Monthly Archives: November 2011

Gay Men Have Been Going At Things Backwards – #MarriageEquality

For all the advancement we have made in a 2011 Australian society it seems strange that marriage equality remains a debate we need to have at a national level. The ruling ALP will go to their national convention with the issue a major talking point and I can only help but feel it is not the message that is the problem, but the way it’s been delivered.

For decades the LGBT community have rightly pointed out that their rights have been infringed. Across many areas of law they have been treated as lesser citizens and as couples denied rights available to everyone else. Now comes one of the final hurdles, the right to marry just the same way as a heterosexual couple. But we all know the issue, the arguments and that it’s absurd in this day and age a citizen of a “first world country” is still discriminated against based on their sexuality.

So perhaps the message is just not being tailored in a way that makes sense to those who oppose. While we should never have to convince persecutors of basic human rights, the reality of the real world is that we do. Given that most of those who oppose marriage equality do so on the basis of religion it is time some of the argument was tailored to meet their needs. And what exactly is religions problem with same-sex marriage? Is it that some weddings might no longer be conducted in the Church, Temple or Mosque? No, that ship has long since sailed with people choosing all manner of wedding locations and celebrants. The real problem you ask? They are worried it just might encourage more people to have sex in the naughty place. And no I don’t mean parked in some dark lane on the rear seat of mum’s car.

Don’t believe me? Just look at the way we have used sodomy laws to effectively outlaw much of sexual activity between gay men. Currently the age of consent is 2 years higher for anal sex in Queensland and it was outlawed entirely in Tasmania until 1997. Many countries that actively persecute the LGBT community do so not by outlawing anything but the acts of sodomy or “adultery” for women, which in many cases by the way includes making being raped a crime. If you really “have” to be gay they’d rather you just abstain and live a miserable life. Is that the sort of thing we wish to sign up to, aligning ourselves morally with Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Al-Shabab controlled parts of Somalia? Of course this all goes back to the twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah which God apparently destroyed because the folk there were doing it, sodomy that is. You see in 2011 Australia the only kind of discrimination we really advocate and embrace is the religious based kind or against the first Australians. Forget that Jesus himself never uttered a word about homosexuality, but a religious organisation with its tax exempt status can call you every name under the sun and lobby politicians, often with great success against common sense.

If the ALP Government fail to pass Marriage Equality legislation then the LGBT community need to become a religion. Cloaked behind that religious veil you can practice and preach almost anything you like. Evangelical pastor Danny Nalliah preached that the Victorian bushfires were caused by the states abortion laws and the Queensland floods were a result of questioning Israel on Human Rights. Say that as any ordinary citizen and you better run for the hills, say it with religious tax exemption and you can print flyers with it on to raise money and increase your following. What about Scientology with accusations of abuse, slavery and cult like behaviour you’d think the Government would pull their support via tax exemption, but no  “75 million years ago Xenu brought billions of people to Earth in spacecraft resembling DC-8” and while you can’t marry the person you love they can raise money to preach that without paying a cent in tax on the profits.

But it is unlikely that Pastor Danny or Tom Cruise will make an appearance at the ALP convention, the push back (excuse the pun) will come from the right-wing of the ALP. Perhaps before entering the conference they need to be reminded that the ALP is supposed to be a left of centre party of the working class. But for many in that faction their direction will come from their belief in the teachings of the Catholic Church. Given the scandals involving the church in the last few decades you’d think they’d avoid issues of “sexual deviancy” as they see it. The same might be said of politicians who themselves have been caught up in rape trials, spousal abuse and corruption. But no, along with the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) they are the chief opponents of Marriage Equality. Visit the ACL website and you will find they are running three campaigns. Tackling poverty perhaps, supporting Asylum Seekers, feeding the homeless? No, the far more pressing issues to them are Gay marriage, Gay Adoption and Prostitution. What did I say about the naughty place! Much of the Christian model on such things is broken anyway. A study of US teenagers who took part in a Christian run Abstinence program found that while some did abstain, compared to their class mates who didn’t take the pledge, “abstainers” were 6 times more likely to perform oral sex and 4 times more likely…, anal!

