Daily Archives: January 15, 2010

Let the one who has never speeded cast the first stone

In 2007 I had the good fortune to travel to Turkey with the Australian Intercultural Society. One of my companions was a Victorian policeman called Ken Lay. We were a small travelling group of six, so we got to know each other pretty well, and I can say without fear of contradiction from anyone who knows him that Ken is a top bloke. He is very conscientious about his work, and has entirely deserved his promotion to the role of Assistant Commissioner for Traffic.

I really feel for him, therefore, in his current situation, in which a speeding offence he committed last October has become public. Apparently he was clocked doing 80km/hr in a 70 zone in a small Victorian country town. This was potentially embarrasing as the police were about to launch a new campaign against speeding with Ken as it’s public face (in fact, I enjoy telling my kids whenever we pass one of the billboards with his face on it: “That’s my friend, Ken”), , so it was not made public.

But why should it have been? Our speeding laws – which give very little leeway for error (coupled with the seemingly omnipresent and covert use of cameras) – provide perhaps one of the easiest ways to commit an unintentional offence in this state. I have had more than my share of speeding fines, the last time also being in 2007 when travelling the vast open spaces of country Victoria back from Adelaide to Melbourne. It ended up costing me more than the airfare from Melbourne to Adelaide and back. These days I try to be careful – I am paranoid of speed cameras and can’t afford speeding fines – but still I find myself sometimes over the limit without knowing it. These things happen to the best of us.

And Ken is one of the best. Prior to this, he had a 35 year record without a speeding fine. That, I reckon, still makes him one of the safest drivers on the road today (or one of the luckiest!). The media are complaining that his offence was “kept quiet” – but what law or what moral code says that he was required to declare his offence? Are we not all entitled to privacy on these matters – even those of us who are charged with policing the traffic? And does the fact that he was speeding – an offence which is, as I said, easy to commit unintentionally – invalidate his campaign? Does it not in fact prove his campaign (“We will catch you”)?

As I see it, let the one who has never speeded (sped?) let alone been caught speeding cast the fist stone.


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Australian Association of Catholic Bioethicists: 2010 Bioethics Colloquium

“Out of darkness into light – a people of life and for life”: Evangelism in a Culture of Death

January 24th-27th, 2010

Hosted by the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family, the Victorian Branch of the Australian Association of the Order of Malta and the Australian Catholic University.

To be conducted at the Thomas Carr Centre, 278 Victoria Parade, East Melbourne, & at the Australian Catholic University (St Patrick’s Campus) 115 Victoria Parade, Fitzroy

You are invited to the sixth National Colloquium for Catholic Bioethicists. The purpose is to foster discussion and debate amongst bioethicists, and we would welcome participation from health professionals, members of HRECs or clinical ethics committees, and, given the topics, educators, lawyers and politicians.

Public Events

• Public forum: Associate Professor Carol Taylor from the Clinical Centre of Bioethics at Georgetown University, Washington D.C. will open the Colloquium on Sunday evening, 24th January at 7.30 pm. at the Christ Lecture Theatre, Australian Catholic University, 115 Victoria Parade, Fitzroy.

• Colloquium Mass followed by Dinner at The Pumphouse Hotel on Tuesday, 26th January Oration by Rev Prof Frank Brennan SJ AO on his recent role as Chairman of the 2009 National Human Rights Consultation Committee

RSVP by Friday January 15th, 2010
Email: thunter@jp2institute.org
Ph: 03 9412 3386 Fax: 03 9417 2107
For full details of speakers and program, visit www.bioethicscolloquium.com.au

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The significance of the Pope’s forgiveness of his “assaulter”; OR How to get a personal audience with the Pope!

In comparison to Pope John Paul II meeting with and forgiving the man who shot him, Pope Benedict’s meeting with Susan Maiolo and giving her forgiveness may seem a little odd or at least much less significant.

But something almost no-one has commented upon is the fact that by assaulting the Holy Father, this woman – a Catholic, compared to the Muslim gunman – was, by virtue of her act, under a latae sententiae excommunication according to Canon 1370 (see this rather humourous article on an atheist site):

1370: A person who uses physical force against the Roman Pontiff incurs a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See

So his personal forgiveness was necessary for the removal of this excommunication. Perhaps physically assaulting him could be seen as one extreme but sure-fire way of getting a personal audience with the Pope! (NOT recommended, BTW! )


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