This article was in MCV on 3 June 2009 and reflects yet again the disgusting state of affairs at NMIT because of the person at the top who does not allow dissent or disagreement with his views.
A deadly shooting spree in a Tel Aviv gay youth centre has reminded the world that it is not just the Islamic parts of the Middle East where homophobia is rife.
Two were killed and another 15 wounded by a gunman in an unprovoked attack. In the days after, Israeli homophobes set up a Facebook group, “I hate gays too”, in direct reference to the shooting.
A poll conducted by Haaretz newspaper following the shooting found 46 percent of Israelis still believe homosexuality is “a perversion”. Only 42 percent said it was not. It seems strange that this could happen in a country that recognises same-sex marriages performed abroad, that has gays serving openly in its military, and where same-sex couples may adopt. But such victories have come largely via the courts and the country’s parliament, the Knesset, is still home to many an outspoken homophobe.
And such MKs have a malicious support base — in 2006 ultra-Orthodox Jews (‘haredim’ in Hebrew) rioted in Jerusalem for days, protesting a planned Pride march, burning cars and street furniture and beating passers-by in an outbreak of violence that makes the Cronulla riots look like a minor street scuffle.
And while the killer’s identity remains unknown, haredim have been involved in two disgraceful acts in the last few days. On Thursday gay activists and a journalist with Israeli Army Radio were attacked by a mob in a haredi neighbourhood in West Jerusalem while putting up anti-homophobia posters about the killing, and a soldier with a haredi military unit is being held by police for for making online threats in relation to a rally held in response to the shooting in Tel Aviv on Saturday.
Yet that same rally was attended by President Shimon Peres and the education and culture ministers of the current right wing government. Opposition leader Tzipi Livni and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have also spoken out — though much of the finger pointing has been at Netanyahu’s coalition partner, the religious Shas Party, whose MKs have in the past blamed gays for causing earthquakes and called homosexuality a disease.
Homophobia will continue to exist in Israel but if anything positive has come from this incident, it is that perhaps now a conversation has begun.
Two gay activists have this morning been expelled from the Great Hall in Parliament House Canberra, for challenging Labor’s Parliamentary Secretary for Social Inclusion’s stance on same-sex marriage.
The activists held placards reading “Social Inclusion means equality” at a breakfast held by religious groups to celebrate the ban on gay marriage in Australia.
Spokesperson for EQUAL LOVE, John Kloprogge said that August 13th represented a national day of shame in Australian political history.
After standing on the stage for a few minutes, religious members from the audience grabbed the men and forcefully removed them from the room.
It is understood one of the men said, “get out of here you faggots” before grabbing one activist by the neck.
“We were attending this unholy event to make a statement about the hypocrisy of the Rudd Government supporting and endorsing a ban on gay marriage”
“It is particularly galling that the Parliamentary Secretary for Social Inclusion, Senator Ursula Stephens, provided the Rudd Government’s endorsement to this gathering of anti-gay lobby groups and offered ongoing support to excluding gay and lesbian people from civil marriage.”
“This gathering in our Federal Parliament represents the biggest anti-gay protest group since the marriage ban was implemented in 2004.”
“It is important that gay and lesbian people stand up wherever they are and make a statement that we are entitled, as Australian citizens to equality under the law.”
“The expulsion from this homophobic breakfast is just another indication of how gay and lesbian people are treated as second class citizens.”
“The real marriage here is between extreme religious view and the complicity of the Rudd Labor Government in acceding to those view.”
Mr Kloprogge warned the Rudd Government that fostering a closer relationship with anti-gay groups and the Christian Right would not be welcomed by mainstream voters.
“Overwhelmingly, Australians reject anti-gay discrimination. A recent galaxy poll revealed that up to 60 per cent of all Australians support same-sex marriage”.
Same-sex marriages are legal in Canada, Sweden, Spain, Denmark, South Africa and several US states, but are being blocked in Australia by the Labor Party under pressure from religious groups.
This article appeared in The Age on 14 August 2009. Heffernan is somebody who is totally out of control and is acting like a raving lunatic because he thinks every homosexual is a paedophile. He is deranged and delusional, and should be expelled from federal parliament immediately!
FEISTY Liberal senator Bill Heffernan created a further headache for his friend and leader, Malcolm Turnbull, when Senator Heffernan was forced to defend comments made to gay rights activists and a rude gesture in the Senate chamber.
At an event marking National Marriage Day, organised by his wife, Senator Heffernan had an altercation with three civil union activists.
The activists' group, Equal Love, later issued a press release accusing Senator Heffernan of allegedly saying to them: ''I don't mind gay people, I just want you to stop f---ing the kids." Senator's 'obscene gesture'
Senator Bill Heffernan denies giving Climate Change Minister Penny Wong the finger during heated exchanges over climate change policy in the Senate.
Senator Heffernan denied using those exact words.
''Everyone knows where I stand on protecting the institution of marriage and prosecuting the rights of the gay community,'' he told The Age.
''Everyone knows that I conduct a continuous war on people who use kids as sex objects and I don't intend to change now.''
The controversy will not help Senator Heffernan's bid to shore up his preselection before next year's federal election.
It was also an unwelcome distraction for Mr Turnbull, whose inner Sydney seat of Wentworth has a large number of gay and lesbian residents. A spokesman for Mr Turnbull last night declined to comment.
Senator Heffernan's day grew worse when he was caught on camera making an obscene gesture with his finger during question time.
The Government leader in the Senate, Chris Evans, complained that Senator Heffernan had made the gesture at Climate Change Minister Penny Wong.
But Senator Heffernan said he had actually meant it for West Australian Labor senator Glenn Sterle. ''I apologise to Senator Sterle. He knows I was sending him an obscene message,'' Senator Heffernan told the Senate.
Senator Heffernan later told The Age that the pair had an ongoing friendly rivalry due to their membership of the Senate's agricultural committee.
Letters in The Age, 15 August 2009
SENATOR Bill Heffernan is, as usual, completely correct. It is a scientific fact that all homosexuals are pedophiles and want to form families only so they can prey on children. Conversely, there has never been a case of children being abused in a heterosexual family, ever. The senator is to be congratulated on his informed public stance.Andrew McIntosh, Glenroy
Liberal senator Bill Heffernan needs to realize the institution of marriage is not under attack from the gay community but heterosexuals. With such a high divorce rate, straight people themselves are doing an excellent job of destabilizing the institution.Alexander Liddington-Cox, Hampton
I am not aware of any GLBT organisation here formally even expressing condolences to those in Tel Aviv amidst the horrific homophobic murders that took place on the 1st of August.
If this is really the case, I am both appalled and ashamed to be part of what appears to be an increasingly parochial ‘me-first’ GLBT community Down Under.
I look forward to extensive coverage of this event of global significance to our community. Were this to happen in Australia we would expect support and solidarity from overseas, I have no doubt of that.
I think that Tzipi Livni’s speech should be made available to us all, as it is one of the most significant speeches against hatred by an Israeli or world leader, at a time of grief and suffering.
San Francisco is holding a memorial procession as I write this, and I have communicated directly to Gay Tel Aviv and expressed horror and solidarity.
I would ask that anyone with access to Facebook do the same.Jo South Australia
Ask any local lad in the know and he’ll tell you that Saturday night here is all about Cheech Beach, an open air bar on the shores of the Mediterranean where the boys gather from about 11pm to see out the close of the weekend together.
