April 26th 2014

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Articles from this issue:

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Beware the fine print in Asian trade agreements

ECONOMIC AGENDA: Does Australia export 274 per cent of its wine production?

EDITORIAL: High-profile scientists rebut climate change threat

SOCIETY: Gender agenda will confuse our children

POLITICS AND SOCIETY: Conservatives are wrong to disparage distributism

ELECTORAL AFFAIRS: Ex-AFP commissioner slams AEC's Senate vote bungle

WESTERN AUSTRALIA: Joe Bullock is right: the ALP left is mad

ECONOMIC AFFAIRS: Infrastructure and superannuation: a match made in heaven?

SOCIETY: How political correctness harms children and society

FOREIGN AFFAIRS: The significance for Australia of the rise of Indonesia

FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Landmark elections for European Parliament

OBITUARY: Farewell, Brian Harradine


CINEMA: How 'subversive' is Darren Aronofsky's Noah?

BOOK REVIEW Building a free and prosperous nation

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How political correctness harms children and society

by Bill Muehlenberg

News Weekly, April 26, 2014

We are creating a generation of precious spoiled brats who think that the whole world owes them everything, and on a silver platter. They must be protected from every unpleasant reality in life, and must be taught that they are the centre of the universe, and nothing amiss or untoward must ever come their way.


AFL national development manager,

Josh Vanderloo. 

The curse of political correctness has ensured that we now have pampered zombies walking our streets, who think that they must be immune from anything and everything negative, distressing or difficult. They want assurances that they can float through life untouched, unscathed and uncontaminated by any unpleasantness the world might throw their way.


These mealy-mouthed wimps make life miserable for everyone, and in fact are putting us all at risk. And this mollycoddling starts when we are quite young. Children are being cocooned from real life, whether because of over-zealous parents, or PC-bound bureaucrats.

As one American discussion of this problem said, “School authorities punish kids for hugging a friend, pointing a finger as a pretend gun, or starting a game of tag on the playground. Congress bans starter bikes on the chance that some 12-year-old might chew on a brass valve. Police arrest parents for leaving a sleepy kid alone in the back seat of a car for a few minutes.

“Yet over-protectiveness creates perils of its own. It robs kids not only of fun and sociability but of the joy of learning independence and adult skills, whether it be walking a city street by themselves or using a knife to cut their own sandwich” (Cato Institute, March 7, 2014).

Examples of this are all around us, and two recent ones which caught my eye are worth mentioning. The first has to do with a medical student in Australia who is afraid of exams. But the New South Wales (NSW) Civil and Administrative Tribunal sided with her against the medical school.

As one news item reports: “A medical student who suffers an ‘extreme’ fear of exams has won the right to continue her degree after a tribunal ruled the university discriminated against her because of her mental health disability.

“The woman, who has a borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder, had failed to sit written exams and avoided some clinical assessments, particularly in paediatrics and surgery, because of ‘extreme anxiety in relation to sitting exams [and] performance assessments’.

“The University of Newcastle declined to grant the woman an extension of time to complete her Bachelor of Medicine after she had only completed three-and-a-half years of course work in an eight-year period, the maximum time allowed” (Sydney Morning Herald, April 1, 2014).

Hey, what about me? I have extreme fear of going to a hospital or clinic where medical practitioners might not be up to scratch, and could even be dangerous to my health, because they have refused to be properly tested, and could be utterly inept and unqualified. Doesn’t my phobia count for anything here?

Or consider another example of this sort of thinking, also from Australia. Now kids cannot win or lose at sport.

A recent report says: “Children will be banned from playing to win, keeping score and best and fairest awards under Australia-wide changes to junior football developed by the AFL [Australian Football League].

“Thousands of junior footballers in up to 150 leagues will be forced to play with no scoreboard, ladders or match results under the shake-up designed to promote participation rather than competition….

“AFL national development manager Josh Vanderloo said the new rules had been drafted in consultation with leagues to give children ‘an enjoyment philosophy rather than a winning philosophy’.

“Laurimar Junior Football Club tried the changes on Sunday, putting under-10 player’s through their paces with revised rules. Club vice president Andrew Jamieson said children were ‘not very happy’. The AFL drafted the new guidelines in conjunction with Deakin University research” (Herald Sun, Melbourne, March 30, 2014).

