Israel Folau can have his beliefs. People have a right to disagree

Rugby ball in front of goal posts
Image: iStock

Wallabies player, Israel Folau, has caused a storm after he posted on Instagram that gay people that don’t repent will go to hell. This comes less than twelve months since he expressed his view that marriage should be between a man and woman on Twitter. Rugby Australia are not planning to sack Folau, but will encourage him to be mindful of divisive comments on social media in the future. According to The Australian, Qantas and Swisse have threatened to withdraw sponsorship from Rugby Australia in revolt to Folau’s comments.

Here’s my take.

I actually agree with Rugby Australia for not sacking or suspending Folau.

I also defend the right of Qantas and Swisse to pull their sponsorship as a form of revolt. They can put their money where they like.

What Folau said would have hit a lot of people hard. The relationship between LGBTQ+ people and Christians has been rocky in the past to say the least.

While religious belief and participation is shown to be beneficial to people’s mental well – being, this can’t always be said for LGBTQ+ people. In fact, a number of LGBTQ+ people end up abandoning their religion because of the conflict between their sexuality and their religious affiliation.

Some attitudes and actions of some Christian (and other religious) organisations have been downright harmful.

So – called ‘conversion’ or ‘reparative’ therapy; which is thankfuly becoming rarer, is known to be harmful and does not work. Multiple medical and psychological bodies around the world have publicly rejected the idea that sexual orientation can and should be changed. Some of them have also warned about potentially damaging effects of the practice. Conflict between sexual orientations and religious affiliation has also shown to be a risk factor to poor mental health and suicidal thoughts among LGBTQ+ people.

 

With all that said, Folau should be debated, not penalised or silenced.

People caould argue, what I said and linked above; that most medical bodies around the developed world reject the notion that sexual orientation can or should be changed. They also argue that sexual orientation can’t be chosen.

Christians also have different interpretations of the so – called ‘clobber passages’ in both the Old an$ New Testament that are often used as a justifications for condemning gay people.

Over the years, people have strongly argued that the bible doesn’t condemn LGBTQ+ people or same – sex relationships.

Chill and hear me out. The most common arguments of these Christians, sometimes referred to as ‘Side A’ Christians, are that the passages condemn same – sex acts (often committed by men), that were not consensual, were often committed against children or was committed as a ritual in idol worship (Corinthians, in particular, did worship Aphrodite).

Second common argument, which is kind of related, is the controversy over the interpretations of some of the Hebrew and Greek.

I understand why people are angry and hurt by Folau’s comments. I feel for people who have been damaged by the actions of certain Christians. However, I don’t think censoring or punishing people like Folau will ultimately do anyone any good.

Let Folau and those like him to have their say, then non – Christians and Christians alike can debate it out, then leave it alone. The LGBTQ+ community can’t be seen censoring people. Not after the hard – won battle of same – sex marriage in Australia.

 

 

 

 

 

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Ravishly wrong about #MeToo and demonising men

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In the wake of the #MeToo, feminist site Ravishly speculates how relations between men and womwn, including in romantic relationships, have been affected

 

I usually like the American feminist site, Ravishly. I like how they allow various voices to be heard. I like their advocacy and inclusion, especially of the LGBTQ+ community.I love the way they have written about asexuality.

 

This, though, goes too far. The title itself is provocative enough: “Can Straight Couples Survive #MeToo”.The columnist, Myisha Battle starts off alright; how the #MeToo movement emboldened and terrified women about the extent of sexual assault and harassment. Women seek solace forming communities where women can support other survivors of such trauma. Great. But, after that, the article goes downhill.

Take these quotes:

How do women still go out with guys when you consider that there is no greater threat to women than men?

(said by CK himself before the accusations against him became public)

…where does that leave us with our relationships with men?

Fair or not, the biggest question that women who are partnered with men is “has he always been a good man and can I continue to trust that he will be good to me and all the other women in his life?

I imagine that people would be offended by the last quote in particular. And if it was said about any other group: LGBTQ+ people, people of colour, etc, it wouldn’t be tolerated.

Men as a whole should not be condemned for the actions of a few. Women shouldn’t feel like they tiptoe around partners, husbands, brothers, uncles, fathers, etc unnecessarily (unless there is reason to; violence, etc).

 

Another thing I don’t like about this is women perpetrators and male victims of abuse and harassment get ignored. At least one male survivors of sexual assault have  made that accusation against the movement as a whole.