Situated smack in the middle of the city’s main waterside promenade, its location characterizes a country where everything must coexist: there is little choice in Israel, a nation almost half the size of Victoria. In some areas this creates a tension that is palpable; in others, less so. On most days the average Tel Avivian will tell you that their metropolis is the place that does it best: one of those harmonious, multicultural melting pots that works.
The night of Saturday, August 1 was a very different tale.
The facts are already well known: as is par for the course in the modern age, within hours a local tragedy became front page news around the globe. At around 11pm on Saturday evening – the end of the weekend in a country that works Sunday through Thursday – a lone gunman entered one of the two community centres that service the gay community in Israel’s largest city and opened fire on gays and lesbians attending a weekly support group for teenagers.
Two died – Nir Katz, 24 and Liz Trobishi, 17. A further 15 were injured. For many, the incident was a forced coming out to the family members who were later notified of their condition.
Some four days on, the impact still looms large. The victims are struggling to come to terms with the enormity of what has happened to them; the perpetrator is yet to be found. The city is in shock. Even in this part of the world, where violence and terror are regular guests on the evening news, an event like this can shake people to their core.
Within hours, citizens who have uncomfortably familiar networks for spreading bad news swung into action. Modern technology became the bearer of bad news: text messages, internet, social networking sites. By midnight a group of local gays spearheaded an initiative to have as many as possible change their Facebook profile pictures in support of the victims.
Vanity gave way to a whole host of pride flag images adorned with black ribbons and memorial candles. By 8am the following morning, less than 12 hours after the city was ripped from its summer slumber, the work had turned to gathering support for a hastily convened rally.
At 4.30pm people began assembling on Rothschild, a leafy, tree-lined boulevard dominated in the middle by a pedestrian thoroughfare – a kind of year-round gathering place where locals sit on benches in deep conversation, ride bicycles, drink coffee and play Bocce. The Aguda building, scene of the prior evening’s sinister events, is tucked into a side street less than 50 metres away.
Shortly before the anointed start time the crowd had the appearance of a low level sit in. A core of passionate activists gathered chanting choruses of “In pride, without fear” and other emotionally charged catchphrases. By the time the official program of speakers got underway the gathering had shifted dramatically in form, its scale well and truly symbolizing a community and city mobilized. Traffic was forcibly stopped as the crowd spilled out, covering the boulevard from pavement to pavement.
A number of high profile politicians came to speak, including a former Education Minister and Israel’s only out gay Member of Parliament. And then there was Tzipi Livni. The charismatic National Opposition Leader addressed the crowd with a passionate conviction. In one of the most poignant commentaries of the afternoon she urged the community to see “this crime as a turning point” and expressed the hope that it might "give the strength to everyone in the gay community to live their lives …. give strength to a child to go to his parents and say: 'I am gay' or 'I am lesbian'.”
They spoke about the many things to be learnt from a tragedy like this. Strong voices that talked of how this event will mobilize the community; how we need to fight for more rights, more acceptance and a tolerance that runs deeper and ultimately permeates well beyond a few square inner city miles. Although borne of the desire to see something good ultimately come out of something so heinous, there is no denying the necessity of these calls to action. In addition to the demands for a better tomorrow, there is much talk on the street here about the things to remember and contemplate: like the young man and woman who lost their lives as the result of a brutal crime, the random and inexplicable nature of evil that sometimes rears its head in even the most civilized of societies, and some of the deeper prejudices those actions may or may not represent.
But when the shock wears off, one of the most important things will be for this city to not self-flagellate – to ensure it remembers the value of what it has managed to construct; that in the moments before and after the tranquility of that summer evening were shattered by a violent crime there were many symbols of a place that, on most days, provides a secure, accepting and free environment for gays and non-gays alike to live. There’s the open celebration of life in a beachside bar, a forum of support for the newest members of the community; the sort of people that would mobilize in an instant in support of their own, and a National Opposition leader who is willing to come out at a moment’s notice in support of a group whose mere existence often polarizes the electorate.
That in middle of one of the most troublesome regions in the world there exists a place like this is a reason for Tel Aviv to retain a sense of pride amidst all the work still to be done.Justin Rudzki is an Australian freelance journalist based in Tel Aviv.
Thank you Justin for this moving article which conveys the horror and the pride. Much appreciated. Jo Harrison
Dear Israeli Gay Youth,
This weekend we woke to the terrible news of the attack in the Tel Aviv gay youth centre. Unfortunately "random" hate violence is all too common in the world but what was most chilling about this particular attack was that it was targeted at gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) youth in their safe space. The attack was malicious and calculated. The damage was brutal. The scars will last forever.
It is imperative that the authorities seek down those responsible and make them face the full consequences of their actions. An example must be set that this is never to happen again. The government must ensure there is adequate legislation for all types of hate crimes, and specifically those against GLBT people.
The entire world is a poorer place as a result of this senseless attack.
Please accept our most sincere condolences for those who died in the attack and our best wishes for a speedy recovery for the people who were injured and traumatised.Sincerely,
An estimated 20,000 Israelis filled Rabin Square in central Tel Aviv last Saturday night in remembrance of those shot the week prior in the gay youth centre. An array of Israeli stars, including Dana International, performed at the memorial rally.
Israeli president Shimon Peres addressed the crowd. “The shots which struck this proud community affected us all as human beings, as Jews and as Israelis. The man who targeted the two victims targeted all of us… Everyone has the right to be different and proud… I came to share your tears after the death of two young innocents. Be strong and courageous,” he said.
Former Australian Project Runway contestant Oren Nuri returned to Israel last year to pursue a fashion career. He said Tel Aviv’s gay and lesbian community found support from each other to cope with the tragedy.
“It’s been crazy here. It was a complete shock. But it has been a fascinating and beautiful thing to see how the community here in Tel Aviv has responded. We help each other as one large group,” he said.
“We are essentially a minority inside a minority, so we must support each other, our bond is stronger.
“For the moment we offer respect to the people who’ve been killed. Many community members have changed their Facebook profile pictures to a pride flag and a single lit candle.” The blatant act of hate received world-wide coverage and sparked discussion in Israeli society, with many politicians quick to defend Israel’s equality credentials.
Openly gay MK Nitzan Horowitz told the Knesset, “I am a proud member of the gay community. I don’t know what went through the mind of the shooter or what was torturing his soul, but I do know one thing — the shooter wanted to hurt as many people as possible, just because they belonged to a certain social group.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “I would like to take this opportunity to say to all of Israel’s citizens: We are a democratic country, a country of tolerance, a law-abiding state, and we will honour every person regardless of his or her beliefs.”
In Sydney, Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins offered a special memorial prayer at last Friday night’s Shabbat service at the Emanuel Synagogue in Woollahra. In doing so he categorically rejected bigotry in all its guises.
Dayenu, Sydney’s Jewish GLBTI group, issued a statement saying, “there is still widespread prejudice in relation to GLBT issues and until our society is willing to work on getting to know those who are different to themselves, the world will not be a safe place for gays and lesbians — and all minority groups, Jews included.”
The shooting took many by surprise because the Mediterranean city of Tel Aviv is widely known for its acceptance of diversity.
