The School of Athens

The School of Athens
The School of Athens by Raphael (click on picture to view short documentary from Columbia University)

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Pain, hurt, anger and equal marriage

Fellow citizens,

There is a great deal of pain and hurt being so unnecessarily revisited and reawakened within the LGBTIQ community as a result of this postal survey.

In many cases the trauma of a lifetime long experience of discrimination and vilification that many would've hoped was 'well behind them' is being brought back so quickly and so cruelly.

Make no mistake, two men need to be condemned for this: Tony Abbott for proposing the original ridiculous plebiscite concept and Malcolm Turnbull for continuing with the dopey concept culminating in the farce that is the postal survey.

This should always have been a vote in Parliament.

The LGBTIQ community warned of the problems the 'vote' would bring, but their warnings were ignored.

If you think I am overstating the hurt being revisited have a look at these comments on the hashtag on Twitter #Theygettovote where people are telling of their shocking experiences.

I've listed a few examples below:

my extended family found out i liked girls and called me a genetic deformity and kicked me out of the house #TheyGetToVote

"As soon as you're 18, I'm kicking you the f*** out, Poofta." - My Father. #TheyGetToVote

A 20 yo man found bloody & beaten & unconscious outside my apartment building after being beaten to a pulp by homophobes & #TheyGetToVote

I recall a random stranger on a tram proudly telling me "I put one of you in hospital last week." #theygettovote

First & only time I held another boys hand in public I got bashed by a group of guys only the  security guard stopped them) #TheyGetToVote

#Theygettovote i had rocks thrown at me, knocked down beaten and pissed on. Had a dead rat put in my school bag

Having drinks poured on me in disgust the first time I made out with a boy in a club #TheyGetToVote

I could leave hundreds of tweets on #TheyGetToVote, but it's too painful to relive the past homophobic attacks. No homophobia huh Lyle??

last week i heard a gaggle of middle-aged women lecturing a lesbian couple on 'why they should be embarrassed in public' #TheyGetToVote

Coming out of a gay bar, some guy came past me on his bike, spat at me and yelled 'DYKE'. #TheyGetToVote

I held a boys hand at school and was pelted with rocks then they threw me in the urinal. Teacher told me to, "be more aware." #TheyGetToVote

Head shoved into toilet wall, called a faggot and stalked by threatening school bullies who wanted to beat my brains in. #TheyGetToVote

Mardi Gras morning, I see car stop on oxford street-4 men jump out. Push a gay to the ground, break his teeth. They drive off #TheyGetToVote

#TheyGetToVote All those who hid the details of Dr George Duncan's drowning in the River Torrens for so many years

My classmate who wrote "Faggots deserve death" after I was outed in High School #TheyGetToVote

My ex was afraid to hold hands in our neighbourhood because he'd previously been assaulted for being gay. #TheyGetToVote

At 14 I came out to close friends, but the first guy I ever came out to rounded up his mates to bash me on the street #TheyGetToVote

Stories that are real and heartbreaking. This tweet sums up the feeling:

Today 'no' voters are saying the #TheyGetToVote stories are invented. Show any gay person the feed, watch the clouds form in their eyes.

And, yes, many in the LGBTIQ community are angry. Very angry about it all.

Can you blame them?

They are so deeply hurt, not only by what has happened to them their whole lives just for being who they are, but because their government and their leaders have let them down so terribly badly.

The government is so callous, so lacking in empathy, so lacking in compassion, that it deems it appropriate for the entire Australian adult population to "have their say" on whether an already marginalised section of our community should have equal rights under the law.

Turnbull and Abbott read those tweets and hang your heads in shame. 

"Only those who have known discrimination truly know its evil." Noel Pearson.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Mr Turnbull! Tear down this wall!

Fellow citizens,

One of the biggest stupidities I have seen in recent years is the erecting of a fortress around our Federal Parliament. Yes, it is OUR Federal Parliament.

Have a look at these photos of this bloody stupid thing.

