The Good. The Bad. The Asinine.

Court 1: The Margaret Court Centre for Kids Who Can’t Write Letters Good and Want to Do Other Stuff Good Too Like Play Tennis

Say what you like about Margaret Court and her views on marriage equality, but dayum… girlfriend sure knows how to write a letter.

I know this because she wrote one and, like many of you, I read it. But unlike the rest of you Philistines, I didn’t merely recoil with horror at her tendentious mendacity, and berate her for the belligerent homophobia of her splenetic polemic. No! Because to me, her words were art. And, much like a painting by Andrew Bolt’s doodle, surely we can appreciate a great work of art, while distancing ourselves from the dïck that created it. What is to separate us from the beasts if we can’t? Oh, pants. Pants also separate us from the beasts. But you get my point – Splenetic Polemic would be a great band name. And also, Margaret Court’s letter was like a painting by Andrew Bolt’s doodle.

So that is why I waited a little while for things to settle down for Margaret, before rushing to enrol in The Margaret Court Centre for Kids Who Can’t Write Letters Good and Want to Do Other Stuff Good Too Like Play Tennis. And boy, am I glad I did. After attending the course last week, I can now say without a word of a lie that, not only is Margaret a great tennis player – oh hang on she’s probably not that good any more. I’ll start again. Not only is Margaret a great former sports entertainment person, but she’s a great teacher, too. And for those of us lucky enough to attend the course, she great teachered the cräp out of us. I now know how to write a letter just as amazing as Margaret’s, and my forehand has improved by at least 8%.

Now, Margaret wants to keep this knowledge a secret. She said that with a great forehand comes great responsibility, or something like that. But I think this knowledge deserves to be out there. I think we should all be able to write letters like this. Especially today, when there are so many letters to write, and so many social causes to champion. So, at great personal risk, I managed to smuggle out the Margaret Court Guide to Writing Letters Good, which walks you through the real-life letter mentioned above, and shows you how you too can write a letter just as amazing.

And at the risk of being sued, here it is:

See? I told you it was amazing. But as amazing as it most certainly is, what if such brilliance is beyond me? How can I possibly know whether I am worthy of receiving such wisdom? Well, I thought about it a long time, and I decided that the only way I will ever know is to write a letter myself. And so I did – to Virgin, who are also an airline, and who also support marriage equality. My letter is below, and Margaret, if you are reading, I hope I did you proud, and you find it a fitting tribute to the elegance and luminosity of your undeniable artistic ability.
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Dear Mr Board Person,

I write this as an open letter to the Virgin board as someone who works with spreadsheets a lot. Seriously, I have the best spreadsheets. Just fantastic.

As you will know, I can make a really funny noise with my ear, and I once ate a whole box of Barbecue Shapes for dinner.

Now, I’m not mad, but I’m disappointed that Virgin has decided to actively promote gender equality in the workplace. I believe that it is wrong to plough with a donkey and an ox yoked together, as stated in the bible.

I feel so strongly about this that I absolutely refuse to fly with you ever again. That is how important it is to me. But, on the other hand, I don’t like trains or buses, and I can’t fly Qantas, so I might have to fly with you sometimes. But I will give you all dirty looks.

How proud I was to promote Virgins throughout the world, from the Aircar SkyChariots to the Boeing 7-Elevens. I did this as I was absolutely quite certain that Virgins were a huge promoter of gender inequality, right up until your recent public statement.

I used to be a penguin, and will be pleased to attend your family Christmas dinner at any time. But it won’t be in March.

May the kisses of a thousand racehorses grace your birthday party.

Tim, B.BBQ Shapes, Somewhere in Scandinavia
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There. It is done. Thank you Margaret for your guidance, and may the kisses of a thousand racehorses grace your birthday party.

For the love of god, just be honest

And so, it would seem, the Safe Schools program has ended in NSW. For while our Victorian counterparts vowed to fund the program themselves after Federal funding ended, here in NSW the government is apparently Fred up with it, and has sent it sailing down the Nile.

But fear not! According to Education Minister Rob Stokes, it will be replaced with another program with a broader focus:

Bullying will never be tolerated in NSW public schools — whether it be because someone is overweight, gay, based on the colour of their skin or for any other reason.

Well that sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? School can be a horrendous experience for people who are a little different, and we should do whatever we can to eliminate the bullying elicited by such differences. And not just for LGBTIQ students, obviously. As the good minister says, children who are overweight or not white enough or who like golf are bullied, too. And if we’re serious about eliminating bullying from schools, we need to cover all these differences, right?

Well, yes, of course. But there’s a problem. Why is it that the loudest voices advocating for change are also the biggest bullies when it comes to the LGBTIQ community?
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You may have noticed lately that there are a few ostensibly contentious issues floating around. Now, I say ostensibly contentious because, really, they aren’t contentious at all. They are rendered contentious, however, by a typically small, but always influential, minority. The most contentious issue of recent times has been, to my mind anyway, the debate around Marriage Equality. But there are, and have been, a multitude of others. The debate around abortion rights, for example, never seems to go away, not to mention the sporadic agitations for euthanasia. Then there is the teaching of scripture in public schools, vaccinations, same-sex adoption and surrogacy, the gender pay gap, climate change, changes to the Racial Discrimination Act, corporate tax cuts, gun control, treatment of refugees, the decision to axe Renegade – and that’s just off the top of my head. The list, it seems lately, is endless.

Thinking about all these issues, and how we debate and decide on things as a society, I was struck by three thoughts:

  1. In most cases, the resistance appears to be geared towards maintaining the status quo;
  2. There is normally a single, core belief at the root of such resistance, which, paradoxically, is never mentioned;
  3. The decision to axe Renegade was the worst decision in the history of mankind. (You should all take a moment to watch the link before proceeding. You will thank me later.)

Thought #1 is not new, and has been observed by countless observers who observe things worthy of observation. Humans are nothing if not creatures of habit, and old habits die hard, with a vengeance, sometimes. Thought #3 is also fairly obvious. I mean come on, he was a cop and good at his job. Why would anyone axe a show like that? Thought #2, however, deserves some attention, if you can spare it.

