OK, on the case re HaloScan. More news as it comes to hand.
Meantime: SX column for the week. Snrt.
I must admit, as a proud humanist brought up in a secular home by two ex-Catholics, I may not have so objective a view when it comes to the so-called "universal" church. But I am somewhat surprised at the response to the Roman Catholic Church's effective ban on gay or same-sex attracted priests. The recent Vatican instruction, ordering seminaries to bar men from the priesthood who
"practice homosexuality," have "deeply rooted homosexual tendencies" or support "gay culture", was never a big surprise to me. This is, after all, an institution predicated on the belief that homosexuality is "an intrinsic moral evil (and) must be seen as an objective disorder". Did we honestly expect a published instruction to offer any other alternative, particularly during the reign of a pope whose anti-queer stance is recognised to be even more extreme than his predecessor's?
Some of the RCC's defenders have been quick to qualify this position, arguing that celibate same-sex attracted men are in fact free to be ordained. Celibacy is, after all, required of all potential Catholic priests regardless of their sexual orientation. And in a thrashing out of semantics, they have further argued that there is a difference between a "homosexual" and "same-sex attracted" man in that the homosexual will define his entire existence by his sexuality whereas the same-sex attracted man has but one personality "deficit" he needs to resist or overcome in order to be a true servant of God.
Certainly, it would appear this document is designed to combat primarily the men deemed to be "overly" proud of, and/or "flaunt" their homosexuality, with expression couched in political rather than dogmatic discourse. Consider, for example, the passage affirming that "the mere desire to become a priest is not sufficient and there is no right to receive sacred Ordination". That is to say, the RCC will have nothing to do with perceived civil rights, just as it will have nothing to do with the promotion of any alleged gay "culture".
Don't think for a moment I am defending the RCC or that I don't find the likening of my sexuality to a mental illness or defect to be extremely offensive. I am, however, arguing that the RCC, if nothing else, is consistent. I would also suggest that this Church, through at least being so explicit in its homophobia, is less of a threat than, for example, the Assemblies of God church, which conceals its true malevolent agendas behind warm and fuzzy veneers of pop music and the regressive "family values" it seeks to integrate into law through its political arm, Family First.
Personally, I will always have more respect for the enemy that hits me in the face than that which bashes me on the head from behind with a tambourine.
So my employer has decided to crack down on non-work related sites, and - yup - blogger.com is on the hit list. Blogspot is safe (for now) so I can at least read existing posts and comments as they're posted.
In the meantime, I can continue posting through Photobucket, but I'm unable to reply to comments (although I do seem able to post through HaloScan, so if someone would like to explain to me, as the Forrest Gump of blog design, how I can switch my comments from blogger.com to HaloScan, that would be muchly appreciated).
For those in my blog list I visit and post to, if I appear to drop off your radar please don't take it personally, it's just that I can't post anymore.
I'm finding this sensation a little unsettling - I'm leaning to the right side of The Fence on a couple of issues and I don't know how or why.
It could perhaps just be bitterness and twist from the latest revelation that one of my so-called best friends tried to screw my ex/current (don't ask) on the weekend. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, etc.
Whetever, here's what I'm talking about:Michelle Leslie
:I have no sympathy for a woman who pisses on a sacred religion (my objections to the Islamic faith notwithstanding) to weasel her way out of a Bali prison sentence. Does this make me a self-righteous wowser, like the not-so-Jolly Santa
who writes for the Daily Terror (link to his specific article on Leslie from last week no longer available but if you've ever read one word of Akerman you can probably figure out the gist of it)? Meh, maybe.
Leslie's not the brightest penny in the fountain, even by underwear model standards. Having seen her lawyer in action I have no doubt who is the puppeteer and who the cute marionette in this stage show.
And I guess that's what pisses me off more than Leslie herself, the fact that our media is actually treating this like front-page news which, objectively on the facts of the case, it's just not. Honestly, would anybody give a shit if it had been a fat ugly bloke caught with two eckies who spent a few months in a Bali jail? Our media is desperate for a Corby sequel story as Corby's hopes of seeing sunlight again fade away and woops, along comes Leslie.
I say we ignore it until it goes away.Nguyen Van Tuong
: OK, first up I always have and will oppose the death penalty. It's a barbaric form of "punishment" that has little to no deterrent effect and should have no place in a civilised nation.
And yes, it's also sad that an intelligent, articulate young man will have his life cut short for one stupid mistake.
But a national minute's silence for a convicted heroin smuggler? I think not.
