Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Justice and Common Sense are Sometimes Synonymous

This week's SX column. Ta.

It’s a good news week, with Australian homosexual tourist Thomas McCosker returning home from Fiji after his two-year jail term for consensual sex with another man was overturned by the Pacific island’s High Court.

Justice Gerard Winter, sounding markedly different from the original trial judge who claimed McCosker’s “crime” was “something so disgusting that it would make any decent person vomit”, ruled that Fiji was obliged by its Constitution to “put sexual expression in private relationships into its proper perspective and allow citizens to define their own good moral sensibilities, leaving the law to its duties of keeping sexual expression in check by protecting the vulnerable and penalising the predator”.

McCosker’s case, after the initial appalling verdict, began to look more promising when it became clear that the laws under which McCosker was originally sentenced were unconstitutional. Interestingly, however, it was not the Australian Government that discovered this legal loophole in a frantic quest to save one of its citizens.

Reading the response of our government now, you would be forgiven for assuming it made every effort to assist McCosker and combat this infringement of human rights. The Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs was said to be “deeply interested” in this case, claiming “we had pointed to the inconsistencies, indicating that there were very clear indications in the Fijian constitution and in broader human rights terms as a right to privacy and non-discriminatory conduct within the country”.

Wow. What a difference a few months make, from the time when a spokesperson for DFAT responded to news of McCosker’s conviction thusly: “When Australians are overseas, they need to respect the laws of the country they are in”.

As I have argued previously in this column, DFAT should never have had such a knee-jerk reaction, especially when it is now painfully clear how wrong they were. If this government had utilised even a fraction of the time and resources it was then devoting to Schapelle Corby - who, incidentally, was found guilty – it could have done its job properly and quickly discovered the Fijian constitutional discrepancy. Instead, it prioritised assistance not according to relative injustice, but to who was the media-saturated, female and heterosexual of the two “victims”, leaving McCosker to lament: “I would have liked the Australian Government to have taken more interest in my case”.

Regardless, this verdict is a victory for common sense and a blow against the homophobic reasoning that informed the Australian Government’s original course of inaction. It is a vindication for those who argued all along that we as a nation should have paid more attention to McCosker, and hopefully a strong precedent in the battle against remaining nations that still imprison or even execute their queer citizens.

Monday, August 29, 2005

John Gone

(Putting on my conspiracy hat...Or am I?)

Does anybody else find the timing of John Brogden's resignation a little odd?

Brogden's busy hands and sparkling wit happened one night in late July, during the week Bob Carr announced he was retiring from politics. Why is it, then, that the public is only finding out about it now, and Brogden is resigning now?

I would have assumed pinching a Murdoch journo, then propositioning the Fairfax journo, would be two indiscretions fairly difficult to cover up from the media. Nevertheless Brogden apparently tried, initially claiming it was a fallacious "grubby" personal attack on him by the ALP.

So what changed his mind to then contact the media and admit not just his fun and games with the journos, but also his mail-order bride joke about Helena Carr?

Would this story ever have been reported if he hadn't initiated this contact, and if not, why not?

The QP conspiracy theory to try on for size is thus: Brogden had originally successfully managed to hush this up for a few weeks after the event. But then the right wing of his own party - a couple of whom are now gunning for his old job - either leaked or threatened to leak the mail-order joke part of the incident, forcing Brogden to 'fess up.

Brogden has always been a thorn in the far-right's side. He's a fairly bland, innocuous politician who never managed to lay any serious blows on Carr (bless Bob for labelling him a "featherweight of mediocrity"). Nevertheless, he was the Opposition Leader, and so long as he remained so there would always be at least a perceived threat of the far-right that the party would remain, horror, "moderate".

Such a threat is now gone and the party can march ahead with its extremist re-birth.

The lessons learnt for Brogden are: firstly, learn how to hold your beers better (Cadbury's girls are such a bad look at that level) and secondly, make leering and offensive gestures and/or proposition your own staff or folk in the public service who can be easily bullied into silence - not tabloid journalists.

No, I'm not serious. Brogden did the wrong thing and while I don't think it would have made any difference to the fortunes of the Liberal party if he had stayed on as Leader, he deserves some kind of punishment.

But Brogden, as a politician, also being a sleazebag, is no big surprise. It's like a Catholic priest giving all those alter boys a part in their hair - not unexpected.