“Ever since Dana International won Eurovision all the gay people in Israel have felt they had a place to go. Tel Aviv became a safe haven and as a result, internationally, Tel Aviv gained a reputation as a place for enjoyment without harassment. We have parties, clubs and beaches,” Oren told SSO.
“Broader Tel Aviv society has finally accepted diversity and then something like this happens.”
An article on the front page of the Sunday Age on 27 September 2009 had the headline: Govt bows to religious right. The article, which is reproduced in full below details how the state will allow limited discrimination, that gay activists and legal experts are angry, and that the Catholic Church hails the decision.
There are 9 states and territories in Australia, and one would be forgiven for thinking that Australia is, in fact, a religious state because it is dominated by the religious right in all its thinking and actions to the detriment of free speech and anti-discrimination.
It should be noted that religious organizations are tax-exempt and many of them are extremely wealthy, to the extent that some own vast amounts of property around the country on which they pay no rates and taxes. Religious schools also get government funding, and even the wealthier religious schools have recently obtained vast amounts from government for their continued luxury operation.
Equal rights for all citizens of Australia have just been pushed yet further into a hole by the decision of the Brumby Labor government in Victoria to provide exemptions to religious organizations.
According to the Sunday Age article:RELIGIOUS ORGANISATIONS WILL BE ABLE TO……..
So discrimination in the 21st century is alive and well and living in every state and territory in Australia, led by the Federal government which discriminates against the gay, lesbian, transgender and HIV/AIDS communities by expressly legislating against marriage between same-sex individuals on the grounds – presumably picked up from a non-secular text put together over the last few thousand years by some dominating males who push the idea that some invisible being guides our existences – that marriage – another man-made institution made for the domination of women – is only ever to be between a man and a woman.
This patently ridiculous institution has broken down irretrievably over the last 50 years and governments are trying unsuccessfully to salvage something from the wreckage of this outmoded capitalist institution where a man owned a woman as his chattel and who is there to do his every bidding and command.
We are as far from equal human rights now at the end of 2009 as we were about two hundred years ago in 1809, when Jane Austen and the steam engine were revolutionizing the 19th century.
Man’s inhumanity to man – and woman – and transgender – and every other variation and combination on the earth at any given time – continues apace, despite our attempts to break this stranglehold created by the world’s god-botherers.
Here is the Sunday Age article:
ATTORNEY-GENERAL Rob Hulls will today announce a controversial compromise struck with the state's religious groups that will allow them to continue to discriminate against gays and lesbians, single mothers and people who hold different spiritual beliefs.
In a move that has delighted religious groups but angered gay activists and discrimination experts, Mr Hulls will protect the right of hundreds of church-run organisations - including schools, hospitals and welfare services - to refuse to employ or provide services to people who they believe may undermine their beliefs.
Under the deal, Mr Hulls will allow church groups to continue discriminating on the grounds of sex, sexuality, marital and parental status and gender identity. But they will be unable to discriminate on the basis of race, disability, age, physical features, political beliefs or activity, or breastfeeding.
The decision has dismayed groups that argued that the review was a chance to eliminate entrenched discrimination in Victoria, which has more exemptions to its equal opportunity law than any other state.
Leading discrimination law expert Professor Margaret Thornton said it was a win for fundamentalist religious groups. ''In terms of a person's private life … their sexual preference or marital status really has nothing to do with their ability to perform a job. Being able to discriminate on marital status is particularly absurd. It is really out of date. It really amounts to the policing of women because the focus is on single mothers, not on men.''
Religious groups have mounted a campaign to save their exemptions, which mean, for example, that conservative religious schools can refuse to hire single mothers or gays - even as cleaners - and that an Islamic organisation can decline to employ a Christian.
Mr Hulls told The Sunday Age that the changes, which pre-empt a parliamentary committee report due within weeks, will limit how church groups discriminate. If a religious welfare agency refused to offer services to a same-sex couple, for instance, the agency would have to demonstrate how this action conformed with its religious doctrine. If a religious school rejected an atheist for a receptionist's position, the school must show why a person needed to adhere to certain religious beliefs.
But it will still fall to the victim of discrimination to make a complaint and force the religious body to justify its actions. The changes will be part of legislation introduced early next year. The compromise means that in the lead-up to next year's election, Labor can make peace with conservative and religious groups, already at odds with the Government over the decriminalisation of abortion. Mr Hulls said the Government never intended to restrict religious freedom in Victoria. He said the changes struck the right balance between religious freedoms and Victorians' ability to be free of discrimination: ''We have decided to narrow the broad exemptions that currently exist but also ensure that bodies maintain their right to religious freedom.''
Mr Hulls' announcement was immediately endorsed at the highest levels of the Victorian Catholic Church, with Archbishop Denis Hart hailing the decision as ''striking a fair and correct balance'' between competing rights. The Australian Christian Lobby's Victorian director, Rob Ward, also welcomed the decision.
The Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby's convener, Hayley Conway, said it was concerning that religious groups holding Government contracts for welfare work were still exempted from the discrimination laws. ''We would have preferred to see Rob Hulls take a much stronger step on these issues,'' she said.
Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission chief executive officer Helen Szoke said the move was a good step, but ''a whole section of the community is still left out''. She hoped that eventually the community would understand there was no reason to treat people differently because of their sexual preferences or marital status.
Mr Hulls said he acted before a parliamentary committee reviewing the exemptions had reported because of the ''high level of interest and concern'' about the Government's intentions.
The Age letters editor is either disingenuous or dishonest or both in not revealing that at least two of the letters below were written by two right wing fundamentalist religious zealots, neither of whose affiliations were apended after their names. The specific two referred to are Mark Rabich and Peter Stokes.
Letters in The Age, 28 September 2009
ROB Hulls' decision to allow exemptions for religious organisations such as church-run schools and hospitals to discriminate in employment or services on the basis of sexuality, gender, gender-identity, marital or parental status is at best misguided and confused - and at worst a despicable act of crawling for votes (''Government bows to religious right'', The Sunday Age, 27/9).
''Limited'' discrimination is still discrimination. The idea is as preposterous as ''partially'' equal opportunity. Access to health, education and employment are fundamental human rights and should not be denied to anyone. The fact that church organisations will not be allowed to discriminate on the basis of race, disability, age or political beliefs underscores the double standard.
Sexism and homophobia are endemic prejudices, not religious beliefs. They are founded on fear and hatred, not faith, and I invite the members of any church, including its leaders, to argue otherwise. It is the role of an equal opportunities act to legislate against such prejudices. To legislate in their favour or encourage their practice in the name of belief or for political gain is fascism, pure and simple. I am ashamed to live in a state where this is the case, especially one that calls itself ''Victoria - the place to be''.Humphrey Bower, South Yarra
IT IS extremely disappointing that ''Rob Hulls will allow church groups to continue discriminating on the grounds of sex, sexuality, marital and parental status and gender identity''.
Surely church groups, even of the fundamentalist variety, are supposed to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ who, if I can remember from my Sunday school days, preached in support of tolerance and against the arbitrary judgment of others.
