Search This Blog

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Love is Love & Fear is Homophobia




The No campaign in Australia's upcoming marriage equality survey, played their hand early by revealing that they will run a campaign of fear if marriage equality is legalised; declaring that everything from bestiality to marriage with inanimate objects will suddenly become the norm ... it is clear that fear-mongering and catastrophising is their modus operandi as they discuss everything but the real consequence of marriage equality, which is simply that two people in love can get married.

Oh, even though they are running a campaign of fear ... don't call them homophobic because ... er ... according to them ... they are not afraid ... right ... yep. The Oxford English Dictionary describes phobia as an 'irrational fear or aversion to something'. The No campaign: Irrational, tick; fear, tick; aversion, tick. Yep, it ticks all the elements of phobia ... ergo, the No campaign is homophobic!

Let's quickly go to bigotry - because that's another thing they don't like being called. Firstly, it is not bigotry to oppose same-sex marriage - everyone is entitled to an opinion. So why are some of them being called bigots? A bigot is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as 'a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (such as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance'. It is one thing to hold different views, but to force another group to live by those views is bigotry. Preventing someone from marrying the person they love because you are so obstinately unable to accept their love, is bigotry. Conversely, marriage equality does not force anyone to marry someone of the same sex, nor does it force opposite-sex couples to divorce. There is no impact on heterosexual people. They are still free to marry whoever they want, to have children if they can and want, to divorce, to criticise homosexuality. That doesn't change. Yet, the obstinate No campaigners are preventing people from marrying in order to enforce their intolerant views - that is bigotry!

One of the tactics of the No campaign has been to catastrophise issues that followed marriage equality in other nations, so let's unpack some of those.

Britain

An article in The Spectactor(1), listed four things that supposedly happened in Britain after same-sex marriage was legalised.

1. Gender reassignment surgery will no longer need medical consultation. The UK government stated that this was to continue on building an inclusive society for all people, including the LGBTI community following the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967, marriage equality in 2013, and Turing's Law in 2017 that posthumously pardoned men who'd been charged under the now abolished anti-homosexuality laws(2). Medical diagnosis is seen as an intrusive and unnecessary procedure for someone who wants to change gender. The law aims to make it easier for LGBTI to transition to the gender of their choice. How is this a bad thing? It's only impact is on trans and intersex people, and given the significance of it, it isn't a decision that they would make lightly.

2. Freedom of religion. This point is argued on MP Justine Greening stating that churches should 'reflect modern values' and marry same-sex couples which currently the Church of England is not legally allowed to marry. The Speaker of the House also stated that in true equality, people should be able to get married in a church if they choose. And why shouldn't they? Nonetheless, in Australia, it is proposed that religious leaders would have the option as to whether or not to allow couples to marry. This will mean that there will be a number of churches available for couples to marry in, and those who feel strongly against conducting ceremonies for same-sex couples can still say no. How is this a problem?

This point went on to discuss a Pentecostal Christian couple who were denied the ability to foster children because they 'would not tell a child a homosexual lifestyle was acceptable'. They argued that this was because of THEIR religious views. The court ruled that the right to live in a non-discriminatory home took precedence over religious views. And why shouldn't it? It is already well known that LGBTI children face significant emotional trauma over rejection and difficulty in reconciling their sexual orientations to those that parents, guardians, schools and churches try to force on them. Why should adults who refuse to accept homosexuality be allowed to foster homosexual children. What sort of impact would this rejection and emotional abuse have on the child. This issue has nothing to do with freedom of religion. No-one is preventing this couple from worshiping in the way they choose, it is however, about ensuring homosexual children are raised in a nurturing and welcoming environment.

It should be made clear, that not all Christians feel threatened by marriage equality. There is a large number of Christians who support it, including groups such as Australian Christians for Marriage Equality(3).



3. Freedom of speech. This section talked of horrendous bullying that anti-same-sex marriage campaigners suffered, including excrement being thrown at one person's house and their children receiving death threats. Clearly unacceptable. However, this is an extreme example and fails to acknowledge the violence and abuse that LGBTI people have suffered for years at the hands of those who feel they are an 'abomination'. During the Australian debate over marriage equality, there have been terrible claims made about the consequences of marriage equality, including it leading to pedophilia, bestiality and polygamy. Even those who think they're being less ludicrous, still draw illogical conclusions with no evidence, such as marriage equality will damage children and fundamentally change society. The No campaign is based on such non sequiturs aimed at shutting down the Yes campaign.

Those who argue that proponents of marriage equality are opposed to free speech forget one very important point; free speech cuts both ways. If someone voices an opinion, others are entitled to challenge that opinion. That is free speech. It isn't the proponents of marriage equality who are trying to stop people doing or saying anything; that would be the No campaign who want to stop people in love marrying those they love and being able to talk openly about it.

The article goes on to list a number of workers, including public servants, who have lost their jobs for failing to comply with anti-discrimination laws. The funny thing about public servants is that while they may not always agree with a particular government policy, they have agreed through their employment to act impartially - regardless of their political views. A public servant who has a significant conflict of conscience would have to seriously consider their future if they can't remain impartial.

The article cites the example of a North Ireland bakery that discriminated against a marriage equality activist who asked them to bake a cake with the words 'Support Gay Marriage'. Any employee who feels strongly against homosexuality, whether they worked for a large chain store or a small business, would have to question their future employment if they refuse to serve customers on the grounds of sexual orientation. This is reminiscent of the days when some Christians refused to serve mixed-race couples.

The fact is that baking cakes is not a religious activity, it is a commercial one, so no-one's religious activities are being curtailed. In terms of freedom of speech, well speech just happens to be that - speech. It is not behaviour, and it certainly isn't the right to discriminatory behaviour. A person may feel strongly against someone or something, and they generally have the freedom to speak out about it - other than when it comes to hate speech or behaviours that encourage violence against others.

Now that LGBTI people might have the same opportunity to marry as others, the bullying has intensified and the homophobic No campaigners are trying to portray themselves as the victims, yet LGBTI people have been victims of bullying and abuse for years.

The hate-speak and fear-mongering of the No campaign, has given impetus for a neo-Nazi group called Antipodean Resistance to oppose same-sex marriage through vandalism and spreading of vile posters that link same-sex marriage to pedophilia(4). The group admits they recruit radicalised individuals and hasn't ruled out violence in achieving their goals. Is this the sort of bigotry, discrimination and hate crimes that the No campaign feels should be part of the future?

Anti-discrimination laws are in place for a reason; and that is to protect the rights of all people to live a life in which they enjoy the same rights as others, free of discrimination. Is this really too much to ask?

Speaking of freedom of speech, like with much of the No campaign, this is only freedom for some people - namely, those who the No campaigners agree with. Recently, a Victorian church refused to marry a heterosexual couple because the bride posted her support for marriage equality(5). The Presbyterian minister stated that this contradicted the 'teachings of Jesus and the church' ... really? Considering there are a large number of Christians supporting marriage equality, this is a shaky premise to take. It is unrealistic of any church to expect everyone they deal with to have exactly the same views as them. Freedom of speech? Not in the convoluted mentality of the No camp and disturbingly, Prime Minister Turnbull is condoning this attack on freedom of speech.

4. Children. The article discussed a number of independent religious schools which were brought to task for failing to promote homosexuality and gender reassignment. It mentioned that there was a push by the Minister for Equalities for sex ed classes to be LGBTI inclusive so that students were 'equipped for life in Britain as it is today'. This is similar to the concerns that were aired over the Safe Schools program run in Australia a couple of years ago. Safe Schools specifically addressed LGBTI issues with age-appropriate classes from primary school to high school. The idea was to reduce the stigma that LGBTI children already experience and which is the prime cause of their emotional trauma.

A recent study by the Centre for Social Research In Health at University of New South Wales concluded that marriage equality has a beneficial outcome on the mental health of LGBTI adolescents(6). Surely anyone who is concerned about children would accept that this is a good thing. If children are taught to accept that not everyone is born heterosexual, that there are a number of variations to sexual orientation, and for that matter gender is not always a simple male/female issue, then this will help to reduce rejection and bullying of LGBTI children ... which clearly won't happen if they follow the lead of homophobic parents.

There is no disputing the fact that some people are born intersexual. This is clearly biological. Why should intersexual people be required to live in hiding so that some small minded people are not offended? As for people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender - the science around the causes is complex with evidence to indicate biological causes for some, while issues in early development may be the cause for others. Regardless, some people are gay ... or lesbian ... or bisexual ... or transgender... or intersexual ... or some other variation. This exists regardless of whether LGBTI people can marry.

