Murdering the Dead
In a couple of extraordinary twists post-Graham Kennedy's demise:Derryn Hinch claimed Kennedy died
from an AIDS-related disease.
Swift response came from Kennedy's long-time friend Noeline Brown, who called into Hinch's program to categorically deny the allegation. "Many of my friends have died from AIDS but my friend, and Australia's friend, Graham Kennedy did not die from AIDS,"
she told Hinch."Believe me, he did not have it and I can get many people from the nursing home to refute what you're saying."
More damning to Hinch, however, is that his claims are now directly contradicted
by a medical certificate made public yesterday stating Kennedy did not carry the disease and furthering Brown's argument that HIV would have been reported on his death certificate as a notifiable disease.
Hinch, unsurprisingly, is remaining stubbornly unrepentant, claiming an interview today with one of Kennedy's lovers will vindicate him.
I feel obliged to condemn Hinch here, but also come to his defence.
First the condemnation: It's indicative of a man's oversized ego when the response to his allegations essentially being totally disproved is: "When I die, say anything about me, as long as it's true -- I've lived by the adage that all history owes the dead is the truth."
WTF? You're publically broadcasting unfounded and most likely untrue allegations about the HIV status of a recently-deceased icon, based on flimsy evidence
, and you're giving us self-righteous moralising about the obligation of truth?
Now the defence: Hinch's actions here are inexcusable, but what I find more telling were some of the outraged responses of his listeners when he first aired the allegations."You are a skidmark on the jocks of Melbourne society.""Why didn't you give the guy some respect and let him die with dignity you dirty dog?""You filthy bucket of swill, you ought to have your tongue ripped out by the roots."
Are people so offended because of Hinch's sloppy journalism here, or are they still so repulsed by people contracting and dying from HIV/AIDS that to accuse somebody of doing so is a personal affront to them? If Hinch had falsely claimed Kennedy died from any other illness or disease than this one, would the abuse have been so acerbic?
I might be naive here, but I don't believe Hinch's primary motivation was homophobia. I think he actually believes his own delusions of "telling the truth", even if he is going about it all the wrong way and not giving us any truth that cannot be quickly and conclusively discredited.
Hinch's own words hint at reverence, even in a back-handed sort of way:"(Kennedy) was a complex character. Undoubtedly the most successful performer ever on Australian TV...The Master of the rehearsed ad lib. One of the hardest workers in the industry....At the peak of his fame, he was paranoid that his awesome audience would discover that that he was gay...This was at a time when if the word got out you were a poofter, it would destroy your career..."
True words, and certainly Frank Packer's unhealthy obsession with catching out the "poofter" validates this, although realistically, Packer as the avaricious fiend he was would not have sacked the man who brought in so much revenue for his station.
But: Hinch's "outing" of Kennedy is crap. Graeme Blundell's biography
did not overlook this "secret" and as with other well-known gay and lesbian celebrities, even though they might not officially be out doesn't mean we don't all know about it. Think Toby Allen, Jackie Woodburne or Ian Thorpe for starters (OK, I threw that last one in for fun. Yeah, he's straight. Honestly.)
I haven't read the Blundell biography from cover to cover yet but I have read snippets relating to Kennedy's sexuality, and they would seem to indicate that, if anything, Kennedy was asexual, or just not that interested in sex with either men or women. A bunch of opportunistic "ex-lovers" might come out to contradict this, including the man Hinch will be interviewing today, but ultimately it's something we'll never really know.
There's no doubt, however, that his was a queer sexuality, an integral part of his character that fed into his subversive humour and made him enough of an outsider to be the brilliant satirist he was.
As Rodney Croome argues
: "The saddest thing about the current furore is that it shows how little Australian public life has progressed since Kennedy first took the mickey out of it fifty years ago."
The reactions of Hinch's listeners would certainly confirm this is the case. What's sad is that Australia will never replicate another Kennedy to take the mickey as entertainingly as Kennedy did.
We will, however, have an endless production line of Derryn Hinches to be hypocritical crusaders for "truth", to push buttons and intentionally or otherwise tap into the latent homophobia of so many Australians.
I knew it! I knew there was a reason why Naomi Robson fell into my Orlando syndrome (refresher: named after Orlando Bloom, insatiable need to slap some people hard across the face as soon as they open their mouths) every time she closes her eyes and says so sincerely and with such feeling of heart: "I hope you have a great
take care, and goodnight."
As I suspected, undernearth the pearls and loving facade she is a foul-mouthed, uber-bitch diva
I guess I'd be aggressive and temperamental too if I made my career bathing in the bowels of gutter tabloid tele-journalism, trying to uphold my "credibility" and keeping a straight face while reporting on the battler mum from Kingswood who lost 93 kilos eating frozen fish fingers before the evil bank foreclosed on her caravan and her out-of-control ADHD children started a riot that razed the heartless petty bureaucrats at the local council to the ground.
Nobody does the editorial "hmmmmmmmm" and raised eyebrow better than Naomi. She must watch Rob Sitch playing Mike Moore on Frontline before each ep of TT, assume it's an instruction manual rather than a satire and take to the desk.
Assuming she actually went to journalist school, I'd like to track down the lecturer who saw great potential in the young Naomi and recommended she continue in the profession. Man, I'd give him/her such a pistol-whippin.
So yeah, I don't like her much.
Sacre Bleu, Allo Allo, Citroen, Yoplait...
...Renault, allons enfants de la patisserie, french kissin' in the USA...Yes, it's all been a bit French Fields of late. I've spent the last day trying to nail down cheap accommodation close to Le Marais (apparently the gay/Old Paris arrondissement) that doesn't look like the sort of place that might have patterned bloodstains on the wallpaper, but won't leave me bankrupt for the three days I have there either. Anyways, it looks like it's Mary's Hotel
Found out that I will be arriving from Rome at Beauvais airport, which is apparently "two dogsheds stuck in the middle of nowhere 60kms north of Paris". Doesn't inspire me with huge confidence but I guess this means I'll get to see a bit of country France, if nothing else.
I'm realising my French is a lot rustier than I assumed it would be. The map of Paris was really scary.
Any advice from old Paris-been-tos - especially good pubs and clubs to check out (I reckon even I can get to L'Arc de Triomphe and La Tour Eiffel without getting lost) - will be muchly appreciated.
Graham Kennedy: 1934 - 2005.
