Speaking on Cancel Culture at Friedman

The following article from Spectator Australia

Last weekend, Sydney played host to the Friedman conference where politicians, centre-right activists, and writers – including many Speccie contributors – came together to talk about ‘freedom’. It is an idea that has suffered a nasty beating during the Covid years and it is set to be injured again as Australia moves into ‘the new normal’.

We see people being ‘cancelled’ all the time, particularly in America, but Australia has its own version of ‘Cancel Culture’. Who would have thought twenty years ago that speaking in defence of liberty would leave a black mark on your career? 

Would it surprise you to know that in 2019 Barack Obama decried Cancel Culture and Woke politics? It surprised me, as my experience of Cancel Culture is driven by the Left – although I know the Right is guilty of it too.

In his book Cancel This Book: The Progressive Case Against Cancel Culture, human rights lawyer and free speech advocate Dan Kovalik argues that Cancel Culture is basically a giant self-own – a product of progressive semantics that causes the Left to cannibalise itself.

‘Unfortunately, too many on the Left, wielding the cudgel of “Cancel Culture”, have decided that certain forms of censorship and speech and idea suppression are positive things that will advance social justice. I fear that those who take this view are in for a rude awakening,’ Kovalik writes.

As a fresh recruit from Victoria Police, young and eager to make a difference and incredibly proud to be of service, I focused myself and worked hard to be a good police officer.

To me, that meant respecting the position of power that I found myself in. As a tax-paying public servant, I set out to treat all people equally – except perhaps the odd misogynist arsehole who refused to speak to a female police officer. It was a role that allowed me to enjoy many careers wrapped into one, which is part of the benefit of working for Victoria Police.

I worked front line operational policing – responding to 000 calls, driving fast cars, talking people off ledges, talking weapons out of people’s hands, comforting victims and dressing wounds, delivering death messages, responding to deceased persons, and investigating suicides and other non-homicidal causes of death for the coroner.

I carved a career in intelligence analysis, achieved my degree, and worked with the Northern Territory police for six months, contributing to high-level strategic intelligence documents that paved the way (ironically now) for firearm policy reform in the Northern Territory (and not the way Libertarians in reading this would have liked!).

I came back to Victoria Police, became a supervisor of others in front-line policing, before being put in charge of the family violence command task force intelligence unit. I redesigned how Victoria Police assessed the worst family offenders in the state, so we could address recidivism and perpetrators getting away with crime. I ran another firearms project in conjunction with Crime stoppers, which was so successful that pilot was taken back to Northern Territory to be rolled out there as a flagship intelligence model for future Crime stoppers gun amnesty campaigns. I got the opportunity to do so much more but you can read all about it on my Linked in profile.

was the Left…

I did and supported all the traditional ‘left things’ in Victoria Police. I was an LGBTQ+ ally. I did welcome to country. I used she/her pronouns. I ran and supported events on International Woman’s Day, IDAHOBIT Day, Pride Month, and the list goes on. I worked for the most leftwing department of the entire organisation – under Daniel Andrews ex-chief of staff – at Gender Equality and Inclusion Command. I did these things from the belief that inclusion and respect are good things, and that all people should feel included.

Then Covid hit.

I watched as the leaders around me adopted policy and process (both within Victoria Police and the government) that was in such opposition to what I believed Left ideology to be that it left me dumbfounded.

As a police officer, I knew it was my duty and job to protect and support vulnerable people in society, marginalised people – the disabled, homeless, troubled youths, those suffering, and those suffering from mental health conditions. Yet the state government’s response to Covid entailed a vicious attack on all of those people and my organisation was the one task to lead that attack…

And we did it.

We didn’t push back. We didn’t say ‘no’. We didn’t demand police autonomy to respond differently. No one spoke up.

Then things got worse.

You’ve probably seen Topher Field’s Battleground Melbourne, you saw what happened at the hands of Victoria Police.

I spoke out. If you’ve seen my full interview with Matt Wong I’d be interested to know your take. I thought I was measured. I thought I provided balance. I thought I represented Victoria police fairly. But regardless, I knew the consequences of my actions, and I resigned. But I didn’t think it would be a death knell on future career prospects.

After I quit I jumped pretty quickly into campaigning to support David Limbrick’s Liberal Democrats bid for Federal Senate. I’d had a job since I was 14 and 9 months, and I didn’t know anything but forging ahead, so I went headway into that, feeling sure that the right job would come along.

As I wrote earlier in The Spectator Australia, it was from there that I got ‘cancelled’.

Cancelled from earning a living doing what I do best. Cancelled for calling out wrong-doing. Cancelled for challenging a system that was harming people, and asking it to be better.

Dan Kovalik was right about the Left, but not about their desire to cancel everything now for social justice – for if that was the case they would have cannibalised Daniel Andrews for his complete lack of social justice in his response to Covid.

Rather, I think the Left are now focused on cancelling social justice in the name and guise of social health.

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