Friday, October 16, 2009

COMMENT: Noooooooooooooooooooooo Fatso's

I’m sure readers will remember that show National Bingo Night. Readers of South Asian heritage will have particularly fond memories of the Bingo Commissioner who kicked so many goals for their ancestral culture in Australia with this classic performance.

How could we ever not forget?

Dr Tanveer Ahmed had more than just failed TV game shows in his comedic repertoire. Indeed, perhaps his best comic performance has been convincing the neo-Conservative Centre for Independent Studies (CIS) that he is also an eminently qualified to be appointed a visiting fellow with research interests in:

… Islamic affairs, South Asia and the health sector.

Ahmed’s expertise in and contributions to psychiatry are well documented. His latest contribution to Islamic affairs (whatever that phrase means) consists of a review of the book by yours truly, published in the Spring 2009 edition of Policy magazine published by the CIS.

Normally I wouldn’t waste $9.95 on this allegedly intellectual magazine. However, it had one of my all-time favourite writers - PJ O’Rourke - on the cover. Yet as I found out after I had parted with my cash, all they had from PJ was an interview he did with some bloke who does a radio show on Radio National. I could have just as easily read the same interview online on the ABC website for free! Indeed, I had already downloaded the podcast back in May!!

Anyway, Ahmed’s review makes interesting reading for his complete objectivity. He sticks to the issues. He avoids making personal attacks. He’s not interested in innuendo. Consider this paragraph:

Yusuf also fits the profile of those vulnerable to radicalisation in other ways, for it is the socially awkward who are most likely to turn to Islamist teachings for a sense of social connectedness, in much the same way that other disaffected adolescents may become punks or Goths. Yusuf writes of being bullied because of the colour of his skin while in primary school. He is also obese. In a recent New York Times op-ed piece, an Iranian blogger captured it beautifully when he describes the religious police as ‘those young men least likely to ever attract the opposite sex but then find the government tells them they are special and gives them guns to prove it.’

Ahmed continues with this prediction:

Yusuf will remain controversial and disliked by many, including some Muslims.

Yes, I am disliked by the likes of Keysar Trad, Andrew Bolt, Mark Steyn, Daniel Pipes, Tim Blair and Tanveer Ahmed. The latter two seem to relish making references to my physique. It is true. I am fat. Still, my message to them is ...

And for some ailments there is NOOOOOOOOOOOO cure. Not even if you are a medical practitioner.

UPDATE I: Speaking of Daniel Pipes, Ahmed's review describes Pipes as a "US Middle East expert". Ahmed famously shared the podium with Pipes arguing the proposition that Islam and democracy are incompatible. To argue that Islam and democracy are incompatible implies that Muslims cannot live as productive citizens in a democracy. Given that Pipes seems to believe that Barack Obama was (and possibly still is) a Muslim, one wonders how Pipes can explain a current or former Muslim now becoming President of arguably the world's most successful democracy.

UPDATE II: An interesting discussion on Tanveer's review can be found at the blog of Policy editor Andrew Norton here.

Words © 2009 Irfan Yusuf

Bookmark this on Delicious


Get Flocked

BLOGS: Andrew Bolt's tabloid excuses ...

Excuses, excuses. Andrew Bolt is full of them. And after reading this entry on his blog, I'm convinced Bolt is full of it.

Bolt has a serious dilemna.

I now face a moral dilemma. My intention has been to allow on this blog a discussion that is as free as possible - freer, in fact, than you will find on virtually any other blog. Even my worst critics, several of whom post here almost every day, will concede that I have enabled just that.

(At least they will until they are banned!)

And the debate has also at times degenerated into nasty slanging matches, particularly when overworked moderators, flooded by as many as 12,000 comments in a week, have let through things we did not properly read or consider.

Why didn't you properly read them? Doesn't your moderation policy say that you will read them? Aren't you legally obliged to read them now that you have made a representation to this effect?

... suggestions are being made that by allowing a platform that includes in the crowd of thousands a few cranks - students? leftists trying to cause michief? nutters?- that perhaps the ABC should think twice before inviting me on. Silly, I know, but I suspect this is not an issue that will go away. And then there’s the real risk that one day we’ll slip up and allow on a comment that will get us sued, with me dragged into it once more as the man who “allowed” this all to happen.

Andrew, you know full well the identity of many of those defamatory, offensive and racist leaving comments on your blog.

But maybe I'm being harsh. Maybe I should consider the moral dimension to all this.

So as you can see, against my duty, as I perhaps arrogantly perceive it, to allow as free a discussion as possible, there is my ego and my self-interest in protecting my reputation. I should also admit that taking off the comments function should free up more than 10 hours of every choked week. What’s more, reading and checking those comments that I can get to can eat at my optimisim as well as my time. You should see the stuff we must delete - or, rather, you shouldn’t.

We don't need to read what you delete, Andrew. What you allow through is worse than bad. Readers can read this long litany of examples and judge for themselves.

Bolt has no more excuses left. There is no real moral dilemma. There is the law. Bolt must obey the law, just like the rest of us. Bolt must follow his own moderation charter. He must not publish material that is racist, sexist, homophobic etc. He must not breach anti-vilification laws, and he must not publish comments that breach such laws.

So what if he must moderate 12,000 comments a week. He works for News Limited. He works for a multi-billion dollar enterprise. And such an enterprise and its employees must obey the law just like the rest of us. There's no moral dilemma involved in the Rule of Law.

If Bolt continues to make excuses and continues to rebuff the law, there could well be consequences, both for him and his employers. It's as simple as that.