"[The] Blog People (or their subclass who are interested in computers andthe glorification of information) have a fanatical belief in the transforming power of digitization and a consequent horror of, and contempt for, heretics who do not share that belief ... Given the quality of the writing in the blogs I have seen, I doubt that many of the Blog People are in the habit of sustained reading of complex texts. It is entirely possible that their intellectual needs are met by an accumulation of random facts and paragraphs.'"-
American Library Association president Michael Gorman's bid to become the blogging community's next whipping boy.
Meh. He must be reading different bloggers to me. Some of the best, most inspiring writers I've come across are in my links page.
I have a "fanatical belief" in very few things. Penguins. Guylian sea shells. My car one day being operational for longer than 30 consecutive days. Hugh Jackman, Anthony Callea and Ian Thorpe all being gay (and even this is not even fanatical, just firm). Blogging I just enjoy. And people who disagree with me are not heretics, they're just wrong*.
Point taken about complex texts, though. I will go back and finish Machiavelli's Prince. Honest.
Is it standard blogging protocol to ignore statements like this, ie not fulfill their wish to become the next blogger whipping boy? If so, disregard the italic bit. Ooops.
Cate Blanchett finally gets the Oscar
she should have got in 1998.
I had vague plans to try and not hear the winners today so that when I watch them tonight they'd be fresh and surprising. Yeah. Didn't happen.
Apologies for the delay in posting, I've been having a noice extended weekend in the Blue Mountains. I understand now why some gay men choose to live
in Katoomba. Its main street and cafes are indeed colourful, gay and merry, especially the one I saw with the cute little rainbow flag in the corner.
Anyways, three days away from the world and lots of mini-developments.
The GOOD: The Gallop ALP government defies predictions to convincingly win the WA election
, ensuring WA won't become the first place since Nicaragua to wind back rights for queers and same-sex couples.
Aussie version of Queer Eye axed after only 3 episodes
. I already know I'm being a bit mean-spirited here
but I can't help the giggles. This might - might - force Ten to stop treating its viewers with such contempt, whipping up a cheap rip-off of a barely credible product instead of giving us the quality original Aussie concepts we've come to know and love from the Tenster. You know. Like The Resort.
The BAD: J Ho ain't going anywhere
The MAKES ME MAD AND HIT MY HEAD WITH MY HAND: Anne Summers exposes Pope Tony's machinations behind the abandoned son re-discovery
. I'm quietly smug about my theory being right that Akerman's first-page "scoop" was in fact under order from Liberal HQ
. For a brief moment I thought journalists were meant to be independent researchers focused on uncovering the truth, not political mouth-pieces kept in a wardrobe and brought out and dusted whenever the Libs need a fresh marketing angle on one of their new evil agendas. My mistake.
Finally, Fred Nile's got a bee in his bonnet about Steve Price and John Laws having to apologise for their on-air gay-bashing, pursuant to the "draconian" Homosexual Vilification Act
. I'm not too sure which parts of "pillow-biter", "pompous little pansy", "piss off pansy" or "piss off poof" Fred finds "light-hearted", but I am sure Fred is smart enough to know that such phrases can indeed ignite the spark for bashers to take to the streets, just as they make it so much harder for younger queer people to come out and a little bit easier to think about suicide. Fred just wants to pretend that we should all have a good laugh about it, just as the poor "Baptists, Catholics, Pope and Irish people" have to put up with jokes about them. The main difference is that these days there are not increasing incidents of "Catholic-bashing" or "Irish-bashing". Maybe there was in Kings Cross circa 1894, but these days, Fred, it is
the fags who get bashed because they hear what people like you, Laws and Price say. It's not a joke.
P Diddy the Penguin Dementor
Did you know? P Diddy has victimised and terrorised some poor South African penguins
for a party. Poor little bastards. Unfortunately being the spunky things they are, they're prime for exploitation by heartless men. Just like Marilyn Monroe. Or Kate Ellis
Right to Die
Looks as though the euthanasia debate is about to be re-ignited in the US
as Bush stays true to the RRR lobbyists that worked so hard to get their sock puppet into the presidency.
As with the debate on gay marriage, there will be broader consideration of the limitations or otherwise of the Bush administration to overrule state jurisdiction and effectively negate the will of the Oregon people who have twice approved that state's Death with Dignity Act. Former US Attorney-General Janet Reno's assertion that "the federal government's pursuit of adverse actions against Oregon physicians who fully comply with that state's Death With Dignity Act would be beyond the purpose of the (Congress-enacted Controlled Substances Act of 1969)"
is already forgotten, as indeed is conservative Supreme Court Chief Justice Rehnquist's assurance that his Court's rejection of physician-assisted suicide being unconstitutional is not the final word on the debate, rather "our holding permits this debate to continue, as it should in a democratic society."
The Bush administration, however, despite its grandstanding about "bringing democracy" to the far-flung corners of the world, does not believe in the right of its own states' democratic autonomy, just as the Liberal Party did not believe in the democratic autonomy of the Northern Territory when it overturned the territory's compassionate euthanasia laws in 1997.
It's interesting how, 8+ years of Howard later, we can be having a debate on abortion but there's deathly silence on debating the right of elderly, infirmed or terminally ill people to choose to end their pained existences with dignity. Just like the once-strong debate on whether or not Australia should become a republic (which isn't really a debate - the majority of Australians want this to happen in one form or another). It's funny how democracy and "healthy debate" are only relevant when a conservative government wants to impose restrictions on choice and free will; on almost everything else, the book seems firmly closed.
Re-opening the debate on euthanasia in Australia appears nearly impossible, at least so long as Howard is in power. Maybe those pinko commo "judicial activists" can do something about it, but I doubt it. At it stands, the very well-meaning but politically redundant Democrats currently have a Bill to repeal the Euthanasia Laws Act 1997 (that removed the right of the NT, ACT and Norfolk Island to legislate for the terminally ill) languishing in the Senate. The best chance would be for a moderate Liberal to introduce a private member's bill, so that (theoretically) it could have the numbers to pass a vote on whether or not it should at least be debated. Hopefully, what's about to happen in the US might inspire a Lib or two here.
Unlike abortion, euthanasia warrants a healthy debate, and not just between bleeding-hearts versus RRR freaks. There is a very large grey area in between the extreme opposing views which necessarily cuts across the left/right dichotomy. In principle I support euthanasia but in practicality I know there are potential issues of elderly, mentally unsound people being coerced and manipulated for financial gain. I understand that many GPs take very seriously their vow to preserve life rather than end it, but I also know euthanasia is being performed anyway so why not bring it out into the open?
I also anticipate some of the more dangerous element of the far right setting out to "preserve the sanctity of life" by murdering or thretening to murder doctors who perform euthanasia and targetting hospitals or clinics where euthanasia is known to happen for vandalism and destruction.
Euthanasia, like abortion, is an emotive issue and concensus will never be reached between opposing positions. But let's not pretend it's not there to be debated.
Are Janet Albrechtsen and Andrew Bolt the Same Person?
Read these supposedly different
on the Abbott family reunion and you tell me.
Lies, Damned Lies and Howard
So Howard the Duck breaks yet another pre-election promise
and weasels his way out of admitting he lied (again) to the electorate by whining: "No no no, I only ever said there were no plans for an increase of troops." Oh, okay then. So it's the truth until you decide to change your mind, therefore all promises - especially pre-election promises - are in fact promises* (* - assurances and pledges made that we're most likely to break as the mood takes us, after we've won the election).
