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A Test of Character

Gary JohnsMay 14, 2024

According to the Department of Home Affairs, you must be of good character to visit or live in Australia. This means you must meet the character requirements and remain of good character.

Enter Graham Linehan, author of comedic sitcom successes Father Ted, Black Books, and The IT Crowd. I had the pleasure of his company during his recent visit to Australia at the invitation of the Free Speech Union. The dates and venues of his appearances were kept secret for fear of interruption from transsexual activists. Graham, who describes himself as a ‘good little leftie’, was granted a visa, it seems, under sufferance.

In an interview with Andrew Bolt, he said ‘Anytime I used humour in the past to speak about a political issue … it was never a problem, but as soon as I came for men who identify as women, they were considered holier even than priests.’

Recipients of a Temporary Activity visa are reminded that the visa is subject to the following condition (among others), ‘the holder must not become involved in activities disruptive to, or violence threatening harm to, the Australian community or a group within the Australian community.’

Who was Linehan threatening? No-one. But, as he explained, trans rights only became an issue when they negatively affected women’s rights. ‘It’s that simple.’ He had been viciously harassed by the transsexual/transgender lobby in the UK for years, so much so that he lost his brilliant career. Moreover, pathetic colleagues and people in power - who lacked character -wilted from keyboard bullies.

Graham wrote in his recent memoir, A Tough Crowd, that ‘transsexuals suffered terribly because of a disconnect between how they saw themselves and how the world saw them, and it was impossible not to sympathise. Your heart goes out to anyone who suffers from so debilitating a condition that they take drastic steps – often life-shortening, always irreversible – using surgery and pharmaceuticals, to bring reality into line with a vision of themselves ...’

I cannot see the threat in those sentiments. I can see the threat in students (on visas) that I observed campaigning for the destruction of Israel at the University of Melbourne, where I attended a rally in solidarity with Jewish students and wandered into the heart of the Gazan outpost with its ‘From the River to the Sea’ chants, now all too familiar to Australian ears. I wonder if they have come to the attention of the Character and Cancellation Branch of the Department of Home Affairs?

Linehan’s first encounter with trans rights activists was at a pro-abortion rally with his wife. His observation was that the abortion battle was a fight that women were winning on their own, and men ‘shouldered their way in’.

The campaign was successful, and Ireland voted to overturn the abortion ban. Amnesty Ireland tweeted, a victory for ‘pregnant people’. Linehan was enraged. His wife was not a ‘pregnant person’; she was a woman and a mother. ‘After a century of Irish women’s suffering, Amnesty Ireland had decided to spit in their face by removing them from the scene of their greatest victory.’

His best observation goes to character. ‘When the history of these years is written, it’s not only the extremist activists who will be recalled with revulsion but also the spineless corporate figures who never even attempted to resist them.’

And the power was extraordinary. Linehan had nearly 900,000 followers on Twitter, but he was taken down as a result of the vilification from trans activists. On Wikipedia, if he amended his entry to read ‘campaigner for women’s rights’, within fifteen minutes, it would revert to ‘anti-transgender activist.’

‘The most extreme voices are finding it too easy to steer others who are less certain about their opinions, who desire to be told what the right thing to do is so they can go and do it. … They are busy people who are nevertheless well-meaning.’

From Vice-chancellors to CEOs to HR hacks, and those who happily announce their pronouns at meetings or flaunt their ‘lived experience’ (is there any other?) ‘giddy on the power afforded them by this simple religious observance, one which allows mediocre people to exercise outsize power in a workplace.’

So much is happening in Australia and the West because too many leaders fail the test of character.

Gary Johns is chair of Close the Gap Research.

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