Hypocrisy and a tame media: How Tony Abbott can steal our democracy

September 29, 2014

There is something deeply and disturbingly ironic about Tony Abbott meeting Egypt’s military dictator Abdel el-Sisi and asking the blood-soaked general to release journalist Peter Greste from his seven-year gaol sentence.

Greste was convicted of spreading “false” news that harmed Egypt’s national interest in a sham trial that resembled a Monty Python script rather than the heights of judicial intelligence.

Pick the thug in this photo. Hint: he’s wearing a blue tie and looks very grim.

The meeting between Abbott and el-Sisi took place at the United Nations general assembly in New York where both men gave impassioned, but totally wrong-headed, speeches about the threat of Islamic terrorism.

Leave out the grotesque parody of their meeting and what are we left with?

Two leaders who claim that it has become necessary to reduce freedoms in order to keep their citizens free.

In Egypt, el-Sisi is terrorizing the population with arbitrary detentions, the arrest of activists and death sentences handed out 600 at a time to alleged members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherood. Journalists and TV presenters are among those persecuted and gaoled for speaking out against el-Sisi’s coup and the farcical recent elections.

In Australia, Tony Abbott leads a government that is also slowly destroying our freedoms and political democracy so hard won over generations.

In a speech to Federal Parliament attempting to justify the anti-Muslim hysteria dog-whistled into being by a spurious “threat” of terrorism, Abbott laid out his anti-democratic agenda, couched in the faux-Churchillian tones of his political hero, John Howard:

“Regrettably, for some time to come, the delicate balance between freedom and security may have to shift. There may be more restrictions on some so that there can be more protection for others.”

Who are the “some” and who are the “others” in this Orwellian doublespeak?

Well, that is becoming clearer as the days pass and Abbott’s anti-freedom agenda becomes clearer.

Read the rest of this entry »


If you don’t laugh you lose

September 26, 2014

The war on terror and spying on everyone are both very serious business. The war on terror is killing people all over the world, including, sadly this week in Australia too.
The tragic death of Abdul Numan Haidar is not a laughing matter. The confusion, misinformation and outright lies being spread about this young man are appalling. That the news media is buying into it with awful headlines and front page stories vilifying him, his friends and even random, totally unconnected young men should shame some journalists into silence.


At the same time, the rush to cut into our liberties in the name of ‘protecting’ us from a shadowy threat that kills less people than bee stings is also not something to joke about, or is it?
In the last 24 hours a new Twitter hashtag has burst into prominence and it is taking the piss out of Raging Bedsore’s new surveillance powers.
Now that our security services have the right to monitor the whole of the inter-webs with just one warrant allowing them to tap into any computer ‘network’, it seems that nothing we do online is going to be private anymore.
Well, Twitter has always been a bit irreverent – do you remember the wonderful #TonysMovieNight, for example? And this week, #lifebeforeabbott has been trending too.
The rightwing trolls don’t like it and curmudgeonly columnists like Andrew Bolt complain (without even having a Twitter account) that social media is dominated by THE LEFT, but for those of us who
a) don’t like the Abbott government;
b) think the terror threat is overblown;
c) don’t like the idea of ASIO snooping on us around the clock and, more importantly,
d) have a sense of humour
then #HeyASIO is a great way to get your message across while having a bit of fun.

It’s only been active for  few hours, but by lunch time today it was trending heavily.

Melbourne trends
Check the stream yourself and prepare for a few belly laughs.
Here’s my highlights so far.

Ethical Martini’s top 10 #HeyASIO tweets


Why giving ASIO and the police more powers might be a bad idea

September 25, 2014

The first terror-related death on Australian soil tragically occurred on Tuesday night this week in Melbourne. A young man shot dead after attacking two officers with a knife outside a suburban police station. Police say the dead youth was known to them, and that his assault of the officers was unprovoked. Less than 24 hours later new laws giving the nation’s security forces additional powers were “bullied” through Parliament with barely any dissent.

However, the circumstances of Numan Haidar’s short life and his tragic end have been the subject of much ill-informed speculation, including the allegation – not confirmed by Victorian police – that he planned to “behead” the officers he attacked.

