Tag Archives: On Line Opinion

Kelly O’Dwyer, Christians don’t own marriage, & goodbye Bob.

15 Apr

Shortly after Bob Brown announced his retirement, Federal Member for Higgins  and Abbott attack puppy in training Kelly O’Dwyer tweeted that we now had a female deputy PM as well as female PM. This observation prompted ABC journo Latika Bourke to ask whatever could Ms O’Dwyer know about Wayne Swan that the rest of us don’t?

Of course, Ms O’Dwyer was keeping alive the Opposition tradition of claiming that the Greens are really running the country and so their new leader, Christine Milne, is our deputy PM in everything but name.

I first noticed Ms O’Dwyer when she took part in a Qanda episode. If you’re interested, you can find this on her website. I formed the opinion then that she is given to belligerence, quite lacking in manners, and adept at the practise of  “talking over everyone else not caring if your audience hears you because your objective is to drown out all other voices not to make an intelligent point yourself.” Yes. That.

I also formed the opinion that her subtext was “Look at me Tony look at me! I’m doing it just like you! Can I have a schmacko? Please?”

Had it not been for the notice warning “Puppy in training. Not to be fed or patted by anyone other than handlers” I would have chucked her one myself, being a sucker for unrestrained approval desperation. Below Ms O’Dwyer is pictured with Mr Costello who never became leader of the pack. It looks as if he’s eating a sausage. Or perhaps he’s going to feed it to Ms O’Dwyer. I don’t know what these people get up to.

In 2010 I wrote this article for On Line Opinion titled “Reclaiming marriage from the great big Christian hijack.” I wrote: Marriage has existed a whole lot longer than Christianity. The Chinese philosopher Confucius, born in 551 BC, offered this delightful definition: “Marriage is the union of two different surnames, in friendship and in love.”

Two years down the track and because our PM made a point of reassuring us the day after she took office that there would be no change in the Marriage Act to accommodate same-sex unions, we are no further ahead. It is rumoured that Ms Gillard was compelled to make this otherwise inexplicable statement  by the Australian Christian Lobby. (I claim her statement was inexplicable at the time because Kevin Rudd had only just been rumbled, and the last thing on anybody’s mind was gay marriage.)

What remains inexplicable to me is that Ms Gillard is a professed atheist and personally uninterested in marriage. Some 60 per cent of Australians approve of same-sex unions and there are Christians among them.

Why the ACL should have such influence over Ms Gillard is also inexplicable, and quite unacceptable. Frankly, I’m a bit fed up with public Christians at the moment. That appalling performance by Cardinal Pell on Qanda did it for me. In the On Line Opinion essay I wrote:

Perhaps what is required from Christians these days is a little humility. An acknowledgement that they haven’t got everything right, indeed there are things they have got horrifically wrong, and that there is a collective as well as an individual responsibility for this that must be addressed before they can legitimately turn their rigorous attention to the maintenance of a broader human morality.

If I were imagining a god, she/he would care a whole lot more about believers destroying the bodies, hearts and souls of children than about preventing same-sex marriage, and same-sex adoption. If my god was going to smite anybody, I hope she/he would be smiting the perpetrators of those crimes against children, and those who enabled and protected those perpetrators and denied their crimes. I hope she/he would take positive action to enlighten those who would deprive children of love and legal security, solely because these people are unable to personally deal with the concept of love between same-sex partners.

My god would teach that loving one another is the only thing that matters, and from that all else will grow.

She/he would also be smart enough to admit that loving one another is the hardest thing we’ll ever have to do on this planet.

“Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another,” said Christ.

“We must love one another, or die,” said the poet, W.H. Auden.

“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal,” warned St Paul.

It’s time to reclaim marriage from the Christians. They can’t claim it as their own. It belongs to everybody. Marriage in Australia in 2010 is about loving one another, whatever gender the other happens to be. It is about hope, and deeply good intentions. It’s about wanting to be the best a human being can be. It’s about wanting to create a living, breathing mystery, day by day, with the person you love and who loves you.

How may times must these sentiments be expressed, and by how many people, before politicians take heed?

Christians, your noisy gongs and clanging cymbals are making my ears bleed.

