Tyler Cowen talks to Claire Lehmann

Read the transcript – listen to the audio.

One minor quibble – Australia does not have a male macho culture. That’s propaganda.

One very serious quibble – the best Australian movie ever was The Castle.

Important point:

LEHMANN: I think having social norms that frown upon racism and sexism are very important and useful. But when we talk about political correctness, we’re not really talking about social norms. We’re talking about people being punished for asking questions and expressing doubt and expressing uncertainty. The norms are just overactive. They’re hyperactive.

The norms where expressing a racial epithet and using race to insult someone—there should be a taboo against that.

But I don’t think that’s what we’re talking about when we’re talking about political correctness. We’re talking about the tool that’s used to stop people from having independent thought and asking questions about social phenomena and questioning some of the more simplistic narratives that get presented around issues of gender and race.

The norms that prevent people from using race or gender as an insult, I don’t think they’re too tough. I think that they’re perfectly reasonable.

This is an important point – it is perfectly possible to be anti-PC without being rude about it.

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20 Responses to Tyler Cowen talks to Claire Lehmann

  1. mh

    The Castle is the best Australian movie EVER? That is a savage critique of the Australian movie industry.

  2. Rafe Champion

    Thanks Sinc, brilliant stuff, quite a bit to contest but no time.
    Everyone sign up to the Quillette feed!
    Factoid, Claire is married to the son of Geoffrey Lehman, a leading poet and tax lawyer.

  3. Sinclair Davidson

    Yep – I’m looking past Crocodile Dundee and Max Max (all of them) and Priscilla in the Desert to nominate The Castle as the greatest Australian movie EVAH.

  4. Roger

    Important point

    And quite obvious to anyone not on the Prog Left, I would have thought.

    The wonder is that conservative politicians are so spineless in confronting it.

    Hint: If you want to be liked by the sworn enemies of everything you hold dear, don’t go into politics.

  5. Mique

    The ‘norms’ Lehmann talks about are no longer norms, if they ever were. They were, at best, customary rules that pertained in some segments of society but by no means all, and fashions changed over time. Recall the now infamous statement by a prominent ALP politician that two Wongs don’t make a white.

    Who defines what the ‘norms’ should be, and who, if anyone, could be trusted to police and enforce them? Certainly not our current generation of ‘intellectuals’, journalists and other self-appointed social justice warriors.

  6. Snoopy

    Yep – I’m looking past Crocodile Dundee and Max Max (all of them) and Priscilla in the Desert to nominate The Castle as the greatest Australian movie EVAH.

    You haven’t watched Smiley Gets a Gun, have you?

  7. One minor quibble – Australia does not have a male macho culture. That’s propaganda.

    Not any more, it liked to think it did in the 1970’s, until your Mum clipped you around the ear.

  8. Des Deskperson

    I’ve always though The Castle to be a pretty average film, but what has always intrigued me about it is the way in which a piece of gratuitous virtue-signalling – Daryl saying he now knows how the Aborigines felt – inadvertently undermined to entire premise of the film.

    So why didn’t he immediately cede his property to the local traditional owners??

  9. struth

    The Castle is an idiotic wank made by urban lefties who think they get ordinary Australians and will throw in a lesson for all of us regarding Aboriginal land rights.

    Pathetic piece of drivel.

  10. Mique

    I agree with Des. Besides, I’ve an inbuilt prejudice against Caton’s full-on ocker schtick, and the gorge rises whenever I see him in a movie or a commercial.

  11. Procrustes

    It was a great interview with plenty to agree with and to disagree with. I liked some of the stuff about the mechanics of running Quillette as well as the tour through Australian culture by an outsider (Tyler) asking an insider (Claire) a diverse array of questions. Plus opportunities to sink the boot into post-modernism.

    I agree with Claire Lehman’s assessment that Lantana is a great film. It is vastly superior to the Castle. However, the Castle has a lot more links into Australian culture. And despite the carping in the comments above, either by accident or design it carries a libertarianish message about property rights that you don’t get elsewhere.

    Bonus points to Claire for namechecking the Go-Betweens as one of her favourite bands.

  12. Des Deskperson

    ‘And despite the carping in the comments above, either by accident or design it carries a libertarianish message about property rights that you don’t get elsewhere.’

    Maybe, but I thought it was more the populist/leftist message – flogged to death in several film contemporaries of The Castle’ – ‘The Bank’ and “The Man who Sued God’ – about the little bloke standing up to the evil and greedy corporations.

    It’s interesting to note here that Tullamarine Airport – the evil organisation in the film – was actually at the time – and still is – owned and run by a private corporation, although I don’t recall whether this came across in the film or whether it was ‘the government’ that was blamed. a more ‘libertarianish’ position.

  13. struth

    And despite the carping in the comments above, either by accident or design it carries a libertarianish message about property rights that you don’t get elsewhere.

    The message is about big corporation whites taking over aboriginal land by force.

    You can dream into it what you like, but it was made by outed lefties, and if you think the general public will take from the film what you have, I would suggest you may want to think again.

    It was an aboriginal land rights message and it was made to show us how we’d feel if it was done to us.
    And that’s how the general public saw it.

  14. Kneel

    “And that’s how the general public saw it.”

    Really?
    I would have said they saw it as a tongue-in-cheek “go” at average suburban Aussies.
    I think you’re dreaming….

  15. Delta A

    It was an aboriginal land rights message and it was made to show us how we’d feel if it was done to us.
    And that’s how the general public saw it.

    Can’t agree, struth.

    The general public saw it as a win for the little man.

    The Castle is a Delta family favourite. Not once has anyone commented on the land rights issue. We simply didn’t notice it.

  16. Howard Hill

    Delta A
    #2805580, posted on August 30, 2018 at 3:49 pm

    Not once has anyone commented on the land rights issue. We simply didn’t notice it.

    Yep. No one I know has ever seen it in this light.
    Everyone I know saw it as the little guy taking a win over the evil capitalists and their brothers in arms, .gov.

  17. mh

    Everyone I know saw it as the little guy taking a win over the evil capitalists …

    I think that is why Sinc loved it.

  18. HGS

    I think the quote is rubbish, re norms and taboos. To introduce a taboo is to force others to conform.

  19. Entropy

    teenagwrs today nav no frame of reference to understand the castle.
    Language, values, the trading post, dishlickers are foreign to them.

  20. Kneel

    “… it is perfectly possible to be anti-PC without being rude about it.”

    Nope – no more of that, thanks.
    No point being civil to people who hate you and everything you believe in.
    Hate them back, insult them back – if you’re not rude, they’ll ignore you anyway.

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