Gerard Henderson has an interesting op-ed in the SMH:
John Roskam is a fine leader of the conservative Institute of Public Affairs. But in recent times the IPA has grown a libertarian faction headed by Christopher Berg and Stephen (sic) Breheny. Their attitude to surveillance by such security organisations ASIO and ASIS is not dissimilar to that of such left-wing lawyers as Rob Stary.
The Berg/Breheny libertarian position has been properly criticised by Labor parliamentary secretary Michael Danby and by the conservative commentator Colin Rubenstein, who heads the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council.
First things first, that’s Simon Breheny not Stephen. If Simon were to follow Henderson’s MO this would lead to several months of email exchanges.
It is simply astonishing that Henderson should single out for special criticism the two men who did a lot – a very, very lot – of the heavy lifting in the free speech campaign that the IPA, under John Roskam’s excellent leadership, ran against Conroy’s obscene media laws. We are all in their debt, yet Henderson does the smear. In his op-ed he is attempting to link concern for civil liberties to support for terrorism.
The fact is that the Boston terrorists were detected by CCTV footage. What’s more, the evidence suggests that if the FBI surveillance had been more thorough the attacks may not have taken place. [Well, duh.] Freedom invariably has to be curtailed at a time of war.
The fact of the matter is we are not at war. As Henderson himself knows full well and concedes:
The overwhelming majority of Muslim resident in the West are law-abiding citizens. Moreover, the majority of Muslims who currently die violent deaths are killed by other Muslims. Yet the fact remains that the West, including Australia, is under attack from a few jihadists who hate us so much that they are even prepared to murder children watching a marathon.
Was it ever different? There are always a few malcontents who engage in acts of extreme violence. It doesn’t matter if they profess to be Muslim or Marxist or Anarchist or Patriots or whatever. Their acts of terror condemn them whatever their motive. Anyone who says different is a moral dwarf.
Liberal societies maximise the freedoms of their citizens. Illiberal societies do not and usually contrive excuses to limit those freedoms. Being “at war” is a common excuse to limit freedom.
Linking a domestic campaign to retain free speech rights and privacy against the State to a act of terrorism on the other side of the world is not just a long bow, it is incredibly grubby.
I am also somewhat surprised by the allies Henderson has enlisted. Michael Danby – a member of the ALP who would have voted for Conroy’s anti-free speech legislation and Colin Rubenstein – a supporter of s18(c). Shame on you both. Unsurprising that those two would criticise Chris Berg and Simon Breheny. Danby and Rubenstein lost the free speech debates.
As Henderson says
The time has come for blunt talking.
I agree. Gerard – pull your head in. You are unworthy to criticise Chris Berg or Simon Breheny or, by implication, John Roskam. It is because of these fine men that you are free to write the rubbish that you did in this column. Don’t smear and sneer, be grateful.