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Respect our values or Leave

zipperhead_cop

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I just read this transcript, and thought it was a pretty straight forward bit of dialoge from a politician:


Australian Broadcasting Corporation

TV PROGRAM TRANSCRIPT

LOCATION: http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2005/s1444603.htm

Broadcast: 23/08/2005

Respect Australian values or leave: Costello
Reporter: Tony Jones


TONY JONES: On the morning of the Prime Minister's Islamic summit, Mr Howard was greeted by his Treasurer's surprising contribution to the debate on the front page of The Australian newspaper. The headline read: "Costello tells firebrand clerics to get out of Australia".

Well, early in the day Peter Costello was not suggesting that any of the firebrands be deported. But by the time he spoke to us, that notion appeared to have matured.

His latest intervention into topics of national interest comes only days after his speech to the Australian-American leadership dialogue in which he focussed on growing anti-Americanism in the world. "That phenomenon", he later told the Sunday program, "Can easily morph into anti-Westernism, which picks up and encapsulates Australia and threatens our interests as well."

So was he suggesting that our close relationship with America makes us more vulnerable to terrorist attacks? I spoke to Peter Costello in our Melbourne studio earlier this evening.

Peter Costello, thanks for joining us.

PETER COSTELLO: Good to be with you, Tony.

TONY JONES: Now, over the past 24 hours you've been repeating the notion that migrants, evidently Islamic migrants, who don't like Australia, or Australian values, should think of packing up and moving to another country. Is that a fair assessment?

PETER COSTELLO: What I've said is that this is a country, which is founded on a democracy. According to our Constitution, we have a secular state. Our laws are made by the Australian Parliament. If those are not your values, if you want a country which has Sharia law or a theocratic state, then Australia is not for you. This is not the kind of country where you would feel comfortable if you were opposed to democracy, parliamentary law, independent courts and so I would say to people who don't feel comfortable with those values there might be other countries where they'd feel more comfortable with their own values or beliefs.

TONY JONES: It sounds like you're inviting Muslims who don't want to integrate to go to another country. Is it as simple as that?

PETER COSTELLO: No. I'm saying if you are thinking of coming to Australia, you ought to know what Australian values are.

TONY JONES: But what about if you're already here and you don't want to integrate?

PETER COSTELLO: Well, I'll come to that in a moment. But there are some clerics who have been quoted as saying they recognise two laws. They recognise Australian law and Sharia law. There's only one law in Australia, it's the Australian law. For those coming to Australia, I think we ought to be very clear about that. We expect them to recognise only one law and to observe it.

Now, for those who are born in Australia, I'd make the same point. This is a country which has a Constitution. Under its Constitution, the state is secular. Under its constitution, the law is made by the parliament. Under its Constitution, it's enforced by the judiciary. These are Australian values and they're not going to change and we would expect people, when they come to Australia or if they are born in Australia, to respect those values.

TONY JONES: I take it that if you're a dual citizen and you have the opportunity to leave and you don't like Australian values, you're encouraging them to go away; is that right?

PETER COSTELLO: Well, if you can't agree with parliamentary law, independent courts, democracy and would prefer Sharia law and have the opportunity to go to another country which practises it, perhaps then that's a better option.

TONY JONES: But isn't this the sort of thing you hear in pubs, the meaningless populism you hear on talkback radio? Essentially, the argument is if you don't like it here, you should go back home.

PETER COSTELLO: No. Essentially, the argument is Australia expects its citizens to abide by core beliefs - democracy, the rule of law, the independent judiciary, independent liberty. You see, Tony, when you come to Australia and you go to take out Australian citizenship you either swear on oath or make an affirmation that you respect Australia's democracy and its values. That's what we ask of people that come to Australia and if they don't, then it's very clear that this is not the country - if they can't live with them - whose values they can't share. Well, there might be another country where their values can be shared.

TONY JONES: Who exactly are you aiming this at? Are you aiming it at young Muslims who don't want to integrate or are you aiming it at clerics like Sheikh Omran or Abu Bakr both from Melbourne?

PETER COSTELLO: I'd be saying to clerics who are teaching that there are two laws governing people in Australia, one the Australian law and another the Islamic law, that that is false. It's not the situation in Australia. It's not the situation under our Constitution. There's only one law in Australia. It's the law that's made by the Parliament of Australia and enforced by our courts. There's no second law. There's only one law that applies in Australia and Australia expects its citizens to observe it.