Like "hero", the word "legend" is over-used these days so as to render all meaning significant. But here was a man for whom the title was entirely appropriate. The pioneer of Australian comedy and a true comic genius. Anybody who can watch an old episode of Blankety Blanks without cracking up either takes themselves too seriously or doesn't appreciate true Australian humour. Kennedy was at once cheeky, defiant, subversive and very, very funny.
He was also temperamental, "professional" to the point of being diva-esque at times and in his later years tragically reclusive. His closest friends claim he was never comfortable with the celebrity tag and this morning his one-time co-host John Mangos claimed he threw up before almost every time he'd walk onto the set of GK's Coast to Coast. Kennedy himself said that the Graham Kennedy seen on television was only ever an actor, not the real thing.
It is sad his television career ended on quite a low note, hosting Australia's Funniest Home Videos, however at least he was the original and involved at a time when home videos as mass entertainment value was a novel concept.
It already looks as though the media are dumbing down his homosexuality, which is no big surprise. No doubt Frank Packer's paranoid fear of the "little faggot from Melbourne" will also be conveniently by-passed, at least by Channel 9, in its tributes. Never mind that the little faggot brought in huge sums of cash for Packer for the 50s and 60s and kept his station afloat. A true Aussie legend can after all never be gay, so let's just ignore that particular elephant in the room.
A brilliant comedian and actor and a genius. I hope he's now found the peace that eluded him in his life for so long, wherever he may be.
So finally, Bree's troubled son Andrew came out last night as the little homo we all knew he was likely to be. Well actually, he didn't come out as such, just got caught with his pants down (literally) by Susan playing with Gaby's latest gardener.
In case you missed, the object of Andrew's affection is one Justin:
I only wish I had Gaby's "dilemma": Who do I want to "trim my hedge", Justin or John:
(Mental note to self: Get a house that has a garden. Then get a job that pays me enough to employ a gardener.)
Now, this posting isn't all just gratuituous eye-candy.
Pfft. Who am I kidding.
Ack! Bad penguin. Behave.
My point - I remember having one - is that can you imagine the casting cough for DH? The homosexuals who write, produce and direct this show must surely have a say in who plays Gaby's latest gardener, and on what criteria do you think an actor might get a role on this show? His ability to evoke the spirit of Olivier in his diction and projection? His Hoffman-like versatility? A combination of Pacino and De Niro-esque fire and intensity?
Sure. It's all about the diction.
So it looks as though we homos are back in prime-time again. Not just DH, Doctor Who is getting a little bit gayer too. No big surprise since this series has been re-invented by QAF creator Russell T Davies, but to be honest - and I never thought I'd say this - I think this is the problem with the latest series of DW: It's just too gay. I don't want to give too much away, but future episodes involve a prophetic vision of Botox, a Britney Spears song, a bi-sexual captain flirting with Chris Eccleston...All this on top of the killer wheelie bin we had to endure in Saturday's episode. One loyalist friend of mine insist this is just DW finding its latter-day camp niche - let's not forget Jon Pertwee and his frilly velvet full-body suits or crap producer John Nathan-Turner and his see-them-from-space Hawaiian shirts, after all - but there is a difference between a universally-appealing camp aesthetic and the nudge-nudge, wink-wink homo in-jokes with which Davies is infusing this series. There are actually straight fans of DW. Honestly. I went out with the brother of one once. They deserve a little more credit.
Can't see many homos on this installment of Big Brother, however. I did hear a mildly amusing joke on the radio, however:
Q: What come in a pair and can usually be found in a closet?
A: The Logan twins.
Happy Birthday blah blah
Da da da da to me, I'm a hundred and three, I look like a monkey and I smell like cat wee...And so forth.
How's this for a birthday pressie - an email from the great dame herself
, Tell Us About It Janet:Sam,
Thanks for the link. Diversity is indeed grand.
----- Original Message -----
From: Sam Butler
Sent: Wednesday, May 18, 2005 3:58 PM
In light of today's strong recommendation of bloggers, I thought you might be interested in checking out mine:
and specifically this posting:
Who'd've thunk it, eh?
I wonder how long I can keep turning 23 before I look silly...
Don't Tell Us About It Janet
Oh Janet, Janet, Janet. I know you're a bright woman so I also know you're deliberately avoiding reality rather than just being ignorant of the facts to support your utterly wrong latest rant.
Here we go.Last week an internal panel set up at the NYT to "improve our journalism" reported that, among other things, the NYT needed to lift its game on reporting religion in America. It found, as just one example, that its coverage of gay marriage "approaches cheerleading".
And what would you call your gay marriage assault or your objection to the two mums on Play School? You're an anti-gay cheerleader, as is the paper for which you write whose editorials tell homos to "just get over" wanting to get married and who hire columnists who will express identical sentiments.In 2003 the Pew Research Centre found 51 per cent of Americans believed the press had a left-wing bias; 26 per cent thought it swung right. A Gallup poll revealed only 44 per cent of Americans were confident the media was capable of reporting news fairly and accurately.
But what about Australia - you know, the country in which you actually live? Need I remind you of how chronically stacked on your side
are Australian newspaper columnists? What about the fact that every Murdoch newspaper and all but the SMH in the Fairfax "Chateau" gave us Vote Howard editorials on the day of the last election (which somewhat negates your "media was conducting a love affair with Mark Latham" argument)?
I'm not sure what the figures are relating to bias perception by readers but it's really much more straightforward here: Murdoch owns 60% of the print media in Australia. Murdoch newspapers have a right-wing bias. Therefore, the majority of print media is right-wing.
Television media: Sure, I wouldn't deny that perhaps Aunty's not always so objective as she should be, but have you tuned into channels 7,9 or 10 lately? Naomi Robson isn't exactly crying "Revolution!" under her pearls. Can't see any shrine to Marx in the background of A Current Affair. Therefore, by a 3:2 ratio Australian commercial media is clearly biased to the right.Tired of the left-wing media bias, particularly after September 11, 2001, bloggers mounted a serious challenge. As US blogger Matt Welch told Anderson, his blogging was a "direct response to reading five days' worth of outrageous bullshit in the media from people like Noam Chomsky".
