Politics and Universal Ethics Western Australia Launch
Mr Peter Abetz MLA (Liberal), Parliament of Western Australia
In our nation today, there is a major battle going on.
And I am not referring to the internal power plays in the Labor Party in Canberra, nor even the battle between Gillard and Abbott.
I am referring to the battle over the fundamental values and institutions of our society.
It is irrefutable that our values and institutions were largely shaped by what can be broadly termed Judeo Christian values. Religious freedom, marriage and family, and the sacredness of human life have provided the foundations enabling Western democratic societies to flourish and these values were almost universally held in Western Society.
But in the 1960s a revolution began to take place. What had been until then was accepted as a universal ethic began to be increasingly challenged. Those who no longer wanted to be bound by the traditional and universal ethic of old, began to flex their muscles firstly in academia. They of course taught our school teachers who then influenced our schools and the public policy arena and in turn our legislatures.
One person who made no secret of their goal to replace the long held ethics with something different, was the late Senator Lionel Murphy, who on retiring from politics, declared that his motivation for entering public life had been – and I quote: to remove the last vestiges of the Judeo Christian ethic from the fabric of our society.” That was in the 1970s.
Those who hold a world view that is incompatible with Judeo-Christian values have vigorously promoted their agenda via the media, the policy arena and via the legislatures of our nation.
The legalising of abortion on demand, the push to normalise homosexual conduct, and the push for euthanasia give an indication of the degree to which their world view is remoulding our society.
While those who hold that world view have increasingly dominated in academia and the public policy arena, those who hold to traditional views, have tended to retreat from the market place of ideas and have failed to engage vigorously or effectively in public policy debates. Instead they have retreated behind the walls of their faith communities and wrung their hands talking to one another about how bad the world has become.
This has given the forces that wish to remould our society the arrogant confidence that their opinions are the only ones that should be allowed to be published or promoted in the public arena. This arrogance plays out in their unashamedly trying to impose censorship on anyone who does not share their ideology. We see varying bullying tactics applied to anyone who dares to speak up for our traditional values.
We saw it in our own city of Perth in January 2012 when Margaret Court expressed the traditional Christian view of marriage – and the Gay & Lesbian lobby called for her to be stripped of her tennis titles. I recently attended the World Congress of Families in Sydney. NSW gay activist and now MP Alex Greenwich called on the NSW Government to censor the conference in case at this conference heretical views might be spoken.
Indeed, even someone within our public service recommended that this very book launch should not be allowed to proceed within this parliament building because they deemed its author, Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen too radical!
It turned out that the reason the Rabbi was deemed too radical to grace the corridors of this Parliament was on the grounds that he had given a speech which also appeared as a written an article in the Australian Family Association Journal (Vol 32, No 2, 2011) under the title : The homosexual “anti-bullying” program for schools: an unconscionable stratagem. In this article he challenged the validity of the a program that was being pushed into primary schools, which required children to be taught that homosexual practice is co normative with heterosexual practice – at a time when children hardly are thinking about sexuality yet. All that the Rabbi was doing was presenting a rational academic and common sense argument as to why this program was not about preventing bullying, but about trying to normalise homosexual behaviour to young children.
Hardly radical stuff. Indeed to be rationally arguing for the values that have given stability to our civilisation for 1000s of years is hardly radical.
Thankfully the Speaker of the House did not think it was radical either, and so we are able to be here today!
In a day and age where our society claims to be so tolerant, and wants to be multicultural, there is such intolerance towards that large segment of our community that holds to the traditional view of family and sexuality that has underpinned our civilisation for 1000s of years!
I think the time has come that we should start calling those who want to censor anyone who expresses the traditional views as being Christophobic and Judeophobic.
Those wanting to change the foundations of our society are so convinced of their own moral superiority, that they know what is best for society, and therefore need to protect the masses from hearing anyone speak who might challenge their views.
As I said before, those who hold to the traditional Judeo-Christian values had largely abandoned the battle ground of public policy.
But in recent years, that has changed. Those who want to move us away from our traditional values, are finally being challenged by a wide coalition of religiously based cultures. All these cultures hold to what might be called a universal ethic which has undergirded our civilisation since its ancient early beginnings .
One of those game changers is Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen.
Dr Cowen is the son of the former Australian Governor- General, Sir Zelman Cowen, and is the Director of the Institute for Judaism and Civilisation.
I have a 5 page Curriculum vitae for Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen, but I won’t bore you with reading that. Suffice it to say that Dr Cowen is very highly regarded in academic circles, having written some 5 books, edited various volumes of the Journal of Judaism and Civilization, and he has contributed countless articles to various journals.
He has recently written this book – entitled Politics and Universal Ethics.
This book, which I have not quite finished reading yet – is full of profound insights, yet it is eminently readable not only for academics, but also for the man in the street.
In this book Dr Cowen argues powerfully, drawing on a wide range of research, that it is to our society’s peril if we ignore the objective values or universal ethics which have moored civilisation for thousands of years.
You may not agree with everything that Dr Cowen writes in his book, but I am sure that all who read it with an open mind will agree that it is a very helpful, well researched and very articulate contribution to the debate of what values should guide us in shaping the laws that pass through this place, and every Parliament of our land.