Letters to the Editor

Thanks for the ‘therapy’, Australian Rationalist

Dear Editor,

I am a new reader of your magazine. Reading it shone an unforgiving light on a niggling feeling in my gut, which would rear its well intended, but confusing, head during discussions about serious issues. Try my passionate and stuttering best, I couldn’t express opinions in a manner that could ever have been seriously considered. Simply put, I couldn’t ‘get’ the language to explain my thoughts from my brain, out of my mouth. The verbal process feels like digging through peanut butter with one of those stick-to-the-wall hand toys.

The stigma of having ADHD and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) made me think I didn’t have a right to an opinion, as intelligent discussion takes rationality, remembering facts and appropriate language use if it is to be considered acceptable. Neither BPD nor ADHD are known for those qualities. If I can write an essay on something, I can hit it out of the figurative ball park, but verbal discussion? Yikes.

Verbal discussion can’t be avoided in my friend group, where a quiet game of dungeons and dragons can evolve into a dice hurling debate over increasingly specific issues quicker than one can say ‘roll initiative’. More to the point, verbal discussion should never be avoided under the banner of ‘disability’, ‘triggers’, ‘politically incorrect opinion’ or the new cringe call of something being ‘cancelled’.

My response to constantly coming out of discussions as a citation-crisped, peer-review roasted pulp intellectually using a dictionary as a floatie, was to ‘get good’ or, to put it another way, create a therapy for myself. To put my brain and mind treatment in the hands of medical professionals, reframe my flaws as ways to learn innovation, adjust my life to implement therapeutic strategies and slowly fight my way into university. These all helped me flip the stigma I had internalised, but in a healthy manner.

I consider the Australian Rationalist a part of this ‘therapy’. I particularly appreciate that the contributors are from a wide variety of professions and viewpoints. I am absolutely not a feminist, but I love seeing those who identify as women mowing down critics with brilliantly articulated masterpieces of linguistic landmines. That the occasional weird view is given consideration is different – considering that neck of the descriptive woods applies to me.

The Rationalist brings me that addictive hit of validation when reading a surprising amount of articles that provide words to explain why I felt so strongly about a specific issue. Your magazine reinforces my hopes that with slow yet steady effort, I can be rational and educated, and experience mentally healthy progress. It underlines that emotion, meaningfully channelled into open-minded, logic-based research, can create a rational, thoughtful and serious opinion that can be put forward with an acceptable level of passion.

Thank you for such a wonderful publication. I hope that this email can adequately express my gratitude toward your contributors, and the existence of such literature.

Faithfully an Apprentice Rationalist,

Katrina Galipo Turner,

Western Australia


Indigenous sovereignty: A matter of law

Dear Editor,

I recall a letter to the editor in the Rationalist journal about the phrase “always was, always will be Aboriginal Land” and wanted to look into the evidence around the writer’s assumptions that this was a phrase of politics rather than law. I came across an interesting article from a legal scholar Dianne Otto ‘A Question of Law or Politics? Indigenous Sovereignty in Australia’. Otto reminds us that the High Court of Australia in the landmark Mabo Case (Mabo v Qld (No 2) 175 CLR 1 (1992)) it was stated that terra nullius was “abandoned” and that “the majority [of the High Court Judges] recognised the survival of common law native title, co-existing with the radical (sovereign) title of the British Crown in Australia.” (Otto, 1995, p.65-6). Otto cites Aboriginal Barrister, Mick Dodson AM, who noted that: “Indigenous sovereignty means the power for indigenous communities to imagine themselves, to be creators of themselves as subjects rather than objects of law and history.” (Dodson, 1994, cited in Otto, 1995, p. 74)

In her recent Quarterly Essay, ‘The High Road’, Laura Tingle reasserts that the Mabo High Court ruling of Indigenous sovereignty “has never been ceded or extinguished, and co-exists with the Sovereignty of the Crown.” (p.38) Tingle, when talking about the Uluru Statement from the Heart, quotes Aboriginal academic Megan Davis, stating that “with substantive constitutional change and structural reform, we believe this ancient sovereignty can shine through as a fuller expression of Australia’s nationhood…” (p.39).

