Wednesday, June 18, 2008

more on bullying, and sunlight at the end of the tunnel

home made beer bottle solar panel [China]. It works, apparently

While the issue of bullying is important, and the Della Bosca Belinda Neale fracas [the night of the iguanas] is one example of the corruptions of power, which I was going to write about, there are plenty of other examples, some of them even more globally important.

It might be a stretch to speak of the rise of primitivist religions, or primitivist branches of established religions, as a form of bullying, but maybe not too much of a stretch. Certainly it’s not about reasoned debate – it’s about tactical maneuvering and aggressive lobbying for unrepresentative control of politico-social agendas. A small example of this is the threat, apparently from conservative Catholic MP Ron Boswell, that the government will experience a serious backlash if it tries to decouple overseas aid funding from a moralistic position regarding abortion and contraception. They wouldn’t get away with it in Australia, as pointed out in Mobile Science. Cheers too, to the Sunday Mail columnist [I forget her name] who strongly criticized the likes of Boswell and the bullying moral minority in last weekend’s paper.

That we’ve tied funding to such matters in the first place is something of a scandal – only the US, of course, also does this. It’s been happening here since 1996, thanks largely to the efforts of another conservative, ‘unrepresentative swill’ senator Brian Harradine. The labor government is about to overturn it, or such is our fervent hope.

The thing about political bullying is that it isn’t about convincing people about the truth of your position through evidence and argument, it’s about hectoring, playing the numbers game, threatening to remove backing if you’re a powerful organization like an established church, or a powerful person like a house leader, making a lot of noise and so forth.

In Indonesia, currently, it’s being taken to a whole new level. A weak central government is being blamed for the rise of, and increasingly aggressive tactics of extremist Islamic groups such as the Islamic Defenders Front, along with the rising power of the fatwah factory, the Ulema Council [originally set up by Suharto to keep the conservative clerics in line]. Recently, Islamist thugs broke up the annual rally of moderate religious folk which celebrates Pancasila Day, and generally there’s a lot of lawlessness of this kind around the country, polarizing the population. The strange and disturbing thing seems to be that, because of the perceived weakness of Yudhuyono’s government, the police and local authorities are taking the Ulema’s derees and pronouncements as law, and acting accordingly, in a most naughtily unconstitutional manner. It doesn’t look as if shari’a law is going to be instituted tomorrow, but still it’s a situation to watch and worry over. All this is well covered by the ABC’s Religion Report.

Meanwhile on the almost domestic front, our co-op is just going to install its first solar hot water system. We have a few properties with solar hot water at present, I think our two most recently built ones, and the three new ones that we hope will be handed over to us in August. We had to insist on getting solar hot water for them, even though we were given systems with out previous two houses, and even though they’re going to become mandatory for newly built houses soon. I’ll write about this next.

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