The Good. The Bad. The Asinine.

That’s IT!

OK, I’ve finally had enough of the same-sex marriage “debate”. It’s not a debate. A debate is what occurs when an inconclusive proposition is put forward for rational discussion. But nothing about this debate is inconclusive. And only one side is discussing it rationally (that’s the affirmative, in case you’re wondering).

It’s time to beat this “debate” into submission. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be ripping the “arguments” against same-sex marriage apart.

Starting with this one.

So what’s the lesson here?

Now, I’m not an expert, but I think the lesson is that a relationship suffering from a full-on bout of gayness is grosser than one with a mild case of incest.

Or, maybe it’s that it’s better to have an aunt for a mother-in-law than a dad for a mother.

On the other hand, the lesson could be that the slippery slope actually runs backwards, i.e., we don’t want to allow same-sex marriage because it might lead to people not being able to marry their relatives.

Or maybe it’s just an accident of history that is crying out for correction.

It’s the trees, stupid

You may have missed it, but Australian Christian Lobby’s Jim Wallace was given an opportunity to parade his incoherent buffoonery on Sunrise earlier this week. The bad news is that his microphone was working, but the good news is that I managed to obtain the full transcript of exclusive, behind the scenes footage not shown on television!

So here it is…
_____

Jim:
So what should I say today? I don’t know why, but I’m thinking I should try and throw something in about trees.

Jim’s media adviser:
Two words for you, Jim – word salad.

Jim:
Salad’s for pooftas!

Adviser:
Yes, yes, but don’t use that word.

Jim:
There’s another word for salad?

Adviser:
Probably – but it’s too late to start learning new words. You know you can’t learn anything after 7am.

Jim:
Learning’s for pooftas!

Adviser:
Quite. Anyway, remember when you were just a humble speechwriter for Miss Carolina Teen USA?

Jim:
Ah, those were word salad days… some of my best stuff. “I believe that our education like such as in South Africa and the Iraq everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should, our education over HERE in the U.S. should help the U.S. or should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future, for our children”. Haha, gold.

Adviser:
Exactly. So just substitute “the Iraq” for “marriage” and “maps” for “Jesus” and you’ll be fine. Oh, and try not to come across as a dick this time.

Jim:
Dicks are for pooftas!

Kochie:
What was that, Jim?

Jim:
Nothing, Kochie, nothing! Let’s do this, shall we?

[Now follows the bit that was actually shown on TV…]

Kochie:
So, Jim, why is the church so against same sex marriage?

Jim:
Well, ah, Kochie, the reality is that, ah, the scriptures are very clear about the fact that, ah, Jesus and ah, you know, when people become a Christian it’s an individual and a personal experience but from that point on we try to live more like Jesus would want us to, and certainly in the scriptures it’s very clear that, ah, he wouldn’t have ordained homosexual marriage. Now, the reason though is couched, ah, in the natural and that is that, ah, whether you believe that god created nature or whether you believe that there was nothing at all exploded and then there was everything the reality is that in this issue that it still takes the involvement of a man and a woman to create a child and therefore we have nature prescribing that a man and a woman, ah, should be involved in the creation of a child and should be involved in the nurturing of that child as it’s natural order and I find it absolutely amazing that at a time in our history when we’re jumping through hoops to try to make sure that every tree on the planet, ah, has its natural environment so it can flourish that we would be challenging the definition of marriage which creates exactly that environment for a child requiring that it’s between a man and a woman and that they should live to the exclusion of all others and for as long as they both shall live.

[Rest of interview]

[Off air]

Jim:
Man, that Dr Phelps chick is stupid. She couldn’t even respond to my trees argument!

Adviser:
Yeah, what was that argument again?

Jim:
Trees, silly! Treeees.

Adviser:
Brilliant.

Jim:
Brilliance is for pooftas! Wait… scratch that one.

And that’s what it’s all about

Every now and then, a single event manages to capture everything this blog is about. Today’s National Marriage Day Rally was one such event. Let’s start with the good news.