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history is a part of Australia’s history. We can be proud that Australia is home to the world’s oldest continuing culture, lore and customs, with evidence of over 65,000 years of occupation. The assumptions and opinions made in the original letter ignore a significant legal decision in the Mabo case and ignore what sovereignty might mean for Australia’s Indigenous Peoples. To the question posed by Otto – this is clearly a matter of law and the politics seems to be in relation to terra nullius, the great lie of colonialist Australia.

Joël Murray,

M Arts (Arts Mgt) Principal Consultant, Neophile


‘Democracy doubters’ and flirtation with autocracy

Dear Editor,

Democracy is under attack in many countries, and in many ways, direct and indirect, but the stand-out cases currently are Hong Kong and Myanmar.  There are those around the world who believe that autocracy is probably superior to democracy, citing Singapore and China, where things run smoothly, or development is rapid and stability and law and order are efficiently and satisfactorily delivered. But these democracy doubters don’t seem to be concerned about a possibility of losing part of their freedom of speech, or their nation losing academic freedom, or the probable existence of unpredictable, and even more unfair, courts with particularly harsh sentences, labour camps, forced factory sweated work, indoctrination schools, re-education instruction, or perhaps just long-term house arrest.

One of the features of most autocracies is that all works of culture – past and new – must be vetted and approved by the Minister for Culture, who might usefully ban excessive violence or depressing and despairing tracts. But there would be no room for protest songs, or poems, books and films highlighting or uncovering social ills and problems. Of course there would be enough freedom of speech to say you had freedom of speech.

Rod Matthews


Time to bin notions of Islam as a benign force

Dear Editor,

I have had the September 2019 edition of the Rationalist folded to the article for 14 months by Reg Naulty: ‘Review: The House of Islam.’ I have been intending to email to express my disgust and, finally, threw the magazine in the bin. Even then, I knew I could not throw it away. It was retrieved and I wish to say how much rubbish it is. I always hope reviewers know a considerable amount of the subject matter and am most disappointed. Naulty’s ignorance of the subject is total and I wonder at his credibility as a philosopher.

After acknowledging I could not comment about something about which I knew nothing, I started to read widely about Islam for the last 17 years. Naulty, as well as Paul Monk, seem to think the local imam is like The Vicar of Dibley: some benign influence in the community and not a threat. It is a bizarre form of racism, in that brown people can be ignored or tolerated, because, well, they’re brown and their religion is ‘exotic’.

I am an unwavering atheist in the centre of politics, the only sane position. It treats its citizens with respect, acknowledges the different roles in society, and wants both social justice and equity for all. Government has an obligation to lift the welfare and living standards of all Australians.

Islam is not some benign influence on the world, nor is there a united Islam. There are, essentially, two competing factions, Sunni and Shia, both of which regard the other as apostates deserving of death. The division is based on a petty feud after the warlord Muhammad died and it will not ever end. He did marry a six-year old and ‘consummated’ the marriage when she was a prepubescent nine and he was 54 years old. He married a cousin through one of his 13 marriages. Because the Quran says Muhammad is the example of a perfect human and extols all Muslims to follow his example, Islam will never change. The Quran says it is perfect and unchanging, and Muslims believe it. I can see where L. Ron Hubbard saw his inspiration (if he read it, of course). They are both arrant nonsense. To offer any sort of ‘respect’ to this cult and its followers defies any rationality.

Many Indians hate Muslims because they know their history. During the Muslim rule, as few as 200 million, and as many as 800 million, Indians were slaughtered. Even the reviled British East India Company could not match this level of brutality. Most Greeks also hate Muslims because they know of the cruel oppression by the Ottoman Caliphate (to give it its true name) during occupation. History has been skewed too. Arabic numerals are not Arabic but Indian; algebra is not Arabic but from Persians who are neither Arabic nor Muslim.

The supposed Golden Age of Islam is a perverse nonsense. Virtually all of that knowledge came from the citizens of the conquered nations, with ‘Islam’ contributing nothing.

I cannot accept any rational human being could accept Islam as anything other than a bizarre cult that demands total subservience from its followers. There is not one Islamic country which has the freedoms enjoyed by Western secular democracies. Why do Westerners not flee to Islamic countries?

Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris and many others try, or tried, to inform the world. I have now thrown the magazine back in the bin. There are many other articles which fit logically unsound thinking but I would be too fired up to properly unload.

