Censorship isn’t the answer

Last night, Andrew Bolt and Daily Telegraph columnist, Caroline Marcus criticised Facebook for blocking a user after he posted on the upcoming postal plebiscite on same – sex marriage.

After pressure from the public, the page and post have been restored.

Defending Natural Marriage's restored Facebook page
Facebook bucked under pressure and restored ‘Defending Natural Marriage’ page
Restored page of Defending Natural Marriage
Facebook page and acciunt of its creator has been restored by Facebook after inquiry by Sky News (Australia)

This has sparked an angry response from some of The Bolt Report fans. In retaliation, some have allegedly retracted support for same – sex marriage,

Screenshot of FB conversation on 'The Bolt Report
Censorship and bullying tactics are driving people away from supporting same – sex marriage

 

The same – sex marriage debate hasn’t been easy for some members of the LGBTQ+ community.  Frankly, it’s made me cry at times, and I’m single and asexual. I can only imagine how it must be for some same – sex couples. To have your identity, your relationship and what rights you should be granted is tough.

However, I don’t think silencing debate will help the LGBTQ+ community. To be frank, the actions of some have been appalling. From the disgraceful treatment of Margaret Court on The Project earlier this year, to the threats made against the Australian Christian Lobby (I’m not commenting on the current case that’s presently before the court), and more, the LGBTQ+ community and the same – sex marriage campaign in particular are bleeding supporters.

Please step back.

The past couple of weeks have been hard for many LGBTQ+ people. I get it. I real,y do. But the attacking of opponents, or even some supporters like Marcus, is just wrong. Stop it!

If you are struggling, don’t be afraid to cry. Journal. Scream,  if you need to. But don’t abuse people in real life or online. If you do say something in the heat of the moment, apologise.

If you think you are struggling too much, please, please reach out and seek help. Takk to a family member or friend. Let them support you. If you think you need nore, seek out professional help. You can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.

Same – sex marriage affects people, maybe including people you care about

I watch Sky News Australia from Monday to Thursday. I have my regulars: The Bolt Report at 7 p.m. Paul Murray Live at 9 and Chris Kenny’s Head’s Up at 11 (although recently, I’ve only been watching the start).

Not surprisingly, their sick of the same – sex marriage debate. I get it. For them, it means nothing. Bolt, Murray and Kenny are straight and married. So are most (almost all) of the panellists they have.

But what about people they love?

Gay marriage image: rainbow coloured hands holding each other.
Image: Canva

To his credit, at least Andrew Bolt has acknowledged his LGBTQ+ friends and family during this debate. Last year, in an interview with Senior Pastor James Macpherson of Calvary Christian Church, Bolt admitted that he regretted the strain that the same – sex marriage debate had on his relationship with someone he’s close to. Recently, I have to say, on his shows, both on The Bolt Report and 2GB, he is often very cautious and keeps his loved ones in mind when talking about his view, even in his recent criticisms about the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and their data on same – sex parenting.

Pic of Andrew Bolt last year being interviewed on "Think Again" conference
Andrew Bolt expressed regret over the strain that the same – sex marriage debate has had on some of his loved ones

But while Chris Kenny and Paul Murray don’t oppose same – sex marriage, I get annoyed that they talk about the plebiscite as if it’s of no consequence to anyone. That’s how I view it, anyway. Yes, lives ARE affected. Whether you like to admit it or not, some LGBTQ+ people do see this as a personal attack on their rights to live authentically.

 

I’ve written before about the need for more voices from the LGBTQ+ community and those who care for them or work with them (i.e. in mental health), into the debate. Not that I’m knocking people, especially Paul Murray for his stance, not just on this, but other issues as well, such as the alleged bomb scare at Melbourne’s Joy 94.9 last year. His regular panellist, Graham Richardson defended Alan Joyce after he was publicly criticised by tennis champion, Margaret Court. I’m not knocking these guys. I’m really not. But while we should value them as an LGBTQ+ ally, I don’t think it’s the same as letting an LGBTQ+ person being able to openly talk about their own experiences; why the issue means so much to them.

 

Mamamia has done this. Angie Green wrote a passionate open letter expressing why same – sex marriage was important to her, and it was her brother. Why can’t we hear more about relatives of LGBTQ+ people about how they feel about same – sex marriage?