For me, this all comes back to the Corby/Thomas McKosker
tension. When our officials and politicians reply to an Australian's arrest overseas with "he must respect the laws of the country he is in", as our government did with McKosker, we cannot then condemn or try to interfere with the laws and punishments of another country according to the relative youth, attractiveness of or media attention given to another Australian in a dire predicament. We either rely on a policy of non-intervention or we don't; this cannot be selective.
By all means, Australia can and should become part of an international push to end capital punishment across all nations, but in the meantime it's futile trying to save the life of a drug smuggler caught in nation that has executed all but a few of the law-breakers it has condemned to death.
And a national minute's silence is going too far. The guy is not a hero; he was trafficking a dangerous and highly-addictive drug.
I might be in favour of a national minute's silence if his guilt were not conclusive or unambiguous, but that's not the case here. He doesn't deserve to die, but he also doesn't deserve a hero's send-off.
Apologies to the true believers if you feel I'm selling out the team here. As I said, my mind might just be wallowing too deeply in the Dark Side right now.
Family First - Last
UPDATE #2: Andrew Evans actually replies to my letter.
"Evans, Andrew" firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for your email, from the beginning of our party we have always claimed that we are not a Christian party but a family values party based on Judo-Christian ethics. In summing up my remarks on this discriminatory bill I pointed out the views of other Christians on this issue. I don't mind you presenting anything about Family First provided it is accurate, I never expected to get your vote but appreciate your thoughts.
Why am I now reminded of The Life of Brian?
Brian: Are you the Judean People's Front?
Reg: Fuck off! We're the People's Front of Judea!
UPDATE: Because I love to keep up with their latest developments, I've managed to get myself onto the Family First mailing list. Here's the most recent email I've received from them.
Now, before you read this email, bear in mind the following quotes from:
Andrea Mason, former FF leader: "Our policies are not religious policies at all";
Mason again: "...we are not a Christian party...";
Peter Harris, FF Federal Chairman: "...we’re not pushing or driving a Christian or spiritual agenda...";
Andrew Evans, South Australian MLC for FF: "Jesus is our hero, he’s our saviour, and we worship and love him, but in politics, it’s no good me getting up and preaching about my faith, that’s the church’s role."
OK, now read this email, especially the bold part at the end, and then my original posting below.
From: "Family First"
Sent: Tuesday, November 22, 2005 1:23 PM
Subject: Statutes Amendment (Relationships) Same-Sex Bill Passes Upper House
Dear Members and Friends,
It is with great sadness that I must inform you about the passing of the Relationships Bill (giving same-sex couples the same legal rights as married couples) in the Upper House.
At 11.30 pm last night, the Bill passed the Legislative Council - 13:6. The Bill was voted on in the following manner: Those in favour of same-sex couples getting the same legal rights as married couples: Nick Xenophon (No Pokies) Michelle Lensink (Liberal) David Ridgway (Liberal) Rob Lawson (Liberal) Gail Gago (Labor) Terry Roberts (Labor) John Gazzola (Labor) Paul Holloway (Labor) Rob Sneath (Labor) Carmel Zollo (Labor) Terry Cameron (Ind) Kate Reynolds (Democrats) Sandra Kanck (Democrats) Ian Gilfillan (Democrats)
Those against the Bill:
Andrew Evans (Family First)
John Dawkins (Liberal)
Rob Lucas (Liberal)
Caroline Schaefer (Liberal)
Angus Redford (Liberal)
Julian Stefani (Liberal)
Terry Stephens (Liberal)
The bill is now headed for the House of Assembly and will probably be debated within the next few days.
We do not have "the numbers".
What is at stake is the full normalisation of homosexual behaviour in our community, affecting our sons, our daughters and our grandchildren. We pray for a miracle.
Huzah! South Australia, the little state that could, has passed its biggest hurdle in legislating for same-sex couples - the Legislative Council. Even a couple of Libs voted for it (most, of course, voted against).
Final vote: 13 to 6.
Full credit to Let's Get Equal in SA. They're a bunch of quality people who have worked their arses off against many much better funded, resourced and more populated anti-queer organisations (Festival of Light etc) to get this up.