Let’s look, for a moment, at Marriage Equality. While a large number of nations have embraced it with open arms, and have not yet descended into debaucherous anarchy, in Australia the resistance to change has been as fierce as it has been needlessly prolonged. Countless polls show public support has hovered around 70% for almost a decade, and yet still the opponents of change drone on and on with the same old tired arguments that were debunked on day one. Marriage has always been between a man and a woman, you see. So we can’t possibility change it now. And it’s all about the children. Don’t forget the children.

There’s a problem, however – these arguments fall apart at the smallest nudge with a logic stick. For starters, when you’re in a debate about changing the legal definition of something, you can’t just appeal to the current definition and pretend it’s an argument. Oh, and if you are going to stubbornly point to the legal definition, you can’t claim that marriage is all about children when your cherished definition doesn’t mention children at all. Silly, right? And yet here we are, in 2017, and same-sex couples still cannot marry.

The truth is that there is not a single, logical reason to deny marriage equality. Not one. And yet still people oppose it. Why is that? Why are people still opposed to euthanasia and abortion? Why do people still deny climate change, when there is such overwhelming evidence to the contrary?
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In the case of marriage equality, the reason should be obvious – the overwhelming majority of opponents are religious. A survey of some 40,000 Americans conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute found that, while around 55% of Americans were in favour of marriage equality, 91% of the people who oppose it identify as religious. This can’t be a coincidence. And if it’s not a coincidence, it means that the reason they are opposed to marriage equality is not because of some disingenuous claim like children do best with their biological mother and father. It’s because they view the existence of gay, interesex and trans* people as anything from slightly distasteful to morally reprehensible, depending on affiliation.

This is not, however, a slight on the religious in general. How could it be, when the same survey found that, for every four people who support marriage equality, three of them belong to a church of some kind. Clearly there are a lot of people who are able to either reconcile their decision with their faith, or set it aside for the sake of their LGBTIQ brothers and sisters (and everyone inbetween).

Likewise, this is not an attack on the right of people of faith to oppose marriage equality because of that faith. I don’t agree with it, but if that is their choice according to their conscience, then so be it.

What I do take issue with, however, is deception – if you’re going to deny LGBTIQ couples the right to marry, at least be honest about why.
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So how does all this relate to Safe Schools? Well, why don’t we have a look at what some of our favourite people have to say about it, shall we?

“Good that NSW is scrapping so called Safe Schools, a social engineering programme dressed up as anti-bullying,” said Tony Abbott.

Apparently Tony doesn’t like social engineering presented as something else. Which is interesting, given the $250m his government set aside to put trained chaplains counsellors in government schools.

The Australian Christian Lobby can always be relied upon to fulfill Jesus’ central mission of making life miserable for gay people 1, so let’s see what they have to say:

Make our schools safe for all students
The federally funded ‘Safe Schools’ initiative is supposed to be an anti-bullying program. [But] this radical program is being used to introduce children from primary school age up to sexual concepts that are not age appropriate.

Well they sound like legitimate concerns, don’t they? We must teach children that all bullying is wrong, and the material should be age appropriate. I wonder if Lyle Shelton, the head of the ACL, would change his mind about the program’s LGBTIQ content, if those concerns were addressed? What say you, Lyle?

Despite the rainbow carpet being rolled out in schools, gender theory is highly contested with leading feminists such as Germaine Greer scathing. Women and girls should feel safe in their toilets and change rooms from male-to-female transgender people who have not undergone a sex change, they rightly say. And there is no scientific evidence that anyone is “born gay” or that little boys and girls have been born in the wrong body and that surgery, hormones, tucking or binding are the solution.

Needless to say, your intellectual rigour is on shaky ground, if you’re resorting to “leading feminists such as Germaine Greer”. In any event, we’re getting closer to the crux of the matter – it seems like Lyle is not so much concerned with the program’s specificity or age-appropriateness, as he is with the existence of gay and transgender people themselves.

Even people like Fred Nile can’t seem to just come out and say what’s really on their mind:

Naturally, we are deeply concerned about the proliferation of such programs which are ideologically driven with the aim of recruiting children.

To nobody’s surprise, he is happy to follow Tony’s lead, and merrily support the ideological teaching of Scripture in NSW public schools with the aim of recruiting children. But that’s for another time.

Unfortunately, we need to stoop to Bill Muehlenberg to find out what all of the above people are thinking, but are too afraid to say (some LGBTIQ people may want to skip this one):

The war against reality, against biology, against who we are as human beings is getting out of hand. For those of a religious persuasion, it is a direct assault on our Creator and the way we were created. In the beginning God made us male and female. He did not make us with gender fluidity or with a smorgasbord of sexual expression and choices.

And there you have it. Thought #2 in a nutshell. People like Tony Abbott, Lyle Shelton, and Fred Nile exert an extraordinary amount of energy opposing social change. They have thrown up all manner of arguments against marriage equality, euthanasia, abortion and “Safe Schools”. But no matter how many of their concerns you assuage, no matter how many of their arguments you prove misplaced or wrong, their opposition will never waver. For neither Tony Abbott, nor Lyle Shelton, nor Captain Christian himself, Fred Nile, seem to ever mention the one thing – the only thing – on which their opposition is founded.

Their god 2.

Which, when you think about it, is simultaneously a little weird, and perfectly understandable. But also really annoying.

So, to Tony, Lyle, and Nile… I, for one, wish you would talk about your god. Don’t tell us it’s all about someone’s child, unless that child is Baby Jebus. For not only are you denying your own faith, much like Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane, and not only would it save us all a helluva lotta debate time, but it’s downright cowardly.

Bill Muehlenberg may be an ignorant buffoon, at least he’s honest.

– Tim
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Footnotes
1. I don’t think this was Jesus’ central mission, but the ACL seems to, judging by the focus of their media releases.
2. Or rather, their own personal interpretation of their god.

