(Achieving Community Division and Increased Newspaper Circulation Through the Rigorous Application of the Thoughts of Chairman Rupert)
I’ve just been taking a look over the recent report of the Victorian Parliament’s Education and Training Committee on Dress Codes and School Uniforms in Schools. The one that recommends that:
… schools work with Sikh students and their communities to negotiate appropriate standards for the kirpan, as part of their general consultation around the wearing of items with religious significance. The Committee also recommends that the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development investigate how the needs of Sikh students can best be met within the duty of care that schools owe to their students, and provide schools with further guidelines or advice if necessary.
Before reaching this recommendation, the committee noted that:
… submissions supporting the wearing of the kirpan in Victorian schools sparked resistance from some quarters. Objections to the kirpan were typically based on the threat that it is seen to pose to student safety. Mr Brian Burgess, President, Victorian Association of State Secondary Principals, was quoted in the media as saying that it is ‘not appropriate that something that can be used as a weapon is brought into a school’. His view was supported in the same article by Ms Mary Bluett, President, Australian Education Union (Victorian Branch).270 An online forum on the issue obtained a number of further comments from members of the public opposed to the wearing of the kirpan in schools…
A more precise description of events is that on June 10 this year, Mary Papadakis of The Melbourne Hun wrote an article in which she quoted the opinions of Mr Burgess and Ms Bluett – who were no doubt contacted by telephone and that when the editor looked over her work, he decided that it was a well-crafted piece, deftly using two of the Hun’s signature keys – Outrage Major and Panic Minor – and decided to run it. Then the audience gave it plaudits and a standing ovation in the on-line forum.
That precise description might be incorrect in one or two particulars – for example, it’s possible that either Brian Burgess or Mary Bluett contacted The Hun to air their concerns on learning of the submissions to the Education and Training Committee. Or perhaps it was a member of the Committee itself, alarmed that the majority of the committee members couldn’t see the self-evident dangers in such proposals.
The central fact – that the Hun was engaged in panic mongering as usual remains. That panic-mongering is the standard business of the Hun and its staff. Here’s how Andrew Bolt describes the method:
You want to know how they’re tricked up? First, you get a possible problem — preferably with some skerrick of truth.
You then get some expert … to make wild assumptions or faulty extrapolations.
And then you whistle for the carpetbaggers — journalists keen to sell a sensation, business keen to sell a cure, and politicians keen to sell themselves as the solution.
And bang, you have a mass panic, with more people gaining from the scare than are game to expose it.
So, from the fact that Khalsa Sikhs carry a religious symbol that looks a lot like a dagger – your skerrick of truth – you extrapolate the possibility that at some tim this religious artefact might be used in a school situation to harm, even kill another student. And you get the representatives of the school principals and the teachers’ union to back you up.
One thing you scrupulously avoid, of course, is examining any facts that might assuage the panic you want to incite. It helps, in this case, that the students who might be carrying these “dangerous weapons” to school are members of a minority religion that isn’t well understood by the majority – including the Hun’s journalists and editors, teachers, high school principals, bloggers and blog commentators. What strikes us – for example in this Canadian case – is that, OMFG, these people allow 11 year old boys to carry deadly weapons. Are these people crazy?
Of course they are – it’s common knowledge that if you put a sharp, pointy instrument in the hands of children, their first impulse is either to inflict injury on another child or to carelessly cut off one of their own fingertips. So there’s no need to ask any alternative questions – such as do these people know something about instilling a sense of responsibility in children that we don’t?
That question couldn’t, and shouldn’t, be asked, because Western culture is, in Pamela Bone’s words, clearly, objectively better than other cultures. Australian culture is part of Western culture, Khalsa Sikh culture plainly isn’t – we put up with Khalsa Sikhs in our own countries on sufferance – in the long run, we expect them to stop being different and do things – including bringing up their children – our way. No way could their way be better, because of course, it’s not the Australian way and therefore, not the Western way.
Well screw that. In the words of adam, in this comment:
… let’s look to the facts and make a few sensible points. Screw the divisive press. we are a community, and let’s learn each other’s ways.
Dancing to the Hun’s tune is a mug’s game.