The reason why I bring this up is because, for some, this is not a ‘non – issue’. This is about people’s lives. It is about safety and for certain members of the community to live authentically, without fear. It is about being legally recognised as married, but also, I believe a social affirmation that LGBTQ+ have freedom of expression and can do things like hold their partner’s hand in public. That is a separate issue, and it won’t be automatically granted if (when) same – sex marriage is legalised. But that’ll be another crucial step to acceptance.

We need to stand against antisemitism

Animation of Jewish synagogue
Image: Canva

The local council of Bondi, Sydney, has prevented a Jewish synagogue being built due to the threat of Islamic extremism. The Land and Environment Court has agreed with this decision.

This has understandably outraged the Australian Jewish community and non – Jews alike. And it shouldn’t be tolerated. Anti – Semitism needs to be condemned. Period. If the Australian Jewish community are in any danger, the answer is not to punish the Jews by not allowing them to have a house of worship. The answer is to crack down on anti – Semites — that includes some Muslims.

 

We should all know the danger of antisemitism if we have learnt anything about the rise of the Nazis in Germany in the 1930’s and the Holocaust. This is why I feel so strongly against this. Andrew Bolt is right on this. The Bondi Council and the Land and Environment Court are letting Islamic extremists win. It’s also letting antisemites win. Why can’t they be protected? What’s more, why is antisemitism becoming OK… again?

Anyone who threatens the Jewish community, or makes any indication that they shouldn’t be safe needs the book thrown at them. The only fitting punishment for extreme cases, such as threats is jail. For a long time.

It goes beyond that, though. Antisemitism needs to become unacceptable in society, just like racism, sexism and even homophobia are starting to be. If you see any antisemitic speech on social media, I’d say report it. Or, at the least, (if safe to do so), confront the person who’s made the comment. Don’t allow yourself to be antisemitic either.

From what I understand about World War II, the Nazis thrived on antisemitic propaganda that went unchallenged. People in the media who tried to bring to light what was going on were punished. Many Germans didn’t know the horror of the Holocaust until it was too late. This can’t happen again. Good on both Joe Hildebrand and Andrew Bolt for bringing this to light. I offer a plea to all other journalists in Australia, please, please, please call out antisemitism when you find out about it. And good on the caller to 2GB that brought it to Steve Price’s and Andrew Bolt’s attention last night.

\To all the Jews, both in Australia and abroad, I am so sorry what you’re going through. I’m sorry if some of you feel that history is repeating itself again. I sincerely hope it won’t. I think if people like Bolt, Hildebrand,  Herald Sun’s Rita Panahi, or even myself can call it out and demand that we won’t be silenced, then, hopefully, it’s something.

 

 

Maybe polygamy/ polyamourous marriages are the next step?

Polygamy (polygyny) image via iStock images
Gay marriage then polygamy? Image: iStock

 

I hate to say it,Andrew Bolt may have a point about the slippery – slope argument on gay marriage. I say  “maybe”. I have checked online, and yes, the story does check out. Three gay men in Colombia have had their relationship recognised legally; Victor Hugo Prada, John Allejandro Rodriguez, and Manuel Jose Bermudez. They have been recognised as Colombia’s first “polyamorous family”. According to news.com.au, they now legally have legal and inheritance rights granted to them by the Colombian Supreme Court.

So what does this mean? Does this mean that gay marriage inevitably leads to the legalisation of polygamy? Last year, on an older blog, I wrote an extensive post about the potential hazards that polygamy can have on individuals, families and society. I linked an article by Zainab AL Hammadi.  

Since then, I have read more articles, including from those that have lived in polygamous households, particularly from ex – Mormon Penelope Lane. It was far less than ideal for her as a child. Due to pressure, she wrote another article citing studies from Professor Joseph Hendrich, further reinforcing her point.

Doing this research gave me reason to doubt the slippery slope argument against gay marriage. But I also noted there were differences between the two. So, with the latest revelation from Colombia, what conclusion can we come up with?

As I’m writing this, I’m researching Colombia’s marriage laws and it’s complicated – as there is a marriage law and a de – facto law. For foreigners who get married in Colombia, they have to prove that they’re legally divorced or a spouse has died if they’ve been married before, as well as having other documents such as birth certificates translated to Spanish. Anyway, I’m not a lawyer or an expert on Colombia, so I’ll just leave it at that.

