June 7th 2008

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Articles from this issue:

EDITORIAL: Will money solve the problems of indigenous Australians?

COVER STORY: UK green light for creation of human-animal hybrids

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Rudd Labor Government wobbles for the first time

OVERSEAS TRADE: US farm bill buries talk of free trade in agriculture

TRADE PRACTICES ACT: Will Liberals back Labor or small business?

ECONOMIC AFFAIRS: Has financial deregulation finally been discredited?

VICTORIA: Vic. court hands gambling decision back to council

CENSORSHIP: Student union bans pro-life activities

REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH: Post-abortive women: from silence to lawsuits

CULTURE: Our topsy-turvy world: on kangaroo culls and child porn

CHILDHOOD: Are violent video games harmless entertainment?

HUMAN RIGHTS: The Olympics and China's organ-harvesting shame

OPINION: Democracy in disconnect: joining the dots

AS THE WORLD TURNS: Urban environments to human scale / War on the family / How we lost the Cold War

Chickens coming home to roost (letter)

Obligation to tackle global warming (letter)

Farmers and carbon tax (letter)

Railway opportunities beckon (letter)


BOOKS: GOD'S CRUCIBLE: Islam and the Making of Modern Europe, 570-1215, by David Levering Lewis

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Our topsy-turvy world: on kangaroo culls and child porn

by Bill Muehlenberg

News Weekly, June 7, 2008
Society is in moral meltdown, writes Bill Muehlenberg.

We live in a world that has turned common sense on its head, and has inverted long-held moral values. What we used to regard as evil is now lauded as virtuous. And what was once considered to be good we now call evil.

In an age of moral relativism and the rejection of any final authority, one would expect such convoluted morality. But in times of moral anarchy, a sure word is all the more needed. When madness reigns, a voice of reason is clearly necessary.

As Os Guinness comments about the modern world without God, "What was once unimaginable becomes thinkable and then fashionable. What used to be abnormal is now normal. Where we were shocked, we are now indifferent. What started as soft-core ends as hard-core."

Let me focus on two quite recent cases of convoluted ethics and dizzy reasoning. The first involves the cull of kangaroos in the Australian Capital Territory. A military base near Canberra is culling the kangaroos to protect lowland native grasslands and threatened species.

Teary-eyed protesters

But the animal rights crowd sprung into action, declaring they would become "human shields" for the kangaroos. The media of course got into the thick of things, and we saw teary-eyed protestors doing all they could to save the 'roos.

Now there is nothing wrong with being an animal-lover, and it is always sad when a cull is needed. But the question that keeps nagging me is this: do these same "humanitarians" also show similar concerns for the 100,000 human babies being culled each year in our abortion mills?

Do they also throw themselves in front of the abortionists as human shields to avert this horrendous and violent slaughter of the innocents? I guess I would just like to see some sort of consistency here.

Concerned about non-humans? Fine. But show me some concern about humans and I might take your cause a bit more seriously.

If we really are more concerned about the death of kangaroos than we are about human beings, then we have lost our way as a culture. Our values have been turned upside-down, and we are in need of a new moral rudder. By all means, seek to protect animals if need be; but do not forget an even more important victim, the unborn child.

The second example involves yet another "art" exhibition, this time featuring nude photographs of boys and girls. Because of what some are regarding as the pornographic nature of the exhibit, and the involvement of children, the police have closed down the showing. Once again, our libertarian "art"-lovers are crying "censorship", and are up in arms about their "right" to view such material.

Now, in an age in which we have increasing problems with paedophilia, child sexual abuse, the sexualisation of children, and the pornification of culture, one would have thought that the police action in closing this exhibition down was the right move.

But in a world of upside-down values, all that our trendy intellectualoids can complain about are censorship and violation of free speech, and other sorts of nonsense. Once again, we see the selfish whims of adults seeking to trump the well-being of children.

We do not need to have our children photographed in the nude for all the world to see. Their innocence should be preserved, not exploited for crass commercial gain and public notoriety. Both the photographer and the Sydney art gallery deserve our stern moral censure here. So too the parents who allowed their children — some as young as 12 — to be photographed by this individual.

But such is the age that we live in that some people would rather stand up for those who would exploit children, than stand up for the children themselves. Indeed, children are increasingly becoming the victims of this new moral permissiveness and juggling of values.

It is, as I say, a topsy-turvy world, and is getting more so with each passing day. But the good news is, not everyone is involved in this moral meltdown. Not everyone approves of the new moral relativism. Not everyone is delighted with what they are seeing.

As long as people still have a moral compass, some will be willing to speak out on the erosion of moral values, and the perversion of notions of right and wrong. Indeed, we have a duty to do so. Let the libertarians and moral anarchists scream all they like. But some things are too important to let go of without a fight.

We need to reject the modern silly notions about tolerance and acceptance, and start getting a bit hard-headed about right and wrong.

As G.K. Chesterton once remarked, "Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions." Or as Dante reminds us in his Inferno, the hottest level in hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in a time of moral crisis.

— Bill Muehlenberg is a commentator on contemporary issues, and lectures in ethics and philosophy. His website CultureWatch is at: www.billmuehlenberg.com

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