With him gone for doing something most of his colleagues are probably also guilty of, the NSW Liberal party will now officially become a lot more dangerous. I'm not looking forward to that much.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Take it Away, AJ

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Thursday, August 25, 2005

Family First: Very Caring Potatoes

So, Steve Fielding, over to you. Just what is the biggest threat to The Family© ? Is it...

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What about those wicked

Video_Poker_Machines_Pic.gif ?

How about

los-mjackson.jpg ?

Nope, in fact it's


Yep, sinful, degenerate, godless


Family Fist's first major offensive since Fielding came to office, on the humble spud, comes as quite a surprise, forming an unusual parallel between the policies of an extreme fundamentalist "Christian" party and those unwashed dreadlocked chappies who wear "McDeath" shirts whilst strutting down King Street Newtown or "would you like lies with that?" bumper stickers plastered across their bikes as they ride to the next Socialist Alliance meeting.

Very nice of Fielding to target a multi-national while pushing a Buy Australia line - and clever, launching this offensive at a Macca's in Ballarat - but really, how late 80s/early 90s is Buy Australian? I remember as a kidlet television then being bombarded with Australian Made commercials soaked in John Williamson warbling. It tied in nicely with Australia's bi-centenary, I guess.

But such ads have been buried in the TV commercial graveyeard next to the Christian Television Association lot. A government predicated upon de-regulation, privatisation and free trade - all in the name of true consumer "choice" (or, some might say, avarice) - is hardly going to re-adopt increasingly old-fashioned values of protectionism and heavily subsidising its own primary producers.

It would appear FF are emerging from the Pauline Hanson One Nation school of impractical economics. No big surprise, I guess, but again, surprising for their first attack. They must initially be going with a softly-softly approach, winning the electorate over with warm (albeit pointless) patriotic fuzzies in Fielding's first term.

Dyke-burning at the stake will obviously come later.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Voluntary Labor Sell-Outism

I predicted a while ago that Labor's policy change would ultimately be the best VSU solution - take away the union stigma and still charge a compulsory student services fee. I'm sure this won't be good enough for Dr N(o)elson though, even if it is good enough for the ALP, the Nationals, the NUS, AVCC and other various acronyms.

It says a lot that Joyce and other National dissenters are only interested in protecting the sporting clubs and campus services, conveniently neglecting the student political organisations, clubs and societies. I seem to remember the Adelaide University Rowing and Rugby clubs receiving a disproportionately huge slice of the union fee cake, even when such clubs were mostly comprised of over-privileged private school twats (I should know, I went to school with them) whose parents could have alone kept such clubs afloat just by pooling their spare change. But maybe I'm twitter and bisted because I was always involved in the clubs at unis, stretching the queer collective on a few hundred bucks and a second-hand kettle in the queer space. By the time I reached the steamy sauna of student politics I could pronounce "under-funded" in 17 different languages.

Cute to see the NUS still defending Labor and getting a few kicks into the Coalition when clearly it is Labor here that is selling out years of pro-student union ideology, again all in the same of keeping up with the increasingly far-right Liberal Joneses. The Libs have at least been consistent all this time - they're threatened by tertiary student solidarity so they've set out to destroy it, and VSU is just another ejaculation in the conservative cum-fest that is We Control the Senate so Shut Up Muthafuckas '05-'07.

If conservative students and pollies can defend compulsory HECS fees on the basis that we should contribute to our education, then logically they really cannot oppose compulsory student fees, especially when the freedom of association issue is extinguished. But let's watch them oppose it anyway, just for a chuckle.

Friday, August 19, 2005

All Hail Colonel Nils Olav

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Outstanding. As I've predicted, the Penguins are rising.


With Colonel Olav at the helm of its army, I anticipate Norway emerging as a global superpower in the years to come, one to challenge the anti-penguinist China.

Now is the time for Australia to determine once and for all: Are we with the penguins or against them? God help us all if it's the latter.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Nice Rod #2

You may remember me earlier this year singing the praises of Labor member for Port Adelaide, Rod Sawford.

As I've outlined in that posting, Rod's probably not the greatest of members (*ahem*). He's been around since 1988 and I'm sure the first question for many of you when reading this posting was: Who the hell...?

Regardless, he's asking questions in parliament you don't hear much anymore, particularly from the ALP, where you should be. The following speech is probably not really related to issues that concern the good folk of Port Adelaide (ie he doesn't once mention the Power) he's meant to represent, but my hat still goes off to him.

