces is important.

– Peter Barry, Marysville, Vic

Unchangeable physics

Man-made laws can be changed – albeit with some difficulty. The laws of physics cannot (Jennifer Rayner, “Put climate at heart of environment law”, November 11-17). The second law of thermodynamics states: “when two bodies, initially of different temperatures, come into direct thermal connection, then heat immediately and spontaneously flows from the hotter body to the colder one. All natural processes are irreversible.” Man-made laws targeted at the preservation of selected individual species do not address the root cause of global heating and are hopelessly inadequate to address our current existential trajectory. We must immediately initiate a discipline of rapid reduction in greenhouse gas emissions if sentient life on Earth is to be preserved.

– John Bushell, Surry Hills, NSW

Fossil fools

Jennifer Rayner, head of advocacy at the Climate Council, states that our Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 has allowed ministers to accept 740 new fossil fuel projects. This is despite emissions from such projects increasing planetary heat and climate disasters. She terms this terrible situation as self-inflicted, also “disastrous, stupid and unnecessary”. Her solution is that Australia must insert climate change into the EPBC law now. Fortunately, Senator David Pocock’s duty of care amendment, requiring government protection of all children from climate harm, would also conform with Rayner’s solution. Parliament should pass this amendment soon.

– Barbara Fraser, Burwood, Vic

Handsome mistake

Chris Wallace’s article (“Handsome boy is as handsome boy does”, November 11-17) is an excellent example of misunderstanding produced by poor translation of a foreign word. The term circulating on Chinese social media to describe Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was shuaige. This word is a colloquialism best translated as “handsome guy”, not, as reported, “handsome boy”. Shuaige are charismatic, smartly dressed and good-looking youths or men. The term has none of the connotations of a juvenile “boy” who lacks capacity to rule, and no “patronising undertone” was implied. Politicians of all stripes strive to achieve just such a popularly appealing image. For Australia’s public commentary on foreign affairs to achieve the sophistication required today, we need to brush up on languages other than English. Those of the rich and powerful nations of Asia would be great investments for us all.

– Louise Edwards, Vaucluse, NSW

Confused and bewildered

Having never understood the apparent logical contradictions between indefinite detention and the almost holy writ of habeas corpus, I was likewise bewildered by the powers and trust accorded to politicians deciding issues that involve their own often thunderous conflicts of interest (Editorial, “The great pretend”, November 11-17). While some of them may be comforted by the concepts of sovereign powers and immunities, those of us left outside, such as asylum seekers, often aren’t.

– John Hayward, Weegena, Tas

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 November 18, 2023.

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