Friday, 15 March 2019

"Beyond Reasonable Doubt."



One of the foundation principles of our court system is that a person may only be found guilty if the verdict is 'beyond reasonable doubt." Benjamin Franklin is supposed to have said that "it is better than one hundred guilty persons should escape than that one innocent person should suffer." (Some sources say a thousand guilty persons rather a hundred.)

And this principle still applies in our courts - except, it seems, when the crime is a sex crime, especially against children. Now, to rape a child is obviously one of the vilest of crimes, but even then, there should be a presumption of innocence, not a presumption of guilt.

The most recent example is the case of Cardinal George Pell, Catholic priest, accused of a crime that happened many years before, and finally convicted on the word of one man. (There was a second alleged victim, but he had already died, and had previously stated that he was not molested.)



Now this particular crime that was supposed to have occurred was so unfeasible as to be ludicrous. (Molesting two boys he found in the sacristy, when he was supposed to be somewhere else, so were the boys, who would have been missed, and Pell, as the presiding priest, always had an attendant with him as long as he wore the vestments. Plus it was in a time frame of just 6 minutes, it was in a place where people were coming and going, the door was not locked, and Pell had around four layers of heavy ceremonial garments to raise before any action could take place.)

I try and imagine the scenario, and think of him trying to raise said heavy garments, and then probably tripping and falling while the boys laughed at him and walked out of the open door!

As I said, it is not feasible. All the same, in December, 2018, the 12 members of the jury found him guilty, and in March, 2019, he was sentenced to six years in prison.


There is a pending appeal. Maybe the scales of justice might be looked at more closely this time.


I think that George Pell was found guilty because he was a Catholic priest, and we know now that far too many Catholic priests abused children. But Pell was not on trial for being a Catholic priest, he was not on trial for turning a blind eye to abuse that he may have known was occurring, and he was not on trial for taking part in coverups.



Other people have been found guilty of crimes that were not the ones for which they were tried. I suspect that Rolf Harris was found guilty because known paedophile, Jimmy Saville, died before he could face punishment, and all of those powerful people who had to have known and turned a blind eye never faced punishment at all.

Harris was accused of several different crimes, some of them sounding quite minor.

The most serious crime he was accused of,  was committing a sex act when a girlfriend of his daughter was visiting - in the room they shared. He was found guilty even though the only evidence was her word. That girl, once grown up, initiated an affair with him, but that was no crime on his part. Was she a reliable witness? I hardly think so.

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-27907511

The prosecution must have known how weak their case was, and so they brought in 'witnesses of bad character.' I have never heard of that before, and am astonished that it was allowed. All the same, it was pretty fairly established that he was a bit of a sleaze. But a criminal and a paedophile? I don't think that has been established at all.




He was recently released. This is a picture of him with his wife Alwen. It is another reason I think him probably a good person. Most rich and famous men routinely exchange a wife for younger and more beautiful models. Harris did not.







Another case: John Francis Tyrrell was convicted of abusing a boy at Geelong's St. Joeph's College. The offending was supposed to have occurred in 1965 and 1966, it was it was a very long time before the complaint was made, and there were 'improbabilities' in the evidence.

It was appealed, and the ruling was that the verdict was unsound and was overturned. (March, 2019)
https://www.heraldsun.com.au/blogs/andrew-bolt/court-frees-priest-jury-verdict-unsound/news-story/953f14381a21e710eaff795773cc66f1

I think the same thing will happen with George Pell, though not with Rolf Harris.  I think that Harris is feeling he is too old to fight, and besides, there were too many accusers.  Note that those who made complaints against Rolf Harris were often rewarded with money, as are those who make complaints against various institutions who have tolerated abuse.


Here is another instance of a person being found guilty on the word of just one person.


Maggie Fitzpatrick,
NOT guilty of anything
Actress Maggie Kirkpatrick was found guilty of molesting a girl fan decades before. The only evidence of guilt was that of the woman, now grown. This was a judge only trial, not a jury trial, which makes it more incredible that she was found guilty.  That judge even made a deliberately humiliating order that a DNA test be performed, whether the prisoner cooperated or not. The case was in 2015.

Fitzpatrick played the part of a prison guard in a TV series. 'The Freak' as she was known, would molest prisoners with the excuse of conducting body searches.  It would seem impossible that a judge would confuse an acting role with the actor, but surely that must have been what happened.