The real problem with “gender theory”

Remember when life was simple? When men were men, and women were women, and men loved women, and women loved men, but only after marriage, and then after marriage men were still men, and women were still women, but the women cooked and had sex with the man whenever he wanted? Ahh, those were the days… everyone just lived their lives according to the way I wanted. There were no gays, just straight-as-an-arrow legends like Rock Hudson, Peter Allen, and the dad from the Brady Bunch. And if anyone was gay, they had the decency to live miserably by internalising it so I wouldn’t get upset. It was a different time. People were thoughtful back then – because I made them think about me.

But my, how times change. Now everyone thinks they can be true to themselves. Oh, you’re a man, attracted to men? Sure, go ahead, do the bum sex! Never mind that it makes me feel icky. Or perhaps you’re a woman, who likes the boobies? Well muff-dive right in, the waters fine! Don’t even think about the fact that I don’t want to see lesbians on the street because I only like to watch fake lesbians on the internet in the comfort of my basement. It’s selfish, that’s what it is. Everyone thinks they can just be with the person they love. But what about what I love? I love people to conform to my ideals. Why can’t you just love who I want you to love? Why don’t I get a say? Doesn’t my view count anymore?
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And that, my friends, pretty much sums up every conservative’s objections to LGBTI rights. Since the dawn of humanity, apparently, something about gays and lesbians has made people uncomfortable, and you have all had to fight tooth and nail to gain what few rights you now enjoy. We have, of course, made some progress – but it’s clear that, as a society, we still have a long way to go.

The latest (public) battle in the LGBTI war, of course, is trans* rights. And while you and I know that each of the letters in the LGBTI acronym represents a distinct and diverse sub-set of queer-folk, to conservatives you’re all the same. To them, you’re all just people who refuse to accept their version of your reality.

The latest blow is the apparent banning of the teaching of “gender theory” in NSW schools. As ACL’s NSW State Director, Mark Makowiecki, said:

Parents will now no longer have to worry if their children are being taught harmful gender theory at school after the NSW Government today banned it.

The NSW government, you see, has apparently conducted a review of the teaching of “gender theory” in NSW schools. The review “was tasked with evaluating the scientific merit of the research underpinning the materials in question, [and] appears to have made a negative determination in relation to the validity of the research.”

Well, well, well. Interesting. Apparently the science is not as settled as the intellectual elites on the Left believe.

That will of course come as a shock to the scientists who actually study such things, but, happily, for the purpose of making people like Mark Makowiecki look like jerks, the scientific research doesn’t actually matter.

Yes, you heard right. I could sit here and list hundreds of studies and articles, and I could quote all kinds of social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals, in support of “gender theory”. But I don’t need to. Because people like Mark Makowiecki are quite happy to defeat their own argument without any science at all.

You heard what he said. “Parents will now no longer have to worry if their children are being taught harmful gender theory.” It’s harmful, apparently. But what makes it harmful? Why, people like Mark Makowiecki, of course. Isn’t that neat? People like Mark Makowiecki not only get to claim that “gender theory” is harmful, they also get to create the conditions that make it so. People like Mark Makowiecki get to demonise gender diverse and trans* folk to the point where 41% of them attempt suicide, but – it’s a miracle! – they also have the luxury of claiming that it’s harmful to be trans* or gender diverse. And then claim it’s science.

And that, my friends, is the real problem with “gender theory”. People like Mark Makowiecki will always be around to pull out one of the few studies that goes against the established scientific view, so he can place “gender theory” in inverted commas. But this is one issue in which I’m OK to say that the science doesn’t even matter.

You know what does matter? People.

You see, regardless of what the science says, people don’t tend to randomly choose lifestyles that bring about a lifetime of misery and collective scorn. But that’s what people like Mark Makowiecki apparently believe. “Gender theory” has to be a myth, right? People are just choosing to be like that for the fun of it, aren’t they? It’s trendy, or a fad, or a mental illness. And if we teach “gender theory” to our children then they’ll want to be like that too. Because people love living a life of internal conflict, public shame and discrimination. Right?

Funnily enough, no, they don’t.

What people want is to be themselves, and to live out their lives in a way that will ensure the best chance for their own happiness. What they don’t want is for people like Mark Makowiecki to deny their own reality, dictate who they should be, and place inverted commas around a “gender theory” which they know to be true.

Because everyone has the right to be who they are.

Even if “people” like Mark Makowiecki are too callous to admit it.

The Safe Schools Program Part 2, or, these are not the numbers you’re looking for

One of the earliest problems I encountered during my actuarial degree was being surrounded by nerds. Oh, and also, the Birthday Problem.

There are a few different ways to formulate the problem, but at the time, it was presented to us as:

If you’re at a party, how many people need to be there for there to be a 50% chance that two guests will have the same birthday?

The first answer that might spring to mind is that, since there are 365 days in a year (well, most years), you would need about half that many people to have a 50% chance of two people having the same birthday – so, around 182 people. That is wrong. By a lot.

The correct answer is actually 23. That’s right, you only need 23 people at a party to have a 50% chance that two of the guests have the same birthday. I won’t go through the calculation, because this post is boring enough already, but it basically comes down to combinatorics. Each time someone arrives at the party, there is a chance that they have the same birthday as someone already there. Thus, the second person who arrives has lots of alcohol to choose from, but also has only one other person to compare birthdays to. By the time the 10th person arrives, however, all the good alcohol is gone, and there are nine people who could have the same birthday. In short, the higher the number of people already there, the greater the chance that the next person who arrives won’t find a drink, but will find a matching birthday.

Keep this in mind for later.

Another interesting fact is that any party where this birthday-checking thing happens has a zero percent chance of being fun. I assume I don’t need to explain that one… suffice to say we all learned a valuable lesson at our first end of exams party.
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In my last post, we learned that over-stating the proportion of LGBTIQ people can make some people a little upset. The official Safe Schools Introductory Guide tells us that:

  • 10% of students are same-sex attracted;
  • 4% of students are gender diverse or trans; and
  • 1.7% of students are intersex.