Again, Jan, what about keeping it in Australia and talking about all the excellent left media commentators
who give us a fresh, non-Rupert persepective on reality? You see, in Adelaide and Brisbane, hundreds of thousands of people have little choice but to drown in the Murdoch ocean because there's no serious alternative. At least New Yorkers jack of the NYT can go to the NY Post or some other quality Murdoch publication.While the quality of blogging varies wildly, the best bloggers, such as Australia's Tim Blair (timblair.net), are checking facts, reporting news, breaking stories and giving alternative commentary to that found in large sections of the old media.
Gee, couldn't have seen this ringing endorsement coming from space. Old media derides the blogger as "a guy sitting in his living room in his pyjamas writing what he thinks".
Really? Strange, I could have sworn Margo Kingston's Web Diary
, (uber-right) Alan Anderson's Razor and Greg Bain
e's, John Boase's
, Tim Dunlop's
, Philip Gomes'
, Jozef Imrich's
and Guido Tresoldi's
blog sites have all variously been linked to the online SMH at some point. Can't see where the derision lies there? I'd say it's far more indicative of old media moving with the times and embracing blogging.Old media detests the Fox phenomenon and those dastardly "shock jocks" -- you know, those radio broadcasters who often attract more listeners than newspapers have readers.
Proving my point all along that the Murdoch empire has never been concerned with truth, integrity or investigative journalism but whether it can make as much money as shock jocks do. Personally, I don't detest the Fox phenomenon personally, I merely detest the gutter level to which it has dragged down journalism. Hate the sin, not the sinner and all that.
(Old media) might notice the rise of evangelical religion, or the swing back to family values, even at the expense of feminist dogma.
At the last election, Family First was a case of Family Who? The media had no idea, and when they did catch up, the reporting was done with just enough disdain to offend your mainstream reader.
Since when? I remember numerous columnists and editorials apologising for FF and its dyke-burning ways. In fact very conveniently, over at the Chateau, Miranda wrote a glowing piece on FF
only two days before the election.
You're of course perfectly entitled to your opinion, Janet. Could you please just even now and then actually be correct and accurate? Please?
Little Charlene Ramsay Robinson, hasn't she grown.
Now the tiny garage mechanic that could has breast cancer, which is a shit no matter whether you think she's adorable (like I do) or "talentless" (my flatmate, who is allegedly a self-respecting gay man but now I have doubts).
As saddened as I am by the news (I had tickets for Friday's show to coincide with my birthday, although I don't mean to imply this is the *only* reason why I'm saddened), I found the stastistic eye-opening that yesterday 30 other women were also diagnosed with breast cancer. And yes, while they didn't make the front page of every newspaper, let's not resent Kylie because she did. If a high-profile celebrity contracting cancer and having their bad news splashed across the tabloids does nothing else than inspire one woman to get her breasts checked, then it's all worth it.
There's a definite trend here though, isn't there? First Olivia Newton-John, then Belinda Emmett, then Delta Goodrem, then Kyles. Is this a warning to all blonde Australian pop/soapie stars? If so, Bec Cartwright better watch out, although considering the public sympathy and surge in profile having cancer can generate, Bec might yet move herself, Spewwie and Spewwie Jnr into an exposed house under some big-arse power lines.
I hope Kylie beats this, I think she will, and I also really hope she doesn't reschedule the tour for June/July when I'm abroad (utterly selfish of me I know but here we are). Anybody who was once Charlene in Neighbours nearly 20 years ago and who has the career and mass appeal she's since maintained commands respect. Kylie is, however, the constant reminder of my decaying youthfulness. I actually remember watching The Wedding as clearly as if it were last week. The soulful tones of Angry Anderson, the bigness of Anne Charleston (mum Madge)'s hair, the fact that you could switch over to another channel and see her dancing the Locomotion...When did I miss this now being 17 years ago?
Kylie's going to be 37 this year. This means she'll be 40 in three years time. 40!! Charlene!!!! I hope she does eventually return to Ramsay Street to visit step-dad Harold or brother-in-law Paul, bringing with her the little Robinson rugrats whom I like to believe would be named Tan-yah, Joy-aydun and Scottlene. Noice.
Odds 'n' Ends
Today has been the first in a long time in which I've actually managed to properly read up on the online papers, as well as other luxuries like lunch, going to the toilet etc.
OK: For starters, an excellent editorial in the SMH
pointing out how outraged Australians would be if Schapelle Corby were an Indonesian woman about to be convicted in Australia and the Indonesian government were heavying our judicial system.
Even though I have argued in previous po
sts how the inaction of the Australian government in the Thomas McCoskar case
was appalling, remember I was primarily arguing for consistency - ie that the government could not claim that McCoskar should have to respect the laws of Fiji when it itself does not respect the right of Indonesia's judiciary to execute convicted drug felons - and justice, ie that McCoskar was convicted under a likely unconstitutional law whereas Corby's defence is largely circumstantial (notwithstanding the mishandling of evidence by police and dodgy non-fingerprinting).
The money quote from the Ed:Part of Indonesia's democratisation, which has been proceeding, despite setbacks, since the downfall of Soeharto in 1998, is the establishment of independent courts and the appointment of impartial judges. Australia has been a staunch supporter of this process. It does Indonesia and itself no favours at all when it slips back to the attitudes of the past and assumes that today's Indonesian courts are, first, incapable of reaching a just conclusion unprompted, and second, open to being bullied by outsiders.***********************************************************************************
Second: When I first saw this headline: "Budget earns a record welcome
" in the Oz, I was a wee bit smug as I felt this vindicated my earlier condemnation
of Kim Beazley's petulant response.
But wait: The article goes on to point out that according to this Newspoll survey, although the budget itself was well-received, it doesn't seem to have equated into a rise of support for the Howard government. In fact they've dropped, while ALP have risen a little (still behind on the 2PP however).
But but but: Then it says that "dissatisfaction with Kim Beazley has hit a new high of 36per cent after he declared he would block the tax cuts".
So overall, a hard one to call. Most likely people are a bit jack of the Howard/Costello battle and at the time Newspoll called them thought they both needed a smack on the botty. I'm sure, as always, that all will be forgiven on election day.
Finally: More NSW ALP-esque shenanigans from the NSW Liberal party
. Here's the reason why I even bother caring about this:The implications for the future direction of the party are profound, although it may take some time for the Right to implement its agenda. That includes hardening up the party's stance on drug laws, abortion, compulsory student unionism, the monarchy and ultimately winning more seats in Parliament...The Right's rise to power could change the face of the NSW Liberal Party from a secular party with liberal social values to one with strong links to Christian church groups and a conservative social platform.