Luckily for Kirkpatrick, the finding was overturned on appeal.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/australiaandthepacific/australia/12038401/Prisoner-actress-Maggie-Kirkpatrick-cleared-of-abusing-girl-in-Australia.html

And yet, while the guilty finding was widely and loudly publicised, I only discovered the 'Cleared' verdict by accident, much later.  Even now, with an internet search, the 'Cleared' article comes in at No. 6 on a search, while there are 5 before that, with the 'Guilty.'  How is that fair on poor Maggie?

It is like the media love to make people appear guilty, and any 'not guilty' verdict is a disappointment. 


Geoffrey Rush, well known actor, was accused of acting inappropriately while filming 'King Lear.'  The newspapers relished this, publishing a picture of him in costume,looking quite evil,  and labelled it 'King Leer.'  Rush sued them, and they thoroughly deserved it!  

If there has been a judgement made in this case, I have not heard it.  


There has never been a criminal case, and yet Rush appears to have been judged guilty by the newspaper.



You cannot establish guilt 'beyond reasonable doubt' on the word of one person. 

Even if that person is not knowingly lying,  then they may have forgotten details, or an incident may have occurred with another person and they became confused. They might even have dreamed it, or maybe it was a 'recovered' memory elicited by a psychologist.  (The idea that 'recovered' memories can be relied upon has long since been discredited.)

Because any complaint of sexual misconduct is almost automatically believed these days, it is being used more and more often for political purposes.

Last year, Brett Kavanaugh was nominated for the US Supreme Court. They have an odd system in America;  it seems that anyone in Congress can question the nominee, in detail, about whatever they want.  Almost at the last moment, there was an accusation made public.  A woman named Christine Blasey Ford accused him of sexually assaulting her during a high school party, many years before.  There was no corroborating evidence, and some evidence against it ever happening.  All the same, Kavanaugh nearly lost the nomination because of it.

It is my bet that next time Trump nominates someone for the US Supreme Court,  it will be a woman, simply because it is less believable that a rape might have taken place. The case of Maggie Kirkpatrick, of course,  shows that it can still happen.  

There is another factor that may make it more likely that accusations will be made, that of monetary gain.  If there is a likelihood of 'compensation,' whether from a rich man like Rolf Harris (maybe only formerly rich now)  or from compensation schemes set up after the Royal Commission into Institutional Abuse (Australia)  there will be always people putting their hand up to make an accusation.  And if the accusers are automatically labelled 'brave,'  and if there is not likely to be any nasty cross examination, why not?  Pell's accuser was not even named.

Some accusers will be genuine.  I know there were victims in the small country town I grew up in.  I only recently heard that the local doctor took on the Catholic heirarchy to try and get rid of the rotten priest.  He succeeded only in having him 'moved on' to abuse somewhere else.

So it does happen.

But after many years, memories become unreliable.  Some accusers will simply misremember - maybe blaming a high profile priest instead of the lowly one who did actually abuse him.

It is so easy to accuse.  Maybe too easy. And it is becoming more and more common, for many reasons, justice for some, maybe revenge for an unrelated crime, for example, a cruel care giver.  Money for others, and, of course, it is so effective in discrediting a political opponent.  



I even wrote a book with that theme, published a couple of years ago. It was one of the Penwinnard Stories, 'Mutty's Fort.'

These are set in a Boys' Home, and one boy set out, quite deliberately to bring down the manager.

In my book, the complaint was specific, and the manager was able to prove his innocence with a  strong alibi.  If the accusation had been made years later, and no date names, would the poor manager, who did his best for his boys, have would up with a long prison sentence? 
Probably.

And the mud does stick, whether found guilty or not.  It is unfair.


My conclusion and my plea:


DO NOT JUDGE ANY MAN OR WOMAN GUILTY ON A MERE ACCUSATION.

There must be guilt 'beyond reasonable doubt.'


(and if you want to buy my book, you are, of course, welcome.  Available from online booksellers.)














Thursday, 14 March 2019

Joy Holbrook - Children Striking for Climate Change action.


Joy Holbrook


This article is by Joy Holbrook.  It is in regard to the 'strike' by school children, who are trying to tell adults to do more to stop Climate Change - as if that was even possible.  The 'strike' is today,  15th March, 2019.  There have been similar strikes before, and not just in Australia. They are 'striking'  from schools, of course,  not striking from use of electricity or anything of that nature.