So, this triad has been legally recognised under Colombian law via the Supreme Court. Does this prove Bolt right about what he’s been saying for years? Maybe. Will the legalisation of polygamy or polyamory be able to be argued against? Polygamy (polygyny), yes (as I’ve cited before and linked above). Polyamory? Last time I wrote about this in depth, I said that it was more complicated. At the time, I couldn’t find any conclusive evidence to suggest that polyamory is necessarily bad for men, women, children or society as a whole, unlike polygyny.

 

So, yeah, I’m a bit stumped with this, to be honest. Will it happen in Australia? Maybe. It probably won’t be decided by the Supreme Court as it’s happened in Colombia. Other than that, maybe it’s something we need to think about in Australia. If same – sex marriage is ever legalised in Australia, are we open to recognising polyamorous, or, dare I say it, polygamous unions?

What do you think? Will gay marriage lead to the legalisation of polygamy/ plural marriage?  Feel free to leave your thoughts or any information you know below. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Budget announced – no guts or glory

Design
The Coalition Government has announced the Budget

 

The Coalition has announced it’s 2017 Budget. Not everyone is happy (well, everyone has a gripe with it, I think). Andrew Bolt has slammed it as a ‘Labor budget’. In today’s Herald Sun, columnist Susie O’Brien has called it a ‘fairytale’.

I call it a toothless tiger. It’s clear to me that the Coalition are still scarred by the backlash against Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey in 2014. They aimed to cut welfare, even though much of it was knocked back in the Senate. Some cuts were made, including over $500 million dollars from Aboriginal health services. There was also a proposed plan for a six month freeze on New Start payments and compulsory interviews and ‘activities’ for Disability Support Pension recipients. Due to public backlash, Abbott and Hockey pedalled back on the Newstart  freeze, making potential recipients only wait for a month. There is also spending on education, health and infrastructure projects.

 

I call this year’s Budget a toothless tiger. Gutless really. Unlike Abbott/ Hockey, the Turnbull/ (Scott) Morrison Government went for the middle income earners, the banks and multinationals. The only group that has been targeted and fought back are university students, who will be forced to pay seven per cent more on their HECS – HELP loans, which will be due to be paid back when a graduate will earn just over $40,000 rather than $52,000 a year. Other than that, who, (at least theoretically), would protest the big four banks being targeted? Or multinationals? That’s what I mean by toothless tiger. They went for easy targets, with many concessions (railways, a new Sydney airport, etc). This has caused rumours on a possible election before 2019.

 

This Budget was gutless. While things like the tax cuts for small businesses are OK, there isn’t too much else to go on except to say that it’s infuriated traditional Coalition supporters. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

What did you think of the Budget announcement?

Latham, free speech and responsibility

Sky News (Australia) has sacked former Labor leader, Mark Latham for attacking a student’s perceived sexuality when responding to speeches made on International Women’s Day.

Latham has been well – known for being politically incorrect since joining Sky, both as a guest on “The Bolt Report” and his regular show “Jones and Co”, with 2GB host Alan Jones. The latest jibe, however proved to be too far. While colleagues like Andrew Bolt and Paul Murray were sad to see him go, Bolt criticised Latham for his comments toward the student.

 

Free speech

The news of the sacking has sparked fierce criticism on social media, with some threatening to cancel their Foxtel subscriptions and boycott Sky News.

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Sky recieving backlash on Facebook over Latham’s sacking

 

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More backlash

 

Of course, free speech is also a hot topic when it comes to changing 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, which has been defeated in the Senate. When it came to 18C, for a long time I was torn. I understood why a number of people, including some Jews, worried. However, the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) case made me change my mind. It was unfortunate that three young people had their lives and careers turned upside down because of a number of Facebook posts. The plaintiff, Cindy Prior wasn’t a winner either. She went bankrupt. I believe a law that was meant to protect people shouldn’t result in lives being thrown into turmoil.

 

Now, on the attacks toward Sky News. I think they did a reasonable thing. If they held on to Latham and he said outrageous things again and again, then it would’ve had looked bad on the media outlet. As others have said before, this is NOT a free speech issue. Latham WASN’T legally sanctioned for what he said. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from criticism or being held to account when you go too far. This is what so many people don’t get. If you attack someone (verbally or on – line), then you should be called out.

Also, Sky has every right to decide on policies and codes of conduct that employees should abide by. I’m guessing that, while debate is encouraged and expected, discriminatory or rude behaviour and speech based on someone’s sexuality, race, etc isn’t. Most workplaces do demand that all staff members respect their colleagues and members of the public they associate with, and, in this case, write and talk about. It’s their right. Freedom of speech DOES NOT MEAN FREEDOM FROM CONSEQUENCES!