Another day, another golden shower from the Libs. I've gotten to the point that I almost couldn't be bothered washing them off before another burst of liquid sunshine spills onto me. The reality is Howard, his ministry and his backbench can lie, abuse their positions of power and completely disregard parliamentary procedure and voters, and not only will they get away with it unpunished, more people are likely to vote for them as a result. Here's a Hall of Shame list that only back-tracks to 2001, of Liberal players who should have been sacked on the spot for their lies, corruption or gross incompetence, but somehow are still infecting our parliamentary system, making it the swollen pussey boil it is today.Bill Heffernan:
2002 - abuses parliamentary privilege to level made-up accusations of paedophilia against Justice Kirby. Further, Daryl Williams
abandons his constitutional obligations to come to Heffernan's rather than Kirby's defence. Heffernan is still a senator; Williams remained a Howard minister until his voluntary retirement.Wilson Tuckey:
2003 - writes a letter in parliamentary letter head paper, in blatant contradiction of the rules, to try and heavy the SA Government into overturning his son's traffic fine. STILL EMPLOYED.Trish Draper:
2004 - moral rights crusader takes her casual fuck-buddy on a taxpayer-funded "study tour", claiming him to be a spouse despite the fact they never lived together and she had another boyfriend at the time. Her guilty-as-sinniness is confirmed by her desperate attempts to gag Today Tonight from airing the scandal and then re-paying back the $10,000 (wonder why you'd do that if you knew you'd done nothing wrong?) STILL EMPLOYED.De-Anne Kelly and Jim Lloyd:
2004/2005 - both accused - and I'd say look pretty guilty as hell - of big-time pork-barelling with the "Regional Partnerships"Fund - aka "Regional Slush" fund, using government money to procure goodies that will help them keep their marginal seats. BOTH ARE STILL EMPLOYED.John Anderson:
2004 - most likely uses a go-between to try and bribe independent MP Tony Windsor into not contesting the seat of New England before the last election. STILL DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER.Amanda Vanstone:
2005 - minister overseeing a mentally ill Australian woman being wrongly incarcerated at Baxter Detention Centre as an illegal immigrant. Orders the inevtiable inquiry to be private rather than public for "the sake of Cornelia Rau's privacy", despite Rau's own family insisting the inquiry be public, and momentarily forgetting the importance of Rau's privacy long enough to go on television and tell the world how Rau was at one point smearing her own excrement on the walls at Baxter. STILL IMMIGRATION MINISTER.Robert Hill:
2005 - Claims flatly and uneqivocally that no Australians have interrogated Iraqi prisoners, but when a former weapons inspector provides details of the interrogation by Australians of a former Iraqi minister, back-tracks, saying the Iraqi was merely "interviewed". STILL DEFENCE MINISTER.Pope Tony Abbott III:
2005 - OK, this one is only speculative, I can't definitely prove he should be sacked for it, but give this a shot: The Catholic rotweiler, itching to slash Medicare funding for abortions, suddenly "discovers" - at exactly the same time as the unnecessary resurgence of the abortion "debate" - the biological son he abandoned 27 years ago. And Liberal lackeys posing as Murdoch columnists point out how wonderful this is and how it could only be happening because Daniel O'Connor's mum put him up for adoption rather than having an abortion. OK, it's a bit conspiracy theory, but I would put nothing past the Pope, especially given this convenient plea for adoption
I might add to this list as the year progresses, just because I'm sure it will only get bigger and bigger and bigger, while the lists of sackings remains infuriatingly stagnant.
OK I admit it, I'm deriving pleasure from seeing the Aussie Queer Guy and X-Factor knock-offs crash
. There is something indescribably wonderful about enduring weeks of the hype and "buzz" that Channel 10 does so bombastically well, seeing the smug faces of vacuous hosts and "stars" looking o-so-confident that their show will be the next Big Brother or Oz Idol, only to see it instead mutate into a HotHouse or Resort and picturing the multiple heart attacks Channel 10 execs suffer when the ratings come in.
Queer Eye is not a television program, it's an advertisement. Gay men become as much the exploited commodities as the hair products, face creams and Ikea furniture and all the other products so shamelessly and gratuitously placed in this advertisement. For years we've fought for positive, non-stereotypical representation, and all that hard work is destroyed in one fell swoop as we once again become hairdressers, interior designers and superficial gym bunnies. And yes, I know a lot of us are those people, but we're also writers, actors, politicians, athletes, activists, astronauts and jelly wrestlers. No offence to the Aussie Queer Eye boys - obviously in their various careers they've done pretty well - but they're tools of consumerism, little ad breaks posing as 15-minute celebrities. The sooner they're relegated to spots on Bert (not literally), the better.
People seem genuinely surprised that it was Patty who came out in the Simpsons
. I don't remember from where exactly but I do remember I first knew about this sometime last year. I kinda assumed everybody knew already? Meh, oh well. Guess it explains the so-called "life of celibacy" she chose to live and why she karate-punched Seymour Skinner across the hall the first time he touched her.
Given that the episode is about Homer legally marrying same-sex couples, I guess the remaining big question is: does Patty marry her girlfriend? From the pic, she looks kinda cute in a Chrissie Hynde mullet sort of way.
Liberty, Mill style
Money passage from Owen Harries
, a senior fellow at The Centre for Independent Studies and the author of Morality and Foreign Policy, arguing for moral standards to apply in foreign policy:It is in terms of such a morality of prudence that I believe that the Bush Administration has seriously failed in Iraq. Its policy has been rich in unintended consequences (a global wave of intense anti-Americanism, the opposition of some of America's most important allies, the indefinite tying down of a third of a million military personnel, disgusting images of torture, the killing of large numbers of civilians) and dangerous precedents that may be exploited by others.
Those who criticise American policy are often criticised for being insensitive to the importance of freedom as a foreign policy goal. Yet as John Stuart Mill, a pre-eminent liberal philosopher, put it in his classic treatise On Liberty: "We have heard something lately about being willing to go to war for an idea. To go to war for an idea, if the war is aggressive, not defensive, is as criminal as to go to war for territory or revenue; for it is as little justified to force our ideas on other people, as to compel them to submit to our will in other respects."
These words were published in 1859 in an essay on the subject of non-intervention. At a time when we have been hearing much about "exporting democracy" they are worth a moment's consideration.
Yes, the political climate has changed substantially since 1859, but the idea of non-intervention hasn't. If the US wasn't so hell-bent on being a monotheistic superpower, concealing its lust to monopolise the last few drops of oil behind a "war on terror" or "crusade to spread democracy", the rest of us might be able to breathe a little more easily as Islamic resentment towards us subsided.
For the record, I am not an Islamic apologist; many of the countries where the worst state-sanctioned atrocities occur against queer people are under Islamic rule. I also don't pretend to offer a solution to the impossible conflicts between Islam/Christianity, Islam/Hindu, Islam/Judaism etc. I would just like for once to hear a US president acknowledge the real reason why war was raged against Iraq - protection of economic interests - and that Saddam would never have needed to be removed in the first place if the US hadn't installed, supported and armed him in the early 80s
. Do people really have such short memories?
Werri-What the? #2
Further to my previous speculation
, the Libs are officially not running a candidate for the Werriwa by-election and Labor is "worried" they could lose the seat to the Greens
as they did with Cunningham. Personally, I think this is just the ALP scare-mongering current Labor voters into not protest-voting Green, whose primary vote in this seat was only a little over 3% at the '04 election.
I've also tried to get my head around why the Libs would not run a candidate in a seat I believe they'd have a strong chance of winning, despite the safe Labor margin. I can only conclude that Howard does not want to give Beazley any kind of victory so early into his leadership renaissance, even if the "victory" involved the Libs cutting the margin from around 9% to 1% on 2PP so that the Labor bloke who got in just held the seat for Labor by the skin of his teeth.
Seems quite petty for a man who's probably going to be PM until 2010, but there we are...
Just when you thought Murdoch publications couldn't sink any lower, couldn't smell any stinkier...