This entire agenda is a disgrace! As a former teacher, I'm happy I can sleep at night, knowing I didn't terrify children into believing that they have no future. My grandchildren are being brainwashed at school with this insidious rubbish but fortunately for them, they have parents and grandparents who tell them the truth.
As professional information disseminators, it's incumbent on you to provide children with facts, not hysterical rubbish. For example, are schools teaching that the polar ice caps are growing in size? Check NASA's website for the photographic proof. Are schools teaching that the planet has been through this cycle many times over the millennia? Read Ian Plimer for geological proof. Are schools teaching that the islands of Tuvalu and Kiribati, which Al Gore predicted woul be submerged by 2015, have grown in size since that prediction? I could go on but I know it's probably futile because those in the cosy left wing bubble don't care to step outside that bubble. And for the record, I voted Labor for over 50 years and, until three years ago, I believed in anthropogenic climate change. I believed that what I now know to be a rabidly left wing media, was telling me the truth. Then I retired and found myself with time to research.
In case you're not aware, I'll tell you what's REALLY going on. Climate change is being driven by two factors: the UN and our ubiquitous old friend, money. I've just read an article quoting the head of the UN climate body who admitted that the IPCC rounded up temperature data in their report last year. She also admitted that the alleged concern for global warming has nothing to do with the environment. It's about gaining control of energy worldwide, thus giving them control of industry and, by extension, the world's population. The goal of the UN is a One World Government. As to the money, the wealthy have billions invested in the renewables industry. The Turnbull family is a case in point. The Labor Party has investments, the unions, including your very own Teachers' Federation. Of course they're going to push the warming agenda. You're their puppets, dancing to their string pulling and you don't even realise it.
In conclusion, I'd ask you to go back to your classrooms and show your students video footage of vast solar farms in the US, covered with a good 30cm of snow, thus rendering them useless. The sun hadn't shone there for over a week anyway. Or maybe you could entertain them with the video footage of the helicopter dropping hundreds of litres of fuel onto a wind turbine to de-ice it. Brilliant for the environment! Stop frightening the kids and get back to what the teachers' charter tells you to do. Arm kids with facts that will give them a basis for a successful life, not over emotional claptrap that scares them. And while you're at it, ask them to give up their phones, game consoles, electricity and transport to and from school. That'll tell you how serious they are about saving the world.
Regards, Joy Holbrook. Wallsend.










Sunday, 3 March 2019

The Second Silliest Thing You Can Do.


Your boy tells you he wants to be a girl, or your girl says she wants to be a boy, what is the second silliest thing you can do?


Recently I saw a piece of advice by a man concerned by the sudden epidemic of children claiming they are transgender. He was against the idea of providing 'support' for this nonsense.

If you are also against it, if you understand that it is not possible to 'be born into the wrong body'  or to change sex,  then what should you do?  What if your boy says he wants to be a girl?

The advice this man gave was that you should try and steer him towards male interests - sports, especially rough contact sports, and toy trucks rather than dolls.  And firmly steer him away from an interest in the arts or women's dress.

That is a very silly piece of advice in my opinion,  the second silliest thing you can do in the circumstances.  The effect is likely to be the exact opposite to the one intended.  If you try and force a boy to be more 'boyish,'  if you try to stop him following his own interests, his own inclinations, the likely result is that he will revolt against you, and further revolt against the male role you are trying to force him into.  He will be more determined that he is 'really' a girl,  and with the way things are at the moment, you may find that his school and even the state will try and 'help' the child on the way to pretend girlhood, even when the parents disagree.

It is a similar thing if a girl declares she would prefer to be a boy.

Do not put her in frilly dresses and then tell her she cannot play in the sandpit for fear of being dirty.

Do not give her Barbie dolls when she wants a construction set or a toy bulldozer.  Allow her to follow her own interests, whether or not you think it too 'masculine.'





One of the reasons there are more children declaring that they want to be the opposite sex these days (besides it being the fashion)  is the pressure to fit into a narrow role model,  and this is worse than it was 20 or 40 or 60 years ago.  Toys seem to be divided more along sex lines than they used to be - interesting things for boys,  and pink unicorns and glittery pretend jewellery for girls.  That is a good reason for any girl to revolt in my opinion.  So limiting!

Dolls and little model horses for girls?    Sure, if they want them.
And Lego and toy trucks for boys?   Sure, if they want them. 
But give horses to a boy and trucks to a girl if that is what they want.
And girls like Lego, and some boys like dolls.  

Do not limit their choices.  Let them be who they want to be without making them feel as if their sex is wrong.


There is nothing wrong with a boy being interested in dance or fashion,  nothing wrong with him not being interested in sport.  And there is nothing wrong with a girl being interested in whatever she chooses to be interested in.




Whichever sex they are, let them be who they want to be.  
Trying to force the stereotype upon them will not work.  

It is the second silliest thing to do in this situation.






So what is the absolute silliest thing you can do?

You can go along with their fantasy,  you can give them dangerous hormones, and even life-changing surgery.