From Thursday, 11 August 2005 Hansard:

What sort of country is Australia becoming? Is Australia becoming a country where the line between religion and state is inviolate? Is Australia becoming a country in which religion will trump science? Is Australia becoming a country in which leaders mobilise deep moral energies that divide us from each other and the world? Is Australia becoming a country in which women will not be allowed control of their own 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? If it is happening, who and whom decided it was on God’s agenda? Is Australia becoming a country in which sectors of the community will be excluded from the political process?...

Examples of the thinking on the government’s side became evident immediately after the last election. Of course, I refer to deliberately raising the issues of abortion and voluntary voting. It has always been a given that, if you want to divide the Australian community, you should introduce the topic of abortion. More responsible and more ethical people would introduce the topic of prevention of unwanted pregnancies. It is a gross irony to observe that the very people who strongly oppose abortion are often exactly the same people who oppose sex education and family planning to prevent unwanted pregnancies...

The introduction of voluntary voting would dramatically reduce the participation of Australians in elections. A more responsible and unifying approach would be to introduce strategies to increase voter participation, not reduce it...

More and more political comment in this country can be sourced back to fewer and fewer people. What passes as analysis is no more than opinion. What passes as current affairs often is no more than entertainment—and gross at that. What passes as political comment is nothing more than spear throwing for selective power bases and individuals who are adept at manipulation of the truth and resistant to representative democracy...

There is a dilemma in political commentary: there is an ever decreasing number of powerful politicians and powerful people on all sides of politics who spend an inordinately large amount of time with fewer and fewer senior journalists ripe for political seduction, spinning information devoid of any analysis or national interest whatsoever...

A bit depressing when it's all condensed into one speech like this, but so utterly and completely true, every word. I wish he'd done more to explicitly identify Labor's role in all these tribulations, not just the Coalition's, but I imagine it would be a cold day in Hell before we heard any sort of speech like this from the Other Side...

Monday, August 15, 2005

Is There a Doctor in the House?

Taking a break from political conspiracy theories, I would like to do a post-mortem of the new Doctor Who.

I had waited years for DW to return, and from the moment Chris Eccleston appeared as the Doctor, without any explanation as to what had happened to Paul McGann, I knew this series was going to disappoint. Then came the killer council wheelie bin, and it all went downhill from there...

I'll start with the pros, so as to make clear that, while disappointed, I was not always unimpressed.


1. Rose Tyler. Possibly the most 3-dimensional and best-written female assistant in the show's history, or at least on par with Barbara Wright, Sarah-Jane Smith and Ace. Former Britney clone Billie Piper was a revelation to us all (and don't think I'm not a wee bit excited that she's turning up to play Vicky Pollard's arch-nemesis in the third series of Little Britain).

2. Episode Dalek. I really didn't care for this episode the first time I watched. Then I saw it sober. A lot more became clear and there are rumours I may have even been a little teary by the end of it.

3. Special guest stars. There was a time in Doctor Who when John Cleese cameoing in a three-line spot was the height of its celebrity. This season gave us Simon Callow, Zoe Wanamaker, Penelope Wilton, Simon Pegg and John Barrowman (let's just pretend Central Park West was a super-hit in the mid 90s). Next season promises us Anthony Stewart Head, among others. OK, so they're all not exactly superstars, but they're recognisable, very talented in their respective roles and an improvement on all the stuffy Shakespearean has-been poofs in silver jump suits that otherwise defined the DW "special guest" roll.

4. Opening titles and theme song. Goose-bump inducing. Well, the theme anyway.


1. Rose Tyler. Yes, she's in both columns. The problem was that she was a little too good - to the point that the show could have quite reasonably been called Rose. Which leads us into the most significant con...

2. The ninth Doctor/Christopher Eccleston. Eccleston is a good actor. Watch Shallow Grave, Jude or 28 Days Later to confirm this. But as with that other good actor Colin Baker, his Doctor was just not very well-written. A whole season later, and I was left with little pathos or appreciation as to what made this Doctor tick. His character was wildly inconsistent and often quite useless - Rose saved the day in more than one episode.