The author of the Stuff article I posted above isn’t the only male that has broken his silence of abuse and harassment. Infamously, Anthony Rapp accused Kevin Spacey of assaulting him when he was only fourteen. George of the Jungle and The Mummy star, Brendan Fraser, used #MeToo to allege that he was sexually assaulted by a former Hollywood Press Association president (which the accused denied at the time the article was written).

 

It’s true that the vast majority of victims of sexual violence are women, according the the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and over 90% of perpetrators are male, according to Centres Against Sexual Assault (CASA). I think we have to remember when the roles are reversed (male victim/ female perpetrator) or when men have been assaulted by other men either as children or adults.

Final thing. As a non – straight person, I want to defend straight couples. They are not all toxic. The revelations brought about by the #MeToo movement should not be treated as an indictment against heterosexuality. This is ridiculous. There are good men who love women, both their partners, other family members and friends. There are fathers of girls who adore them and would hate for any harm to come to them – especially something as abhorrent as sexual assault.

The #MeToo movement should— and I think has done so somewhat successfully— exposed men, in particular, that have been abusive. They should be held to account. Using the movement to scaremonger and demonise men unjustly won’t do anyone any good.

If you’re Australian and this has brought up any issues for you, you can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or 1800 – RESPECT (1800 737 732)

If you aren’t from Australia and know any helpline numbers or other contact details of organisations that help sexual assault sufferers in your country, please post them in the comments below. 

Public servants spend hours on dating and shopping sites


Laptop under love heart
Image: iStock

Bureaucrats are spending time looking at dating and shopping sites on the job, @according to Sunday Herald Sun. (‘Public servants spend thousands of work hours online looking for love’, Annika Smetherst, Sunday  Herald Sun, April, 1).

Smetherst reported that the Sunday Telegraph gained access to documents confirming a list of sites visited by Department of Social Services employees during work hours over twelve months. Sites included:

  • RSVP
  • Elite Singles
  • Bureau of Meteorology
  • Twitter (Public servants can use Twitter for political debate, providing they don’t criticise other agencies or ministers, according to the Australian Public Service Commission)
  • Taste.com
  • Footy tips
  • Lite’n’easy
  • Kmart
  • Ikea
  • Movie schedules
  • Real estate
  • David Jones

Now, I admit that I have a habit of wasting time online when I should be doing other things. Sometimes, it’s good to take a break from what your work for a while. But the list above is extensive. And the hours over a twelve momth period is, quite frankly, ridiculous.
And how does this affect the running of the services? I know that Centrelink get lots of criticism about customer waiting times when trying to contact someone over the phone. Is this a possible reason? The public rightly expect that services that most of the public pay for is up to scratch. Unfortunately, the truth is, for years now, services like Centrelink, have been less than satisfactory.

This just fuels more public anger against politicians. They are tired of being treated by mugs. It’s more than enough.

Politicians and publis servants need to pick up their game. I’m not saying that public servants have no right to visit dating and shopping sites, but not at the expense of the quality of services that most of the public pay for and other rely on. The public have a right to demand a whole lot more and there needs to be accountability put back into politics and the public service. Waiting hours to talk to someone on the phone at Centrelink, (especially when it’s required for someone to maintain payments or to avoid gettimg a debt in overpayments, which can add up to the tens of thousands), is inexcusable.

But what can we do? We can wait until next year’s election, get Labor in and then… start all over agsin, I guess. The lack of an ethical compass of most politicians and, apparently public servants have, is disgusting, to be frank. But what can we do?! Maybe increased direect pressure might help. Contact MPs either by phone or email (be respectful, of course). Start social media campaigns. If you see a politician face to face, tell them of your disappointment. I’m just going off the top of my head here. Whether it’d do any good is another thing. How can you criticise someone who’s ethical compass and sense of duty is so out of whack and has been for decades now?

 

Anyone got any other suggestions on how we can spurr things on to make our public services better? What have your experienes with public service been? Let me know in the comments below.

Male/ female relationships after #MeToo and appropriate language

In light of the #MeToo movement and the proposed ‘sex ban’ by Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, debates have been sparked over appropriate contact with colleagues. More specifically, the relations between men and women and how (or I guess, whether) platonic affection can be expressed between male and female colleagues.