Interestingly – and to me quite shockingly too – when you google “Numan Haidar Melbourne” there is very little scooped up by the usually voluminous search engine (see first image below). But when you put “terror shooting melbourne” into the search engine there are thousands of results. [click images to enlarge and see detail]

An interesting comment on how the national security media is framing Mr Haidar’s death. He is constantly referred to by police and government as “this person”, Numan is dehumanised so that he can be posthumously demonised as well.

In the days before the fatal incident in Melbourne, television footage of federal police officers armed with automatic rifles guarding Parliament House in Canberra made for a discomforting sight.

This unprecedented move is, we are told, based on some overheard telephone “chatter” that may, or may not, relate to a real and credible threat to the lives of politicians or visitors to the nation’s capital.

In the past two to three weeks the Australian public has been slowly, but surely boiled like a frog to the point that our worst imagined fears seem all too real.

Now, in the wake of the Melbourne shooting of what the media seemingly delights in calling a “known terror suspect”, even though the young man was guilty of no crime, we can expect to see more calls for more police powers and further new surveillance and data retention powers will almost certainly pass through Parliament unopposed in coming weeks.

Tony Abbott and several of his senior security officials have drip fed the idea of a clear and present danger to Australian lives into a compliant media. The stories have been duly repeated; the raids orchestrated for the cameras and the serious press conferences held. The national security media has been briefed; it has recorded the messages; downloaded the talking points and repeated them back to us with a suitable tone of fear and loathing (aimed squarely at Australia’s tiny Middle Eastern Muslim population).

I don’t doubt for a minute that there are Australians serving with Daesh and al Qaida or its offshoots in Syria and Iraq. No doubt others wish to emulate their mujahedeen brothers and sisters and become ‘shaheed’ [martyrs] to the cause of fundamentalist Islam. There are others here, at home, whose passions have been roused by the attention they are getting from ASIO – passports being cancelled, constant visits from the AFP and round-the-clock surveillance of their movements and their phone calls.

But I also don’t doubt for a minute that there are similarly deranged members of Abbott’s “Team Australia” who habour similar murderous thoughts and are capable of issuing death threats and perhaps even carrying them out.

What I worry about is that the overwhelming police response is aimed at members of Australia’s Middle Eastern, Muslim minority and that the white supremacist, bigoted racist wallies who want to burn mosques and attack young Muslim women in the street are being left to foment their own special kind of trouble.

The police response so far – 800 heavily armed officers to arrest a couple of handfuls of suspects, most of whom have been released without charge – seems more than a little disproportionate to the actual threat level.

It also seems, looking from the outside, that current operational and intelligence gathering powers are adequate to protecting the population from any threat that home grown jihadis might represent. The idea that Daesh can attack Australia from its bases in Syria and Iraq is just a fantasy; or worse, it is deliberate scare mongering by the government aided and abetted by the national security media.

Read the rest of this entry »


Many places to hide information in the national security media

August 2, 2014

No place to hide: Snowden, Greenwald and Australia’s “national security media”

This piece was first published in New Matilda on 29 July 2014

Eyes On: The Five Eyes agreement means Australia is implicated in the global surveillance economy

Australia is about to get a new raft of national security legislation – the National Security Legislation Amendment Bill – that will radically increase the scope and powers of our spy agencies to snoop on private citizens. The justification for this ramping up of ASIO and ASIS espionage power is the supposed threat from Islamic radicals who, having fought overseas in Syria and Iraq, will be likely to import violent jihad back into Australia. It is a line run almost daily in the Australian news media over the past few weeks .

This is a tenuous justification at best. The historic evidence shows that the police – at both state and federal level – and the nation’s spooks already have ample power to deal with any real and present danger posed by jihadists. For example, Operation Pendennis, which led to the conviction of 13 alleged terrorists in 2007-2008, was conducted using existing phone-tap and other surveillance powers. Between July 2004 and November 2005, the Pendennis dragnet accumulated 16,400 hours of recordings from bugs and 98,000 telephone intercepts; but now ASIO, the Federal Police and state agencies want to sweep up even more calls and even more data.