Marriage Equality will not force or encourage anyone to 'become' gay.

Canada

Similar arguments to the above have been claimed in Canada(7), such as supposed restrictions on freedom of expression, parental rights in public education and religious institutions' right to autonomy. Each of these have been addressed above regarding Britain and also addressed below about Australia. Ultimately, the opponents of same-sex marriage want the right to discriminate regardless of the harm it does to LGBTI people and their children.

Back to Australia

Failed Labor Party leader, Mark Latham claims that same-sex marriage will open a 'can of worms'(8) by allowing 'gender fluidity', into the Marriage Act. This has been the latest ploy by the No campaign to remove the debate from same-sex marriage to ... shock horror ... any two people getting married regardless of their gender identity. Really? We're still looking at two people getting married. Latham then bangs on that 'Through Neo-Marxist programs like Safe Schools and Respectful Relationships, radicals have infiltrated the class-room'. Goodness. Poor old Karl Marx cops a hiding for stuff he never did or said. But resurrecting the 1950s 'reds under the bed' zeitgeist is part of the fear-mongering against same-sex marriage .... and they want us to believe they aren't homophobic. I'm not sure what part of 'safe' and 'respectful' that Latham and opponents of Safe Schools and Respectful Relationships don't understand. Why would they want the opposite: unsafe and disrespectful?

Imagine being a child who feels they don't fit within the definition of 'normal' or expected behaviour for their gender? Often they are battling with confusion and depression. Children are most likely to either withhold this information or discuss it with the people they generally trust most, their parents. How much will it damage them if their parents reject them, abuse them, tell them they're an abomination in the eyes of God. If people truly care about children, they would support programs such as Safe Schools and Respectful Relationships.

In an insightful article on transgender children, Benjamin Law quotes Paul Thoemke, an American case manager for LGBTI children, who says '... I sometimes think the greatest risk for these kids is their families'(9). If those families understood that gender and sexuality is a spectrum, they would be more inclined to support their children instead of forcing them to be someone they aren't .... or worse ... rejecting them, abusing them, kicking them out. Law goes on to quote statistics regarding the high levels of homelessness among LGBTI young people; America up to 40%, Britain up to 25%, and estimated in Brisbane of around 13%. Clearly families are rejecting their LGBTI children. Is this the world that the No campaign is campaigning for?

Ironically, the anti-marriage-equality people are concerned about children being forced into gender and sexuality models that they don't believe are natural, when in fact, it is THEY who are forcing LGBTI children into lives that aren't natural for them. 

What's the worst that could happen?

Consenting LGBTI adults will be able to marry the person they choose.

Will Ministers or other people of faith be forced to marry same-sex couples? No.

Will butchers, bakers and candle-stick makers be forced to sell their wares to same-sex couples? Possibly - because ... anti-discrimination. Hmm ... let me see, not baking a cake - yeah that will teach people for being gay - goodness, if the cake is tasty enough, it might even motivate them to give up the gayness. What's more important? Someone's bigoted interpretation of scripture, or someone's right to live a life free of discrimination and abuse!

Will kids be denied the right to a mother and father? No. Marriage Equality does not steal children from their parents. Divorce does that, yet No campaigners are strangely silent around this ... perhaps because quite a number of them are divorced, so that would mean shining the light on themselves. Many LGBTI people already have children of their own and are legally able to adopt. Additionally, a comprehensive study into child-rearing over a 30 year period concluded that gay and lesbian parents are as competent and effective as heterosexual parents. The authors observed that the inability for same-sex couples to marry adds to stress for their families and that 'because marriage strengthens families, and in so doing, benefits children's development, children should not be deprived of the opportunity for their parents to be married'. (10)

Will schools teach gender fluidity rather than the binary male and female genders? Unlikely, but so what if they do? Biology classes will obviously go into detail about male and female as these are the two genders required for reproduction, however, will it kill anyone to understand that the world is not black and white, that there are people who are intersexual, homosexual, bisexual, transgender or have other views on gender and sexual orientation. This is not the end of the world, it just means children will have a better understanding of the real world than their parents did - perhaps this means they won't grow up with obstinate and intolerant views on those who are different to them.

Gender identity and sexual orientation are a spectrum, they are not a neatly categorised binary system. Why should children be taught an inaccurate paradigm of gender because reality is too uncomfortable for some who can't reconcile their limited views with fact.

The rainbow that represents LGBTI people is appropriate as sexual orientation and gender identity are not black and white.

The No campaigners are trying to re-engineer themselves as the victims in this debate, claiming they are being bullied, demonised and victimised. Why? So they can continue bullying, demonising and victimising LGBTI people who have suffered from homophobic violence and discrimination all their lives.

Many of the No campaigners are Christian. Which means they are bound to have repeated the scripture that 'perfect love drives out fear'. So why are they so hell-bent on using fear to drive out love?

The positive effects of marriage equality

With all the fear-mongering from the No campaign, we cannot forget what marriage equality will actually achieve:

1. Same-sex couples will have the same opportunity as heterosexual couples to marry, providing greater legal protection and recognition of their next-of-kin status.

2. Same-sex couples will be able to provide the support of a recognised family for their children.

3. A reduction in the stigma of same-sex couples and their children.

4. A reduction in hate-crimes against LGBTI people.

5. Freedom of religion for LGBTI people.

6. Freedom of expression for LGBTI people.

7. Greater community awareness and appreciation that gender and sexuality are not binary, that there is a spectrum and no matter where on that spectrum people are, they are entitled to the same opportunities as others.

If two consenting adults are in love, why shouldn't they get married? Their ability to love, to marry, to commit, is not dependent on their genitals or where they want to put them.

Love is Love - regardless of gender, regardless of sexual orientation.

It's time to end the discrimination and victimisation.

It's time for marriage equality.




References

1. The Spectator Australia, David Sargeant, What's changed in Britain since same-sex marriage? 7 September 2017, https://www.spectator.com.au/2017/09/whats-changed-in-britain-since-same-sex-marriage/. Accessed 9 September 2017.

2. UK Government, Rt Hon Justine Greening MP, Government Equalities Office, New Action to Promote LGBT Equalityhttps://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-action-to-promote-lgbt-equality. Accessed 9 September 2017.

3. Pink News, Jasmine Andersson, Christian group backs marriage equality campaign in Australia, 30 August 2017, http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2017/08/30/christian-group-backs-equal-marriage-campaign-in-australia/. Accessed 9 September 2017.

4. ABC News, Danny Tran, Antipodean Resistance Neo-Nazi group trying to sway Australia's same-sex marriage postal vote, 5 September 2017, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-09-05/neo-nazi-group-antipodean-resistance/8852682. Accessed 9 September 2017.

5. The Age, Michael Koziol, Malcolm Turnbull defends right of church to refuse to marry couples who support gay marriage, 15 September 2017, http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/malcolm-turnbull-defends-right-of-church-to-refuse-to-marry-couples-who-support-gay-marriage-20170915-gyi0hm.html. Accessed 15 September 2017.

6. Hopwood, M., Treloar, C., Kolstee, J., Koonin, J., (2016), The Impacts of Marriage Equality and Marriage Denial On the Health of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual people, Centre for Social Research in Health, UNSW, Australia, https://csrh.arts.unsw.edu.au/research/projects/marriage-equality-evidence-review/

7. The Witherspoon Institute, Public Discourse, Bradley Miller, Same-Sex Marriage Ten Years On: Lessons from Canada, 5 November 2012, http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2012/11/6758/. Accessed 10 September 2017.

8. The Daily Telegraph, Mark Latham, Same-sex Yes Vote Will Open a Can of Worms, 29 August 2017, http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/opinion/mark-latham-samesex-yes-vote-will-open-a-can-of-worms/news-story/248eb22253826ed116f51eb08c353a48. Accessed 9 September 2017.

9. The Canberra Times, Benjamin Law, Why do transgender children raise the hackles of 'tolerant' Australians?, 9 September 2017, http://www.canberratimes.com.au/good-weekend/why-do-transgender-children-raise-the-hackles-of-tolerant-australians-20170906-gybvyv.html. Accessed 10 September 2017.

10. Perrin, E.C. & Siegel, B.S., 2013. Promoting the well-being of children whose parents are gay or lesbian. Pediatrics, 131(4), pp.e1374–83, http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2013/03/18/peds.2013-0377. Accessed 10 September 2017.

Updated 18 September 2017.

Friday, September 1, 2017

NO! The YES campaign is NOT worse than Racism - a response to Karina Okotel's claims.

NO! The YES campaign is NOT worse than Racism - a response to Karina Okotel's claims.