This question was sparked in me last week when ai was listening to 2GB. Herald Sun columnist and Macquarie Radio presenter, Andrew Bolt was talking to The Australian’s Chris Kenny about Rita Panahi, who also writes for the Herald Sun. During the segment, Bolt stopped himself from referring to Panahi as ‘gorgeous’. His reason was caution and a warning from his wife.

To be honest, this is a bit sad. Nothing creepy was intended. Bolt (and Kenny) was trying to use ‘gorgeous to praise Panahi as a person and colleague. And she is gorgeous!

There are some words that probably should be said with care  and be used in certain contexts. ‘Sexy’ is probably one of them. Reserve that for partners and close friends that you know won’t take it the wrong way.

’Darl’/ ‘darling’ ‘sweetheart/ ‘sweetie’, go by the person. I personally love it when someone calls me ‘darling’. I always have. Makes me feel cared for, I guess.  ‘Sweetheart’ or ‘honey’ are probaly best left for loved ones and partners. It’s probably seen as inappropriate in some contexts, especially work.

 

 I think it’s sad that we’ve gotten to this point. Unfortunately, I think the Left have taken us, ironically, where the Right did fifteen or twenty years ago. Male/ female relationsships are automatically sexualised. Men are treated with suspicion and treated as they are sex maniacs just ready to jump every woman they see. The Right use to control women in a similar way; treating them as temptresses that can’t be trusted.

Enough!

No, not all men are creeps. Male and female friendships  can and should be able to flourish without fear and without an erotic cloud over their heads. Men and women should be able to be affectionate, say ‘I love you’, ‘beautiful’, etc, without any party being accused of being ‘creepy and the like. Again, I must empasise it’s context and intent. If you are close friends with someone, regardless of gender, and the person is OK with it, I think words they’re fine.

 

However, while we live in the times we do, there are other adjectives you can use. Here are a few (some of which are my favourtes).

Groovy

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(From GIF Keyboard)

Bees knees 

(Kath and Kim, anyone?)

Awesome or ‘awesome sauce’

F7DD9FFC-9956-41C3-9FA7-2A6F3609BD77

(Any Friends fans?)

Cool!

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We should tackle abuse and harassment. No doubt about it. And you should only say and do what people are comfortable with. But let’s not make a battle against harassment and abuse become a movement that silences or demonises people that shouldn’t be.

What terms of endearment or friendship do you like? Are there certain words you only accept from certain people? Let me know in the comments below.

How BuzzFeed copy editor made me excited about writing

Book: A World Without Whom: The Essential Guide to Language in the BuzzFeed Age" by Emmy Favila
“A World Without Whom” by BuzzFeed’s Emmy Favila offers great insight into the English language and offers writers and the general public freedom to express themselves.

 

I have been reading the book A World Without Whom: The Essential Guide to Language in our Buzzfeed Age by Buzzfeed’s Copy Editor, Emmy Favilla. While it took me a while to read it (an understatement, to tell you the truth), I loved it. It made me even more excited about getting into the field of professional writing.

The book went through some history of the English language and what linguists had to say. Then it focused on how rapidly language is changing, especially in the age of the internet and social media (I thought about writing ‘Internet’, just then. That was one of the debates Favilla wrote about in the book. I’ll stick with ‘i’, I think).

Basically, there are a few rules, only preferences. Sure it has to make sense and no writer should be making typos right, left or centre if they’re serious and not a maniac (myself included). Consistency is key.

Of course, there are social norms one should consider, like inclusive language. I think Favilla went into overkill with this. Here’s the thing: I believe that if someone requests to be preferred to by a specific pronoun, including “they” or “ze”, by all means refer to the person by that pronoun. I don’t think you necessarily have to ‘eliminate’ gender altogether. If you really don’t know, then, if you can ask. In  a rare case, use gender neutral, but I don’t think you need to go overboard with it.

Another pet peeve I discovered I have while reading the book is drawn out sentences. I  realised this at the start. Hey, that’s fine for Favilla, I’m not knocking that. I just prefer shorter sentences— less than twenty – five words preferably. Definitely no more than thirty.

That aside, it was exciting to read about the evolution of the English language. I loved reading about the emoticons, and how far back they went, (right back to the 1980’s, apparently). Also, there’s debate about whether one of Abraham Lincoln’s written speeches included typos or a deliberate emoticon. In regard to emojis, I nominate the Ancient Egyptians as being the first to use them. 😛

Screenshot of hieroglyphs and emojis
Screenshot: Things have gone full circle over the past 4,000 years.