To get the issue passed Gay men need to form a Nunnery of Two! It is the only way to send a message the ACL and others will understand. Anal Sex is no longer sodomy, it is a religious duty performed by two followers of the new religion. They may not agree with it, but they will support your right to perform it. Take Holy Communion, you eat the wafer to represent the Body of Christ and drink the wine to symbolise his blood. Now outside of an organised religion this may appear to be some kind of build up to Canabalism, but inside the Church it’s an important part of remembering Christ. And good luck to them, they aren’t hurting anyone, it brings them closer to their God and is important to them. But just as I would defend their right to perform such an act I cannot look the other way while they involve themselves with the denying rights to another.

This is not an attack on religion, this is an attempt to explain just how absurd it is that in 2011 two adults who love each other cannot stand in front of their friends and family and promise to spend the rest of their lives together. Shot gun weddings, Child brides and Kim Kardashian devalue marriage. Two folks in dresses holding hands at the altar is just another day at a Scottish Wedding. Whether that be two men, two women or a man and woman should only depend on them both being consenting adults. The rest is no business of the Government, the Church or Xenu from out of space.

So why as a heterosexual male do I care when might rights are firmly intact? Because as a human rights advocate it is my job to ensure you get that right and I don’t want to live in a country that allows me to do things my friends can’t just because of who they are. Marriage equality is about the right to love, it really is that simple! The ALP and all parties must vote not just with their conscience, but with rights and respect for all in their minds. The naughty place is not sodomy, the naughty place is a parliament that continues to discriminate!

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For Aboriginal Elder Dr Berryl Carmichael the Darling River is her Livelihood.

For Dr Berryl Carmichael, the Darling River is her livelihood.

Berryl remembers a time when the river water was as clear as the ocean, a place where she played and learned the traditions of her people.

“We used to have great fun going down and pumping the yabbies out,” she said.

“We used to put our foot in the hole instead of setting traps and the yabbies would back out the other hole.

“We grabbed the yabbies and put them in the bucket so we had a feed.”

Over the years, Berryl has noticed different species come and go from the system, like the catfish.

“We used to always catch catfish and they were a beautiful food,” she said.

“Especially if it was your totem, you needed that catfish, a bit of your spirit food to feed your spiritual self.

“Now today you can hardly get a catfish in the river.

“Things like that connected the people to the water.

“It is fast disappearing, it’s very sad.”

On the longer term health of the Murray-Darling Basin, Beryl says he is concerned for the next generation.

“What about the fish dreaming?” she asked.

“This is when the Aboriginal people need to come together again and let our voices be heard loud and clear.

“It’s the life vein of our people.”

How Question Time Used To Be – #QT

Keating in Action!

FMG Damaging Sacred Sites

ABC PM

MARK COLVIN: An Indigenous group from the Pilbara has gone to Canberra with its claim that the Fortescue Metals Group is destroying sacred sites. The Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation says Andrew Forrest’s ore company has desecrated an ochre quarry and destroyed part of a creek where stones are gathered for initiation ceremonies.
It’s called on the Federal Environment Minister to invoke emergency powers and protect sacred sites. The mining company has rejected the Aboriginal corporation’s claims, and described them as “offensive”.
David Weber reports.
DAVID WEBER: The Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation says it wants the Federal Environment Minister to protect what it calls “living heritage”. The corporation’s chief executive, Michael Woodley says the creek where sacred stones are found is important to maintaining culture.
MICHAEL WOODLEY: This particular area that sits on Yindjibarndi country, relates to the ceremony that we practice back home. If we don’t protect these sites and no one in this house cares to help us, then we can see our heritage wiped from the face of this earth forever.
DAVID WEBER: In a statement, the Environment Minister Tony Burke has said the application needs to go through a process under law. Mr Burke also says it will take some time to consider the matters raised and he’s offered a similar meeting with Fortescue.
But Michael Woodley says time is running out.
MICHAEL WOODLEY: We told him we would like to have a timeline in terms of when he would get back to us. We did raise that issue to him and said look it’s very concerning to us that while you sit on it and go through this process, that might take anywhere from four to five weeks, there are heritage being destroyed as we speak.
DAVID WEBER: An archaeologist contracted by FMG has claimed that she was pressured to alter surveys and reports. The company has said it only called for the correction of unqualified commentary, and in any case, both the original and new reports were submitted to the Department of Indigenous Affairs. The company has said it would cooperate with any investigation.
Michael Woodley says he spoke about the broader issue with Mr Burke today.
MICHAEL WOODLEY: We’ve touched on the overall situation that there are concerns from archaeologists and anthropologists in submitting reports, that some of them lacked the proper details for the ACMC (Aboriginal Cultural Materials Committee) or the Department of Indigenous Affairs to make a proper decision about the sites.

