I don’t want to comment directly on the horrific and tragic rape and murder of Eurydice Dixon in a Melbourne park in the early hours last Wednesday. It is so sad and beyond anything that words can convey. I want to comment first on the Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and second on women’s (so-called) rights.
Andrews is quite clearly stupid beyond the normal degree of stupidity that is increasingly evident among the political class. Among other inanities he reportedly broadcast this message to women:
“Go out with friends at night. Or don’t. Go about your day exactly as you intend, on your terms. Because women don’t need to change their behaviour. Men do.”
Apparently, “his comments have been met with a wave of approval online, with many women thanking him for his remarks.” They are simply deluded. He, on the other hand, is not only deluded but, much worse, recklessly irresponsible with the lives of others.
I am a father of two daughters. I can’t imagine ever advising them to go out alone where they liked and when they liked? That would be a form of abuse. No-one should be advised to be careless of their circumstances – least of all young women. The Victoria Police were right to advise women to be careful of their circumstances. This is one of the reported tweets, critical of the Victorian police, no doubt typical of many:
“Frankly I think Victoria Police should apologise for their victim-blaming and completely useless ‘advice’ following the murder of Eurydice Dixon. Don’t tell us to be more careful. Tell men they will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law if they choose to commit a crime!”
I don’t want to be too damning of this sentiment. It comes from an emotional and passionate place. But it is silly, and the premier of a state has a duty to steer the conversation towards a measured place. He has abjectly failed in that duty. And to say that men have to “change” is bordering on the deranged. Men do not commit atrocities on women. Monsters do. Men protect women from monsters. That’s their job and most try to do it as they are able and as circumstances allow.
Change men’s behaviour? Let us first fix the courts, judges and sentencing
so that monsters like Jill Meagher’s killer go to jail and stay there.
I don’t know whether men nowadays understand their protective role as acutely as once they did. As just one example, in the dead of night, you take the trouble to take or walk a woman family member or friend or colleague home or otherwise ensure she reaches a point of safety. Perhaps that masculine role bears reinforcing among boys in homes and in schools. It can’t do harm. But I suspect that this is not the kind of “change” envisaged by Andrews and his leftist ilk.
We hear a lot about women’s rights. Let’s be clear: A young woman may well have a so-called right to walk through a rough neighborhood, even a Muslim-dominated rough neighborhood, alone in the dead of night wearing a skimpy blouse and miniskirt. But, really, is it wise or sensible to do so? Just a guess. I doubt being armed with a printed copy of Premier Andrews’ exhortation to women to go where they please would daunt monsters.
In general, what does having a right mean? Unfortunately, it means zilch unless you personally have the means to enforce it or can rely on others to enforce it on your behalf. Try exercising your right of free speech in China to criticise Xi Jinping and see how far it takes you. For that matter, try being too critical of Islam in the UK. Try expressing doubts about climate change at an Australian university.
This whole business of rights is misconceived. Benefits are mistaken for rights. We have a right to universal healthcare, it is often said; to housing; to education for our children, to warmth in winter, to clean water, to nourishing food, to safety in our homes and streets, and so on and so forth. No, we don’t. We have no inalienable right to any of these things; and I include free speech. The description “rights” is a misnomer. These “rights” are benefits which individuals and societies have to earn and constantly tend. And even then, they can go up in a puff of smoke for any individuals who find themselves outside of the protective cordon.
I think it is worthwhile to take a leap to North Korea and to Oscar Warmbier. He allegedly stole a poster from his hotel. Consequently, he was mistreated to death. Surely his rights were abridged. Come back home. Pensioners who can’t afford heating bills on a cold night have their rights abridged. People not attended to as quickly as their injuries justify at public hospitals have their rights abridged. Anyone capriciously assaulted, beaten or killed has their rights abridged. But what is a right when it can be taken away by circumstances? It is an illusory and empty right.
To make some rights into a living reality, at least for most people, most of the time, we must keep working hard to maintain our economy and our culture. To maintain our right not to be assaulted and perhaps killed we all, as individuals — men and, yes, women — have to keep our wits about us. The world is not a safe place. And we have no means at all of making it safe. Monsters have always been around and always will be.