"Wowser" roughly means "killjoy" and is of American origin but is now commonly used only in Australia. It was originally an abbreviation of "We only want social evils removed" and was part of the campaign for Prohibition. Comments below by Andrew Bolt
I'd have thought stripping was the last thing you'd do in a country called Iceland, and now it is. The country's parliament last week voted to ban striptease shows, making it a crime to turn a buck from a naked woman.
Now, normally news from Iceland - even news including words such as "stripper" and "nude" - cuts no ice with me. But there's a moral to this story that helps explain why Formula One driver Mark Webber protested last weekend that Australia had turned into "a bloody nanny state in which we've got to read an instruction book when we get out of bed - what we can do and what we can't do".
Mark, all the way from Iceland comes your explanation. The telling thing about Iceland's ban on strippers is that it's long been a Christian country - yet it's not Christians now forcing everyone else to live by their finger-wagging code.
True, Iceland's Christianity is of that wobbly northern European kind, with only one in 10 believers in a pew on Sundays. Sounds a bit like Australia. Yet the 90 per cent of Icelanders formally registered with a church have long tolerated the strip shows that a new breed of believers have now banned.
And who are these new wowsers? Why, followers of a creed that's also growing strong here, and dangerously lacks Christianity's tolerance. You see, Iceland is the first country in the world to ban stripping and lapdancing not for religious reasons but feminist. Indeed, it's the only European country other than the Vatican City and Andorra to ban stripping at all.
Kolbrun Halldorsdottir, the politician who first proposed this law, says its adoption by parliament is "mainly as a result of the feminist groups putting pressure on parliamentarians". Moreover, almost half of Iceland's parliamentarians are female, and president Johanna Sigurardottir is not only a feminist but the world's first openly lesbian head of state.
This is the coalition of ideologues who have banned what Christians wouldn't, ruling that men may not enjoy what feminists don't like, and other women may not make money in ways their betters think sinful.
True, stripping is a demeaning trade and the less of it the healthier. I'd even admit to being dismayed that our local councils are so indifferent to the trashing of our culture that they allow the huge twirling sign next to the busy Richmond train station that advertises two sleazier strip clubs.
But the issue here is not whether stripping should be banned (I'd say no), but who is most likely to ban it - and ban lots of other things they don't like. Or put it this way: it's to identify just who is most likely to tick off Mark Webber.
We're so often told that the real straighteners are Christians, and especially Catholics. "Get your rosaries off my ovaries," screeched an anti-Catholic Age columnist at Tony Abbott on the ABC's Q&A, as if the Opposition Leader really was about to ban abortions and anything else his Catholic faith didn't like.
In truth, Abbott as prime minister would do no such authoritarian thing, and not just because he's terrified of losing the votes of women. He actually knows Christianity has what so many in-your-face ideologies of the Left do not - a respect for freedom and individual conscience.
Christians, or at least those with brains, understand their God gave us freedom to choose, or else there'd be no Hell. How we choose is ultimately up to us - and it's in that free choice that we show our moral worth. That helps to explain why Australia, despite being an overwhelmingly Christian country, has so few laws passed on purely religious grounds.
We can watch strip shows, divorce, drink, draw rude pictures of Christ, work on Sundays, visit brothels, have abortions, buy condoms, blaspheme and call the Pope a Nazi. We are free to sin against the Christian creed - and to be judged.
But the new moralists aren't quite so keen on such freedom. It's the old problem. Most moralists are really after power, not goodness, and moralising licenses them to do almost anything to make other people nicer, since their bullying is for their victim's own good. And if they don't believe in God, they'll feel even more obliged to do his judging for him.
That's why feminists feel free to ban other women from stripping, and why Webber is being driven mad by laws that are intrusive, expensive, patronising and inconvenient impertinences.
The worst of them are our new racial and religious vilification laws that have done no good and much harm, most notoriously when they were used to punish Christian pastors for quoting Koranic passages on jihad to their flock. This preaching was illegal, ruled the VCAT judge, because it elicited "a response from the audience at various times in the form of laughter".
Amazing - a law against blasphemy that was passed not by Christians but secular multiculturalists.
Then there are those countless other pestering laws that are meant to spread the latest faith of the faithless, rather than achieve any practical good.
* Take the ban on shopping bags that inconveniences shoppers without saving the planet.
* Take the ban on bottled water passed by the NSW town of Bundanoon that strikes the approved attitude but won't stop global warming by a flicker.
* Take the new Victorian law that demands all new houses have six-star green rating, forcing buyers to pay extra to live someone else's green dream.
* Take the recycling laws that force people to ritually separate their garbage at no benefit to anyone.
* Most infuriating of all such laws is Victoria's mad ban on new dams that has forced hundreds of thousands of garden lovers to water their gardens by hand at dark dawn, thanks to the man-made water shortages that followed. We must stand, hose in hand, in our gardens at dawn because influential greens felt more water was a sin.
That's the new green moralist forcing you to genuflect to their faith, using the law in ways Christians can't and won't.
YOU don't believe me? You can't believe that our laws are being used just to ram this new faith down your throat? Then read this letter in The Age from a green in Northcote (where else) infuriated by the Brumby Government's pre-election announcement that it will relax its water restrictions, thanks to good rain and the new desalination plant.
"I was stunned to hear that Melburnians can shortly return to squandering water," this Gaian raged. "After years of drought ... the population was beginning to show that behaviour can be changed, we can become responsible consumers of the Earth's resources. "Now, with a state election looming ... we can return to the head-in-the-sand wasteful behaviour of years past. Shame on you, Mr Brumby." Other writers agreed.
This is the green version of a law to force us all to eat fish on Friday.
Some of these new moralists would go even further, and turn the country into a theocracy. A green Iran. Take James Lovelock, the Gaia guru, who preaches that "climate change may be an issue as severe as a war" and "it may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while".
Or Prof Clive Hamilton, the Greens candidate, who claims global warming may require "emergency responses such as the suspension of democratic processes". Sure, Clive. Can I be the dictator, or is that job reserved for you?
You know the answer. After all, Hamilton is the fanatic who preaches that the "Gaian earth in its ecological, cybernetic way, (is) infused with some notion of mind or soul or chi".
And if it takes a law to make us see things his way - well, let Webber blubber. Or flee to a truly Christian land where he's still free to blaspheme.
Posted by John Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.). For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. To keep up with attacks on free speech see TONGUE-TIED. Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me here