The Good
A Galaxy poll, released today, showed that not every religious person is an irrational homophobe. In fact:

53% of Australians who identify as Christians support same-sex marriage, while 41% oppose.

Not too shabby at all!

Even more encouraging are these words from actual priests:

  • Today in Australia we all live in a secular non discriminatory society. Churches and other spiritual institutions exist within this society. It seems to me that in a secular and non discriminatory society gay couples should be as free to marry as any other human couple. If people wish to be married within a religious or spiritual institution’s framework then they should accept the rites and rules of that institution. However it is the state that legitimises all marriages.
    – Rev Bill Crews (Uniting Church Minister, Sydney)
  • How can I, a heterosexual who’s been very happily married for 50 years, tell anyone else they don’t have the right to form a loving, committed, lifelong union and enjoy the fruits of marriage as I have done? Marriage is not a club to be restricted to some. Like the Gospel, it is a blessing to be shared.
    – Rev Rowland Croucher (Baptist Minister, Sydney)
  • When a couple want to be part of the institution of marriage, when they fully accept the same rights and responsibilities of marriage and treat marriage with the respect it deserves, why should they NOT get married? As a Christian minister, I believe that marriage is under threat from many angles, but also believe that recognizing same-sex unions will help return marriage to its rightful place in society.”
    – Rev Matt Glover (Baptist Minister, Melbourne)
  • Access to marriage, a public expression of commitment and love, is an essential part of being human and an inalienable right. As Christians we need to support those who are excluded and challenge those who through exclusion dehumanise and discriminate. I urge you to join the campaign to welcome our GLBT friends to express their love and commitment to each other through this special rite.
    – Rev Roger Munson (Uniting Church Minister, Canberra)
  • From a Christian point of view, marriage is an institution designed to serve two social needs:
    1. contribute broadly to social stability
    2. provide a stable environment for the nurturing of children.
    If this is the case then the only questions Christians need to concern themselves with when it comes to the issue of gay marriage are these two:
    1. Would gay marriage lead to greater social stability?
    2. Would a married gay partnership be likely to provide a more secure environment for the nurturing of the children of a gay couple than an unmarried one?
    I think the answer to both these questions has to be ‘yes’.
    – Fr Dave Smith, (Anglican parish priest, Sydney)

Awesome.

And, of course, there must be some Christians in the Greens. And the Greens are all over it.

The Bad
Unfortunately, however, it’s not all preachers and Greens. Over at the National Marriage Day rally:

  • Bob Katter was on hand to lend his trademark air of dignity to the occasion, and remind us that “Gay is one of the most beautiful words…no-one should have the right to take that word off us”. Apparently the word is much more beautiful than his hat, which he did take off himself, and then auction. Some cashed-up moron bought it for $2,700. Way to contribute, Bob.
  • Bob’s partner in whine, Barnaby Joyce, helpfully informed us that “If someone wanted to introduce legislation calling ‘camels’ ‘horses’ that would be equally as ridiculous”, apparently unaware that his mate Bob has already drafted an act to that effect.
  • Finally, visiting American Rebecca Hagelin threw in the usual crap about same-sex marriage forging an unstoppable path to incest and paedophilia.

Which brings us to…

The Asinine
And wouldn’t you know it, it was the Australian Christian Lobby who delivered, yet again:

The Australian Christian Lobby dismissed as absurd that the majority of Christians would approve of same-sex marriage as indicated by a Galaxy poll today and trumpeted by the Greens.

“Certainly my work with Evangelical, Catholic and Orthodox churches leaves me in no doubt that the great majority of their adherents don’t support same-sex marriage,” said Mr Wallace, the Lobby’s Managing Director.

Apparently Galaxy could have saved a lot of money by just asking Jim what the average Christian thinks.

Still, at least he seems to recognise that church attendance is a better measure of the nation’s religiosity than the box you ticked on the Census:

“I think a simple additional question on the poll that determined if the person actually attended a church might have made the result more informative,” he said.