 

While language, particularly grammar has become a lot more relaxed over the years, Favila emphasised the need for the need for inclusive language and the importance in using appropriate terms for one’ gender or racial identity (particularly indigenous groups around the world). I’ll put my two cents in when it comes to gender: I believe you should refer to someone by the pronouns that a person prefers (including ‘they’ and ‘ze’/ ‘zir’).  Should it be something that a writer or anyone else needs to tie themselves in knots over with everyone they meet? No. I fear that we are making things too complicated. Be courteous. If you are asked to refer to someone using certain pronouns, use them. If not, my guess is what you see is what you get.

Another thing I found fascinating was the differences in British/ Australian and American English. Of course, there’s colour/ color, favour/ favor and Imperial vs Metric measurements (miles vs kilometres, etc). However, I didn’t know that the US has slightly different use of swear words and their offense levels than the UK and Australia. Who knew? (P.S. I’m not giving any examples here. Google them for yourself if you want to know).

A World Without Whom: The Essential Guide to Language in the Buzzfeed Age was a great read and offered great insights in the English language. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who has any interest in language or it’s evolution.

Have you read A World Without Whom: The Essential Guide to Language in the BuzzFeed Age? What did you think? Leave your thoughts below.

 

Amazon US pays no tax. Where is their competition

Last month, Secular Talk host Kyle Kulinski exposed that the online store Amazon had not paid federal taxes in 2017. He also condemned how workers are treated.

I’ve bought CDs and books from Amazon. However, I haven’t for quite a few years. I think it’s appalling what Kulinski exposed about the company. I feel quite bad for praising them for attempting to set up store houses across Australia last year.

Here’s the thing: where is Amazon’s competition? What drew me to Amazon about eight or so years ago, (maybe longer), is that I was able to buy CDs that I couldn’t find in store. I was looking for Joan Jett and the Blackhearts CDs specifically at the time. Found three on Amazon. All my Christmases had come at once!

Top: Joan Jett and the Blackhearts Greatest Hits, bottom left: Alice Cooper's Alice Goes to Hell and bottom right: Joan Jett and the Blackearts' Sinner
These albums I got from Amazon a few years ago. The Joan Jett ones I looked for ages in stores but couldn’t find them.
Left: Joan Jett "Bad Reputation", Right: Suzi Quatro Rock Hard
Two more albums from Amazon. Again, not available in traditional stores around me at the time (or now, for that matter).

A few weeks ago, I found Arch Enemy’s latest CD, Will to Power in Sanity in Lavington, New South Wales.  None of their earlier albums were there.

What about online? I looked at JB – HiFi online store. Only Will to Power and their 2016 Wacken album, As the Stages Burn was advertised. Sanity’s online store do have War Eternal on sale. Two Joan Jett CDs, are available on JB HiFi; Joan Jett and the Blackhearts’ Greatest Hits  and Up Your Alley, which is good, but what about Bad ReputationSinnner?

Rightly or wrongly, this is where Amazon has the upper hand, at least for CD sales.

So, what can be done? First, the US and Australian governments should crackdown on tax evasion, any employee exploitation and lack of satisfactory work conditions. From a consumer standpoint, there needs to be much better competition in both online and traditional stores. Stores should offer earlier popular albums from artists and bands as well as their latest. Also, a plea for stores (both online and traditional), please don’t exclude artists. Offer a whole range. Us Joan Jett fans are out there! Do the same for your online sales.

 

I guess people may think it doesn’t matter now that most music can be downloaded from iTunes or heard on Spotify. But, there have been news reports that even vinyl has made a comeback over the past couple of years. I’ve seen vinyl of contemporary albums being sold in JB – HiFi. But, again, the selection I saw was limited.

While I’m a bit of an iPad addict and was a chronic downloader of music when I first got it, I’ve started to miss listening to CDs. I also miss the anticipation of listening to a brand new one. I used to love getting CDs for Christmas, too. I used to almost flog the life out of them. I’d like to do that again someday. But I want to be able to do so ethically, knowing that the purchase doesn’t contribute to tax evasion or exploitation of workers. I also would also prefer not having to go from store to store finding the ones I want.

Do you buy CDs or vinyl or download your music on iTunes or another (legal) site? Let me know in the comments below.