First, we have this poor bastard discovering
foetus crusader Pope Tony Abbott III is his old man. Not much more needs to be said here. We all know of Tony's "do as I say, not as I do" approach to family values and we can hope that, by some karmic balancing act, Daniel O'Connor will follow in the steps of Phillip Ruddock's daughter and renounce his dad's politics completely, preferably in some very public arena in front of all his mates. Certainly, the fact that O'Connor works for the Marxist Alliance - oops, ABC - and could not stop swearing upon learning his dad's true identity (when you think about it, it's a bit Star Wars, isn't it? Darth Abbott: "Daniel, I am your father." Daniel Skywalker: "No! FUCK NO!!!!!!!!!!"), as well as Abbott's cronies describing young Skywalker as a bit of a "hippy" who's more likely to vote Labor than Liberal, are very encouraging signs.
This was not what boiled my potato this morning, however. The steam began to rise when I dared myself to read The Daily Terrograph's assessment
of this unsual family reunion. A few lines in, and I could not believe even the Terror could be so sycophantic about a Howard minister, with choice phrases and adverbs like:
"Mr Abbott and Mrs Donnelly...have embraced their son Daniel and his adoptive parents and have introduced him to their families...
"Thank you for having me,'' Daniel
movingly told his natural mother and father when he first met them early in the new year...","Both Mrs Donnelly and Mr Abbott were overwhelmed by the surprise contact with their son and
hastened to make him feel welcome in their families' lives..."
By now it's sounding less like a newspaper and more like a Woman's Weekly article, right? Or maybe the work of an obese, salivatingly right-wing Howard apologist, Labor basher, Greenie hunter and...Wait a minute.
Abbott reunited with lost son
By PIERS AKERMAN
Suddenly, everything became clear. Murdoch's most parochial fascist columnist posing as a journalist. I wonder if this was under direct instruction from Liberal HQ? Probably.
Then, to completely clean out the Murdoch empire of its few remaining crumbs of vaguely respectable journalism, Aussie gives us the headline: "Push to find real work for blacks."
I shit you not.
"Push to find real work for blacks."Mr Lefty begs
: "Somebody please get a screen grab of that before they take it down." Hear, hear.
Hillsong church, aka Power Ballads and Pop Stars for Jesus, has received almost $800,000
in grants from the Howard government since 1999. 800k is probably an entire English department in a provincial university slashed out of existence. J Ho himself opened Club Christ in 2002 and the candidate who won the Blacktown-based federal seat from Labor in last year's election was a counsellor from the club.
Perhaps the Libs set up a secret SMS slosh fund to help Guy "Jesus groupie" Sebastian win Oz Idol too?
To show I'm not completely blinkered, however (and to paraphrase Nigel Powers: there's only two things in this world I can't stand - people who are intolerant of other people's politics, and John Howard voters), kudos to Petro Georgiou for his plea of compassion and call to end
the horror show that is mandatory detention. Looks like that prediction is coming true of moderate Libs taking on the responsibility of trying (and no doubt failing, but they have to say they've tried) to keep the government from going rancidly right as the post-July 1 absolute, unfettered power - Power!!! Mwuhahahahahahaha - kicks in and the left/centre Senate minor parties become redundant.So far on my Christmas list is Petro, Dr Sharman Stone, Mal Washer, Warren Entsch and Sen. Marise Payne.
Meanwhile, Pope Tony Abbott III, Eric Abetz, Ron Boswell, Kevin Andrews, Santo Santoro and Alby Schultz can look forward to their usual pile of hot steaming elephant turds, gift-wrapped at David Jones, under their chrissie trees.
Bill Bowtell's comparison
between Australia's treatment of HIV - "prevention, education and reason" and the US' - "punishment, faith and emotion" highlights the disturbing possibility of Australia once again emulating a failed US initiative and introducing a new deadly strain of bigotry and bible-bashing fundamentalism.
His statistics are very eye-opening, although I wish he'd acknowledged the current problem of homos my age and under (ie < 25) who seem to think they are immune and invincible. With three friends who are HIV positive, I know for certain this isn't the case. I also know that no amount of prayer will cure them, just as no amount of teaching abstinence in the public education system would have prevented them from contracting the disease in the first place.
On a lighter note, I send across the Tasman a big "cheers, big ears" to NZ PM Helen Clark, who has not only banned Johnny Farnham from singing
at the 90th anniversary Anzac service at Gallipoli, she hasn't even heard of "the Voice". If only the rest of us were so lucky...
Gratuitous Self-promotion #2
(hi) and anybody else who might be interested: Loose Lips,
the UTS anthology featuring my story Nadir
, can be found in all good rubbish bi - BOOKSHOPS! Abbey
's, the Co-Op, Gleebooks, Berkelouw and Ariel are bookshops in Sydney that have sold it before and may still be able to order it in.Dexter Hannon's Guide to Auto-Maintenance,
the other short story anthology in which one of my stories, His Bedroom,
is published, is a bit trickier to track down but check out the publisher's website
and follow the "Books" link.
I thought about putting my creative stuff onto the site but I'm pretty nervous about net pirating, copyright etc. More than happy to email
stories to people who ask, however. Cheers.
Day of the Queer Penguin
Victory! The German gay penguins
have resisted conformity and emerged triumphant
I think I'll have to add Bremerhaven Zoo to my planned Europe '05 itinerary now. Who knows: with penguins like these showing such incredibly strong will, who's to say the rocks won't hatch?
Love and Marriage
Time to stop procrastinating (even though I'm so very good at that) and get down my random rantings on - yup, the biggie - gay marriage. Adam and Steve. Homos in the marital home. And so on.
From the outset, I should explain that I was raised by two ex-Catholics in a humanist (ok, ok, agnostic, aethiestic, godless heathen boudoir of filthy Satanic germs, whatever) home. This goes a long way to explain my 99% conviction that there is no God (although I'm quite open-minded to reincarnation, a far more romantic concept for me than Christianity) and my many objections to the Catholic church. And yes, I could probably know the enemy better before I choose to reject it, but it's not as though I haven't heard first-hand accounts of family members being subjected to unspeakable pain and abuse, pounded into them as defenseless children by deranged psychopaths posing as educators. You don't need to have a Masters in Bible Studies to recognise an institution founded upon hypocrisy, guilt, denial of responsibility and utterly unrealistic expectations of sexuality.
Following on from this, I've never been a big advocate of marriage. In some ways I think it's a somewhat quaint notion, and the nearly 50% divorce rate would seem to indicate its increasing irrelevance to many good breeder folk, not just homos.
So why was I so enraged when the Marriage Legislation Amendment Bill 2004 first appeared? Why did the vile spat at us by the RRR and its political puppets in defence of this Bill get my blood boiling? Why did the broad apathy of my own queer community about this Bill shit me to tears? I guess the reality was that this Bill was a slap in a face, and even though I could see it coming, it still stung. As with lots of legislation, it was reading the subtext of supporters of the Bill that opened my eyes to how much fear, how many misconceptions and basically how much hatred is still felt by some towards dykes, homos and all things queer. I can effectively contradict several major arguments put forward against gay marriage. Lemme give it a shot.
MYTH: Marriage is a fixed, unalterable and historically-exclusive institution of one man and one woman, that has existed in this form only for thousands of years.
FACT: Dr Carmen Lawrence, one of the few ALP members brave enough not only to speak against the Bill but indirectly condemn her own party for officially supporting it, eloquently and systematically deconstructed all these lies
by referring to polygamy in Christianity, 14th century blessing of same-sex unions by the Roman Catholic Church, allowing interracial marriages and the traditional role of marriage to oppress women and define them as "property". She highlighted the reality that "between cultures and over time the meaning and form of marriage have changed dramatically",
and therefore there is no logical reason why it cannot change - evolve - in the futre.
MYTH: Marriage between one man and one woman is essential for the survival of the species.
