Tod­dlers make aw­ful ac­tivists

Sunday Herald Sun - - Front Page -

FOR much of this week many Aus­tralians were in a state of up­roar be­cause a few thou­sand school­child­ren went on “strike”, de­mand­ing real ac­tion on cli­mate change.

Hav­ing spent much of my youth ly­ing on roads to protest against univer­sity fees, BHP’s in­vest­ment in Chile un­der the mur­der­ous Pinochet regime and even con­vinc­ing our teach­ers to let us stage a rock con­cert dur­ing school hours to protest against nu­clear pro­lif­er­a­tion — cop that, Rea­gan — the spec­ta­cle of these kids chant­ing an­grily and wav­ing plac­ards warmed my heart.

I know from my ex­pe­ri­ence, more so now as a par­ent of teenagers, that kids are ca­pa­ble of de­vel­op­ing their own opin­ions, even if those opin­ions might seem eco­nom­i­cally crazy or naively un­work­able. As long as their teach­ers aren’t stron­garm­ing them into it, good on them.

The kids might be al­right, to para­phrase Roger Dal­trey, but some of the par­ents are a bit of a worry. At the same time those young adults were ex­er­cis­ing their right to protest, a group of three­year-olds and four-year-olds in — drum­roll, please — Brunswick were stag­ing their own protest against chil­dren in de­ten­tion. In a change from their usual sched­ule shown no in­ter­est in bor­der con­trol. Equally he has been silent on the bank­ing royal com­mis­sion, the Vic­to­rian elec­tion land­slide and the de­bate over com­pany tax, even though I’ve raised it with him many times.

He did tell me the other day that he had swum all the way across the sea and found a hippo. That might have been a po­lit­i­cal metaphor. I can’t be sure.

Per­son­ally I’m not sure why these Brunswick lag­gards are wait­ing un­til as late as kindy to go to work im­pos­ing their ide­o­log­i­cal views on barely-co­her­ent tots. Bring on Em­bryos for Equal­ity and Foe­tuses for Free­dom.

Per­son­ally I think chil­dren ide­ally have no place in de­ten­tion, even though the is­sue is more com­plex than the feel-good sen­ti­ments con­tained in the plac­ards above.

But the idea of ma­ture adults en­list­ing kids who’ve just started walk­ing as the new van­guard in this well-mean­ing cam­paign is in­tel­lec­tual child abuse. It is a less men­ac­ing but equally in­ap­pro­pri­ate ver­sion of that Louis Th­er­oux doco where he meets those Alt-Right psy­chos who teach kids white-power songs.

Of course, these par­ents and teach­ers would say that’s an of­fen­sive com­par­i­son, but so be it. They are open­ing them­selves up to rich and de­served ridicule with such pre­pos­ter­ous con­duct. As is of­ten the case, it’s con­duct that is com­pletely counter-pro­duc­tive for the ad­vance­ment of pro­gres­sive ideas, in that it makes main­stream peo­ple sim­ply laugh out loud.

It seemed un­likely that 2018 was go­ing to be bet­tered in the PC stu­pid­ity stakes af­ter the Univer­sity of Manch­ester stu­dent union banned clap­ping in favour of “jazz hands” on the grounds that loud ap­plause cre­ated an “in­tim­i­dat­ing” en­vi­ron­ment. Last week, in a late bid for the ti­tle, Sha­reena Hamzah of the Univer­sity of Swansea re­leased re­search ar­gu­ing that as ve­gan­ism be­comes more pop­u­lar, forms of anti-an­i­mal “hate speech” such as “bring­ing home the ba­con” and “killing two birds with one stone” must be ex­cised from the lan­guage.

And she isn’t alone. If you go to the PETA web­site, Peo­ple for the Eth­i­cal Treat­ment of An­i­mals, there’s an en­tire mod­ule de­signed for teach­ers around this tosh, so they can ed­u­cate chil­dren in the ways of non-an­i­mal­ist lan­guage.

I reckon this is enough to drive me to drink. Right now I could go a beer. My throat’s as dry as a dead dingo’s donger. DAVID PENBERTHY IS A SUN­DAY HER­ALD SUN COLUM­NIST @Penbo

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