The Australian published an article regarding Liberal Party vice-president, Karina Okotel, who was born in Australia but is of Sri Lankan background. In the article she talks of racism that she has experienced in Australia because of her dark skin colour(1). Obviously, racism is not to be tolerated and it is terrible that she experiences this, as many others have because of their skin colour, nationality and religion.

However, No Campaigners confuse argument with bigotry. They argue for freedom of speech, but when opponents exercise their freedom of speech, the No campaigners unleash their claims of persecution by political correctness. However, much of the offense they claim is manufactured.

Liberal Party vice-president, Karina Okotel (1)


Ms Okotel goes on to talk about how the accusations of bigotry against her opposition to marriage equality is worse than the racism she has experienced. Ms Okotel says that she has been refused service in shops because of her race. Again, this is bad. Yet, this is the very thing that the No campaign wants the right to do for same-sex couples. 

Ms Okotel was told to go back to her own country, which considering she was born in Australia, shows the ignorance of racists. Unfortunately, her experience isn't isolated with many people in Australia being told the same thing. In particular, we saw this reach a crescendo during the discussions about asylum seekers ... and much of that was led by people in the current No campaign.

It is unfortunate that many in the No campaign align with Christianity, yet they have vociferously led the racist, fear-mongering attacks on asylum seekers, Muslims, migrants and even Australia's indigenous people.

Ms Okotel claims she has been bullied 'just for querying whether we should be legalising same-sex marriage'. I don't know what Ms Okotel considers to be just a query, however, many of those on the No side, aren't 'just querying', they are making highly inaccurate, hateful and fear-driven claims regarding the impact of same-sex marriage. For example, the corybantic Cory Bernardi who claimed marriage equality would lead to people having sex with animals, or others claiming it would lead to pedopholia. It is these sort of disgusting comments that has led to the No campaign being labelled bigotted. It is not worse than racism to call out such hate, ignorance and lies.

Ms Okotel claims that the Yes campaign's accusations of the No campaign conflating issues is a debating device to shut-down discussion about the consequences of marriage equality. Yet, the No campaign has not been able to show the mechanics behind the downfall of the pillars of society or fundamental family rights and the implementation of marriage equality. Nowhere is there a map joining the dots from legalisation of marriage equality to all of these irrational conclusions of the No campaign. The No campaign goes from an illogical 'Cause to Effect' without showing the How. The reason is that there are no links.

The article about Ms Okotel's experiences is designed to make the No campaign feel like the victims.
However, victims of racism and bigotry, who have been attacked because of their sexuality, race and religion, may be surprised by this. The Yes campaign isn't violently attacking people as we have seen in racist and homophobic attacks in Australia and across the globe. One of the issues that created the Sydney Gay and Lesbian parade back in the 1970s was the violence that gay people suffered from ignorant fools who considered 'poofter-bashing' to be a weekend sport. The No campaign is not experiencing these levels of hate and violence. The No campaign just doesn't like being challenged.

The No campaign has based much of their argument on fear-mongering, yet they don't wish to be called homophobic. Considering that phobia means having an 'irrational fear or aversion' to something, then the No campaign either needs to own the label or improve their arguments.

Ms Okotel claims that the consequences of same-sex marriage need to be addressed because these include erosion of freedom of speech, religion and association.  Yet when the Yes campaign challenges these, it is accused of being intolerant. Hmm ... pot/kettle. The No campaign are the ones want the right to be intolerant to same-sex couples.

Marriage Equality will not force any significant change other than to allow same-sex couples to marry. It is not like people will be forced to quite their religion or long-held beliefs ... it's not like marriage equality requires some sort of 'conversion therapy'. Oh wait, some in the No campaign, such as Pansy Lai who featured in the No's first ad, do advocate conversion therapy for LGBTIQ people though to force them into being heterosexual(2).

Marriage Equality will not remove the rights of heterosexual couples to marry, procreate, choose what schools they go to, what shops they shop at or what churches they go to ... that would be exactly what same-sex couples already face and which is why the No arguments have been accused of bigotry, which means a complete intolerance of other people's beliefs, and which has manifested itself through the inequality in marriage that Marriage Equality is trying to rectify.

Reference

1. The Australian, Greg Brown, Yes bigotry 'is worse than racism', 1 September 2017, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/bigotry-from-yes-campaign-is-worse-than-racism/news-story/333d3eb398e130bc7110fb95839c877c. Accessed 1 September 2017.

2. News.com.au, Jessica Anne Washington, Anti same-sex marriage campaigner Pansy Lai promotes conversion therapy, 1 September 2017, http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/gay-marriage/anti-samesex-marriage-campaigner-pansy-lai-promotes-conversion-therapy/news-story/19a06432ae2887daa903e4be3566c2fa. Accessed 1 September 2017.




Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The simple right to say 'I Do' and the real consequences of marriage equality

The simple right to say 'I Do' and the real consequences of marriage equality


 Any number of idioms sum up the Liberal and National Parties' positions on marriage equality:
  • Much ado about nothing
  • Making a mountain out of a molehill
  • The mountains laboured and brought forth a mouse
When it comes to marriage equality, the L&NP are making a simple matter as hard as possible.

In 2015, then Prime Minister Tony Abbott, so caught up in religious right-wing zealotry kicked marriage equality (or same-sex marriage) down the road by promising a plebiscite because he wouldn't allow his government a free vote on the issue. His successor, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull went to the disastrous 2016 election also promising a plebiscite costing around $180 million.

To be clear, the plebiscite is to ask the majority of Australians to decide if a minority of Australians can marry because a vocal 'moral' minority have already decided that marriage equality should not be legalised. It basically breaks down as this:

One minority's choice being decided by another minority's choice.

So in 2017, rather than put forward a marriage equality bill to be debated, the government puts forward a plebiscite bill (for the second time), which is promptly debated and defeated (again) within an hour. Now, think about this. One hour. It could have been a marriage equality bill, debated and voted on within an hour. So rather than pursue this option, Turnbull decides that the Coalition government will uncharacteristically keep  an election promise, namely the plebiscite ... even though the plebiscite was defeated twice. So he engages the Australian Bureau of Statistics to run a $120 million postal survey in place of the defeated plebiscite. The postal survey is neither compulsory or binding. The pollies will still have to vote on the marriage equality bill even after the $120 million is spent. Why not cut out the middle man, and just vote - that's what politicians are paid significant wages to do. $120 million could have been avoided by a one hour debate and vote. Think about that. The survey is non-binding, so regardless of the outcome, politicians can vote however they feel. This would have been the same with the non-binding $180 million plebiscite. So what's the point??

The point is to placate a predominantly religious minority who are hanging on ancient scripture from a book that many of them fail to follow anyway. Remember the clamour from the religious right about when the government abused asylum seekers, destroying families, abusing the poor, the widow, the refugee. No? I don't either. Because most of them justified it and voted for the ongoing abuse by good Christian politicians of the ilk of Tony Abbott and John Howard, who reveled in hyperbole and lying about, demonising and abusing people fleeing war and persecution. ... 'whatever you do to the least of these ...'

The religious right, whipped into a fanatical frenzy by the Australian Christian Lobby and a number of fundamentalist pastors whose beliefs are founded in Absolutism ... the belief that everything is black or white; there is only good or bad, there is no relativism. Funnily enough, relativism requires context, Absolutism requires obstinance. Absolutists believe that their personal interpretation of 2000 year old scripture is the only correct one.

The No campaign, if not rooted in religious fundamentalism, is concerned about irrelevant issues, such as children, 'traditional' marriage, religious freedom, fear-mongering that it will be a slippery slope to people marrying their pets or inanimate objects ... but none have a reason why two loving people should not marry.

'Traditional' marriage isn't the domain of Christianity even though some have argued that it is a covenant before God. Funnily enough, people tailor their vows to suit their beliefs. Non-Christians have a right to marry whether or not they believe or say it is before the eyes of God.

'Traditional' marriage has not always been between one man and one woman ... heck, even in Australia, 'traditional' marriage once included one adult and one child; girls as young as 12 were able to marry until 1942 (1).

One of the arguments of the No campaign is that children have a right to a mother and father. The biggest threat to the family unit is divorce. Marriage Equality doesn't deprive anyone of parents, divorce does that - yet, I haven't heard any Christian campaign against divorce and funnily enough, many of the people in the No campaign are divorced - and that's the real issue they don't want to contend with.