Bob could get up in 2007, but I'm working on the assumption he won't, and bracing for what NSW will have instead. David Clarke MLC, of Guns for Jesus
fame? His love-child, YL Prez Alex Hawke? I thought his whinge about the phone campaign against him was cute. "People have been ringing me telling me that I've been described to them as a religious extremist."
Hmm. Maybe because
And how's this: "What this change highlights is that the people in the party do not represent the views of the vast majority of people in the electorate, who are very conservative..."
Ahh, there's that vast majority
again. Follow the link to see the QP Rancid Religious Right phrasebook translation of "overwhelming majority". It's the majority that exists the second public consensus on one particular issue is barely touching 50% (gentle reminder: nearly 48% of the voting population didn't want John Howard as PM for another term).
And Clarke: "I don't see anything unusual about being a conservative in a conservative party."
Ohhh, my mistake. I thought the Liberal party was a liberal party. You know, individual freedoms, minimal government intervention in the individual's life, not a moral nanny, etc. Some have even dared call the Liberal party a broad church - its federal leader, for instance. But obviously Clarkey knows better.
I have to get back to pain now.
Remember a few months ago, before the saddest day of 2004 that was October 9, when John Howard emerged as the new bestest buddy of Tasmania's timber workers
? When, suddenly, tattoed members of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union - Union
, I stress - were having their picture taken with big grins and their awesome arms around the utterly uncomfortable looking PM, supporting his policy on Tasmania's forests
over Mark Latham's? Remember how Labor lost 2, nearly 3 Tasmanian federal seats in the 2004 annihilation and its fallout, when Latham's own colleagues went on the offensive against him, accusing him of pandering to the commo Greens and the dreaded drinkers of soy decaf lattes in Paddington at the expense of the timber workers?How quickly they forget.
Never mind where the $260m - over $200m more than promised during the election campaign - for the industry reform package came from, let me explain why this reminds me so much of the Ned Flanders/Superintendent Chalmers "joke time" at Springfield Elementary:Flanders
(newly appointed Principal): ...And I think I can put the pal back in principal!(laughter and mirth from the students)Chalmers:
Yeah, and I'll put the super back in Superintendent!(dead silence)
That's the exact same joke. What gives, Leopold?Later...Flanders (outlining policy on lunch)
: ...I'd like to put the stew back in student!(raucous laughter again)Chalmers
: It's just a damn popularity contest with you kids! (rushes off)Leopold
: Now look what you little FREAKS have done!
To illustrate: Howard = Flanders (I know, who would've thought), Latham = Chalmers, loggers = students (dunno who = Leopold. Simon Crean??)
If this is not a case of that Simpons episode, then perhaps it's one of chronic incompetence on the part of the ALP policy marketing team (and perhaps Latham's communication skills too) that they could not articulate clearly the policy Howard will now be implementing, but as the Oz points out (and the only odder pairing of unionists with Howard is QP with an Oz article):In the final blow to former Labor leader Mark Latham, the Prime Minister's announcement will emulate the ALP plan that severely damaged the party just days before last year's election.
Presumably, the timber workers were not gravely concerned about losing their livelihoods under Latham's policy without good reason. You don't sell out the union fraternity (or what's left of it) to cuddle up to union-devouring barracudas like Howard unless you genuinely believe your interests are better protected under him than your traditional ally.
I'd just like to know how Labor could get it so wrong in promoting their means to the same end: clear-felling of old-growth forests will end.
Are people so polarised in this country now they will automatically view with suspicion anything - anything
- that has the support of the Greens, but as soon as they're taken out of the equation, everything's a peachy beacon of bi-partisan productivity (honestly, if you didn't know better you'd think Paul Lennon is a Liberal premier)?
How long do I and other CROW
s have to wait in fear until the outside villagers finally rise with their flaming torches and pitchforks to wipe out all consumers of milky coffee within an 8-mile radius of Town Hall, even when we were the ones saying all along that sustaining levels of oxygen in the atmosphere is perhaps a more important long-term goal than sustaining an ultimately unrealistic career option?
Will said unionists still want to put their arms around Howard when post-1 July his unstoppable assault on workplace unions commences? Hands around his throat, maybe...
Kim, Kimmwuy, Kimmwuy Lork at Moyie Ploise, Lork at Moyie...
Now I got one word to say to you Kim: Get real, don't oppose tax cuts
, yes you're right that they're unfair, yes it's clearly wrong when a 55k earner is only getting 0.01% of a weekly tax cut when a 125k earner is getting 0.07%, but do you think Joe Stupid Voter is going to be able to see the big picture this way or do you think he'll just see you as the grinch who denied him an extra 6 bucks a week beer money, and what's up with your own Treasurer contradicting your stance on this, is this indicative of how hopelessly fragmented and disorganised your party is and aren't you really only doing this because senatorially you become totally redundant in less than three months and this is the last time you and the minor parties and indies can actually have any influence there and you want to go out with a bang rather than a whimper?
Man, the Opposition really is its own greatest opponent. It's going to be PM Howard/Costello/Abbott/Vanstone/Turnbull/Nelson/Nelson from Big Brother until 2055 at this rate.
No Marriage, No Civil Unions, Nothing
I realise I sound like a broken record (for those of you born after 1988 who visit my site, that's what they used to record music onto), but the Endless Summer of Fun that is my current work project has again drained me of time and motivation to post properly. So again I'm cheating with my SX column due tomorrow. Ta ta.A timely reminder this week, amidst heated debate on the merits or shortcomings of the Greens’ state marriage Bill, which queer law reforms should be prioritised and why etc, that, as always, things could be worse.
South Australia’s peak LGBTI lobby group, Let’s Get Equal, this week distributed a media press release commemorating the murder of Dr George Duncan, whose death at (allegedly) the hands SA Vice Squad officers 33 years ago was the catalyst for the decriminalisation of homosexuality in that state. Under the leadership of bisexual Labor premier Don Dunstan (a fan of wearing safari suits and pink shorts to parliament), SA became the most progressive state for gay and lesbian people, indeed perhaps the most progressive state in Australia, period.
Fast-forward thirty years, and the SA of today could not stand in more stark contrast to what it once was. Its reputation as conservative, old-fashioned and boring, while not entirely deserved, is difficult to shake as its population grows older while younger residents flee to the east coast or overseas. As someone who has done this myself, and who has several friends in Sydney and Melbourne who’ve done likewise, I know that, as a youngish gay man, Adelaide just doesn’t have the vibrancy, opportunities and quality of life we take for granted here, especially for its queer community (though this is by no means to downplay the excellent annual Feast festival).
