Panic stations

Yes, you could be forgiven for thinking things have changed in Australian politics recently… until you notice the distinct aroma of desperation.

Rather than call an election, our PM has begun making noises about indigenous rights, gay equality and Tony Abbott has started dog whistling the religious right to improve his chances for re-election or leadership.

The thing that is probably most offensive about this turn of events is the fact that John Howard openly admits that he’s been struggling with the idea of offering Indigenous Australians a little dignity. Something that ought to be absolutely obvious and necessary, the acknowledgement of past abuses and a decision to do something constructive, let alone an apology, has taken ten years to sink in to his self-absorbed and greedy little mind. What an insult. This really gives the lie to the idea of having new Australian citizens take a citizenship test and agree to embrace “Australian values”. What values might they be? Turning a blind eye to racism and genocide? Allowing a proportion of our population, by virtue of their ethnic heritage, to live in appalling poverty and disease? To refuse to acknowledge the abuses Indigenous Australians have suffered for over 200 years? And that’s before we get to things like lying in Parliament to start a war, lying about knowledge of bribes and arms trading with malignant dictators, fabricating stories about children being thrown overboard by refugees in a re-election attempt…. Yanno, it might be better if prospective citizens took an oath to categorically reject these values exemplified by our Prime Minister and his ruling elite.

And not only is he not doing anything constructive, the discussion regarding Indigenous Australians is merely the suggestion of a referendum, some 18 months on, that an alteration be made to the Australian Constitution. Well, it would be nice if something were put in writing, like “sorry”, but this is so patently and transparently a pathetic suck up, it’s insulting.

What is equally insulting is the coalition’s noises about offering some semblance of equality to gay Australians. Like Africans, Asians and the unemployed, homosexuals have been a favourite scape goat of conservative politicians in Australia for years now. Note that the potential is only a rumour as yet, and it’s all about money, not approving same sex marriages. The author of the linked article notes that this could be a prop for Malcolm Turnbull, who looks pretty deservedly set to get his arse kicked otherwise.

Tony Abbott is making a play that is nauseatingly transparent and equally obnoxious.

Catholic social justice groups have expressed fears that the Government’s WorkChoices legislation unfairly affects the vulnerable and cuts the time families can spend together.

But Mr Abbott this week denied there were moral problems with the IR laws saying, “a political argument is not transformed into a moral argument simply because it’s delivered with an enormous dollop of sanctimony”.

The man who once wanted to enter the priesthood himself said in comments to the Institute of Public Affairs that were reported by the ABC: “I do think that if church men spent more time encouraging virtue in people and less time demanding virtue from governments we would have ultimately a better society”.

An interesting reply came from Tim Costello… btw, if you see Tim Costello and Peter Jensen agreeing on something, it’s worth having a closer look at!

World Vision head Tim Costello said Mr Abbott’s comments displayed a “fundamental misunderstanding” of Jesus and Catholic teaching. “Jesus didn’t get crucified because he just went around turning water into wine or wine into blood and saying ‘be good’. He got crucified because he asked questions about who really had power in the society and (talked about) how the kingdom of God includes the powerless and marginalised.”

The more conservative Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Peter Jensen sympathised with the difficulty of politicians making policy, but said “nor is it right to define virtue narrowly as though it is merely to do with personal morality”.

Archbishop Jensen said: “I have a problem with a society in which unionism is a dying phenomenon, because while unionism is not always effective or good, the capacity of being able to join with fellow workers to achieve results is a very good thing.”

Let’s leave aside the issue that the Kingdom of God might be a spiritual thing and not an excuse for Imperial agendas… And the fact that Jensen is one of those who supports the idea of female subordination, a concept that underlies the legislation of what is effectively financial abuse of single mothers and women in general through changes to taxation law, welfare law and industrial reforms… We’ll leave misogyny out of this and focus on the problems with separation of church and state.

Someone, somewhere thought it necessary to keep the two from getting into bed together, in order to avoid fundamentalist abuses, war mongering, an inherently heirarchical society in which many are excluded from power or an effective voice as participating citizens. In this debate and in the US in recent events such as those at Oral Roberts University, we see the lesson and explanation delivered in sharp relief.

Religion is *supposed* to be about supporting personal spirituality and individual lives, providing a structure and accountability for developing humanity. It is not about providing code word cover for legislating into effect blatant abuses and the creation of a class society. It is not about getting your conscience off the hook so you can keep on taking more than your share at the expense of others. It is not about, or should I say ought not be about, creating a political empire and attempting to legitimise its abuses with religious language.

Not that the Labor party is any better mind you. They’re simply biding their time after Rupert Murdoch decided that John Howard’s time is up and pandering to a middle class that have swallowed anti-intellectual resentment and religious white wash.

Just as the mass conversion to pentecostal and right-wing neo-puritan religion will eventually result in a mass exodus and rethinking of theology and spirituality in Australia, the end of the line for the Howard Government really ought to trigger some neck deep soul searching for all Australian citizens. It’s time to examine how this situation of exploitation, lies and damnable greed and hypocrisy came about. It’s time to alter the political system to prevent a single party holding control of both the House of Reps and the Senate. And it’s high time to educate ourselves regarding the use of lies and religious newspeak to cover for career politicians with narrow minds whose Government amounts to little more than theft and malice.