For more:- http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2011/s3374568.htm

Sublime? No, Slime! #ACA (Matthew Newton)

UPDATE 2 – This piece was first published on 22nd Nov. Today (14/12) we learn something that gives it renewed importance.

“Actor Matthew Newton is accused of punching  a taxi driver in the head on Sydney’s north shore.

Police arrested the 35-year-old after an incident about 10.20am  (AEDT) on December 4.”

The commentary today following the Matthew Newton interview with Tracy Grimshaw has been all negative and quite rightly given his refusal to apologise to his victims.

But that is an issue for Mr Newton, his victims and their families and friends. A more important issue is why one of the highest rating programs in Australia would air such disregard for Domestic violence and the damage it does to individuals and our community? The answer of course is in the question, ratings is seemingly all that drives programs such as ACA and Today Tonight. But what really got on my nerves was the promotion and production of this sordid tale as if the people making money off it actually give a shit.

Tracy Grimshaw on her twitter account. “Huge response to Matthew Newton #aca. We endeavored to be fair to him, to the women he has hurt, and the mentally ill. Polarising, for sure.” Right, you know what would be fair to the victims Tracy, giving the same amount of time on your show to experts on both Domestic Violence and Mental Illness! But hey, where is the ratings and financial reward in that. This should come as no surprise given only a show earlier they ran the story on Warwick Capper asking “so could the loveable larrikin be the next big thing in Aussie television?” Right, you mean the guy who had a failed porno career? Classy stuff! But of course it doesn’t stop there, ACA has form and you only need to look at what is being talked about on their website to find the story “Asylum Seeker Heaven” – A Current Affair investigated just why the system is costing us so much. In the process we discovered not only huge medical and security costs, but also luxuries like plasma TVs and internet cafes. Detention centres, known breeding grounds for mental illness, condemned by Psych workers the country over are heavens are they?

So we should not at all be surprised that this program and presenter who peddles Racism, demonises Asylum Seekers, profits from Mental Illness and delivers startling investigations on “Migraine botox” might be less than responsible when it comes Domestic Violence. Tracy obviously defended this today by saying “We gave white ribbon number“. Only for that organisation themselves to criticise the interview today “Australia’s primary organisation against violence towards women, the White Ribbon organisation, has criticised Matthew Newton for copping out in a TV interview last night.”

Given all of this, the pre show predictions, the interview itself and the following criticism was expected. Another opportunity missed to really give the public the facts on Domestic Violence and Mental Illness (two of the biggest issues we face as a society). But I was further miffed (understatement) when I saw Mia Freedman take to her account to promote the interview. “Set your iq for @tracygrimshaw‘s Matt Newton exclusive on #ACA tomorrow night. Can think of nobody better to do it. Sublime.” Talk about a good helping of pre tabloid porn promotion! Mia is actually someone I respect and wrote a piece defending after her remarks on the Today Show about Cadel Evans. But “Sublime” about an interview with an unapologetic perpetrator of Domestic Violence and a tabloid treatment of mental illness? Before I played the John MacEnroe “You cannot be serious” line in my head I thought I better ask for clarification. The response,  “I meant that tracey is a sublime interviewer. One of the best. Not a statement about content particularly.”

No, obviously the content is complete shit, BUT… You cannot be fucking serious (throw racquet), Tracy Grimshaw…, one of the best? By what standard do we lower ourselves to that someone who sits in the chair of a program that does NOTHING for the national debate on any serious issue is one of the best. That anyone who makes a huge amount of money peddling fear, making people feel bad about their body appearance and generally making crap about the least fortunate amongst us is one of the best. Can you imagine Kerry O’Brien ever asking if Warrick Capper was the next big thing? Speaking of Kerry, he is one of the best! So is Tony Jones, Leigh Sales, Jenny Brockie, etc Speaking of which, can you imagine Brockie introducing a show entitled “Centrelink scammer justice”?

You know who does “sublime” interviews? Andrew Denton! You know who doesn’t? Tracy Grimshaw!

Maybe Mia Freedman is simply towing the party line, she too is employed by Channel Nine.