Sure it would have, Jim. If only regular churchgoers were counted as Christian, then maybe Galaxy would be saying that only 5% of Christians support same-sex marriage. Unfortunately for you, however, it would also mean that only 8.8% of Australia is Christian.

Your call, Jim.

Calling all bigots!

What
The National Marriage Day Rally! Prudely brought to you by the Australian Family Association, the Dads 4 Kids Fatherhood Foundation, the National Marriage Coalition and, surprise, surprise, the Australian Christian Lobby.

And don’t forget to buy a ruby and gold National Marriage Day Rosette – they’re the coolest!

When
Tuesday, 16 August 2011, 10am – 12pm, when all the non-bigots are at work. Rosettes for sale all day long.

Where
The Great Hall, Parliament House, Canberra. And afterwards at St Timonius (think about it), for some dry biscuits and white wine spritzers. Cardigan swap starts at 2pm, and socks and sandals get in free! Please buy a rosette… we really over-estimated the average bigot’s demand for meaningless paraphernalia.

Who
You, silly! And anyone else who thinks that our kind of love is the best. The best I tell you! Just like our rosettes. Which you should buy.

How

  1. Drive your horse and buggy, donkey, or church minibus to the ACT;
  2. Make a quick stop in Fyshwick to stock up for our “Bungas for Bummers” campaign;
  3. Head to Parliament House and pay our very reasonable $30 registration fee; and
  4. Buy a fucking rosette.

Why
To stop people who we’ve never met from exercising a relationship choice that doesn’t adversely affect us in any way whatsoever, by pretending to defend the definition of marriage that we’ve had since time began (in a universe where time began in 2004), namely:

    “A union between one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life”.

Don’t worry about the whole “exclusion of all others” and “entered into for life” nonsense. Your right to cheat and get divorced will remain intact!

What to bring

  1. Your bible.
  2. A cardigan.
  3. An unjustified feeling of moral superiority and righteous indignation.
  4. Enough money for 15 rosettes.
  5. A pitchfork.
  6. A keen sense of fun!

What NOT to bring

  1. Your brain.
  2. The gay friend-of-a-friend you’re thinking of when you tell a non-bigot that some of your best friends are gay.

See you there!

Slippery slopes, Anglican-style

Ah, the slippery slope. It’s the argument you make when you haven’t got one; where idiocy makes its final stand; the wild, desperate haymaker of an arm-less boxer. And the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, positively loves them.

I mean, with a slippery slope argument, he can simply bypass all the normal rules of logic, evidence, and common sense, and jump straight to this:

This claim for [same-sex marriage] could open the way for other forms, such as polygamous marriages or perhaps even marriage between immediate family members.

Riiiight. Cos I’m just waiting for Bob and Gary to get hitched so I can run off and have a crack at mum.

But why stop there, Peter? With a bit of lateral thinking, you could really shake things up:

  • Ever since women got the vote, the world’s dogs have wanted it too. It’s certainly all my dog ever wants to talk about (well what did you think “woof” means?). I reckon we scrap women’s voting before cats, budgies and trees start asking for it as well.
  • Why do we allow organ donation? Yeah sure, you can only do it after someone’s dead now, but once you allow that, surely it’s just a matter of time before people start ripping kidneys out of the distracted pensioners at Thursday night bingo.
  • And what about that thing that I don’t like due to my own personal prejudices, with an astonishingly tenuous link to something that is understandably abhorrent? What are you going to do about that?

I’m sure you’ll think of something. But whatever you do, don’t use rational argument. It’s unbecoming for a man in your position.

Sometimes, democracy sucks

One of the most admirable aspects of democracy is that anyone can be elected to office. Unfortunately, democracy also possesses an almost fatal flaw – anyone can be elected to office. Step forward, Geoff Shaw and Catch the Fire Ministries.

Geoff Shaw

Geoff was elected to the Victorian lower house in 2010, as the Liberal candidate for Frankston. According to his Wikipedia page, he has a degree in Business Accounting and, before being elected, ran his own financial planning business. So far, so good.