I was so excited I just had to drop a line to my good friend, Andrew Evans:
Andrew,I just wanted to let you know how thrilled I was to see the Statutes Amendment (Relationships) Bill passed on Monday night despite your objection.As debate went on and your redundance grew clear, you became increasingly more bitter and offensive in your diatribes against same-sex couples. But the fact that you were only one person in a small dissenting minority when the time came to vote is indicative of how the majority of South Australians reject your type of extremism.I also wish to thank you for highlighting perfectly what many people have been arguing all along - the duplicity and hypocrisy whenever Family First claims not to be a religious-based political organisation. Credit to you that at least initially you restrained yourself from Bible-bashing in a brave attempt to maintain the charade, but when you began to see you would lose this fight, your truly venomous fangs came to the fore. Rest assured you have provided us with ample ammunition to counter your party's quite ingenious approach of claiming not be another fundamentalist group. You couldn't have argued our point any better for us if you've tried. I sincerely hope you are not returned to parliament and that South Australia can be freed of your poison and that of your party as the state finally catches up to the rest of the country. God bless,Sam
In case you think I'm making any of this up, here's Andrew's final thoughts seconds before the Bill finally got through:
Same-sex couples are receiving this favourable and discriminatory advantage, notwithstanding the fact that studies have revealed that same-sex couples in a primary relationship are likely to be involved with other sexual partners at the same time...As most members know, the Bible, when all passages are evaluated in context, clearly teaches the following: God loves gay and lesbian people, but their activity is a sin. As an imperfect human being, I also acknowledge that I am a sinner and require God's forgiveness and grace for my failures. However, my desire is to please God and to ensure that this state is blessed by God in the best possible way. I will not be voting for this bill.
I guess when you look like this
...It's only understandable that you'd have so much hatred and bitterness in your heart.
The Bill still now has to pass the Lower House but a bloc Labor vote combined with a couple of supportive Libs (Isobel Redmond and Mark Brindal) should see it get over there without too much difficulty.
Family First does for "family" what Fred Phelps does for Christianity. Any day they lose one of their battles is a day on which you can be guaranteed a victory for common sense, fairness and progress has been won.
Why Holly Brisley Isn't Natalie Bassingthwaite
Julia Roberts once wisely told Cameron Diaz that "creme brulee can never be jello". It was probably the most - only? - profound insight of My Best Friend's Wedding, other than Cameron pointing out to Julia that her hair was big, or Dermot Mulroney's exposed bicep.
Likewise, Holly Brisley can never be Natalie Bassingthwaite (or, as she's known in pop circles and to people like myself who are morally opposed to the syllable "thw", NatBass).
Some might argue the reverse - that Holly should be the template for comparison as her TV career (as the token blonde Agro sidekick on Cartoon Connection) began several years before NatBass'.
But to me, NatBass is the original. She gave Neighbours a desperately-needed shot of adrenalin as the home-wrecking vixen Izzy. Neighbours has not had such a good resident villain since Mrs Mangel, and Izzy's occasional loopiness is often reminiscent of Julie Robinson Martin, moments before she "accidentally" fell off a high building during a murder mystery weekend. (I use quotation marks as their timeslots forbid both Neighbours and Home and Away from ever allowing a character to commit or even explicitly contemplate suicide. But apparently it's fine for them to go on a crystal-meth induced killing spree.)
Perhaps the comparison is unfair to Holly. I do so because it seems to be a case of lazy writing on the part of H&A, where they've lifted the Izzy character, re-tuned her and slipped her into Summer Bay as Amanda. Cross-over happens a lot in the plotting of these two shows, that's a given, but this one isn't subtle.
a/ Izzy/Amanda are both young, blonde and suffer from the "big-city girl rebelling against the small-town mentality" syndrome;
b/ Izzy/Amanda are both lying, manipulative home-wreckers but audience sympathy is supposedly created and maintained through familial ties. In Izzy's case, she's Max's brother and a fiercely loyal and protective sister/aunt to Summer and Boyd "But I'm not gay" Hoyland. In Amanda's case, it's the precocious little shit son she has;
c/ Izzy/Amanda are both natural enemies of the Erinsborough/Summer Bay Earth Mums, Susan and Beth;
d/ Izzy/Amanda are both gold-diggers;
e/ Izzy/Amanda are both involved with the resident evil businessmen (Paul/Josh) hell-bent on destroying the communities for property advancement and personal gain;
and so on.
Now, talking Holly/NatBass comparisons: How long do we think it will be before Holly launches her singing career? Her hot-shoe shuffling "talent" was uncovered in DWTS, but is there a funky rock/dance ensemble in need of a spunky songstress to vamp up their filmclips - I mean a band other than Rogue Traders? If so, Holly believes she's your girl, no doubt.