Some people really hate that 10% figure. Like renowned statistical phenomenon Bill Meuhlenberg, who tells us that “the ten per cent figure has always been a big lie” and “homosexual activists have confirmed [it] to be a case of deliberate deception”. But why does it matter? Well, as Bill points out:

If the homosexual lobby is willing to use faulty statistics to support its cause, just how reliable is it in other areas?

Bill doesn’t provide an answer, but Murray Campbell has similar concerns about the proportion of intersex people. Apparently, “gauging accurate numbers for sexuality and gender is near impossible”. Even so, Safe Schools claims the proportion is around 1 in 60, while “the American Psychological Association suggests the figure to be about 1 in 1,500”. Ouch. Murray suggests that this is like “a political party taking 10 polls, publishing the one that is favourable and deleting the 9 which are less supportive”. The cynic in me says that a better analogy would be that it’s like ignoring countless free polls showing that 70% of Australians support marriage equality and asking to hold another poll that will give the same result but cost $160m and then ignoring that poll too. But the cynic in me also seems to be trying to derail my own post, so I’m going to ignore him.

In any event, Murray informs us that:

This kind of misrepresentation of facts and science straight away raises questions about the legitimacy of [the] program.

Indeed.

Keep this in mind for later, too.
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And by later I mean now.

Apparently, much like never seeing your parents having sex, getting the proportion right is not only near impossible, but also impossibly important. Because if those LGBTIQ people can’t even tell us how many of them there are, how can we trust them enough to believe anything they tell us? They could tell us that we need to, oh I don’t know, run an anti-LGBTIQ bullying program in schools, and we might end up spending millions of dollars saving fewer people from suicide than we thought we could. Let’s be honest, no one wants that.

But if we can’t trust the LGBTIQ community to give us the true state of affairs, who can we trust? Who can we turn to, to assess the legitimacy of the Safe Schools program? Happily, Bill and Murray, but definitely not Bill Murray, show us the way – if we can’t trust the people who don’t give us the true statistics, all we need to do is trust the people who do. You know, like the people who told Murray the proportion of intersex people.

The American Psychological Association.

Let’s ask them about the legitimacy of the Safe Schools program.

Tim: “Tell me, APA, do LGBTIQ people get bullied?”
APA: “Well, Tim, I’m glad you asked. Lesbian, gay and bisexual people encounter extensive prejudice, discrimination and violence because of their sexual orientation.”
Tim: “Trans people have it pretty easy though eh? Just look at Caitlin. She was in a magazine!”
APA: “No Tim, many transgender people are the targets of hate crimes. They are also the victims of subtle discrimination—which includes everything from glances or glares of disapproval or discomfort to invasive questions about their body parts.”
Tim: “So what you’re telling me is that LGBTIQ people are just a bit precious?”
APA: “No, Tim. The widespread prejudice, discrimination, and violence to which LGBTIQ people are often subjected are significant mental health concerns. Sexual prejudice, sexual orientation discrimination and antigay violence are major sources of stress. Although social support is crucial in coping with stress, antigay attitudes and discrimination may make it difficult for LGBTIQ people to find such support.”
Tim: “Yeah OK, but it’s all a mental disorder anyway, isn’t it?”
APA: “No, LGBTIQ orientations are not disorders. Research has found no inherent association between any of these sexual orientations and psychopathology. Both heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality.”
Tim: “All right, fine! But they make shït parents, and shouldn’t be allowed to have a family.”
APA: “Studies of personality, self-concept, and behavior problems show few differences between children of LGBTIQ parents and children of heterosexual parents.”

Damn you, APA, damn you to hell. I can still use your statistics on LGBTIQ incidence, though… right? Please?
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Turning to the proportions themselves, there are obviously a wide range of studies that show a wide range of values. Conveniently, people like Bill and Murray, but definitely not Bill Murray, only ever manage to stumble across the studies that confirm the view they already hold. Surprise, surprise, they also like to use measures that distort the picture to suit their needs. Statistics like “only 1% of people achieved orgasm with a member of the same sex in the last year”, or “only 0.002% of people named Sarah have müff-dived with someone named Nancy”.

I can do that, too. Manipulate statistics to suit my agenda I mean, not müff-dive with Nancy. For example, a quick look at Wikipedia will tell you that:

  • A 2011 survey of 7,725 Italians found that only 77% of people identified as heterosexual;
  • A similar study in Britain in 2009 found that 9% of people identified as non-heterosexual.
  • In an update to this study in 2015, only 72% of all adults identified as totally heterosexual.

Who to believe?

In terms of the Safe Schools program itself, however, there is one aspect of the debate on which people like Bill and Murray (and probably Bill Murray) are suspiciously silent. All the studies they quote attempt to determine the proportion of LGBTIQ people in society as a whole. A society in which the vast majority of people were raised to believe that being anything other than a gender-normative heterosexual was a very, very bad idea. A society in which people might be a little reluctant to admit their sexuality and gender identity to themselves, much less to a stranger conducting a telephone survey. A society in which each generation is a little more liberal than the last. And, returning to the 2015 study above, a society in which 72% of all adults identify as totally heterosexual, but when you look at the 18-24 age bracket, only 46% do.

Which is why Safe Schools based their 10% figure on a survey of Australian secondary students by La Trobe University.

All this leads us to two very obvious, and very important, observations:

  1. More and more young people are identifying as LGBTIQ; and
  2. There are still a shïtload of people out there who are going to hate them for it.

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The best part of all this talk of proportions is that it doesn’t even matter. I love it when that happens.

Because even if we accept the figures provided by people like Bill and Murray (but definitely not Bill Murray), it in no way invalidates the Safe Schools program.

If society is a party, and we are the guests, and instead of comparing birthdays, we compare our various levels of male- and femaleness, and hetero- and homosexuality, and acceptance and bigotry, there is an extraordinarily high probability that someone who is just trying to be themselves will encounter someone who wants to make them feel shït about it. And if that happens often enough, there is a very good chance that the person who is just trying to be themselves won’t want to be themselves anymore, and will think suicide is a good way to make that happen.

