Domestic violence, misogyny and religion

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President of the Australian Federation of Islamic Council caused a storm when he said that domestic violence can be used a s “last resort”, when asked about a passage in the Qu’ran on “The Bolt Report”. He has since backtracked from his controversial comments.

Still, Trad backtracking doesn’t really address the controversial passage that he was asked about by Andrew Bolt. It being a “last resort” isn’t a good enough explanation. Domestic violence needs to be condemned by all, regardless of faith. This may sound controversial, but I’m believing more and more that Islam needs a reform and a re – interpretation so it can accommodate human rights in the 21st century – at least among most conservative sects (Trad’s a Sunni).

The way Sharia law is practised in dominant Islamic countries, especially when implemented into law, has been proven to be disastrous for women. Newscorp columnist, Rita Panahi has been very open about growing up in Iran in the aftermath of the 1979 Iranian Islamic Revolution and how, in her words, it made a once – secular and modern country into a “hellhole”. Iran, as well as other Islamic countries have come under fire for human rights abuses, including against women, including executing women who have been raped for “adultery”, while letting the perpetrator/s off the hook. The pressure for many in the Islamic world to wear ultra conservative clothing:the burqa, hijab, chador and niqab in certain societies can be immense. If a woman chooses to wear such clothing, then that’s one thing. Having women lashed because she failed to not wear the appropriate clothing in public is another. It’s something I don’t think can be excused or explained away.

I’m not saying that all Muslims are this extreme – they are not. But if a verse in the Qu’ran is used to even suggest that it’s OK to abuse women, execute gays, or force women to wear restrictive clothing in fear of violent punishment, then it’s a problem. Where are the Qu’ran scholars and experts in Arabic saying that the Qu’ran is being abused or taken out of context? Where is the debate of what verses in the Qu’ran should be taken historically and not be applied to the 21st century? Where are the prominent Islamic leaders who unequivocally condemn violence using the Qu’ran… if that’s possible.

 

When issues like this come up, a question always comes up: what about Christians? I’m going to address that, because, unlike what Bolt has claimed, sexism and violence against women have occurred in Christian circles and until recently, the Bible (not the gospels,which Bolt always refers to, but the Old Testament and the Epistles have been used to condone sexism, violence and victim – blaming.

Before I explain my point, I want to point out something. What I’m going to talk about is not about physical violence being explicitly condoned in the Bible as what appears to be the case in the Qu’ran. What I’m going to explian is how violence, particularly sexual assault, has been justified or been made possible and how the Bible has been used ot fail those affected.

Purity culture

The Purity movement is more well – known in American fundamentalist Evangelical circles than here in Australia. It was at it’s peak in the 1990’s and through the early 2000’s. The movement seemed innocuous enough – young girls pledging to wait until they marry before they had sex. Some people may have even liked the idea that fathers and daughters spent time together at what appears to be a fun night. In the past twenty years, what appears to be innocent  has turned out to be toxic. For one thing, purity culture has stigmatised sexual abuse victims – making them as morally culpable as the perpetrators. Purity culture and its incorrect concepts of “virginity” have also left young girls being victimised by family members – just the fact that the abuser didn’t take away the girl’s “virginity”seems to justify it.

One of the beliefs in fundamentalist Purity culture is that a woman’s body is not her own.Body autonomy is a key factor into protecting children from abuse. People of all ages and genders need to be able to express when and how they want their bodies to be touched, while respecting the rights of others to have the same voice. In the most conservative aspects of purity culture, this is missing. And it’s proven to be dangerous.

Domestic violence in marriage

Increasingly, Christians have had to come to terms of the reality that domestic violence occurs in homes where both parties identify as Christian.

But, Jesus never condoned these!

Technically, this is true. But what people don’t realise is that these extremes do come from a (very bad) interpretation and understanding of certain biblical passages.