The other fairly obvious differences between Holly and NatBass:
a/ NatBass can act. Really. Holly can pout. That's about it.
b/ NatBass can sing. I didn't catch her live at Sleaze this year as I was too busy not being there, but possible live shortcomings notwithstanding, she sounds fantastic in Voodoo Child and Way To Go. Holly probably assumes with that husky voice that she'll inevitably become a sultry pop diva too. Moi, je crois pas.
c/ NatBass has maintained credibility fronting Rogue Traders while still being an actor on Neighbours. That at least deserves a round of applause. Holly, well...She's not NatBass.
In other Neighbours news:
Remember my Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Dan campaign?
Forget about it. The guy has got to go. No amount of prettiness can forgive how appalling he is, even by Neighbours standards. When an "actor" can make Blair McDonaugh seem like Sir John Gielgud by comparison, something is horribly wrong.
And now, of course, the writers have an Erinsborough Players production piece happening as a gratuituous excuse to sample Dan's singing voice. The guy can sing, sure, but note to writers: Dan is not your next Kylie, Natalie, Delta or even, god forbid, Holly (V, not B). Release him from his contract ASAP so he can keep with the Singing for Jesus, until his inevitable coming out and rejection of christian fundamentalism. Now that will be an impressive opening floodgate.
And just quickly: how delicious is this Shane Connor lawsuit? Seriously, Aussie soap writers need to get away from their gritty realism (ie Surgeon, which is so not going to make it to a second season) and look closer to home for the Next Big Thing.
I can just see Janet Andrewartha (who I met at a Prisoner reunion and is as much an ice-queen in real life as Lyn Scully is camp) rocking up to the trial, in her oversized Alexis Colby hat, sliding into the witness box showing just a hint of leg, and delivering the damning evidence that will see Connor
put away for 20 years lose his case. Then Alan Fletcher testifying in Connor's defence as the actors' union rep. Then a scene of Janet and Alan having to act as friends on the set. Hell, there's a whole season's worth of plot there alone.
Neighbours: Behind the Wheelie Bins.
OK, the debate on blood donation bans for men who've had sexual contact with other men in the last twelve months is getting really nasty
and SXed (yes, in the true spirit of corporate language I'm choosing to make SX a verb) on this back in August and, admittedly, probably wouldn't have written the same article if the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO), Australian Society for HIV Medicine (ASHM) and AIDS Council of NSW (ACON) had all come out in support of the ban back then. You have to assume these people know what they're talking about.
There's a lot more to this issue and it's being unnecessarily clouded, by random attacks on Rodney Croome in the endless NSW v Tasmania battle, perhaps not so ideal choices of phrase by Croome in his support of Michael Cain's case and the omnipresent boogeyman of "discrimination".
My theory is that one of the reasons peak HIV/AIDS bodies - especially ACON - support the ban is maybe they are looking long-term, to avoid unfortunate possibility that were the ban to be lifted, a not-so-honest HIV positive man could donate blood claiming he did not have the virus, infect a donatee and boom, ammunition is created for the anti-queer lobby to argue that gay men literally seek to destroy society (not to mention liability issues for Red Cross). This certainly seems to move in line with ACON president Adrian Lovney's claim that "some gay men are not entirely frank about their sexual history" - which, no, is not a pleasant thing to hear but does sadly have a ring of truth to it sometimes.
Or it could just be that, as the Croome detractors are arguing, donating blood is not a "right" in the same way access to equal civil and legislative rights is, and you can't avoid the elephant in the room that, for a small percentage of the total population, gay men or men fucking other men do constitute a disproportionately high proportion of the HIV-infected population.
But surely some of Croome's counter-arguments are valid, especially that this ban as supported by ACON is in conflict with the organisation's "talk test test trust" policy, whereby monogamous gay men in a committed relationship can stop using condoms after the three-month window period if they're both shown to be HIV-negative?
And the reality is testing procedures have advanced significantly - the NAT test can detect HIV infection within 9 days.
That's why I have a suggestion, a compromise I reckon can work between gay men and Red Cross.I go into Red Cross today, claim honestly I am HIV negative and have a sample of blood extracted and tested.
I sign a statutory declaration to the effect that I will abstain from any kind of male-male sexual activity for a period of three months.
I return to Red Cross three months later, having stayed true to my legal obligation, have my blood tested again and it is shown to be HIV negative and therefore totally appropriate for donation purposes.
Yes, it's extra administration for the Red Cross, but they are the ones insisting they're chronically short of blood and need more people to donate. They're covered from possible liability by a stat dec. We male-on-male actioners are making a fairly substantial sacrifice - not to mention risking significant gaol time should we go against this imposed legality - so we can't be accused of arbitrarily demanding rights without responsibilities.
Red Cross is prepared to take heterosexual donors at their word of their HIV status. If they're not prepared to do that with us, fine - make us legally as well as ethically accountable.