3. Homosexuality. As I've said before, Russell T Davies' resurrection of DW was at times way too gratuitously gay. Everything from "Toxic" to extreme plastic surgery to gender-bending to a muscular bi-sexual pilot in leather pants was thrown in - but to what end (so to speak)? OK, many of the hard-core DW fans are big 'mos, myself included, but the gay thing stopped being cute fairly early on in the series and quickly became tiresome and predictable.

Camp is like the Daleks or the Cybermen - use infrequently for maximum effect. Unless we're talking about Desperate Housewives or the Golden Girls. But we're not. So there.

4. Doctor/Rose relationship. Remember how narky DW purists were in the Paul McGann telemovie where he kissed his companion? "So cheesy, so Americanised, it's just not cricket" they were heard to wail. And yet, no-one seems upset by Eccleston's "you need a doctor!" line moments before kissing Rose. And yes, I know it was to save her life, but come on! That's a very, very stinky piece of cheese indeed.

5. Narrative holes. Particularly that minor little tidbit about the end of the Timelords. Be fair - the writers give us a whole series where this defines the Doctot's motivation, and is referred to in almost every episode, and it's never been seen? I can only hope the David Tennant years to come will take us to this great Time War, otherwise it's all a bit Shada-eqsue - sounds very impressive when Tom Baker's narrating it but without any vision it's all somewhat redundant.

6. What the hell happened to Paul McGann? The reason why The Secret Life of Us stopped rating after 2 episodes? Half the cast wasn't there anymore and no attempt was made to offer explanations as to where they'd all gone. It's a great shame a whole DW regeneration is wasted. McGann is also a great actor - better than Eccelston, I would say - and it's not his fault the American telemovie was so shit. He deserved better.

Conclusion: I'm conflicted. I'm glad DW is back on my Aunty, and I'm hanging for the new series with the quite pleasant-looking Tennant (not that Eccleston wasn't without a sexual charm, in a big-eared, ridiculously thick Northern accent sort of way). But I would also call this series a very shaky start, to say the least.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Does Evil Have Another Political Party?

And is that party the South Australian ALP?

In today's Advertiser was published the name of the 24y.o man involved in the Mark Brindal affair, as well as Brindal's speculation that this could have been a set-up.

What we know is that the Opposition leader, Rob Kerin, received a call last week from Paul Graham's foster father, Ralph, threatening to go public with Brindal's affair if the party did not disendorse him as the Liberal candidate for the seat of Adelaide at the next state election (and, in effect, ending Brindal's political career, as he was already committed to leaving his current seat of Unley even before this development).

The mission has been accomplished - Brindal is out of contention and now the Libs are having a shit of a time finding a high-profile candidate who could possibly defeat Tourism minister and former Lord Mayor, Jane Lomax-Smith.

Incredibly convenient, isn't it? Can anybody else join the dots here and come to a reasonable conclusion as to who may have got in contact with Graham?

Are there operators in the ALP so ruthless that they would jeopardise queer law reform - their own policy and legislation - just to bring one man down? Just to secure one seat in an election they're most likely going to win comfortably anyway?

There are several good people in the SA ALP who have fought long and hard to drag the state along by its heels and catch up with the rest of the nation. There are also a few who oppose queer rights and resent their party being responsible for queer law reform. Unfortunately, the Attorney-General, Michael Atkinson, is one of the latter. You see:

Exhibit #1: Labor wins the election in 2002. Their promised Bill to (mostly) equalise same-sex couples with de facto couples is not introduced until nearly the end of 2004.

Exhibit #2: Atkinson introduces the Bill into the House of Assembly, and then inexplicably takes it from there and re-introduces it into the Legislative Council, where the Libs combine with conservative independents to unnecessarily palm the Bill off to yet more parliamentary inquiries and "community consultation", delaying the Bill's passage further.

Exhibit #3: Atkinson supposedly laments the viciously homophobic opposition to the Bill...Yet, in a diabolically ingenious move, lends credibility to this opposition by reading some of it into Hansard. The best way to pretend you don't agree with certain sentiments expressed, but SA's political record will now, thanks to Atkinson, forever be stained with filth like:

If a State enacts laws which accommodate the immoral, perverted and abnormal life-styles of misguided individuals ("same-sex" couples) then the State is encouraging (aiding and abetting) such life-styles to exist. God will not give his blessings to such a State and the State in due course will reap what it sows. the legitimisation of homosexuality and lesbianism as alternative life-styles will lead to a cultural Armageddon.