However, children are not an issue in this debate for numerous reasons. People do not necessarily marry to procreate, otherwise infertile couples wouldn't marry. Many LGBTI people already have their own children and can adopt - so that ship sailed long ago if the No campaign wants to focus on children. LGBTI people with children are often in committed and stable relationships with the only thing missing being the ability to marry the person they love. Surely, the No campaign isn't advocating that they be forced to marry someone of the opposite gender or remain single all their lives. This would be a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (article 16) which states that consenting adults have the right to marry and found a family - it doesn't specify gender as a restriction(2).

Arguments abound that children of same-sex parents are more prone to self-harm and suicide. Yet, what impacts them the most is rejection, bullying and criticism (3). Numerous studies have demonstrated that children of same-sex parents are no worse off than those raised by heterosexual parents, and have high self-esteem and low levels of depression and anxiety(4). Quality of parenting is more important than the gender of parents.



People are born gay, people are born intersex. If God doesn't want gay or intersex people then he should stop making them. Of course, this doesn't fit the Christian narrative that homosexuality is a sin, because that would require choice. For most LGBTIQ people, it is not a choice, but an inherent orientation (5). Even the bible acknowledges people were born gay. Matthew 19:12 says 'For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it'. Way back then, eunuchs were men who were not interested in women which made them the perfect choice to guard high ranking women. As Jesus himself pointed out, some were born like that (born homosexual), some were made by men (castrated) and same made themselves like that (self-castration). Eunuchs were often considered effeminate and homosexual.(6)

Some Christians believe their religious freedom will be violated if same-sex marriage is allowed. It has already been stated that the marriage equality bill will allow churches to refuse to conduct same-sex weddings if they so choose. So how is this a violation of religious freedom? Perhaps its because people want the right to discriminate against same-sex couples, for instance not baking their wedding cakes. So, say a religious absolutist works in a large supermarket and a same-sex couple wishes to buy stuff for their wedding, is the religious fundamentalist going to risk their job by refusing service? Even now, do they check the sexual orientation of the people they serve, or of their doctor, mechanic, hairdresser, baker? It is fundamentalists wanting the right to discriminate. Not surprisingly, these same people then get upset if accused of being bigots or homophobic. If a person wants the right to deny someone else their basic human rights, then bigot is probably the politest word that can be used. Religious freedom does not mean the right to deny someone else's freedoms.

As for homophobic, the Oxford Dictionary describes phobia an 'irrational fear or aversion to something'. Clearly the rabid opposition to same sex marriage indicates irrational aversion to homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

As for the other arguments about same sex marriage leading to polygamy or bestiality - remember these claims by the corybantic Cory Bernardi (7) and others like him ... seriously? Desperation much? Anyway, where's the consent in this? Marriage Equality is about choices being made by consenting adults.

Dozens of countries have legalised marriage equality and the sun still rises in the east and sets in the west. The world hasn't ended.

The No campaign conflates and confuses the argument with irrelevancies. They come to conclusions without mapping the links between the start and end point. For instance, how does same-sex marriage rob children of a mother and father if the parents aren't together anyhow?

There are those on the No side who claim to love LGBTIQ people, but state they are just opposed to same-sex marriage, usually for one or more of the reasons covered above. However, what is often missing in their argument is the impact on LGBTIQ people. Currently they face systemic discrimination through not having the choice to marry. A recent study by the Centre for Social Research In Health at Uni of New South Wales concluded that marriage equality lessens the impact of this systemic discrimination and 'positively impacts their health'. The study called out the potential negative impacts from holding a potentially harmful plebiscite because of the extended debate on the issue and the negative impacts this will have on LGBTIQ people, whose health and well-being should be a primary consideration, yet is being completely ignored by the No campaign. (8)

This study reflects others that have been done which indicate that discrimination is associated with 'increased psychological distress and increased rates of psychiatric morbidity, such as increased rates of depression and anxiety'. Marriage is one way to legitimise a person's sexuality, which is extremely important considering how critical sexuality is to identity. Not having their sexuality legitimised 'creates problems for lesbians and gay men with respect to stigma, self-acceptance and lack of support from family and communities'. For those concerned about children, the failure to legalise same-sex marriage also has a flow-on affect to the mental health of children of same-sex couples who are denied the stability and structure that comes from a formalised marriage.(9) These are the real consequences of marriage equality that we should be concerned with, the positive consequences that we should be focused on.

The issue is one of consenting adults choosing to marry the person they love in order to have a normal, loving family - just like anyone else's. It is simple. We don't need a costly and damaging postal survey, we don't need rabid debate that inflicts further pain, suffering and stigmatisation on LGBTIQ people and their children.

We just need Marriage Equality.



Update - 30 August 2017

The No Campaign released their television advertisement on 30 August 2017, and got off to a flying start when they were busted lying. The ad claimed a school said a young boy could wear girl's clothes to school. The Principal of the school has publicly stated that this is not true (10). As kids learn by example, it appears the No campaign is comfortable teaching children that it is ok to lie in order to make a point. This ad claims that removing gender from the Marriage Act will remove gender from the classroom, however, education is not linked to marriage. Same-sex marriage is about allowing people of the SAME gender to marry ... so how is this genderless marriage? It isn't. What it is, is the No camp fabricating information ... lying.

As many predicted, the No campaign will focus on scare-mongering, conflating irrelevant issues and outright lying rather than addressing the real subject, namely marriage between two consenting adults. The No campaign has no substance to their opposition to marriage equality, so grasps at straws to manipulate the gullible. Clearly this is going to be a dirty campaign.


References

1. ABC News, Kathy Gollan, Marriage in Australia: A timeline of how love and laws have changed in 130 years, 17 April 2017, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-17/marriage-in-australia-how-love-and-law-have-changed-in-130-years/8430254. Accessed 27 August 2017.

2. United Nations Human Rights, Office of the High Commissioner, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/UDHR/Documents/UDHR_Translations/eng.pdf.

3. Daraganova, G., (2017), Self-harm and suicidal behaviour of young people aged 14-15 years old, LSAC Annual Statistical Report 2016, Growing up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, http://www.growingupinaustralia.gov.au/pubs/asr/2016/asr2016f.pdf, accessed 27 August 2017.

4. RMIT ABC Fact Check, Fact or fiction: A mother and father is better than same-sex parents, 21 August 2015, http://www.abc.net.au/news/factcheck/2015-07-24/same-sex-parenting-fact-or-fiction/6616352. Accessed 27 August 2017.

5. The Guardian, Qazi Rahman, Gay genes': science is on the right track, we're born this way. Let’s deal with it, 24 July 2015, https://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2015/jul/24/gay-genes-science-is-on-the-right-track-were-born-this-way-lets-deal-with-it. Accessed 27 August 2017.

6. Ringrose, K.M., 2003. The perfect servant : eunuchs and the social construction of gender in Byzantium, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (p. 21)

7. ABC News, Simon Cullen, Bernardi resigns after bestiality comment, 19 September 2012, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-09-19/controversy-over-cory-bernardi-bestiality-comments/4269604. Accessed 29 August 2017.

8. Hopwood, M., Treloar, C., Kolstee, J., Koonin, J., (2016), The Impacts of Marriage Equality and Marriage Denial On the Health of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual people, Centre for Social Research in Health, UNSW, Australia, https://csrh.arts.unsw.edu.au/research/projects/marriage-equality-evidence-review/

9. Kaplan, A., (2006). Same-Sex Marriage: Mental Health Perspectives. Psychiatric Times, 23(9), p.1.

10. SBS, Rashida Yosufzai, 'Untrue' says school principal of mother's claims in 'No' marriage ad, 30 August 2017, http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2017/08/30/untrue-says-school-principal-mothers-claims-no-marriage-ad. Accessed 30 August 2017.


Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Tennis Legend, Lesbians and the Devil

The Tennis Legend, Lesbians and the Devil



Picture this:

Person A takes a stand on an issue. Person B opposes that stand and declares a boycott of that person's business. People come out in support of Person A and declare a boycott of Person B. Person B claims this boycott is bullying ... pot/kettle, Person B?

Person B then launches a vitriolic attack on the people who Person A supports. Those people then attack Person B's vitriolic views. Person B again claims this is bullying because they dared to criticise her vitriol.

Break this down:

Person B bullies Person A with a boycott and criticism,
Person B bullies people Person A supports,

BUT when people criticise her or boycott her, she claims she is being bullied.

This is very typical of the snowflake right-wing.

In case you haven't worked this out, Person A is Alan Joyce, CEO of Qantas. The people he supports are the LGBTIQ community in their desire to marry. Person B is one of Australia's greatest tennis champions, Margaret Court. It is the arena named after her, that people have called on to be boycotted or renamed after Court's vitriolic attack on the LGBTIQ community in which she declared they were the product of the devil and other such lovely things.