In November 2015, Prime Minister Turnbull said in Parliament:

"The terrorists want us to bend to their will, to be frightened, to change the way we go about our lives, to abandon our values."

"If we do that, they win and they will not win, we will not let them win."

So much for not letting the terrorists win.

Why just stop at a wall? Why not rebuild all of Parliament House underground like Winston Churchill's War Cabinet bunker?

 There was a time when we criticised nations that used walls to protect themselves.

"As a free man, I take pride in the words: Ich bin ein Canberran!"

"Mr Turnbull! Tear down this wall!"

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

On equal marriage, sisters are doin' it for themselves...and everyone else

Fellow citizens,

Of all the research data that has been published regarding same sex marriage there are two pieces that I believe matter the most, and it concerns women.

First: Essential Media has found over July and August that about two-thirds of women "support changing the law to allow same-sex couples to marry" as opposed to only about one half of men.

Second: Ipsos found in research published today that about 7 in 10 women will "definitely return their survey form" as opposed to about only 6 in 10 men.

These figures are crucial.

If women do participate in the proportion that the Ipsos poll reported, and there is no reason to doubt that they will, then the same sex marriage postal survey will find in favour of "changing the law to allow same sex couples to marry".

That is clear.

The question now is why such a clear gender discrepancy?

These are my speculations (and they are just speculations and generalisations based on anecdotal evidence).

Women are less threatened by gays, female or male, than many men and so much less likely to be homophobic.

Women who are mothers will tend to accept their children as they are, straight or gay. Whereas many men might be more inclined to see their children as a reflection of themselves, and so a gay male child might be a threat to their feeling of masculinity.

Women are far more aware of discrimination than men and so understanding injustice would be much more familiar to them.

These reasons, I believe, then explain the higher motivation among women to participate in the postal survey as they will be more committed to do something about the current situation.

And they will participate, as women are much less likely to 'forget' to fill out and return their survey forms, whereas for many men I am not so confident.

(Please Note: This illustration below is NOT the official ballot from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, but it is quite lovely). 

Nothing, of course, is certain.

However, these research findings suggest that there is a very good probability that the same sex marriage survey will be carried in favour of changing the law.

Monday, 11 September 2017

How can anyone take John Howard seriously? He is lying, yet again

Fellow citizens,

How can anyone take the 25th Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard, seriously?


He is a liar. And a chronic one at that.

As Press Gallery legend Alan Ramsey so neatly put it in 2004, "Howard was a serial liar when it suited his political interests."

Well, Howard is lying again. This time on same sex marriage. 

Yes, I could've written Howard is: disingenuous, duplicitous, deceptive, misleading or, if I wanted to be really charitable, misinformed.

But none of these euphemisms are appropriate considering the gravity of his most recent lie and the untold hurt and damage it might well inflict on the children of not only LGBTIQ couples, but also of all children in the nearly one million single parent Australian households [2016 Australian Census] and the millions of adults who were raised by a single parent.

What did he say?

"On the substance of the matter, I am a No voter and the principal argument for that relates to children and there is CLEAR EVIDENCE (my emphasis) that you have better outcomes overall for children who have a biological mother and father. I recognise that there are homosexual couples who are caring and conscientious parents who do a good job and there are plenty of neglectful heterosexual parents. But the CLEAR EVIDENCE is that you have outcomes that are superior for children in the longer term if they have a mother and a father." [The Australian, September 9, 2017]

First, the postal survey concerns itself with one question only: "Should the law be changed to allow same sex couples to marry - yes or no" and so any discussion by Howard about "outcomes" for children, any children, is irrelevant and designed to confuse the public and complicate what should be a very simple response to a very simple question.

Second, Howard twice claims there is CLEAR EVIDENCE that you have "better outcomes" overall for children, yet cites none.

Why? Because it is an outright lie. There is NO CLEAR EVIDENCE.

There is NO EVIDENCE at all, clear or otherwise.

There is only his opinion based on his prejudice and ignorance.

This is consistent for Howard who is an "agnostic" on climate science EVIDENCE, preferring to rely on his "instinct" which he believes outweighs the five detailed reports
from the Inter Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) citing thousands of climate scientists over 25 years.