But make no mistake these shows support the 1% while claiming to be for the 99!. These are the people who just like bankers and traders make their money by selling things that don’t exist or are simply made up. Things like Warwick Capper being the next big thing, Asylum Seekers having their own little slice of Heaven and Domestic Violence and Mental Illness issues to simply pull ratings. Why report on the alarming rate of homelessness, the fact that the majority of low income Australian’s can’t afford the dentist or the suicides in detention when you can make a hell of a lot more from Matthew Newton. And with the spring collection on the shelves, a Range Rover to refuel and that delightful $100 Chardonnay just chilling in the fridge they’ll ask… What are you complaining about?!?!

UPDATE:- It’s still unclear if Newton was paid for the interview but with Ch9 only saying they don’t disclose such information it is fair to assume he was. Prompt Hughesy on radio.

“If he hadn’t have been violent against women that interview wouldn’t have happened…. that’s why it was a news story and he got paid for it,” Dave Hughes said.

“So he got paid because he was violent against women. That’s interesting.”
Interesting might be another way of saying “disgraceful tabloid rot” dressed up as journalism, something Nine, ACA and Grimshaw should all be ashamed of!

Lessons from Liberia – The Women Who Ended a War!

As war ravaged Liberia, Leymah Gbowee realised it is women who bear the greatest burden in prolonged conflicts. She began organising Christian and Muslim women to demonstrate together, founding Liberian Mass Action for Peace and launching protests and a sex strike. Gbowee’s part in helping to oust Charles Taylor was featured in the documentary Pray the Devil back to Hell.

The Movie chronicles the remarkable story of the courageous Liberian women who came together to end a bloody civil war and bring peace to their shattered country.
Thousands of women — ordinary mothers, grandmothers, aunts and daughters, both Christian and Muslim — came together to pray for peace and then staged a silent protest outside of the Presidential Palace. Armed only with white T-shirts and the courage of their convictions, they demanded a resolution to the country’s civil war. Their actions were a critical element in bringing about a agreement during the stalled peace talks.

This is a film you must see! “The film is inspiring, uplifting and is a call to action for all of us” – Desmond Tutu

And now Leymah Gbowee has released a must read book. As a young woman, she was broken by the Liberian  civil war, a brutal conflict that tore apart her life and claimed the lives of  countless relatives and friends. Years of fighting destroyed her country—and shattered  Gbowee’s girlhood hopes and dreams. As a young mother trapped in a nightmare of  domestic abuse, she found the courage to turn her bitterness into action,  propelled by her realisation that it is women who suffer most during conflicts—and  that the power of women working together can create an unstoppable force.

Gbowee is a Nobel Peace Prize winner who earnt her award the hard way!

In 2003, the passionate and charismatic Gbowee helped organize and then led the  Liberian Mass Action for Peace, a coalition of Christian  and Muslim women who sat in public protest, confronting   Liberia’s  ruthless president and rebel warlords, and even held a sex strike. With an army of women, Gbowee helped lead her nation to peace—in the process emerging as an international  leader who changed history. Mighty Be Our Powers is the gripping chronicle  of a journey from hopelessness to empowerment that will touch all who dream of  a better world.

To purchase a copy of the book or donate to the cause please visit – http://leymahgbowee.com/

Policeman Shot at Car? No, People!

After a great deal of coverage from most of the mainstream media comes news that a WA police officer has been charged in relation to a “Shooting”.

Sen-Const Niko Westergerling, 39, was charged on Wednesday with two counts of discharging a firearm in a manner likely to endanger life over the November 14 shooting. AAP

From news reports and statements given to a WA court it can be generally agreed that the officer pulled over a vehicle when he observed one of the occupants not wearing a seat belt. The car occupants were 3 adult women (including a pregnant woman) and 2 children, one of whom was just three years of age. After a brief disagreement over the identity of the driver the car took off.

Channel Seven reported that it was then that Constable Westergerling produced his police-issue Glock pistol and tried to smash a window with it, then fired the weapon twice as the car sped away. SMH

This is clearly not acceptable from any officer of the law and the serious charges laid show just how serious a criminal matter this is. How does a traffic incident so minor escalate into a potentially fatal police shooting. The officer was accompanied by colleagues, he was pulling over a car with women and children and although there was a disagreement surely he could not argue his life was in danger. Police Officers for the large part are just like you and I, they do a bloody tough job for not a great deal of pay. But could there have been any insight into this officer that could predict such an incident might occur?