On Friday, 26 May 2017, Court appeared on Network 10's show The Project (1). Court's supporters heavily criticised The Project because of their approach to her, talking over her and attacking her views. The Project was accused of bullying. Interestingly, the next day Court appeared on Andrew Bolt's show, a man who takes a very condescending approach to guests he disagrees with. Bolt has bullied anyone who doesn't agree with his extreme right-wing viewpoint.

Court told The Project that people should read the first two chapters of the bible to understand why homosexuality was an abomination and marriage should only be between one man and one woman.

So the first two chapters of the bible (Genesis 1 and 2 for the unintiated), bang on about the creation of the world, you know Adam & Eve, world created in six days and God resting on the seventh.

Interestingly, Genesis 1:29, states: 'And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food'. This sounds like a case for legalising cannabis ... but let's not digress ...

So all that is in Genesis 1 and 2 that might apply is the creation of man and woman, telling the man to leave his parents and join his wife and telling them to 'go forth and multiply'. No-one in favour of marriage equality is saying that we should stop procreating, nor are they trying to stop heterosexuals from getting married.

However, if Margaret Court wants to discuss the Old Testament as exemplar of 'traditional marriage', then perhaps she should read it. The bible provides all sorts of examples of marriage such as polygamy, incest, rape, adultery (concubines), forced marriage and sexual slavery, as shown in the following graphic:

Refer to Ranting Panda article of 14 February 2016, Church of the Poisoned Mind

Court was not content to just criticise marriage equality, but personalised her attack on the LGBTIQ community, accusing the 'gay lobby' of being after 'our kids'. She claims that studies show that homosexuality is caused by 'sexual molestation and emotional abuse'. She went on to state that the anti-bullying program Safe Schools, was 'of the devil', that transgender children were 'influenced by the devil' and that the 'gay lobby' was employing the same tactics as Hitler and communism to 'get the minds of the children'.(2)

Like a lot of conservative Christians, Court can't accept that people are born gay because that would completely mess up their interpretation of the bible. After all, how can it be a sin if it occurs naturally? However, most Christians are in favour of marriage equality according a number of polls, yet this is also something that Court is unable to accept.



She then accused tennis of being 'full of lesbians'.

This wasn't Court's first vitriolic attack on the LGBTIQ community. In 2013, she directly attacked Australian tennis star, Casey Dellacqua for being in a same sex relationship and having two children to her partner, Amanda Judd. This week Dellacqua responded to Court's 2013 comments, by explaining how hurt she was by them considering that her and Court had previously had a close professional relationship:

'I’m very conscious of the fact that everyone is allowed their opinion, but when you start singling out my family especially, that’s when it’s not okay. And my family do not deserve to be subject to that. She can have her opinion but my family does not deserve that and did not deserve that. That’s when I thought, you know what, it’s my time to speak up'.(3)

Margaret Court has made many of her arguments personal, even though she uses the old chestnut, 'love the sinner, hate the sin'. Most attacks by Christians on the so-called 'sin' are thinly veiled ad hominem attacks.

Margaret Court has a right to voice her opinion. Freedom of speech is a right for all of us in Australia. However, all of us must accept that when we put our views forward, there is likely to be someone who will disagree and that it is their right to freedom of speech to disagree and express their views.

Surely Margaret Court expected a reaction when she came out with such vulgar, hurtful and harmful attacks on people.

It's a bit rich for Margaret Court to publicly declare a boycott of Qantas and then get upset when people want to boycott the arena named after her. Having said that, Court's sporting achievements should be kept separate from her personal views ... somewhat like Alan Joyce's management of Qantas should be kept separate from his personal views. People can and do hold opinions regardless of their jobs or achievements. Renaming Margaret Court Arena is unnecessary and would resemble a white washing of history.

Margaret Court clearly does not understand the hurt and pain that her comments inflict on people. She has no idea of why Safe Schools was so important in addressing bullying. There are very high suicide rates among LGBTIQ people, particularly young people. Her attack on them as being of the devil is not going to reduce suicide rates, and it is this hateful and ignorant abuse by so many anti-gay advocates that has caused the suicides of so many young people.

Margaret Court has the freedom to express her views, but has to expect that people will hold her to account for her hurtful and damaging views that can and do impact the lives of so many.


References

1. Network 10, The Project, interview with Margaret Court, 26 May 2017, https://youtu.be/vKwo3JHoRXs

2. SBS, Amanda Copp, Ben Winsor, 'They're after our young ones': Margaret Court renews attack on 'gay lobby', 31 May 2017, http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2017/05/31/theyre-after-our-young-ones-margaret-court-renews-attack-gay-lobby. Accessed 2 June 2017.

3. Herald Sun, Leo Schlink, Casey Dellacqua breaks silence on Margaret Court's shocking 2013 article targeting her family, 1 June 2017, http://www.heraldsun.com.au/sport/tennis/casey-dellacqua-breaks-silence-on-margaret-courts-shocking-2013-article-targeting-her-family/news-story/f9721c2d784595829685408692dad37c. Accessed 2 June 2017.





Friday, May 12, 2017

Drugs, welfare and ideology - a policy doomed to fail

Drugs, welfare and ideology - a policy doomed to fail

Budget 2017 was released with much fanfare and back-slapping by the Federal Treasurer, Scott Morrison, who described it as a fair budget. Certainly, compared to the budgets that were released under the Prime Ministership of Tony Abbott and his feckless Treasurer Joe Hockey, this one was pretty tame. Some described it as a Labor-light budget because of its high taxing elements on the banks and the increase in the Medicare levy.

However, it still had the hallmarks of a Coalition budget with its attacks on students and the unemployed while providing businesses with a $65 billion tax cut(1). How much of this saving will be converted into jobs is debatable, considering the massive profits some companies are already making, but who aren't creating jobs anyway. University fees will rise by 7.5% and the repayment threshold for HECS will drop by around $11,000 to $42,000.

In relation to the unemployed, Morrison decided the big issue was drug use. The 2017 budget will introduce a two-year trial of random drug testing of 5000 recipients of Youth Allowance and Newstart. If someone fails the drug test, they will no longer receive cash payments, but instead be given the paternalistic cashless debit card. This card can only be used for certain purchases, like food.

Alex Wodak of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation stated that the unintended consequence of this, would be that users will move to other often more dangerous drugs that can't be detected through these tests. For instance, the tests will not detect cocaine and heroin, but will detect cannabis and speed. Wodak pointed out that the drug with the biggest social impact, alcohol, will not be tested. For those who fail the tests multiple times, they may be referred to treatment programs, however, existing programs are greatly underfunded(2). So the drug tests themselves will fail to fully address drug and alcohol issues, while potentially causing even more problems.

The United States already has drug testing of welfare recipients in some of its states. The results are startlingly dismal. A Think Progress survey of seven states spending more than one million on drug testing programs, found that welfare recipients were testing positive at a much lower rate than the general population. The results ranged from 0.002% to 8.3%, however, the national drug use rate is 9.3%. Of these states, all but one, had results less than 1%. (3)

Arizona's results were even more disturbing. Out of 87,000 welfare recipients tested, only ONE returned a positive result. With that person removed from welfare, the state of Arizona saved $560 out of its $200 million welfare program. (4) What an amazing return on investment.

Perhaps the reason for the lower rate of drug use in the unemployed, is because of the cost of drugs in the first place. If you want to stop drugs, create more unemployment and poverty. (That's a joke, Coalition ... not a challenge!).

So why would Morrison think Australia's results will have be any different to those in the US? What is he hoping to achieve? The tests might reveal evidence of drug use, but not the extent of it. The tests won't detect whether someone is a recreational user or an addict.

And so what if someone on welfare uses drugs? If they are an addict, yes, this should be treated (not punished), but taking their cash away isn't going to fix this. If anything they will turn to crime to get drugs. For those who are using recreationally, the chances are that this isn't impeding their ability to work. There are plenty of recreational users who still function well in their jobs, not turning up to work wasted. If the drug use isn't impeding their ability to work, then why test it? Morrison will argue that it is tax payers money so welfare recipients shouldn't be using drugs. Many would agree. But so what if they can budget enough to buy a small amount of herb, or if their mates give it to them. Is Morrison saying those on welfare can't have fun? Perhaps check people's welfare status before they waste tax-payers money at a theme park or the movies. Hell, they shouldn't even be eating McDonald's. Welfare recipients should be a dour lot, eating nothing but bread and broth. Is this what Morrison envisions of welfare?