Finally, adieu Bob Brown. There are many ageing white males in positions of power that I can think of who would do well to emulate Brown, and bugger off. Knowing when to go is a rare talent, whatever your field of endeavour.

I have no idea if this is the beginning of the end for the Greens. As the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas observed about death: One does not know when death will come. What will come? With what does death threaten me? With nothingness or recommencement? I do not know.

And that, my friends, is why I can’t call myself an atheist, for I do not know. While this is unkindly described as “fence-sitting” by some, I argue that it is a sign of maturity to learn to become comfortable with uncertainty. Only children demand certainty. The adult knows there is none. Nowhere. Ever. Ever. I know that for sure.

Bob and Paul

Changing the gender paradigm: it’s women’s work

24 Jun

Changing the gender paradigm, in On Line Opinion today.

An essay on women in the workplace, baby clothes, pitfalls in the social process of gendering, and Foucault’s analysis of hegemonic manipulation. Enjoy!!!

Sarah Palin on Qanda. Hazaras in boats. End live exports of all sentient beings. Now.

31 May

At the beginning of Q&A last night a startled tweet manifested on screen. “Eeeek!” the tweeter wrote. “Is that Sarah Palin?”

Kate Lundy (???)

The tweet referred to Kate Lundy, Parliamentary Secretary for  Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, and I had the same sense of dislocation when I saw her. Having just returned from the US where Palin was pretty much unavoidable if you ever turned on the television, I thought I was still in that country, and hadn’t  endured that fourteen hour flight home after all. A quick self-inflicted slap to the upside of my head brought me back to the present.  It wasn’t Sarah Palin on Q&A but dear God, it was too close for comfort.

I have no idea if Ms Lundy is deliberately cultivating the Palin look, and to some degree, the Palin style. She might want to think about what she’s doing or else like Tony Abbott‘s anti carbon tax rally, she might attract groups she’d rather not be associated with. We all know how shallow the punters can be, and appearance can count for much more than it should.

Over at the Drum yesterday I discovered an excellent piece by Deakin University researcher Vince Scappatura,in which he analyses the mainstream media interpretation of a report commissioned by the Gillard government on the push and pull factors thought to influence the decision of Afghanistan’s Hazara population to attempt to seek asylum in Australia.

The report reveals that dire economic circumstances, ethno-political disturbances, mistreatment and discrimination by the Taliban, killings, kidnappings, arrests and subsequent disappearances, and the complete inability of the government to protect Hazaras in remote villages are all compelling push factors in decisions to flee. The research concludes that these factors are of more significance than any pull factors endemic to Australia.

However. Andrew Probyn and Nick Butterfly in the West Australian and the Sydney Morning Herald, claimed the report showed that the main reason Hazaras flee in boats to Australia is for a better life. Their actions are a livelihood strategy, they aren’t fleeing bullets, says Andrew Bolt. It’s a lifestyle choice, dammit!

No mention at all of the multitude of factors in play, including persecution and death, that provoke Hazara people to sell up everything, pay people smugglers, and embark on a journey that 80% of them fear they may not survive, but even so, it’s a better bet than staying where they are. They are also aware that they might spend years in vile detention centres being sent mad with grief and uncertainty. Even this, they consider, is better than staying where they are.

Now the Gillard government intends to export Hazaras to Malaysian refugee camps, where they will be further mistreated, badly fed and physically abused. Mother of God, what kind of people are we?

by Jeff Cavins

Over at On Line Opinion today you’ll find an article by me on pornography, the media and Gail Dines. Dines received wide coverage during her anti pornography campaign here , especially from the ABC. However, there has been comparatively little researched response  published on the ABC to the claims Dines makes about the effects of porn, it’s availability, and the media’s responsibility for the ruination of the sexual lives of men. I have no idea why this is so. Thank you OLO for picking up the slack and widening a very necessary debate.

Finally , I cannot bring myself to speak much of the hideous treatment of cattle exported live to Indonesia, as revealed on Four Corners last night. There is no need for a lengthy inquiry into this trade, an inquiry that will only  delay its termination, and prolong the unspeakable suffering of these animals. Alternatives must be found and found immediately.