I'm sure this idea has flaws, but I'm just trying to come up with some kind of solution instead of bitter recriminations.
Note to Labor: Don't Delay, Possible Relevance On Its Way!
I was beginning to think a turn-up of half a million workers at yesterday's National Day of Protest - including 150,000 in Melbourne
alone - was pretty encouraging.
Then I read the Ozzie's take on it
and was assured that "old-fasioned unionism accomplished nothing". See, "the vast majority of Australia's workers were not united in protest. They ignored the strike and kept on working". Which I'm sure has nothing to do with the fact that many workers - myself included - feared fines, warnings or possible dismissal if they did actually take time off work to rock up. Since I'm not currently a member of a trade union (don't hate me, I don't know any legal editors who are), obviously "the industrial action by the shock troops of unionism...(and) their message did not mean much to the 75 per cent plus Australian workers who are not union members". On Planet Oz, if you're not a union member, you're automatically a Howard-lovin', free-market, IR deregulation patriot, just like 75% of the population. Clearly, you can only be one or the other.
Propaganda from the Daily Liberal Party Press Release notwithstanding, I see all this as a prime opportunity for Labor - finally - to credibly promote itself as an actual alternative to the government on something - anything. Robert Manne argues the point
perfectly. Kym Beazley cannot be his usual soft-cocked self here. When campaigning for the 2007 election, he needs to commit Labor uneqivocally to repealing the Workplace Relations Act should his government win power. He needs to promise to restore the powers of the IRC, and not in some vague, "GST roll-back" sort of way. He needs to make Howard's agenda here clear to swinging voters - WorkChoices is not warm-fuzzies about employment choices, it's about destroying trade unions, Howard's 30-year political wet dream, and it's about lowering the minimum wage.
I'm currently reading Annabel Crabb's Losing It, which is indeed "the sort of 'alternative history' (of the Labor Party in post-1996 Opposition) you want alongside you as you're ploughing through the polemic and invective of 'The Latham Diaries', a touchstone of reality" - or, more simply, The Latham Diaries without Mark Latham's poisoned perspective. Anyway, reading the book you become depressingly aware of the current shambolic state of the federal Labor Party and how, without a Big Issue on which they can differentiate themselves, Howard will remain PM until he's 129 as Labor continues to implode.
Well kids, this is it. Like the magazine, take it to the streets and sell it. Give those aspirationals a reason to vote for you again. Then the rest of us won't have to suffer another decade of Howardism.
This is another reason why I didn't attend the rally yesterday. I know showing numbers is important, but I also know that Howard, even as the swinging populist he is, will not budge, even if there's the threat of losing votes. This is his legacy. This is what he wants to be remembered for. Friends of mine are saying he'll go out on this as he has nowhere left to go. I disagree - I think he now has his eye on the prize of surpassing Menzies as the longest-serving Australian PM - but it's certainly his most immediate potential jewel in the crown.
So I'm very resigned to this Bill passing parliament and becoming law. If it's going to be the sword on which this government falls, then unfortunately it's a necessary evil, as blue-collar workers who abandoned Labor for Howard get suitably fucked over and come crawling back to the party that, while exceptionally far from perfect, does not instantly respond with violent diarrhoea and vomiting upon hearing the phrases "worker solidarity" or "earning under 60k a year".
So bring it, I say.
Blog Is All Around
So this is my back-slapping, I-love-youse-all SX
column on bloggers. I'm genuinely sad I couldn't list everybody in my blogroll but I thought for the sake of SX
it was best to keep it to NSW gay bois. Perhaps I'll be allowed a sequel column where I can rave about all the others who fill my blog heart with blog joy.Recently, a certain community newspaper – I’m of course not at liberty to say which one, but use your imaginations, dammit! – identified some of Australia’s best or most interesting queer blog sites.
As someone who entered the “blogsphere” only this year – and whose site design skills still leave much to be desired – I appreciate the value and goodwill generated by a kind word or two about one’s site and what that can do for one’s ego.
