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Bettina Arndt not to be heard at ANU?

By johnboy 8 June 2011 38

The ANU’s women’s department is planning a protest tonight against a speech by sex therapist Bettina Arndt.

The ANU Womens Department feels sex therapist Bettina Arndt expresses some very damaging opinions about women and men. The Department will be holding a peaceful protest before the event – we believe sexist attitudes against women and men are not acceptable

All supporters welcome

This has prompted Liberal Senator Gary Humphries to bravely wade in where angels fear to tread.

Senator Gary Humphries has attacked the ugly display of intolerance planned at the Australian National University today.

“Bettina Arndt might well be saying things unpalatable to some of us, but opposing the hearing of her views today in Canberra is an insult to free speech,” he said.

“People who oppose Arndt’s ideas would do well to stop trying to shut down her lecture and engage with the ideas she brings to public debate.

“The business of universities in liberal democracies is to contest ideas unhindered. To deny ideas a platform because you disagree with them is complete anathema to the principles of an open society.

“Though I may not necessarily agree with Ms Arndt’s arguments, I condemn those who wish to deny Ms Arndt a presence at the ANU today.”

What’s Your opinion?


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Bettina Arndt not to be heard at ANU?
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creative_canberran 3:56 pm 09 Jun 11

Grail said :

creative_canberran said :

She was good enough to approach them upfront and offer to talk but was told to “come back later”. She did and sat down, leading to an argument. Without first hand knowledge, all I can say it sounds immature and lacking civility.

Was it related to you as a fractious encounter, or were they having a good civilised argument where opposing points of view were expressed and discussed?

Grail said :

creative_canberran said :

She was good enough to approach them upfront and offer to talk but was told to “come back later”. She did and sat down, leading to an argument. Without first hand knowledge, all I can say it sounds immature and lacking civility.

Was it related to you as a fractious encounter, or were they having a good civilised argument where opposing points of view were expressed and discussed?

The comment from “smeh”:

“Bettina came over twice wanting to talk to us. The first time was before we had even started and we asked her to come back later, but first we wanted to discuss the issues quietly amongst ourselves. The second time she sat down in the middle of the group and argued with us. “

Not been ready and telling her to come back comes across as immature and lacking civility, particularly when you have three weeks to get some points ready to go.

As for how civil it was. “Smeh” says “argued with us” which sounds less than civil while another attendee complained it was to civil and accommodating of Arndt and should have attacked her more. Guess it’s a matter of perspective as to how civil it was. Kudos to the organisers for trying to keep things civil though. Obviously different people with different aims and different views on how far to take it, so trying to harmonise those was never going to be easy.

Grail 3:22 pm 09 Jun 11

creative_canberran said :

She was good enough to approach them upfront and offer to talk but was told to “come back later”. She did and sat down, leading to an argument. Without first hand knowledge, all I can say it sounds immature and lacking civility.

Was it related to you as a fractious encounter, or were they having a good civilised argument where opposing points of view were expressed and discussed?

The Frots 2:34 pm 09 Jun 11

creative_canberran said :

Jim Jones said :

creative_canberran said :

I wasn’t actually there … Apparently some elements in the protest were unhappy with the softly, softly, conciliatory tone that many protestors adopted

Whatever dude.

Wow, profound contribution that is to be expected from JJ.
Simply passing on what was said by one attendee of the protest about a minority who did want to do exactly what Gary Humphries had spoken out against and were unhappy the rest of the group didn’t do that.

+1 on that. That’s about as deep as you’ll get from Mrs Jones I’m afraid. Seems to be a habit to sit back and bitch about everyone else’s comments while adding near zero value to the thread.

Jim Jones 2:29 pm 09 Jun 11

creative_canberran said :

Jim Jones said :

creative_canberran said :

I wasn’t actually there … Apparently some elements in the protest were unhappy with the softly, softly, conciliatory tone that many protestors adopted

Whatever dude.

Wow, profound contribution that is to be expected from JJ.
Simply passing on what was said by one attendee of the protest about a minority who did want to do exactly what Gary Humphries had spoken out against and were unhappy the rest of the group didn’t do that.

A rumour that – even if we assume it were true) – has precisely no bearing on what *actually* occurred.

creative_canberran 12:56 pm 09 Jun 11

Jim Jones said :

creative_canberran said :

I wasn’t actually there … Apparently some elements in the protest were unhappy with the softly, softly, conciliatory tone that many protestors adopted

Whatever dude.

Wow, profound contribution that is to be expected from JJ.
Simply passing on what was said by one attendee of the protest about a minority who did want to do exactly what Gary Humphries had spoken out against and were unhappy the rest of the group didn’t do that.

