Raue’s Row: Can the intolerant tolerate the tolerable?

Recently Mr Tom Raue, the SRC vice-president and USU director, was censured by a vote of 7 for, 2 abstaining and 1 against by the USU Board. This was welcome news for some but horrible and shattering news for many. It created quite a stir among Tom’s supporters, personal friends, teenage fans, and some anarchists who could not comment due to a flood at their commune under a suburban bridge. The Union gave a list of reasons for this motion to censure Tom which included that regulations within the union constitution were broken by Tom. These can be found here.

Tom stated in a number of public forums that he believed that ‘Life-Choice’- the newly instated pro-life bioethics discussion society should not receive funding and also that Interfaith week should not receive USU funding.

He felt that he was within his rights – and not against the USU constitution (as a director of the union) – to debate motions publically (his “debate” involved a paragraph about how he felt Inter-faith week was a slap in the face to secularism). This slap in the face was said to have transcended the usual results of a metaphor and actually physically left a bruise on Tom’s impeccable secular visage.

Tom has spoken little publically since the censureship- his usual presence less felt in the university arena. Many of Tom’s friend went to support him at the meeting at which he was censured- out of support for Tom but also for various disagreements with the Union of the appropriateness of the censureship.

I felt Tom’s opinion deserved to be heard. But I also wish he was consistent and argue for the right of the humble members of LifeChoice to voice their opinions as well. Poor Tom was, according to student reports by friends and bystanders, distraught at the results of the secret ballot vote. LifeChoice members commiserate.

Tom is my hero of the year. Not only did he remind me of the value of holding consistent opinions about freedom of speech but he also reminded me the consequence of the pot calling the kettle black- the pot is cleaned along with the kettle. I would suggest Tom to try using detergent on his own rusty pot before having a go at a newly installed kettle.

I would also suggest we all give Tom a tender embrace when we see him on campus. Maybe even say “I support you Tom- even when you don’t support me”- after all he does have opinions that matter (at least to one student) and that ought to be enough for any lover of Liberty!

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  • Alex

    From what I read on the Usyd Union site, the censure motion was brought only because Tom breached his director’s duties, namely speaking publicly about matters pertaining to the board. It doesn’t really matter what the topic was. When elected a board director, you have to comply with the rules and not comment publicly about matters that the board has collectively decided. It’s a matter of unity and confidentiality. To me this seems a very straight-forward matter and has nothing to do with free speech.

    When you sign on to an organisation, you have to stick to the constitution and rules.

    It’s not that people don’t know where he stands. He can be clever and just speak about his values and beliefs, and can criticise without speaking directly about the board’s decisions. For example, it’s pretty obvious when an outspoken cabinet member in Government hasn’t voted in favour of a majority decision. They don’t have to come out and criticise it. People know how they voted.

    It seems a good lesson to learn for Tom, who might find himself sitting on other boards in his professional life.

    It seems some are confused about the nature of the censure motion, and even the word ‘censure’ itself. From what i have read, it seems some are confusing this word with ‘censor’ which is exactly what some have been trying to do to LifeChoice and other pro-life groups.

    It’s important to recognise the distinction, and separate this issue from the issue of free speech. I wouldn’t be supporting Tom in his struggle to contravene the constitution of the union, or you’ll only be encouraging him to invite more censure motions…

  • Luke

    Great article, well articlated indeed!

  • Rob

    This isnt fair, Raue gettin censured has nothing to do wid his views on fucking right wing fascist LifeChoice. Nothing!!! You oughta take this down alright!

    • http://www.facebook.com/bpburnett Brendan Paul Burnett

      “Facism” = radical, authoritarian nationalism. LCSyd is not that, If you think so, please demonstrate it, and don’t make such absurd, ludicrous assertions.

  • Benard

    Hey Rob, why isn’t it fair and why is LifeChoice right wigned and facist?

    • Rob

      Its JUST isnt. they are not the same. LIFECHOICE is a nazilike organisation