Let us talk openly: how can a life style which is the fruit of a bent element within society, nourished by child sex abuse and pornography, be seen on a par with marriage?

OK Mick, we get the message, move on. Nope - gotta make the point:

The shameful, unnatural, perverted homosexual lifestyle should not be rewarded through rights and privileges through legislation. This type of lifestyle undermines the fabric of our society and of nations and should not be encouraged. I am quite shocked that the Rann Government would even contemplate sanctioning this depravity and wickedness.

Mick, please...

This paper, for want of a better term, is no more than an introduction to the depth of depravity that is creeping into our society. at one time homosexuality was dealt with in the most direct manner, that of stoning to death This Bill would just be the continuation of a downward spiral into Sodom and Gomorrah.

Mick, if all this upsets you so much, why are you reproducing -

Why is it that you perverse pollies are forever changing things to improve the lot of criminals, wrongdoers and sickos such as homosexuals to the detriment of decent, law-abiding heterosexuals? You now want to further improve the lives of deviant, depraved, miscreant, filthy, disease-spreading homosexuals. You're all corrupt and disgusting people but rest assured the day is coming soon when you will have to pay for your sins.

And this is why I think a Labor-sanctioned set-up of Mark Brindal is not so far-fetched after all.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Evil Has A Political Party

...And that party is Family First.

I don't want to go into great detail about the latest developments in South Australia with Unley Liberal MP Mark Brindal, mainly because I know Mark personally and while I don't think he's acted entirely appropriately here, I know at heart he is a good, if perhaps misguided man.

What I do want to highlight is the beyond-offensive hypocrisy of Family First in response to this development.

What's the best FF MLC Andrew Evans can come up with in reply to Mark's heartfelt explanation of why he has had to hide in the closet and lie to his family for so long?

"Prove that you are born gay."

Furious as this made me, I was prepared to let it slide. But then I read this:

Andrew Evans from the Family First party is a close parliamentary colleague of Mr Brindal and says he feels badly for his friend.

"These are very sad events. I don't rejoice when a person makes a mistake," he said.

How fucking dare he.

I don't understand how these people can function without imploding from all that hypocrisy.

Mark has been the sole progressive Liberal in SA, and the state will be worse for him not being there when he finishes up as member for Unley. He has always been a strong champion of queer rights, more so than most ALP members over there, and he also has a strong track record in other social justice and reform issues, such as prostitution law. As I've said, I'm not condoning what he has admitted to, but unlike that fuck Evans, Mark has honesty and integrity on his side.
Evans is no friend to any queer person. He, and his party, are enemies that must be stopped.

Almost as infuriating is the local rag's editorial on this. Choice cuts include:

THE public, and more particularly voters in the seats of Unley and Adelaide, have a right to know more about the homosexual relationship between Mark Brindal and a 24-year-old man...

Homosexuality is not an offence, but personal behaviour, personal morality, are issues which may determine how some people cast their vote.

Once again, we see the Murdoch machine working to define homosexuality as anathema to "morality". Here's the reply letter I fired off - which I'm sure will remain unpublished:

Yesterday's editorial would seem to imply Mark Brindal should disclose every graphic detail of his sexual life for the sake of voters in his electorate. Would this be required of all MPs or only the gay ones?

Would that we lived in a society where, despite the advances made, homosexuality still was not frowned upon or an potential impediment to fully realising one's career and life ambitions. Mr Brindal did not spend all these years in the closet by accident; it was necessary in the face of such virulent homophobia from many of his own party's colleagues.

Mr Brindal's actions with a young intellectually impaired man may be inappropriate, but please do not suggest that homosexuality and a sense of personal morality are mutually exclusive. That's precisely the sort of reasoning that forced Mr Brindal into the closet to begin with.

UPDATE: Letter got published after all. Yay.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Premier Iemma, He's the Member for Lakemba

(Please note: The following post has nothing to do with Premier Iemma, the Member for Lakemba. I've just had the Macarena in my head for the last few days with these "lyrics" substituted. Premier Iemma, he's the Member for Lakemba. Heyyy, Premi-Iemma!!)

