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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.

“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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38 Responses to
Bettina Arndt not to be heard at ANU?
creative_canberran 3:08 pm 08 Jun 11

Grail said :

Before criticising Bettina for suggesting that the harm of sexual assault should be downplayed, it might help to remind oneself of what constitutes sexual assault. Sexual assault is – perhaps too simply – any unwanted touching that causes humiliation, pain, fear or intimidation. Thus as far as the law is concerned, it is just as illegal to place your hand on your wife’s rump and suggest a sexual interlude when she’s not interested in talking to you, as it is to do the same to your colleague at work.

You’re right about one thing, that is too simple… because that is not the definition of sexual assault. How dare you say “as far as the law is concerned” when writing a false definition of it.

Now this is a public forum and the definition is necessarily quite graphic in the Crimes Acts, so I will not publish the details here. I will say however that sexual assault requires “intercourse” as defined by the relevant legislative provisions and common law.

The correct definitions however can be found in Part 3 (particularly s50) of the Crimes Act (ACT) 1900 and for NSW in s61 of the Crimes Act (NSW) 1900. I would suggest you look at these.

The offence of sexual assault, like all criminal offences comprises both a physical element (actus reus) and a mental element (mens rea). Not withstanding the fact that your definition is incorrect anyway, it describes only a physical element and would be insufficient on its own to ground criminal liability.

thatsnotme 2:58 pm 08 Jun 11

Grail said :

Before criticising Bettina for suggesting that the harm of sexual assault should be downplayed, it might help to remind oneself of what constitutes sexual assault. Sexual assault is – perhaps too simply – any unwanted touching that causes humiliation, pain, fear or intimidation. Thus as far as the law is concerned, it is just as illegal to place your hand on your wife’s rump and suggest a sexual interlude when she’s not interested in talking to you, as it is to do the same to your colleague at work.

Just wow. There’s only one over simplification going on around here – your ridiculous example. To try to suggest that some type of ‘not tonight dear, I have a headache’ situation would be considered sexual assault under our laws does your argument no favours at all. Now if I decided I wasn’t happy with that answer, and in the course of convincing my wife that she really should change her mind I did humiliate her, or cause her to feel fear for herself or fearful of me, or I did cause her pain…then hell yeah, I reckon I have done something wrong – as far as the law is concerned, and morally – and should be punished.

Sorry, if your argument is that the definition of sexual assault is too broad, so somebody saying ‘sometimes sexual assault isn’t so bad’ is just being misunderstood, then I don’t want to read the book – I’ve heard enough. And if that is not in fact the argument, then your response here hasn’t done the author any favours at all.

Watson 2:54 pm 08 Jun 11

Grail said :

Those wishing to inform themselves should perhaps consider reading the book that Bettina is promoting (What Men Want in Bed), rather than simply jumping on a book-burning bandwagon.

Before criticising Bettina for suggesting that the harm of sexual assault should be downplayed, it might help to remind oneself of what constitutes sexual assault. Sexual assault is – perhaps too simply – any unwanted touching that causes humiliation, pain, fear or intimidation. Thus as far as the law is concerned, it is just as illegal to place your hand on your wife’s rump and suggest a sexual interlude when she’s not interested in talking to you, as it is to do the same to your colleague at work.

Read the book, then comment about what she’s saying. Understand the context in which she is using the words that the Bettina bashing brigade are clubbing her with.

Just remember to hold off your judgement of the book’s worth till after you’ve read it. No point trying to read a book that you just know is evil (that’s called prejudice).

I believed this thread was about the protest and GH’s reaction to it? I don’t think this is the right place to start a discussion about the content of Arndt’s book.

Classified 2:31 pm 08 Jun 11

Clown Killer said :

Any protest would lose all legitimacy if the protesters were to impede others from attending, or in any way interrupting, harassing or otherwise making a nuisance of themselves whilst the lecture was in progress … somehow I think that’s exactly what this rent-a-crowd will be doing.

Probably the same idiots who protested about the library changes. Clearly the workload of some degrees is too low!

Grail 2:30 pm 08 Jun 11

Those wishing to inform themselves should perhaps consider reading the book that Bettina is promoting (What Men Want in Bed), rather than simply jumping on a book-burning bandwagon.

Before criticising Bettina for suggesting that the harm of sexual assault should be downplayed, it might help to remind oneself of what constitutes sexual assault. Sexual assault is – perhaps too simply – any unwanted touching that causes humiliation, pain, fear or intimidation. Thus as far as the law is concerned, it is just as illegal to place your hand on your wife’s rump and suggest a sexual interlude when she’s not interested in talking to you, as it is to do the same to your colleague at work.

Read the book, then comment about what she’s saying. Understand the context in which she is using the words that the Bettina bashing brigade are clubbing her with.

Just remember to hold off your judgement of the book’s worth till after you’ve read it. No point trying to read a book that you just know is evil (that’s called prejudice).