FACT: But somehow, medically infertile or childless by choice heterosexual married couples didn't have their marriages invalidated by this Bill. This seems to be the argument that resonates strongest with homos themselves who oppose gay marriage - sad closet-cases like Christopher Pearson, for example. I've read seemingly self-respecting gay men write about how, "by definition" of our apparently hedonistic, selfish lifestyle, we do not have the right to wish to be married - and we certainly have no right to want to raise kids! Admittely, I don't have any gay male friends raising children within their relationships but I do know lesbians in their relationships who are. I have seen how powerful the maternal instinct can be - twice as powerful, in fact - and I know that when a child is born with two mums or two dads, that child will be unequivocally loved and wanted as queer parents need to work twice as hard to prove themselves half as capable parents.
MYTH: Gays don't want to be married. They see marriage as an outdated, patriarchal institution and are only now pretending they've wanted to get married all along.
FACT: This is not without some truth. The NSW Gay and Lesbian Lobby (for example) has never lobbied for gay marriage and in Australia it's certainly never had the groundswell of support behind it as it has in the US. It also appeared to me that some far-left groups and individuals jumped on board to argue for gay marriage because suddenly it was the fashionable minority cause du jour, even though the same groups and individuals would otherwise have opposed marriage as a sexist, mysogynistic capitalist venture.
What seems to be forgotten here is that this is an issue of choice. If gay men don't believe that marriage validates their relationship, fine - don't get married. If lesbians believe their relationship is so completely unlike breeder relationships that subscribing to one of their rites is pointless, fine - don't get married. If there is a general perception that queer relationships are by definition different to straight relationships, with a whole different set of rules to play by, fine - don't get married. It should be one queer person's right to make that choice,
just as it should be another's to want to have the big ceremony, get the piece of paper and carry their new husband across the threshold. As feminism has been driven by a desire to provide choices and opportunities for women, so too should queer activism. The argument that this is about equality or that we "want to be just like them" is far too myopic. Queers getting married would re-define marriage; marriage does not need to re-define their relationship. And as we've seen, historically, the re-definition of marriage in certain circumstances has not brought about the 4 Horsemen or rains of fire.
MYTH: This Bill is not about discrimination against same-sex couples; it's about protecting marriage.
ADDITIONAL MYTH: That's why the Libs introduced superannuation rights for same-sex couples at the same time they banned gay marriage.
FACT: Then what the fuck is
this Bill about?! Why does marriage need to be defended
against people who wish to partake in it and actually increase
its subscription base? This was the first Bill in Australian history that clearly and explicitly identified queer people for specific discrimination. There is no way getting around the reality that far-right Liberal backbenchers were nervous about "judicial activists" allowing same-sex marriages solemnised outside of Australia (eg Canada) to be recognised in Australia, and they put the pressue on the frontlines to ensure this could never happen. The Bill was mean-spirited and oppressive, not to mention cruel to the Australians who had got married overseas in the genuine hope that eventually their marriage would be recognised in their home country.
ADDITIONAL FACT: Superannuation rights were only afforded to same-sex couples because the relevant law was re-written to include "interdependents", which by definition included same-sex couples. Unfortunately, however, it also included a woman looking after her sick sister. I don't mean to denigrate the latter of these relationships, however it is obvious that same-sex couples are still having the nature of their relationship denied; they are not spouses - God fobid they might be fucking each other! - but rather dependents who still have to prove the extent and relevance of their relationship in a way that straight married or de facto couples do not.
It's like having two people doing the same job in adjoining cubicles. Whereas one is allowed to do his/her work without interruption, the other has the boss coming up to him/her each day and saying: "So, why shouldn't I fire you today? Justify your presence here until I am satisfied." Not good.
The only thing that made me angrier than the Libs introducing this Bill - and let's face it, we wouldn't expect any less of them - was the ALP jumping on board to support it, even when their leader at the time said he did not see why queer couples shouldn't be allowed to get married, and several ALP lower house members - Tanya Plibersek, Anthony Albanese, Lindsay Tanner, Martin Ferguson and Michael Danby to name but five - have many queer voters in their electorates whose interests they are supposed to represent. They, however, were not even allowed the luxury of a conscience vote on this divisive Bill (Howard could not, after all, succeed in his usual wedge politics here). To make matters worse, the RRR's National Marriage Forum - an assortment of some of the most rabidly hateful, homophobic freaks in this country - put enough pressure on the ALP to make shadow AG Nicola Roxon perform the most appalling backflip (that caught off-guard even her own party) about waiting for the original Bill to be subject to a Senate inquiry before voting on it. Any pretence that she might be a friend to the queer community was thrown out the window when it became clear she was going to side with the RRR over us when push came to shove.
Anyway, to wind up: The Bill went through and all this became academic. Queer activists like Rodney Croome still genuinely believe gay marriage will exist in Australia within our lifetime - it's a force sweeping across the world that we can resist only for so long - but for now it's clear no formal recognition of same-sex relationships will be introduced under a Howard government, and the best we have to look forward to under a Beazley government is civil unions (although be warned here: the RRR know that civil unions are "marriages by the back door" and are bracing themselves for battle there too; anybody who believes they'll accept one in place of the other is dreaming).
Do I want to get married? I don't know. Right now, no, got a few other things to tick off the shopping list first. What I do want is the choice to be married. And this isn't some petulant, "everybody else has it so why can't I?" position to take. If I were allowed to many another man, and I chose to do so, I would not make that decision lightly the way some breeders do (Britney Spears married and divorced in 48 hours, anyone?) and I would work very hard to ensure my marriage was one for life. I am lucky to have two models of long-term successful relationships to which to aspire; one is the 35 year-and-counting marriage of my parents, the other is the 20 year-and-counting union of my favourite uncle and his male partner. What I see in both is parity, not difference. Relationships work because of hard work, commitment, trust and respect, and nobody has a monopoly on these things, no matter what the law might imply.
I also look good in a tuxedo, four-storey cakes are camp, and I wouldn't mind getting carried across a threshold...
The Unicycle Diaries
This is precious. SMH's letter of the day (probably week):Louise Dodson tells us the PM is planning to publish his memoirs one day. It will either be a damning indictment and final admission of the lies, deceit, distortions, cover-ups, illegality, pork-barrelling, incompetence, contempt, human rights abuses and intolerance that has characterised John Howard's term in office, or, it will be the single greatest work of Australian fiction ever published.
Adrian Bain Pendle Hill
My guess is it'll be the latter.
Well shucks. My first ever review in the Australian Book Review
(that I know about, anyway) and it's a goodie.
In the February '05 issue, Michael Williams considers Loose Lips
, the 2004 anthology of short stories written by UTS creative writing students (as I was for about 5 months in 2003). To quote his thoughts on my story Nadir
:"These are young writers whose influences are many and varied, and who are not afraid to take risks...One piece written in the second person - a literary device that I usually abhor - is written with such panache by its author, Sam Butler, that I found myself entranced."
Chookas, Michael. It's a small reference but considering he's reviewing three anthologies in the article I was pleased to get a mention at all. Yay.
Penguin Heterosexism #2
Won't somebody please think of the penguins??!! We know about the oppression queer penguins are suffering in Sweden
, but check out what's going on to the tuxedoed flightless little fellow in Germany
. Berlin the gay capital of the world? Hah!
How's this quote from the zoo's director:"Nobody here is trying to break-up same sex pairs by force...We don't know if the three male pairs are really gay or just got together because of a lack of females."
Reminds me of that delightful sentiment that all dykes are latent straight chicks who just haven't had a decent bloke up them yet.
Honestly, if they ain't broke, don't fix 'em.