Additional powers – to tap phones, infiltrate and hack computer networks, give spies the power to entrap suspects and to store electronic metadata for several years – are not necessary under current conditions. However, that has not stopped Attorney General George Brandis (aka “Raging Bedsore”) from touting the new laws as measures to save Australian lives and to keep safe the national interest.

Well, of course the Government – and her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition – would say that wouldn’t they? It’s no surprise that the nation’s politicians, who govern through the promotion of irrational fears and promises of a quick fix, would jump on the “more powers to the spooks” bandwagon. After all, there are votes and endorsements in “security” issues; as well as happy feelings of safety and warmth induced by the vague and unfounded notion of keeping the country out of “harm’s way” and by appearing to be “tough” on terrorists. It is the tried and true method of invoking the sexy beast Laura Norder; and in a world of uncertainty, devastation and death (think Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan Gaza, MH17 and other global hotspots) her warm, comforting embrace seems like a haven from the horror and bloodshed.

But perhaps we might have expected a little more searching, or a little more critical and independent analysis from the nation’s leading media outlets. Maybe it would not have been too much to ask for at least one correspondent or pundit to write a “think piece” about how the call for more spying and less oversight could result in less freedom, not more. Surely there is one “national security” correspondent or “defence” editor out there in the media world who feels it necessary to add a note of caution about our unthinking stumble towards Nineteen Eighty-four?

If you’ve been looking for that op-ed or the news piece quoting critics of the Government’s new legislation, you’ve no doubt been thoroughly disappointed. It is missing in action; not there, invisible and unreported. Instead what we’ve seen in the last few weeks is article after op-ed after editorial praising and supporting the unseemly rush to becoming a nation of spies and spied upon.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised at the lack of critical reporting; and, if you’ve seen Glenn Greenwald’s excellent recent book, No Place to Hide , you might be slightly and wryly amused at the lack of opposing views, but you won’t be surprised.

Greenwald has written his insider’s account of meeting Edward Snowden for the first time in a Hong Kong hotel room and coming to terms with the enormity of Snowden’s selfless action and the implications held in the treasure trove of National Security Administration data held in the cache of secrets he handed over for public scrutiny.

That story should be familiar to New Matilda readers. Unless you’ve been on Mars for the past year you will know about the NSA documents that revealed, inter alia, Australia’s spying on the Indonesians, the Americans spying on the Germans and pretty much any nation and anybody with a copper wire communication network, an Internet connection or mobile phone.

The sheer scale of snooping – billions of intercepted messages every day – is mind-boggling enough. Greenwald is convinced (and convincing) on the point that the NSA has a goal to collect every bit of electronic information that blips its way across the global communication network. He writes that the NSA mantra is “collect everything” and it is the logistics of doing this, then storing and sorting the results, that he forensically dissects in No Place to Hide.

One of the realisations that any intelligent reader of this book will come to is that the NSA and its “Five Eyes” partners (UK, New Zealand, Canada and Australia) [https://www.privacyinternational.org/reports/eyes-wide-open/understanding-the-five-eyes] could not manage the collection and sifting of so much data without the explicit cooperation of the world’s major telecommunications companies. Yep, just about everyone you deal with for your electronic data life is implicated – Yahoo, Skype, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Verizon, Dell, Facebook and countless others – everyone is scooping and sharing your data with the NSA and God knows who else.

As Edward Snowden told Greenwald during one of their first Hong Kong interviews: “I saw firsthand that the State, especially the NSA, was working hand in hand with the private tech industry to get full access to people’s communications.”

A quick reminder that Snowden was employed by the private consulting firm Booz, Allen Hamilton while working at the NSA HQ is all you need to grasp the implications of this. The entire global economy is now systemically and irrevocably enmeshed in an alliance with Governments to suck, squeeze and pulp our data in order to make the juice of profits and to keep the world safe from people like us.

That’s why it is really good to have strong individuals like Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden in the world today. If we relied on the mainstream media to tell us this stuff, we would never know.