 

Another thing too – if a law like 18C was to be scrapped, I believe that it would put the onus on the public and the media to not tolerate discriminatory or bullying behaviour or language. This means that it should be called out – always. And people do. For instance, I’ve been particularly impressed with Andrew Bolt this year and how he has rebuked people, like cartoonist Larry Pickering, publicly for making inappropriate remarks against gays and Muslims at the Q Society fundraiser. (According to the Gold Coast Bulletin, Pickering expressed regret on his anti – gay slur, but is standing by his antib- Muslim comments). Bolt has also criticised his colleague and former Coalition member, Ross Cameron for his distasteful ‘joke’ that night. (Cameron did apologise for his comments).

 

I think what Sky News did to Latham was fair. This was NOT an attack on his free speech. It was Sky taking an ethical and professional stand on what they will and won’t tolerate. To be honest, even the Left could take a leaf out of their book – stand for ethics always. Don’t let tribalism stand in tge way for doing what you know in your heart is right.

 

Racial Discrimination Act: change? Scrap?

The raging debate over 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act is still still red hot to some commentators, especially Andrew Bolt. The case involving seven students from Queensland University of Technology – three of which were taken to court by Cindy Prior – after the students were told to leave a computer lab allegedly reserved for Aboriginal students. The boys protested on Facebook, calling it “fighting segregation with segregation” and one asking sarcastically where the “white supremacist” computers were. One of the defendants Callum Thwaites was also accused of using the “N” word, but has emphatically denied it.

While the case was dropped and Prior was demanded that she pay thousands in legal fees, which allegedly sent her bankrupt. While the defendants were ruled as being innocent of any crime, their careers have allegedly being trashed. According to Bolt, Alex Wood explained how his future had been badly damaged and his chosen career had been destroyed:

At that point in my life, it all sort of hit me at once. I was afraid. I felt that uni had been for nothing. I had studied quite hard and had a GPA of 6.3, and I thought that was going to go down the drain. I thought I was going to lose my job and potentially not be able to get a job after uni. I thought my friends would shun me if they thought I was racist. I honestly believe 18C was extremely close to ruining my life and still has the potential to do so.

There were absolutely no winners in this case. Reading about this case,  especially what Wood has said has made me change my mind about 18C. The fact it got as far as it did and had such devastating consequences on everyone involved.

There are three options that are often brought up when discussing this case and 18C – scrap the section, take the words “insult” and “offend” out of the section or leave it exactly how it is. I wonder if there could be another option – have a blanket anti – hate – crimes act that covers race, religion, sexuality,  gender identity, etc.Currently, Australia has a number of anti – discrimination acts, both State and Federal. Why not make it all one?

I would say too, that words like “offend” should be avoided. Why? Because they are too vague and open to interpretation. So what should an anti – hate crimes act entail. Well, quite simply, it should make it unlawful to attack someone because of race, gender, sexuality, etc. I also think that anti discrimination provisions for employers and services should remain. It’s just that, I believe that QUT case has proven that 18C doesn’t work. Even if you win, you lose. There needs to be a line drawn. There is no room for incitement to violence or deliberate discrimination or abuse in our society. However, what I find so heartbreaking is when well – meaning people are dragged through mud and the mud sticks no matter what they say. That’s what I think about the case against Andrew Bolt in 2011. I didn’t read the two articles that got him sued and were banned by the court, but I have since read his arguments since. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard Bolt being branded a racist. Last night on Sky’s ‘Paul Murray Live’, I saw a clip where Labor Senator, Sam Dastyari – who is Iranian born – ranted against changes to 18C. While he didn’t call Bolt by name, it was obvious, I think, that the tirade was partly aimed at him. Unsurprisingly, Murray condemned Dastyari’s speech.

I just don’t think 18C as it is is working. It may have had it’s place in 1975 when the Act was first introduced, but something has gone off. I think it needs to be mended so it can’t be open to interpretation as easy. Like I said, what about have a blanket anti – hate crimes Act instead plus workplace and services protections?

What do you think about 18C? Do you think it should be mended? Scrapped? To those who are in other countries, what anti – discrimination laws do you have? Do you think they work or are adequate? What changes would you like to see? I know these are quite a few full on questions. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.