Another impediment to the freedoms of gay and lesbian South Australians is the current state Labor government, whose own right-wing Attorney-General, Michael Atkinson, continually delays and stonewalls the legislative reform for which LGE has campaigned so hard and to which Labor is officially committed. Labor was (just) elected to government in early 2002 but a Bill to end discrimination against same-sex couples was not introduced until well over two years later. Labor then unexpectedly re-introduced the Bill into the Legislative Council, where Liberals combined their numbers with conservative independents to further delay the Bill’s passage by unnecessarily referring it to a parliamentary committee for further “consultation”. Now, over three years since their election, LGE still must implore the SA government to catch up with the rest of the country. I’m quite sure the implicit homophobia that underscores Atkinson’s deviousness would make Dunstan turn in his grave, especially given premier Mike Rann’s assertion that his would be a government that would do justice to the memory of the great Labor leader.
New South Wales by contrast has come a long way with its queer law reform and recognition of same-sex couples, despite many opponents. The Greens even introducing a same-sex marriage Bill here, no matter how unlikely it is to become law, would be fantastical in South Australia, not to mention other states and territories. Maybe it’s time to take a moment to remember how lucky we are here.
I was in two minds as to whether or not I should bother with this posting, as publishing any comment on Big Brother by definition validates its existence, and I feel conflicted about that. As someone who despairs for modern-day Australian television, not to mention an aspiring TV writer who, thanks to reality television, has a maximum of about 6 shows for which he can currently hope to write (and 4 of those I wouldn't touch with a 5-foot cadaver), I despise reality TV. Reality is to television what Carrie is to Prom Night: Take something pure and beautiful and see it mutate into a bloody orgy of carnage and hopelessness. Then throw in a Telstra ad.
Even today, I still believe television can use its powers for good instead of evil. Australian execs don't need to continue saving money on actors and scriptwriters by giving us yet another gay-nanny-extremely-makes-over-a-90's celebrity's-restaurant-in-front-of-ten-thousand-cameras-while-they-simultaneously-trapeze-and-tango-and-build-Trump's-latest-hotel-out-of-coconut-shells-on-a-deserted-Pacific-island-in-an-amazing-race-to-sleep-with-their-new-moms-before-their-old-home-is-detonated. Honestly they don't. Stop giving delusional people the false belief that they actually have talent or longevity and start giving us original quality programming that actually dares to tell a dramatic narrative instead of contriving one. The US finally seems to be getting this message and the prime-time imports we're getting from them fulfill this criterion - think Desperate Housewives, Lost and Medium for starters. So I assume this means we can look forward to Australia doing the same thing in a couple of years' time.
Having said all this: Yes, I watched the first series of BB religiously and last year I also tuned in and out, mainly to catch Ryan Fitzgerald getting around clothes-free (the hot ones are so much hotter when they're labotomised and can't talk proper-like). And although I wanted to slap Merlin (I have this condition I call the "Orlando Syndrome", named after Orlando Bloom, whereby I have a totally irrational and uncontrollable urge to slap some people hard across their face based solely on how they look and talk. Orlando, Scarlett Johansson and Paris Hilton fall into this category), I had a quiet respect for his protest on BB. It was the first time on the show since the whiney little toad from I think the first season who was a member of the Young Libs - Katrina? - that politics featured so explicitly BB instead of the usual defining subjects of the housemates' conversations - underwear, beer, lip gloss and other profound human experiences. Merlin once caught my bus and he's better looking in real life, I have to say. Still wanted to slap him though, but the bus driver threatened to tear up my blue TravelTen if I did.
So I tuned in fleetingly last night only to catch the "imposter" crap. Seriously, how far behind is reality TV? Neighbours used the Blakeney twins (remember them, Gayle and Gillian, used to be on Wombat?) for that exact storyline nearly 15 years ago. I was hoping I'd see some political head-bashing, because apparently BB execs have realised
that nothing sets off fireworks more quickly and effectively than politics. Sounds a little unfairly stacked, however - you have Nelson, the Army reservist from Queensland who reckons Johnny Howard's doing a great job and Kate, the 21y.o Maggie Thatcher wanna-be, and then on the left side there's Tim the journalist, who sounds pretty soft.
So I say all we centre/left/anti-Howard/anti-evil/pro-good bloggers swallow our pride, get text voting and get the Howard and Thatcher babies the hell out of there. This may be the only season in which BB exposes 4-year-olds (I believe this is the mean age of BB viewers) to politics, and as we all know, the Queer Mafia always seeks to recruit your children. Seriously though, it's a mainstream and high-rating medium facilitating, even if only for entertainment and conflict purposes, a political discourse, and I don't think we should let the little window of opportunity close.
In other news: I like Nic's idea of a Big Brother: Blog Edition
. Big Blogger? All they'd need to supply are rusty bayonets in the toilet and we'd have ourselves some quality viewing.
(Bless - I didn't actually think there'd be a picture of a juggling penguin but here we are. And what a fetching bowtie. Draws attention away from the expanding waistline.)
Another QP Lite posting today, sorry. I am indeed juggling many balls (sadly, only metaphorically) at the moment. Work is unprecedently insane, I've started up at the gym after a hiatus so my body is in constant pain (although I did get to have a training session with a spunky if condescending gym instructor), I've just booked the Barcelona-Rome leg of my flight, I'm finalising plans for my birthday dinner, preparing for one of my closest friends to stay with me next week and, if time permits, getting in the odd quarter-age freak out.
Just quickly: saucy sexpot Michelle Grattan is on the case about ALP whoring itself to Family First. Bearing in mind this is the party that said of Kevin Rudd: "KR has made some highly offensive statements in complete ignorance (about FF)...He should keep quiet..." Obviously, Labor has "gotten over it's (GRRRR!!!!!! EMPLOY ME AS AN EDITOR FOR FAMILY FIRST PRESS RELEASES!!! IF NOTHING ELSE I WOULDN'T ALLOW INCORRECT APOSTROPHOPES IN PRONOUNS TO GET PUBLISHED!!!!!) sour grapes (to) explore ways to move forward". Oh yes, because FF is such a forward-thinking, progressive party. Jump forward into 1958...