And that is not merely the silliest thing you can do in this situation, it is worse that that. It is dangerous to their health. It can destroy lives.  Do you really want to castrate your boy?  Or allow your girl to damage her future ability to bear and to feed a baby?

There is nothing wrong with boys following 'feminine' interests, and there is nothing wrong with girls following 'masculine' interests.  

But there is a great deal wrong with harming their bodies to follow this nonsensical fad.



Once they are grown, you have no say.  By then, they may have grown out of the idea.  Most do.  If they have not, you can take consolation in the fact that at least you have not harmed their natural development.


And if you wind up with an effeminate boy.  Sorry, but some boys are effeminate, and some boys are attracted to other boys.

A 'mannish' girl?  There is nothing wrong with that, either.

So love them and accept them,  just do not encourage the delusion that they are anything else than what they are.























Monday, 28 January 2019

When books were valued.


Books were so valued once. I remember reading every one of my mother's books when I was a child, authors like Hammond Innes and Arthur Hailey. She enjoyed comedies as well, Betty MacDonald, 'The Egg and I'  and 'The Plague and I.' Philosophy - Bertrand Russell. 

Then, a book was valued. One would not dream of throwing away a book.  If a child drew on or damaged a book, there was trouble!  

It is different now.  This is the book I have just finished reading, Arthur Upfield, 'Bony Buys a Woman.' It was published in 1937.  It has some old prices marked in pencil - 3/9,  (three shillings and ninepence)  4/6,  and $4.00.  At some stage, someone has gone through and carefully sticky-taped pages where they needed it.  It was valued.  The 'Bony' books are detective books, with an interesting hero, and set in some fascinating areas of Australia.  This one is set on the edges of Lake Eyre,  at a time when floods from Queensland were filtering down and the water upswelling from below and disturbing the cracked mud of the surface of an apparently dry lake.  





It does not seem to be readily available any more.  That Aboriginals are important characters could be a factor in that.  These days,  any mention of Aboriginals is likely to be picked apart for an excuse for someone to claim offense.  

Sadly, the fate of this particular book will be the recycling bin.  

I have other battered paperbacks that I will keep for at least one more reading before wondering what to do with them.  20 years ago, a second-hand bookshop told me that these Georgette Heyer comedy/romance novels were collectors' items, worth at least $5 each.  Since I have 26, they would be worth selling.  But I don't think it applies any more, and maybe it never did really apply.  

These paperbacks do seem to be still available on Amazon, though around $15 US, which seems excessive for a paperback.  Since they have been favourites for so long, first published in the 1950s and 60s,  they can be left at one of the free book-swap places I know.  Light reading, they are amusing and entertaining. Someone will like them. 






I have other series of books.  Once they would have been worth selling.  When I asked about one of the Angelique books at an 'Antiquarian' bookshop, I was quoted $50. But  that was many years ago, and now there are few second-hand bookshops left, and those that are still around, not only reject tattered books, but insist on you buying more than any books accepted.  It costs money to take your old books to a second-hand bookshop these days.


The Hornblower books.

The Hornblower books, C. S. Forester, first published in the 1930s, are special for the complexities of character.  I'm keeping those.  It will be up to my heirs to decide what to do with these ones.  

One has an inscription - 'Happy birthday, Poppa.  From Isobel and Mat.  20th July, 1951.'  The inscription is in the sort of elegant script no longer taught when I was at school. And there is a sticker - 'MacQuarie Book Club, Paramatta.'   I enjoy seeing hints of a book's history.


The Whiteoaks of Jalna series, published in the 1950s.

They seem a touch old fashioned in parts now,  things like the old uncles being so critical of the new fangled TV,  that homosexuality was hinted at as an unmentionable and terrible vice,  and they spoke of maintaining a girl's 'innocence.'



I have often wondered what happened to some of the characters, especially young Adeline and Philip's marriage, and also poor young Dennis, Finch's son.

Yes, definitely time to re-read this series.


I have books that I enjoyed when I was young, thrillers mostly.  Sadly, many have lost their magic. And yet, I have kept many, simply for sentimental reasons. 

But it is time to let those go.  I have too many books, and I cannot re-read them all before I die.
I have some books that were once awarded to me as prizes for academic performance, and two that were Sunday school prizes.  That was a long time ago!  


                                                                                                                   And I have books that were awarded to my parents as Sunday School prizes.  'The Hunter Children' was published in 1923.

I do hope the ones that are a part of family history will be kept and valued by my heirs.


Most special of all is a tiny New Testament given to my father by his mother before he went to war.  He carried it all through those years he was imprisoned in a Japanese POW camp.  Maybe the reminder of home helped him survive when over half of his fellow prisoners did not survive. 