Frank Collins


Some critical questions on Morrison’s faith

Dear Editor,

It was wonderful to see Andrew Bolt cowed by the mere presence of Rationalist President Dr Meredith Doig. The bullying, overwhelming, loudmouth denunciations were absent. Perhaps he guessed that unless he was careful he risked our president rebutting him. To me the dominant issue in the ‘debate’ was the role of Scott ‘Snot’ (‘snot my fault) Morrison’s religious beliefs. The critical problem being: what are they? It appears, as I hope to show below, that our prime minister ignores the humane teachings in the Christian Bible/New Testament, but embraces revelatory and right-wing interpretations.

As a Christian, Pentecostal or otherwise, one would expect Morrison to know and to actively practise the teachings of the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount, such as: “Happy the merciful: they shall have mercy shown on them” (Matthew 5:7) and “Love is always patient and kind; …it is never rude or selfish.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5).  The overall message of both, and numerous other parts of the Christian Testament, is incompatible with the ruthlessness of Robodebt, the cruel treatment of refugees, or his denunciation of Christine Holgate.

The Magnificat especially contains some lines that Morrison should take to heart: “He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seat: and hath exhorted the humble and meek. He hath filled the hungry with good things: and the rich he hath sent empty away,” (Luke 1:51-53.)  Which brings me to Prosperity Theology.

A critical question that Morrison, as our prime minister, should answer, with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is whether he, like most Pentecostalists, believes in Prosperity Theology. I won’t waste space quoting evidence indicating that he does, I merely point out that Prosperity Theology is incompatible with the numerous condemnations in the Gospels and the Epistles of the lure and danger of riches, most famously that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:24).

What can be concluded from Morrison’s tardiness to take the 2019-20 bushfires seriously and his inaction on climate change? Does he believe that the end of the world is desirable and imminent, and that he wants the end to come as soon as possible? Does he believe that climate change is the will of God? Does he believe, like Israel Falou, that the worst bushfires in memory were God’s punishment for our sins?

Peter Adamson


The ‘ill-logic’ of global finance

Dear Editor,

Re-acquainted with the Australian Rationalist, I am most impressed with the letter by Alfred McMahon (questioning why healthy people were quarantined in the pandemic). The Illogic of Global Finance, by David James looks interesting, at first blush, but on second thoughts it is like so much news these days; it reveals in order to conceal. Such a notion would be dismissed and filed under conspiracy theories, of course, but the illogic of global finance should properly be called “ill logic”, and the traitorous body politics in the West denounced to high heaven.

Global finance has an unmistakable logic about it, which bodes ill indeed. The little essay by David James in that regard is strangely – or should one say, irrationally – dis-alarming, perhaps dis-arming. It doesn’t do justice to the outrageous sell-out perpetrated by our governments against our democratic nation-states and its citizens. The one positive note, in principle, that I can see here, is David James’ support for fiat money. However, even that can be turned around and perverted for nefarious purposes, as, in fact, has been happening already.

Fiat money has been happening, but in such a manner as to sluice funds created from foggy political air, through quantitative easing, monetary policy and fiscal misrule, to the international cabal which has our politicians, bureaucrats and ‘experts’, selected for their tailored expertise, at their beck and call. By this means the nation-states are loaded with ballooning debt, private investors goaded into the casino of the stock market, where the house always wins, and money supply, feeding financialisation, is growing exponentially. [Money is] most unequally distributed, thereby transferring the wealth of the common even further to the global elites, with a cut to their minions in the now-privatised national fiefs.

But that, too, is a conspiracy theory to be derided, no doubt, though it has been exposed and written about for decades. More recently, one Nicholas Shaxson has had a few books published on these global financial shenanigans, with our politicians and top bureaucrats implicated up to their eyebrows, and higher. But then again, anyone who had been reading the mainstream financial narrative consistently, and thinking about it rationally, would have come to that logical conclusion years ago.

Jacob Jonker


Editor’s note: Now that we are publishing the magazine online as the Rationale, we’re planning to publish letters on a monthly basis. If you would like to submit a letter for possible publication, please email it to editor@rationalist.com.au. 

Photo by The Blowup on Unsplash

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