Would this be the first time both major parties are so offensively brown-nosing a Senate minor party that actually has no voting clout? Obviously as Grattan points out, the Coalition is doing this for insurance should "rebel" Queensland senator Barnaby Joyce flex his muscles a bit and not tow the line (let's not forget previous Queensland dissident Bob "The Mad" Katter). But what's Labor's excuse?
Back to the juggling. Circus music, please.
God Under Howard Review
(Sub Heading: The Rise of the Religious Right in Australian Politics.)
This is the latest work
from Marion Maddox
, former Adelaide Uni lecturer (although unfortunately I never had her) now based in Wellington NZ. The book and its reviews are already stimulating debate from the masses (not to be confused with mass debate) and - big surprise - Bash 'em-Bill Muelhenberg isn't one of the book's big fans
. He seems particularly concerned about Maddox's "obvious bias" - and you just know Bill is a model of impartiality and objectiveness in his review.
I guess a book like this will always be hard, if not impossible, to review with total objectivity. I certainly bought it with no expectation it would be particularly unbiased, but this is not to say it's not a balanced, reasoned exploration of an undeniable rising force in politics. Muehlenberg and Co can clutch their hand to the breast and gasp: "Us, a threat? L'il old us?" which he effectively does in his review:According to Maddox, the religious right is a nefarious, organised and monolithic threat that must be guarded against. But is it? Hardly, from where I sit.
Bollocks. The RRR is indeed at times nefarious, definitely well-organised (not to mention well-funded) and single-minded in its holy quest to impose its antiquated dogma into our legislature.
Maddox's chapters range from analyses of American evangelical Pentacostalism and its growing significance in Australia, through to right-wing think tanks and to what she labels the "Market God", the one who wants you to make more money, at least according to the novel of Hillsong's Senior Pastor Brian Houston. She covers defining moments since 1996 that have exemplified Howard's undeniably effective ability to facilitate religious right-wing extremism from under his own facade of "commonsense" and reason. She cites frequent cases of the "dog whistle", whereby Howard brings out the ever-ready talk-back radio weapon: "Look, I understand why (fill in the gap - extremist religious lobby group/organisation/red neck voters) would feel this way about (victimised, stigmatised minority group), and even though I personally would not subscribe to that, we need to appreciate their point of view". He truly is the dog owner who randomly unties the dog leashes and lets his pit bulls run free in the park terrorising the children, grinning, then when assault charges are levelled at him he'll assume the pretence of shock and horror: "It wasn't me, it was the pit bulls!"
Maddox's frequent bones to pick are with the Parliamentary Christian Fellowship, the National Prayer Breakfasts, and the Lyons Forum (to which Bill refers as "former" but I'm sure still caucuses in some capacity, somewhere). If nothing else, it's an unsettling reminder of just how many "Christians" have crawled into our parliament. As with the cockroaches in Sydney, you can bring out the Mortein bombs or even the fumigators, but just when you think you've got rid of the last one, one grins and scuttles away when you turn on the lamp at night.
OK, a cockroach analogy may be going a little too far. There are, after all, some dedicated Christians who are still intelligent enough and reverent of Australia's constitution to separate their personal religious beliefs with their duties as elected representatives (Kevin Rudd, for example). And contrary to what Bill thinks, Maddox is fair-minded. She in fact devotes an entire chapter, "Crossing the Floor", to Liberals who have publicly objected to some of the more extreme Coalition policies (Danna Vale, a strongly-identifying Christian, opposing mandatory sentencing in the NT, for instance).
On the whole, however, I found chapters on the early years of the Howard regime, even preceding years when he and colleagues were plotting to bring down John Hewson internally, the most interesting. Maddox analyses the 1996 motto of the Liberal campaign, "For all of Us", arguing that the lower-case a on "all" is not an editorial error; rather, the Liberal Party under Howard has never been for "All of Us", but for "all of Us", "Us" being the opposite to "Them", the various wicked and heathen interest groups - homosexuals, feminists, republicans, single mothers, welfare recipients, indigenous people, academics, students, civil libertarians, multiculturalism advocates, migrants, non-farmers, non-future One Nation voters and the like - that apparently had the Keating government in a strangehold. I believe this "Us" was that poor oppressed "silent majority" who were suffering so greatly for their white male heterosexuality. The poor dears. It was Hewson's support of the first on this list of heretics that signalled his downfall, with a bunch of Lib senators and reps trying to pressure the ABC into not showing Mardi Gras in 1994 the day after
Hewson offered his message of support for the parade. It's a scary, scary state of affairs when Hewson comes across as quite the soft-hearted communist in comparison to his eventual successor (let's just ignore the whole interim Downer debacle. In fact let's just ignore Downer all together! Yes).
One quibble: The book was published after Howard's 2004 election win, yet no chapter - not even a paragraph - explores the gay marriage ban last year and in particular the National Marriage Forum at the Great Hall of Parliament House last year, where the sheer numbers of rabid extremists all cobbled together forced Nicola Roxon into her back-flip. If this isn't a perfect example of the politicial power and clout of the RRR in operation I don't know what is.
GOH is a good read (and yes, if I weren't a soft leftie I probably wouldn't be saying this). The admissions Maddox extracts from MPs in direct interviews are perhaps the most educational apsect of the book, and though at times she doesn't necessarily always offer fresh insights into her topics (for example, Howard's defence of Bill Heffernan), it is a clear and quite alarming illustration of what we have to look forward to - read: fear and cower from - in post July-2005 Australia.
Smithers, Who is This "The Leader"?
Obviously, I'm deriving pleasure from the leadership instability of the Liberal Party
. I was too young to fully appreciate the Hawke/Keating joust and anything that undermines in any way this government has to be a good thing.
I have this very peculiar notion, however, that I would actually like to see Howard stay on. I hit myself when I first thought this, then I allowed my brain to sit me down and explain it to myself.
Any political leader's shit has to start stinking after 11 years in power, even Howard's. He might just be so stale by then, and voters may feel he's so completely engorged with his own delusions of grandeur, that they have to teach the little tapeworm a lesson.
Installing Costello feels uncomfortably like new blood. It's a Libs marketer's wet dream: A new, younger leader willing to offer a fresh perspective in the top job while still maintaining a proud legacy of xenophpobia, homophobia and lies...I mean strong border security, family values and honest governance.