No Place to Hide also provides clues as to the “Why?” of the MSM’s silence on the downsides to the creeping, all-seeing surveillance state. There’s a fantastic chapter that details the media’s complicity in not reporting, or more often mis-reporting, the actions of the NSA. The details are different, of course, but the general outline is applicable in Australia. We are experiencing the world of the “national security news media”.

The roots of the media’s complicit silence in relation to surveillance go back to the immediate political reactions to the events of “9/11”. Since that time, Greenwald writes, “the US media in general has been jingoistic and intensely loyal to the government and this hostile, sometimes viciously so, to anyone who exposed its secrets.” The same thing applies here. Even today some columnists cling to the lie of Iraqi WMD, preferring to spout the line that they just “haven’t been found yet”; more than a decade on from the disaster of Iraq some commentators refuse to see that it was a terrible mistake, built on fabrication and probably a war crime. But, history is written by the victors and its first “rough draft” is compiled by the loyal stenographers in the political press corps.

When it comes to “national security” and the surveillance state, loyal news editors and respected senior writers on policy and politics continue to toe the

When Greenwald appeared on the talk shows he was accused of helping a traitor [Snowden]

When Greenwald appeared on the talk shows he was accused of helping a traitor [Snowden]

line. When Greenwald was doing the rounds of American political talk shows, he was confronted with a wall of hostility from his journalistic colleagues: “Many US journalists resumed their accustomed role as servants to the government.” In June 2103 the story turned from the expose of “serious NSA abuses”, to one that Snowden had “betrayed” the US, “committed crimes and then ‘fled to China’”.

In Australia, the Snowden is a “traitor” line continues to be vehemently pursued in the Murdoch newspapers, which increasingly reflect a kind of Aussie-fied Tea Party ideological bent. And it is Murdoch’s The Australian that is leading the “national security”: cheer squad for Bedsore’s touted “improvements” to ASIO and ASIS spying powers. However, to be fair, the Fairfax outlets are well and truly in-line and waving the flag almost as vigorously as News Corps.

I call this proposition the “position of the complicit insider” and it’s not a new phenomenon. The political media – Press Gallery journalists in Australia – enjoy a privileged status alongside politicians, political advisors and senior bureaucrats. Reporters and commentators are often seduced by the close access they gain to the centres of power and political operators are therefore able to prevail upon them to non-disclosure of uncomfortable secrets. As well as this agreement not to rock the boat too hard in return for favours (in reality scraps of information that the insiders want revealed), political reporters feel a false sense of duty to act “responsibly” and not reveal information, or write stories that might damage some false notion of “national security”.

Anyone who regularly reads the “quality” press in Australia (including The Guardian), or who watches political chat shows on television will instantly recognize this problem.

In July 2014 we saw a good example of the supportive opinion piece genre in The Weekend Australian. Associate Editor Cameron Stewart wrote a lengthy commentary endorsing the Government’s proposed tougher surveillance powers and data retention laws . Stewart noted the “hand-wringing” of Left and liberal commentators when the then Howard Government updated and upgraded anti-terror and security laws in 2005 and added that in 2014 it was only “the Greens and a handful of human rights lawyers” who seemed to be complaining. Stewart repeats all the claims made by Bedsore and ASIO boss David Irvine that returning jihadists pose a significant danger and that the collection of electronic “metadata” is just a harmless means of identifying potential threats.

In Stewart’s worldview, any opposition to greater surveillance powers is dismissed as being an issue of concern only for “the Left” and its “prism of Cold War excesses”. Security officials are uncritically quoted about the effectiveness of metadata collection in previous terror-related prosecution. Stewart has only one area of concern: that journalists could be targeted by new provisions to prevent Snowden-style leaks. Stewart’s newspaper has never had much regard for Edward Snowden, whom it says – echoing the American view – is a traitor, not a whistleblower.

