Jason Morrison on freedom of religion

Jason Morrison is a presenter for Sydney radio station 2GB, and he has a regular slot on the Sunrise program with Neil Mitchell. On Wednesday morning, he expressed his view on Pauline Hanson’s intention to not sell her house to a Muslim buyer. Note that this transcript was taken from a dodgy online clip, so may not be completely verbatim:

JASON MORRISON: I do care about who moves in, I care like anyone in a neighbourhood who ends up in the place that I’m at. And look I imagine if we substitute the word that she’s chosen there – “Muslim” for “developer”, people would say “oh, good for her, she’s stopping”…

Look she can make her own judgements – I don’t necessarily agree with that, but hey uh, this woman has principles.

NEIL MITCHELL: [starts interjecting]

JASON MORRISON: They might be obnoxious principles, they might be things that Neil you find despicable or whatever else, but at least she’s putting her- not just her heart where it is but she’s actually saying here, look “money where the mouth is” – she’s actually saying I wouldn’t sell. If the offer is there, I wouldn’t sell. I mean I think its silly, but that’s- she’s got the money and everything to do it.

NEIL MITCHELL: But if you’re refusing to sell to a developer, it’s because of what they’re going to do on that block – to build something. How can you disqualify someone on the basis of their religion? It’s immoral. You can’t do it – its just wrong.

JASON MORRISON: But, but, see- Neil, you miss it. It’s her house. I- I find what she is suggesting to be wrong – I wouldn’t have that kind of level of principle, but it’s her house. She can make that choice. I mean-

NEIL MITCHELL: It will be interesting to see whether she can. Theoretically, you might be right, but is she in fact liable for some sort of action under anti-discrimination legislation – I don’t know if anybody would want her house, but-

JASON MORRISON: She could reject the offer.

What a load of uninformed flim-flam dressed up as reasoned argument.

For the record, Mitchell’s rejoinder towards the end appears on the money. Acting Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Neroli Holmes has confirmed her view that any discrimination against buyers on religious grounds would put Hanson at risk of breaching the state’s anti-discrimination legislation.

In other words, it is highly likely that Morrison’s purported position, as expressed above, is not only discriminatory, but at odds with Queensland law.

So does Jason Morrison believe in freedom of religion, or not?

It is the farewell kiss, you dog?

With the United States on the threshold of a fresh new political era, it’s probably fair to say that interest in American politics is at an all-time high amongst the hoi polloi. Even Kochie and Mel, those partially unwitting boosters of Australia’s Prime Minister, are kickstarting their day at 3AM this Wednesday morning to celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama. Obama, unfortunately for the Democratic Party, is on a fifth day wicket. The economic situation is dire, and expectations are positively evangelical. Expectations can do terrible things to a politician, and it goes without saying that the coming Obama Administration is probably going to turn out a little more like the second coming of the Clinton Administration than the Second Coming. With a bit of luck though, and a little bit of visionary razzle dazzle, President Obama will keep the majority of his supporters with him during his first term in office, four years that will no doubt present a few challenges beyond even this charismatic Senator from Chicago.

As the Obama Administration begins and the Bush Administration draws to a merciful close, we might well reflect upon one more little footnote to this very American story. Muntazer al-Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist who hurled his shoes at a surprisingly agile President Bush last month in Baghdad, is seeking asylum in Switzerland after being charged with “aggression against a foreign head of state during an official visit”, a charge that apparently can result in up to 15 years imprisonment under Iraqi law. One would have to think that any prospective penalty for al-Zaidi would be significantly less than the maximum penalty, given the rather bemusing nature of the attack, but the track record of the Bush Administration and its allies on justice issues leaves lingering doubts in one’s mind.

When the natural moral order of things has been dismantled, and humankind’s most self-evident rules of right and wrong have been obscenely violated by a cabal of individuals at the centre of power, one can feel all of a sudden that the normal carriage of justice could run riotously off the rails anywhere, at any time. There may be Islamic terrorist groups out there acting like unconscionable barbarians – and they are to be unequivocally condemned – but I’m not sure the Western political tradition has done itself very proud in recent years by shifting its methods and motives by inches in a sometimes similar direction. Probably the top priority of President Barack Obama in a foreign policy sense is going to be returning his nation to the moral high ground that the world so desperately needs the United States to be standing on.