DermottBanana 11:22 am 09 Jun 11

Maybe Senator Humphries would like to explain then why we’re prevented from hearing from other controversial speakers? David Irving for example.

Thumper 10:30 am 09 Jun 11

It sounds as if the protesters got their message across and didn’t disrupt the actual talk, in fact, it appears they added to the discussion.

Sounds perfectly fine all round to me.

Jim Jones 9:31 am 09 Jun 11

creative_canberran said :

I wasn’t actually there … Apparently some elements in the protest were unhappy with the softly, softly, conciliatory tone that many protestors adopted

Whatever dude.

creative_canberran 1:22 am 09 Jun 11

I wasn’t actually there, like most students at the moment, its pre-exam research/panic time. Have heard some interesting things about what happened though.

Apparently some elements in the protest were unhappy with the softly, softly, conciliatory tone that many protestors adopted. That it to say they didn’t like actually talking and exchanging views and ideas with Arndt who made quite a lot of effort to engage with the protestors outside the lecture to her credit. Those elements would have preferred a more ardent attack on her mere presence on campus rather than acquiescing and talking with her about the views she holds.

To those who hold such a view, I would suggest perhaps establishing a separate group for suppressing free speech on campus… perhaps with the motto “Schild und Schwert der Partei”.

I’d like to commend those elements who tried to take a more conciliatory tone by all accounts, trying to impress a point on her while keeping it mature and polite. It is disappointing though that apparently, the protestors spent some time sitting in a circle on the floor trying to decide what to say as she arrived. She was good enough to approach them upfront and offer to talk but was told to “come back later”. She did and sat down, leading to an argument. Without first hand knowledge, all I can say it sounds immature and lacking civility.

To be honest it’s examples like this that make me ashamed of some aspects of ANU.

Smeh 12:41 am 09 Jun 11

Seriously?

How does holding a peaceful protest BEFORE the lecture in any way try to hinder Bettina’s free speech?

The protest involved sitting around in a circle half and hour before the event and talking about what we were particularly opposed to in Bettina’s work. Bettina came over twice wanting to talk to us. The first time was before we had even started and we asked her to come back later, but first we wanted to discuss the issues quietly amongst ourselves. The second time she sat down in the middle of the group and argued with us. Members of the protest did there best to ensure both Bettina and the group listened to each other as respectfully as possible. Then at the end, three members of the protest went into listen to the lecture and never disturbed it.

Gary Humphries, simple research…you’re doing it wrong.

creative_canberran 9:05 pm 08 Jun 11

ScienceRules said :

one of the protest folk asked a polite, interesting question about Arndt’s views on sexual assault and the focus of her research..

As it should be. No shouting and trying to silence someone. Instead, focusing on the issues and questioning a contrary view in a civilised manner. Glad to hear that happened at least once.

Protests have their place, but too often at Uni, “protest” actually takes the place of proper discourse and ideas. It’s a first, rather than a last resort, and very often so ill thought that it doesn’t send any message anyway. Rather than causing such a fuss over the decision to let her speak, would have been nice if they’d just promoted this as an opportunity for the community to come, hear Arndt’s views and put their questions and responses to her. There’s a reason people tune in to Q&A.

ScienceRules 8:46 pm 08 Jun 11

Well, t’was a bit of an anti-climax, protest wise (ha!). Sorry, had to get the cheap sexual allusion out of the way early. I promise I’ll be less of a dick from here on in.

Essentially an interesting talk that covered issues relating to the mismatch of sexual desire among couples. Men were the focus because we tend to be more biologically hard wired to want sex and mens sexual issues such as loss of arousal and frustrations relating to unfulfilled needs are less talked about and researched.

She went over her new book (obviously) and discussed how the study was done, some of the results and peppered the chat with anecdotes and jokes. It was an interesting evening and although not technical or overly cerebral did provide some interesting talking points into male and female sexuality and relationships.

The protesters were pretty much invisible. I only saw one person with a sign but couldn’t read it. There was a short Q&A in which one of the protest folk asked a polite, interesting question about Arndt’s views on sexual assault and the focus of her research.

Arndt did mention that the media have picked up (not unsurprisingly) on the idea that women could consider just “doing it” even if they don’t feel like it. This didn’t mean submitting to unwanted sex but rather letting it happen and seeing if that works for you. She was talking about people in an otherwise healthy relationship, not using/denying/demanding sex for power or control reasons.

So all in all, an uncontroversial evening and a good night out.

Fiona 8:26 pm 08 Jun 11

Done.

Good speaker, plenty of humour, but nothing too exciting.