On a lighter note #2
Couple of things that cheered me up. Firstly, the closing of the gap
between ALP under Beazley and the Libs. I think the Herald, bless its heart, is getting a little carried away with enthusiasm in its summary of their latest poll - a honeymoon period of increased support for the opposition under a new leader is fairly mandatory, I would have thought - but it's encouraging. Whether it's sustainable remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, North Sydney council is going after the 4WDs
(funny how now that looks so much like WMDs. And how they kinda are WMDs). Hopefully Woollahra council will follow suit - I imagine it's the only council in Sydney that per capita has more 4WDs than North Sydney - and my little (and currently inoperative) Marty Mazda 1984 323 won't get so scared and tremble as we approach the Double Bay shopping centre car park. Not to mention all those small children who might now - you know - not get killed.
Please forgive me for this post - it's a bit like the wanky, introspective, self-indulgent "dear diary" entry I swore I would avoid like the plague while blogging. Don't worry, QP will remain social, political and analytical. It's just that after the weekend I had, I haven't quite got my head around observing current events when my own reality - or perception at least - has been somewhat warped.
Again, for the sake of the dear reader I won't go into the gory details, suffice to say that this weekend I ran into unexpected exes with unexpected results, spent a day in Kiama where I helped my parents to systematically and methodically obliterate their residential and financial dreams, then shared a family dinner that by the end of it felt like a re-staging of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?", complete with revelations, recriminations and tears. The lone good part of the weekend was playing tennis for the first time in years and actually still being OK, although boy o boy I ache all over now.
I've been seriously re-considering my family dynamic and in particular the great respect I have (had) for some of them. It's not a pleasant feeling to find out a hero is actually a fairly average human being or to have to assure your parents that they haven't failed you.
So QP's lesson of the day is: under no circumstances go into business with family members. If and when it goes horribly wrong, the ripples can be felt for miles.
Sorry all, not feeling my usual peppy self today so no big postings. I'm sucking back on the herbal teas and catching up with Days of our Lives at home. Should be all spiffy again by tomorrow.
How excitement- the first in what I'm hoping will be a regular Queer Penguin column in SX mag! SX is free and available at pretty much all the same places you can pick up SSO (so most clubs/pubs/gyms on Oxford/King streets, bottlo's and newsagents in queer-friendly inner suburbs and any other parts of Sydney I might not know about). You can find QP on page 8 in the News section of the latest issue. There's even a pic of an adelie penguin. Awwwww.
Camilla Parker-Bowles is to become the new bride of Chucky
. Zip pa dee fucking doo dah. Another marketing exercise for a pack of redundant over-privileged leeches financed by people who actually work for their money. Over here in the colony, J to the H has already made clear this wedding is "sensible" and has nothing to do with whether or not Australia should become a republic. Of course it doesn't, Johnster. Nothing they do should have anything to do with Australia as we should be a republic, as the majority of Australians, if you include supporters of the directly-voted President model, wanted back in 1998 and still do.
CPB kinda looks a bit like Linda Evans - if Linda were half a foot shorter, hadn't used moisturiser since 1978 and was really, really ugly. Apparently 80% of people who give a shit about this family hate her already and despair for the poor kiddies who now, on top of the death of their mother, have a wicked step-mother to contend with. I might feel something resembling pity for them if I weren't already convinced that Harry is not in fact Charles' son - the fact that he looks more and more like James Hewitt the older he gets seems to be the elephant in the room that everyone knows about but is unwilling to acknowledge - and that William can be easily compensated with his good looks, unlimited access to millions of dollars of other people's money and thousand mile line of women (and quite a few men) who would be his queen tomorrow.
This morning I heard odds for what the colour of her wedding dress will be. Even odds for white, 3-1 for cream, 10-1 for pastel and 800-1 for fuschia. For anyone who's interested, I'll pay 5000-1 for CPB to walk down the aisle in hot pants, a boob tube and a pilates instructor head band. In fact I'll pay 10,000-1 if she shimmies down the aisle in this outfit to ABBA's "I do, I do, I do", and 500,000-1 if she moves down the aisle while hyper-jogging on the spot to "I'm a Maniac" from Flashdance.
Just came across this passage in Hansard
(OK OK!! I read Hansard. I have no life. I realise this) from Port Adelaide ALP member Rod Sawford. Sawford has been in that seat since 1988 but is extremely low-profile, to say the least. Quote a friend of mine who lives in his electorate: "I think there's legends about him attending a meeting once in the early 90s". Crikey describes him as "the last surviving parliamentarian from the once-dominant South Australian Centre Left", so his apparent political non-alliance gives him the opportunity to get away with being fairly critical about Liberal and his own party.
Anyway, here's the money quote:
The elections in the United States and Australia, so similar in so many ways, lead us to ask some pertinent questions. What sort of country is Australia becoming? Is Australia becoming a country with a line between church and state that is inviolate? Is Australia becoming a country where religion trumps science? Is Australia becoming a country where leaders mobilise deep moral energies to divide us from each other and the world? Is Australia becoming a country that interferes with the rights of women to control their bodies? Is Australia becoming a country that intrudes into people's sexual preferences? Is Australia becoming a country where religious energy is used in politics to promote division and intolerance, and is that energy really on God's agenda? These are important questions.
I have always had the view, one that I note is shared by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, that your religious viewpoint ought to be private. In fact, one of the great strengths of the Australian democracy is that that belief is a basic tenet of our nation. People seem to forget that the overwhelming majority of religions in the world are not democratic--never have been and never will be. Nor are countries democratic when religions control the nation. Those points have no impact whatsoever on the right of all Australians to believe in and practice whatever faith they choose, but people do not have the right to interfere in the political process and to push their own particular morality on the rest of the population.
Sadly, such level-headed pragmatism seems to be dying in our parliament as the "pushers" increase in numbers and political clout.
Howard was undeniably effective in coaxing back the far-right One Nation rednecks; in several seats the increase in the Liberal/National Party candidate's primary vote was directly proportionate to the fall in One Nation's. Assemblies of God - woops, I mean Family First - are a rising force but if they follow the pattern of ON they'll peak and die within a decade (fingers and toes). The Libs no doubt have a strategic plan to keep the RRR voters on-side for two-party-preferred purposes. I can only wonder if the ALP has a similar plan. Probably, since folk like Sawford also seem to be a spent force in the party. Looks like I might be singin' for Jesus sooner than I'd hoped...
As a vocal advocate for the rights of same-sex attracted penguins, I could not let this article, "Zoo tempts gay penguins to go straight
", go by. Highlights:
"Director Heike Kueck said that the zoo hoped to see some baby penguins in the coming months. She said that the birds had been mating for years and one couple even adopted a stone that they protected like an egg
Once again it's demonstrated that biological restrictions are no impediment to the strong desire of God's queer creatures to want to create and nurture family.
"But introducing the Bremerhaven penguins to their new Swedish friends may not be as successful as hoped after earlier experiments revealed great difficulties in separating homosexual couples."
No doubt Exodus International, the group designed to cure homosexuality through prayer, will need to establish a subsidiary whose primary focus is on the sad, Godless lives of the homosexual flightless bird.
In case they show no interest, the zoo has also flown in two new male penguins "so that the ladies don't miss out altogether", Kueck added.
Pffft. If porn has taught us anything, it's that all "straight" men are merely latent homosexuals whose true desires emerge when seduced by two gay mechanics for a hot three-way in the garage. I'm sure the penguin kingdom is no different and the poor ladies will just have to keep waiting.
PS - Trust these sorts of shenanigans to happen in Sweden where queer sexuality is embraced. Australia would do well to improve on its dwindling migrant penguin population by promoting itself as a more queer penguin-friendly nation.
Apparently the Libs are yet to confirm whether or not they will run a candidate for Mark Latham's recently-vacated seat of Werriwa, centred around Green Valley/Casula. Far be it for me to tell the Libs how to organise their candidates - nor indeed to offer them any encouragement or support - but I would have thought they'd have had lined up someone months ago when the not-remote possibility of Latham's total exit from politics first arose.
