November 2nd 2002

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Bali: after the dust settles ...

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Vultures circle Crean after Cunningham debacle

NEW ZEALAND: US links free trade to repeal of NZ nuclear ships ban

NEW ZEALAND: Kiwibank on target for 100,000 customers

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Global systems / The splitting of the West / After the earthquake

WESTERN AUSTRALIA: 'Unlawful' electoral changes: McGinty tries again

AGRICULTURE: Farmers' overwhelming support for alternate sugar package

LETTERS: Bush doctrine (letter)

LETTERS: Accepting responsibility (letter)

LETTERS: Drinking age (letter)

ECONOMICS: Getting to work on the world economy

COMMENT: Holding on to the centre

COMMENT: Monash shootings and the irresponsibility culture

COMMENT: Affirmative action illuminated

EUROPE: New members, new problems for European Union

ASIA: Behind Pakistan's Islamist revival

BOOKS: Marriage: Just a piece of paper?

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Accepting responsibility (letter)

by Bob Denahy

News Weekly, November 2, 2002

In Japan during the 1960s a refrain often heard on the American Armed Forces Radio Service at Iwakuni near Hiroshima was, "And remember, freedom implies responsibility."

Statistics in Australia confirm what is evident to everyone already: crime is on the increase. Carriages of suburban trains in Sydney are vandalised and numerous buildings and fences adjacent to the tracks are covered in graffiti. Posters inform passengers that at night two security guards travel on every train. Stations are under constant camera surveillance. Passengers are encouraged at night to travel in carriages close to the guard.

Presumably, as a result of so many people being guilty of lying, anyone who wishes to open a bank account, or even to draw out his own money, has to prove that he is not a liar by producing evidence to the contrary, up to four times, in terms of a driver's licence, passport, etc, etc. We are all liars until we prove otherwise.

Everyone who goes shopping has to be prepared, if requested, to prove he has not stolen something from the store. One can understand the concern of store owners who apparently lose millions of dollars annually through shoplifting and have to put a levy on all items to make up for the deficit. We are all thieves until we prove our innocence.

Any motorist any time can be pulled over by the police and tested for inebriation. There was a time when a vehicle almost had to be wandering from one side of the road to the other before this would occur. The police nowadays argue that even women must be subjected to this indignity because it "saves lives." We are all drunk until we prove we are sober.

Before a teacher can be employed in a school he must prove that he is not a paedophile, and he must also agree never to touch a child. All teachers are to be regarded as sexual perverts until they produce evidence to the contrary. They must also be prepared to be struck by students, but never strike back, because violence is bad.

It is standards of behaviour and morality in schools in America that help explain the exploding numbers of families who have decided to educate their children themselves. According to The Family in America (August 2002), "as many as two million American children are now educated at home with their parents as teachers, an increase from 25,000 in 1975." There has been a huge increase in numbers in Australia as well.

Because moral standards and behaviour have fallen so drastically in Western countries, there has been a concomitant shrinking of freedoms. Australians in and out of their homes, on the road or in the train, at school or in the work place, felt a lot safer and enjoyed greater freedom 50 years ago than they do now.

Government solutions to date has been to build more prisons and increase the numbers of police. That is one method.

The other would be to encourage people to try keeping the Ten Commandments, and if that sounds too extreme, then suggest following the natural law. Or, as the Americans put it, accept responsibility.

Bob Denahy,
Sydney, NSW

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