Poor J-Ho, now it's not just vegie-lesbians questioning your authoritah. As if pesky backbenchers agitating for such Commo pipe dreams like humanity weren't bad enough, you must contend with your own Coalition underlings resisting the unnecessary sale of Telstra, as well as former General Cosgrove - remember, John, the man you said "assumed a leading role in Australia's involvement in the war against terrorism, most particularly in the missions in Afghanistan and Iraq," whose "military and strategic advice during his term as CDF, a particularly active period for the Australian Defence Force, has been invaluable" and who "carried out all of his duties in a spirit which befits the proud traditions of the Australian military" - telling us what we knew all along, that our continued presence in Iraq is making us an increased terrorist target. AND, now the head cheerleaders of your usual rent-a-cheer squads at the Catholic and Anglican HQs are joining the growing disquiet over your IR "reforms".

Shit, John. That's a lot of people for you and your spin doctors to discredit. Where on earth will you start? Well, the churches are easy enough. You can always delegate the "churches should keep their nose out of things they don't understand (translated - things they don't agree with)" duties - Leckie's always champing at the bit for that sort of rubbishing. And then of course, when you need them on-side again - for, say, a ban on gays adopting children - all can be forgiven soon enough.

But Cosgrove? Going after a military hero is very dangerous, thanks to the current climate of defence hysteria you have helped to create in which soldiers are almost on par with AFL players in God-like stature.

I have a hunch the remainder of Telstra will eventually be sold, somehow, and as with the GST, once implemented its damaging effects will be glossed over with the help of the Murdoch machine, and fury over the inevitable dumping of market-redundant rural services should have subsided to a dull roar by the time the election rolls over.

But the IR "reforms", that's going to be tricky. For the first time in years, the increasingly neutered unions are starting to show teeth again, and with the backing of all the major churches (even Brian and Bobbie over at Hillsong aren't automatically biting the pillow and taking it from you on this one), this will be an enemy you can ignore only at your peril.

(As an aside - I don't enjoy labelling unions as neutered or redundant, even though I believe this is the case. I refused to join the deeply homophobic Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees' Association during my time in retail, for obvious reasons, but as a rule I'm usually quick to sign up to any workforce where unions have a presence - ie, not legal publishing.)

So what to do, John? Let's say, for argument's sake, that the IR "reforms" you would like to implement - the utter annihilation of collective bargaining, fundamental worker rights and union solidarity, that wet dream that has fuelled your petit body and poorly-plucked eyebrows for so many many years - are given the label that now haunts you in your nightmares (I mean apart from Jeanette and the kids finding out about you schtooping Pru Goward***): Electorally Unpopular. The pendulum swings to the ALP, even in the Newspoll surveys.

What then? Do you resort to your usual style, the one that has kept you in 7 years longer than your expiry date, of "I might lose one vote on this, I better totally change my stance and appease those capricious swinging voters in Blacktown that now like me by saying and doing exactly what they want to hear and see, even if it's in blatant contradiction to any principles and policies I have previously established"? Or, do you in fact stay firm to your wet dream, put your prime ministership on the line for it, in fact, and go down in history as a PM who remained true to one - just one - guiding belief?

I will watch with interest this battle between Howard's well-trained gutter rat instinct for survival and his desire to see trade unions destroyed at all costs. Of course, as with all his most malevolent policies, it will all be in the marketing. If he can delude the electorate that these "reforms" are less about union decimation and more about The Individual merely taking greater control of His career destiny (I use the gender-specific pronoun as we all know the wife should and now will have to be at home, as only barren women and lesbians have career ambitions, right John?), then said Individual will once again vote for another three years of Howard golden showers.

Heyyyy, Premi-Iemma!! Have you got it in your head now? Good.

*** - Disclaimer - yeah, yeah, yeah, ALLEGED schtooping. Whatever.

Friday, August 05, 2005

This Is Not Me

Today's lazy Friday afternoon man candy is brought to you by me, but he is not me.

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Player name: Sam Butler

Team: West Coast Eagles

Height: 187cms

Gurnsey Number: 26

Weight: 84 kgs

Recruited from: Central Districts, SA

Debut: 2004

Date of Birth: 14 Jan 1986

Don't worry, I'm sad that he's not me either. Not just the same name, but we're both from SA, both 187cm*, both turned 19 this year**, both have a good head of hair***.

Hrm. Maybe from a different angle...


Nah, he's still not me. Dang.

In fact the only AFL player I've ever been likened to, looks-wise, is Nathan Bassett:


...Who, let's face it, is no Kouta:


And he's certainly no Shano:


And he's definitely no Matty P:


But I guess things could be worse. I could be told I look like Gary "God" Abblet:


And then I'd have to go shoot myself.