The west of Sydney, it's a changin'. Of the five seats neighbouring Werriwa, three (Lindsay, Hughes and MacArthur) are safe Liberal, and while the other two, Fowler and Prospect, are safe Labor, Prospect suffered a 5.7% swing against Labor on top of the 4% swing it suffered in 2001. Based on these trends alone, a seat that was once Labor by a 17% margin in 1998 - more Labor than Tanya Plibersek's Sydney seat - could be marginally Liberal by 2010.
History also shows that voters are ruthlessly fickle when they believe their elected representative has deserted them. When John Moore retired mid-way through his term, a Liberal seat of 9% went to Labor in a by-election (then back to Liberal by 2001). When Labor frontbencher Stephen Martin resigned in 2002, the Wollongong-based seat of Cunningham went to the Greens in their first and (to date) only ever House of Reps seat.
I would have thought the shifting voter patterns combined with Latham's spitting-the-dummy exit would have made the Libs decision to run a candidate for Werriwa a foregone conclusion. Methinks that, as always, there's more going on behind closed doors than we mere mortal public will ever know...
Couldn't have put it better myself
I'm not always a big fan of hers, but Emma Tom's tips on how pro-life blokes can "put their money where their morals are"
is inspired. Check it out.
While on abortion: interesting times for a film like Vera Drake
to be released, and its director, Mike Leigh, has a straight-forward, realistic and apolitical take
on the subject. Being a Leigh film I'm sure Drake will be unrelentingly bleak and depressing, but also a must-see for people who enjoy films about human beings with all our flaws and shortcomings. I've been a fan of star Imelda Staunton ever since her appearance on the hysterical "A Bit of Fry and Laurie". She's one of those actresses who is not a conventional beauty in any sense of the term (for one thing, she's tiny), but she always turns in excellent performances in fluffy films like "Peter's Friends", "Shakespeare in Love", "Crush" and "Bright Young Things". I don't think she'll get the Oscar but I'm thrilled she's even nominated. I can't wait to see Drake.
State of concern
Amongst the pro-life, pro-cover up Vanstone agendas currently being put forward by the Libs, I'm noticing a more subtle agenda that would appear to be gaining momentum: the abolition of the states of Australia.
Pope Tony Abbott III claims he no longer believes in Australia's tiered federal system because he claims the states are wasteful and inclined towards socialism, hence his push to wrest control of the public hospitals from the states. Ask Dr Brendan is pushing for a national Year 12 certificate with - big surprise - the support of the Daily Liberal Party Press Release
. In the legislature, I'm seeing as a legal editor (well, when I pay attention) various state jurisdictions merging into national codes. Evidence law, laws governing the conduct of legal practitioners and consumer and fair trading law spring to mind.
Could all this be part of a noble vision of conservatives to reduce the level of government bureaucracy and ease the burden on taxpayers who are hit on three levels (if you also include council rates)? Nah. I think it's driven more by the fact that, at the moment (and hopefully still after the WA election) there is a Labor government in every state and territory, and this gives the Libs the shits. They're also seeing that federal Labor is in a lot of trouble and increasingly perceived as pointless. And they'll stop at nothing to destroy their enemies. I've heard a delicious rumour that the Federal Magistrates court - an entirely new court
- was established in 2000 solely to wrest jurisdiction from the Family Court and ultimately put the then-head of that court, Alistair Nicholson, out of a job as he was clearly an evil Communist traitor who needed to be neutralised, what with his subversive theories on queer families being real families who should have access to the court and so on.
And it would seem a similar operation is in place there. If you can't beat 'em...Make 'em redundant. I'm sure Tony would be less concerned about the "failure" of federalism if the Kerin government were in power in SA (they almost were), the Brogden government were in NSW (they probably will be after the next election if Bob doesn't get those pesky trains running on time) and Barnett and friends had WA (not unlikely).
Imagining Australia without states is tricky. Do we really want to be part of the same land mass as the area where Queenslanders live? What will we call that cute little piece of dirt opposite Melbourne where all the apples are? Don't Adelaideans feel comfortable knowing there are up to 3 borders between them and Ipswich?
seems to have hit the nail on the head regarding the ALP's current misfortunes. Specifically:
Looking at just three indications of economic health - interest rates, inflation and unemployment - (Port Adelaide Labor MP Rod) Sawford says election results can be predicted. If all three go down over a term, the Government will be returned; if all three go up, the Opposition will win.
Last year all of these economic factors were lower than in 2001, so Sawford was confident the Government would be returned. So much for the importance of leadership. If economic factors are so paramount, why does Labor turn itself inside out with leadership destabilisation and battles, if the result is written in the economic stars anyway?
I had similar thoughts on my mind this morning with a minor epiphany that it doesn't really matter who leads Labor right now. They could have Kim Beazley, Kevin Rudd, Eddie Maguire, Jennifer Hawkins or any other figure popular with the punters in charge and still it won't resolve the overriding dilemma that Labor cannot win an election; Liberal has to lose it.
Meanwhile, Gerard Henderson
- the man who I imagine sees himself as the hard right version of Phillip Adams, and who to his credit probably has more brain cells than the Divine Miranda, Janet Albrechtsten and Piers Akerman combined - argues that religious leaders and politicians have every right to "discuss" abortion. I don't agree, but I'm enough of a realist to know that it will happen anyway, as organised religion is still a powerful political lobby group and its pawns are now as high in the hierarchy as Health Minister. What I'm wondering is: what eaxctly will they contribute to this "discussion"? Wait, let me guess. Life is precious. Abortions are bad. Late-term abortions should be banned. Ideally, there would be no abortions.
The way I see it, let some far-right backbencher (like Alan Cadman or John Murphy) introduce the private member's bill, and let it go to the vote. I am confident that the majority of MPs recognise that if the system ain't broke, don't fix it (I am particularly heartened by status quo arguments but forward by Libs like Dr Sharman Stone, Jeannie Ferris and Brendan Nelson) and therefore the Bill would be voted down, but it would be interesting to "out" people on this issue, find out once and for all who supports a woman's right of choice and who does not.
I must also pick up Henderson on this unusual analogy:
It appears that Christians face a contempt in sections of the media which is not extended to other religious, or secular, faiths. For example, in introducing a report on AM last Tuesday, presenter Tony Eastley depicted Boswell's focus on abortion as being "like a dog with a bone". It is hard to imagine such a comment being made about the focus of the Greens leader, Bob Brown, on forests.
A/ The "forests" are not a bone but rather a defining symbol, the primary focus of the Greens as a political party. It's not just a little side hobby of Bob Brown, rather the main reason he is in politics and why the Greens exist.
B/ Voters knew exactly what the Greens stood for going into the election, despite the warping of and fear-mongering about their policies by the Murdoch media. The Greens' pro-conservation agenda was not hidden or suddenly revealed after October 9. A change to Australia's abortion laws was never made clear in the Coalition's policy platform leading up the election and probably only became a possibility when they realised they had total control of parliament. Perhaps if it had been, not so many people would have voted for them.
Oh Mandy Pt 2
Quoth Minister Vanstone, the frumpy worm farmer (my mum found out about that particular hobby during an "animated" interview with her):
My advice is she claimed that she was German ... (she) spoke German, said she was German, said she was a visitor, said she had no friends and family and had with her a stolen passport.
So it's a pretty fair understanding that both police and immigration would think this person maybe an unlawful citizen.
Ms Rau stuck to the story of who she was, where she was born, that she was adopted of parents in Germany consistently.
But wait up - the Bakhtiari family claimed repeatedly that they were from Afghanistan, not Pakistan. And they stuck to it. But you didn't believe them, did you Mandy? Perhaps it's just that you assume the word of a "European" has by definition more credibility than that of an Afghani?
