Sunday, April 14, 2024
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Bold Bettina blasts back at the bullies


The way to respond to social justice warrior intimidation is not to give in, not to apologise when accused falsely, not to take it on the chin and remain silent. The way to respond is to go forward, especially if you can use their weapons against them. Step up to the plate, Bettina Arndt.

Although born in England, Arndt is an archetypal old-school Aussie; the expression ‘to hold back’ is missing from her dictionary, as some of the students at Sydney University are finding out.

Arndt is a sex therapist, journalist and clinical psychologist. She has served on a number of committees advising the Australian government on policy matters. However it is not her work with the Family Law Pathways Advisory Group, the National Advisory Committee on Ageing, the Assisted Reproductive Technologies Review Team or the Child Support Review Reference Group which caused the riot squad to be called out to Sydney University.

Arndt has just begun a ‘Fake Rape Crisis Campus Tour’ of Australian universities. She is determined to expose the misleading feminist campaign promoting the fiction that the universities are not safe places for young women to study.

In response to an invitation from the Sydney University Liberal Club asking Arndt to speak, university Wom*n’s Officers (yes, this is how they style themselves) Jessica Syed and Madeline Ward sprang into action.

The students saw Arndt’s appearance at Sydney University as an opportunity to encourage other universities to demonstrate and eventually derail the tour.

One tweet distributed by the Wom*n’s Collective read: ‘Angry about Arndt? Come to the protest at 6pm tomorrow evening and show Sydney University Liberal Club that we won’t stand for misogyny and rape denial on our campus.’ It was effective: a baying mob turned up attempting to prevent Arndt from speaking.

The university authorities, having learned from the example of their American peers, were charging the cost of security to the Liberal Club students.

This tactic is seen as an attempt by the university authorities to stop an event from taking place by putting an onerous financial burden on a small student group. In effect it enables rioters and punishes those who believe in free speech.

It is evident that this was the underlying intention when, despite charging the Liberal Club for a full security presence, the university provided only one security guard.

In spite of his best efforts to ensure a safe passage for Arndt and the attendees the lone guard was overwhelmed by the vehement student protesters. They initially succeeded in preventing Bettina and her audience from reaching the venue, History Room s223.

Arndt herself called the police who finally enabled her to enter the room and give her talk to about forty people.

This was an unpleasant incident which is pretty much par for the course at universities whenever a conservative wishes to say something outwith the restricted speech codes enforced in educational institutions. It is apparently important that students be guarded from hearing alternative ideas contrary to the established line.

Fortunately, it didn’t end there. The university and students picked the wrong speaker to try to intimidate.

The university’s demand for payment by the Liberal Club has been met, partially funded by Arndt’s Fake Rape Crisis Campus Tour. She has responded by writing to the university Vice Chancellor asking for that money to be refunded to the Liberal Club students.

This would be as far as most would go. Not the bold Bettina. She has gone further by making a formal complaint to Vice Chancellor Michael Spence against Jessica Syed, Madeline Ward and three other named protest organisers for breaching the University’s Code of Conduct and Bullying and Harassment policies, and is asking for disciplinary action against them.

These policies contain guidelines such as: ‘Staff and affiliates are encouraged to engage in debate on matters of public importance’. There is an expectation that those at the university ‘act fairly and reasonably, and treat students, staff, affiliates, visitors to the University and members of the public with respect, impartiality, courtesy and sensitivity’.

Arndt has provided the University with extensive video evidence of the named students breaking University policy. Included in the complaint are witness statements from members of her audience who were abused and harassed by the mob.

It is doubtful if the university authorities will do any more than say ‘tut tut’ and give the deniers of free speech a slight tap on the wrist. But Arndt’s action could affect all Australian educational institutions.

Prompted by her clash with Sydney University, Australia’s new Education Minister Dan Tehan is proposing that protesters should have to pay for security rather than the victims of their mob actions.

We may not like doing it, but the only way to resist fascistically inclined deniers of free speech is to stand up to them and fight back.

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Dr Campbell Campbell-Jack
Dr Campbell Campbell-Jack
Campbell is a retired Presbyterian minister who lives in Stirlingshire. He blogs at A Grain of Sand.

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