Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 21, No. 10. August 6, 1958
Study (?) Week
—From the name of the period Study Week, it would seem to be the opportunity for students to consolidate their work. If this is so it is surely reasonable that the 50 to 60 students using the library at this time would have the full use of the University's facilities. This, unfortunately, is not the case since the cafe is closed during the period. It is very inconvenient, since it is otherwise necessary to go down to the Quay.
From a student's point of view it would seem possible that some arrangement could be arrived at with the management of the cafe.
J. H. Dransfield.
Full or Part-Time?
—While your contributor R.S.L. ("Salient", No. 7, page 1) no doubt means well, he is ignoring a number of facts. While everyone, I am sure, would agree that the ideal is that all students should be full time and that all citizens capable of benefitting themselves and the community with higher education should be able to become full-time students; nevertheless, we must face the fact that in the majority of cases only those students whose parents can afford to provide them with the everyday material needs can indeed become full-time students. Admittedly if a student has a sufficiently strong constitution and can find sufficiently remunerative employment in the vacations he can support himself as a full-time student. No one would claim that this was a desirable arrangement and the majority just could not stand the double drain on their energies, so unless higher education is to become the monopoly of a privileged class we must accept part time study until such time as the University is able to supply cheap or free living accommodation for deserving students. R.L.S. might also care to ponder the situation of those such as myself who, unable to enjoy the privilege of a University education in their youth may now do so in the midst of their family obligations because of the part-time system.
B. C. Walsh.
What Price Catholicism?
—Mr. R. Price's somewhat belated effort to refute statements made in an earlier letter of mine, is mainly notable for what it does not say; his lengthy effusion is a masterpiece of evasion, and attempts to conceal a lack of factual argument under a mass, of unconvincing propaganda. Indeed, so engrossed is he in annihilating my claims, that he manages to achieve the exact opposite.
His letter ignores my fundamental contention—that the Church of Rome exists primarily as a political organisation, and is unscrupulous in obtaining its desired ends. In fact, he tacitly (if unwittingly), admits as much by saying: "The Church's purpose is primarily other-worldly ..." What, then, may I ask, are its other purposes, and how can anybody existing for the "salvation of souls" possibly be justified in the vigorous and wholehearted participation in the realm of politics that characterises the Roman Church?
Casuistic bickering over differences between the "form of government" and "its purpose and methods' may sound well on paper, but even Mr. Price cannot honestly believe that these two are anything but inseparable in practice: they stand or fall together, and I must here reiterate my former statement that the Pope at no time objected to Fascism or Nazism unless his own particular interests were being adversely affected; at all other times he co-operated with Hitler and Mussolini enthusiastically and to his fullest extent.
The Pope attacked Mussolini's indoctrination of the children solely because he much preferred that they should have his own particular brand of political totalitarianism and absolutism pumped into them; he viewed bigoted Catholics much more favourably than bigoted Fascists, and the present flourishing condition of the Italian Communist Party does at least indicate that the Pope was fully alive to the possibilities of Italy turning away from Catholicism.
The Papal complaints about Nazism could be construed as an attack on almost anything or everything, but they were nothing more than a reprimand to Hitler for trespassing on the domains of the Church.
I thus render my thanks to Mr. Price for so ably (though, perhaps, unintentionally), supporting my earlier statement that the Pope only objected to Fascism when it inconvenienced the ambitions of his Church, and take this opportunity of reminding him that he has not managed to show any Papal condemnation of the countless acts of Fascist aggression and brutality, which was the basis of the original issue over the Papal encyclicals. Nor has he explained why the Pope hailed Mussolini as "a man sent by Divine Providence", a statement that more than justifies my associating the Pope with Mussolini (as they were in fact associated) over the tragedy in Spain.
R. G. Hall.
[Subject to a reply by Mr. R. Price, this correspondence is now closed.—Ed.]
