Tag Archives: Tim Mathieson

The Wayne LaPierre solution to religious exemption from secular law

15 Jan

David Marr’s excellent piece in the Fairfax press yesterday is a reminder of just how conflicted our anti discrimination legislation is, and has been for some time.

Exemption from the law for religious organisations means they are permitted to behave in ways that are unlawful for the rest of us, because of their beliefs. For example, employing someone who does not engage in a heteronormative sexual life, employing a woman who becomes pregnant outside of marriage (the same rule does not apply to the man who impregnates her, by the way) and  employing people who live together unmarried (such as Prime Minister Julia Gillard, but her partner Tim Mathieson as well? This is not clear, perhaps it is only women religious institutions demand marry) transgresses some religious beliefs about how human beings ought to conduct themselves in their private lives. No religious institution should be obliged to put itself in a situation where its beliefs are insulted, it is argued, therefore they are all exempt from anti discrimination legislation that applies to everyone else.

I might find it difficult to work alongside someone who holds any or all of the above beliefs because they do not accord with mine and I find them offensive and insulting. However, were I to refuse the believer employment, or to terminate their employment because their beliefs trouble me, I will be committing an offence under the anti discrimination legislation and if they complain, I will be punished.

As I am not a religious institution, I must employ the religious regardless of my beliefs. This irrational imbalance continues, for some inexplicable reason, to be legitimised by the Labor government, itself led by an atheist woman living in a de facto relationship. In other words, as Marr points out, Prime Minister Gillard is legislating against herself.

Perhaps the solution is to declare atheism and agnosticism  religions, and apply for exemption from the law. I call this the Wayne LaPierre solution, after  the Executive President and CEO of the NRA. LaPierre recently claimed what is needed to stop bad guys with guns is good guys with guns. By the same reasoning, we might consider allowing the rest of us the privilege of denying employment to religious people as they may do to us. Then we will have achieved the equal right to deny a livelihood to everyone except ourselves and those who think like us. Which of us is good or bad will remain as subjective as it as ever been, but we’ll all have big guns with which to kill each other’s prospects.

On the other hand, the current consolidation of the anti discrimination laws offers a golden opportunity to effect changes that would revoke privileges extended to religious institutions, and level the playing field. Attorney General Nicola Roxon has introduced additions to the bill that now declare offending or insulting someone to be an unlawful act. Unless of course you are religious institution and then you can offend and insult somebody’s protected attributes (if they do not comply with your belief system) to your heart’s content by refusing to employ them, or by dismissing them on the grounds of that attribute, and you will get clean away with it. If we can accept additions, surely we can effect the subtraction of what is a most discriminating practice that makes a mockery of the entire legislation?

What we need to ask ourselves is: why are we prepared to allow religious institutions to behave in ways that are so unacceptable to the rest of the community that we have declared them unlawful?

The religious are entitled to their beliefs, of course. A secular state is not obliged to adapt its legal system to those beliefs, it is especially not required to do that when the adaptation is to behaviours that for the rest of the population are unlawful because they are deemed extremely harmful to others.

If an act is so undesirable that we have found it necessary to administer punishment to some of those who perform it, how can we say that same act is not undesirable because it is ameliorated by the balm of religious “belief?” And why on earth should we?

Don’t bully my girlfriend, pleads Tim

16 Sep

Tim Mathieson has pleaded with critics to stop bullying Julia because she’s a woman.

He says he can’t understand why some of her most harsh critics are women. You could have a gander at this Tim, it might give you a few clues.

Its been said to me a few times over the last few days that women in politics need to be harder, and meaner, and more brutal than men if they’re going to be accepted. Well, all I can say is who needs anybody more mean, hard and brutal than many men in politics are already? If women have to get more cruel to make the cut, what’s the point of them being there at all? And Gillard has certainly outdone any male politician in recent history with her policies on asylum seekers.

How bizarre, to call victimization for Ms Gillard, the woman who’s determined to send unaccompanied children to Malaysia!

Who’s the bully? Tell me again?

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Why Xenophon was wrong, and at home with Tim

15 Sep

There are several arguments to be made against Nick Xenophon‘s decision to name a priest accused of rape in the Senate last night. Some of them can be found here in the Punch.

But for me the stand-out objection is that the alleged victim, Archbishop John Hepworth, didn’t want him to, and asked him not to.

The aftermath of rape is complex for a victim. Many are left with a frightening and unsettling sense of having lost all control over their bodies and their being, and of being rendered utterly powerless in the face of another’s will.

One of the ways a victim can become a survivor and reclaim his or her sovereignty is to have control over if and when they speak about their experiences, the manner in which they choose to do that, to whom they wish to do that, and what exactly they wish to say. Xenophon took all this away from John Hepworth when he over-rode the Archbishop’s wishes, solely to satisfy his own sense of outrage.  In this, he further abused a man we know has great credibility as a rape victim of two other priests.

This is not Senator Xenophon’s tragedy. He has no right at all to attempt to determine the course of its unfolding. His first duty was to John Hepworth. What he did was disregarding of Hepworth’s express wishes, it was disempowering to a man already struggling with great pain, and it was abusive.

Xenophon claims he faced a great moral dilemma in deciding whether or not to name the alleged rapist. No, he didn’t. It was dead easy. He just had to listen to the alleged victim, and nothing and nobody else.

In respect for John Hepworth’s wishes I will not name the priest, and ask that any commenters also refrain from naming him.

At home with Julia seems to be shaping up as a cri de couer on behalf of househusbands, oops sorry, house de factos. Maybe it should be called Home Alone – one man’s story because it’s all about Tim, with the PM cast as the neglectful if well-meaning career driven partner.

The storyline last night was unspeakable. The device of the three young boys appearing intermittently to comment on proceedings like a Greek chorus is lifted straight from ABC TV’s Doc Martin series in which the neurotic doctor is stalked and hounded by a bunch of gloriously cheeky giggling adolescent girls. It worked beautifully in Doc Martin, it’s appallingly bad in At Home.

Why, I ask. Why did they do this? What is the point, what does it mean, when will it end?

Gillard turns her private life into public spectacle.

14 Jun

In the Drum this morning, Annabel Crabb critiques an interview on Sixty Minutes last night in which Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her partner Tim Mathieson are questioned, apparently mortifyingly for the viewer, about their relationship. It’s degrading, Crabb concludes, and though I didn’t see the interview, I’m sure Crabb’s assessment is spot on.

The  question we need to ask is how desperate is this Prime Minister that she allows herself to go on prime time television with her partner to subject both of them to degrading interrogations about their personal lives?

Julia Gillard seriously damaged the dignity of the office of Prime Minister by  the manner in which she assumed it. Remember her breathless, hysterical claims that we had lost our way, and she had taken over to help us find it again? It sounded then as if the country was on the brink of destruction thanks to Kevin, and Gillard was here to save us.

Now she seems incapable of exercising any of the  discretion and restraint one would hope was second nature to a prime minister when it comes to her personal life and her intimate feelings.

You can’t blame the program. They’re after ratings like any other commercial television station. The responsibility for this self inflicted public humiliation lies solely with Julia Gillard. Its a timely reflection on her lack of judgement, her lack of wisdom, her lack of character, and her increasing desperation about her plummeting popularity, that she now exposes her intimate life for public spectacle as a last resort.

At the very least it’s tacky and embarrassing. At worst, it’s proof that the country is not in serious, capable hands, and that Gillard’s capacity for unwise silliness (first demonstrated in that Women’ s Weekly airbrushed photo shoot) and her lack of sophistication and political judgement are more deeply entrenched than we feared.

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