Ephesians 5:23

The issue of headship in a marriage has been controversial in modern times. Instead, many people argue egalitarianism, including some Christians, such as author and blogger Rachel Held – Evans. However, concepts like headship and obedience is heavily emphasised in many Evangelical churches, including Pentecostal. While many conservative Christians argue that the husband is supposed to love the wife and not abuse her, some people, including Progressive Christians argue that the implementation of “headship” theology leave the door open to abuse.  Women who have escaped violent marriages  have recalled how their ex – husbands – and in the case of the story linked,pastors – have used passages out of the bible to justify their behaviour.While the anonymous author has condemned her ex – husband as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”, I don’t think it takes away the fact that passages can be abused, especially when taken out of their original context and when the original languages (in the case of the Bible,Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek) aren’t taken into account.

Malachi 2: 16 and Matthew 19:9

These passages argue against divorce – or that’s how it can be perceived. In Matthew 19, Jesus proclaimed that the only exception for divorce is when a spouse has been unfaithful. With this in mind, too many well -meaning Christian counsellors and pastors have imprisoned abuse victims in toxic marriages or, due to being taught that divorce is wrong, the mistaken belief can be internalised by victims. People who do divorce abusive or cheating spouses can find themselves demonised or ostracised by their congregation.

Too many preachers and authors place onus on victimes of violence. Too often, victims are told to do more: don’t refuse sex, be more loving, be more attentive, etc. This is victim blaming pure and simple. Fortunately, Christians who have faced with these situations have found courage to slame these notions.

Genesis 3:16

The verse comes about in the aftermath of “The Fall”:

To the woman, He said,

“I  will make your pains in childbearing very severe;

with painful labor, you will give birth to children.

Your desire will be for your husband

And he will rule over you.

(Genesis 3:16 NIV emphasis mine).

Warped theology surrounding “The Fall”/ Original Sin

Some extreme fundamentalists believe that Eve was the cause of the world falling into sin.This has been used as an excuse to treat women as lesser than men. It’s also the reason why some  claim that women are “temptresses”, even from a young age. Just before the exposure incest and chld molestation scandal of Josh Duggar in 2015, these certain attitudes from the fundamentalist Quiverful movement came to light. Men, even teenagers, were taught to keep eyes off women to avoid being ‘tempted’.

Women are said to have the power when it comes to relationships. Young women have been told that they can control how ‘far they go’ with young men. This essentially means that they have to be vigilant about what they wear, etc. It also gives the impression that men have no control over their sexual feelings (straight men can’t anyway). Over the years, this mentality has recieved backlash among Christians as shown by these reviews of the 2003 book ‘Dareable’ by Hayley DiMarco and Justin Lookadoo:

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Quick update: I think it’s important to note that Trad has been condemned for what he said on ‘The Bolt Report’ last week. On Saturday, World News Australia reported that other Australian Muslims have hit out at Trad’s comments. Minister for Women and Minister of Employment, Michaelia Cash has condemned Trad and there are calls for him to stand down from his position.

Another update: last night, I looked up the verse in question. Apparently, the English translation is Sura 4:34 is controversial among scholars.

http://www.misconceptions-about-islam.com/wife-beating-quran.htm

NOTE: Copy and paste the URL above into the read it. Sorry, I had trouble inserting the link.

Final update, Bolt has defended Trad, saying he’s just going by the Quran.

Junk food ban debate… again.

 

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Image from Canva
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Food label on a microwave chicken roll. 4. 1 grams of sugar, 13.2 grams total fat, 2.1 grams saturated.

 

According to ‘Herald Sun’, debate on banning junk food in school canteens and sports events has been sparked again. There is a new push for schools, sports clubs and advertisers to ban junk food in a bid to combat the rising number of children and adults who are overweight or obese. Taxes for junk food have also been talked about – again. I’ve got a few thoughts about this.

Firstly, I’m not entirely against banning or limiting junk food advertising at certain times of the day, especially when school – aged children are most likely going to be home. In terms of sport sponsorship and advertising, how it will affect particularly rural or regional football and netball clubs in particular need to be considered. It does make sense that sports events/ training coaches offer healthy food. But like with many issues with advertising, a lack of sponsorship from major companies, including junk food companies (Coca Cola, etc), may bring the sports club to financial ruin. Of course, maybe they can rely on healthier food brands, (Sanitarium, maybe?).
Further taxing junk food may prove problematic in lower socio – economic areas. Instead,  I believe healthy food needs to be more affordable and accessible in these communities. I also strongly believe that food labelling should be more explicit. The unfortunate thing is that, much frozen food that can be put in a microwave has high levels of sugar, a substance that is a major contributor to obesity and other health problems. Yet, due to convenience, many people, which use to include myself, get these foods on a regular basis.It was only when I looked at the ingredients that I was horrified at the amount of sugar in particular that was in it.