Clown Killer 2:10 pm 08 Jun 11

Any protest would lose all legitimacy if the protesters were to impede others from attending, or in any way interrupting, harassing or otherwise making a nuisance of themselves whilst the lecture was in progress … somehow I think that’s exactly what this rent-a-crowd will be doing.

Watson 1:31 pm 08 Jun 11

johnboy said :

It’s one thing to protest what she’s saying, another to protest that she’s been allowed to speak surely?

Not sure what the protest’s goal is. That description is pretty vague…

creative_canberran 1:28 pm 08 Jun 11

Bettina Arndt’s views are irrational and repugnant to the values of a civilised society. Labelling dissent of her views as an “ugly display of intolerance” just demonstrates how detached Gary is from values that seek to protect the discourse in society.

Arndt has argued for example that the harm of sexual assault should be downplayed, because in a different context, the act would be considered a “loving”, romantic experience.
She also has strong views on what “wifely duties” are; views repugnant to High Court decisions dating back to the 1960s which recognise that sexual assault is not negated by a marital relationship.

Some confusion over the protest may stem from early talk of it mainly focusing on the decision of the ANU to allow her to speak and opposition to that decision. Of course, were the Women’s Collective to protest that aspect, they would be harming the very freedom they too rely on to express their views. Trying to stop her talk would also take away a valuable opportunity to scrutinise her ideas in the public sphere and challenge them.

Labelling descent as intolerance is just moronic. As Gary himself says, the purpose of universities “is to contest ideas unhindered”. That goes for both sides, for how can Arndt’s views be contested if he seeks to stifle descent? Seems he’s fallen afoul of his own logic.

johnboy 1:15 pm 08 Jun 11

It’s one thing to protest what she’s saying, another to protest that she’s been allowed to speak surely?

Leinna 1:11 pm 08 Jun 11

I think a ‘peaceful protest’ is ok if you don’t agree with what someone in the media is saying.

ScienceRules 1:07 pm 08 Jun 11

Well, we’ve got tickets tonight and will brave the protesters. Will post a report afterwards if anyone’s interested. My wife got an invite via the Alumni Assoc and it seemed like it might be interesting. We sure know how to setup a hot date!

dpm 1:03 pm 08 Jun 11

p1 said :

thatsnotme said :

Huh? I have no real interest in any of this, and know nothing about what’s planned aside from what’s posted here and on the facebook page linked, but I think that Gary Humphries might want to have a little think about what free speech is actually about. Surely a peaceful protest outside of the lecture is in itself free speech in action? I can’t see anything that mentions trying to shut the lecture down, so unless he’s got information that the rest of us don’t about what’s planned, I have no idea where he’s getting that idea from.

I had the same thought. Seems to me that this is an act of free speech, not something prohibiting it. If the Uni cancelled the woman on the basis of the complaints, then maybe it would be, but as planned, this is an opportunity for those who care, to show up (either at the talk or the protest) and gauge how their beliefs stack up against the others.

I believe this earlier CT article has a bit more background to it:
http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/general/anu-students-angry-over-arndt-sex-lecture/2179918.aspx

in which things like this:
” her attitudes should not be invited or heralded at the ANU” were said.
I’m not really sure, but perhaps they are in fact keen not to have her talk at ANU at all. Anyway, whatever..

p1 12:44 pm 08 Jun 11

thatsnotme said :

Huh? I have no real interest in any of this, and know nothing about what’s planned aside from what’s posted here and on the facebook page linked, but I think that Gary Humphries might want to have a little think about what free speech is actually about. Surely a peaceful protest outside of the lecture is in itself free speech in action? I can’t see anything that mentions trying to shut the lecture down, so unless he’s got information that the rest of us don’t about what’s planned, I have no idea where he’s getting that idea from.

I had the same thought. Seems to me that this is an act of free speech, not something prohibiting it. If the Uni cancelled the woman on the basis of the complaints, then maybe it would be, but as planned, this is an opportunity for those who care, to show up (either at the talk or the protest) and gauge how their beliefs stack up against the others.

thatsnotme 12:17 pm 08 Jun 11

Huh? I have no real interest in any of this, and know nothing about what’s planned aside from what’s posted here and on the facebook page linked, but I think that Gary Humphries might want to have a little think about what free speech is actually about. Surely a peaceful protest outside of the lecture is in itself free speech in action? I can’t see anything that mentions trying to shut the lecture down, so unless he’s got information that the rest of us don’t about what’s planned, I have no idea where he’s getting that idea from.

The idea that protest = denial of a platform just seems weird to me. Maybe Liberal HQ forgot to send Gary a copy of what he’s meant to be railing against (along with party approved phrases) if this is what’s got him hot under the collar.

Watson 12:03 pm 08 Jun 11

Even though I don’t like the woman’s ideas at all, I agree with Gary on this one. It would’ve been better to go to the talk and engage her in a proper debate instead of marching around shouting slogans.

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