—As a "fool"-time student who has studied closely the female form at Victoria, I feel I must protest against Ivor Grudge, who complains at the dress of Victoria's women students. I have noticed that the women around "Vic" who are the most smartly dressed are also the wickedest looking and it is understandable that they should attempt to make up the leeway.
Ivor Grudge presumes that the reason why women attend University is to get a man. May I inform her she is wrong; they are here to have a "damned" good time.
Also if she thinks that being smartly dressed is the way to catch a man she is wrong. My psychology notes say that it is basically the sex-drive that makes marriages and thus it is not the clothes a girl wears that matters, but what she's got underneath them.
Anyway, if 90% of Victoria's men students (excluding part-timers to whom the money drive is more powerful than sex) can dress like slobs, why shouldn't the women?
Judaism and Christianity
—I would ask you to consider allotting me as much space to refute your ill-founded article on the Old Testament prophets, as you saw fit to display Mr. Kelliher's abysmal ignorance of Judaism.
It appears that it never occurred to Mr. Kelliher that the Old Testament is basically and irrevocably a philosophical and historical product of a people who show "no tendency toward philosophical speculation." That it was preserved for Christianity by a people who had learnt from human experience that all societies have their black sheep that must be shown their waywardness, never occurs to him. Nor in his crowded mind does there seem any realisation of the historical context in which the prophets speak. In all cases, as a matter of historical record, if Mr. Kelliher can spare the time to check, he will find that the prophets were crying out against the unholy political alliances that were being made by some of the more corrupt leaders of the people of Israel, and the influx of non-Jewish, i.e., gentile, ideas into a relatively well adjusted society.
To suggest that the Jews were only given up to the "ceremonial cults of religion" is a slur on Mr. Kelliher's own particuar hybrid of religion.
The Jews, sir, were the Semites, who gave their "genius for monotheism" to Mr. Kelliher's friends and relations. It was not the Jews who invented the doctrine of the Trinity.
As to his suggestion that the prophets were "lowly herdsmen"—nonsense! Jeremiah was the son of Hilkiah, one of the priestly family (Jer. 1, v. 1); Isaiah was obviously well known in court circles; Ezekiel was a priest; Zachariah was the grandson of Iddo, a lesser known prophet. This is not to say anything of the royal blood that flowed in the veins of some of the minor prophets. Moreover, to be a herdsman or occupant of any other trade or profession was a necessity 6f life among the children of Israel, unless one was of royal blood.
"The Jews were angered at the prophets' emphasis on morality"—on what, pray, is this statement based? Is it because the prophets were upset that a section of the people would not immediately accept the castigation? Has the Christian Church no sinners? Shades of Mr. Nordmeyer and the 1958 Budget! Remember, sir, it was the Jews who preserved this monument of morality and ethical code as an example for themselves, if not for the rest of the world.
It was the Jews, 3000 years before the British Empire got round to thinking about it, who insisted on the freeing of slaves. It was the Jews who condemned human sacrifice to a world who knew nothing better, or is not the story of the non-sacrifice of Isaac taught in Christian theology? They gave the world the Ten Commandments (contrary to popular opinion it was not a Cecil B. de Mille original). Whether Mr. Kelliher knows it or not, the Jews were preaching "love thy neighbour" a long time before the Greek word "Christ" became a popular expletive.
But what can one expect from somebody who believes that Asian religions are, or were, unethical? The Jews, by the way, have made no claims to Asia nor did the Babylonians. Has he never read the more enlightened words of Budda or Confucius? Perhaps he is unaware of their existence. Certainly his geography is about as accurate as his theology.
What evidence is there of social oppression by Jews? How can he accuse a people of sexual immorality when, had the Hebrews not cried out against it (I can hear the echoes of "spoilsports") Mr. Kelliher would be able to enjoy the orgies of adultery and fornication without a twinge of conscience? Perhaps a people who developed the doctrine of an "eye for an eye" to put a stop to senseless killing for minor crimes, and also set up three cities of refuge to which people could flee to save their lives, was unnecessarily cruel? Mr. Kelliher is looking for twentieth century "humanism" in an age when the nearest thing to an atom bomb was a bolt from the blue.