 

How many people actually look at the ingredients in the packaging, especially if your in a hurry? Probably not many. I think this maybe where people can get trapped. I know the government has talked about colour – coding food (red for unhealthy for regular consumption, green for good, etc). What happened to that? “Fruit” or “cereal” products have been proven to be just as unhealthy, including Sanitarium’s “Up and Go” – a drink that supposedly can be taken if you don’t have time for breakfast? The catch? Yep, it’s full of sugar. Not really a replacement to (low – sugar) cereal, wholegrain bread, etc. This may sound basic, but I still think it’s deceptive to give people the false impression that certain food isn’t too unhealthy, or worse, food/ drinks that you may think may be valuable, only to be told it’s full of sugar. I guess the only way to go is to buy whole foods, fruits, vegetables, etc.

 

What about fast food? We know about outlets such as McDonalds and KFC are high in salt, fat and sugar. But you should also be careful at places like Subway too.  In 2013, news.com.au reported that a study from University of California discovered teenagers who ate Subway were consuming the same calories and higher amount of salt then those who ate McDonalds. I eat Subway from time to time and haven’t had any problems. I’d advise to stay away from the fatty meats and have plenty of salad. Preferably without cedar cheese apparently (I always have it on mine, though).

 

Healthy eating should be simple and cheap. While “common sense” plays a part, i think supermarkets and fast food outlets have a responsibility as well. Don’t advertise something as “healthy” when in reality, it’s not. Would it hurt companies to put sugar and/ or salt content CLEARLY on the label so people will be more likely to read it? I just think that something can and should be done. We need to take responsibility for ourselves, sure. But retailers can make it a little bit easier. They can at least be  honest about what’s in their products.

What do you think? Should food companies be more transparent about what’s in their food?

 

Heels: lots of pain, but any gain?

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This month’s issue of Cosmopolitan (Australia), exposed that in the U.S. alone, around 20,000 women have to be admitted to emergency because of injuries caused by wearing stilettos. They offered a few tips on how to avoid those injuries, like foot exercises, taking them off during the day etc. I still wonder why they are so necessary for women to wear them at all.

I don’t think there’s much doubt that for a lot of women, heels do look attractive, especially stilettos. Also, some women gain confidence looking taller, especially women who are naturally very short.

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What I wonder is, why do women feel the need to put themselves through pain, and possible injury or deformity, to look attractive? Do men find it attractive when women where stilettos (I’d actually like to hear from men on that, do you? Do you care?).

I remember watching Sunrise one day last year (or the year before) and co – host Samantha Armytage and news presenter Natalie Barr were talking about how a producer (I think) who said that the women had to wear heals at work when at Sunrise.(OK, my recollection of actually when it when it was said and who allegedly said it is sketchy, but I remember the bit about heels). Why do women “have to” wear stilettos to work, including in the media? I said this in one of my older blogs when it happened. I wrote at the time, why and also that this may leave some women such as disabled women who can’t wear heels even more marginalised in certain workplaces.

 

The effects heels have on the spine in particular is fairly common knowledge in the medical field and in society as a whole. Heels three inches (7.62 cm), high throws your spine out of alignment, causing back pain and, in the long run, cause bulges in the ankles due to the long term strain.

Sex and the City star, Sarah Jessica Parker admitted in 2013 that wearing heels extensively during Sex and the City took a toll on her feet. According to E! News, Parker was warned against wearing heels any longer to prevent further damage.

 

I find  it ironic that in the exact same magazine that reported the rate of injury from stilettos, is the same magazine that constantly markets stilettos to young women or has models wearing them. I’ve read Cosmopolitan for a few years now and to be honest, I can’t remember any of the models not wearing stilettos. They may have done it once or twice. Mixed messages much? For a magazine that prides itself on women’s empowerment, why promote, almost exclusively, clothes by models in stilettos. Why not promote all shoe types, shoes that all women have a chance of wearing?