Geoff is also an active member of the Peninsula City Church, a Pentecostal church on the Mornington Peninsula. According to their website, they “provide a place where every person is valued, regardless of their journey in life, and where each person can find a place to belong”. Well that sounds just lovely!

Then, in his maiden speech to parliament, he said that he wanted to acknowledge “the original owner of the land on which we stand”. Wow… he wanted to publicly acknowledge the Aborigines as the original owners of the land? Geoff is quite the progressive! Well, he would be, if he didn’t claim that the original owner was “God, the Creator, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of the Bible”. You might question the appropriateness of this statement in a secular parliament, but I’d be more interested in asking Geoff this: If God is only the “original” owner, who owns it now? Is it me? That would be cool.

Anyway, what little street cred Geoff had from belonging to a church that “[provides] a place where every person is valued, regardless of their journey in life” was utterly destroyed in early May, when he laid his cards on the altar for all to see. One of Geoff’s constituents, a young man named Jakob, wrote to him to express his disappointment in the Victorian government’s new, inaccurately-named anti-discrimination legislation:

I’m 20 in a week. I’m able to vote. I want to work, live and love freely during the course of my life, and I want to do that without thinking that I can’t.

That sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? Well, according to Geoff, if you’re gay like Jakob, it’s not reasonable at all:

What if I loved driving 150kms per hour in residential areas? What if there was a convicted sex offender who stated that, or a child molester? Can they still do what they want? Under your statement the answer is yes. What if one wanted to get drunk, take drugs, steal and murder? What if one loved this? Can they also do what they want without thinking that they can’t?

Equating a consensual love between two adults that, with the right amount of lube, hurts no one, with the extremely harmful crimes of pedophilia, drug-taking, theft and murder is exactly the kind of logic we need in our elected representatives. Presumably, since Geoff was courageous enough to proclaim the equivalence, he will now be doing everything he can to ensure homosexuality is just as illegal as pedophilia and murder. At least the parliamentary debate will be entertaining. You see, as a Pentecostal, Geoff can speak in tongues… you know, like this.

Catch the Fire Ministries

These are the kind-hearted people who blamed the devastating Victorian bushfires, in which 173 lives were lost, on Victoria’s abortion laws. They also blamed the Brisbane floods on Kevin Rudd or obesity or something.

For their next foray into the world of prejudicial idiocy, they’re forming a political party. Yippee!

Their policies are rather interesting. See if you can pick the pattern:

  • Establish full employment ▪ Reduce the cost of living
  • Maintain freedom of religion ▪ Reaffirm our Judeo-Christian heritage
  • No religion to be forced on anyone ▪ Schools to have faith-based chaplains
  • Maintain the family unit ▪ Give parents the right to discipline their children
  • Immigrants are free to celebrate their own backgrounds ▪ People who live in Australia should become Australian
  • Aborigines were the original owners of the land ▪ Aborigines should thank us for everything we’ve done for them
  • Free chickens for all ▪ Chickens to cost one million dollars each

OK, that last one was made up, but you get the idea. And that’s not all they’re doing. They’re not afraid to tackle the big issues:

13. Protect children from homosexuality as it creates health problems.
15. We advocate no Centrelink benefits for polygamists.
19. All elected Members of Parliament for RUA Party are encouraged to donate a percentage of their salary to the poor and the needy.

They at least seem to have caught the fire of originality. But given that their slogan is “To reach people from all walks of life into the Kingdom of God”, they should perhaps Catch the Grammar instead.

A chaplain is the last thing they need

There are many things wrong with the National School Chaplaincy Program (NSCP), but I find one issue in particular extremely troubling – what advice would a chaplain give to a teenager who is confused about their sexuality?

The issue was raised late last week by Labor Senator Gavin Marshall, but was also discussed earlier in the week on the letters page of the Sydney Morning Herald.

An article in Saturday’s Herald regarding the NSCP in general, and an imminent High Court challenge to its consitutional legitimancy in particular, resulted in this letter to the editor from Col:

Many parents would be happy to see more resources devoted to issues such as stress management, anger management, grief management and emotional support in general, but do not understand why a religious background is a prerequisite for the providers of that support.