Costello will be the "progressive" Liberal (which he isn't, it's a term totally relative only to Howard) who can continue Howard's economic radicalism, perhaps implementing even more unseen extremities upon trade unions, student unions, working mothers, the tertiary sector etc while placating the republicans, indigenous community leaders, refugee advocates - hell, he may even prove Julie McCrossin right and let the homos get married. Actually, no. Julie, bless her heart to bits, is just plain wrong here.
It's a moot point either way really, in that short of an apocalyptic misfortune befalling the Libs (bearing in mind this is the party that came through lying to the public on the GST, children overboard, WMDs in Iraq and scandal after scandal with an increased majority
), Labor will not close the gap between now and 2007 to win government.
Who do people think is the best leader for the job - by which I mean the proper job of losing
the election for the Libs as their leader? How about bringing back Leckie Downer to really give Labor a fighting chance? Philip Ruddock (or, as he was described by a friend of a friend last night, Mister Burns)? Mandy V?
If the Mad Monk gets it, I'm moving to Botswana.
(Sorry, was best pic of a stressed penguin I could find on short notice.)
Apologies for lack of proper posting today. I am literally swimming in multiple manuscripts these days frantically creating a new 3-volume service that needs to be in operation before I go to Europe.
Also I obviously wasn't knocking on my wooden head hard enough as the QP freezing/delays issues have returned with a vengeance.
Post will come soon, as soon as I stop shaking and can type properly.
My flatmate Harley
and I, while dodging the flying debris of the same-sex state marriage "forum"
, founded an exciting new lobby group to be known as the Concerned Residents of Woollahra, or CROW. Well, when I say Harley and I, I mean that I came up with the idea while he agreed to be the appealing symbolic figurehead who cuts ribbons with oversized scissors, has photo shoots in DNA mag, that sort of thing.
Anyway, we considered Concerned Occupants of Woollahra - or COW - but felt that CROW as an acronym better encapsulated our fears and "concerns".
But what is there in Woollahra to be concerend about, I hear you ask? The issues are plentiful and multi-faceted.
1/ The steady decline in median age of bowlers at the Paddington Bowling Club
(which, though officially Paddo, is literally just around the corner from CROW headquarters). This is not some genteel strip of astroturf for self-fundeds and pavlova bakers; rather, a pretentious eastern suburb daytime nighclub for overprivileged Bright Young Things, beautiful in their $300 Diesel sunnies and matching thongs, with the bowling ball in one hand and Heineken in the other. The median age these days is probably about 26. Very concerning.
2/ The Lord Dudley Hotel
and, specifically, the need by the majority of its patrons to have to be seen at TLDH, such that they cause major traffic blocks by drinking not inside the pub like most people of Planet Earth, but rather on the footpath or even, on occasion, on the road. Most concerning.
3/ Jones the Grocer
- as much a grocer's shop as the latest Beemer 7-series is a "family run-around" car. From the outside it looks far too similar to the art galleries that infiltrate the back streets of Woollahra (or, as we CROWs sometimes call it, "Paddington East"). Quite concerning. I haven't yet shopped at Jones as I'm too busy saving my thousands for less extravagant destinations, like Europe.
4/ Bondi Junction
- at the rate it's growing it will soon ingest all of the inner east of Sydney, such that Woollahra will be merely another sub-mall underneath its awesome canopy.
5/ The 389 bus
- possibly the most glam, upmarket bus route in Sydney. Both flatmate and I barely pass the "You must be this beautiful" sign painted on the driver's bulletproof shield (and I think, unlike my flatmate, that a sympathetic driver has on more than one occasion waived the "you must earn this much after-tax disposable income" sign before allowing me to board).
6/ Queen Street
- actually, I really like Queen Street. That's the problem - being in love with Queen Street is like "Bleeding Gums" Murphy's addiction to priceless Faberge eggs in The Simpsons: it all ends in tears and bankruptcy. Plus I don't care for its residents with their evil eyes, making me feel inferior for daring to head to the deli in my trackies - Ralph Lauren trackies, no less! - to grab a litre of milk.
So these will be the first 6 items on the agenda of the inaugural CROW AGM. Blue vein mini-pizzas and kingfish with macadamia crust will be served.
Love and (State) Marriage Showdown
Last night I went along to the state same-sex marriage forum held at the Newtown Hotel. To say there were "fireworks" is like saying there was a minor ruckus on the Titanic.
For clarity, I will identify and (attempt to) summarise the opposing positions of both teams (and if you think likening the opposing camps to sports teams is tacky, you really should have been there last night. It was like I was an 8-year-old in the middle of a footy crowd all over again).Team 1
: Rodney Croome
(very red-eyed from his 3:30am start), Luke Gahan
from Australian Marriage Equality
, Nick McKim
, the Tasmanian Green MP who introduced the same-sex marriage Bill(s)
into the state's parliament last week (and further to the Green people, NSW LC Lee Rhiannon
and Ray Goodlass moderating) and Farida Iqbal from Community Action Against Homophobia
: David Scamell from the GLRL
, Stevie Clayton from ACON
plus various board members of ACON and Rainbow Labor
/ALP members.Team 1
- the bulk of the forum panel speakers - were arguing in favour of state same-sex marriage to be pushed in NSW as it is in Tasmania, pursuant to the advice of Sydney Uni constitutional law expert Prof George Williams
, who believes that since the Coalition's amendment to the federal Marriage Act in 2004 defined marriage as solely between a man and a woman, state laws for same-sex marriage could operate parallel to the federal laws without conflict.
Team 1 argues that state s-s marriage is a viable strategy as, federally, neither the Coalition or ALP are seriously listening to lobby or community groups and federal queer law reform is likely to remain stagnant for years to come.
Team 1 highlights the nature of a "positive" versus "negative" debate relating to same-sex marriage. When Rodney Croome went onto Stan Zemanek's radio show last year to oppose the Coalition's gay marriage ban, Zemanek went on the offensive and verbally assaulted him. This time, when Croome came on to support the Greens state gay marriage Bill, Zemanek was more receptive and interested in finding out about the Bill rather than automatically condemning it. This Bill keeps debate on gay marriage alive - the debate Howard effectively quashed last year - and is part of a longer-term strategy to keep people thinking and talking about this issue, ideally until everyone is so bored and over it they allow passage of the Bill just to shut the silly queers up.Team 2
opposes state same-sex marriage. They argue that, were a state law to be in operation in NSW/Tasmania/wherever, but then overturned by the federal government, our movement as a whole would actually be more damaged in the long term than if state s-s marriage had never been introduced to begin with. Team 2 also argues that such a law confuses existing legislative reform lobbying that the GLRL is currently focused on, such as parenting. Connecting parenting rights to marriage rights could potentially alienate queer couples who wish to adopt/raise their children without wanting to be married.