 

 

I’m not here to tell you that you should or shouldn’t wear heels. You can wear what you like. Like I’ve written before, it’s the pressure, the “unwritten rules”. It’s the promotion of fashion in which some women will never be able to wear, leaving others left out and marginalised that I have a problem with.

Maybe I’m mistaken. What do you think about heels? Do you wear them? Do you prefer women to wear them? 

Valentine’s Day – what’s it mean in 2017

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Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, the day when lovers declare their love for each other and secret admirers tell their crush how they feel. Well, that’s the common narrative.

Of course, the origin of Valentine’s Day goes way back. There are two commonly stories that are thought to be the origin of Valentine’s Day. One was that the ancient Romans had a festival Lupercalia in which, according to NPR, men sacrificed a goat or dog before beating young women who were looking to find a mate. I’ve read elsewhere over the years that a names were drawn in a ‘lottery’ to determine who would marry whom. This festival was believed to take place between the 13 and 15 of February. Things changed when Catholicism became the dominant religion in the Roman Empire and the festival was dedicated to St. Valentine.

Another common theory is that Valentine was a Roman Catholic priest in the Rome around the fourth century AD. At this time, there was a crackdown on Christian traditions, including marriage. Valentine defied the Emperor, and even when he was arrested and inprisoned, continued to conduct weddings in prison. While in prison, he befriended the daughter of a Roman guard. They exchanged letters (a.k.a. ‘valentines’). It’s alleged that Valentine died on February 14, hence the date. However, the exact identity of the Saint Valentine isn’t known (there is more than one St. Valentine).

 

The romantic aspect of the day also has a long history, with tokens being exchanged by lovers as far back as the Middle Ages. The 1800’s was when Valentine’s Day cards started being sold by retail outlets.

Fast forward 200 or so years and I think you’ll find attitudes toward Valentine’s Day split. Some say it’s too commercial, some use it as a day to show love and appreciation to friends, while others use it to spoil their partners or show interest in a crush. I do get that the day is heavily commercialised and it’s mostly linked with American culture, rather than Australian, but I think the idea of celebrating love – either romantic or platonic – is lovely and sonething that the world could use more of, to be honest.For years, I’ve thought that Valentine’s Day was a great opportunity to show love to people who you may not show it on any given day. For lovers, it may be the push you need to propose to your loved one. You may just want to stay home woth your loved one that night, watching ‘The Big Bang Theory’ on DVD. Whatever floats your boat.

For some people, it may cause a genuine pain – that you wish you had someone, or maybe a reminder of a past relationship. I won’t say that this is silly or that you shouldn’t feel that way. If Valentine’s Day is one that brings pain, I hope you’ll find comfort in surrounding yourself with the things and people you love and care about.

 

Ultimately, Valentine’s Day is like any other day. By that, I mean it’s good for others, sometimes a new opportunity and a day that you can make what you will.

What does Valentine’s Day mean to you? How will you spend the day?

Free speech and the responsibility to speak out

Last week and today, Newscorp columnist, Andrew Bolt condemned cartoonist Larry Pickering for anti – Muslim and anti gay slurs. He also slammed former Coalition member, Ross Cameron for not calling Pickering out.

Well done, Mr. Bolt.

No, really I mean it. It means a lot for a respected columnist/ commentator to use his platform to stand up for the LGBTQ+ community, and especially gays that have been persecuted in one of the most brutal regimes. I also applaud him for confronting South Australian Senator Cory Bernardi for his controversial comments on same – sex marriage back in 2012 while he was a guest on Sky’s ‘The Bolt Report’ last Monday night.

It is great that Bolt is being consistent in calling out homophobia, racism, etc when it occurs. I hope he – as well as other journalists – CONSISTENTLY continue to call homophobia, racism and other forms of discrimination when they  occur. As I wrote many times last year, I was very disappointed when Bolt and most other journalists didn’t call out and condemn the threats made toward Melbourne’s only LGBTQ radio station JOY 94.9FM last year during the plebiscite debate. Since it’s a new year, (well another year since that event), I’m willing to believe that Bolt and others are willing to turn a new leaf and call out homophobia when it happens and not excuse it. So far, I have been pleasntly surprised with Bolt and his support for members of the LGBTQ+ community – at least condemning abuse. I hope he keeps it up. I also hope others follow in his footsteps.

