May 27, 2003


From Lateline:

TONY JONES: Today you have accused Dr Hollingworth of moral turpitiude. Do you know what that means?

SIMON CREAN: Yes, but this is was the test that the Prime Minister made and I simply asked this question, Tony ... in terms of someone who continues to protect a paedophile when they were in a position of authority where they should have referred that, that is not appropriate action. And that's --

TONY JONES: Simon Crean, it may not be appropriate action, but is it moral turpitude? That's what you've accused the Governor-General of. And I'll put the question again, do you know what moral turpitude means?

SIMON CREAN: The moral turpitude is the circumstances in which he failed to act and he should have acted.

TONY JONES: But do you know what it means?

SIMON CREAN: Tony, I the know what it means.

TONY JONES: I can spell it out. It means baseness, shameful depravity, wickedness. Do you really want to brand the Governor-General with those terms ... shameful, depravity, wickedness?

SIMON CREAN: But it's the moral failure to act in relation to what clearly were wicked acts, Tony. This is the point. Look, you can have the argument about the semantics, Tony, but I say this to you that the issue --

TONY JONES: Simon Crean, these are not semantics. These are English words you've levelled against the Governor-General, who is still holding that office. You've suggested that he's wicked, that he's behaved a depraved or shameful way.

Here’s some words that Crean might understand: Queensland branch of the Australian Labor Party. Let’s see Simon “act in relation to what clearly were wicked acts”.

Posted by Tim Blair at May 27, 2003 10:59 AM

Semantics.....the G-G fucked up, and his fuck ups became public domain courtesy of a media witch hunt. He'll never get the chance to clear his name, thanks to that same witch hunt. If anyone is guilty of moral turpitude, it's the media of this country.

Posted by: Niall at May 27, 2003 at 11:17 AM

I don't think you understand what it means.

When you do nothing when you are presented with clear evidence that a person is a paedophile clearly is an example of this.
Just as if I was in Germany in the 1930's and did nothing would equally qualify. ( I am not by the way saying these things are similar merely providing a clear cut example.)

Time to rid yourself of your postmodern relative values and adopt some absolute values.
Things are usually right or wrong!!

Posted by: Homer Paxton at May 27, 2003 at 11:19 AM

Simon Crean may deserve it, but isn't Tony Jones an arrogant, argumentative prick? He does this to everyone: he seems to see his primary mission as browbeating his guests into accepting whatever is his proposition for the day.

Posted by: Mork at May 27, 2003 at 11:22 AM

Did the GG "do nothing" when presented with clear evidence of someone's wrongdoing?
Not according to the Anglican Church report. It found his actions were inadequate and an error of judgement - not that he ignored pedophilia.
This is the problem with the media - any lie or misrepresentation will do when there's blood in the water;particularly blood which can smear the PM.

Posted by: Jim at May 27, 2003 at 11:26 AM

What does Tony Jones wash with after interviewing Simon Crean? I've tried soap and water but I still feel dirty after last night.

Posted by: Bill Jolly at May 27, 2003 at 12:12 PM

Mark - Jones' mission for the day was to expose Crean's perceived mission for the day, which was: to conflate Hollingworth's self-evident ineptitude and inadequacy with proactively protecting pedophiles and condoning pedophilia, in order to paint - and hence politically damage - Howard with the same brush.

I think Jones' did a fine job of exposing the woeful political ineptitude behind what was a transparent attempt to portray Howard as the sort of guy who thinks it's OK to get off with kids.

I think Australian opinion will have very limited tolerance for continued attempts to portray Hollingworth as some sort of eccelesiastical Dolly Dunn - let alone Howard.

If Crean hasn't worked that out in the last 24 hours, he's even more stupid than I thought.

Posted by: Geoff Honnor at May 27, 2003 at 12:38 PM

Geoff - no doubt, but a good interviewer lets his subject reveal himself for what he is, and trusts his viewers to draw their own conclusions.

Jones' approach is that he will beat his subject up unless and until the subject expressly agrees with Jones.

It's arrogant, egotistical and generally not terribly revealing - particularly because the things he seizes upon tend to be sideshows rather than issues that go to the heart of the matter.