Are these groups so insecure in their doctrines that they cannot tolerate people with different belief and value systems? If they want to be exempted from laws that promote a tolerant and accepting society, they should be excluded from government financial support, and should be subjected to punitive taxation treatment.Paul Fullerton, Camberwell
WHAT hypocrisy. While John Brumby is in India touting Victoria as a safe, egalitarian destination for Indian students, his Government has announced that it will pass laws that will allow major employer, education and welfare bodies to legally vilify citizens on the basis of who they love, who they worship, if they are married or not, how many children they have, or whether they were born with a penis or a vagina. Many enlightened countries threw out such misogynistic and homophobic laws decades ago and, in fact, legislated the other way, making these acts of discrimination illegal, and a denial of basic human rights.Benjamin John Doherty, North Caulfield
PEOPLE without an invisible friend or printed set of instructions (other than law) are (quite rightly) required by law to respect other people's rights, sexual preferences, etc. Those with an invisible friend and book of instructions (other than the law) are given permission to disrespect other people's rights, sexual preferences, etc. Rational law-making at its secular and even-handed best.Andrew Dixon, Glen Waverley
Attorney-General Rob Hulls, in announcing his cave-in to the religious right, said that he had consulted religious groups. Will he also consult non-religious groups such as atheists, humanists, free-thinkers and secularists, who represent some 20% of voters?Roy Arnott, Reservoir
Position vacant. Applicants are invited to join our thriving organisation: above award wages. We are an atheistic company. Jews, Catholics and Muslims need not apply. Those affected are invited to ring Rob Hulls. Good luck.John Rawson, Briar Hill
Religious exemption from human rights laws, with apologies to Orwell: all pigs are equal, but some are more equal than others.Janine Truter, The Basin
IN ALLOWING church-based organisations to continue to discriminate on the basis of sex, sexuality, marital and parental status and gender identity, Attorney-General Rob Hulls says the policy strikes the right balance between religious freedoms and being free of discrimination.
In effect, the religious freedom of organisations is to be allowed to trump the religious freedom of individuals, many of whom are among the most vulnerable in our society because of entrenched ignorance and bigotry. But the allowable discrimination will go far further than restricting an individual's freedom of religion - it still condones discrimination on the basis of biology.
As someone who fought long and hard against my sexuality, and reluctantly chose to be gay because I didn't have the guts to go through with suicide, it is massive slap in the face to see my political beliefs protected but not my sexuality.
Ironically, my sexuality and concepts of equality constitute the core of my political and religious beliefs. Clearly some Victorians under Hulls' new policy will be more equal than others. Instead, equality could be maximised and discrimination minimised if freedom of religion and freedom from religion were maximised. That would be a fair balance.Eric Glare, Elwood
APPARENTLY it is not OK for individuals and organisations to make decisions about the enterprises that they have control over, but it is OK for others with the ''right'' ideas to have control over everybody in ever increasing ways. It's for ''human rights'', your correspondents yelp (Letters, 28/9). It's against homophobia. It's for tolerance. It's against fascism.
With so much freedom available for us, it is nonsense to claim that discrimination is a major problem when, in all likelihood, it probably won't affect most people more than a handful of times (and then only in minor ways.) This is in contrast to the proposed alternative of the nanny state, which would be in all of our faces all of the time.
It seems that there are still people who would repackage fundamental aspects of real fascism and totalitarianism, and call it enlightened or, even worse, freedom. I called my German-born mum and asked her about this stuff. She was 16 when World War II ended and remembers how people were pressured and some even disappeared because they didn't hold lockstep to the approved government agenda. She made the connection quickly between now and then. But some people have learned nothing from history.Mark Rabich, Heathmont
PAUL Fullerton's Sunday-school remembrance of Jesus needs a refresher-course (Letters, 28/9). Jesus' headline was repentance, not tolerance (Matt 4:17).
To force Christian organisations to employ the unrepentant is to force them against Jesus' teaching, which condemned not just sexual immorality, but violence, theft, lying, and slander (Matt 15:19). It is akin to forcing the AFL to employ rugby-league referees, and would produce comparable turmoil and confusion.Reverend Jon Guyer, Croydon, NSW
A FEW years back, my two aunts resided at an older person's lodge, owned by the Anglican Church. The manager was a transsexual whom I will call Melinda. On St Patrick's Day Melinda invited Irish dancers in, and food of Irish origin was served. On St Andrew's Day, Scottish dancers danced and food of Scottish origin was served. On St David's Day a Welsh choir came, and food that originated in Wales was served. Always there seemed to be something exciting to look forward to, and the lodge, with its friendly ambience, was sparkling clean. When one aunt was in danger of being taken down by a dodgy accountant, Melinda called on the right people to sort out the problem.
What if the Anglicans had been precious about people who had had problems with gender? I know how much I, on my own and my aunts' behalf, am indebted to Melinda and the Anglican Church.Jean Menere, Albury, NSW
Religions may discriminate at will: they are private clubs. And religions must lose their holiday from rates and taxes: they are private clubs.Stan Johnston, Kew
So we will have laws supporting a division of Australians into people who are acceptable and unacceptable. I identify with the latter. Does this mean I must now refuse to employ or even give hospitality to people of our great religions?Elaine Race, Richmond
Attorney-General Rob Hulls is now the minister for selective equality. He is allowing churches and schools to discriminate against people for a whole list of reasons, while he targets single-gender clubs. Truly, some are more equal than others.Geoff Schmidt, North Fitzroy
If the Melbourne Club wishes to get the new minister for religious persecution, Rob Hulls off its back, it should rename itself the Melbourne Church, and suddenly all this talk of equal rights for women will disappear in a cloud of holy smoke.Nick Langdon, Clarinda
Dear John Brumby, you just lost my vote. Not just because you passed the anti-discrimination laws, but because you chose to do the dirty work on grand final weekend and while you were out of the country. I like my premiers to have a bit of spine.Warren Guest, Northcote
Letters in The Age on 30 September 2009:
BISHOP John McIntyre (Comment, 29/9) speaks for many more Christians than Rob Hulls realises.
Once again, the well-organised religious right lobby has presumed to speak for all of us, when in truth it does not. It is shameful that Christians should argue for the right to discriminate in what, in most cases, is nothing more than the blatant protection of their own interests and, as Bishop McIntyre has demonstrated, flies in the face of the message of Jesus Christ.
Even church leaders who are usually inclusive in their stance have allowed themselves to be persuaded that not being able to discriminate will endanger the church's position in society, given the ferocity of recent attacks on faith by prominent atheists. Sadly, continuing the church's permission to discriminate will have the reverse effect, encouraging the very opposition it fears.Dr Muriel Porter, Camberwell
THE churches must teach morality by their own example, not by judging the lives of others with whom they may disagree. If they do not, they will lose their role as moral guides by denying the ''inherent dignity, equality and inalienable rights of all members of the human family … the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world'' (Universal Declaration of Human Rights).
Gays, single mothers, those divorced and remarried and those in de facto relationships are all good people and members of our human family. There is no evidence that anyone whom they teach, care for or counsel is led down a path not of their own choosing. Indeed, there is evidence that those who have endured some of life's outrageous misfortunes may be better equipped to provide such services. I would have thought that the churches might have learned that damage is the result of deprivation of human rights and the inflicting of emotional trauma upon others.Peter Evans, Hawthorn
BISHOP McIntyre is right when he says that the good Samaritan was a story about loving other people, but unfortunately misses the point when he relates it to a bill or charter of rights or an equal opportunity act because today they are not about people but about people's choices.
