“The greatest horrors of our world, from the executions in Iran to the brutalities of the IRA, are committed by people who are totally sincere.”
1. Mr B’s propensity to give his grasshoppers 4 minutes to speak, and then answer questions, seems to have become a habit. Today’s extra speakers were the usual suspects: Albert, Jean, Mirko, Rhonda and Helmut.
Helmut was asked to speak about his days of being a professional wrestler in Sydney. He explained how he had wrestled as Helmut Rommel for more than three years, having 167 matches. How many did he win? There was no point in asking him, given that the winners were decided beforehand, he explained. No match did not have a pre-determined outcome. He told us what he was paid. He gave anecdotes. He was required to be a good guy, which he thought was stupid. After all, Germans were the bad guys in those days. (He is Austrian, it must be noted.)
Helmut also spoke of the bodybuilding world and its scandals, and that was interesting too.
2. The best work of the Higher School Certificate art students from NSW high schools (public and private) is being displayed in the NSW Art Gallery, directly opposite Speakers’ Corner. The speaker claimed that some of that art work is far better than much of the rubbish the gallery owns and displays.
There was hum of agreement, and Mr B was in danger of launching into his regular diatribe against the gallery. Thankfully he was distracted, and the audience were spared another dose.
3. It was asked, is this sign below racist? (The owner of a Melbourne milk bar stuck this sign to his window.)
For the sake of the argument we assumed that the ‘black’ kids of that age were indeed stealing. The following questions were asked:
(1) Could the ban simply be a financial move?
(2) What about the fact that the shopkeeper is only prohibiting 14 to 18 year olds? Older ‘blacks’ are welcome? Does that change our perspective?
(3) What if the shop owner didn’t include Sudanese kids, only Aboriginal kids? Or vice versa? (In other words, skin colour wasn’t an issue.)
(4) What if the shop owner was white, and he found that only white skinned youths of that age stole, and he prohibited only them? Would he be racist?
(5) What if the shop owner was Sudanese and he was only banning Sudanese teenagers of that age?
(6) What if the shopkeeper knew some of the black kids and trusted them, and made them exceptions?
(7) What if there is a gang of young white kids, aged from 14 to 18, and they all wear a blue bandana to show they’re in the gang. To stay in the gang they’re expected to steal, and they steal from the shopkeeper regularly. What if the white shopkeeper put up a sign that said: ‘Members of the blue bandana gang are prohibited’? Does that mean he has a prejudice against the colour blue? Does it mean he has a prejudice against bandanas? Or a prejudice against blue bandanas? Or does he have a prejudice against teenagers who choose to wear blue bandanas? Does he have a prejudice at all?
(8) For those of you who still think the sign is racist: let’s say the shopkeeper is obliged to pull down the sign and as a consequence loses $1,000 a year, every year, to theft. Would you be prepared to reimburse him?
Discussion was vibrant.
4. The Something Nice segment. To charm some and irritate others.
5. A few months ago Mr B explained why there is no such thing as a Scotsman (or Swede, Tongan, Aborigine, Jew etc.) He even made a video of the talk which has resoundingly been ignored. The video below expresses the same sentiment, but says it much better. Lift your game, Mr B.
6. Other topics discussed:
– Waterlogged homes in Wooloomooloo prompted a discussion about the merits of housing developers using their own inspectors to self regulate.
– Mr B railed against the idea that someone could be charged with ‘blasphemy’, and he expressed concern about the idea of people voting for a candidate simply because that candidate shared their faith. He would prefer that people vote for the person they think is best for the nation.
– Peter the Younger read another pleasing John Clarke poem, and then the group discussed Mary Gilmore’s poem, ‘The House’. Its reception was lukewarm at best, with Mark The Grinner being genuinely distressed.
– Bad statistics. To say that you’re nine times likely to be killed by a bee than a shark is a gross misrepresentation of the facts, Mr B claimed, indignant.