This is just one more example of a government that lacks any real connection with human beings and other species, not to mention the planet, who are in dire and extreme situations. A government that lacks imagination, and is bereft of decency, morality and ethics. Unfortunately, the opposition is no better.

Lover, lover, lover – burying the dead, Scott Morrison, and L. Cohen

16 Feb

Grief. Edgar Bertram Mackennal via Commons Wikimedia

One thing the Shadow Minister for Immigration reminded me of yesterday is that whatever qualities may be required for the practice of politics, the possession of emotional intelligence is not one of them.

Morrison’s race to the bottom whine about misuse of taxpayer dollars to bring bereaved asylums seekers from Christmas Island to Sydney  has brought down buckets of approbation down on his head, and deservedly so.

Jonathan Green’s piece also reveals the morally bereft position of the government on the issue.

Morrison’s complaint was that Australians have to reach into their own pockets to attend the gravesides of loved ones, but asylum seekers don’t.

I did for a moment have a wild fantasy that this was a bit of theatre. Well, it gave Joe Hockey the opportunity to parade his compassion, and he is trying to get somebody from the government to go on Sunrise with him to lift his profile. And if there’s to be a tilt at leadership, given that Abbott’s apparently in roughly the same place as was Rudd when he got the axe, then Hockey’s a likely candidate. What better way to pitch him than as the mature voice of emotional reason, with Morrison’s forces-of-darkness gibberish as the foil?

But as LP’s Mistress Kimbrella (oh, lover,lover,lover, come back to me…) and Ken Parish reminded me, I have the capacity to think like a loony conspiracy theorist if I’m not vigilant.

BTW, friends, I was proved right about the OLO strife being provoked by more than one person, IBM stating it was the article that offended employees in their offices as well as their advertising agency, and it being revealed that Gregory’s call to the ANZ didn’t get a mention anywhere. I guess someone will apologise sometime? Just kidding.

I notice that LP’s supporters are still busily defending over at the Drum, including one commenter who writes, mysteriously,Christopher Pearson has every right to his vile hate-speech.

A generous friend gave me Leonard Cohen’s On the Road DVD and CD for Christmas. Listening to Cohen, and watching him, (not to mention the spectacular Javier Mas) is a great antidote to the inevitable and profound spiritual exhaustion provoked by politicians using the funerals of babies to let everybody know how tough they are.

I thought of politicians when Cohen sang:

I asked my father
I said, “Father change my name”
The one I’m using now it’s covered up
With fear and filth and cowardice and shame

Vale little babies, mothers, wives, husbands, uncles, brothers, sisters, aunts, daughters, sons, cousins, lovers and friends, drowned at Christmas Island. Vale.


Lavartus Prodeo nights.

14 Feb

by Linus Ekenstam via flickr

It wasn’t my intention to visit the Lavartus Prodeo blog. I was on my way to somewhere else when an enticing little link popped up and before I knew it I was right in the middle of the Lavartus Prodeo On Line Opinion thread.

My first post was an alternative perspective on moderating from that dominant in the thread. This brought an immediate response, to the effect that those with enough wit are capable of composing comments that don’t require the intervention of a moderator, and the witless were deleted and dispatched elsewhere. LP is a cyber club, the post continued, and if I didn’t like the rules of the cyber club I should also move elsewhere.

I was a little taken aback at this reaction to what, after all, had only been a personal observation on alternative moderating.

Later on, another commenter told me that I’d announced my alternative opinion in a way that was too challenging and provocative, and I shouldn’t go onto blogs for the first time telling everybody I had a different opinion, because that immediately got them all off side.

In spite of the uninviting nature of the initial reaction, or because of it, my curiosity was aroused. Many people would have run a mile and never returned, but I have a compulsion to continue even when, or especially when, someone tells me right off I don’t belong.

I think it’s a consequence of experiencing severe marginalisation as a child. Freud’s repetition compulsion. I’m still trying to resolve the original trauma of not being allowed to belong, so I compulsively take on anybody who tries to shut me out. Daft, but a compulsion is a compulsion.

As well, I had my own strong opinions about the OLO controversy, and didn’t mind expressing a few of them at LP. I’d go for it, I decided, and girded up.