And it doesn’t matter if the proportion is 1 in 10, or 1 in 365. Given the number of people at the party, there’s a very good chance it will happen eventually.

I don’t know about you, but I think it’s a risk that’s just not worth taking.

The Safe Schools Program Part 1, or, Why Anglican ministers should study stats… stat

You may have heard recently that there has been a bit of a kerfuffle about the Safe Schools Program. For those who don’t know what that is, Google defines a kerfuffle as “a commotion or fuss, especially one caused by conflicting views”. Google also tells us that the Safe Schools Program is an initiative that aims to make life a little easier for LGBTIQ students in Australian schools. Or, in the words of the people who actually run the program, it seeks to provide:

a suite of free resources and support to equip staff and students with skills, practical ideas and greater confidence to lead positive change and be safe and inclusive for same sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse students, staff and families.

School can be a tough place, and never more so than for those who are a little different. School kids have an extraordinary gift for spotting someone who is a little different, and an almost supernatural talent for making them feel like absolute cräp for it. One country’s different is another country’s normal, but if you’re reading this and you’re Australian, you know who I’m talking about.

Rangas.

Also, anyone who isn’t thin, white, middle-class, or good at sports. But it’s not quite that simple. Sometimes, you even get bullied for being too good at sports. Mostly if that sport is golf. And, just to make things extra confusing, the reasons people are bullied can change over time. Terrence’s Shirley Bassey impersonation went down a treat in Kindergarten… in high school, not so much.

Haha, very funny. Right?

No. Not even a little bit.

Bullying is a scourge on our collective character, and a major, if not the biggest, contributor to youth depression and suicide. And today in Australia, one of the easiest ways to find yourself on the path to depression and suicide is to have the apparent misfortune of being gay, lesbian, transgender or intersex. The Suicide Prevention Resource Center analysed a number of studies on LGBTI suicide rates, and estimated that between 30% and 40% of LGBTIQ youth have attempted suicide. And a study by the US government found that LGBTIQ youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. Just stop and think about that for a second. Between 30% and 40%. Four times more likely.

This stuff doesn’t just happen in a vacuum. LGBTIQ kids aren’t just mopey little whiners who need a cement pill. They’re pretty much exactly like the rest of us, except for the fact that society loves to remind them that they’re not.

Once you understand all that, the Safe Schools Program starts to make a little bit of sense.

Well, unless your name is Cory Bernardi. Or David Ould. [EDIT: David Ould is approximately 100 times better than Cory Bernardi].
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Some of you may have seen the excellent 2014 SBS series called Living With the Enemy. If you didn’t see it, it was a six part series that explored “the fault lines of social cohesion in Australia”, with each episode exploring “a different topic dividing Australian opinion by asking people to live with others whose lifestyles and beliefs directly contradict their own”.

One such fault line was marriage equality, and one such person with a contradictory lifestyle was an Anglican minister by the name of David Ould. As part of the show, David was required to not only live with, and attend the wedding of, Michael and Gregory, but to also host them in his own home (or at least, in a caravan on his driveway). I was lucky enough to know Michael, and was at his house during filming, where I met David and spoke with him for some time. We ended up keeping in touch, and he was nice enough to ask me around to his house for dinner, where I met his delightful family, and we spent some time discussing marriage equality.

My friend Michael will probably not like me saying this, but I like David. I find him interesting, and easy to talk to, and I genuinely believe that his heart is in the right place.

But that doesn’t mean he has any idea about statistics.
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David has a blog, which is almost as good as this one, and in his latest post, he addresses the Safe Schools Program, or more specifically, whether or not it is justified, based on the number of LGBTIQ students in Australian schools. The Safe Schools coalition, it seems, has been lying about how many LGBTIQ students there actually are. Their website claims 10% of students are LGBTIQ. David Ould says otherwise, via a Baptist minster named Murray Campbell. Murray is happy to admit that determining the proportion of LGBTIQ people “is near impossible”, but nevertheless feels confident enough to tells us that, while

Safe Schools want us to believe that 10% of the population have same-sex attraction, most scientific studies put the figure under 4% (and that includes bisexual people), and other research suggests even lower.

Helpfully, David provides some stats of his own, sourced from a recent commercial from Medibank Private, which you can watch for yourself below.

David did some analysis, and concludes that Medibank is trying to tell us in a “subtle way” that “30% of households with children are same-sex households”. He bases that 30% figure on a number of observations:

  1. There were, on a rough count, 10 various households with children.
  2. Single-parent families, who make up about a quarter of Australian families with children, only got one clear representative in the video.
  3. Of the ten families three were clearly same-sex.

I have to say, it looks a little damning for Medibank. Based on those observations, it really does look like they are trying to tell us that 30% of households with children are same-sex households. That’s clearly not true, so it made me wonder what else they got wrong, and I did a little analysis of my own:
Medibank stats

Based on my analysis, there were two households with children that didn’t have any parents whatsoever. I can only conclude that Medibank is trying to claim that 22% of Australian children are currently living out their dream of starring in a real life Lord of the Flies.

One of the nine families with children had four children. That’s 11%, compared to only 5% of Australian families having four or more children. Medibank is trying to convince us that there are way more four child families than there actually are. I can’t believe they would do such a thing.

That’s not the worst of it though. The worst thing I found was that 100% of the children in baths were really happy. And we all know that can’t be true.

I like this style of analysis. I wonder if I can turn it around, and analyse David’s analysis?

David claimed that there were 10 households with children. I counted exactly nine. He did say it was a rough count though, so perhaps I can forgive him.

David also claimed that there was only one single parent family. There were actually three, which puts David out by 200%. Hmm.

Finally, David said that there were three same-sex families in the video. There were actually only two, which puts David’s figure out by 50%.

Based on these results, and applying David’s own analysis technique, I am free to conclude that 67% of anything David tells us is wrong. Very, very wrong.
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That’s probably not fair though, is it? I’ve based that off only one of David’s blog posts, and one is hardly ever a good sample size. In fact, pretty much the only time that a sample size of one has any kind of statistical significance is when you survey yourself to find out what you want for dinner. To get a better indication of the true state of affairs, you should probably take the largest sample size you can. Like, perhaps, every television commercial and print ad from the last 100 years.

