Leading article Australia

The cost of freedom

4 February 2016

3:00 PM

4 February 2016

3:00 PM

‘Military madness’, sang Graham Nash, ‘is killing my country.’ That was back in the ‘70s when US and Australian forces were fighting in Vietnam, and the hippy movement and its singing long-haired spokespersons, such as Graham and his buddies in Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, were horrified that an army would, er, fight in a war. Nowadays we know better, of course, and our new politically-enlightened armed forces have far more important battles to fight than simply engaging with the enemies of the realm. It would appear from the recent rewards heaped upon certain military officers that today’s army sensibly devotes most of its time to such pursuits as helping to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender, paying money to those who have been insulted on twitter, or driving soldiers out of the army because they’ve been caught looking at pornography or making lewd and disgusting comments to their mates.

Military madness indeed.

And to underscore just how insane this ‘progressive’ development is, we now have an Australian of the Year (and supposed perfect candidate for a future Republican President, according to the new head of the Australian Republican Movement) who is a former military man whose main claim to fame is successfully drumming a whole bunch of hard-working soldiers out of the army. Reverse conscription. Graham Nash would be impressed.

It’s not too much of a stretch to say that these days it is political correctness that is ‘killing our country’. Or at least, killing its soul. The last few weeks have seen a plethora of examples of our new wowserism, culminating in the events behind this week’s brilliant cover story by the ever-astute Brendan O’Neill.

We’ve had a transgender Group Captain throw a hissy fit because she wasn’t made Australian of the Year on the sole basis of being, um, a transgender person. We’ve had the former army chief and Australian of the Year apologising for being white and male, claiming we put too much emphasis on the Anzac story, and being deeply concerned about people’s sexuality. We’ve had a cabinet minister lose his job because he did nothing illegal after hours in a bar. We’ve had a West Indian cricket player fined and humiliated because he jokingly asked a pretty girl out on a date. We’ve had a Labor faceless man lose his face (along with his job) because he didn’t want an old one-night stand exposed to all and sundry by the girl who had willingly participated in the same act of carnal expression. And of course, we’ve had a drunken boofhead with an odd sense of humour publicly humiliated, pilloried and hounded out of the country for behaving weirdly – and politely weirdly at that – behind closed doors at a private party.

All of which is bad enough, but things get dramatically worse when you delve behind the scenes and see the toll that such hysterical political correctness can potentially extract from those the PC lynch-mob leave in their wake: suicides, marriage break-ups, careers destroyed, families destroyed, depression and break-downs, alcoholism and drug dependency.

There are several basic premises that allow personal freedom to co-exist with social order, arrived at over several hundred years of Western societies struggling to find a workable balance between controlling the excesses of human behaviour in public whilst tolerating excesses of individual expression behind closed doors.

The first of these is the rule of law based upon the presumption of innocence. The second is the freedom to behave as you choose within the privacy of your own home so long as the activities are legal and consensual. The third is the acceptance that we are all humans capable of making mistakes.

Digital technology has put paid to number 2, with spying apparatus available on any phone. We must now get used to the fact that nowhere are we unseen, and that in the years ahead we are going to be further inundated with titillating exposés of unsavoury acts.

On top of which, freedom of expression has now been usurped by the Intolerados of the Left under the guise of ‘human rights’, ‘inappropriate behaviour’, ‘sexism’, ‘racism’ and so on; to which we can now add ‘transphobia’, ‘Islamophobia’, and a host of other PC-driven moral ‘crimes’. Very few of which have any genuinely objective legal test – and all of which rely on ‘feelings’, ‘being offended’, ‘identifying as’ and other subjective criteria as reason to prosecute a moral case. Be afraid, because the new wowsers relish wielding the ruthless power of their vigilante weaponry – the vicious tools of social media, as well as the brutal instruments of the media itself with its endless parade of judgmental ‘commentators’, ‘spokespersons’ and ‘experts’ – as lustily and angrily as any mad mullah or medieval witch hunter ever did.

‘Find the cost of freedom’, was another great Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young song from the ‘70s. They were right. Freedom does come at a heavy price – namely, a healthy, successful society must willingly tolerate unseemly, boorish, crass and offensive human behaviour that doesn’t break any laws; as well as, hopefully, protect the right to privacy behind closed doors.

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