My decision to subject myself to the experience was also influenced in no small part by the effects of large doses of painkillers I was taking after surgery. These gave me an exaggerated sense of my own capabilities, and made some things seem funny that probably weren’t.

Choosing the best hat for the occasion

Some years ago I read an account of the psychoanalyst Bruno Bettelheim’s experiences in a concentration camp. He’d survived, he felt, because he had been able to observe and record the experience through the framework of his training. He’d used it as an opportunity to observe human behaviour under extreme conditions. He’d learned a great deal, and given himself a purpose that kept him going. The result was some fascinating insights into the human animal under intolerable stress, and his survival.

I’m not suggesting for a moment that visiting LP was anything like Bettelheim’s ordeal, but since I read how he survived, I’ve often employed his methods when I’ve found myself in testing situations.

I also got a bit of encouragement in this direction from Foucault, who’s mission it was to always find the back story – “My problem is essentially the definition of the implicit systems in which we find ourselves prisoners.” Well, that.

To add to all that, being curious about nationalism, border protection and sovereignty in all its forms, even when manifested on a blog, I sensed there would be a great deal there for me if I took the time to engage in a few encounters.

I also spent years as a clinician, a lot of that time running groups. That specialised interest is probably also a consequence of being chucked out of my original group at an early age.

The past does indeed determine the present, and the future.

This is not the first time I have done this

One more disclosure. I have conducted this experiment (being the only disputing voice and seeing what happens) on a Melinda Tankard Reist comments thread. Though in that case I was quickly joined by others, and the burden of sole dissent was removed from my shoulders. LP is the only blog where I’ve been absolutely alone.

Don’t talk about the PhD

Many of the insults directed at me by MTR’s followers were repeated at LP, especially, strangely, insults about my academic qualifications. I would have thought that both places, the one Christian feminist, the other apparently catering to the educated, would have taken them in their stride, and found them unremarkable, but not at all. I was roundly ridiculed in both places for having mentioned my PhD.

Even though in the MTR case someone had demanded to know what my qualifications were, and I obligingly told them.

And in the LP case Mark Bahnisch corrected me when I addressed him as Mr, saying that he was in fact Dr. So I signed my very next post as Dr, seeing as it seemed to matter.

And brought down on my head an outpouring of mirth from what seemed like a zillion commenters, some of whom revealed their own academic credentials, (no doctorates) and others who made a few up.

Dr Bahnisch was having a joke, it seems, and in signing myself Dr, I apparently responded too seriously. I know him very well, someone posted, and you’ve got him all wrong.

Well, as I’ve never met him, and heard of him only vaguely for reasons I can’t recall, I can’t think of one reason why I’d be expected to know him, much less be au fait with his sense of humour.

God, it’s hard when you don’t know the group norms!

Eric Sykes then showed great insight when he commented that perhaps the blog was not for me.

Somebody then expressed the hope that I would go away.

I took another pain killer. It was time.

Starved of radical dissent

I posted a few times about the OLO situation, and my thoughts that in attempting to close OLO down, an attack was being launched on free speech, among many other things. What did I mean by free speech, Dr Bahnisch demanded. Was I referring to John Stuart Mills? Was I making claims about OLO and the Socratic dialogue? OLO and the principles of the Enlightenment?

By now there were numerous LP commenters attacking me like starving feral cats will set upon a bowl of food left out by a kindly human. I began to think that these people probably didn’t often have the opportunity to talk to someone who completely disagreed with them. They were starved of radical dissent, desperate for someone other than themselves against whom to test their brute intellectual strength, and I was it.

Whoa people! I wrote. You are many and I am but one!

Yes, someone called Fine replied. You might be feeling overwhelmed but if you would only argue properly instead of using rhetoric!

I move blogs

Later that day I meandered over to Club Troppo where I left a comment about the OLO situation. Only to have Mistress Kimbrella (one of the made up qualifications) from LP pursue me like one of the furies.

Well, hello there, Dr Wilson, she wrote. Sorry you didn’t make any friends and influence people at LP.

Really, Mistress whatsit, I admonished as the drugs kicked in, I have given you a day and much of the night. Are you not satisfied? I never said I was interested in commitment. Are you going to demand my attention on the flimsiest of excuses?