Earlier this year…. Senior Constable Niko Westergerling, 38, who also worked as a male model, was fined $2000 by a Perth Magistrate after admitting to kicking and punching his wife in their Innaloo home during a heated argument. Constable Westergerling “snapped” and punched his wife, causing her a black eye, and threw her to the ground where he repeatedly kicked her to the body. SMH

Although confined to desk duties during the case he was back on operational duties once the matter had been finalised. How on earth he wasn’t in prison is anyones guess… “I want you to consider yourself lucky to be walking out of here today,” Magistrate Heaney said. Maybe it is hindsight that allows us to make the following observation, but is it any wonder that a man who beats and kicks his own wife would be willing to shoot at a car of women and children.

Now facing criminal charges and an internal investigation it is best if the rest of the particulars not reported widely are left to the courts to be dealt with. But it must be raised that while there has been coverage of the story, virtually all of it has referred to the incident as if  a policeman shot at a car. Would you, if anyone with a gun shot at your car, look at the damage to your car first or be more concerned about your own safety and your occupants. Bullets do not discriminate when fired, they can puncture steal, glass and find their way very easily into flesh. Nobody knows the intention of the officer, one can only hope that will come out in the court hearings, but people, not a car, was shot at!

It is important that we also consider the fact that the occupants of the car were Aboriginal. Would the media coverage have included far more outrage if the victims of the attempted shooting had been white? And can the victims feel they will get the justice they deserve given the colour of their skin?

It is easy to fob these issues off if you have never faced race based discrimination particularly by the police. But the Western Australian police service came into being as a full time operation after the massacre at Pinjarra in which men, women and children were slaughtered by the newly established force. Nearly 200 years later and having suffered other such massacres, brutality, deaths in custody and all round general poor treatment is it any wonder that Indigenous West Australians are concerned they wont see justice in this matter.

And perhaps, in this context, we must consider why many Aboriginal peoples do not feel safe when an “Intervention” sees police on mass roll into their land. Perhaps what they fear is not a new beginning, but an escalation of persecution!

Do you know where you live? – Aboriginal Australia Map

For a more detailed map to purchase for your home, school or business please visit:- http://www.aiatsis.gov.au/asp/map.html

Please note these maps are designed only to give a general indication & are not intended to be exact.

Death in Perugia – My Interview with Phillip Adams

Not many crimes have captured our imagination quite so much as the murder of a young British woman in Perugia, a  university town in central Italy.  Amanda Knox was convicted and later acquitted of the murder of her  roommate Meredith Kercher.  Author John Follain looks at the murder investigation and the fascinating trial of Amanda Knox in a foreign country.

Meanwhile, Advocate Martin Hodgson, who has spent ten years working on countless cases of foreigners in trouble overseas discusses the first 48 hours of arrest which he says are crucial because ‘in this time you can put a whole country offside by your actions.’

Listen here:- http://www.abc.net.au/rn/latenightlive/stories/2011/3359374.htm

Guests

John Follain
Correspondent, The Sunday Times

Martin Hodgson
Senior Advocate, Foreign Prisoner Support Service

Indigenous elders condemn intervention extension (ABC)

A group of Aboriginal leaders say they are furious about the Federal Government’s plan to extend the Northern Territory intervention next year.    ABC News

The intervention was meant to wrap up next year but last month Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin announced that measures including alcohol bans and welfare quarantining in remote communities will continue.

Ms Macklin has signalled legislation will be introduced into Parliament before Christmas.

Rosalie Kunoth-Monks wants control of her community back

Rosalie Kunoth-Monks from Utopia in Central Australia says communities around the Territory are angry the Government is extending the intervention.

“After almost five years of the oppression of the intervention we demand that the Government hand back to us control over our communities,” she said.

“We reject the Stronger Futures document. We reject it absolutely.

“We will not support an extension of the intervention legislation, we did not ask for it, in fact, we call for a genuine apology.”

Barbara Shaw from Alice Springs says the intervention is discriminatory and the Government has ignored the concerns of many people.

“We know what we want and the arrogance of the Australian Government as well as the Northern Territory Government, they just don’t want to listen to the views of the people like us,” she said.

The elders say the intervention is causing shame and embarrassment in Aboriginal communities.

To call on Minister Macklin to end the Intervention please use the contact form provided at the link below

http://www.jennymacklin.fahcsia.gov.au/contact/Pages/default.aspx

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