TONY JONES: But you're not moving to the next stage, as they have in Britain, of actively seeking out clerics who teach what they regard as dangerous philosophy to young Muslims and forcing them to leave the country?

PETER COSTELLO: The only thing I would say - and let me say it again - is we can't be ambivalent about this point. Australia has one law, Australia has a secular state and anybody who teaches to the contrary doesn't know Australia and anybody who can't accept that, can't accept something that is fundamental to the nature of our society.

TONY JONES: All right. But the situation now, as far as you're concerned, if they are to leave, it should be completely voluntary.

PETER COSTELLO: Well, I'm just saying if they object to a secular state with parliamentary law, there might be other countries where the system of law is more acceptable to them.

TONY JONES: Alright. Could that situation change? I mean, the voluntary nature of it at least, could you compel people to leave, including radical preachers, if there were a terrorist attack in Australia, as there was in London not so long ago?

PETER COSTELLO: Well, where a person has dual citizenship, Tony, it might be possible to ask them to exercise that other citizenship where they could just as easily exercise a citizenship of another country. That might be a live possibility.

TONY JONES: You mean to force them to leave?

PETER COSTELLO: Well, you could ask them to exercise another citizenship.

TONY JONES: But you would only do that if there were a terrorist attack in the aftermath of it. You wouldn't do it, for example, if there were a thwarted terrorist attack as ASIO has told us there has been in this country?

PETER COSTELLO: Well, I am not going into individual circumstances. I just make the point that where people have dual citizenship and they're not comfortable with the way Australia is structured, it may be possible to ask them to exercise their other citizenship.

TONY JONES: Forcibly?

PETER COSTELLO: Well, as I said, it may be possible to ask them to exercise their other citizenship.


I couldn't find if Mr. Costello was still the Treasury Dept.  Imagine that kind of straight talk here in Canada.  Half the GTA would have to be hospitalized from the "fits".
 

Edward Campbell

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Maybe it’s an age thing, I pretty much qualify as a grumpy WASPish senior citizen with all that implies, but Peter Costello’s comment that my edits “…this is a country, which is founded on a democracy. According to our Constitution, we have a secular state. Our laws are made by … Parliament. If those are not your values, if you want a country which has Sharia law or a theocratic state, then [this country] is not for you. This is not the kind of country where you would feel comfortable if you were opposed to democracy, parliamentary law, independent courts and so I would say to people who don't feel comfortable with those values there might be other countries where they'd feel more comfortable with their own values or beliefs.”  (That being said I deplore his sentence structure or, rather, lack of same.)

I need to state a few biases here.  I have lived and worked in many places on several continents; I believe that race and creed are useless in predicting brains or behaviour – black Africans and Arabs produce precisely the same proportion of geniuses, fools, saints and charlatans as do Europeans and Asians.  Culture (which is at the root of what Sam Huntington described as a Clash of Civilizations) is another matter; different cultures do, in my opinion, produce people with distinct, measurable differences in large scale civility* which might be described as how we view our society.  My personal experience indicates, to me, that democracy, for example, is easily transferred to any society but the foundations which make a modern, secular liberal (or conservative) democracy work – respect for the rule of law, respect for the rights of individuals and groups, ingrained beliefs in equality at law and the merit principle – are far more difficult to transfer; they may not be as natural as we think.  It may have taken our 16th, 17th and 18th century reformations and enlightenments in European (and their Asian equivalents) to make these attributes (is that the right word?) normal and natural.

I believe those civic attributes are acquired; they do not spring up, naturally from small scale (family/village) civility.  I think the processes of acquiring these civic attributes make each culture, indeed each country and even each province distinct.  Thus, I believe that while Québec, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Texas all share a large base of common European civic attributes each has built is own distinct civil society – none is better than the other but each is more comfortable for those who grew up in it.  It is easy, however for a Texan to move to the Netherlands and for a Québecer to move to New Zealand – the large scale civic “virtues’ are, essentially, the same.  Conversely, it is hard for a Somali or a Saudi to integrate into Oslo or Orillia, especially, as is increasingly the case, the citizens of, say, Atlanta, Brisbane or Copenhagen are unwilling to adapt their large scale (traditional, even ingrained) civic attributes to accommodate the special needs of the Somali or Saudi immigrant.

We can (and many Canadians pride themselves on their ability to) tolerate differences but, as I think I have mentioned before, tolerance is something of a back-handed ‘virtue’.  We tolerate that which, implicitly, is less desirable – if something is equal to our better than what we have we would do more than just tolerate it, we would accept or even embrace it.