Books that have been friends.  Books that were once worth a great deal. But it is different now.  Every year, new books are published, not just books published by publishers, but by those who have mastered the new technology that means an author can publish their own books, without going through any publisher. 

Today, libraries have periodic book sales, selling books for a pittance, merely because they have not been read in a while, and then buying more new books. They would be better simply having more books.  

You can buy very cheap books from Op Shops, there are second-hand book sales for charity, with prices like $2 for a bag full.  I have advertised books as giveaways, and have had no takers. 

Books are used for other things. An art teacher suggested using old books to sketch on, but as the class was mostly made up of older students, hardly any took up the suggestion. We were of the era when books were valued.

Now, art installations are made using books.  We see fantastic looking bookshelves that would make it virtually impossible to pull out a book to read. 

Sadly, my paperback went into the recycling bin, where it will probably become part of a bale of recycled paper and cardboard, unless, of course, it was deemed unsuitable even for that.

Old books are no longer valued.  It is sad. 
















PS: My own books, the Shuki series.  

 

From boy of the slums to Oxford Graduate. This is the story of Shuki Bolkiah, modern day eunuch.

"Not a Man' is set in an unnamed country of Arabia. Shuki is aged ten, and a 'bed-boy.' His master wants his beautiful boy to stay beautiful, so arranges for him to have 'a small operation.' This traumatic event changed forever the life of a clever, determined boy.

Shuki learns to manipulate his master. He learns to read and write, he gets his master into the habit of giving him large sums of money, and he makes friends with the master's sons.

Shuki becomes more beautiful with every passing year. His master becomes more possessive, more jealous, and Shuki is guarded. When his master takes him to England, he escapes and starts a new life with the money he's saved. He is fifteen. 












Friday, 7 December 2018

The Silo Art Trail


The Mallee area of Victoria is mostly flat country, hot and dry, boring to look at, and often too hot for any comfort.   All the same, it is productive country and grows a big percentage of Australia's grain crop most years. (Not counting drought years.)

Mallee, Victoria, Australia

The Mallee is dotted by tiny towns, towns that have been declining in population ever since horses were replaced by tractors.

It is not an area that lures tourists.  Some towns have simply died, others linger on.  There are abandoned houses, abandoned churches.





Many churches these days appear to need propping up.

Few need actual timber supports, however! 












There are derelict buildings, even in main streets.  This is Rupanyup.




But then there is this gorgeous little building in the centre of the street. That is also Rupanyup.







There is this abandoned home in Patchewollock.






But there is also this joyous piece of art, also in Patchewollock.
















The towns might have become rundown, but the people are still full of life, and they want life back in their towns. One way is to attract tourists.  The Silo Art Trail is a genius idea, and it is successful. In caravan parks a long way from the Mallee, I heard talk of it, and many had either just been, or planned to go.  These are mostly the 'Grey Nomad' travellers, who are happy to have a plan for their explorations, and who have money to spend.

In every small town and tiny village of the Mallee, there is a silo.  When these become paintings, they are very, very impressive.




These are tourists at Sheep Hills.

Sheep Hills was the tiniest town we saw, just a few abandoned buildings, and a pub that must have been nice once.  It did not appear to be in use.





And yet, Sheep Hills has this.



I included the people to give some idea of the scale, even though they are closer to the camera.


Below is at Rapunyup.  These silos are not as tall as most, and yet you can see the vehicle parked close.  Those pictures are big! 






The several councils involved have gone to some effort. There are brochures, there are signs, and some of the towns even appear to have put in brand-new and immaculately clean toilets - a thing of importance for travellers.











Six towns (if you can call Sheep Hills a town) with painted silos.  Other towns with street art and open air sculptures.  They are all deserving of a visit.  


The Mallee Fowl sculptures (left)  are at Patchewollock.

Just a couple of years ago, we visited Minyip.  We were saddened to see it so rundown.  But now, there are new shops opened, and everything seems to have been cleaned up.  While Minyip does not have its own silo art, it is a pleasant place to visit, and does have some street art to admire. 







Brim's silo paintings (above)  were the first.  I think they are the best of all, 
though the photograph above does not show the figures to full effect
due to the sun being directly behind them. 



The visionary councils of the Mallee Silo Art Trail deserve credit.  They have brought life back to their portion of the world, and they have given travellers something marvellous to look at.

They deserve support,  so next time you are in Victoria, make a trip to the Mallee to enjoy the silos.  Just follow the green-marked route.   (But not in the middle of Summer.  It can get very hot there.)