The Weekend Australian also carried an editorial supporting the boosting of security laws; ironically the paper seemed to blame communications technology for creating the need to change the law:

In the internet age, legislation governing Australia’s intelligence agencies must keep pace with terrorists’ capacity to use technology

When it comes to the Snowden materials, Greenwald makes the argument that the well-connected Washington media will never go all the way. He says it is an “unwritten rule” that only a few documents from such a vast treasure trove of secrets would be revealed, “so as to limit its impact…and then walk away, ensuring that nothing had really changed”.

This sensibility is evident in the recent Australian reporting of ASIO seeking more powers, or police breach of their own rules for eavesdropping.

A June 2014 story headlined ‘New surveillance powers aim to boost fight against terrorism’, by the Fairfax “National security correspondent” David Wroe, is framed in such a way that the move seems both natural and necessary. The lede clearly suggests that the move is necessary, “amid growing fears about the terrorism threat posed by Australians fighting in the Middle East.”

In the second par the clear distinction is made between “innocent third-party computers” and “a computer used by a suspect terrorist or criminal”, but already the scope of the powers is broadened from just a “suspect terrorist” to now include “criminal” behaviour.

The third par equates the reader’s interest with the point of view of the security services themselves by suggesting the new rules would benefit law enforcement “dramatically freeing up surveillance powers”. Of course, there’s really nothing to worry about because the new, expanded spying powers would only be used, reassuringly, “under ministerial authorisation”.

In the fifth par we are lulled to sleep with the anodyne phrase the “intelligence community” and with the further assurance that what this benign community group has “long called for” is to remove “hurdles” in the way of legitimate “investigations” and to fix a “failure of the law to keep pace with technology”.

The report goes on to tell us that the changes are based on recommendations made by a “parliamentary inquiry, last year, supported by Labor” – the appearance of bi-partisan support is meant to be reassuring too. We are reminded that the report to parliament “stressed there needed to be strict safeguards, including guarantees that the intrusion on the third party’s privacy would be minimised”.

The security community worldwide is fond of the word “minimised”. “Minimisation” is supposed to occur in the US context too, where it means that all non-relevant information is stripped from surveilled communications before it is passed on for analysis. However, as the Snowden documents reveal, in the race to “collect everything”, non-relevant data is always collected and nearly always stored, analysed and archived for later retrieval.

In other words, we cannot trust our political masters; they are probably lying to us and they are most certainly pulling the wool over the eyes of gullible “National security reporters” like David Wroe. Perhaps I’m being a bit harsh by suggesting Wroe is gullible and there is another explanation that stands up. If you are the “National security reporter” it really is not in your interests (or your employer’s) for you to run foul of the key sources who inhabit your beat. If you were to write critically about an official source, for example, the next time you call for a comment, s/he might hang up on you. More likely, their departmental boss will call your boss and you’ll be back on the shipping rounds.

Whatever the ultimate cause, the gulling of the public continues in Wroe’s June 2014 article when he pulls in a “third party” expert to assess the situation. In this case the expert is hardly an independent analyst:

Tobias Feakin, a cybersecurity expert at the Australian Strategic Police [sic] Institute, said the changes would update legislation that was ”well out of date”.

Oops, an interesting Freudian slip by David Wroe; Dr Feakin is actually attached to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and has solid ties into the defence and security establishment, including the Royal United Services Institute (a UK-based military think tank) where he was “Head of Homeland Security Capabilities” and “Director, National Security and Resilience Department” between 2006 and 2007.

Most of the time we don’t bother to check the CVs of these experts that are put in front of us, all too often without question. If “expert” and “official” sources say something then a journalist will usually just report it with stenographic accuracy and perhaps (if we’re lucky) offer up one or two tame questions to be kicked away by the expert.

Dr Feakin is particularly popular on ABC News24 where he pops up on an all too regular basis, confirming Greenwald’s central thesis about media complicity. In September 2013 Dr Feakin was used as a source in an Australian Financial Review story about the new and expensive ASIO headquarters building in Canberra. This story reveals that when ASIO and the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) occupy their new building, private companies in the security industry will be offered the opportunity to “collocate” some of their employees alongside the nation’s senior spooks.