We should be able to accord each person the degrees of privacy necessary to allow them to live according to their beliefs – so long as their beliefs do not intrude (markedly) into the privacy of others.  That extends to allowing religions to preach and proselytize when, as I believe is the case for both Christianity and Islam, that (spreading the gospel and converting other before it is too late) is central to one’s faith.  It does not extend to requiring others to adapt their social and political institutions in order to do more than tolerate and respect social privacy.

Tolerance and respect for social privacy must be sufficient unless and until the whole of society is ready to change itself.

Those who do not share our civility have a right, perhaps even a duty to tell us why we might be wrong and how and why we should change our ways.  Some of us might even listen.  Those who cannot accept the society into which they have migrated and which is unwilling to change to suit them must either accept their fate or move on.

I think Costello is right when he says: my edits ”I'd be saying to clerics who are teaching that there are two laws governing people [here], one the [national] law and another the Islamic law, that that is false. It's not the situation in [here]. It's not the situation under our Constitution. There's only one law [here]. It's the law that's made by [our] Parliament … and enforced by our courts. There's no second law. There's only one law that applies in [here] and [this country] expects its citizens to observe it.”

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* I am of the view that we all, regardless of race, creed, etc, share very, very similar small scale civility values: those related to family, friends, maybe even clan or village.  It is my belief that the sort of larger scale civility which produced classical Greece and Rome, classical and modern China and the European Renaissance and so on did not grow, naturally, out of the family and village.  I believe that European, South Asian and east Asian cultures had distinct events and actors which (who) sowed the seeds of our large scale civility.  The seeds were not sown equally, in time, space or density, and each sub-culture made different use of the product. 
 

GO!!!

Fallen Comrade
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Not knowing much about aussie politics, perhaps this Costello fellow is making a run at the leadership of a conservative or right wing party?
 

3rd Herd

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I quite enjoyed it. It is a simple straight forward statement. Obey the laws or leave. Given some of the problems Australia has been having with their Muslim neighbour to the north it could be read as a political warning not to try and mess with our domestic affairs. His comments about pan anti Americanism seem logical enough given we are often lumped in with our neighbours to the south. I seem to recall and if Westy is around they have been having some immigration issues for a number of years. In all a good reminder of the separation between church and state. To bad our politicians some times forget that.
 

Edward Campbell

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The current furor over the Danish cartoons falls, loosely, into this category.

In my opinion the original publication, in the Danish paper falls into the category of benign ignorance – we, most of, being human, are regularly ‘guilty’ of making benign errors, especially when dealing with cultures with which we are less than fully familiar.

I then note three reactions:

• Some Europeans, notably Le Monde (France) and Die Welt (Germany) take the view that their national laws which mandate secularism (witness the French ban on headscarves, etc) somehow require that they republish the offensive (we know that, now, don’t we?) cartoons, presumably, to prove the sanctity of the civil law;

• Other Europeans, notably the ever provocative British tabloids, decline to publish because, they say, they see no reason to give gratuitous offence to their (Muslim) readers – good manners, according to them;

• Still others – mostly North Americans, I think - decline to publish because ‘hate laws’ prevent them.  These declare, I guess, that they would be principled and rude if allowed.

I repeat that I share Mr. Costello’s views re: the (absolutely essential) supremacy of the national laws over sectarian rites and rituals; but I also repeat that I believe we are all entitled to (and have) a right to privacy which allows us (within some well understood, common law, limits) to preach and practice our own beliefs and which ought to extend to suggesting (but not requiring) that we be allowed to be Anglicans, Buddhists or Catholics down to Zoroastrians without suffering interference from or being gratuitously insulted by our compatriots.

On balance: the original Danish publisher made a benign error which Muslims, of “good faith” may deplore but which should be tolerated if not forgiven; the French and German newspapers have a right to publish but they are morally wrong to do so – good manners tells us that the UK tabloids are right.  Hate laws may prevent the Canadian papers from behaving badly but they are too high a price to pay for social peace.

 

Good2Golf

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+2 for Edward, one for each of his previous posts!

Duey
 

Kirkhill

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In general principle I agree with Edward but.....

Herewith a response that I posted on a blogsite pertaining to this issue.

I was of two minds on this controversy until I saw the BBC interview James Zogby of the Arab American Institute last night.

