The Good. The Bad. The Asinine.

Yet another open letter to Margaret Court

Dear Margaret,

Long time no see! In fact, I haven’t seen you since you wrote that weird letter to Qantas saying that you probably maybe possibly wouldn’t fly with them unless you really had to because they supported marriage equality and you didn’t support marriage equality but because you were good at hitting a ball back and forth 60 years ago your half hearted boycott was something an independent corporate entity needed to care about, so I attended the Margaret Court Centre for Kids Who Can’t Write Letters Good and Want to Do Other Stuff Good Too Like Play Tennis. I’m sure you remember me there. Good times, good times.

Anyways, I just wanted to let you know that, even though I still can’t play tennis for shït, I now write letters good so your course was a success and and I’m so grateful and I’m going to draw on everything you taught me to write this letter to you.

I’m sure you saw that Mardi Gras was on recently. Disgusting, eh? So many people flagrantly flaunting their right to be themselves without hurting anyone else. It’s almost like we live in a free society where weird religious beliefs don’t override the freedoms and protections of a secular society. Unlike in Burundi, where you’ve recently been doing some good work, and being gay can get you thrown in prison, or worse.

But the main thing I wanted to talk to you about, Margaret, is your half hearted boycott of Qantas. Firstly, how’s it going? Are you able to secure flights with any openly homophobic airlines, or have you just started walking between Perth and Melbourne?

And secondly, how are you coping after boycotting all the other companies that now support LGBTIQ rights? I mean… that’s gotta be tough, given that you now also have to boycott the ABC, Absolut, Amazon, Amnesty International, ANZ, the Australian Federal Police, Autism Australia, Carlton United Breweries, the City of Sydney, Coke, the Department of Defence, Facebook, Fire and Rescue NSW, Girl Guides, Google, Guide Dogs, Hush Puppies, Instagram, Jaguar, JCDecaux, KIIS 106.5, L’Oreal, MinterEllison, Myer, NSW Ambulance, the NSW Liberal Party, NSW Nurses, the RFS, the SES, People with Disability Australia, Powerhouse Museum, R U OK?, Salesforce, SBS, Scouts, St Vincent’s Hospital, Surf Life Saving Australia, Sydney Airport, the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Swans, The Star, Transport for NSW, University of Sydney, UTS, Vodafone, Wella, and Woolworths.

Then again, you probably don’t watch the ABC or drink Absolut or drive a Jaguar or wear L’Oreal or know how to use Google or have any chance at all of getting into UTS. But on the other hand, you sure as shït wear Hush Puppies, so on balance I think this whole boycott thing has to hurt like a muffuker.

Anyways Margaret, I just wanted to say that I hope you’re OK. Intellectual and moral consistency can be tough, and given your previous pronouncements, you must be in a world of pain.

After all, Hush Puppies are apparently very comfortable.

All the best,

Tim

Religious freedom for all (the religions I like)

You may recall a little kerfuffle from a few years ago regarding marriage equality. On the one side, we had a bunch of loving people wanting to enjoy the same rights and protections as everyone else, and on the other we had Tony Abbott and Lyle Shelton and Miranda Devine warning us that life as we knew it was doomed if a bunch of loving people enjoyed the same rights and protections as everyone else.

But they weren’t the only ones. For into the fray stepped Israel Folau, formerly one of the few Wallabies who was good at rugby, but currently just another of the many Wallabies good at no longer being a Wallaby. And while he started as a lowly highly paid sports star with a huge public platform who just wanted everyone on Twitter to know he didn’t like gays, he eventually discovered Instagram and the joys of telling gays they’re going to burn for all eternity. Which was amazing, because it led to his transformation into the brave-hearted hero of the greatest battle for Christian rights since the First Crusade. And the next eight Crusades. And the Spanish Inquisition, which no one expected.

Australia played only a minor role in those noble causes, as we didn’t have any Christians at the time and our Indigenous forebears just sat here looking after the environment and not killing each other over whose imaginary god was better. So it’s no exaggeration to say that our current fight for religious freedom is up there with the most difficult tests this country has ever faced. More difficult even than the Edgbaston Test in 2005, or that actuarial exam I sat in 2015 when I forgot to take my calculator.

With stakes this high, it’s no surprise that almost everyone has an opinion, and in my opinion anyone with an opinion wants to tell you their opinion and also their opinion of your opinion. And with so many opinions floating around, it can become quite hard to sift through all the rubbish opinions, and get to the actual facts at the heart of it all. Luckily for you, Good Bad Asinine is here to help. And so, without further ado, here are four case studies that will hopefully make everything clearer.

Case Study 1

The Story – The year is 2014. Barack Obama is in the White House. Tony Abbott is in the Lodge, somehow. It’s the International Year of Family Farming, which is weird because I didn’t know you could farm families. Over in England, meanwhile, all is not well. A customer of Marks & Spencer took some champagne and pork to a checkout. Unfortunately for them, the checkout was staffed by a Muslim, and while the Muslim was very apologetic, they advised that their faith prevented them from handling champagne or pork, and they requested that the customer use another checkout.