And I find it as annoying when he does it to someone I dislike as I do when he does it to someone I admire.

Posted by: Mork at May 27, 2003 at 12:50 PM

"Do you know what it means?" Ah yes, the classic journo ambush. Invite the Opposition Leader on to your show and reduce the issue to technicalities and definitions.

Posted by: Jonas at May 27, 2003 at 12:55 PM

I saw that interview last night. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I thought Tony Jones did a great job of hounding Crean on that point.

I suspect Crean didn't know what "moral turpitude" meant when he said it, and so Jones did him a favour by educating him a little. (Good to see our taxes at work!) And if Crean did it shows how out of touch with reality he is.

It's clear that in the hunt to get Hollingworth (and Howard by association) words mean nothing, reason means nothing, and ethics mean nothing. Anything goes for the witch-hunters.

Posted by: Matt at May 27, 2003 at 01:02 PM

So . . . the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Works for the schoolyard, Matt, but when you rely on that principle in the grown-up world, you tend to end up with egg on your face.

Posted by: Mork at May 27, 2003 at 01:46 PM

As tony Jones reminded Crean semantics is not a matter of a mere quibble.To accuse someone of moral turpitude might pass into defamation resulting even in justified civil action.

Perhaps the English language is just too difficult for some.Mastery of English , however, entails more than the distinction between literary grasp and English as it is spoken would suggest.The grammatical abstractness as well as vocabulary equally makes it a minefield for those not too particular in their habits.Such considerations as these, point to why even primary schools need to forced off Dick and Dora drivel for rigorous teaching of grammar matched by the complement, the canon of English literature as the reading matter for children.

People make costly mistakes because of sloppiness ; one has in view that primitive nonsense, `business english'.Crean, though, by his monstrous humbug, serves as a warning sign: cavil not, ye who would speaketh English ,with short measures, lest thou commit utterances foul.

Posted by: d at May 27, 2003 at 02:49 PM

Mork, I don't get your point about shared enmity in relation to my post. But it does seem that your negative opinion of Tony Jones is personal and irrational - not unlike the sustained media campaign against Hollingworth himself.

Jones' approach was atypical of the pack and that's why it was refreshing and heartening to see.

Posted by: Matt at May 27, 2003 at 02:54 PM

Far more worrying than Crean's use [wittingly or unwittingly] of an absurdly inappropriate word, is the reaction of posters to the item. Some want to attack the interviewer. Some want to argue, like Humpty Dumpty, that the meaning of words you employ to attack opponents doesn't matter. Some don't even want to think about the argument, merely use it as another blow in their fight for some far 'nobler' cause.
We may not be happy that the voters didn't support our 'self evident' right to defeat Howard. As a long time Republican, I was especially sad to see our carefully orchestrated efforts to present such a technically flawed model to the voters at the last Referendum.
But using the pretext of 'moral indignation' over Hollingworth as a means of FINALLY having some sort of 'victory' is pathetic. Let's see whether the Tanners of the 'progressive', world now give up their comfortable jobs, and enter the real world areas in which serious abuse of young people most occurs.
But, of course, they won't. They've already avhieved their only genuine purpose.

Posted by: Norman at May 27, 2003 at 03:17 PM

What I mean is this, Matt: yes, the campaign to get rid of Hollingworth involved some folks who got involved because they saw it as a way to get to Howard, and, yes, some of their methods were unfair and unethical. But if you find yourself defending Hollingworth's tenure *because* of those attacks, you might find yourself condoning conduct that in ordinary circumstances you'd find reprehensible, and if you're a person of principle, you ought to find that an awkward place to be.

(As an aside, I think there's a fair argument that the nature of the campaign against H'worth - particularly the disclosure of the rape case, actually *prolonged* his tenure).

Similarly, one day, you'll see Tony Jones use the same puerile tactics against someone you support (for example, I saw an interview with the PM around the time of the war to which I had a similar reaction), and you'll want to throw your shoe through the TV.

Posted by: Mork at May 27, 2003 at 03:46 PM

Homer my boy,
your attempt to connect Hollingsworth to the entire German WWII population as a clear cut example shows how little you paid attention in history class.
Q. What do you call a german who disagreed with Hitler and the Nazi party?
A. A corpse.

