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Byron Shire
December 4, 2021

Editorial: Convictions make you convict

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On Monday, cartoonist Michael Leunig became the latest victim of cancel culture.

His latest cartoon depicted a needle, instead of a cannon, on a tank. It was pointed at a protester; inset was a photo of a lone protester at the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. 

Cancel culture is where someone’s ideas or questions, that are at odds with conventional narratives, are derided and boycotted by sectors of society, particularly on the internet.

In this case, Leunig comparing protesters against forced vaccination to those at Tiananmen Square led to much yabber yabber and humbug on social media. There was outrage! Offended people are everywhere, and are looking to get more offended. It’s getting nauseating.

Having a contrary forced vaccination view is certainly unpopular in these cancel culture times. Yes, there are nutty conspiracies that are pinned to contrary forced vaccination views. They are not based on logic, or on basic scientific knowledge.

Yet why is it so wrong to question the introduction of medical apartheid, when the effects of doing so are largely unknown, not discussed, and will most likely have a negative impact on society?

Perhaps asking questions dilutes the vaccine messaging?

Questions confuse the public, despite the public (and those in power) already being utterly confused. Unity is a pretty important aspect to getting through a once-in-a-hundred-year pandemic.  

But in nearly two years since the pandemic began, there’s barely a squeak from Labor and the Liberal-Nationals about the protection of human rights, other than ‘you will get some semblance of them back if you get vaccinated’.

There is ample evidence, with the many new cyber security laws that have passed (see page 6), that civil rights are rapidly being eroded.

Media mogul and mining billionaires, Rupert Murdoch and Clive Palmer, are capitalising on this discontent. Their message is carefully constructed to elicit emotion for political/commercial gains.

Yet mindless populism and nationalism, driven by the one per cent, doesn’t appear like much fun in history books.

While there is resistance from the likes of the NSW Council For Civil Liberties, news sources have also generally ignored the erosion of human rights during this pandemic.

One rare, sane and independent media voice, The Monthly, had a crack this week though. Margaret Simons writes about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which includes the responsibility of the individual, too. ‘We are so ill-prepared’, she writes, ‘as we come into the next stage in the management of the pandemic. We are hungry for freedom. We are frightened of the risks. We have not done the thinking, as a nation, and now time is short’.

Cancel culture is a great distraction from what is really happening – such as the rapid shift in more power and money towards those who are actively making the planet much worse, not better.

Advanced countries like Australia shouldn’t be struggling to find teachers; they should be paying them well enough and providing more than adequate working conditions (see page 4).

Teaching is perhaps the most important investment any society can make for its future. Same goes for equal pay for women and child care.

Advanced countries, one would assume, would also be acutely aware of the importance of biodiversity in the age of climate change.

But this one isn’t. Shouldn’t governments provide adequate services for the most disadvantaged? It’s insurance for a society, so it doesn’t need to spend as much on addressing crime and drug rehabilitation, for example. 

It’s clear that politicians of almost all stripes don’t care about the population that elected them. It’s the big donors who count. Evidently, all that matters is power for its own sake, which leads us nowhere.

On the positive side, it all can change. It’s as simple as not voting for them, and getting more active in their removal.

♦ News tips are welcome: [email protected]

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