So, for my good deed for the week, I’d like to identify some additional queer blogsites that I visit daily for alternative information or to derive laughs, tears and often inspiration.Gayety (gayety.net)
Ask Harley, this site’s creator, and he’ll proudly tell you he’s a grand-daddy in the world of blogging – he’s been doing it for years, long before the cool kids heard about it, when “web logs” were firmly in the realm of geek. When not re-counting his porn star-esque sexual exploits, Harley offers incisive and unbiased social and political commentary. Cynical, to be sure, but crafting his language so skillfully as he does he makes cynicism feel almost poetic and oddly lyrical.Gay Erasmus (gayerasmus.blogspot.com)
I am conflicted about recommending GE’s site – as a person of similar age, location and political persuasion to myself, his fine writing and profound insights into important social issues are so good that he could conceivably put me out of a job. Unlike me, GE is Christian and I can only lament that more Christians don’t share his perspective on life.Culture Strain (culturestrain.blogspot.com)
To keep my head exploding from political blogging fury, Sam’s site is camp as Christmas and a lot of fun, with regular updates on the exciting, Logie-nominated glam of Australian pop culture. When a site features images of, among others, Ozzy Ostrich, Larry Emdur and Benita from Play School, you just know there’s chuckles to be had here.In Another Life, I was a Platypus v2.0 (munchymunchymoocow.blogspot.com)
Mikey journals his daily exploits – many of which involve lusting after unattainably straight boys at Sydney University – with some solid lefty propaganda and particular biases in favour of public education, transport and broadcasters and against the increasingly undemocratic federal government. Any man who “can’t take the Young Liberals or Daily Telegraph seriously” is my kind of blogger.
These bloggers are NSW-based and there are plenty more beyond the borders, even beyond the oceans, who would be worth identifying in a longer column. But check these out as a starting point. Who knows, it may even inspire you to start your own blog site. As web log pioneers will sadly attest to, these days anyone can give good blog.
I Won't Use Egg or Humble Pie in This Recipe
When Matt Price - whom I usually consider to be a fairly balanced, unbiased sort of columnist - is smug
ly suggesting critics of the new anti-terror laws and people sceptical about rushing through this legislation as a smokescreen for the IR changes should be eating humble pie, have egg on their face, etc., I feel, as one of these people, a response is needed. I'd expect this sort of gloating from Henderson, Devine, Tell-Us-About-It Janet etc but not Price, and it leads me to believe even unblinkered commentators and spectators might be getting taken in by Howard's latest machinations.
Democrats leader Lyn Allison yesterday wondered aloud 'if Howard hadn't personally contacted the cops and asked: "Is there not a raid that could take place at this time to justify it?"'
Yes, it's a conspiracy theory but why is it so implausible?
Do we need to go over the nearly 10 years of Howard political opportunism and capacity for exploiting situations for his own gain?
Come on, the timing of this is ridiculously convenient. A raid at exactly the same time Howard is looking for some kind of event that vindicates the so-called need for extreme legislative measures? Or distracts from the increasingly unpopular IR changes?
And before anyone points out that all but one of the Labor premiers and chief ministers were on board with this, I concede that, yes, they're going along too easily here, but that's because it's too thick and strong a grain to go against. If the AFP claims they have to act, of course they're not going to say no, they shouldn't.
But why the need to act now? The people whose homes were raided had been under scrutiny for a long time. And of course, "for security reasons", we Joe Publics may never know how specific a threat was known and therefore if these raids were absolutely imperative to prevent a terrorist attack within 24 hours. But again, that works so well in Howard's favour.
As karter put it in a recent posting to MrLefty's site - and I couldn't put it better myself, so I'm not:
...If you think governments are above using terrorism and alleged terrorists for political ends and with complete disregard for the rules of evidence and the law then you are sadly naive - Guildford Four (and the Macguire Seven) and the Birmingham Six anyone?
I expect to be branded a Howard-hater - I'm not, I don't hate anybody; a conspiracy nut - I'm not, I just don't blindly accept what the Murdoch media tells me; a terrorist apologist - wrong again, I fear and condemn extremists murdering innocent civilians in the name of Allah or any diety, and as a gay man I'm fully aware of what some countries operating under fundamentalist Islamic law do to my kind and no, I'm in no rush to integrate that mentality into the Australian psyche, or any other label this government's fervent supporters wish to throw at me.
The reality is fear has worked a treat for this government. Fear of immigrants, fear of terrorism, fear of interest rates rising - they all work to further the myth that the boat should not be rocked and to stick with the government and steady-as-she-goes PM that one can "trust". Now, with these raids, there's fresh cause for fear, fear that will only aid the government's cause.
Terribly, terribly convenient.
So I'll come out of the Gaydar closet - yes, I have a profile, yes, sometimes I chat in the chat rooms and yes, I recently paid actual money to become a member. Judge, condemn and snigger at will.
Finished? Good. Feel better? Fab.