It is expected the centre will allow executives and security staff from select industries to share knowledge and learn from government cyber specialists…in a bid to liaise more frequently with private industry, a task DSD cannot easily do as a Department of Defence entity.

This is another classic play from the American security state experience that highlights with some certainty that the Security State needs to be enmeshed with the security industry in order to function at a high level. If you ever thought the interests of the State and of Capital were not contiguous, let this dispel you of that myth right now. The AFR article confirms it with this simple statement:

Senior intelligence officials said they remain deeply concerned about the ­vulnerabilities that exist outside a few “islands of excellence”. They said ­relatively “hardened” areas include the major banks and Telstra, which last year hired a former DSD deputy director, Mike Burgess, as its chief security officer. (emphasis added)

Dr Feakin makes an appearance in the final two paragraphs of the story and it is abundantly clear which side of the security fence this “independent” analyst sits:

[Feakin] welcomed the move to integrate private firms into the new cyber operations centre, but said companies would have to be “willing to share data with government, otherwise momentum will be lost and they won’t keep their focus on such efforts”.

The story of Dr Feakin is also a salutary lesson that we should never take for granted the so-called independence and bona fides of the experts served up to us by a complicit and compliant media.

We can expect to see more of this type of “national security news” over the coming months as the new expanded spying power legislation is passed and bedded in. If you want to really know what’s going on, look beyond the mainstream media, which has decided to enjoy the comforts of the insider and to lull the rest of us into a false sense of security.

Remember, there really is no place to hide any longer.

 


Statement about disciplinary action at Deakin University

July 30, 2014

As part of the settlement of disciplinary action taken against me by Deakin University on an allegation of “serious misconduct”, I am pleased to be able to publish the following agreed statement.

 

On 15 and 16 April 2014 two articles were published on the Herald Sun webpage that included tweets I had posted. In those tweets I used inappropriate and offensive language, including profanity. My behaviour was then linked to my profession, as an Associate Professor in Journalism at Deakin University.

There has since been commentary about this being a matter of academic freedom; however, this has not been the University’s position and I agree that this is not at issue here as the University remains steadfastly committed to the principles of academic freedom. Their concern was not with any robust, critical enquiry, but rather with the inappropriate and offensive language I used which was not consistent with Deakin’s Code of Conduct.

I am remorseful for my actions, and for the impact they have had on Deakin University. I apologise unequivocally for my poor judgment and for any reputational harm caused to any individual and to the good name of Deakin.

I am pleased that the University continues to acknowledge my standing and expertise as an Associate Professor in Journalism, which is not in question. I look forward to continuing with my work at Deakin and to supporting the Deakin journalism program and students.

You can read my earlier statement about this matter, if you wish to.

At this time I am making no further public comment.

Coverage in Red Flag  The Australian and in The Guardian

 

 


Baby herbal soup — A professor of philosophy fooled by the hoax

July 11, 2014

Important update

On 14 July Professor Thomas removed his post citing the Seoul Times, after I wrote to him pointing out that the baby herbal soup meme is a hoax.

I’d like to thank Professor Thomas for acting promptly on this matter.

EM
——————————————————-

I really thought that the whole “baby herbal soup” hoax had been put to death. I haven’t had to come back to this racist Internet meme for sometime, but unfortunately, I have discovered a rather alarming version of the story being repeated and used by a professor of philosophy from a respected American university.

Yes, that’s right, a professor of philosophy is relying on the fake and highly racist story that Chinese people eat aborted fetuses to make an argument about the morality of abortion.

According to his CV, Professor Laurence Thomas has been a tenured professor at Syracuse University since 1989. Indeed he is listed as faculty on the University website.

Professor Laurence Thomas has linked to the discredited Seoul Times article — only one version of the so-called “news” report — in order to attack what he dismissively describes as the “liberal” view of abortion.

Here’s just a small sample from this 2009 blog post:

Professor Laurence Thomas, Syracuse University

Animal flesh is eaten all the time; and since the human fetus is claimed by liberals not to be a person, then why cannot it not be eaten as a form of animal flesh? My raising this question is not an indication of my having become a morally demented individual.