In an article published in The Sydney Morning Herald, August 14, 2017, titled "No evidence: Medical groups rubbish 'red herring' claims about same sex parents" it said:

"The Australian Medical Association (AMA) and the Australian Psychological Society (APS) told Fairfax Media there was NO SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE (my emphasis) that children of gay and lesbian parents had poorer outcomes than those with heterosexual parents."

It quoted AMA President Dr Michael Gannon who said, "The issue before the Australian people, before the Australian Parliament, is not about same-sex parenting. That's not even the discussion that is being debated" and that Dr Gannon stood by the AMA's statement that there was "NO PUTATIVE, PEER REVIEWED EVIDENCE (my emphasis) to suggest that children raised in same-sex parented families suffer poorer health or psychosocial outcomes as a direct result of the sexual orientation of their parents or carers." 

The article went on to state, "The Australian Psychological Society, the peak body for psychologists, conducted a literature review in 2007 and concluded that outcomes for children of homosexual parents were 'on par' with those in heterosexual families."

The article quoted Dr Damien Riggs, Associate Professor of Social Science at Flinders University and APS fellow who said, "There are no noticeable differences between children of heterosexual parents and children of homosexual parents, other than discrimination. What we need to do is combat discrimination so then there are no differences at all."  

The article also cited research of a 2010 meta analysis of 33 studies of two-parent families published in the US Journal of Marriage and Family, which supported Dr Riggs' conclusion.

Further, an article published in The Huffington Post on August 7, 2014, titled "Children Of Gay Parents Are Happier and Healthier Than Their Peers, New Study Finds" will make Howard shudder, as it wrote:

"Children raised by same-sex couples have better health and well-being in comparison to their peers, according to a groundbreaking new study which is being billed as the largest of its kind.

Conducted by Australia's University of Melbourne, the new research aimed to 'describe the physical, mental and social well-being' of children with gay and lesbian parents, and "the impact that stigma has on them." On average, children raised by same-sex couples scored six percent higher than the general population when it came to general health and family cohesion.
Meanwhile, in other categories -- such as behavior, mental health and self-esteem -- those children reportedly scored the same as those raised by heterosexual parents."

'It appears that same-sex parent families get along well and this has a positive impact on health,' Dr. Simon Crouch from the Jack Brockhoff Child Health and Wellbeing Program, Centre for Health Equity at the University of Melbourne, told CNBC of the results.

Crouch believes that an emphasis on skills, as opposed to traditional gender roles, accounted for the survey's results.

'So what this means is that people take on roles that are suited to their skill sets rather than falling into those gender stereotypes,' he is quoted as saying. 'What this leads to is a more harmonious family unit and therefore feeding on to better health and wellbeing.'
You can read more about the new research here.

The study comprised input from 500 children and 315 parents who are in same-sex relationships, and seemed mostly in line with previous research. Earlier this year, a Williams Institute report found that children of lesbians reported having higher self-esteem and lower conduct problems than those of heterosexual couples.

A 2012 study, 'Adolescents with Lesbian Mothers Describe Their Own Lives,' found that teens with two moms maintained solid high school GPAs while having strong family bonds with their mothers, according to CBS Las Vegas."

So there we have it, Howard's CLEAR EVIDENCE of "better outcomes" does not exist.

Just like Saddam Hussein's Weapons of Mass Destruction did not exist and on whose pretext Howard took Australia to war in 2003 and from which the world still suffers the consequences.

Howard's CLEAR EVIDENCE is nothing more than his opinion based on his prejudice and ignorance.

However, Howard has form, and lots of it.

Remember his citing of FIELD EVIDENCE in the 2004 Federal Election that "interest rates will always be lower under a Coalition Government than a Labor Government" despite no reputable economist supporting his baseless claim?

The Prime Minister was asked about a survey of 14 independent economists who reject his view.

REPORTER: What do you know about interest rates that those economists don't?