I received this message from a chap in Manchester saying he was going to give me 10 votes in the Gaydar Sex Factor competition. To summarise (for those who do not or pretend not to use Gaydar): You put a photo up in one of the various categories (18-21 y.o, 21+, muscle, punk, skindhead, etc) and people vote. You can either skip the person altogether if they do nothing for you, give them a "Tick" rating (anywhere between 1-6), a "Star" rating (7-8) or a "Hot flame" rating (9-10). Within a certain period, votes are tabulated and averaged, and the winners earn the pride of, umm...winning. Or finishing in the Top 10, which you can include in your profile. As it's an international competition, previous Top-10ers, particularly in the muscle categories, can be quite woofalicious.
As an old man, I'm currently residing in the 21+ category until the time comes when I can see the lines of my "six-pack" in something other than really, really good lighting, then it's defection to muscle town.
Anyway, I thanked this guy and thought it would be rude not to reciprocate a vote, even though I didn't find him the slightest bit attractive. In fact most people who've voted for me aren't the sort of men I get excited about, which in its own way can be a little depressing, especially when the median age of said voters is around 43.
So I gave this guy a vote within the "Tick" range - 4 - not realising you are apparently able to find out at the other end the specific number of votes that have been given to you (I just assumed he'd think I'd given him a 6 and we would have parted ways).
The next message to pop up from Manchester:
"Ungratefull (sic) ugly tosser!!! How dare ya!!"
And then I was banned from any future correspondence with this gentleman.
Gar? Was I meant to just not vote at all, ie give the guy a zero? And how did I go from "flame" to "ugly" so quickly?!
Moral of the story: No good deed goes unpunished.
Other moral of the story: Maybe use Gaydar less.
Anyone catch the telly last night? 'Twas a little bit queer.
First on the 7:30 Report, there was the story of John George and Jiro Takamisawa
. In a nutshell: George was a WW2 veteran and Takamisawa his lover who cared for him as his health deteriorated until his eventual death. Takamisawa applied for a war widows' pension, knowing he was ineligible, but to his surprise actually received a repatriation health card - only, woops, it was addressed to "Ms
Takamisawa". When he contacted the Repatriation Commission to point this out there was apparently a deafening silence on the other end of the phone, followed by men in protective suits rushing to his house the following day to remove the offending card.
A few observations: As always, Tanya Plibersek's on the case (Takamisawa lives in her electorate), making a speech
in parliament identifying the hypocrisy of this discrimination, especially rank given the recent announcement of equal entitlements for same-sex partners of service people in the defence force.
All well and good, but you can't help but be at least a little suspicious of Tanya's timing given her rush to defend
Kym Beazley's appalling address to the ACL. Credit to her that she did attempt to spin a completely unambigious point Beazley made - apparently, according to Tanya, when he claimed debates on same-sex couples are "are often marginal to the real pressures that families face every day in our society", what he really meant was that "(the ACL’s) obsession with gay marriage is a marginal issue”.
Thanks for clearing that up, Tanya.
Veteran Affairs minister De-Anne Kelly - she of the A2 Milk Marketers conflict of interest scandal
- maintained an unnervingly blank, Stepford Wife-esque expression in stating the bleeding obvious that Takamisawa did not meet the relevant criteria because he was not a partner of the opposite sex, without bothering to explain the inconsistency that her own government now actually does acknowledge same-sex relationships in the armed forces.
Particularly unhelpful was her claim that "the concerns of our veterans are foremost in the Government and the Australian people's mind, not the views of extraneous organisations overseas. It's our veterans that matter, and their views". That's lovely De-Anne - perhaps someone in your department neglected to tell you that the RSL was the main agitator to change the ADF policy in favour of same-sex couples? Was hard to know what was going on with De-Anne and her dead-eyed face, due either to way too much Botox, a labotomy, heart or emotion bypass or possibly all four.
Later in the evening was "30 Days
", Morgan "Super Size Me" Spurlock's switcheroo doco where Ryan, gun-totin', fag-huntin', Jesus-lovin' Army good ol' boy from Hicksville Alabama (who, naturally, looks like he should either be in a Falcon movie or A&F catalogue) spends 30 in the Castro with good-natured homosexualist Ed and his wacky friends for thum thuper gay adventureth.
The moral of the story was obviously for Ryan to see the error of his ways, and if you believed the final speech he gave to Ed & Co it would appear mission accomplished. But Ryan struck me as a pleasant, ultimately harmless vessel waiting to be filled (so to speak). As he could regurgitate biblical passages and various anti-queer slogans to rationalise his homophobia, so too, after a few days with some non-threatening fags, PFLAG parents and an MCC minister, could he churn out a few platitudes about how he'd grown and learned to see the error of his ways - which, even if it were true, you know would be comprehensively bashed out of him again the minute he returned to the bayou.