LGBTIQ people have been living in the shadows for a long time, and have only recently started poking out their heads for some time in the sun. Unfortunately, some people in our society see a gay head poking out, and have a desperate need to smack it back down, like some giant, real-life game of wack-a-mole. Apparently, lots of people would rather pretend that LGBTIQ people don’t exist. Don’t believe me? Just look at some of the YouTube comments on the Medibank video:
Medibank YouTube comments

Is it any wonder that a program like Safe Schools is needed, and 30% to 40% of LGBTIQ people attempt suicide? Given how long LGBTIQ people have had to hide in shame, is it really that hard for us to see them in a frikken health insurance commercial?

Besides, isn’t the bigger concern the high number of children who live in families with no parents at all? Shouldn’t we check how they’re paying their mortgages? Can we send someone over to make them eat their vegetables?

Or maybe, just maybe, we could stop for moment, relax, and recognise that there are people out there who want to end their lives because our society has told them that being themselves isn’t good enough. And maybe there are a few things we could do to help. Like give them a little recognition, in a single, 30 second commercial, in amongst the millions of commercials that have completely ignored their existence. Because maybe, just maybe, that will give a few people a better chance at being happy.

I don’t think that’s a lot to ask.

Oh, is Ian Thorpe gay?

So Ian Thorpe is gay, and everyone seems to have an opinion. Well I have an opinion, too.

Ian Thorpe can do whatever the hell he likes.

He can stay in, or he can come out, and he can do it whenever and wherever he wants to. No one has the right to tell him he did it in the wrong way, or at the wrong time, or to the wrong people. No one. My opinion, then, is that I have no opinion, because I don’t have a right to one.

I do, however, have an opinion on everyone else’s opinions.

To the people who say he shouldn’t have come out at all – I will just say, as politely as I can, fück you.

To the people who say he should have come out sooner (that means you, Kerryn Phelps) – no, he shouldn’t have. Being a supremely gifted athlete doesn’t mean you suddenly have to let the rest of us make your decisions for you. He came out when he wanted to. That’s it.

You might also like to consider if a guilt-trip is the best thing for someone suffering from depression.

To the people who sarcastically say they didn’t see it coming (take a bow, Joe Hildebrand) – your lack of empathy and ability to stereotype is noted.

To the people who say they are sick of all the media attention this sort of thing generates – media companies aren’t manufacturing the market for these stories, they’re exploiting it. If you don’t think it should be a big deal, stop making it a big deal. Because it really isn’t.

To the people who Ian has inspired, to those that are now remembering their own internal struggle, and to Ian Thorpe himself, I say this – I am sorry you live in a society that obsesses over whether someone is gay or not.

Because it’s nobody’s business but yours.

Miranda Devine is a fücking idiot

Well, she is. But don’t worry – I’m not being Mirandaphobic, because “fücking idiot” doesn’t mean what you think it means.

You see, a few weeks ago, a rugby league player called one of his opponents a “fücking gay cünt”. The NRL then suspended him for lack of creativity homophobia. Miranda was outraged:

There was no problem with the players trying to punch each other. No problem with the foul language. No problem with the sexist c-word. But woe betide the player who ­offends the gods of homosexuality. Let’s get one thing straight. “Gay” no longer just means “homosexual”. The word has changed meaning over the last decade. Young people use “gay” to mean lame, or dumb or stupid, as in: “That’s so gay.”

I don’t know who the “god of homosexuality” is, but I think it might be Jesus, since he not only seems to be the one making all the gay people, but can rock a tunic and sandals like nobody’s business. In any case, it would seem that according to Miranda:

  1. Yes, “gay” does mean homosexual; but
  2. It also means “stupid”; so
  3. It’s not homophobic.
  4. P.S. Calling someone a “cünt” is sexist.

That’s all fine, but how does it make Miranda Devine a fücking idiot? Well, to make things easier for us, Miranda claimed that calling someone a “cünt” is sexist. And that allows us to say this:

  1. Yes, “cünt” does mean vagina; but
  2. It also means “fückwit”; so
  3. It’s not sexist.
  4. P.S. Calling someone “gay” is homophobic.

Ergo, Miranda Devine is a fücking idiot.

Now, at this point, you may be thinking that I’m being Mirandaphobic. But you’d be wrong. You see, dear reader, words can change their meaning over time. And since I started this post, “fücking idiot” no longer just means “a person of colossal stupidity” – it now also means “a person of Devine-like intelligence, capable of both making an argument and defeating it in the same paragraph”.

Which means I’m off the hook.

But she’s still a fücking idiot.

On political correctness

I hate “political correctness”. Even the name, “political correctness”, is politically correct. We should just call it what it actually is – lying.

You see, words are important. How could I write these words and how could you read these words if words didn’t exist? You couldn’t, because neither of us would know what words were, because words would be non-existent. And non-existent things don’t exist. So, yeah, it’s pretty good that words exist.

But while the existence of words is important, the meaning of the words is also important. Actually, the meaning could be even more important than the existence. But I haven’t thought about it a lot, so I’ll just say they’re equally important, and call it a tie. Not one of those ties that you wear around your neck, obviously, because that makes no sense. Maybe I’ll call it a draw instead. A draw is like a tie. But not one of the ones you wear around your neck, obviously. See what I mean? The meaning of words is important. Things can get very confusing if you’re not clear on the meanings of words. That’s why I always use the right words for things.

Why can’t people be like me, and just say what they mean? I just want to call a spade a spade, and so should you, unless you’ve named your spade “John”, in which case you may call it “John”, although I should tell you that “Doug” is a much better name for a shovel. But whatever. The way you people dance around the truth with your silly euphemisms is just ridiculous. I think it’s time we all started being a little bit more honest.