Howard himself has ordered an inquiry, so even he can see this is something they won't be able to sweep under the rug, at least not immediately. These sorts of inquiries will of course become non-existent after July of this year when the total Liberal eclipse of parliament occurs. The question is: can the Van sweat it out in her cotton/poly floral designs until then?
At the opening of Mardi Gras last night, Bob Downe referred to Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone as "camp". I think Bob was being far too kind. The Immigration Department's hopeless bungle
detaining a mentally ill woman in Baxter detention centre for 10 months demonstrates the incompetence of a Howard ministerial department at work once again. Asylum Seeker Resource Centre spokesperson Pamela Curr says the woman was locked up for up to 20 hours a day without access to proper medical treatment. Vanstone claims the department "went to great lengths to establish the woman's identity". But still they managed to fuck it up. Again.
I hope this fuck-up will reach the legal counsel representing the Bakhtiari family. After all, if Vanstone and her department can't get the identity and mental status of one Australian resident right, it doesn't seem such a leap that they - woops - might have been wrong all along in their findings that the Bakhtairis were Pakistani and not Afghanistani, as the family insisted, and therefore the ruthless uprooting of Mrs Bakhtiari and her children - armed police sneaking into their home after hours to take them away under cover of darkness - was totally unfounded, illegal and a gross infringement on the civil rights of a family who had called Adelaide their home for the last four years and who were active and well-respected members of the local community. But the Liberal party spin doctors are diabolically ingenious. I'm sure once again an incompetent Howard minister will live to fuck things up once more.
Spankin' the monkey
For all you monkeys out there - that is, the Chinese astrology animal for those born in 1992, 1980, 1968, 1956, 1944 etc - it's good news for 2005:
The Entertaining Monkey - The “Merry Mercurial"
For single Monkeys, 2005 may bring about a reunion with old friends or lovers and the sparks could fly! Although you have long for a certain someone, you may well have an experience that will open your heart to new possibilities. 2005's focus is on comings and goings, short trips or jaunts, friends, relatives and nostalgia. More sociable than ever, you'll be at ease and communicate your enthusiasm with a buoyant spirit. When working, identify your goals and be prepared to move forward. This Rooster year will require Monkey souls to concentrate and spend more time on their work. If in doubt, always double-check this year, as all mistakes will be under scrutiny and microscopic examination. Love will be more favorable to those under the age of 36 as opposed to older couples, who could be plagued by disagreements over money. Refrain from all impulsiveness, tricks or amusing pranks during 2005 as the sober-minded and hard-working Rooster may not appreciate your brand of youthful humor. A brief period of insomnia convinces you to relax and release useless suspicions.
You gotta rush out and buy the latest issue of Blue if, like me, you're a big fan of Rodney Croome and hadn't got round to realising that, as well as being Australia's premier human rights activist, he's also built like a brick shithouse. The final colour photo in the spread is particularly awe-inspiring. The interview with the man himself, his peers, colleagues, exes and critics is, like the photos, also very revealing. Gush gush.
(Please forgive me for the absence of new posts yesterday; I was too caught up in the giddying thrills of legal publishing to remember to have a life.)
Apparently, everybody has an opinion on Mardi Gras
. No surprise, so do I. Until 2003 MG was my Mecca. As an Adelaidean living in a city whose queer visibility was largely limited to a rainbow flag in Norwood and an annual picnic (although to be fair, the Feast festival and Pride march which began in '96 and '03 respectively are great credits to what can otherwise be a conservative, oversized country town), the concept of marching down Oxford Street to the cheers of 600,000 queers and breeders was very romantic. Unfortunately, by the time I marched ('04) God had decided to throw Fred Nile a bone and answered his repeated prayers for rain. It pissed down, and at one point a gale blew that almost lifted dancing drag queens off the ground and into the air a la The Flying Nun. Marching was something I'm glad I've done once but I'm in no mad rush to do it again. Now, like most of my sorority, "going to Mardi Gras" means I'll be going to the opening, a few movies and stage shows where frontal nudity is involved, and paying an extortionate amount of money for the post-march party ticket.
Men I've spoken to who are old enough to remember the Mardi Gras march from its late 80s/early 90s glory days are convinced that MG has lost it; that it's dying a slow death in the face of dwindling funds, lack of interest and general identity crisis. Some say it's too offensive, others say not offensive enough; some say it's become too straight, others too commercialised. And some say it's just too damn boring. Television won't touch it anymore (not even Aunty, although I think Uncle Alston had a lot to do with that) and the crowd numbers each year, although fluctuating madly in estimations (the RRR like to say 20,000 max, while promoters speak of 500-600,000) are definitely getting smaller each year.
I feel conflicted about some of the MG floats. Some of them are fairly aggressive, albeit when they are targetting particular individuals like Nile, Franca Arena, Howard etc they all in my mind deserve it. But when decent moral folk talk about how flagrant and disrespectful the parade is, they highlight what is probably fair enough hypocrisy whereby we can have a laugh watching Nile's giant head on a giant stake, but if the RRR held a parade that had, for example, Rodney Croome or David Marr or whoever impaled on a giant phallus (not that I believe the RRR has such imagination), there would probably be an outcry from us, with Gary Burns filing a lawsuit and the Anti-Discrimination board ruling in our favour.
Then again, people forget that the parade was borne from civil disobedience. The brave men and women who were assaulted by police in the original '78 march weren't trying to be polite and politically correct; they were protesting the then-Draconian laws that kept them, their community and relationships under thumb. And while a lot has changed for the better since then, particularly in state laws that govern queers' relationships, we're still living in a country where the only "reform" our federal government has offered in the last nine years is to ban us from getting married and adopting children from overseas (more on that news story as it comes to hand). Politicians, religious leaders, Murdoch columnists and radio shock jocks are still getting away with spewing the sort of homophobic shit that, were the same sentiments levelled at racial minorities, would rightly put them out of a job or at least in a lot of trouble.
I believe the current political climate still begs an annual big march of both celebration and protest, but obviously less and less people believe this with each new year. The march has a history of homos themselves opposing its existence. Patrick White dismissed it as "entirely unhelpful" while Christopher Pearson, Professor Allan Flint and other sad homos trying desperately to hide their sexuality behind the purple drapes so they may be accepted into the gentlemen's club have also had choice words on the subject. So, like gay marriage, it's going to be hard to push an agenda when we're not all united behind it. There are still some misguided souls who believe the "softly, softly" approach is the best way to go to achieve our rights; just wait for the nice well-meaning heterosexuals to give us what we want because hey, it's happening everywhere else in the world so it must be inevitable here. As Romy White wisely pointed out: "Yeah Ramone, that'll happen."
Sydney should pull its finger out long enough to see how Melbourne is getting it right. Midsumma has all the elements of an entertaining, intellectual festival of ideas and artistic expression, with a cherry-on-the-top march that is generally positively viewed and reported, even by toilet paper like the Herald-Sun
. The messages get across, everyone seems to have a laugh and the horses aren't frightened. Sydneysiders need to learn that, sometimes, size doesn't matter. Having said that, I can't wait for the opening in Hyde Park tonight.
PS - Philip Ruddock - the architect behind the marriage ban, the man who pisses on our families and our ability to raise children and who refuses even to contemplate the option of queer civil unions - offering a message of support in the MG guide while on the next page his boss "is unable to provide a message"? As Heather Mooney wisely pointed out: "OK Ruddock, fuck off!"
On a lighter note
I wanna send a big cyber bouquet of arum lilles to Ron, net blogger extraordinaire (check out his fine work here
) who's been a treasure in helping me, a newbie blogger doofus, to set up a semi-respectable site. He's really tizzed it up and been wonderful in providing support and advice.
That website once again:
Cheers, thanks a lot.