I sympathised with Ryan's dislike of Rev Penny Nixon - have to say I wasn't impressed with her much either (although admittedly I'm basing my opinion of her on 2-second soundbytes). She's obviously done good work in her time but she was far too condescending to Ryan and put forward fairly useless hypotheticals along the lines of: "If the Bible suddenly said you could never sleep with women, only men, would you do it?" I don't think such an edit is due for that particular book's next re-print.
Ed I found far more impressive. An intelligent, perceptive, unassuming guy to whom Ryan warmed, especially when confronted with drunken sleazebags at dodgy gay clubs (and haven't we all been there, done that and bought the T-Shirt?) I was very pleased to see Ed as our TV ambassador, and Ryan did seem genuinely sad when saying goodbye to him, even offering the straightest of straight-boy hugs before getting into the taxi.
The cynic in me wants to assume it was all ultimately a futile exercise, but dammit, the romantic in me found it appallingly sweet.
Before we begin today's sermon, check out MrLefty's take
on yesterday's horse race, where "a horse travelled around the track at Flemington slightly faster than the other horses". Marvellous. I was going to post on how little I care about the Melbourne Cup and how the journalistic hyperbole used to astronomical proportions (ha ha) to cover said race shits me, but MrL as usual has done a much better job than I ever would.
This week's SX
column below.Is it really too much to hope for a viable opposition to the Howard government?
In light of various and possibly dangerous legislative initiatives proposed by the government, particularly relating to “anti-terror” measures, true opponents of potential civil liberty infringements and further racial isolation are increasingly being sought and found not in the ALP, but on the Coalition backbench. This is perhaps not surprising, given Labor’s current parliamentary redundancy, but when Opposition Leader Kym Beazley is claiming not only will his party support the government’s laws but also himself proposing even more extreme measures, something is very wrong.
Beazley out-did himself once again this week, addressing the aggressively anti-queer lobby group, the Australian Christian Lobby (organisers of last year’s anti-gay marriage forum in Canberra). Like any good politician, Beazley told a special interest crowd what they wanted to hear, speaking “as a Christian” and essentially disregarding the tenet of separating politics from personal religious beliefs in his pitch to court the Rancid Religious Right vote. This was yet another example of Beazley’s “me too” style of leadership, often emulating John Howard in policy and belief with only minor watered-down concessions to the latter’s extremities.
There has been much negative reaction to Beazley’s leadership this week regarding his support of the anti-terror measures, with many people lamenting, as I am, the absence of a clear political alternative. Sadly, however, I don’t believe as some do that the solution to the ALP’s current woes is to replace Beazley with a less right-wing leader, such as Julia Gillard. Such a move is not going to garner any more votes in an electorate that Howard has helped to shape in his own ultra-conservative image. Labor may have clawed back some of the voters it lost to the Greens in 2001 over its Tampa stance but ultimately, the Coalition still finished ahead in the two-party preferred, highlighting the real problem: Labor is not winning back the voters it has lost to the Coalition.
No doubt, it was such voters Beazley had in mind when deciding to speak at the ACL, in a relatively ideal climate where many of the major religions have expressed concerns over the government’s IR changes. And even while addressing such a homophobic audience, Beazley managed to re-assert, in a very non-specific way, his party’s commitment to a legislative audit and reform of laws discriminating against queer people and same-sex couples. But this one ray of light was overshadowed by the usual hollow, meaningless rhetoric about protecting marriage and families as Beazley reminded the crowd how unreservedly Labor supported the government over the gay marriage ban.
A party and a leader that’s willing to integrate religious dogma into politics, appease extreme fringe groups and endorse prejudice to chase a few extra votes. Or John Howard.
What a choice.
To all those unfortunate people who voted for George W Bush not once, but twice - and those outside the US who genuinely believe(d) him to be a man worthy of the position of most powerful person in the world:
As the truly malevolent and incompetent character of this President and this Administration becomes painfully
clear, there's only one thing left to say to the Dubya true believers:
You vote for a monkey, you're gonna get parasites and disease. Fact of life.
Do I sound smug and self-righteous? Yes. Do I deserve to? Hell yes.
There are still billions of people on this planet who never forgot what a joke this guy is. We don't deserve to suffer for the mistake the majority of US voters made last year.
Bush should never, ever have been a 2-term President. If the 2000 election had been kosher, he wouldn't have even been a 1-termer.
Crash and burn, Georgey, crash and burn. Couldn't happen to a nicer bloke.