Thursday, October 11, 2007

Miranda's Scoop: Labor for Terrorists, Against Babies

Call it a personal litmus test: every now and then, against my better judgment, I read one of Miranda Devine's opinion pieces. If this fails to enrage me, I worry that I am sliding down into the abyss of right-wing nuttery.

Today's piece caused no such concerns. Miranda chose to write about the recent furore over the death penalty, namely how McClelland exposed the secret plot to free all the terrorists that would come to be under a Labor regime. (Yes, she said "regime".) I don't really know what I expected; the headline, "Whose human rights come first?", is itself a pretty good indication that Miranda doesn't get it. Human rights are universal, not hierarchical, Miranda. That's actually the whole point.

But the form of her argument was interesting, sort of. Turns out there's a slippery slope all the way from condemning capital punishment to... condemning punitive amputation:

There are plenty of terrible things we don't like that happen elsewhere in the world. Why stop at capital punishment? What about the amputation of the hands and feet of thieves in Saudi Arabia?

Indeed. Why stop at capital punishment? I am against capital punishment, and also against the amputation of the hands and feet of thieves. In fact, I would be greatly disappointed if Labor were against capital punishment but for cutting people's hands off. True, I don't remember reading anything about the endorsement of punitive amputation in the ALP charter, but then perhaps I wasn't looking hard enough.

This is the way it goes for Miranda: she takes the utterly, impeccably consistent Labor policy - not to be confused with the utterly, impeccably expedient words of Kevin Rudd - and somehow twists it to imply that Labor are the ones espousing some kind of inconsistent approach to human rights. What about the Saudis cutting off people's hands? Well actually, Miranda, if I were putting my money on one party to oppose a given form of cruel and unusual punishment, it would be the one with the unequivocal anti-capital punishment stance.

Let's recap: Labor's policy is that it opposes capital punishment, which means that it opposes capital punishment here and overseas. The Libs' policy is that they oppose capital punishment, which means they oppose capital punishment in Australia and for Australians, but not necessarily for foreigner types. Who's inconsistent now?

As for the bizarre swerve into the murky waters of abortion... well, actually, I was relieved to read it. Generally speaking, and to their eternal credit, Australians are not in the habit of politicising abortion, nor of drawing equivalence between a fertilised egg and a sentient human being. Bringing it up was probably the worst thing she could've done for the credibility of her argument - it just reads like she's working her way through a list of conservative talking points. American conservative talking points, at that. She should've just joined the Liberal MPs in their somewhat comic defence of McClelland from the mean, nasty Kevin Rudd. Didn't she get the memo?

Incidentally, Annabel Crabb's typically brilliant piece on the McClelland/Rudd/Howard/Downer dustup just about made the whole exercise worthwhile.


diego luego said...

Sometimes I think that Miranda Devine is a spoof, like the late lamented Godfrey Bigot (his real persona, Brad Peterson, seems to have killed him off, what a shame!).

She pushes too far the boundary of what an intelligent educated person could possibly think.

But just occasionally I find myself agreeing with her. It's a real worry. I use it as a personal wake-up call.

diego luego said...

I seem to remember that in about January this year Tony Abbott claimed there were 100,000 abortions a year. Unfortunately for the truth this included miscarriages and all therapeutic d&cs. Miranda is therefore propagating Abbott's mischievous distortion.

Miranda should try some volunteer work at a rape crisis centre.

Lucy said...

I'm a bit ashamed of myself for engaging with Miranda in the first place. I think my blood sugar was low.

Are you serious, that figure includes miscarriages? What is wrong with these people?

By the way, Miranda as spoof:

Despite the offputting URL, it's genius, promise. "Why did the Middle Australian cross the road? Because he’s Glorious!"

diego luego said...

Abortions come under Medicare item code 35643. In 2003 there were about 70,000 Medicare claims for 35643. This item covers a number of scenarios including miscarriage, foetal death and gynaecological necessity. Some authorities believe the actual elective abortion rate may be as low as 20,000.

The incidence of abortion has been slowly dropping, despite population increase. Teenage abortions especially have declined.

Hey, Miranda let's not let the facts spoil a good diatribe though.