JOHN HOWARD: Well I know that interest rates under Labor were massively higher than what they are now, and I know that if Labor's record in the past is repeated, which I believe it will in the future, they'll run budget deficits. That will put upward pressure on interest rates. And in the end what matters is the strength of an argument, not the number of people who may have a particular point of view. [ABC PM Program October 5, 2004]
In November 2007, during the 2007 Federal Election campaign, those interest rates 'chickens came home to roost':

"The Reserve Bank has made history, weighing into the politically-charged federal election campaign by raising interest rates to their highest in a decade."

"Mr Howard today said he was 'sorry' for today's interest rate rise after the The Reserve Bank of Australia raised the official cash rate by a quarter of a percentage point to 6.75 per cent. Mortgage rates are expected to follow within days." [Sydney Morning Herald, November 7, 2007]

Howard subsequently lost the 2007 election and, in doing so, suffered the humiliation of losing his seat. The ultimate rejection for a prime minister. A point that Howard sycophants and genuflectors conveniently forget.

Oh yes, Howard has form, and lots of it.

Returning to Alan Ramsey's article "Let's have the honest truth, once and for all" published in the Sydney Morning Herald, August 18, 2004 :

"Howard was a serial liar when it suited his political interests."

"Howard lied about the GST before the 1996 campaign. He lied about these lies during the 1998 campaign. He lied about the reasons he took Australia into the Iraq travesty, now such a part of this election. Now we are told by someone at the centre of events that he lied about the children overboard affair."

"The central truth is, however grave the charge, that John Howard's prime ministership has been a lie from the outset." (bolding is my emphasis)  

Howard is lying, yet again. 

How can anyone take anything he says seriously?


Friday, 8 September 2017

Malcolm Turnbull is not a leader's derrière

Fellow citizens,

Following yesterday's decision by the High Court, we now have to endure an expensive, unnecessary and humiliating postal survey.

Expensive: $122 million that could've easily been better used in countless other ways.

Unnecessary: This is a matter for Parliament. The Marriage Act 1961 was amended in 2004 by the Parliament (without letting the people "have their say") and could just as easily be amended again.

Schedule 1—Amendment of the Marriage Act 1961
1  Subsection 5(1)
marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.

2  At the end of section 88B
             (4)  To avoid doubt, in this Part (including section 88E) marriage has the meaning given by subsection 5(1).

3  After section 88E
88EA  Certain unions are not marriages
                   A union solemnised in a foreign country between:
                     (a)  a man and another man; or
                     (b)  a woman and another woman;
must not be recognised as a marriage in Australia.

Humiliating: As one section of our community - LGBTIQ people - are now to have the entire Australian population "judge" whether the love and commitment of LGBTIQ couples is to be of equal worth, under the law, to that of heterosexual couples.

Make no mistake, our 'strong leader', Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull, is responsible for this farce. 

Having tried and failed (thanks to a sensible Senate) to implement the ridiculous plebiscite policy of the reactionary Tony Abbott, he had a perfect opportunity to stand up to the recalcitrant right wing thugs in his party and give his colleagues a 'free vote' in the Parliament.

Instead, he squibbed it.

For the benefit of our current Prime Minister this is what a strong leader actually looks like:

Paul Keating delivering the Redfern Speech in December 1992.

Remember this speech was given only a few months before the 1993 election was to be held. An election at which the ALP was widely expected to get hammered. There were no votes in it. On the contrary, in all likelihood, it would have cost the ALP many votes.

This is an extract:

"We non-Aboriginal Australians should perhaps remind ourselves that Australia once reached out for us. Didn't Australia provide opportunity and care for the dispossessed Irish? The poor of Britain? The refugees from war and famine and persecution in the countries of Europe and Asia? 

Isn't it reasonable to say that if we can build a prosperous and remarkably harmonious multicultural society in Australia, surely we can find just solutions to the problems which beset the first Australians - the people to whom the most injustice has been done. 

And, as I say, the starting point might be to recognise that the problem starts with us non-Aboriginal Australians. 

It begins, I think, with that act of recognition. 