Mr. Kelliher's near progenitors were still burning humans for heresy whatever that might mean (wasn't Thomas Aquinas of sainted memory almost declared a heretic?)—long after the Jews had unfortunately given up the habit.
In short, the Jews preserved their history, philosophy and experience, which, in the light of what some profess to believe today, may at times seem a little primitive, so that they and the world could build and develop.
Finally, the Jews were enriching their and the world's heritage, while Mr. Kelliher's ancestors were still looking for leprechauns.
Footnote: In case Mr Kelliher did not make it clear the prophets were also Jews.
The Scientific Attitude
—While I agree in the main with M. Heine's article on the importance of science, I feel that in his efforts to counteract the recent attacks on science by Dean Bretton, he has advanced his case further than is justified, He has said, in effect, that science alone can form a complete basis for human aspirations. I find this idea rather quaint and totally unrealistic.
The scientific attitude as defined by Bertrand Russell is "an attitude of mind that involves a sweeping away of all other desires in the interest of the desire to know—it involves the suppression of hopes and fears, loves and hates, and the whole subjective emotional life, until we become subdued to the material, able to see it frankly without preconceptions, without bias, without any wish except to see it as it is, and without any belief that what it is must be determined by some relationship, positive or negative, to what we should like it to be or to what we can easily imagine it to be."
The scientific attitude is a mental technique which is appropriate to many problems and investigations but is not necessarily appropriate in all cases. It is obviously essential in investigations into the nature of the external world, including the phenomena of life, and also to some branches of philosophy. For instance, the doctrine of dilectical empiricism advanced by Locke is page 7 almost synonomous with the scientific attitude.
However, science is by definition, ethically neutral. It is quite useless in attempting to form standards of values which must, of necessity, be arbitary. It cannot decide between capitalism, communism, socialism, or dictatorship any more than it can formulate a code of behaviour. It can produce a big bomb but it cannot tell us when, where, or if to use it. It concerns itself solely with what constitutes reality but not with how knowledge of the nature of this reality can be used in the best interests of society, nor even with the form the society should take.
Science has many times been used as a justification of arbitary practices. We have only to look at the claim that communism is "scientific" or that capitalism is based on natural" laws. This tends to demonstrate that the underlying ideals upon which science is based are often misunderstood. Science is in a morally unassailable position as it purports to be nothing more than the objective search for truth. If, as Dean Bretton is reported to have said, science is a threat to Christianity, then the inference is rather obvious.
Science needs no apology, but to claim that it alone can form a basis for society is hardly justified. At best, its only guiding principle could be the pursuit of happiness, which is itself an intuitive concept and therefore not amenable to measurement. Man is capable of thinking outside the realms of physical reality; to interpret human emotion and irrationality as a weakness, as Mr. Heine does, is to dismiss the work of Shakespeare, Keats, Blake and Dylan Thomas as superfluous. This may suit Mr. Heine but is not for me.
Crime and US
—In your last issue Mr. Hendrikse wrote what he claimed was a reply to my article "Crime and You." Mr. Hendrikse apparently did not read my article since he claimed that I said that there were (sic) "three reasons why people committed crimes." I did not say this at all, and in fact said the opposite. Since this little fact destroys all of Mr. Hendrikse's arguments ipso facto, I suggest that Mr. Hendrikse sit down and actually read what I wrote. It might do him some good.
—Having read with interest the article which appeared in your issue of May 28th entitled "Crime and You", I am prompted to put forward a few thoughts of my own on this very topical topic. Let it be understood at the outset that I am not attempting to deal with the "whys and wherefores" of crime: the broken homes, the twisted egos or any of the other factors so often put forward by expert sociologist and inexpert politician.
