But a Whoppee Cushion Is Probably Going Too Far
Alert Reader Russell Leslie from Australia sends the following about my rant against the Aussie Parliament yesterday:
The story is different than you seem to think. Parliament House has a lot of meeting areas, some of which are quite big. Some of the meeting areas can be hired for private functions. Canberra has some very huge venues, a lot small venues but not many medium venues.
The Dalai Lama’s visit will be popular so the National Press Club decided that their own venue was too small and wanted to use one of the bigger function rooms at Parliament House. A plain-old commercial transaction – not like addressing Congress or anything – more like hiring a meeting room at the Capitol Building.
That is where “international protocol” comes into this. The Dalai Lama is, at least notionally, a Head of State. Protocol for meeting a Head of State, travelling as Head of State has many pitfalls and rules. If he(she) is not afforded certain courtesies we are disparaging his(her) claims as Head of State – if we extend him(her) ANY of the courtesies we have to extend them all or we are insulting the State of which he(she) is head.
The Dalai Lama is visiting Australia as a private individual. Australia would prefer not do anything to make the status of the visit ambiguous. Having him address a crowd, which will include many of our members of Cabinet, in Parliament House is one of those things that could make the status of the visit ambiguous. The problem would be as much the risk of disparaging the concept of Tibet as it would be a risk of offending China.
Russell, you make valid and compelling points — right up until the last one. Risk offending China? Oh my! Good sir, the noses of tyrants are made for tweaking. And their toes are designed for stepping on. I grant you the rest, but on this I must stand firm. Otherwise, we’d still have the Queen on our money. (Sorry, was that unfair?)