Recognition that it was we who did the dispossessing. 

We took the traditional lands and smashed the traditional way of life.

We brought the diseases. The alcohol. We committed the murders.

We took the children from their mothers.

We practised discrimination and exclusion. 

It was our ignorance and our prejudice. 

And our failure to imagine these things being done to us. 

With some noble exceptions, we failed to make the most basic human response and enter into their hearts and minds. 

We failed to ask - how would I feel if this were done to me? 

As a consequence, we failed to see that what we were doing degraded all of us."

You can view the speech on YouTube here:

Then, after having won the 'unlosable' 1993 election, Paul Keating went about implementing a response to the 1992 Mabo decision of the High Court, culminating in the passing of the Native Title Act in 1993. 

He argued the case for a proper government response to the Mabo judgement, confronting and despatching ignorance and prejudice along the way, as this transcript from his encounter with a talkback caller illustrates:

Caller: Good morning.
John Laws: Okay, the Prime Minister is here.
Caller: Yes, good morning. Just a very broad question, Mr Keating, is: why does your government see the Aboriginal people as a much more equal people than the average white Australian?
Paul Keating: We don't. We see them as equal.
Caller: Well, you might say that, but all the indications are that you don't.
Paul Keating: But what's implied in your question is that you don't; you think that non-Aboriginal Australians, there ought to be discrimination in their favour against blacks.
Caller: Not... whatsoever. I... I don't say that at all. But my... myself and every person I talk to - and I'm not racist - but every person I talk to...
Paul Keating: But that's what they all say, don't they? They put these questions - they always say, "I'm not racist, but, you know, I don't believe that Aboriginal Australians ought to have a basis in equality with non-Aboriginal Australians. Well, of course, that's part of the problem.
Caller: Aren't they more equal than us at the moment, with the preferences they get?
Paul Keating: More equal? They were... I mean, it's not for me to be giving you a history lesson - they were largely dispossessed of the land they held.
Caller: There's a question over that. I think a lot of people will tell you that. You're telling us one thing...
Paul Keating: Well, if you're sitting on the title of any block of land in NSW, you can bet an Aboriginal person at some stage was dispossessed of it.
Caller: You know that for sure, do you?
Paul Keating: Of course we know it for sure!
Caller: Yeah, [inaudible].
Paul Keating: You're challenging the High Court decision, are you? You're saying the High Court got this all wrong.
Caller: No, I'm not saying that at all! I wouldn't know who was on the High Court.
Paul Keating: Well, why don't you sign off, if you don't know anything about it and you're not interested. Good bye!
Caller: Yeah, well, that's your ...
Paul Keating: No, I mean, you can't challenge these things and then say, "I don't know about them".
John Laws: Oh well, he's gone.

You can watch edited highlights of the full interview (including that extract) on YouTube here: 

That is how a strong leader behaves, Malcolm Turnbull.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

In Bed: The Kiss

Fellow citizens,

"This captivating 1892 artwork, In Bed: The Kiss, by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec features two women caught up in a passionate moment. In fact, the artist considers this painting as the epitome of pleasurable and sensual delight. 

The colour scheme that he selected was brilliant with shades of red and yellow, which were subdued by grey, green and blue. This enchanting masterpiece expresses the tender love shared by the couple, as though they were fearful of being separated from each other." []

"l n’y a qu’un bonheur dans la vie, c’est d’aimer et d’être aimé." (There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved) Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin aka George Sand. 

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

"Logie? Sounds like a disease!" Norman Gunston interviews Sally Struthers

Colleagues and scholars from coast to coast, across Bass Strait and all the ships at sea.

Dateline: Australia, Logies Awards, September 2017.

Television's night of nights, The Logies, is in the news. It will no longer be held in Melbourne after the Victorian Government decided to withdraw funding for the event.

I'm sure, like everyone else in Australia and around the world, when I think of The Logies, I think of this classic interview by Norman Gunston of Sally Struthers in the mid 1970's.

It is Norman at his absolute best.

You can view the interview on YouTube here: 


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