While we're on this long journey of self-indulgence, I would also like to point out that I am not this man:


Samuel Butler (1835 - 1902), author of Erewhon (1872) and The Way of All Flesh (1874)

...But I'll go out on a limb and say that, yes, there's a resemblance here. I only wish I could write as well as he did.

There is, however, no resemblance between myself and this man:


Samuel Butler (1612 - 1680), author of satirical burlesque poem "Hudibras" (1663)

And anybody who says there is will be in for some serious beatings with an oversized ladle. So be warned.

Oh, and Samuel Butler (the sexy 19th century one) was a big 'mo too. How's about that.

* - Lie

** - Lie

*** - Lie

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Got Blood?

My SX column for the week.

But before we begin today's sermon: Check out John's site, where he has already posted on the same issue, and already been met with vitriolic resistance. Both are work readong for a comparison of hysteria against common sense. I'll let you decide which one is which.

Once again, Tasmania could be the small island from where emerges long-overdue reform for the civil rights of queer people. Once again, it could be the mainland resisting the change and having to play catch-up later.

Launceston gay man Michael Cain is launching two legal challenges against a policy of the Red Cross which stipulates that any man who has been sexually active with another man within the last twelve months is prohibited from donating blood. Cain claims this ban is discrimininatory, unnecessary and potentially putting lives at risk, given that blood supplies in Australia are so critically low.

Red Cross argues that the ban is based on the statistically-higher incidence of some blood-borne diseases among gay men, specifically HIV, and also because of the “window period” whereby diseases may be incubating inside a potential gay male donor while he is donating blood he believes and which tests show is otherwise clean.

There’s little doubt gay men, as a sub-population, are at greater risk of HIV infection, and Red Cross would likely have this policy in place due less to a philosophy of homophobia than safeguarding against potential litigation should someone contract HIV during a transfusion. But in light of the fact that all donated blood is now automatically screened for all blood-borne diseases, and the technology for this procedure is more advanced every year, the Red Cross policy by enforcement implies gay men are incapable of practising safe sex, and, in the words of Cain, that “gay equals disease”. The window period issue is relevant to any sexually-active donor, queer or straight, and a potential risk for the Red Cross regardless.

I am sure I’m not the only office worker who has had to turn down the eager Red Cross representative signing up employees for the latest blood drive, and having to explain that your blood is not “suitable” is hardly a pleasant experience even when you are completely certain of your HIV status. It is infuriating to see the many advertisements and campaigns designed to shame people into making the time to donate blood, and knowing the reason you have not done so is not because of idleness, like your heterosexual counterparts, but because of an out-dated discriminatory policy.

This year, ACON reported a drop of 14% in HIV diagnosis among gay men in NSW. Although even one new diagnosis is one too many, it is obvious we are heeding the safe sex message and adjusting our practices accordingly.

Gay and bisexual men are not banned from donating blood in either Switzerland or Spain, so why Australia? It is unacceptable for the Red Cross to make any gay man feel “dirty” or “diseased”, as Cain claimed to have felt, just as it is unacceptable for any organisation to jeopardise people’s lives by denying the Australian public a significant pool of potential blood.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Would You Buy Salvation From These People?

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Blessed Be, Brian and Bobbie.

I tuned into Australian Story last night and there they were, the Houstons of Hillsong.

In true AS style the documentary remained impartial, allowing Brian, Bobbie and other senior HS pastors and gospel singers to tell their own story in their own time. The back story showed the young lovers from when they first met in the late 70s (in some circles, say, the particularly pious ones, a 20y.o man chasing after a girl who had not yet turned 17 might not be considered entirely kosher) when he was the big-eyed crusader on a mission.

Talk about mission accomplished. Hillsong has a flock of 18,000 lost lambs and Brian's preaching is broadcast in, if you believe him, over 160 countries (although if you want to believe Jana Wendt, it's more like 120. Still, pretty impressive either way). Total HS income for 2004 was "around 40 million". Hillsong's Baulkham Hills centre looks less like a church than a sports stadium and its 2004 conference at Sydney's SuperDome attracted grovelling pollies from both sides, marvelling at the 20,000+ shiny, happy, tasty, fertile young voters - er, Christians.