The good Samaritan story does not tell us to love the sin, but the sinner. It does not tell us to employ the sexually immoral or the liar or the gossip - the Equal Opportunity Act does. The EOA and a bill of rights are, first, about removing freedom of choice, a Christian principle, and, second, about forcing people to accept lifestyle choices that are contrary to healthy living and God's moral laws. I fear the good Reverend does not sufficiently understand either the good Samaritan story or the Equal Opportunity Act.Peter Stokes, Forest Hill
AT LAST a principled church leader who actually emulates the teachings of Jesus, stands up for the marginalised and voiceless and speaks out against discrimination and the privileged position of the church. I hope Bishop John McIntyre doesn't end up suffering the same fate as his church's founder.Tim Corney, Kew East
This footnote to the above letters refers specifically to Mark Rabich and Peter Stokes. Mark Rabich states: "I called my German-born mum and asked her about this stuff. She was 16 when World War II ended and remembers how people were pressured and some even disappeared because they didn't hold lockstep to the approved government agenda. She made the connection quickly between now and then. But some people have learned nothing from history." It would be interesting for Rabich to explain these sentences. If his mother was 16 when WWII ended, she would remember how discrimination in Germany cost the lives of millions of European Jews, Romanies, homosexuals, Poles and other "Untermenschen" considered by the Nazis worthy of a trip to the concentration camps and gas chamber extermination. If there is another meaning, then Rabich needs to make this plain to all who read his ravings in a medium which does him the good grace to print his "views". Those of us with differing views do not get our letters published by this rag.
As for Peter Stokes, he is "Salt Shakers" a rabidly homophobic christian sect, and it is dishonest of The Age and Stokes not to say that next to his name at the end of his letter!
This article was published in The Age on 30 September 2009:
Urgent action is needed to fight a rise in homophobia and hold governments accountable for human rights violations.
THE current president of the United Nations General Assembly, Libya's Ali Abdussalam Treki, has proclaimed that being gay ''is not acceptable''. Leave aside the bad joke that allows the representative of a nasty dictatorial regime to chair the assembly, Treki's comments echo a wave of homophobia that appears to be a strengthening theme in global politics.
In the past week there have been scary reports of mass rapes of suspected lesbians in South Africa, and systematic persecution and killings of suspected homosexuals in Iraq. The week before, a planned gay rights march in Belgrade was cancelled because the Serbian police claimed they could not protect the marchers from attacks from right-wing protesters.
The South African cases, which have resulted in several women being killed, remind us that even in countries with legal protection against discrimination - and South Africa was the first country to include sexual rights within its constitution - traditional assumptions about sex and gender are used to justify appalling brutality.
In Iraq the justifications for killings are religious, and globally there is a tacit alliance between organised Islam and the Catholic Church to prevent what is feared as the legitimisation of homosexuality. Ironically, Islamic countries such as Iran, which have a long tradition of homoerotic literature, now lead the world in criminalising, and in some cases executing, people for homosexual behaviour.
The world has never been as divided in attitudes towards homosexuality. In all Western countries legal prohibitions have been removed, and in some same-sex marriage has become legal. Openly homosexual politicians are increasingly evident, and no mainstream television series seems to be without its gay and lesbian characters.
For many political and religious leaders who dislike what they see as the unnecessary freedoms and hedonism of the West, homosexuality has become a crucial touchstone.
We should not be surprised that regimes such as those of Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Libya's Muammar Gaddafi rail against homosexuality, which they invoke as a symbol of Westernisation, unlike, for example, shopping malls or DVDs, which they embrace.
Several years ago Brazil, which has an interesting combination of progressive policies and considerable homophobic violence, led a move to include sexuality within the purview of international human rights. An attempt to declare that international human rights should include protection of sexual orientation and gender identity gained 66 votes in the UN, with support coming from almost all Western countries, but only three Asian states: Japan, Nepal and East Timor.
The Bush administration did not vote for the resolution (Australia did), but the Obama Administration has changed its position. At a speech earlier this month, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that the US was now engaged in tracking violence against ''the LGBT (lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender) community'', and that the US would push for a Security Council resolution on sexual and gender violence.
In her speech, Clinton named Brazil, France, Sweden and the Netherlands as partners in this work. For all our closeness to the US it is striking that Australia is not seen as a partner, although our influence within Asia and the Pacific should make us an important partner in expanding human rights in this area. As reports of homophobic violence mount globally both our politicians and our non-government organisations remain seemingly unconcerned. Other than Amnesty, I am unaware of any significant non-gay group in Australia taking up the issue, and I can find no statement from either the Prime Minister or Foreign Minister equivalent to that made by Clinton in her address to the Roosevelt Institute.
Yet the scope for winning support within the region is far greater than might be imagined. At last month's regional AIDS Conference in Bali, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono spoke of Government support for ''networks of gay, transgender and men who have sex with men''. The Indian High Court has now overturned the colonial laws that criminalised sodomy, and there are moves to follow suit in Papua New Guinea. In practice, many governments in east and South-East Asia have supported groups working within homosexual communities to prevent the spread of HIV, now a major issue for homosexual men across the region.
For most people, homosexual rights seems a minor issue, a distraction from bigger concerns such as global warming and world poverty. But rights are not divisible, and our commitment to them is most tested in the case of people who are marginalised and oppressed.
When the General Assembly rejected the Brazilian motion it did adopt a resolution that condemned killings based on sexual orientation (although 60 countries still voted to delete that part of a larger resolution on extrajudicial executions).
There is an urgency to hold governments to account for their failures to enforce what is surely one of the most basic human rights of all, protection from murder and torture based on one's identity.Dennis Altman is director of the Institute for Human Security, LaTrobe University.
Letter in The Age:
I AM a 27-year-old woman living in Melbourne, who works full time, pays taxes and votes. Recently my girlfriend and I moved in together. She is a student, and we informed Centrelink of her change of situation. As a result she is now denied financial support from the Government. My income is calculated and she is penalised accordingly. Heterosexual couples are evaluated in the same manner.
However, unlike us, heterosexual couples have the right to have their relationship recognised in every other aspect of the law, and the option of marriage. The hypocrisy of this situation, wherein we are penalised but not recognised, is beyond belief in this century.Brydie Smith, St Kilda
beyondblue, the organisation set up by Victorian ex-premier Jeff Kennett about 10 years ago to assist people suffering from depression and/or ideation of suicide, has yet again shown that its homophobia takes precedence over its stated mandate to assist those in dire circumstances.
Jeff Kennett himself is a leading homophobe and the current CEO of beyondblue, Leonie Young, is showing herself to be Kennett's equal.
Two articles about beyondblue are in the Southern Star issue 065 of 7 January 2010 and they contradict each other. Leonie Young is talking with her tongue in her cheek when dealing with different groups in the gay, lesbian, transgender and HIV/AIDS communities.
The two articles are below, and illustrate where beyondblue's sympathies really lie, and they are not with our communities and those in our communities who are in desperate need of somewhere to go for assistance when their lives become dangerously in the balance.
It should be noted that beyondblue fails international human rights charters and should be denied registration as an organisation which it purports to represent!>
WayOut coordinator Sue Hackney told Southern Star she had been informed, despite working closely with beyondblue staff on the proposal, the application did not meet beyondblue’s guidelines.