Welfare is a safety net, which has a massive return on investment. It is one of the main factors that reduces crime. If people have no money, they will resort to crime in order to live. Welfare prevents this. One only has to see the levels of crime in America where they have far less effective welfare programs.

Interestingly, a number of federal politicians, including Labor's Sam Dastyari, Green's Sarah Hanson-Young and Independent Jackie Lambie, have argued that if welfare recipients are to be tested, then politicians should be too(5). After all, it's not like pollies haven't been caught using drugs.



Perhaps the most bizarre part of this policy is the testing of sewage to identify suburbs with high drug use(6). It doesn't take much to recognise the flaws in this. Poo doesn't come with a welfare card, so testing sewage will not indicate whether the owner of the poo had a job or not, nor will it help much that the poo is mixed in with other people's poo. Dare I say it? This is a shit policy.

The idea to drug test welfare recipients is nothing more than the Coalition's war on welfare, war on the poor. It panders to the right-wing who see welfare as a dirty word ... until they are without jobs ... while worshipping big business and the wealthy. It is an effort to placate the right-wing while the Coalition raises taxes that will have their greatest affect on the poor, such as the increase to the Medicare levy. While it is good for the Coalition to fully fund the NDIS (which Labor had already provided for in their budgets), they are expecting low paid workers to take on the burden. In the meantime, they will give tax cuts of $65 billion to big business and remove the deficit levy from high income earners, effectively providing a $16,000 a year tax cut to people earning more than a million dollars(7).

A few years ago, then Treasurer Joe Hockey declared that Australia was a nation of 'lifters and leaners'(8), effectively stating that those on welfare were leaners, while the uber-rich are lifters, even though they screw the poor to the wall through casualisation, not paying penalty rates and down-sizing. Hockey attempted to force people under 30 to wait six months before getting welfare payments. Not surprisingly, that was struck down by the Senate, however, the Coalition continues to punish welfare recipients rather than address the drivers of welfare, namely a casualised workforce, underemployment and unemployment.

Given the evidence demonstrating that welfare drug testing programs do not work, it is unlikely that the trial will proceed and if it does, it is even less likely, that it will continue beyond the trial phase.

The drug testing trial is another waste of tax-payers money by the Coalition to further their ideological demonisation of the poor.




References:

1. ABC News, Henry Belot, Federal budget 2017: Company tax cut to cost extra $15b per year, Scott Morrison reveals, 11 May 2017, http://www.abc.net.au/news/story-streams/federal-budget-2017/2017-05-11/company-tax-cut-to-cost-extra-$15b-per-year-morrison-reveals/8518642. Accessed 12 May 2017.

2. Huffpost Australia, Josh Butler, Here's How the Welfare Drug Tests Will Work, 10 May 2017, http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2017/05/10/heres-how-the-welfare-drug-tests-will-work_a_22078785/. Accessed 12 May 2017.

3. Think Progress, Bryce Covert, What 7 states discovered after spending more than $1 million drug testing welfare recipients, 26 February 2017, https://thinkprogress.org/what-7-states-discovered-after-spending-more-than-1-million-drug-testing-welfare-recipients-c346e0b4305d. Accessed 12 May 2017.

4. Mic.com, Gregory Krieg, Arizona Drug Tested Welfare Recipients - Here Are the Shocking Results, 22 July 2015, https://mic.com/articles/122607/arizona-drug-tested-welfare-recipients-here-are-the-shocking-results#.mR3FPpZRK. Accessed 12 May 2017.

5. Huffpost Australia, Josh Butler, People Say Politicians Should Be Drug Tested Too, 10 May 2017, http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2017/05/09/people-say-politicians-should-be-drug-tested-too_a_22078611/. Accessed 12 May 2017.

6. The Guardian, Paul Karp, Scott Morrison says sewage will be tested to find areas of high drug use for welfare trial, 11 May 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/may/11/scott-morrison-says-sewage-will-be-tested-to-find-areas-of-high-drug-use-for-welfare-trial. Accessed 12 May 2017.

7. Australian Financial Review, Joanna Mather, Keep deficit levy for 'millionaires': Labor, 26 March 2017, http://www.afr.com/news/politics/keep-deficit-levy-for-millionaires-labor-20170326-gv6oqw. Accessed 12 May 2017.

8. Sydney Morning Herald, Federal budget 2014 - full speech, 13 May 2014, http://www.smh.com.au/business/federal-budget/federal-budget-2014--full-speech-20140513-3887i.html. Accessed 12 May 2017.







Saturday, May 6, 2017

We stuffed up the world with Capitalism ... so hair of the dog and let's fix it with Capitalism! Oh, and blame Millennials for it all!



We f*cked the world with Capitalism ... so hair of the dog and let's fix it with Capitalism.

Oh, and it's all the fault of the Millennials (those formerly known as Gen Y), because if those selfish buggers didn't keep demanding mocha soy latte coffees the world would be a better place. If they didn't keep demanding that we reduce our carbon emissions, the world would be a better place. If they didn't keep demanding that we underemploy them, the world would be a better place. If they didn't demand university educations worth tens of thousands of dollars, the world would be a better place.

If they weren't so damn demanding!

After all, the Millennials are responsible for:

* casualisation of the workforce
* expensive university degrees
* 'academic inflation' which drives the demand for higher and higher educational requirements in jobs
* escalating house prices
* plateauing pay rates
* lack of respect for others
* war
* greed
* capitalism

Oops. That last dot point is an error ... isn't it? I mean, capitalism is good? Capitalism is the panacea of all the world's issues. So what if greed is the driving force of capitalism. Greed is good.

Actually ... it sure isn't the fault of the millennials that they entered a world that had been exploited and raped (economically and environmentally) by previous generations' pre-occupation with greed and wealth accumulation.

For years, human resource gurus have been saying that Gen Y is a mobile generation, that they only want temporary jobs so they can hop from one place to the next. Garbage. The reason Gen Y was chopping and changing between jobs was because of the greed of companies who decided it was cheaper and easier to put people on as temps or casuals. This meant that they could also be released without businesses having to be concerned with pesky industrial relations obligations, such as giving a minimum period of notice, paying out leave and so on. Gen Y did not cause that. They are the victims of that. Additionally, it isn't just this generation who move around for work. Remember, throughout the 20th century, people travelling the country for seasonal jobs, such as fruit picking, or moving to the 'big smoke' in search of work. People travelling from one job to the next is nothing new.

Millennials are not the lazy bums that older generations portray them as. If those older generations stopped pursuing the almighty dollar for their own benefit, if they stopped reducing or casualising their workforces, then the jobs would be there. But you can't reduce jobs and then blame young people for not being able to find these non-existent jobs.

Academic inflation is also being driven by large organisations who have this idea that the higher educated one is, the better their contribution to the company. So back in the day, when the parents and grand-parents of the Millennials wanted a job, say to work in an office, all they needed was maybe a year 7 education. Then it was a year 10 education. Then year 12. Then some places asked for a Certificate III, IV or a Diploma. And then entry level administrative jobs required Bachelor's degrees. Now, the push is for Honours degrees or even Graduate Certificate or Graduate Diplomas for entry level jobs. For promotion? Masters. All to do jobs that back in the day required nothing more than basic literacy skills.

While a higher education is good, does it make people any more productive than years gone by? Probably not.

People argue that Millennials come out of university expecting to step into managerial jobs. Maybe some do, however, it is clear that for many, a uni education is only qualifying them for an entry level position if they're lucky.

The only ones who benefit from academic inflation are the universities and the businesses that run them. It's basic supply and demand. As the demand grows for higher education, the more upward pressure will be placed on the cost of degrees.

The problem with academic inflation is that people who can't afford the exorbitant costs of university, will struggle to either enter the workforce, or to remain relevant in the workforce. Employment is becoming a privilege for the rich.

Years ago, teachers only needed a diploma. Now the demand is that they must have a Bachelor's degree on entry, and if they are to remain in the education system they must upgrade to Masters ... all so they can teach a high school curriculum.

Some organisations, such as Price Waterhouse Coopers, Ernst and Young, and Penguin Random House have either ditched or relaxed degree requirements to counter this and to assist people in entering the workforce(1).

The biggest threat out of all this is that unemployment will rise for the ranks of those who have a secondary education, but not a tertiary one. An example of this is the Philippines, where even a job in McDonald's requires a bachelor's degree in hospitality or communication, all while there is massive unemployment and poverty among the unskilled. In Australia, the same job is often undertaken by teenagers who've been put through a management traineeship. A barista job in the Philippines requires a Bachelor of Science in Hotel & Restaurant Management. Is this where Australia is headed?(2)

But it's all the fault of the Millennials. So is the fact that they live at home with their parents well into their 20s or even 30s.