The Analysis – Now, if you’re like me, you’re probably now absolutely outraged, because pinot gris goes better with pork. But also, how dare a Muslim request that a customer walk three metres to another aisle to accommodate her deeply-held religious convictions.

The Verdict – Muslims bad.

Case Study 2

The Story – Of all the places you’d expect to stumble into a Culture Wars battlefield, a Berkshire B&B would have to be up there with the least likely. And yet that’s exactly what Michael and John did when they tried to book a room at Francis and Susanne’s apparently gay-free Christian hotel.

They were told there was no room at the inn, and promptly turned away. Of course, in true British style, all parties agreed that everything went down with the utmost politeness. Apart from the blatant homophobia, I mean.

The Analysis – Well look, Francis and Susanne were obviously very uncomfortable with being forced to imagine what two strangers were getting up to behind closed doors. Apart from pedophile priests, I mean. And that’s their right as Christians. So why shouldn’t they be allowed to live according to their deeply held religious convictions and stop two consenting adult men sleeping in a room together?

Also, if Michael and John had really wanted to stay at a Christian B&B, they would have had the sense to become lesbians instead.

The Verdict – Christians good.

Case Study 3

The Story – Cyrill Callister invents a brown yeast paste which sounds disgusting but ends up becoming an Australian breakfast staple. Many years later, Vegemite receives kosher and vegan certification to the delight of many. Everyone loses their shït, however, when it goes halal.

The Analysis – Everyone knows we’re a Christian country, and that makes Vegemite a Christian yeast spread. And just because the new halal version is absolutely identical to the old version doesn’t mean it doesn’t infringe my right to spread Christian yeast all over my toast, which would be otherwise impossible given the prohibitions against premarital sex

The Verdict – Muslims bad.

Case Study 4

The Story – Terrence works in a clothing store, but his religion teaches that almost all clothes are an abomination, and the only acceptable garments are lime green spandex mankinis. His manager, Sparkle, is a disabled virtue-signalling leftie trans lesbian social justice warrior. She lets him walk around in a lime green spandex mankini because she’s woke af and doesn’t want to discriminate against his deeply held religious beliefs and also because it saves her money on uniforms.

The Analysis – This is a pretty easy one. Since Terrence is trans, he’s actually a woman, and if she is wearing a mankini then not only could we see her nipples, but it’s also cross-dressing, and girl nipples and cross-dressing are both forbidden by my Christian faith. So there.

The Verdict – Disabled virtue-signalling leftie trans lesbian social justice warriors bad.

___

So… I hope that clears things up. Religious freedom is obviously all about protecting Christians, and demonising gays and Muslims and disabled virtue-signalling leftie trans lesbian social justice warriors. And why shouldn’t it be? In the words of good ole Bill Meuhlehelehnberg:

The truth is, not all religions are the same. One religion says ‘love your enemies’ while the other one says ‘slay your enemies wherever you find them’. Thus we are 100 per cent right to champion a real religion of peace (Christianity), while warning about a tyrannical political ideology (Islam).

Of course, the other option is for us all to stop giving undue deference to a bunch of ambiguous bronze age texts, and instead start acting with a little kindness, empathy, and common sense.

Or is that too much to ask?

– Tim

I really don’t get people

As of right now, a very large proportion of our very large population has access to almost every bit of information our species has ever discovered. At the push of a button, you can, if you choose, learn almost everything there is to know. From the advance to heliocentrism, to why we no longer suffer from smallpox or polio, to the many and varied ways we know that the Earth is around 4.5 billion years old, and that mankind evolved from apes. It’s even possible to find out why Kim Kardashian is famous, although I admit to that knowledge being currently beyond my grasp.

And yet…

We also live in an age where an increasing number of people believe that the Earth is a flat disk, with the North Pole as its centre and a giant wall of Antarctic ice as its circumference. Yes, seriously. Lots of people also believe that vaccines cause autism, or that man was created 5,400 years ago out of a ball of mud, or that the recent bushfires were lit by the Greens, or that 5G technology is going to destroy us all. Oh, and a large number of us apparently also believe that anthropomorphic climate change is a worldwide scientific hoax designed to either turn climate scientists into billionaires (somehow), or create a gay trans commie green socialist utopia where you’ll suffer the indignity of universal healthcare and free education and fewer catastrophic weather events. Which would be awful, obviously.

Like I said, sometimes I really don’t get people.

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I first discovered that flat-earthers (still) exist when my brother recommended I watch the Netflix documentary Behind the Curve. The two-part series follows a few of the movement’s leading lights as they attempt to free the rest of us from the debilitating burden of curvature. It is best summarised by the opening scene, in which a man named Mark Sargent looks out across a bay towards Seattle and says, “See? It looks flat”.

No, I am not joking.