The theme of the above-mentioned article, with which I wholeheartedly concur, is that the work of the Law is to protect the community from crime. If its methods tend to reform the individual criminal, then so much the better, but reform of an individual is incidental only to its function of protecting the community as a whole. In one particularly intriguing phrase, "P.D." stated that "Law is not based upon morality but upon expediency". This generalisation is so sweeping that one cannot really quarrel with it. Even assuming it to be a true statement of the position, we find that the gap between Law and Morality is seldom noticeable and in saying that "this policy is horrible and morally indefensible" the writer is going much too far.
Like many other writers on this subject, "D.P." touches on, and then quickly passes over the deterrent effect of punishment. It is an acknowledged fact that many of the penalties prescribed by our modern statutes have little, if any, deterrent effect upon the offender. This may or may not be due to the prevailing trend toward reformation rather than prevention. Be that as it may, there is one particular class of offender and one special type of offence that I feel could be substantially reduced by a punishment designed solely to deter. The problem that I have in mind is that of juvenile delinquency. Our newspapers have been inundated by somewhat frenzied appeals to "kill the punks", as D.P. picturesquely described it. But this is only typical of the wrong approach to any deterrent. The true approach should surely aim at making the young tough, the bodgie or the vandal an utter fool and a laughing-stock—not of "society", whatever that may mean, but of his friends and among those of a similar disposition. This theory is not so new or revolutionary that it needs much thought—it merely states the obvious—but how seldom do we hear it advocated today. And the very method by which it was once put into execution, as a cure for the medieval vandal and mischief-maker, has become a symbol of antiquity. I refer, of course, to the old English institution of stocks. Pillories will serve our purpose equally well.
I pause for laughter.
Then stop and think about the proposition for a few minutest A small cluster of stoutly-constructed pillories, in beech or varnished totara, might not be so aesthetically unpleasing when set up in a neat semi-circle at the grassy end of the Town Hall. But there would be plenty of other suitable places. And after eight hours of crouching, exposed to the public view, in as ridiculous a posture as any criminologist or psychologist could wish, no seat-slasher or bag-snatcher would dare risk a further dose of civic ridicule. That much I confidentially wager. His prestige in the eyes of his friends would be permanently shattered, whereas ten strokes of the "cat" might well make him a minor hero in the gang for some months to follow. The physical scars of corporal punishment are medal ribbons but the lash of ridicule will leave a mark that is much harder to eradicate.
Horace J. Harbin.
—Having read the rather pathetic and pseudo-scientific meanderings of Mr. E. Simms, as reported in your last issue, may I ask two things of their supporters. First, if God is the only reality, and God is good, how can there be any mortal mind to think evil, even an unreal evil? (This is not an attack of malicious animae magnetism.)
Secondly, if "the teaching and practice (of Christian Science) coincide with the spiritual precepts and methods employed by Jesus and his followers" why do they differ so completely from the plain and obvious tenor of the whole scriptures as we have them? Apparently only the "Eddy interpretation" of the Bible is in support of its own teachings. A wonderful example of reasoning in a circle.
Surely, to be consistent, let alone scientific, any interpretation of the Bible must take all parts of it into consideration and must harmonise with those parts, instead of choosing suitable texts. Why, even a Rationalist Club could find support for their beliefs by quoting scripture (if they had no sense of humour).
I Tim 4: 1-3, Rom 6:23.
—I wish to strongly protest at the considerable amount of space in your last issue taken up by a report of a meeting held under the auspices of the so-called "Christian Science Organization" at the University. The Society has, I understand, only about 20 members. It seems to me that it was not right of you to allocate to such a small group a whole page of your newspaper (subsidised as it is by the student body as a whole) while another religious club with a far larger membership was allowed much less space for a report of its mission.
[I originally promised the E.U. a full page and a half for a write-up on its then forthcoming mission. Without my knowledge, one of the more senior members of my staff contradicted this, promising only three-quarters of a page. When I discovered the misrepresentation, it was too late for the error to be corrected. I apologise for this particular incident.—Ed.]