“It’s extremely frustrating because for the previous two months I’ve been working in close consultation with [beyondblue] staff to ensure our application was meeting their guidelines as it was going through various draft stages,” Hackney said. “It’s very similar to the previous two occasions … and then being told with no or a very vague explanation that it’s been unsuccessful.”
Since 2004 WayOut has submitted three applications for funding, including requesting a $25,000 annual grant in 2005 and another application in 2006.
Hackney said the most recent proposal for $100,000 for two to three years included research in partnership with the Australian Research Centre for Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS), youth suicide prevention group the Inspire Foundation, the Foundation For Young Australians and several other groups.
“I’m getting extremely frustrated and finding it difficult to understand how the organisation works because clearly there is a breakdown in the information they’re giving out to organisations such as ourselves,” Hackney said.
Beyondblue CEO Leonie Young told Southern Star the proposal had been turned down because it did not meet beyondblue’s research guidelines and included money for servicing rather than research or evaluation.
“The proposal that was put forward included some evaluation, but it was also for other matters that related to services and that’s the part we can’t fund and it’s always been so,” Young said.
“We don’t fund camps or administration or cars, or services. We fund research, we fund evaluation… there was a component related to evaluation, but it wasn’t a research proposal. It was around supporting, which is entirely outside the funding we have, it was for the youth services itself.”
Young said youth services funding is the responsibility of state and territory governments and she’s had preliminary discussions with the ARCSHS to develop a GLBT research-only proposal for the next funding round in March.
Recently WayOut received $30,000 annual funding from the state Government, as a result of a concerted push from the GLBTI ministerial advisory council and gay rights advocate Rob Mitchell. Hackney said this won’t cover costs, with the WayOut Rural Youth Council grant winding up in February.
Hackney expressed frustration last year at WayOut’s constant struggle for funding after three gay youth suicides in rural Victoria in 2009.
(Nothing could be further from the truth on current evidence - LGS editor)Scott Abrahams
Beyondblue says it is committed to targeting depression and anxiety in the GLBTI community but said other sectors need to be involved in tackling the issues. Following a recent beyondblue GLBTI roundtable involving representatives from national mental health, drug and alcohol, and suicide prevention strategies, beyondblue CEO Leonie Young told the Star beyondblue will put a focus on GLBTI depression and anxiety but an ‘all in’ approach is required.
“It’s not just beyondblue and I really want to stress that while we put the roundtable on to hear more and work in collaboration with the GLBT sector… it isn’t a one-agency response that’s required,” Young said.
“While we’re good to step up and provide the opportunity for the discussion, we’ll be expecting to work with all the other agencies as we go forward, so while I’m good to commit beyondblue to ‘x’ dollars over ‘x’ period of time… it really will take others.”
Young confirmed a figure of $2 million over 18 months as a “potential” amount the national depression initiative could throw into the area.
“We’re collaborating, we’re reviewing beyondblue’s own material, we’re identifying research priorities for 2010 and we’ll put funding to that,” she said. Young said beyondblue has committed in the short term to meet with the LGBT Health Alliance in January to thrash out a more detailed strategy.
An awareness campaign for GLBTI health — and, later, a GLBTI mental health ambassador — has also been foreshadowed.
“[We’ll] look at the research again. From that research we need a multipronged, early intervention prevention model, particularly focused on young people living in rural communities. That was one of the priority areas that came out,” Young said.
LGBT Health Alliance CEO Gabi Rosenstreich told the Star she was “cautiously positive” the roundtable secured a way forward for GLBT mental health in Australia. “I would say it’s a really positive sign that beyondblue does seem to be taking on the critiques that have been made from the LGBT community seriously and is responding,” Rosenstreich said.
“It will remain to be seen what develops out of that. “We’ll be working together with our members and other community organisations to turn beyondblue’s commitments into reality.”
Aleph has kindly given me permission to reproduce their letter to the Jewish Community Council of Victoria. In my blog I reproduced an article from MCV in which this issue was discussed. However at that stage I did not have this background information and now it will help to make the issue of child abuse in the Jewish communities much clearer.
Of course it all ties in with homophobia which Jewish communities perpetrate no less than other communities around the world. Jews used to like to think of themselves as more tolerant than other communities but events have shown in recent years that they can be just as intolerant as the next man, woman or child in the street!Attention: Geoffrey Zygier - Excecutive Director JCCV / John Searle - President JCCV January 8 2010
Over recent months it has been brought to the attention of the JCCV numerous times that any intolerance and oppression of same-sex attracted youth, whether due to religious reasons or otherwise, has been directly linked to serious mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicide.
In October 2009 the JCCV released a statement during Mental Health Week acknowledging the critically high rate of suicide in same-sex attracted people caused by intolerance of their sexuality.
Back in April 2008 the JCCV, under the presidency of Anton Block, called for a swift response to allegations of sexual abuse in the Melbourne Jewish Community, as reported in the Australian Jewish News.
It may not have been impressed clearly enough upon the JCCV as to the gravity of the nature of the abuse that same-sex attracted youth experience directly as a result of religious intolerance of their sexuality. By forcing a person into a state of depression or contemplation of suicide because they are told homosexuality is sinful, unacceptable, abnormal and contrary to religious beliefs constitutes psychological abuse. When this occurs in a child it becomes psychological child abuse. People who perpetrate this abuse are child abusers.
The community does not tolerate sexual child abuse. The community does not tolerate physical child abuse. The community continues to tolerate psychological child abuse. People who are aware of perpetrators of sexual or physical abusers of children are obligated to take action to prevent this harm. The community is obligated to stamp it out. People who do not take action against this harm are complicit in the ongoing perpetration of the abuse.
The situation is the same when it comes to psychological child abuse. People who are aware of the abuse are obligated to prevent the harm against the children and the community is obligated to stamp it out. Currently the community remains silent on this abuse perpetrated by intolerance of homosexuality. This is completely unacceptable. The JCCV has a solid track record of taking swift action when it becomes aware of damaging or harmful situations in the community. It has responded to sexual abuse claims, under-age drinking, anti-semitism, fundamentalist extremism etc. To date the JCCV has remained consistently silent on the matter of psychological child abuse perpetrated by intolerance of homosexuality. There is no excuse for this.
The JCCV lists amongst it's goals:
• Facilitation of harmony and positive relationships between the various elements of the Victorian Jewish community and between our community and the larger community
• A positive perception of Jews in Victorian society
• A thriving local Jewish community
• A safer local Jewish community
The JCCV needs to achieve its goals and fails to do so by not speaking out against this terrible abuse. It fails it's members and it fails its community.
The JCCV has been aware of the extreme risks of intolerance of homosexuality since at least October 2009. It has not made a single statement specifically speaking out against the abhorrent practice of intolerance of homosexuality and lack of unconditional acceptance of same-sex attracted youth since then. It is now long overdue for a statement from the JCCV speaking out strongly against this specific psychological abuse. The entire Jewish community would benefit greatly by having a statement issued before another week goes by.