Yes, sometimes you need to give things a go once in a while. *shrugs*

Grail 8:04 pm 08 Jun 11

Ronnielane said :

In regards to post # 20 the Canberra rape crisis centre may provide some clarity :
http://www.rapecrisis.org.au/generai/Whatis.htm.

Strictly speaking, they get it just as wrong as Victorian Legal Aid, probably due to being a very old page.

Sexual Assault in all three “degrees” (§51-53) a connection between sexual intercourse without consent and bodily harm or the threat of bodily harm.

Sexual Intercourse Without Consent (§54) is sexual intercourse without consent, with no bodily harm involved or implied.

My example of placing a hand on a colleague and making sexual references might be “Act of indecency without consent” (§60) (there is no definition in the Act of what constitutes an indecent act, and I’m not a lawyer).

All of these crimes fall under the blanket of Part 3 – Sexual Offences (there is no Part IIIA).

Grail 7:40 pm 08 Jun 11

creative_canberran said :

The actual definitions (the text from the heading “Legal definitions of sexual offences in Victoria” onwards) provided on pages 6 and 7 of the document are correct and in general, they appear to align with comparable NSW and ACT provisions.

Now that we can settle on the legal definition of sexual assault versus what some people may interpret as being assault, have a read of Bettina’s article about the doctor who interfered with her, which is one of the pieces that the protesters are claiming shows that Bettina is a horrible person who shouldn’t be allowed to deliver her speech at the ANU: When Saying Sorry Is Enough.

The abridged version of the story is: when Bettina was 19 she went to the doctor, concerned that she was pregnant. Doctor suggested that an orgasm might help bring on the missing period. Doctor then performed digital stimulation. No orgasm was had, Bettina left the clinic thinking the procedure was a little odd. Twenty five years pass, and then the doctor was subject of a Sexual Assault action by a number of women.

Next Bettina states, “so when that contract is broken there is very good reason to want to slug it out in the main street where other doctors will be watching. I applaud the efforts of the complainants to use the Medical Board to ensure the doctor was no longer in a position to harm patients. But charging him with assault? That’s where I baulk … whatever his motivations, it was not an act of violence but rather an action that in another context would be loving and pleasurable. It’s not a war crime, an event of such magnitude that it demands retribution decades later. … it was enough for me to know the public had been assured the doctor could not repeat his actions.”

Because Bettina used the words “in another context [what the doctor did] would be loving and pleasurable” a whole raft of people are complaining that she is diminishing the real impact of the crime of sexual assault (just go check out the Facebook page).

This is where we get into the situation we’ve just covered in the last few posts: interpretation of the law by people who haven’t got a clue about the law.

Bettina doesn’t feel that what happened to her was assault. My interpretation is that it wasn’t Sexual Assault either, since there was no bodily harm and no reckless disregard of consent. Under whose interpretation would the incident become Sexual Assault in the first, second or third degree? Note that all these definitions in the Crimes Act 1900 (ACT) involve “grievous bodily harm”. If we assume that consent obtained by deceit is not consent at all, the incident can best be described as sexual intercourse without consent. This is still a crime, is still punishable with a gaol sentence, but due to having no element of bodily harm doesn’t seem like sexual assault to me.

So Bettina’s complaint at this point appears to be about the word “assault” when what happened was a bogus procedure performed safely by a doctor on a willing (if naive/bewildered/hoodwinked) patient.

Having interpreted Bettina’s words as “it’s not rape if you liked it”, these protestors are standing on the general grounds that “Bettina is a misogynist” and will only quote selected parts of her essays to support their opinion (such opinions as, for example, that inappropriate touching is sexual assault – which is supported by selective quoting of a selected source).

So now we come to the statements of people in this “Protest Bettina Arndt at ANU” group: Kate McMurtrie in the Canberra Times (31 May): “her attitudes should not be invited or heralded at the ANU.” Or Heather Tea, a commentator on the Facebook page: “there’s nothing wrong with what Kate is quoted as saying, freedom of speech doesn’t mean every shithead in the world is entitled to be given a stage, an audience and publicity by the ANU …”

It certainly sounds to me a lot like these people are of the opinion that Bettina shouldn’t be allowed to speak at the ANU.

Cheap 6:47 pm 08 Jun 11

Wow what a f***ing joke. “I don’t agree with your views, so I’m going to deny people the right to hear what you have to say”.

Ronnielane 6:07 pm 08 Jun 11

In regards to post # 20 the Canberra rape crisis centre may provide some clarity :
http://www.rapecrisis.org.au/generai/Whatis.htm.

Fiona 5:30 pm 08 Jun 11

I’m going too, with ticket. Oh and camera. I hope they let her talk then ask questions.

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