And Hillsong, indeed Australian pentecostalism, is clearly a growing market, so it's sensible politics to be a friend to the JC pop stars. As well as sneaking through one of its shepherds to the Senate on the totally non-religiously-affiliated,-religion?-never-heard-of-it political party, Family First, it also got a lower house rep in with one of its counsellors, Louise Markus, winning the western Sydney seat of Greenway from the ALP.

Quote Brian: I don't see my role as being political. I think people get very hysterical about Christians when it comes to politics. I see it as being hypocritical actually, because if someone comes to me, Louise Marcus came to me, I've known Louise 20 years, and she said she wanted to stand for pre-selection in Greenway here in the western suburbs of Sydney. I encouraged her and supported her, but I would give her the same support regardless of party politics, because I believe in her. It's about the person. But it's a funny thing, Christians going into politics, it's like, the church in politics. If a gay person went into politics, or a Muslim goes into politics, I imagine there'd be a huge uproar if someone said that, but the moment a Christian goes into politics, it's like they're the only people who can't have any input into the future direction of the country. And I refuse to accept that.

Well actually, the Labor candidate Markus defeated was in fact Muslim, and I think you'll find there's no constitutional separation of Gay and State as there is with the church, so if it's hysterical to wish to defend one of the cornerstones of Australian democracy then away I will shriek and squeal.

And what's the Hillsong - sorry, Family First take on homos? Tricky one to determine solely on their available policies, although there's a clue with their conclusion that "Family grows out of heterosexual relationships between men and women". So apologies to all you poofs and dykes out there raising children through turkey basters or IVF, obviously those kids are shadowy figments of your imagination. Oh, and remember that election last year (if you're like me, you drink to forget)? Well FF gave its preferences in that election to all but two Coalitionists - one being Warren Entsch, the member for Leichhardt who, somewhat surprisingly for a Queensland rural Liberal, spoke against his party's "offensive" gay marriage ban; the other being Ingrid Tall, the openly lesbian candidate for Brisbane whom one FF spokesperson said on radio was not conducive to family values. Clearly, however, Ross "cheat on my wife while she's pregnant with my child" Cameron was, that's why he got their preferences while Tall did not. Arguably a moot point as neither, thankfully, won their seats - indeed, FF only received a fairly pissy less than 2% of the primary vote in that election but thanks to our good mates at the ALP, got a senator across on their preferences.

I digress from Brian and Bobbie, who of course have nothing to do with FF.

Ignoring this threat to freedom in the hope it will go away is not the way to go. The Houstons are undeniably charismatic and marketable, Hillsong is growing in numbers, politically popular and its growing army is young, with many years of voting ahead of them.

What we can hope, dare I say, pray for, is that Brian and Co will go the way of the American evangelists of the 1980s/90s and be exposed for the frauds they are. In her own inimitable style, Aunty winked at us after AS with this little tidbit moments before the rolling credits:

Brian and Bobbie Houston's earnings from all sources, including Hillsong Church, are paid into the not-for-profit Leadership Ministries Incorporated (LMI), which funds ministry and charitable work.

Brian Houston says LMI is his only source of income.

The NSW Office of Fair Trading said tonight it has never received an annual statement from LMI and "will be in contact with them to determine their status and request lodgement of the outstanding statements".

Houston is a calculating, diabolical genius, however, and has had years to master effective hiding of his assets and additional revenue. When you're generating millions in revenue selling so many books and CDs - 60% of which, Houston assures us, "goes towards helping people directly through our programs and our ministries and so on, 28% of that has gone into buildings and facilities, which ultimately also are about the people, because you have to house all those people somewhere. And then the other 12% goes towards general administration and the running of the ministry" - you're probably quite adept at creative accountancy, even if you work so hard to come across as the "aww shucks, l'il old me?" humble servant of God image Houston promotes.

But that's Hillsong in a nutshell - image triumphing over reality. As one of his own children (who, sadly, was a bit of a cutey when not espousing brainwashed propaganda) assured us last night, his father is not the fire-and-brimstone type. Of course, it's not true, and no amount of singing, dancing and arm-raising to the heavens can gloss over the fact that Hillsong is the sweet new face of hate. Like Miranda Devine or Kate from Big Brother, sometimes the prettiest are the most dangerous, precisely because their aesthetically-pleasing veneer can be so seductive and hypnotic, concealing their true evil agenda.

Hillsong: Watch this space.