Why don't they just go out and buy a house, live on two minute noodles for a couple of years like their parents did and enjoy the thrill of owning their own house. Forget this crap about housing affordability, they are just being too picky ... but wait ...

Short of buying a house in a country town 150km away (where there are no jobs), they are likely to either face an exorbitant price for an existing house, or stare down the barrel of an over-size house in a new estate. The idea that Millennials want the biggest houses ignores the fact that many housing developments have covenants on them that demand large houses. This is not the fault of the Millennials.

Neither is it the fault of Millennials that their parents and grand-parents invested up big in order to make a huge capital return, driving up house prices so that those young 'uns coming through can't possibly earn enough to afford one ... particularly when they have graduated university while carrying a large debt for their education.

So what's the answer? Capitalism? Rampant consumerism? If people spend more money on unnecessary items it will improve the economy and magically, all of society's ills will be gone. Let's forget that it was unfettered capitalism that got us into this mess. Capitalism is often thought of as a system where people are rewarded by keeping the fruits of their labours. But explain that to people who are on minimum wage, working for companies whose excessive profits are earned from those labours but who don't share in those profits other than through their pittance of a wage.



Capitalism is a cleverly deceptive system that transfers wealth from the many to the rich few. This transfer is achieved by paying pitiful wages, not sharing profits, and getting people to part with their hard earned through clever consumer advertising, or through government tax cuts to the wealthy and big business. Capitalists have taken this and run with it, building in obsolescence and perceived obsolescence, so that consumers are either forced to replace items and feel they need to every time a new version comes out(3). (Apple I'm looking squarely at you).



The theory is that if we continue transferring wealth from the general population upwards to the most wealthy, then it will somehow trickle back down and make us all rich. Trickle down economics didn't work for Thatcher, Reagan, or George W. Bush, and it doesn't work in Australia.

Since the election of the Liberal and National Party coalition in Australia, the government has been attacking students and the poor as a means for fiscal repair. Those who earn the big bucks, and the big businesses who have clever tax minimisation strategies, are not contributing their fair share towards the budget bottom line because the government is living in a trickle-down fantasy land.

Here's a thought. What say we took the Robin Hood approach and share the wealth from the rich with the rest of society.

Instead, the government and business distract from their failures by blaming Labor, the Greens, the left-wing, the poor, the needy, students, Muslims, refugees, global terrorism, the CSIRO, scientists, Millennials.

Yet, ALL of the issues in society are caused by capitalism. It is capitalist greed that has been responsible for:

* unrestrained pillaging of natural resources in order to access fossil fuels for consumption and power, causing war and climate change
* unnecessary but perpetual and profitable wars and funding of 'insurgents' to fight whoever the 'evil' enemy is at the time, and which has resulted in global terrorism (that's right, Islam is not the cause of terrorism; it was caused by the US funding of the Mujaheddin gave rise to Al Qaeda and the Taliban, the 2003 invasion of Iraq gave rise to ISIS, not to mention western nations' exploitation and theft of land and resources in what are now developing countries going back centuries)
* unrestrained accumulation of wealth and assets, driving down housing affordability
* craving for larger and larger profits that has driven workforce reduction and casualisation.

But it's all the fault of Millennials.

Let's forget economics for a moment.

How about respect?

Time to unleash some old chestnuts?

Kids of today have no respect for their elders.

When I was a kid we'd have had our mouths washed out with soap if we spoke like that.

Often heard by people who've forgotten what little shits they were when they were younger.

Firstly, accusing the young of disrespect is nothing new. Two of my favourite quotes from waaayyy back in the day that show this is a generational whinging going back centuries for older people:

'We live in a decaying age. Young people no longer respect their parents.  They are rude and impatient.  They frequently inhabit taverns and have no self-control' - Inscription on 6,000 year old Egyptian tomb

'Our earth is degenerate in these latter days; bribery and corruption are common; children no longer obey their parents; every man wants to write a book, and the end of the world is evidently approaching' - Assyrian stone tablet, circa 2000-2800BC

And of course, in this day of instant gratification, it's the fault of Millennials. Not to mention the older generation's constant bemoaning of what the future holds in the hands of Millennials. But wait, waaayyy back in the day, young 'uns were impatient and the oldies feared the future as well:

'I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependant on the frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words ... When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly disrespectful and impatient of restraint' - Hesiod, 8th century BC

Maybe what we need is some sympathy for older people, after all, it is in their constitution to blame young people:

 'The denunciation of the young is a necessary part of the hygiene of older people, and greatly assists in the circulation of their blood'. Logan Pearsall Smith 1865-1946

But I digress.

It is a sad reality that older people have taught the younger people how to behave. The older generations demand respect from people who they are constantly abusing and blaming. They speak horribly about migrants, refugees, Muslims, the left-wing, students, the poor. They demonise and disrespect most of society and then expect Millennials to treat them with respect.

When Millennials treat them the way they treat others, they get upset and bust out a, 'in my day ...'.

Come on oldies: pot / kettle.

We can't fix the economy by driving people into more debt, we can't increase employment by making it harder to find work or through job rationalisation, we can't address climate change and pollution by continuing to burn fossil fuels while continuing with massive rates of deforestation and land clearing, we can't address housing affordability by continuing to allow the accumulation of vast property portfolios, we can't stop terrorism while we continue to fund it and wage wars, we can't end hatred and intolerance by continuing to hate and attack others, and we can't blame Millennials for the things that previous generations caused.

People need to remember that they were once young and to remember what things were like for them. Was it easier to find work, buy a house, get an education (was there even a requirement for an education)?

Yes, Millennials do need to think of the future and respect others - as we all do. But to blame Millennials and not take responsibility for our own actions is disingenuous.

"He who would pass his declining years with honor and comfort, should when young, consider that he may one day become old, and when he is old, that he has once been young".  Joseph Addison, 1672-1719.

What the world needs is a sharing economy, not an accumulation economy. Rather than focusing on personal greed and circumstance as has been the wont of Gen X and Baby Boomers, we should be more outward focused and consider the circumstances of others, consider what is good for society as a whole and not just what is good for the individual.

In relation to the environment, land clearing has continued at unprecedented rates as the demand (consumerism) increases for housing estates, farming and wood products, such as paper and furniture. There are alternatives of course, like hemp and bamboo. Hemp is a natural product which does not leach the soil, is fast growing and easily replenished which means that it requires a fraction of the land that traditional farming produce does, such as cotton.

The government has been cutting budgets for education, health and employment. One of the reasons is that they claim that the debt incurred by spending on these essential factors is 'intergenerational theft', because it requires future generations to pay it back. Instead, it is the under-funding of these programs by the government that is going to rob current and future generations of opportunities for employment, training and health.

The real intergenerational theft has been from the greed and rampant consumerism of Gen X and Baby Boomers, the cost of which is now being borne by Millennials.

F*cked the world with capitalism? Hair of the dog is not the answer.


References

1. The Conversation, Joshua Krook, Degrees of separation: companies shed degree requirements to promote merit over qualifications, 18 April 2017, http://theconversation.com/degrees-of-separation-companies-shed-degree-requirements-to-promote-merit-over-qualifications-76150. Accessed 6 May 2017.

2. Refer to the below screen-grabs from the websites listed, taken on 8 May 2017.

3. Story of Stuff, Annie Leonard, Louis Fox, Jonah Sachs, The Story of Stuff, December 2007, http://storyofstuff.org/.




www.mcdonalds.com.ph/content/page/careers



https://jobs.laimoon.com/job/192660




Saturday, April 29, 2017

Anzac Day - a time of jingoes, drongos & remembrance

Anzac Day - a time of jingoes, drongos & remembrance

You'd think that the national day of commemorating those who served their country would be one of unity. But in Australia, Anzac Day has somehow morphed into a brazen display of nationalism that is increasingly empowering racists, bigots and jingoists.

Certainly many people who attend Anzac Day ceremonies do so to truly commemorate those who've served and to appreciate the freedoms that Australia enjoys as a result of the sacrifice of the few for the benefit of the many.

Considering that Anzac Day is a day of remembrance, it seems bizarre that so many got so upset about one tweet from an ABC employee. The tweet was not sent while she was at work. The ABC smartly decided there was no case to answer. She hadn't milked the public purse in order to send the tweet.

The employee in question is Yassmin Abdel-Mageid, member of the Council for Multi-cultural Australia, 2015 Queensland Australian of the Year and founder of Youth Without Borders (Australia). Her tweet was:

'LEST. WE. FORGET. (Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine ...)