In the posts that, Bolt was talking – as he often does – about free speech and not having anti discrimination legislation such as Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 to deal with it and instead, have racists, homophobes, etc, have to face criticism by the wider public. This can only happen if people are willing to speak out. This only works when people refuse to turn a blind eye or deaf ear to what’s happening. People who call out racism or homophobia, including slurs, should be able to do so, without having everyone on their backs. Members of the LGBTQ+ community and racial minorities NEED to be able to tell of their experiences. Some things that are said maybe uncomfortable to hear. Tough! If free speech is the way to comat racism and queerphobia, then members of racial minorities and the LGBTQ+ community need to be able to speak and be heard!

 

Lastly, I think there needs to be an overall community effort to eliminate homophobia and racism – in schools, health and the widercommunity. Generally, I think we’ve done this quite well in Australia, with, for example, the Pride Match between St. kilda Saints and Sydney Swans last year. At the time, I said that I thought it was great for such a major, traditionally macho, pastime and cultural icon in Australia to open their arms out to LGBTQ+ players and spectators.

Of course, the mainstrem media has played a major role in embracing members of the LGBTQ+ community and rallying behind their causes. Over the years, I’ve written about the media’s increasing reporting on asexuality and I think that most of them have done a decent job. I still continue to see articles, most which are pretty well written. They mostly validate the experiences of asexual people, which I think is important. This month, Cosmopolitan has released a special LGBTQ Pride issue. I want to talk about it in more depth at a later date.

 

Maybe with all these advances and perceptions slowly changing around ethnic minorities and the LGBTQ + community, things like 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 won’t be needed. But I  believe that is going to put greater onus on all of us to not accept, and more importantly, call out racism and queerphobia. Are we as writers and a community willing to harbour that responsibility? Are YOU willing?

Bring professionalism back in journalism and commentary!

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I’m usually an avid listener to Sydney’s 2GB on weeknights when Andrew Bolt is on.  But on Monday night, I nearly turned it off after five minutes and was glad that I missed the first twenty minutes or so. Bolt was on with Daily Telegraph columnist, Miranda Devine. To those who don’t know, they had a feud in 2015 after Malcolm Turnbull ousted Tony Abbott as Australian Prime Minister. Devine slammed Bolt for standing by Tony Abbott and his – then Chief of Staff, Peta Credlin – someone who Devine blamed for Abbott’s fall.

She went on Win’s “Today Show” with Karl Stafanovic insulting Bolt, calling him “delusional”.

From what I heard, there was a lot of mincing words, misrepresenting, talking over each other and it all came to ahead when Bolt spat it and threatened to hang up. Things started to calm down after they had a few callers.

Frankly I couldn’t believe what was going on when I turned it on my iPad. In my view, both Bolt and Devine were at fault. Devine shouldn’t have interrupted Bolt continuously, but Bolt, could have been a little bit more professional and not have thrown a tantrum and threaten to hang up. They could’ve both skipped the word games, too (i.e. lost vs losing and whether the polls mattered or didn’t… it was just ridiculous).

Anyway, last night was a lot more cordial. Devine explained the relationship with Bolt as like brother and sister and how Monday night was a “robust discussion” and “sibling rivalry”. They assured that they they were still really good friends.

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I still think both of them could have conducted themselves better. They are both professional journalists/ presenters. They both work for one of the largest and last standing commercial media companies in Australia (Newscorp).

I’ll cut them both some slack and say that the way they conducted themselves on Monday night isn’t isolated to them. It grates me how journalists – both from the Left and conservative – make a bad habit of mincing words and talking over the top of others. An example of this in recent years (2015, I think?) was a feud between Weekend Sunrise co – host and “The Chaser Australia” host, Andrew O’Keefe and former Labor senator, Mark Latham when talking about the issue of feminism, domestic violence and the gender pay gap. along with “The Guardian (Australia) columnist,. playwright and author, Van Badham and, again, Miranda Devine. This caused a social media backlash against O’Keeffe, with calls for him to be sacked (he’s still there. by the way. He’s still on “The Chaser Australia”, too.)