The President of the JCCV John Searle and other community leaders will become complicit in this ongoing psychological child abuse if they don't acknowledge the harm and speak out immediately.Sincerely,
Eddie McGuire has excelled himself in Vancouver with his coverage for Channel Nine. This report was in The Age on 19 February 2010:
CHANNEL Nine’s Vancouver Games coverage has become the Winter Olympics of discontent with some viewers angered over the commentary style of host Eddie McGuire.--------------------------------------------------------
A Facebook group established this week by a disgruntled ice hockey player in Sydney has struck a nerve. On Wednesday night, it had just three members. By 7 o’clock last night it was at 300 and growing.
IT worker Rowan Lean, 28, insists he had no particular feelings towards McGuire before the Games. But that all changed when he tuned in to McGuire’s interview with Australia’s silver medallist in the moguls, Dale Begg-Smith.
‘‘I couldn’t stop cringing,’’ said Mr Lean. ‘‘He was just baiting him, trying to get a rise. I literally had to change the channel, and I never do that with sport.’’
Next came McGuire’s interview with former ice-skater Katarina Witt, in which he referred to her 1988 Playboy shoot. ‘‘I thought I was watching a 15-year-old drooling. He might have been saying things that maybe would come up at the pub, but it’s the Olympics, a noble sporting event, and he’s making it really painful.’’
So, on Wednesday evening, he decided to lodge his protest by starting a Facebook group under the banner ‘‘Eddie Mcguire is ruining the 2010 Winter Olympics coverage’’.
It started as a joke between Mr Lean and two friends, but began picking up momentum yesterday in the wake of McGuire and Mick Molloy’s commentary on the ice-skating.
As 24-year-old American skater Johnny Weir (pictured) performed his routine, McGuire and Molloy went into bar-room mode, with sly allusions to Weir’s sexuality. Though undeniably flamboyant, the three-time American national champion steadfastly refuses, US military style, to either confirm or deny which way he pivots.
The commentary pair made reference to the film Brokeback Mountain and Molloy joked that the lightly built, heavily made-up Weir was a builder by day.
‘‘They don’t leave anything in the locker room, those blokes,’’ said Molloy.
‘‘They don’t leave anything in the closet either, do they?’’ McGuire said, laughing.
‘‘Careful,’’ Molloy replied. ‘‘You’ll get yourself into trouble.’’
As the Facebook group picked up pace, over on Twitter the anti-Eddie sentiment went into overdrive. ‘‘Oh ha ha ... let’s make jokes about the male figure skaters being gay ... groundbreaking televisual wit right there Eddie McGuire,’’ was one of the few we could republish.
Channel Nine declined to commentThen read the following in the context of what is above, and an interesting picture starts to emerge:
The homoerotic impulses of a rugby league forward may not seem to be the meat of a typical anthropological thesis. But, as of today, scrum locks everywhere might think twice before packing down.
And should their oldest friends seem to begin whispering in far corners of a room, they can blame Professor Alan Dundes of the University of California at Berkeley.
Professor Dundes, after several years in research, has produced a work which holds unequivocally that all football is a thinly veiled excuse for homosexual ritual.
“The sexual symbolism of the game makes it clear that football is a homosexual ceremony,” he pronounced this week. And some heavyweight psychologists around the country immediately support him.
While Professor Dundes talks of the game of gridiron, the symbolism he sees therein is no less present in rugby league and union.. It may be more so.
The uniforms, for example, are only the giveaway tip of the iceberg. “They are sexual – enlarged shoulder, narrow waist, tight pants (or shorts). The consistency of the imagery is nothing short of amazing.”
And the jargon. Pure erotica, he says. Words like “score” are equally related to the backseats of cars at drive-ins.
He sees the tackling or knocking down of an opposing player as attempts to “put them in the supine, feminine position.” It is all plunder, rape and reeks of deflowering.
In fact, “football is a ritualized form of homosexual rape. The winners feminize the losers by getting into their end zone.” (Rugby, to its credit and relief, has no such expression as “end zone.”)
What, though, would Professor Dundes make of our “hookers’? What bizarre sensual significance might he read into that strange orgiastic merging of bodies, the scrum itself? Already he sees pathological implications in the legs-apart, head-down stance of American footballers.
The stance, he says, is a form of sexual presentation derived from the animal world. Just as apes raise their bottoms and present their genitals as a sign of submission to stronger males, gridiron linemen (forwards) present their bottoms to their more prestigious teammates in the backfield.
Transporting the same situation to Sydney Cricket Ground on a Saturday afternoon, Professor Dundes’ disciples might well wonder what thoughts were running through the minds of five-eighths, centers and full-backs.
Here, as there, the professor’s theory finds such tell-tale expressions as “putting the ball between the uprights.”
Even the excited gesticulations of a try-scorer are a form of “confirming to all assembled that the enemy’s end zone (try line) has been penetrated.”
The whole ceremony, he believes is merely a sanctioned form of theatre where players and fans can safely discharge their homoerotic impulses.
The coach who asks his players to refrain from sex before a game intuitively understands that football is a temporary substitute for heterosexuality. And so, he adds, do “football widows” understand that their husbands are “dead to them sexually” while a game is on television.
“Football is a health outlet for male-to-male affections,” adds Professor Dundes, “just as spin the bottle and post office are healthy outlets for adolescent heterosexual needs.”
The one man no self-respecting American football fan wanted to hear corroboration from in all this is a former running back football hero, David Kopay.
He is the subject of a book, The David Kopay Story, and the reason the book was worth writing is that Mr Kopay admits he is, was and will be homosexual. His gaiety – if that be the noun – is militant.
And his view of Professor Dundes’ theory is: “I think his ideas are very profound. My hunch is that it’s right on.” Furthermore, he says, that if homosexuality is not overt on the football field, “it sure as hell is covert.” And he’s backed by San Francisco female psychologist Jane Jacobs.
The unanswered question in Professor Dundes’ theory must now be the status of the referee. If footy be a gay rite, what sort of devious pleasure does the man with the whistle take in all this? What exactly would the professor read in his thoughts as he ordered some husky second-rower to “play the ball”?
And what of the broadcasters? Is there a nefarious thrill in describing a conversion as “right between the uprights”? Professor Dundes believes it all bears further investigation.
Does the stiff-arm have a deeper connotation? The spear tackle? The pile-driver?
What about the up-and-under?
If Professor Dundes is even half-right, it may be safer to buy our sons dolls this Christmas.Crikey.com had this gem on 18 February 2010, the day before The Age published the story:
Channel Nine has been hit with a blizzard of complaints over its Winter Olympics coverage, with host Eddie McGuire and Melbourne comedian Mick Molloy in the firing line this morning over "h-mophobic" comments targeting figure skating champion Johnny Weir.johnny
Last night, during Nine's primetime "highlights package", Eddie and sidekick Mick decided to whip out the schoolboy sniggering as they gave their considered assessments of Weir's Vancouver routine. The graceful Weir, who has not formally "outed" himself, appeared to be too much for the duo to bear. Let's go to the transcript. (We'd go to the tape, but copyright issues mean we'd be stuck in the courts for decades. You can see footage of Weir skating to Lady Gaga here).EDDIE MCGUIRE: ...what about the fashion at the ice skating?
But the daring duo weren't finished.MICK: Look at this guy, it was like one of those fake tuxedos that you -- even Prince saw that and went, oh hang on, you can't go out wearing that. Oh look out, the hay seed look's in this year. What is that?