Within moments of it being posted, the howls of the offended could be heard reverberating around the nation. Yassmin promptly deleted the tweet and apologised. Contrast this with right-wing commentators who, when advised their work is offensive or even inaccurate, refuse to apologise, but instead stand on their digs and claim their freedom of speech is under attack.

The tweet though played into the hands of bigots because not only is Yassmin a Muslim, she also works for the ABC which is under constant attack from conservatives who see the national broadcaster as a socialist mouthpiece. These conservatives believe they are the defenders of free speech, yet want to shut down any dissenting opinion or fact that might be expressed on the ABC.

The hypocrisy of people being offended by Yassmin's tweet could not be clearer. It was only a few weeks ago that Australia's right-wing government pushed for changes to Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act to remove the words 'insult, offend and humiliate' as grounds for racial discrimination. (For more detail on this refer to my article 'Freedom of Speech - A Two Edged Sword' which was published less than three weeks ago).

For years, people were vehemently defending the rights of cartoonists Bill Leak and Larry Pickering to publish vile and offensive anti-Islamic and racist works that humoured bigots Australia-wide. Yet those who argued so voraciously against 18C for the right to insult and offend others were the most vocal when their sensitive souls were insulted and offended by Yassmin's tweet. Not surprisingly, the racism that underpins much of the Anzac Day orgy of nationalism, focused on Yassmin's race and religion, with many telling her to go back to where she came from. Some grubs even suggested that she should be raped, because in their bitter and twisted minds nothing honours the memory of dead soldiers like a good, old-fashioned raping.

Yassmin's tweet did not attack diggers, it did not disparage the memory of the Anzacs, if anything it augmented the memory with current conflicts which Australia is either involved or has had military involvement in. The Navy has been used as a political pawn in 'defence' of Australia's borders by being unleashed on asylum seekers, Australia fought in Palestine and was part of the campaign that gave Britain the mandate to control Palestine for 30 or so years and subsequently resulted in the illegal creation of Israel. Now Australia is involved in Syria, part of whose problem is a result of the disastrous overthrow of Saddam Hussein, which Australia eagerly participated in even though the reasons for the second Gulf War were based on lies and brought ISIS to fruition.

Perpetually-outraged defender of white Australia, Herald-Sun columnist, Andrew Bolt described Yassmin as a 'smart-alec ABC presenter' and then went on to directly attack ... wait for it ... DIGGERS. Where was the outrage? Yassmin's tweet did not attack diggers. Yet Bolt directly attacked the RSL for allowing indigenous diggers to march under an indigenous flag and for daring to allow 'Welcome to Country' speeches at Anzac commemorations(1). Bolt and his ilk would prefer a return to the old days when indigenous people were not specifically recognised for their service, or where any recognition was low-key so as to not upset the sensibilities of the white nationalists.

Oh ... the white nationalists ... nice segue into just what some of these people stand for. April is a big month for the neo-Nazi element of the nationalists. As we all know, Anzac Day is on 25 April. However, 20 April is the birthday of the man who set the benchmark in genocidal megalomania, Adolf Hitler.

The neo-Nazis who like to drape themselves in the Aussie flag while claiming to honour the memory of Australia's fallen soldiers, also celebrate the birthday of the man who many of our soldiers died fighting against. Some even wanted to hang a picture of Adolf Hitler in every school classroom and have all students read Mein Kampf(2). Surely this is an unacceptable display of treachery and hypocrisy.To claim that our soldiers died fighting for our freedom, while celebrating the birth of one of the world's worst despots who opposed those same freedoms is dumb-founding. Where is the outrage from the perpetually outraged rabid right who are constantly questioning the values and loyalties of migrants, Muslims and the left, but giving these perfidious drongos a free pass?

Only a week before, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull vapidly released new citizenship tests and tried (but failed dismally) to articulate some ethereal Australian Values that the LNP dreamed up(3). Surely Aussie Values do not include draping oneself in the Australian flag while celebrating arguably our biggest enemy and claiming to be a patriot. Just sayin'.

But these neo-Nazis aren't just fringe dwellers, they've gone relatively main-stream. One (possibly more) of their ilk was embraced and endorsed by Pauline Hanson as a candidate for One Nation, a party that is currently polling at 23% in Queensland. The candidate, Mark Ellis, would still be standing for One Nation if a photo hadn't emerged of him saluting a swastika that he had mowed into his lawn(4). Methinks the Diggers would be rolling in their graves at how their memories are being used to fuel racism and hate-crimes against Muslims and refugees.

And lies.

Labor MP ... and Muslim ... Anne Aly was accused of refusing to lay a wreath on Anzac Day. It was a fabrication, a lie, spread by wannabe politician Kim Vuga and those on the right who feel that Muslims are fair game regardless of whether they are born and bred Australian or 'integrated' into Australian society or contributing to the community. The attack on Anne Aly was a disgraceful abuse of the memory of the Anzacs by racist fools who have no respect for the diggers they claim to be honouring. For the record, Aly did lay a wreath at an Anzac memorial(5). She also stated on Channel 10's The Project on 28 April 2017, that Kim Vuga rang to apologise for spreading the lie. It's a pity that people are so gleefully willing to demonise Muslims that they don't fact check such pejorative rumours before spreading them.

Anzac Day is a solemn commemoration in which people should take pause and contemplate the sacrifices many Australians have made, some in the defence of freedom, some in the expansion of British empire (as in World War I) and some in defence of American empire (as in Korea, Vietnam and Iraq). Not all the wars that Australia has participated in were necessary or were defending our liberties. However, in all of them, men and women fought and died in service to this country and its allies.

The horrors and brutality of war, fascism and despots should not be forgotten. Many of those who are still experiencing these horrors first hand, comprise the 60 million or so refugees around the world. A tiny fraction of these have fled to Australia seeking asylum. They do not deserve to be demonised or traumatised because of political ideology as those are who still languish on Manus Island and Nauru. If any day is the day to not only contemplate our liberties, but also consider how we can assist those who are fleeing conflict, it is Anzac Day. This is a day about inclusion, not exclusion, about welcoming, not denying. It is about not forgetting that it was every day men and women, Christian, Jew, Muslim, atheist, indigenous and migrants who fought for this land. Why use this day to spread hate, fear and nationalist supremacy.

Defence analyst and former Army officer, James Brown, discusses in detail the 'cult of remembrance' around Anzac Day in his 2014 book Anzac's Long Shadow - The Cost of Our National Obsession, and how this has made it difficult to comment on the truth of the disastrous and imperialistic Gallipoli invasion, and further, to even criticise the Defence Force at all.

There is nothing patriotic in sending our troops to fight unnecessary wars based on lies and hegemony. There is nothing patriotic in demonising people of other races and religions. And there certainly is nothing patriotic in traumatising, abusing and denying the human rights of those fleeing war and despots. These are not the memories of Anzac Day, these are not the 'values' that Australian soldiers fought and died for.

Lest We Forget.

References

1. The Herald Sun, Andrew Bolt, Anzac Day betrayed. Hijacked by tribalists. 27 April 2017. http://www.heraldsun.com.au/blogs/andrew-bolt/anzac-day-betrayed-hijacked-by-tribalists/news-story/6e6329eb130004f5a159505cf2ebeabc. Accessed 28 April 2017.

2. The Age, Michael Blachelard, Luke McMahon, Blair Cottrell, rising anti-Islam movement leader, wanted Hitler in ever classroom, 17 October 2015, http://www.theage.com.au/national/blair-cottrell-leader-of-aussie-patriots-upf-wanted-hitler-in-the-classroom-20151016-gkbbvz. Accessed 28 April 2017.

3. ABC News, Michelle Grattan, Grattan on Friday: Malcolm Turnbull forges 'values' into political weaponry, 21 April 2017, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-21/turnbull-forges-values-into-political-weaponry-michelle-grattan/8461282. Accessed 28 April 2017.

4. Independent. Will Worley, Australian far-right candidate quits after photo emerges of him saluting swastika carved into his lawn, 26 April 2017, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/australasia/mark-ellis-australia-far-right-queensland-nazi-swastika-photo-candidate-cut-lawn-state-election-quit-a7702786.html. Accessed 28 April 2017.

5.The Sydney Morning Herald, Heather McNeill, 'Offensive and disgusting': MP Anne Aly responds to Anzac Day snub claims, 28 April 2017, http://www.smh.com.au/wa-news/offensive-and-disgusting-senator-anne-aly-responds-to-anzac-day-snub-claims-20170427-gvtzw5.html. Accessed 28 April 2017.