At last night's forum T2 also raised difficulties with the wording of the Tasmanian legislation and questioned Prof Williams' assertion that the state law could operate without threat from the federal government. The bulk of their ire was saved for the fact, however, that only that afternoon had a press conference had been held
at which several of this forum's speakers outlined plans to introduce into NSW parliament a s-s marriage Bill, following in Tasmania's footsteps. Team 2 concluded that the entire evening's forum was pointless as no debate was going to occur on whether or not the Greens' strategy should be adopted in NSW. Lots of cries of "Green grandstanding" and "waste of time" were heard.
This is when the evening got unpleasant. Good points from both teams were drowned out by the shouting, sledging and vitriol spat across from both sides of the room. I was, unfortunately, positioned quite unintentionally in the middle of T2. The fact that I wasn't cheering along with Clayton, Scott Carn or any of Team 2's other speakers earned me more than one death glare from my neighbours.
So what is the Queer Penguin take on this debate?
I do appreciate the frustration of T2. They presumably came along with a view to debate whether or not we as a community should proceed with state same-sex marriage and were effectively usurped by that afternoon's press conference. The point they raised about the potential for the law to be overturned by a federal government is a valid one. They did it in Tasmania back in 1994 to decriminalise homosexuality (a good thing) and they also did it in 1997 to overturn the Northern Territory's euthanasia laws (a bad thing).
I don't profess to be a legal expert, but it seems to me that a constitutional law expert is unlikely to get it so wrong here. The federal government could introduce law to make same-sex marriages illegal, but would that be constituional? If not, would the Australian people have to go to a referendum on it? If so, I think spending millions for a referendum on this relatively insignificant issue (compared to, say, Australia becoming a republic) would be quite unpopular with the general voters, even those opposed to gay marriage.
I also appreciate the perspective that the Tasmanian and NSW Bills are little more than Green legislative grandstanding. The Greens would know the Bill has little chance of success (although Tasmanian A.G. Judy Jackson has at least hinted at a parliamentary inquiry), particularly in NSW where our beloved El Premiero has made crystal clear he would not support state s-s marriage legislation.
And here is where the fundamental problem lies: the belligerence and intransigence of both Labor and Liberal, state and federal, towards gay marriage. Rainbow Labor may like to market its party as that which offers "real", pragmatic reforms rather than impractical dreams like gay marriage, but really, what is federal Labor doing that could potentially be threatened by agitation at a state level? Anthony Albanese keeps trying to introduce a private member's Bill that would give superannuation equality to same-sex couples, but the last time he did so was to highlight the hypocrisy of the Coalition who were claiming to soften the blow of the gay marriage ban by offering super reform as a consolation prize (the Coalition voted against even debating his Bill). This to me also smacks of grandstanding - Albanese would have known his Bill had no chance of success and was introducing the Bill not as part of a positive Labor reform but to score points with his electorate by showing how full of shit is the Coalition (which, PS, most of us already realised). Otherwise, apart from Tanya Plibersek's failed amendment attempts to the Marriage Legislation Amendment Act last year to enshrine equal same-sex de facto rights, I'm not entirely sure what federal Labor is doing for same-sex couples right now (the previous achievements of the Hawke/Keating governments notwithstanding) that would be put in jeopardy by the actions of the NSW Greens.
The reality is that federal Labor and Liberal are listening to the rising RRR, not us. Our lobby groups are so fragmented and oppositional - and our community on the whole so apathetic to legislative reform - that there's little political mileage (ie votes) to be won by Labor being actively pro-queer. Maybe if Labor were in power and had the numbers, they would carry out their promised audit of discriminatory legislation, reform everything except (I would imagine) parenting and adoption laws and even - very optimistic - introduce a federal civil union scheme similar to those in the UK and New Zealand. But until such time as they're in a position to even consider such reforms - and I'm doubtful they would happen immediately anyway - why is Labor so threatened by the Greens trying their luck with state law reform instead? As Croome said quite simply, "federal Labor and Liberal aren't listening". We can either keep yelling and screaming at a brick wall, or we can try a different approach.
Returning from the forum slightly shaken, I tuned into Compass, which was documenting the rise of Family First at the 2004 election. With the voices of abuse still ringing in my ear and images of people giving each other the finger still on my mind, I began to wonder if such abuse and contempt goes on at Family First meetings. Do they argue so strongly and aggressively among themselves when plotting how best to sneak Jesus into parliament? Would they have berated an ally trying to help their cause the way Stevie Clayton did with Nick McKim (who, yes, perhaps could have chosen his words better when speaking of "gay" rather than same-sex marriage, but he's obviously learning as he goes)? I wouldn't blame him if he concluded from last night's circus show that queer people were a bunch of whinging, unappreciative ingrates who aren't worth helping out. And then we'd have one less MP on our side. Is that what we need right now?
The Compass documentary reminded me that the enemy was not within the walls of the Newtown Hotel last night. The enemy is Family First, Steve Fielding, Assemblies of God, John Howard, Tony Abbott, the National Party, Nicola Roxon, the ALP Catholic Right, George Pell and Philip Jensen, Catch the Fire ministries, Salt Shakers, the Australian Christian Lobby, Fred Nile and the Christian Democrats, Hillsong...I could go on, but the point is if any one of these groups had seen queer people implode as we did last night, they would be praising the Lord and grinning with sanctimonious glee. I'm sure they have their disagreements, but their unity when it matters cannot be faulted. Last year all of them assembled at the "National Marriage Forum" to discuss "Why Marriage Matters", and their clear, single agenda - to deny queer people the choice of marriage - was uncompromising. I realise queer lobbying is different - we will never be able to pin-point one single issue on which all queer people agree and offer their support. But it does us no favours to beat up on people who only want to help and contribute as best they can, especially when we consider how many other people and groups outside our community are just waiting to beat us up (literally and figuratively).
If the Greens' Bill does nothing else than re-ignite debate in Australia on same-sex marriage, then it has achieved a positive goal. We should save our aggression for more worthy targets.