Saturday, January 05, 2008

The threat of the intellectual

The former federal government was fairly famous for its hatred of the university as more than a degree factory. Recently, New South Wales Attorney-General John Hatzistergos is reported to say ABC website:

"There seems to be some academics and some law schools that have made an industry out of developing this concept and trying to shove it down people's throats," he said.

The concept is a national charter of human rights.

"I think what's important here is that we have a genuine consultative process and we don't have some do-gooder academics running around the country trying to impose some sort of social order upon them."

While it is true that human rights is an airy fairy area at times, and consultation is a (so-called) democracy is good (in this case - what the state labour party wants it seems), why label academics as do-gooders. Bills of rights are often opposed with those who stand to loose. Note how many UN resolutions the USA has vetoed because it would in their eyes disadvantage them (or their arms industry). Name calling belies an underlying hostility.

It seems that it is not just a prerogative of the right to not like to be told what to do by those who might actually know more about the issues than them. Does ignorance = democracy? As for imposition - ultimately all things are imposed on some people. Aren't academics citizens too? If I, as a citizen were to comment publically, I'd most likely be told that I was speaking out of turn, out of my sphere of understanding. So who is it left to? Attorney Generals?

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