I don't think that the cartoons should have been created in the first place. I find the concept as objectionable as showing disrepect to Christians in Nebraska, Hindus in India, Buddhists in Thailand, Animists in Africa or Shintoists in Japan.

The keys to a functioning society are civility and politeness - concepts that were thrown out in the 1960's as hypocritical. However, without those to smooth the rough edges of discourse then the resulting friction generates heat and ultimately fire.

The cartoons should not have been created nor published because it would have been the polite thing, the civil thing to do: to show respect.

Having said that Zogby got up my nose. He opined that they should not have been published because of their consequences. Essentially he was suggesting that we should have known that it makes no sense to laugh at an armed, unstable man. The sensible thing to have done would be not to annoy him.

Frankly, I think that would have been a great example of doing the right thing for all the wrong reasons.

In the first instance that action is taken from a position of personal strength: I can but I won't because it's wrong.

In the second instance the action is taken from a position of personal weakness: I can but I won't because I'm afraid.

Zogby has just pushed the argument from a matter of morality to a challenge as far as I am concerned.

And in that case, I think that every paper in the world, bar none, should re-run those cartoons. Heck print them on sticky posters so that I can put them up in my front window.

If its a matter of pokey-chest - bring it on.

OK - so perhaps I am as guilty as the other guy of over-reacting to a slight but acting, or refusing to act out of fear of the consequences is just plain wrong.
 

zipperhead_cop

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Edward Campbell said:
I repeat that I share Mr. Costello’s views re: the (absolutely essential) supremacy of the national laws over sectarian rites and rituals; but I also repeat that I believe we are all entitled to (and have) a right to privacy which allows us (within some well understood, common law, limits) to preach and practice our own beliefs and which ought to extend to suggesting (but not requiring) that we be allowed to be Anglicans, Buddhists or Catholics down to Zoroastrians without suffering interference from or being gratuitously insulted by our compatriots.

I would agree to this in principle, but the problem is in the "within some well understood, common law, limits".  These special interest groups are constantly pushing for more legally protected rights that may end up affecting us all.  Maybe you live next door to a mosque.  No big deal, right?  Then one day they decide that it is their right to broadcast their calls to prayer, five times a day, at 100+ decibels.  Maybe your religious tolerance will be a bit diminished when your new born is woken by a howling guy in a tower every day, five times a day.  "But your Catholics have church bells, I don't like them either". 
Or who wants their municipal taxes to go up when the Islamic School Board in your area is established and has to build all new oriented-east schools?  "But the Catholics have their own school board?".
[BTW, I am Catholic neutral, just using them for reference]

If Canadians, collectively, don't mind this stuff, then it is just another "these times, they are a-changin'".  But if this bugs anyone, then people have to start getting on their elected Representatives to let them know that their own personal line is being crossed.  Don't expect the politicians of any party to just "do the right thing" if it has any whisper of political incorrectness or there is the ever so slightest chance that it will get spun into a "you are an intolerant racist".
 

Dare

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Edward Campbell said:
On balance: the original Danish publisher made a benign error which Muslims, of “good faith” may deplore but which should be tolerated if not forgiven; the French and German newspapers have a right to publish but they are morally wrong to do so – good manners tells us that the UK tabloids are right.  Hate laws may prevent the Canadian papers from behaving badly but they are too high a price to pay for social peace.
I do not think it is morally wrong to publish those cartoons. How often do Muslim controlled newspaper cartoons mock other religions and societies? This whole debacle reeks of hypocracy. Which generates more hate? A video of beheading an innocent human being, or a cartoon? Why should we let people who view the latter more hateful dictate our rules? These newspapers are free to print what they wish. If the horde wants to behead all Danes now, it should be the Danish governments responsibility, not to apologize, but protect freedom of speech. To stand up for what they value rather than bending to the will of foreign customs. No one forced anyone to buy those papers. "Hate crimes".. pfft. Those doodles don't even come close.

Bottom line: When I see the kinds of action taken against the Danes recently switched to the terrorists, I'll be impressed. Now at least no one can say that large masses of Muslims are unable to mobilize when they *truely* want to. The fact they haven't mobilised to this extent against those who supposedly perverting their religion may be a demonstration of what a real "hate crime" is.
 

zipperhead_cop

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Ohhh, kay...I don't know how the cartoon thing keeps coming up.  I was kind of just referring to our values in Canada.  I could kind of care less what the Danes do.  I find it kind of refreshing that some Euro-weenie country is taking heat for a change. 
The last Danish-cartoon threat got locked and warned off.  I am officially indicating that I am not trying to resurrect it. :salute:
 

Dare

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zipperhead_cop said:
Ohhh, kay...I don't know how the cartoon thing keeps coming up.  I was kind of just referring to our values in Canada.  I could kind of care less what the Danes do.  I find it kind of refreshing that some Euro-weenie country is taking heat for a change. 
The last Danish-cartoon threat got locked and warned off.  I am officially indicating that I am not trying to resurrect it. :salute:
I don't post enough to notice that there was a previously locked thread. Not trying to resurrect anything either.
 