Like when I see a woman feeding her child in public, I say “Would you mind tït-feeding that human parasite someplace else?” Imagine the confusion if I said “breastfeeding”, or “baby”. She might have thought I was asking her to stop feeding chicken to the girl from Dirty Dancing, and then she’d be confused, and I’d still be grossed out by her selfish act of infant nourishment. That’s what we call a lose-lose situation. And I much prefer win-win situations. Or win-lose situations, where I’m the winner, and you’re the loser.

And for god’s sake, don’t say “vision-impaired”, “intellectually-challenged” or “executive assistant”. Just say “blind”, “spastic” or “secretary”. Because that’s what they are. Likewise, don’t tell your wife you want to “make love”. Love isn’t made of anything, so it’s impossible to make it. Fücking isn’t impossible though, so do that instead. And don’t tell your colleagues you’re “going to the bathroom”. Not only is there almost certainly no bath at your work, but everyone knows what you’re really saying, so you might as well just say it: “I’m going to the shïtter to play Angry Turds.” Don’t say “I’m sorry for the loss of your mother”. They haven’t lost her, she’s inside that coffin over there, with a scarf covering her tracheotomy, slowly decomposing. Don’t ask your seven-year old daughter “Is it itchy down there?” Just tell her to stop scratching her cünt. Don’t say “gender-neutral”. Say “freak”. Don’t say “African-American”, “Japanese” or “Jew”. Say “nigger”, “nip” or “kyke”. And FFS, don’t say “gay”. Gay means happy. And yes, they all usually look quite happy. I can be happy too, but I’m not a faggot.

And if you happen to be at a funeral for a vision-impaired, intellectually-challenged, transgender, homosexual African-American executive assistant who died from smoking-induced lung cancer, and you get the urge to make love to yourself in the bathroom, just be honest and say “Well I guess that blind spastic freakish gay nigger secretary got what it deserved. I’m going to go fück myself in the pïsser.”

Sure, you might upset a few of the funeral-goers, but that’s their problem. You’re just telling the truth, and protecting your right to free speech.

And as an added bonus, I’m sure they’ll be happy to tell you to go fück yourself.

Children Need a Mother and a Father – The Sequel

Same-sex marriage is a bad, bad thing, because children need a mother and a father. We’ve all heard the argument, and we all know it’s stupid. Or at least, we should.

As I’ve pointed out before:

  • Same-sex marriage and same-sex parenting are two completely separate issues; and
  • Even if we accept that the two issues are inextricably linked, if you’re going to start preventing people becoming parents there are plenty of better places to start; and
  • The whole argument crumbles when you look at how the children of same-sex couples actually fare against their heterosexual equivalents.

How anyone can still persist with the “won’t someone think of the children?!” hysteria is beyond me – and yet there are plenty of people who do. If you happen to be one of those people, and you’ve somehow contrived to find my arguments above unconvincing, perhaps you should consider this.

According to your logic, the introduction of same-sex marriage will lead to this:

With Marriage Equality

But if you manage to prevent same-sex marriage, and maintain your bigotry and stereotyping, things will continue to look like this:

Without Marriage Equality

Well that’s interesting. It looks like those poor little babies have been replaced with Harleys and pink poodles. But that’s OK, because they really needed a mother and a father.

Although, when you think about it, a bit of existence would also come in handy.

Mark Rabich. Mark Rabich, Mark Rabich, Mark Rabich, Mark Rabich, Mark Rabich, Mark Rabich. Mark Rabich!

For those that have repressed the memory, I introduced Bill Muehlenberg’s blog to you last year. Since then, I have read pretty much every post. And the more I read, the more I realise that Bill’s thoughts are not only an endless source of self-affirmation, but also wildly amusing. Even funnier than Bill, however, are the kindred simpletons who agree with him, and come to his blog to tell him he’s fighting the good fight, feed his rather significant persecution complex, and scratch his impressively undeserved ego. And his beard, probably, which is also impressive.

And so it came to pass, that when the NSW Greens proposed a motion highlighting the dangers of so-called reparative therapy, and NSW Labor spoke out against the expulsion of gay students from ostensibly Christian schools, Bill became outraged, and wrote a post about how the banning of so-called reparative therapy and the expulsion of gay students from ostensibly Christian schools is something the Nazis would do (see I told you he was funny!). And a reader named Mark Rabich stepped forward to dazzle us all with his wisdom. And by that I mean he asked a whole bunch of poorly-considered questions for people like me, that he hasn’t thought through, and doesn’t want the answers to anyway. Well, Mark Rabich, Ima answer them for you anyway.
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What evidence is there that people are ‘born homosexual’ as you claim? Surely your thinking needs significant scientific evidence to back it up?
No one is born homosexual, Mark Rabich. People are born as babies. And just as babies can’t be Christians, Republicans, neo-Ricardians, generous, arseholes, or good at sports, they also can’t be gay. Because they’re babies.

Now yes, it’s true, some of those babies go on to become homosexual, or Republicans, or arseholes. And sometimes even homosexual Republican arseholes. The reasons for any of these outcomes aren’t exactly known, because they all involve the complex interaction between genetics, hormones and a myriad of environmental factors. The one thing we do know is that homosexuals aren’t just faking it to piss off the rest of us. They really, really, really are attracted to the same sex.

You would know this if you spent two minutes on Google.

After all, everybody has a mother and father, so the fundamental assumption of your thinking goes against the life experience of 100% of people on the planet, including yourself. How do you justify this disregard for straightforward facts about human sexuality?
This really is an intriguingly nuanced argument, Mark Rabich. I’m very impressed. If everyone on the planet is the product of a heterosexual union, then obviously that must mean that everyone is heterosexual. And a happy corollary is that everyone on the planet must also be fertile. Which is of course true. Right? Yaaaaaay!

You are the one with the completely unscientific viewpoint, aren’t you?
No, Mark Rabich. That would be the one who believes that a 900-year-old man built an oceanic zoo. (that’s you.)

What does this word “homophobic” mean?
I feel a little embarrassed pointing this out, Mark Rabich, but we now have these big books called dictionaries. And dictionaries allow you to– actually never mind. I don’t want to confuse you. Homophobia is a fear of or contempt for lesbians and gay men, or behavior based on such a feeling.

