Monday, June 18, 2012

Not yet done to death

The latest on the ANU death threats saga is that Australian National University has “stymied” a further FOI request by “demanding” nearly $40,000 to carry out the request.

The latest request is by the same guy whose previous FOI yielded 11 emails for the wrong time period while attempting to either verify or debunk supposed events that, anyway, were based on erroneous reports from the ABC and other outlets (including News £td, a fact that apparently still eludes The Australian).

So far as I can gather, the FOI guy’s motive for pursuing this has been his personal perception that the death-threat reports “have been used as a way to tar all critics of the climate consensus as being a bunch of dangerously unhinged lunatics who would resort to sending death threats...”

Essentially, it offends his vanity that his anti-climate-consensus cause may have been sullied by “a tiny minority of disturbed individuals.” Personally, I can see why ANU would want to discourage FOI requests that verge on the trivial or vexatious.

As a (qualified) supporter of the climate consensus, however, I can report that my own vanity was not offended in the least by a recent report in The Australian by Chris Merritt that prominent climate sceptics had been subject to abuse and threats. I’m happy to allow that there are whackos in any camp.

Nor was I particularly offended that the report, headlined as “Death threats just par for the course,” detailed nothing (in relation to the climate debate) that could seriously be considered a death threat.

The only example that would remotely qualify was an instance where “a filmmaker used Twitter to urge his followers: ‘Let’s assassinate Andrew Bolt.’”

Indeed, that kind of thing is stupid and offensive but nevertheless fairly insubstantial on the threat index, since it’s quite obviously public spleen affected by an identifiable individual.

Merritt also noted,

Sydney Daily Telegraph columnist Tim Blair says he has received “death wishes” rather than death threats. ... Most of this material arrives by email and while they are abusive, Blair says they are not real death threats.

Still, if Merritt and The Australian want to headline all this as “Death Threats,” then all their recent quibbling over the nature of threats to Australian climate scientists would seem somewhat small and hypocritical.

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Blogger Caz said...

Don't you hate it when things get stymied?

So uncomfortable.

20/6/12 8:51 PM  
Blogger Caz said...

... Tim Blair says he has received “death wishes” rather than death threats ...

Arrh, Blair still has a sharp and wonderful wit.

20/6/12 8:52 PM  
Anonymous Jacob said...

Sharp, yep. Wonderful? -- hmmmm... more clever than wonderful.

20/6/12 10:59 PM  
Blogger Caz said...

Yes, definitely a very clever mind, a wonderful wit - doesn't mean he is wonderful, or his ideas!

Almost never read him since he went back to commercial blogging, and comments no longer the spontaneous conversations of old, so quite tedious to read. Maybe once or twice a year, I have a quick look. Stills sings to the choir, but has such a good spin on things, knows how to pick and dissect, acerbic - yes, delightfully acerbic, even when he's being biased (which is always).

Such a good mind, I've often thought his talents were a bit wasted in journalism, certainly in blogging.

21/6/12 11:06 AM  
Anonymous Jacob said...

True, he really ought to be working in the Liberal Party's media orifice ... sorry, office.

21/6/12 9:56 PM  
Blogger Caz said...

Sure, sure. But nowadays, he'd be seen as freakishly articulate and compellingly logical, and would, therefore, lose his job, quickly.

Reading about Keating's latest commentary on Gillard and Abbott, and almost thought it could sound like sour grapes; the old guy no longer at his peak. Then again, I'm no longer accustomed to a leader saying anything true, sensible, or even grammatically correct, let alone loading it all with a string of zingers. I misinterpreted, simply because I'm not used to our pollies being forthright. It's that simple.

Yeah, I know we can't romanticize those days, but a few entirely accurate lines from Keating reminds me that our current line up really are THAT bad. Keating didn't give either of them even feint praise.

No, even Blair would be seen as unsuitable staffer material in this woebegone political era.

23/6/12 8:08 PM  
Anonymous Jacob said...

I have tremendous empathy for old guys no longer at their peak. Yes, perhaps even a depleted Keating would be hugely preferable to any of the current line up.

Timmy articulates irony and innuendo exceptionally well. His logic is rigorous enough, in so far as applied to a careful selection of facts and factoids. But his spelling and punctuation are impeccable.

24/6/12 11:34 AM  

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