Saturday, October 31, 2009

Kevin Rudd's scum of the earth

I had not intended to post again today, but this matter is so germane to some of the things that I habe been saying that I felt that I had too.

Please read Bob Gosford's Meet Kevin Rudd’s “scum of the earth” – 5 years in Berrimah for $560.

The post raises two different issue.

The first is the impact of the mandatory sentencing laws so beloved by Australia's politicians in recent years. In removing judicial discretion, we have guaranteed injustice.

The second is the application of laws designed for big fish to small fish. In combination with one, this extends the injustice.

Mr Rudd's use of language illustrates the point I was trying to make in Refugees and a contempt for the ordinary person. The people who got the Jews out of Nazi Germany, some did it for reward, were not the scum of the earth because they did this. If they were the scum of the earth, and some were, they were so for other reasons.

Mr Rudd and his apologists may argue that Bob Gosford and I are misinterpreting his remarks, that he did not intend them to apply as a universal. I doubt that he even considered the broader implications.  

The only way to stop Mr Rudd and others from getting away with this type of rubbish is by applying a combination of forensic analysis and ridicule.

In today's post, Saturday Morning Musings - on being British, I spoke of my feeling of being British. To my mind, the central most important feature of being British is recognition of the need to protect the individual against the unbridled exercise of state power.

Today we live in a world where executive government has assumed the role previously occupied by the divine right of kings. The supporting arguments may be different, but the practical effect is the same. Government is entitled to over-ride the individual to protect the state and its position.

The phrase "in the national interest' is one of the most slippery phases in the English language. It justifies every extension and application of state power.

I am not a Libertarian. I believe that individual action must be constrained in the interests of the broader society. Yet I also believe that every such constraint must be intensely argued and closely scrutinised.

In the case of the Howard Government, I am still struggling with the way that a Government that I broadly supported should have presided over so much individual injustice. I am also struggling with the way that this was simply accepted by the broader Australian community.

I use the word struggle advisedly.

As an historian, I am not blind to Australia's past. I have seen many cases where Australian Governments have wrongly over-ridden individual freedoms in the interest of the broader community. I have seen the community accept this.

Yet at no stage in Australia's past have I seen so many cases of wrongful detention in such a short period. At no stage have I seen such acceptance of individual wrong.

Do you see why I struggle?

Now some might argue that internment during the First and Second World Wars created the same number, if not more, injustices. That's probably right, but Australia was at war.

Anyway, time to finish.

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