Phobias are generally debilitating and life-impacting fears of various ordinary things in life (flying in planes, enclosed spaces, dogs, etc.) and need professional expertise to diagnose and deal with. Are you a medical expert? Are you a psychological expert?
Oh, Mark Rabich, this makes me very happy. I couldn’t agree more. Homosexuality is indeed fairly ordinary, and a fear of homosexuals can be quite life-impacting (especially for the homosexuals), and chronic homophobia probably would be dealt with best by a psychiatrist.

But to answer your question, no, I am not a medical professional. I mean sure, I’ve watched a lot of House and Grey’s Anatomy, but, let’s be honest – if anyone came in with undiagnosed homophobia, House would have it figured out before the first ad break, and given he normally needs 43 minutes to diagnose whatever weird medical condition the writers googled that week, the rest of the episode would be kind of boring. As for Grey’s Anatomy, it’s been pretty light on medicine since Katherine Heigel left to throw herself at every rom-com she could find. OK, maybe… maybe if I’d watched E.R., I could say I was a medical professional, but I didn’t, and I can’t be bothered downloading it now. So I guess I’ll just have to listen to the real doctors like everyone else.

I am glad, however, that you are as eager as I am to defer to the experts on these kinds of issues. It will come in handy later.

Isn’t this worthless word ‘homophobia’ simply an invented word?
Why yes, Mark Rabich. Like every other word on the planet, ‘homophobia’ is indeed an invented word.

Isn’t the usage of this word purely a political tool to stir up hatred against people who are merely stating simple facts about human biology that the two sexes are complementary and compatible to each other?
No, Mark Rabich, it’s a very useful word that accurately describes the motivation for one particular type of discrimination. But we can call you a dickhead if you prefer.

Why are you stirring up hatred against others? What place is there in Australia for the kind of collective bigotry you are whipping up? Anybody who has a different concept of homosexuality than you, you wish to outlaw!
Firstly, Mark Rabich, no one’s trying to outlaw people, because that makes no sense. We would, however, like to do everything we can to protect the vulnerable from persecution. And in this case, the vulnerable are homosexuals, and the persecution is coming from homophobic bigots like yourself. See, this is where it would be really great if you knew how to use a dictionary, because you’d soon find out that the bigot is the one doing the persecuting, not the one trying to stop it.

I’m tempted to compare you to Hitler, sitting in his Berlin bunker about to commit suicide, asking “Why is everyone picking on me?”. But I won’t do that, because it’s a little early for Godwin, don’t you think?

Are you Nazis? Are you brownshirts? Are you the new gestapo?
Dammit! You beat me to it.

Once again, Mark Rabich, I feel a little embarrassed pointing this out, because it’s something pretty much everyone knows, but, um, the Nazis kind of hated gay people. They definitely would have sanctioned the expulsion of gay school students, if anyone was brave enough to come out at a Nazi school, that is. And sure, they may have banned reparative therapy, but only because therapists are a lot more expensive than bullets.

Calling a gay person a Nazi makes as much sense as calling a Jewish person a Nazi. Actually, why don’t you wander on over to Tel Aviv and do that? Let me know how you get on.

Why are you demonising people who simply think differently to you? You don’t really champion ‘diversity’ do you? You just use the word ‘homophobic’ to force people to think the same as you, don’t you? You’re just bullies, aren’t you?
This is the thing, Mark Rabich. If all you did was think differently to us, that would be fine. I have no problem with you sitting by yourself at home, thinking about how much you hate gays, and imagining all the vile sex things they do to each other, over and over and over again. But you’re not content to just think about how much you hate gay people, are you? You’re on a mission to make them miserable. And it’s getting a little tiresome.

So no, Mark Rabich, I don’t use the word ‘homophobic’ to try and force you to think like me. Not only is changing the way you think predicated on your ability to think in the first place, but, as I said above, I really don’t care about you think. I care about what you do.

What difference does it make to you if someone decides they want to change their own life? How does it affect you? How does it influence your life even the slightest?
These are very good questions, Mark Rabich. Write them down, so you can re-read them when one of your children comes out as gay, or wants to become an atheist. Also write down the word “IRONY”, in large capital letters. You won’t know what it means, but it will make me giggle.

If you disagree with the work of some people, you don’t need to see someone who engages in this kind of work, do you? So why does it concern you?
Tell me, Mark Rabich… how do you feel about gay prostitutes? Write that word “IRONY” down a few more times.

Australians generally value freedom – why do you think people should not have the right to make their own decisions and employ someone to help them with those decisions? Do people not have the right to run their own lives? Why do you want to shut down freedom?
OK, Mark Rabich, cross out “IRONY”, and write down “BONE HEAD” instead. According to your professed creed, no, people do not have the right to run their own lives. If they did, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, because homosexuality wouldn’t bother you.

Many people – with numbers into the thousands – have in fact changed their life in a way that you claim is “harmful and unscientific”. How can your claim be true when these people actually exist?
Just to clarify, Mark Rabich, are you suggesting that because thousands of people have been harmed by an unscientific theory, then the theory can’t possibly be harmful or unscientific? That’s an interesting way to look at things, Mark, but I know how much you like to consult the experts on these kind of things, so I just have to ask, are you a medical professional? Are you a psychology professional? Oh, you’re not… well that’s disappointing. You know who is though? The American Medical Association, and the American Psychological Association.

How do you like your experts now?

Do you realise you are claiming these people are liars – either about their lives before, or their lives now? Why do you think these people are liars?
Actually, Mark Rabich, it is you who claim they are liars. After all, you’re the one who insists that everyone on the planet is heterosexual, that no one is “born gay”, and that same-sex attraction is either a choice or a mental illness, depending on your mood. So anyone who claims they’re gay must be faking it, right?
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To my readers – I hope you enjoyed this brief foray into the deranged, obliviously ironic thinking of a homophobe.

And to Mark Rabich, if you ever happen to stumble across this post, I invite – nay, beg – you to comment. I’m always up for a giggle.