Edward Campbell

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Dare said:
I do not think it is morally wrong to publish those cartoons. How often do Muslim controlled newspaper cartoons mock other religions and societies? …

It seems to me, Dare, that you are suggesting that we should adopt the moral standards of the Muslim street.  I disagree.  We know, because our cultural values – developed over 2,500 years – tell us, that giving gratuitous offence to others is morally* wrong; it may well be that other cultures do not share our moral values; that is no reason for us to change.  I agree that Muslim newspapers routinely run disgraceful anti-Semitic cartoons and propagate hateful anti-Semitic propaganda.  They are wrong, morally wrong to do so and we – people with enlightened values – should call them to account for their immoral actions; we should not emulate them.

This goes back to what I see as Mr. Costello’s central point: ” This is not the kind of country where you would feel comfortable if you were opposed to democracy, parliamentary law, independent courts and so I would say to people who don't feel comfortable with those values there might be other countries where they'd feel more comfortable with their own values or beliefs.”  He was talking about Australia but I repeat the same thing for Canada.

We may tolerate the attitudes of other cultures but that doesn’t mean that we agree with them and it certainly doesn’t mean that we would allow those attitudes to pervade our society.

I think you are right, however, when you say:
Dare said:
… Why should we let people who view the latter more hateful dictate our rules? These newspapers are free to print what they wish. If the horde wants to behead all Danes now, it should be the Danish governments responsibility, not to apologize, but protect freedom of speech. To stand up for what they value rather than bending to the will of foreign customs. No one forced anyone to buy those papers. "Hate crimes".. pfft. Those doodles don't even come close …

Maybe, with the exception of my contention that, in an enlightened society, morals ≈ good manners, we are in violent agreement.
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Moral = concerned with principles of right and wrong or conforming to standards of behaviour and character based on those principles
 

Shec

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And that's +3 for Edward Campbell.  Much wisdom complemented by an injection of common sense in his  obviously well thought out comments.    :salute:
 

SeaKingTacco

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Mr Campbell,
Excellent series of posts.  As always, you have crystalized this debate in my mind.

Have you ever considered running for national public office?
 

Bruce Monkhouse

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I'd vote for you Edward,....and unlike high-priced spin doctors I can be had for wings and beer at the Black Bear.... ;)
 

Jungle

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Add a plate of nachos in there... you can count me in !!!  ;)
 

48Highlander

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Edward Campbell said:
It seems to me, Dare, that you are suggesting that we should adopt the moral standards of the Muslim street.  I disagree.  We know, because our cultural values – developed over 2,500 years – tell us, that giving gratuitous offence to others is morally* wrong; it may well be that other cultures do not share our moral values; that is no reason for us to change.  I agree that Muslim newspapers routinely run disgraceful anti-Semitic cartoons and propagate hateful anti-Semitic propaganda.  They are wrong, morally wrong to do so and we – people with enlightened values – should call them to account for their immoral actions; we should not emulate them.

This goes back to what I see as Mr. Costello’s central point: ” This is not the kind of country where you would feel comfortable if you were opposed to democracy, parliamentary law, independent courts and so I would say to people who don't feel comfortable with those values there might be other countries where they'd feel more comfortable with their own values or beliefs.”  He was talking about Australia but I repeat the same thing for Canada.

We may tolerate the attitudes of other cultures but that doesn’t mean that we agree with them and it certainly doesn’t mean that we would allow those attitudes to pervade our society.

I think you are right, however, when you say:
Maybe, with the exception of my contention that, in an enlightened society, morals ≈ good manners, we are in violent agreement.
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Moral = concerned with principles of right and wrong or conforming to standards of behaviour and character based on those principles

If you truly beleive that being polite is part of "our" moral code, I respectfuly suggest that you must not have been paying attention to recent events.