How is it that in the year 2020, some 2,600 years after Pythagoras discovered that the Earth is a sphere, and 2,200 years after Eratosthenes calculated its circumference, do we have a large number of ostensibly intelligent people with access to almost limitless information concluding that we live on a flat disk? It is almost completely unfathomable, except that we can see with our very own eyes that Mark Sargent and his fellow flat earthers have somehow managed to fathom the crap out of it.

If you listen to Mark himself, he will tell you you’re a sucker. But he will also tell you that he read a few books and thought about it for a while and worked out that there is a huge worldwide conspiracy to trick us all into believing we live on an oblate spheroid. The first thing to note is that “oblate spheroid” is a great term, and we should all use it more often. The second things to note are that:

  1. As far as conspiracies go, the oblate spheroid hoax would have to be up there with the worst ever, being neither clever, funny, nor financially exploitable; and
  2. Despite humans exploring this flat disk for tens of thousands of years, no one has ever managed to find the edge.

There are, of course, a multitude of other reasons why Mark is comically incorrect. And yet, like most people, I have never personally investigated the matter for myself. I haven’t looked into how Pythagoras managed to work out that we live on a sphere, or how Eratosthenes calculated its circumference. In fact, besides being mildly surprised that Pythagoras hadn’t concluded we live on a right-angled triangle, I hadn’t even heard of Eratosthenes when I started writing this blog, and I’m guessing you hadn’t either. Can any of us really be said to know that the Earth is spherical, if we haven’t actually investigated and concluded the matter for ourselves?

Thankfully, there is a simple answer to that question, and it begins and ends with a huge “Hell yes”.

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As I mentioned above, this phenomenon isn’t just limited to the nuffies running around in the flat earth movement. Almost everything humans have ever done or discovered is buffeted by a raging sea of disbelief, from the space cadets who believe the moon landing was faked, to the outright wänkers who have similar beliefs about the Holocaust. Of course, if you don’t know enough facts to deny any, you can always just make shït up, which is why we have Mormons.

The really scary thing, however, is that this phenomenon seems to be getting worse. What on flat earth is going on?

To be honest, I really don’t know. But in true actuarial fashion, I can still throw out three different possibilities without making a definitive conclusion.

Hypothesis 1 – People are stupid

Stupid people have been around since people were invented. It’s likely that they’ll be around forever, too, because you have to be a little bit smart to open a condom. It’s possible, then, that we have the same number of stupid people we’ve always had, but we just hear about them more now because they’ve somehow learned to use the internet.

But here’s the thing. Mark Sargent gives the strong impression of not being stupid. Renowned Holocaust-denier David Irving apparently went to school and seems to be an OK speller. Tony Abbott was a Rhodes Scholar. I know a very intelligent Young Earth Creationist who believes the earth is 5,400 years old and Noah’s Ark was a real thing. Andrew Wakefield, the amazing young man that pretended the MMR vaccine causes autism, was a medical doctor until the General Medical Council kicked him out for pretending the MMR vaccine causes autism. And speaking of vaccines, apparently most anti-vaxers are “college-educated white women making decent money”.

So stupidity doesn’t seem to be the problem.

Hypothesis 2 – It’s all the Internet’s fault

As I said at the beginning, we now have access to more knowledge than in the entire history of mankind, which is an amazing thing. Unfortunately, the same can be said for our access to an unlimited supply of boneheaded, asinine nuffery.

Have a slight inkling that a moon landing would have been quite difficult in 1960? Have a google and be amazed to discover that people with absolutely no idea what they’re talking about think it was faked. Think white people are superior in every way? Say hello to The Bell Curve, and be sure to not read any opposing views. Slightly worried that anthropomorphic climate change is real and potentially disastrous? Andrew Bolt will make you feel better. Have any kind of undeniably stupid opinion that you haven’t thought about and aren’t even remotely qualified to offer? Help is on its way!

At first glance, I thought this hypothesis had some merit. But when I thought about it, I realised that moon landing and holocaust deniers, white supremacists, and climate change sceptics all existed long before the internet.

So there must be something else.

Hypothesis 3 – Arrogance

Suppose you were a world-renowned heart surgeon, and you diagnosed a patient with acute aortic stenosis. What would you call it if they told you they had googled their symptoms in the waiting room and had decided it was gas?

Idiocy? False confidence? Hubris? Idiocy? Arrogance? Idiocy?

I don’t know because I’m not world-renowned a heart surgeon, but I’m sure you’d call them something. Karen, perhaps.

Anyway, the point is that this patient apparently thinks that their pretend research overrides the actual research and collective knowledge of the thousands of anatomists, scientists, doctors and heart surgeons whose combined knowledge has led to the conclusion that the acute aortic stenosis is definitely not just gas.

Yeah, I’d call that arrogance.

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So there you have it folks. For some reason unknown to most of us, certain people think that their limited understanding of a multitude of subjects overrides the collective knowledge of thousands of people past and present who have studied those things for a living.

And if that’s you, you really need to stop.

Or get your oblate spheroid examined.