Maybe journalists do it for ratings sometimes, or, more likely a clash of personalities, ideas and opinions. Surely you can be “robust” in discussion without being rude, without being condescending and without throwing a tantrum. Again, Bolt, Devine and O’Keefe are professionals. They should act like it. Sure, DEBATE, but also LISTEN. And keep cool headed. Then again, I’m not a professional journalist (yet?… who knows). As a listener and viewer I’m a little bit disappointed at how far it can get.

Since last night was so cordial, I”m hoping that there isn’t a “Round Two” of Monday night.

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If it does arc up again, I’ll be turning it off and keeping it off, at least until someone replaces Devine (either Price or Michael McLaren).

 

How do you cope with journalists talking over the top of each other? Do you bear it, turn off? Does it turn you off a journalist/ commentator or show completely? Feel free to drop your thoughts down below. If you’re a journalist, I’d love to know what you think, too. 

If One Nation wants to represent all Australians, that includes single – parents and the LGBTQ+ community

It seems like Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party can’t stay away from controversy for very long. It’s not Hanson’s fault. To her credit, she has dealt with some of the cases I’m about to talk about. The thing is, it seems to be happening again and again.

First, Senator for Ipswich, Queensland, Shan Ju Lin was sacked after it was revealed that she falsely claimed that two men who were cleared of sexual abuse of young children committed the crimes because of their sexuality. She didn’t apologise for those comments, but instead doubled down.

Next Glasshouse, Queensland candidate, Tracey Bell – Hensellin, made a number of anti – gay comments on her Facebook page, accusing the LGBTQ+ community of “grooming” after a number of  children’s shirts displayed pro – gay messages and claiming that they set out to “destroy families”. Now, this time, according to “The Courier Mail”, Hanson stood by the candidate, arguing that the comments weren’t anti – gay.

Wait, I’m not finished yet. There’s another one.

Third candidate to come in the spotlight is member for Pilbara, Western Australia, David Archibald. He’s dealt two major blows. Archibald labelled single mothers “too lazy” to attract a partner. He’s no ally to the LGBTQ+ community either, claiming that homosexuality was an “acceptable loss” and that only a “degenerate culture” would legalise same – sex marriage.

 

Australia, this has been a part of your Senate for nearly a year and a half.

Pauline Hanson says again and again that she represents the people of Australia. Well, frankly she should have picked her candidates better, because SURPRISE, “Australian society includes single parents (both mothers and fathers) and members of the LGBTQ+ community. Sure, Archibald, Ju Lin and Bell – Hensellin aren’t alone in their disparaging views against LGBTQ+ people or single parents. But surely politicians should be held to a higher standard. Surely, they can have a little respect for all people in their electorate. That includes single parents – both mothers and fathers and members of the LGBTQ+ community.

 

I’m personally sick of the LGBTQ+ community in particular being attacked. I’m also sick of people getting away with it – well – at least for the most part. And, this even goes on in the Parliament. The people who are meant to represent ALL Australians. I hope that the next three or so years are not just full of  anti – LGBTQ+ abuse spewed by Parliamentarians, often without consequences. I also hope that single parents aren’t so stigmatised that domestic violence victims feel ashamed for leaving their abuser and fear being labelled unfairly. No one knows the personal circumstances of a single parent, so don’t assume and stigmatise. Is that so hard?

 

Now, I can imagine people protesting right now – but what about free – speech? Well, sure they have the right to say what they want without too much government interference, as we all do. Well, maybe that’s debatable since we have 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975… that’s for another post for another day. But generally, we have free speech in this country. However, I do not think that “free speech” should not mean free from criticism and consequences. It does not mean that someone can’t or shouldn’t be sacked because of what they say, including on social media. It does not mean that you can be unapologetic when you get something gravely wrong, especially when it has the potential to cause harm. Also, LGBTQ+ people, ethnic minorities, single parents, etc shouldn’t have to grin and stay silent when being stigmatised.

 

Parliamentarians should be held to a high standard in conduct, including on – line. Also, I’d ask, how much do minorities need to put up with? How many times do LGBTQ people have to be likened to “predators” and “mentally ill” before we can protest? I’ve had it!