I thought we'd heard the last of the abortion "debate" when Darth Howard himself shut the door on any future agitation from Tony Abbott, Ron Boswell and other God botherers. But according to this article in the Herald
, it looks like it's just the beginning.
Quoth the little man with the bad eyebrows: I think some of the ideas being put forward about providing people with assistance in relation to choices, I think they're good. It's good to look at the issues from a practical positive point of view rather than an argumentative one.
Ahh, so suddenly we're taking a "practical", unemotive approach to terminations. Suddenly, infringing on a woman's choice, imposing religious dogma on people and state regulation of women's bodies is "practical" and "positive".
I'm not old enough to remember the bad old days of backyard abortions with wire coat hangers, but I know it's a time I don't want Australia to return to. I've also never had nor ever will have an abortion and I couldn't begin to understand what goes through a woman's mind when she makes that decision. I do, however, have at least one friend (that I know of) who has had a termination and I know she did not make this decision lightly. I also know she is not a murderer, she is not sinful, she does not deserve to be taken to court and she does not regularly have terminations as a form of birth control. These are the myths perpetrated by the RRR and let's not pretend they are not just as emotive in their opposition to abortion as pro-choicers are in their support of the right of choice.
Let's also not be self-righteous hypocrites about the "sanctity" of life when we're invading Iraq based on a lie and wiping out millions of innocent civilians, or torturing political prisoners in concentration camps, or while in the US there are pro-lifers who asssassinate doctors who perform abortions. Life is precious, yes, but what sort of life will a baby have who's born into a world where her father raped her mother, or her parents are smack addicts, or she is adopted out and spends her life shifted from foster home to foster home at the mercy of a hopelessly overworked, underfunded bureaucracy?
My greatest fear is that the establishment of a new anti-abortion lobby is the first step in Australia once again emulating the United States in social extremities. Do we want to live in a country where doctors are assassinated on the street? Or women who go to family planning clinics have pig's blood thrown at them on their way in? Or Jesus freaks stage protests at the funerals of abortion doctors and women they know had an abortion as some stage of their lives?
Just so you know you heard it here first. On recommendation of my flatmate, I'm getting in early with "J-Fo", a term I'm sure will be used at least once by various industry and media wags for Jane Fonda in new film Monster-in-Law
, in which she plays J-Lo's potential mother-in-law.
The film itself looks not uninteresting. It's directed by Robert Luketic, the Melbourne homo who gave us the fabulous Legally Blonde (interestingly, Reese Witherspoon as producer didn't get him back for the LB sequel, even after hours of hard-core fawning over her in the LB1 DVD commentary. But then considering how awful LB2 was, he may ultimately be very grateful). It will also be interesting to see all the righties jump to attention as they remind us of "Hanoi Jane", the great "betrayer" of the US during the Vietnam War.
Personally, I've never been a big fan of J-Fo based on her politics alone, but I have an enormous amount of respect for her as a human being who's achieved amazing things in her life. How many other people can list 60s sex kitten, political activist, double Oscar and Emmy award-winning actress, 80s fitness guru and ageless beauty in their CVs? She's certainly in the top ten of my dream dinner party guest list. An interesting film for her to come out of acting retirement for after 15 years. Maybe now that she's no longer Mrs Ted Turner the money tree is looking a little bare?
Dancin with the Starstruck
(Pinch and a punch...)
It's official: Cheese has returned to Aussie TV, and boy is it stinky.
Perhaps cheese never left - Paul McDermott has been hosting Strictly Dancing for the last two years on Aunty after all - but the cheese to which I refer has an aged, mature flavour, reminiscent of much older vintages.
2004's "surprise" success - and the show that had Daryl Somers crawling out of his career grave quicker than Buffy Summers - was "Dancin' with the Stars", and like all true Australian variety gems of the 60s and 70s (think IMT, The Don Lane Show, Graham Kennedy etc), it was live, glittery, had a band and a pot pourri of "celebrities" (read: actors in other Channel 7 shows for gratuituous cross-promotion and 90s has-beens like Pauline Hanson and Paul Mercurio). Somers' jokes were about as funny as liver cancer, and he looked so tacky in a tuxedo I was actually wanting to see him return to the Ken Done wooly knits that made him visible from space in his Hey Hey days.
But Channel 9, not to be outdone as the home of fine cheese, last night gave us "Starstruck", their variation of the UK's "Stars in Their Eyes" in which guys and dolls morph into their pop heroes. In the case of SS we had everything from Robbie Williams to Barry White, the latter of which caused a wave of controversy in my house at least, with both my flatmate and myself appalled that, in 2005, a man can paint his skin dark a la Al Jolson's travelling minstrel, and have his entire performance aired without being ripped off the airwaves.
Meanwhile, Larry Emdur and Catriona Rowntree grinned like Cheshire cats with their Vaseline-dressed caps, inspiring nausea with each round of their "sparkling" repartee. All that was missing was the Channel 9 dancers performing a Coralee Hollow-choreographed number featuring said dancers running screaming past the camera to a Geoff Harvey-conducted band rendition of "Copacabana", perhaps with Barry Crocker in charge of vocals. Hey: There's three possibilities for SS contestants to morph into. But why stop there?
"Tonight, Larry, I'm starstruck by...Ian Turpie!"
"Tonight, Larry, I'm starstruck by...Patti Newton!"
"Tonight, Larry, I'm starstruck by...Larry Emdur!"
Lleyton spelled backwards is "Not Yell"
C'MON!!!!! So the little princess went down in four last night to the rather delicious, if rather ill-tempered, raquet-slammer Marat Safin. Spewwie managed to score something last night though - classically-trained Shakespearean and multiple Tony award-winning actress Bec Cartwright apparently accepted his marriage proposal and now has the big Harry Winston on her bony, unpolished finger. Woopee shit.
To be fair to Not Yell, he actually played a good match and was relatively restrained and well-behaved. Marat just played that little bit better on the night, which NY actually admitted in a rare showing of humility. Apart from the occasional raquet slam, Safin was calm, dominant and did not let anything get by him or allow NY to hit many winners. And he still managed to be sexy and attractive whilst expressing Niagara Falls of sweat from his body.
The love-or-hate-Spewwie debate is rife. Obviously he had the whole crowd behind him last night (including coach Roger Rasheed, whom I would like to point out was once also my coach for the grand total of two training sessions when I was 14), but this seemed more due to the fact that it was an Australian - any Australian - in the final of an AO since 1988 when Pat Cash went down to Mats Wilander. And we haven't had an Aussie win the tournament since Mark Edmonson in 1976. Spewwie came very close - I have a feeling in my waters that next year will be his year provided he stays on-form and takes out Roger Federer at least once before then. In the meantime, he may need to reconsider the on-court petulance and immaturity that forms a large part of his game. The screams and hand-pointing may have worked to unsettle lesser-ranked players like James Blake and David Nalbandian, but Safin wasn't having a bar of it.
On the other hand, do our best tennis players need to be role models too? Let's face it, we don't have a good track record. Mark Philippoussis, while also yummy with a spoon, is about as mature as Paris Hilton (they make a good pair really), Pat Cash was a sook, as was Nicole Bradtke/Provis - really the only exemplary model of sportspersonship in Aussie tennis is Pat Rafter, and even he had his moments.
But then of course, there's Alicia Molik, who's way cooler and far easier to like than Spewwie. As an ex-pat South Aussie I'm much prouder of Molik than NY. She's cool, level-headed, gracious in both victory and defeat and once she's mastered her second serve I reckon she's a top-5 player. It was such a shame that her reaching the quarter-finals of the AO and only just going down in a fantastic battle against Lindsay Davenport was overshadowed by NY's ascension to the final, but I know I'll be keeping a closer eye on her this year and enjoying her grunt-free, C'MON!!!-free style much more than NY's aggression, abuse of linespeople and inability to acknowledge his opponent.