Of course they wouldn’t have been very happy! What a joke. And all so typical here: some eggheads at a university dreamed up all this foolishness. I guess they were having a quiet day. The good news is, not everyone was thrilled with this. Many have spoken out against it.

Lauren Rosewarne, for example, wrote this: “God forbid that we allow a ball game to subtly teach kids anything about the pain of loss, the thrill of victory or the necessity for improvement.

“Adults, as they get ever-close to the grave, have a tendency to idealise their childhoods to the point of farce. I have an uncle, for example, whose own youth apparently involved nothing other than cheap lollies, yabbying and whittling cricket bats out of old planks of wood” (ABC’s The Drum, April 1, 2014).

Or, as Wendy Tuohy said in Melbourne’s Herald Sun: “There is one inescapable fact about sport — as about many aspects of life, like it or not. It is a competition in which you play to win.

“And while the new AFL codes for junior footballers are no doubt aimed at getting more kids to have a go, stripping the competitive element from the game is just another version of cotton-wooling….

“But the point is this: losing is a healthy and normal part of life and it’s a huge mistake to rob children of the chance to experience it.

“Kids absolutely have to learn to lose in order to learn to recover, it leads to that most over-exposed of qualities that every parent will have heard a hundred times at school pastoral care talks: resilience.

“We can’t shield kids from a necessary reality like disappointment. If you remove the competitive aspect of footy, then you take away one of the key things it can teach you about participation and about life: things don’t always go your way. You just have to learn to live with it” (Herald Sun: The Perch Blog, March 31, 2014).

But since when has political correctness ever been concerned about real life, or reality? It is all about creating a world of un-reality. And we all suffer as a result.

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



Lenore Skenazy and Walter Olson, “Quit bubble-wrapping our kids!”, Cato Institute (Washington, DC), March 7, 2014.
URL: www.cato.org/multimedia/events/quit-bubble-wrapping-our-kids

Louise Hall, “University discriminated against medical student with ‘extreme’ fear of exams”, Sydney Morning Herald, April 1, 2014.
URL: www.smh.com.au/nsw/university-discriminated-against-medical-student-with-extreme-fear-of-exams-20140401-35vty.html

Peter Rolfe, “No scoreboard, ladder or match results for junior footballers under changes to be unveiled by AFL”, Herald Sun (Melbourne), March 30, 2014.
URL: www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/no-scoreboard-ladder-or-match-results-for-junior-footballers-under-changes-to-be-unveiled-by-afl/story-fni0fit3-1226869120535

Lauren Rosewarne, “Bubble-wrapping childhood, footy style”, The Drum (Australian Broadcasting Commission), April 1, 2014.
URL: www.abc.net.au/news/2014-04-01/rosewarne-bubble-wrapping-childhood-footy-style/5357356

Wendy Tuohy, “Kids must be allowed to lose”, Herald Sun The Perch Blog (Melbourne), March 31, 2014.
URL: http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/theperch/index.php/heraldsun/comments/of_course_kids_should_play_to_win/


‘Everybody has won, and all must have prizes...’

by Lewis Carroll

They were indeed a queer-looking party that assembled on the bank — the birds with draggled feathers, the animals with their fur clinging close to them, and all dripping wet, cross and uncomfortable.

Alice and the Dodo. Illustration

by Sir John Tenniel (1865).

The Dodo said: “The best thing to get us dry would be a Caucus-race.”

First it marked out a race-course, in a sort of circle, (“the exact shape doesn’t matter,” it said,) and then all the party were placed along the course, here and there.

There was no “One, two, three, and away”, but they began running when they liked, and left off when they liked, so that it was not easy to know when the race was over.

However, when they had been running half an hour or so, and were quite dry again, the Dodo suddenly called out “The race is over!” and they all crowded round it, panting, and asking, “But who has won?”

This question the Dodo could not answer without a great deal of thought, and it sat for a long time with one finger pressed upon its forehead (the position in which you usually see Shakespeare, in the pictures of him), while the rest waited in silence.

At last the Dodo said, “Everybody has won, and all must have prizes.”

“But who is to give the prizes?” quite a chorus of voices asked.

“Why, she, of course,’ said the Dodo, pointing to Alice with one finger; and the whole party at once crowded round her, calling out in a confused way, “Prizes! Prizes!”

Extract from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland [1865], Chapter III: “A Caucus-Race and a Long Tale”. 

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