The Mistress then reminded me that she had been at Club Troppo and LP for many years. Her point apparently being that I, on the other hand, had only just arrived.

Oh, you mean I’ve landed illegally in a leaky boat without my proper papers, in sovereign territory where I was not invited? I wrote.

What was it again? Oh yes: “We will decide who comes to this blog and the manner in which they come!”

And they’d better assimilate straight away, having first been suitably humble, or they can go right back where they came from.

By now it was becoming clear to me that these people were not fans of Levinas’ theories of radical hospitality.

Group dynamics

Anyone with superficial knowledge of how a group works, knows that one of the basic bonding rituals used to strengthen and reinforce the group is for its members to unite against an outsider. The herd mentality does not have the capacity to embrace the other. It is entirely dedicated to preserving its sovereignty.

The outsider offers a perfect opportunity for a closed group to reinvigorate itself. Members who may feel themselves on the outer for some reason are given the opportunity to return to the fold, as they unite with their fellows against the stranger.

This process is essential from time to time, as the closed group inevitably becomes incestuous when deprived of external contact, turning on one another and splintering into factions. The appearance of a stranger can cause the group to temporarily abandon its dysfunction, re-bond, and celebrate its strengths.

Or as Costas Douzinas puts it “The foreigner is the political precondition of the nation state…”

Getting a good kicking

I have to say LP was much, much worse than MTR. MTR does welcome very opposing commentary. Some of her followers will give you a good kicking, but they don’t tell you to find another blog because you don’t fit in. They thrive on dissent. In this I can only admire them, though many of their views are, in my view, bordering on the insane.

Finally, I accept that I’m not wanted.

I have taken the advice of the LP commenters, and removed myself from their site, probably never to return, unless I have more surgery requiring pain relief.

I probably won’t go back to Club Troppo either, as Ken Parish told me metaphorically to bugger off because my arguments are relentless. I was only trying to rebut statements and opinions he’d attributed to me that were not mine. But I was a foreigner there, too, and perhaps foreigners aren’t supposed to get so uppity right off. Even if they do feel they’re being misrepresented. Maybe foreigners are supposed to just suck it up till they’ve been initiated and accepted? I don’t know.

The last word I give to Derrida:

“For hospitality is not some region of ethics…it is ethicity itself, the whole principle of ethics…”

There’s a lesson in that for all of us.

Bahnisch and Parish, hello: there is a crack in everything – that’s how the light gets in

12 Feb

It’s been a while since I’ve read more pompous and self righteous prose than that recently addressed via email by Mark Bahnisch(Lavartus Prodeo) and Ken Parish (Club Troppo) to the embattled Graham Young at On Line Opinion.

by Mademoiselle Lavender lou via flickr

 

The former can be seen here, the latter at Club Troppo.

I note that one of their major grievances appears to be that this affair has become public. Both blogs have cut Young loose since Christopher Pearson revealed the incipient scandal in the Australian last weekend.

So why do Lavartus Prodeo and Club Troppo object to what is most decidedly a matter of public interest, being put before the public?

Using phrases that are painfully typical of all attempts at middle class repression, they conclude that none of it is in the public interest, even though it raises questions of freedom of speech, religious freedom of speech, moderating across the board, the right to publish opposing opinions, corporate censorship, and much more.

Why on earth would these two blogs seek to keep these matters out of the public domain, and to silence public discussion?

Indeed, so strongly do they or their supporters feel that they have even attacked a comment I left at the Drum, and the Drum itself for publishing my comment.

What? Nobody is allowed to disagree, even on the ABC site, with these self proclaimed authority figures?

Thanks for telling the public it’s none of our concern, chaps. The public really loves people like you telling us what is and isn’t in our interests.

As my headline implies, it is precisely when eruptions such as these occur that an opportunity for public discussion about important matters presents itself.

There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in, chaps. That’s how the light gets in.

How sad that Bahnisch and Parish have attempted to smother public debate, and instead avail themselves of the opportunity to strut the high moral ground.

And how moral is it to dump a colleague at the first sign of trouble? Young has never had complaints such as these made against him before in years of publishing a vast array of opinion.

Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering, there is a crack, a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in…L Cohen via Emerson

BTW

Re the anti discrimination option:

Mikey Bear, who is Greg Storer’s partner, left the following reply on the blog when I asked the anti discrimination question (before I knew the Victorian legislation):

“Why must they go to via an anti-discrimination path? That’s ludicrous. A letter to the advertisers proved far simpler, effective and expedient.”

So I guess that means we had better resign ourselves to global corporations deciding what we’ll read in the blogosphere.

As Andrew Bartlett points out on his blog, two of the most rabid columnists in Australia run blogs with vile commentary in the mainstream media, and no corporations ever pull their advertising because of them.

Storer changes the story, and Michael plays a game

8 Feb

Gregory Storer

This is the public complaint Storer lodged against OLO, at the Ambit Gambit blog:

I’m one of the ‘gay activists’ who ‘attacked’ online opinion, however, I took exception to some of the comments that where posted after Bill Muehlenberg’s piece, not the actual essay.
I defend Bill’s right to his opinions, he should have he’s stuff published, but it’s the disrespectful and outright hatred of the comments that follow that are objectionable. As a person who is gay, I find those comments disturbing and they shouldn’t have a place in our society.
And I did the right thing, I raised the comments with Graham Young, he made it clear he thought the comments where ok, so the next step is to approach the sponsors and advertisers to make them aware of the sort of site they support and to express my disgust.
Online Opinion does a great job in allowing people to express their opinions by publishing their articles. The comment sections leave a lot to be desired.
Comment by Gregory — December 20, 2010 @ 3:30 am

I note Storer says he is  “one” of the gay activists that ‘attacked’ OLO. Therefore I and several other people took him at his word that he was “one of,” but one of how many we did not know.

I have since asked this question of his partner Michael Barnett, who approached me on this blog. This is the response:

Michael Barnett: I have the answers to your questions and you’d be surprised and disappointed with them.

Me: Well, tell us then.

Michael: I don’t need to tell you what I know. You can trust me.

WTF????

Now Storer claims to have acted alone.

Actually, the next step isn’t an economic boycott. The next step is the Anti Discrimination legislation. That’s what it’s there for.

Gregory Storer, Secular Party of Australia‘s candidate for Melbourne Ports in the 2010 federal election, has emerged as the man behind a gay lobby’s successful efforts to persuade the ANZ Bank and IBM to withdraw advertising from On Line Opinion.

Gregory’s mission statement reads in part as follows:

I firmly believe that there should be a clear separation of church and state.  I have a strong code of ethics and think that human rights should be paramount to the way we live our lives.

I would like to see an Australia that accepts its citizens for who they are, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or ethnic background.  We are all people, we are all entitled to equal rights and as citizens of Australia we all deserve to be treated with respect, to enable us to fully participate in our society.

Noble sentiments, Gregory. How do they sit with exerting your economic power to bring about the closure of an on line community because you feel it has offended you?

In an email to me earlier today, Gregory stated that he had not bullied, or engaged in standover tactics in order to close down OLO, and that he does not even want to close OLO down.

So what, then, I inquired, did he imagine his lobbying of  all the site’s sponsors to withdraw all their advertising dollars would achieve, if not financial knee capping of  the popular site?

Still waiting for the candidate to answer that question.

As to how large the gay lobby led by Gregory is, I haven’t been able to ascertain that so far. There must be some members of considerable economic power, if they are in a position to persuade corporations such as ANZ and IBM to change their advertising placements.

A quick peek at Bill Muehlenberg’s website, and the website belonging to the Australian Christian Lobby, reveals there’s outrage in both camps against the ANZ Bank for its pro gay marriage stance, and its attempts to apparently influence Bill’s freedom of speech.

Looks like the candidate for Melbourne Ports has caused a very diverse group of citizens to ponder if their rights have been disregarded in his pursuit of On Line Opinion.

“The Pink Mafia” is Muehlenberg’s term, one which until yesterday seemed pretty excessive. But today, having learned the lengths to which Storer and his gang are prepared to go to exert their will on the digital reading public, maybe Bill isn’t too far wrong.

Now that’s scary.

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