Hard to argue with that… but Barbara thought she’d have a go anyway:

Jesus’s preaching was for a society in which all people, regardless of race, creed or age, loved and respected each other; were non-judgmental, sharing and caring. Those who have committed their lives to these principles are ideally suited to provide the services under the job description of school chaplain. It seems the difficulty [Col] … has in understanding why a religious background is the prerequisite for this role is more a lack of acceptance of the concept of unconditional love.

Barbara’s letter required several readings, mostly just to ensure it really was irony-free, but also to figure out which of her bone-headed platitudes to attack first. In the end, I settled on this (which, happily, was also published):

Conspicuously absent from [Barbara’s] umbrella of non-judgment is sexual orientation. I shudder to think how the Christian version of “unconditional” love will be employed by a chaplain confronted with a confused and anxious homosexual teenager.

To wit:

  • Suicide is the leading cause of death for 15-19 year olds, accounting for 20% and 13% of all deaths for males and females respectively (Source).
  • In a 1997 survey, nearly 30% of same-sex attracted youth reported that they had experienced abuse as a result of their sexuality, with nearly 70% experiencing the abuse at school (Source).
  • Another survey showed that young gay men are two to three times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers (Source).
  • Over 98% of school chaplains in Australia are Christians (Source).
  • Christians think homosexuality is wrong, in accordance with the divinely-inspired word of god (Source 1, Source 2, Source 3, Source 4), Wikipedia, and this apocalyptic old bigot.

The dangers of having this type of “unconditional” love let loose on vulnerable, confused teenagers should be obvious. Or, perhaps not, if Robin’s letter (which appeared the next day) is anything to go by:

It’s obvious [Barbara] means well but, apart from the fact that being a non-judgmental, caring person is not solely the province of committed Christians, is the concept of non-conditional love the best starting point for constructively helping troubled students?

Well, no, Robin, that would be a psychology degree.

What goes up, must come down (and then go back up again)

So, what do you do if you see an ad promoting safe sex? Not much, you say? OK then, what if the safe sex being promoted is a bit icky?

Well, if you’re Wendy Francis from the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), and the ickiness is in the form of consensual, adult man-love, you instigate a co-ordinated campaign to pressure the ad company into pulling the ads from public display. And then you lie about it.

You may remember Wendy as the Family First candidate who, in August 2010, tweeted this:

Children in homosexual relationships are subject to emotional abuse. Legitimising gay marriage is like legalising child abuse.

Yikes.

Anyway, you can probably now imagine her horror when she stumbled across this bus shelter ad.

Wow… they’re practically rimming.

John and Jane Average, overwhelmed by a moral outrage appropriate for such public fornication, clutched their pearls, grabbed their smelling salts, and proceeded to overwhelm Adshel with complaints. There were whispers of involvement by the ACL, but that rumour was quashed, first by Wendy, and then by Adshel:

All complaints were made by individual members of the public; none were identified as stemming from the Australian Christian Lobby.

Well, except for all the ones that did. You see, later in the day, Wendy admitted that the complaints had been co-ordinated by the ACL. I guess lying is all in a day’s work, if that work is the Lord’s.

Wendy’s admission, coupled with a lightning-fast social networking backlash, prompted an abrupt about-face from Adshel:

Following ACL Queensland director Wendy Francis’ acknowledgement that the complaints received by Adshel, Brisbane City Council and the Advertising Standards Bureau regarding QAHC’s campaign have been orchestrated by the Australian Christian Lobby, Adshel is reinstating the ‘Rip and Roll’ campaign.

That’s great, but there are a few troubling aspects of this whole saga:

1 – The ability to whinge is not an argument
The decision to withdraw the ads (and the subsequent reinstatement) should always have been based on the merits of the complaints received, not the volume. Presumably Adshel wouldn’t pull an ad for toilet paper simply because 10,000 people objected to Labrador puppies. It seems that they would, however, pull the “Rip and Roll” ads back down if they received the same number of complaints again, this time from individual members of the public.