One has only to look at the conduct of our politicians during the recent election campaign to realize that insults, lies, and misrepresentation of others is still a large part of our society.  Or, look at Carolyn Parish's reaction to "those American Bastards".  We've just shifted targets.  Instead of attacking other religions or races, we attack people based on political beleifs, and a large segment of our society sees nothing wrong with continualy insulting and belittling our souther neighbours.

Your post was very well written, and very nice and idealistic and warm and fuzzy.  But it doesn't live up to reality.  There's nothing polite about our society, we're just not as extreme as some others.
 

Brad Sallows

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Politeness is certainly a Canadian value, and Canadians are stereotyped by many others as a generally polite people.

48H has a point that politeness is not, however, a "Canadian Value".  Widespread loss of politeness and consideration of others in public discourse represents a shift in values.  As I've written before, however we may seek to evolve our values we must not lose the enabling values which got us to where we are today.
 

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Could it be that this "polite Canadian" persona is part of the problem?  I agree that there is really no need to go "eye for an eye" with the extremists on bad taste journalism (thats what the Toronto Star is for) and you will only generate grief with ripping on Muslim religion.  Ours (if we still consider ourselves more or less Christian based) is a religion of forgiveness.  Other religions require killing (remember Salman Rushdie?).  It's like dealing with a violent schizophrenic with turrets syndrome.  If they are shouting and swearing at you, there is really no point in doing the same back.  You know better. 
But the politeness is tying our hands, too.  It is this uber-polite mind set that has been the pointy end of the stick leading political correctness.  For a politician to come out and say "if you don't like how things run in our country, please feel free to make your way to another country" that would seem impolite, despite the fact that I believe that is the way that most of us feel.  Special interest groups rely on this soft handed approach so if someone even whimpers contrary to their views, all they have to do is scream "intolerance" or "racism" or "player hater" or whatever and people are cowed. 
Because who wants to seem impolite?
 

Edward Campbell

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48Highlander said:
If you truly beleive (sic) that being polite is part of "our" moral code, I respectfuly (sic) suggest that you must not have been paying attention

Your post … doesn't live up to reality.  There's nothing polite about our society, we're just not as extreme as some others.

Politeness or good manners or behaviour based on the principles of right or wrong is, indeed, a characteristic of our modern, secular, liberal, democratic society.  Some people, including e.g. John Ibbitson in his recently published The Polite Revolution (Toronto, 2005) mistakenly think it is a Canadian attribute; not so – it is, I suggest, a product of the enlightenment and a necessary component of most successful Western urban societies.

The tolerance (which, I repeat, is a rather back-handed virtue, being based on an implicit sense of superiority over those being tolerated) which might be the sine qua non of placid multi-cultural societies is, really, nothing more than the good manners which I content is based on a general acknowledgement of a right to personal privacy, which I suggest is part of our common law heritage.

The fact that some (many?) in our society behave badly now and again, more often than we would wish to be sure, is neither here nor there.  The overarching fact, I think, is that our society has institutionalized ‘good manners’ and, in many cases, adapted ‘good manners’ into everything from traffic laws to (harmful) hate crimes legislation – zipperhead_cop is correct when he says that, ”It is this uber-polite mind set that has been the pointy end of the stick leading political correctness.” It is possible to be too polite, to allow ‘good manners’ to get in the way of common sense.  Going back to the original point, I think Mr. Costello was refreshingly clear, direct and correct and I do not think he was rude or that breached some imaginary rules of multi-cult etiquette.  The key point is that while we need not be, should not be politically correct we should respect the privacy of others and, I would argue, that extends to not offering intentional gratuitous insults to others which is why I qualified the original Danish acts as being benign errors while I regard the actions of Le Monde and Die Welt as being unnecessarily and gratuitously insulting and, therefore, ill mannered and, ultimately, reduced to the lowest common cultural level.

I repeat: while, in my personal view, all people are equal in all things, the cultures which shape their attitudes and actions are unequal.  I posit that our enlightened, secular, liberal, democratic culture is ‘superior’ to most others in that it is best adapted to and most likely to prosper in the 21st century global village.  One of the attributes of our culture, one of the reasons we are ‘better’ is that we have institutionalized ‘good manners’ – we are polite because our moral code acknowledges that behaviour based on the principles of right or wrong is essential to the social peace and order which allows us to work together for out common good, etc.

We are polite because it is more efficient and productive (see Adam Smith, et al) to be polite, that is the reality of the West for the past 500 years – for about as long has ‘we’ have dominated the world.

 
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