Rather, I have raised the question because precisely what has been reported in the Seoul Times (9 June 2009) is that in China the human fetus is being served as a form of nourishment. The article claims that in China baby herbal soup is held to “increase overall health and stamina and the power of sexual performance in particular”.

Now, the observation that I wish to make is the liberals on abortion are in no position to criticize the practice in China of consuming the human fetus for food. Why? Because liberals on abortion insist that the fetus does not constitute a human being, and so has no moral standing at all as a human being. By this line of reasoning, eating a human fetus can be no more morally objectionable than eating dog or snake or horse or snails.

 

Professor Thomas has included one of the notorious images that often accompany the retelling of the hoax. I have pointed out before that these images are the work of Chinese performance artist Zhu Yu and are not evidence that Chinese people prepare and consume “baby herbal soup”.

I have posted a full list or URLs to previous Ethical Martini posts on this topic, you can read all about it there.

I have written to Professor Thomas asking that he either take down the post, or at least edit it to acknowledge that the Seoul Times story and other so-called “evidence” of the practice of eating babies are false and malicious.

If you visit the Moral Health blog where Professor Thomas writes his argument you will instantly see why it is important that this hoax be exposed at every opportunity. Idiots and racists of low intelligence (two overlapping but separate groups of dribblejaws and willful fools) jump on these expressions of the hoax to spout all kinds of filth about Chinese people.

 

 

Dear Professor Thomas,
I am writing in relation to a post you wrote on a blog called Moral Health

Real Baby Soup in China: Extending the Liberal View on Abortion?

The post uses an article from the Seoul Times as the basis for a long treatise on abortion and the “eating” of a human fetus.
While I have no quibble with you having strong views about abortion — indeed I hold similarly strong views myself on abortion and a number of topics — I do take issue with you using as your main source material a purported news article from an online source that has little or no credibility.

Your article generated a lot of responses and continues to garner hits and views. Indeed I was drawn to your post by a ping back to my own blog.
I believe that you should take down this post, or at least make several large edits to clarify the real situation.
The “baby herbal soup” meme is an internet hoax and as a professor of philosophy, I am sure you would not want to base an argument on a false premise.

I have been chasing down this internet hoax myself for the past six or more years and there is no credible source for the outrageous and frankly racist claim that Chinese people consume aborted fetuses.
You can follow my research and discussion from the following URLs.
https://ethicalmartini.wordpress.com/2008/06/03/baby-herbal-soup/
https://ethicalmartini.wordpress.com/2009/02/04/baby-herbal-soup-update/
https://ethicalmartini.wordpress.com/tag/baby-herbal-soup/
https://ethicalmartini.wordpress.com/2011/04/02/april-fools-continue-to-poison-the-web-baby-herbal-soup-redux/
https://ethicalmartini.wordpress.com/2009/10/21/baby-herbal-soup-the-internet-for-sick-fcks/

It would be helpful if you, as a respected academic, would join me in condemning this cruel hoax and you can start by examining the post you wrote and, as I suggest, take it down or edit it to acknowledge the hoax.

I hope you can find the time to respond to me, unlike the editors of the Seoul Times whose only response when I wrote to them was abuse.

Best wishes
Martin

I await Professor Thomas’ response. If you wish to join my call for Professor Thomas to take down or amend this blog post, you can contact him yourself via the following links:

Email: lthomas@maxwell.syr.edu
College of  Arts & Sciences,
Syracuse University
Syracuse, NY 13244
Phone: 315-443-5824
Phone: 315-443-2245


Apology to EM’s colleagues, friends and supporters

July 10, 2014

On April 15 & 16 this year, I engaged in a series of exchanges on Twitter.

It is essential that academics are prepared and willing to engage in robust debate about matters of public or academic importance, without fear of the consequences for them in doing so.

However, I recognise that the tone and content of my tweeted remarks was inappropriate for a scholar engaging in public discussion, and could readily be used by others to attack the reputation of Deakin University.

For this I apologise to my colleagues at the University, anyone offended by any of my tweeted comments, and to those who might expect a higher level of decorum when scholars are involved.


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