The only thing stopping that from happening is that the campaign is due to finish in two days. Yes, that’s right… Adshel went to all this trouble for a campaign that was coming down in two days anyway.

2 – Disguising bigotry as concern isn’t an argument either
Perhaps we shouldn’t be too hard on Wendy. After all, she was only thinking of the children:

“I think people would be supportive of the message [the ad] is promoting but I don’t think … people want safe-sex messaging placed on bus shelters where schoolchildren wait for the bus. The message is OK, the placement of the message is not OK.”

Oh, and she also said this:

They show two young homosexual men in some sort of act of foreplay.

Hugging is foreplay? Well… I guess it could be counted as foreplay… in the same way as looking at each other, or brushing your teeth.

What else you got, Wendy?

It’s talking about a sexual act and I don’t think that’s appropriate for the general public. If something’s not allowed in a children’s timeslot on TV, I don’t think you should put it on a billboard or where children are waiting for the school bus.

Yes, no doubt some children will see the ads, but I think the benefits of a few less people getting AIDS might outweigh the awkwardness a parent feels when asked “Mummy, why are those two men hugging?”. On the plus side, Wendy, it will give you another opportunity to yell “BECAUSE THEY ARE EVIL!”. So… you know… swings and roundabouts…

3 – Did someone say Barbara Streisand?
Speaking of swings and roundabouts, thanks to the Streisand effect, Wendy has given the issue more attention than the “Rip and Roll” people could have ever imagined.

4 – Hypocrisy, anyone?
If you’re worried about your children seeing the ad, Wendy, you could always throw them a bible. There, they will find such child-friendly topics as murder, incest, and genocide, all of which are routinely featured on children’s TV.

Fortunately for your child, however, none are as disgusting as two men hugging.

An open letter from The Gays of Uganda

I just received this open letter, and thought I should pass it on…
___________________

“Dear Ugandan Legislature,

We just wanted to write and tell you how grateful we are that you haven’t completely abandoned the proposed anti-gay legislation. You guys are the best! Here’s why:

You care about the little people
We think it’s awesome that you take such an interest in our love lives. Politicians are supposed to only worry about the big issues – but not you guys. You are so magnaminous and loving that, despite nearly 130 children per 1,000 dying before the age of five, child labour and marriage rates of 36% and 46% respectively, a life expectancy of just over 50, and over a quarter of the population being illiterate, you still take time out of your busy schedules to keep an eye on the freely-chosen bedrooom activities of a tiny subsection of the population. Thank you so much!

You are true to god’s word
Let’s be honest… with 96% of our population following either Jesus or Mohammad, it’s pretty clear that, as a country, we think god is pretty awesome. And whether you follow Jesus or Mohammad, the rule is the same – homosexuality is a sin.

It’s just such a shame that we can’t get this through our heads! We just can’t help thinking that, as an activity that affects no one but the two people involved, and only adds to the amount of happiness in the world, it really can’t be that bad. But, thankfully, we have you here to save us from our vile temptations, and remind us that it is that bad, and we need to be put to death for it. You are smart enough to know that an eternity in hell isn’t punishment enough, and for that we are thankful!

Also, we just wanted to say… the bible says it’s better to give than to receive, and we think that’s tops.

You are diligent
You ran out of time this time, but we know you will follow your hearts, and reintroduce the bill later in the year.

You have an eye for detail
It is just awesome that you singled out disabled homosexuals for a special mention. All of our disabled members were rather chuffed that you remembered them!

You aren’t hypocritical
We know that there is no chance that any of you are closet homosexuals, and, even if some of you are caught in homosexual relationships, you will all have valid reasons that don’t apply to the rest of us. Probably along the lines of “I tripped while walking naked down the alley and landed on that gay man’s penis”.

In conclusion… see you at the gallows, and fuck you.

Yours sincerely,

The Gays of Uganda”