The incomparable Mark Steyn

Steyn in full flow

Steyn in full flow in Sydney last night

It was a privilege to hear Mark Steyn speak last night at the SMC function centre in Goulburn Street, Sydney.

The banqueting hall was full with over 600 fans, to hear Mark discuss freedom of speech and its gradual erosion by cowardice and political correctness.

Mark is a great orator and is genuinely funny as well as incisive – a killer combination. He poked fun at the hysterical reaction to comments made by Professor Tim Hunt, who was crucified by the ranks of the perpetually offended for making inopportune remarks in a speech about women in laboratories.

Mark made the clever point that Hunt had made a comment about women getting emotional and upset, in response to which… women then got emotional and upset. Um…

On a more serious note, he recalled that at the 10 year anniversary of the Danish Muhammad cartoons in Copenhagen earlier this year, he was surprised to be listed as top of the bill. Surprised, that is, until he realised that everyone else that had been there at the 5 year anniversary was either dead or in hiding.

His message was that we all need to share the risk and responsibility of standing up for western values and freedoms. The reason Charlie Hebdo and Jyllands Post were singled out was because they were pretty much the only media outlets to print cartoons of Muhammad. All the other newspapers and websites had scuttled away into the bushes to hide, leaving Charlie and JP as sitting ducks.

If every newspaper and website in the world had printed them, he argued, the risk would have been shared and therefore reduced. As he pithily put it “They can’t kill us all”.

He said it was the responsibility of all of us to stand up for our beliefs and not be cowed by the social justice warriors.

At the end there was an opportunity for questions, with Mark, Chris Kenny and Rowan Dean. I was able to catch John Roskam’s eye and pose a question that has exercised my mind for a long time.

Whilst it is all very well to stand up for western values and freedom of speech, how in practical terms can this be done, given that speaking out about the dogmatic issues of our time: climate change, gay marriage, Islamic immigration, can be literally career-ending moves. I said that I wrote two blogs, but wouldn’t put my name to them for fear of being ostracised (or worse) in my career.

Rowan suggested that I have the courage to put my name to my blogs. I challenged him afterwards on this point, since unlike him, I do not earn my living from writing, and do not have the luxury of losing my job. I don’t think anyone really has an answer to this point.

It was a great event, and the IPA should be congratulated for the work it does bringing such high profile speakers to Australia.


  1. Bakunin of Barton says:

    Good to have a face put to Australian Madness last night.

    I have been a fan of Mark for many years but it was a truly remarkable to see him in full flight.

    Keep up the good work, Madness!


  2. Lucky bugger…….been watching Mark’s videos & FOX NEWS appearances for years. Did you see him on the show I love to hate this week?


  3. Not too impressed with this John Roskam character whoever he is. I too run a blog and truthfulness obliges me to be very rude about both the perfect man and his boss so I don’t go advertising it in Tower Hamlets. Nevertheless my irrational concern about throat cutting is only number 4 or 5 on my list of reasons for not sticking my name on the top. Number one is that I don’t feel inclined to be any kind of a martyr for a generation that can’t be arsed, and which in fact seems madly intent on throwing our great civilisation away. As a matter of fact this is mostly how I feel about the whole business:

    Good luck to you anyway. I enjoy your blog and I don’t think you should be too concerned about invitations to put a target on your back. Waving a red flag is enough.


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