My take on the religious freedom debate after same – sex marriage

open book
Image: Pexels

The inquiry into religious freedom after the legalisation of same sex marriage in Australia still rages on. Advocacy group just.equal has been able to access and upload PDF files both for and against more  so-called “religious freedom”. Here’s what I think.

While I don’t think that churches or other worship leaders should be forced to conduct same – sex marriage (which I thought was never a problem anyway), I am suspicious of calls for further extensions.

It’s all sounds really good and gentle. So you’re someone who wants to deny services to a same – sex couple wanting to get married? Then you lose business. Sounds fair, right? And everyone else should be able to exercise their conscience, right? Well, who, exactly, should be able to ‘exercise their conscience? Florists? Bakers?… Doctors? Pediatricians?

This is what I fear. And my fears aren’t completely baseless. In Tennessee, for example, it’s legal for mental health workers to refuse to treat LGBTQ+ people on religious grounds. In Michigan, just before same – sex marriage was law nationwide, a pediatrician refused to see a toddler because she was raised by same – sex married parents. That was legal, by the way.

I’ve seen comments on articles and social media that that won’t happen here. They argue that people should be able to refuse to cater for a same – sex wedding. Nothing else.

Yeah. For now.

Let’s get one thing straight (no pun intended). These people who are asking for extensions in ‘religious freedom’ are asking for the right to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people. Do you think that a baker will refuse to bake a cake for a couple that is getting remarried after a divorce? For some reason, I doubt it.

‘Religious freedom’ extensions are asking for the freedom to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people. I wish journalists and conservatives in general would just admit that. If you don’t want to work for or cater LGBTQ+ people, then don’t work in the business or community services sector. Frankly, it’s that simple.

 

Thing is, I’m not convinced that it’ll stop at catering for weddings. If I did, I may have some sympathy for those arguing for it (I actually did once).

LGBTQ+ people have already had their lives debated endlessly for months in the lead up to same – sex marriage. Some were triggered with homophobic and transphobic abuse, which they thought they’d left behind. And now, people want the right to ‘other’ them… again.

Think about this another way.

You’re LGBTQ+. You’ve ummed and aaahed, fretted and dreaded coming out to your family, friends, church, workmates, etc due to fear of being rejected. This is also hard for young people who are merely questioning their sexuality, (believe me, I know). Unfortunately, for too many young LGBTQ+ people, their fears are realised and they are ostracised from loved ones, abused in their faith communities, kicked out of home, and sometimes, physically abused. Just imagine, you’re LGBTQ+ fret about telling your friends, family and faith community and your worse fears are confirmed. Your parents kick you out. A friend who you thought you could trust betrays or rejects you. You’re rejected by your faith community, unless you go through ‘conversion therapy’. You do the whole lot: prayer, exorcism, fasting. Nothing changes. You feel like you’ve ‘failed’. The cycle starts again, until you break. You may get your life on track after years of therapy, soul work and immense internal healing.

Years later, you meet the love of your life. You want to spend the rest of your lives together and decide to do that officially through marriage. You and your partner go through all the preparations. You come to planning your cake… then, you hit a brick wall. The baker refuses to make it on religious grounds. All your past comes back to haunt you. The rejection of your family, your friends, your colleagues.

 

Lastly, what peeves me off to no end is the reason why people are arguing this. And, no it’s not religion. It’s because they can’t see LGBTQ+ people as people. They see them as pornified stereotypes. Go online and see what people who are against LGBTQ+ couples say; that they are ‘practising homosexuals’. References to anal sex, etc. See what I’m getting at? They immediately put their head in the gutter and refer to LGBTQ+ people as ‘acts’ that they imagine they do. How icky is that?! And dangerous. I really believe that is the reason why hate crime against LGBTQ+ people occurs around the world. Get your head out of the gutter!!!! The couple asked for a cake, not for you to participate in a brothel!

There is another solution. Let businesses be able to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people, but they should have to advertise it. Both on their premises and all their advertisements both in traditional and social media. If there is a backlash and they go bust, it’s their fault. But don’t allow them to drag LGBTQ+ people along, only to crush their dreams.

And, to those politicians who want this ‘right’ to be enshrined, don’t you DARE extend anti – discrimination laws any further. As many people on sofial media have said, last year, Australia voted for less discrimination against LGBTQ+ people, not more.

 

What do you think of the enqiry