Q. What do you call an Arch-Bishop who protects child molesters?
A. A c@#T.

No clear-cut examples but you get my point.

Hollingsworth isn't squeaky clean, but really, he's no monster. Just once I'd like an objective unemotional view on the issue.

Posted by: Jake D at May 27, 2003 at 05:10 PM

"When you do nothing when you are presented with clear evidence that a person is a paedophile clearly is an example of this."


"Time to rid yourself of your postmodern relative values and adopt some absolute values.
Things are usually right or wrong!!"

Homer, on Gareths Blog you state that Hollingworth was a special and unique case,
Yet here you seem to be saying that anyone who does nothing when presented with pedophilia would be equally guilty.

"Absolute value" adoption forms over on the left...

Posted by: Richard at May 27, 2003 at 09:42 PM

Mr H was a special and unique case as G/G as was Kerr. It is unlikely either will be repeated.However that is not what we are talking about here.

Here we are talking about moral turpitude. It covers people who do the need and people who know about the deed and whose action about it is no action.
I wasn't connecting Mr H with Germany as I said I was merely making a clear example ie black and white case where there is no shade of grey.

sometimes it is very hard not to show moral turpitude as in Germany in the 1930's. It can take great courage.

Can I end this by saying Mr H would have had to resign as Archbishop if he was still in the position mind you that position is supposed to have higher standards than the G/G.

Posted by: Homer Paxton at May 27, 2003 at 10:02 PM

Here's some more moral turpitude related to the Labor Party:

Liberal MLC Charlie Lynn accused the Government of failing to answer several questions he had posed during his speech on the bill and said because of that, he would reveal certain documents he had in his possession.

He said they related to a police investigation into paedophilia and concerned claims first aired during the police Royal Commission.

"They refer to a senior member of the Carr Cabinet and they link that member with illegal underage sex," he said.

He went on to read from a police statement allegedly made by the 15-year-old boy, where he names the Minister and accuses him of having sex with him and robbing him.

Posted by: Indole Ring at May 28, 2003 at 09:17 AM

No offense Homer, but you seem to be all over the shop here....Do you or don't you believe that ANYONE in a position of authority (or just anyone for that matter) would be guilty of moral turpitude if they ignored the possibility of child abuse? to the point were they should resign, or do you believe that this description only applies to Governor Generals and the like, which is what you seem to be suggesting when you say that the Governor Generals situation is a "special, unique" case, or that Labour party members alledged knowledge about D'arcy's or Wrights predilictions for child sex and sex with students was "irrelevant" in response to Gareths suggestion that the ALP needs to look closer to home over child abuse.

Posted by: Richard at May 28, 2003 at 09:41 AM

The corruption of language is , as odd as it might seem, a step down the road to tyranny. Crean's choice of words is not only a calumny against Hollinworth but a debasement of the English language. It is not isloated, political correctness, involves nothing less than a more extensive corruption of language. Injecting jargon as psueo-technical vocabulary is another example , which abuse the twin charlatan sciences of sociology and psychology have led the way.

`Socialjustice', `social welfare', `health system', `education system' are equally corrupt expressions and so equally debase language.

The force is, corruption of language is not a mere linguistic thing, words are words. It undermines the function of language.Debasement of language is capricious and wicked.

Posted by: d at May 28, 2003 at 09:51 AM

With respect Richard but you are mixing up two seperate issues.

With regard to the position of G/G it is probably a one-off as it is unlikely you will get a person in such a position again. In a sense like Kerr was a one-off.

With regard to moral turpitude if anyone ignores through inaction any great moral issue of moment they are as guilty of the crime as the person who did it. To make it very black and white if I wtnessed a rape and did nothing then I would be guilty.

Posted by: Homer Paxton at May 28, 2003 at 11:08 AM

TJ must have a grudge against Slime. Maybe Slimey fondled his wife's arse. It's the only explanation.

Posted by: Tony.T at May 28, 2003 at 12:26 PM

Turpitude is great for getting paint off your hands.

Posted by: Paul at May 28, 2003 at 05:04 PM