In the minutes after the exchange, Twitter lit up in anger, with a torrent of criticism demanding McGuire be booted, alongside a number of other general gripes over the Footy Show-style jocularity and gratuitous repeats that have dominated Nine's coverage.* @Shhhannon Just saw Eddie McGuire step in it with an inappropriate comment about a male ice-skater. Watch this space for controversy!
The anger promptly spread to Facebook, with a group "Eddie Mcguire is ruining the 2010 Winter Olympics coverage" bursting this morning with anti-Eddie vitriol. The Facebook page has said that it has submitted several formal complaint letters to the relevent department at Channel Nine.
Twitterers also pointed to "patronising" interviews McGuire has conducted with Winter Olympics superstars, including female figure skater Katarina Witt, where Witt's 1998 Playboy front cover was dredged up again to her visible dismay.
Nine paid about $100 million alongside broadcast partners Foxtel for the TV rights to the 2010 and 2012 games. But the ratings have been disappointing, with the network coming in third last night behind Seven's Gangs of Oz and Ten's So You Think You Can Dance Australia.
There is also talk that the games themselves are also in trouble: this Reuters article ("Vancouver's Games in danger of sinking into meltwater") wraps the bad news so far, with the opening-day death of Nodar Kumaritashvili snowballing into problems over spectator safety concerns, a lack of the white stuff and protests over the millions wasted while Vancouver struggles with the social problems of its Downtown Eastside slum area.
McGuire has continued with his Triple M breakfast radio slot from Vancouver, phoning in the banter each North American afternoon.
Send your tips to firstname.lastname@example.org or submit them anonymously here.
And then this letter in The Age on 19 February 2010:
OVER the first five minutes of Vancouver coverage that I saw on Wednesday night, I listened to Eddie McGuire and Mick Molloy make numerous offensive comments, most of which linked male ice-skaters and homosexuality, but also covered matters such as the ''redneck'' sport of curling. This disgusting display of ''Olympic coverage'' culminated in a comment about male ice-skaters bringing their own pillows, which, to my amazement, was delivered immediately after an apology made by Mr Molloy about an offensive comment he'd made on a previous night.
This was not relevant coverage of the winter Olympics, it wasn't even funny; it was a dialogue between two men lacking intelligence, professionalism and understanding. If these TV personalities can only offer poor journalism littered with homophobia and superiority, then perhaps we need to find new commentators. Perhaps someone who knows a thing or two about winter sports.Fontaine Dunstan, Ripponlea
Your son dies in a non-combat related vehicle accident in Al Anbar province in Iraq in 2006. He was just 20 years old.
Still grieving, you arrange a funeral, and a large number of people turn up to pay their respects to a young man who died in service of his country, doing what he loved. And then you see that, just a few hundred meters away, a group of people have gathered, and they hold signs that say, "Thank God for Dead Soldiers," "God Hates You," and "Sempe Fi, Semper Fags."
Albert Snyder of York, Pennsylvania, faced just such a reality when, burying his only child, Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, he found members of the notorious Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, picketing outside the funeral.
Headed by minister Fred Phelps and other members of the anti-gay Phelps family, the Westboro group has become infamous for picketing soldier's funerals, displaying anti-semitic billboards, and avowing that America is a doomed nation because of its "fag enabling" laws and permissive attitude to homosexuality.
Understandably hurt by the Westboro group's actions, Snyder decided to take them to court, suing for intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation and invasion of privacy, all in the hope that this would deter the Phelps clan from picketing other soldier's funerals in the future.
The Westboro group's defense was that they were in full compliance with state law, standing the required distance away from the funeral event, not picketing on private property, and citing that their actions were protected as matters of free speech and religious rights.
In 2007, a federal jury awarded Snyder $11 million in damages. The Westboro protesters appealed. The amount was later reduced to $5 million, and then in September, 2009, the decision was overturned completely by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The court ruled that this was indeed a matter of free speech, and said that, "as utterly distasteful as these signs are," referring to the materials that the Phelps family often brings with them on their picketing campaigns, "they involve matters of public concern," and therein the court determined that the group had acted within its rights.
This week, the Court of Appeals ruled that Snyder must pay $16,510 in legal defense costs for the Westboro group. While I do not believe that this is necessarily unusual in this kind of case, it does feel like adding "insult to injury" as the Associated Press notes in its report, especially given that the Snyder family is known to have been struggling to meet the financial demands of taking this case to the Supreme Court.
The news of the court's order has outraged many, especially in light of the fact that the Supreme Court of the United States has already agreed to hear the case and to take on the question of whether the First Amendment allows the Westboro group to picket funerals in this deliberately provocative manner.
From the AP:
"We are extremely disappointed," said Sean E. Summers, an attorney for Snyder. He added that the high court will likely hear the case during its October term and make a decision in June of next year.
"The Court of Appeals certainly could have waited until the Supreme Court made its decision," Summers added. "There was no hardship presented by Phelps."
In a time of much publicized derision, this is a story that seems to have crossed political lines, uniting liberals and conservatives alike in agreement that, even if this ruling on free speech is technically correct (a point that is being hotly debated), there is an injustice in requiring Albert Snyder to pay any money to the Westboro protesters.From the Baltimore Sun:
On Tuesday, Mark C. Seavey, new-media director for the American Legion, posted a message on his Legion-affiliated blog, The Burn Pit, urging readers to donate to the Albert Snyder Fund. The American Legion's message was picked up by conservative political blogger Michelle Malkin, who called the Westboro protesters "evil miscreants" and urged readers to donate.
"Regardless of how you feel about the merits of the Snyders' suit, the Snyders deserve to know that Americans are forever grateful for their son's heroism and for the family's sacrifice. We shouldn't stand by and watch them bankrupted," Malkin wrote. There is a bit of good news in all this, though. In 2007, Albert Snyder appeared on television and told Fox News host Bill O'Reilly the story of what happened at his son's funeral.
While I often find O'Reilly's politics and general manner unpalatable, he has admirably promised to lift Snyder's burden by paying the legal fees himself, saying on Tuesday night's O'Reilly Factor that this was an "outrage," and adding:
"I will pay Mr. Snyder's obligation. I am not going to let this injustice stand... It's obvious they were disturbing the peace by disrupting the funeral. They should have been arrested, but our system is so screwed up, so screwed up, that loons are allowed to run wild. Snyder is fighting the good fight, and he is taking his case to the Supreme Court as he should. We are behind him 100 percent."
Meanwhile a grass-roots effort to support Snyder has flourished, and offers continue to roll-in to help with further legal costs. Snyder's attorney, Sean Summers, has said that the "thousands" of offers of donations Albert Snyder has received from the public will soon be able to cover the fees connected with the upcoming Supreme Court case.
From a personal perspective, I am acutely aware that we can not pick and choose which person's free speech it is that we protect based on what suits us, or what seems to adhere to a common sense of decency, even. The Phelps family's "God Hates Fags" brand of vitriol is truly abhorrent and the messages they peddle about as mean spirited as it is possible to be.
But that does not mean that their right to free speech should not be protected. The question is how far that free speech extends to protect them while they intentionally inflict emotional distress on others through their actions.
This is one of the key issues that will be put before the Supreme Court when they take on the case in October.
Read more: army, soldiers, free speech, civil rights, lgbt rights, fred phelps, westboro baptists
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