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Three cheers for the blue screen of death

Shameless pilferage from Shakesville. Oral Roberts University faces the blue screen of death Cross posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.

How’s about that then? A laptop crashes and so does a religious empire. Gotta love that.

Oral Roberts is the one who was called by God to raise 8 million dollars for a bible college or “be sent home”. I recall a blogger comment that allowing himself to be killed by God for disobedience would probably have been a more effective demonstration of faith… or at least more humorous.

But what’s the deal with Mrs. Roberts Jnr (property of the son, not the patriarch) sending all these txt msgs to young blokes? Heh, part of me is thinking “half her luck” but not at the expense of Uni students who were guilt tripped into attending godbag college, eh? Wonkette has a brilliant post on “the cougar of ORU.”

Corrente has a take on the story, filed under the appropriate tag “what is wrong with these people” LOL

It’s unfortunate but the way things have developed in recent centuries, well, millenia really, religion has been used by these little nimrods and ahabs to build personal or political empires of wealth and power… with misogyny so deeply ingrained in both the males and their female furniture that it is seen as a sign of good faith. Having said that, it won’t be the abuse of power or hatred of women that takes the spotlight with this one. Already the focus is on the wife.

The whole purity ball thing must just wear off once you’re married, eh? Since a woman’s only real value in that system is her virginity. Will other lunatic fundies see this as “proof” of women’s inherent sinfulness and the need for domination? Hmmm. And what about all the other sexual predators using religion as a cover? Whether it’s the well heeled wife of a millionaire playing Mrs. Robinson, or Ministers touching up girls who go to see them for “christian counselling” the whole nonsensical focus on human sexuality and repression seems to be approaching boiling point.

Pam’s House Blend has another interesting review of this percolating scandal (groan)… Why does god hate Oral Roberts University? and the commentariat are in fine style over there! The post contains a copy of a memo requesting that ORU facilities be seconded to assist a theocrat in a bid for election.

Dunno really. The Witch in me wants to sit back and say “well, when you build glass houses…” but the whole deal is so sordid. It’s hard to gloat at the trouble this will cause, and the pain so many possibly well intentioned students and faculty are going to suffer because of the hoo-haa… when you’re in that place, (fundamentalism) you’re so emotionally and psychologically damaged, so manipulated into thinking and doing everything according to the “word of God” tradition as manufactured by tin-pot Nimrods and their Jezebels. It’s hideous to endure and even worse to try to emerge from. So far it’s taken me 13 years and counting… A bunch of us were chatting about it yesterday, the damage such abuse does to the psyche… *shudder*

My last word, Witch and all, is “poor bastards”.

Hat tip to brilliant bloggers

Tonight I came across the blog Reclusive Leftist, IIRC through Hoyden about town, (including coming across Language Log) but that was a couple of blog hours ago… Such awe inspiring intellects may be found about the shop at Facebook… and once you start following links the night simply evaporates into history.

However, sometimes teh commentariat are equally as impressive as teh bloggers. Have a gander at this little effort.

Nights like this do two things. Firstly, a deep sense of appreciation for those of finely crafted intellects who wield such to magnificent effect, illuminating the deepest hypocrisies and abuses of the patriarchy… then the sense of paling in comparison.

It might do to spend more time painting, which I’m no better at than writing, since it’s obviously so well covered by talents far greater than mine. Some time ago I opined that “when I grow up I want to write like Twisty“. While I might now aspire to emulating poor dead Dr. Socks, some days it’s enough to be able to simply read.

Catherine Deveny fan club

Yes, I’ve joined. Actually, it was my doctor who suggested I have a look at one of her opinion pieces “Why do some wives still change their names?

If people really believe that mum, dad and the kids having the same surname is easier, why doesn’t the guy change his name? Why don’t they flip a coin and it’s heads we go for her surname and tails we go for his? Because it is not about it being easier. It makes me despair. We’ve come all this way and we’re still here.

Many women will say that their husbands wanted them to change their surname. So they did. Here’s a flash for you sister: if you do everything that your husband wants you to do, you may find yourself teetering round in a pair of stilettos and an apron all day saying, “Shall I fix some more food for you and the boys?”, or wearing a burqa.

It is a bit odd that in the 21st century we’re still feeling pressured to do strange things like name ourselves as property.

Naming rites has the online discussion of the article. Interesting reading.

Why not adopt the Hispanic system: ie with both the father’s name and the mother’s name so for example Aranxa Sanchez Vicario or Pablo Ruiz Picasso ( he dropped the Ruiz because it is such a common name and as his name became so widely known it was the name he was identified with ).
Notice that in general there are no hyphens, dashes etc just two names equally representing the genetic input of each side.

That makes more sense than fighting it out over ownership.

The question that was put to me was, why is this such a hot issue? Dr Pete was really amused that of all the things Deveny has written, such as a really heated piece about women bishops banned one day but okay the next, in which she brilliantly tackles the manner in which religious leaders are free to interpret the bits and pieces of biblical tradition that suit them, why was she being so criticised for reminding people that it is possible for a man to take his wife’s name?

The problem is that naming rites cut to the heart of male privilege in a patriarchal society. The die hard refusal to change such traditions, or even question them, comes from those clinging to the last vestiges of a sadly outdated but unfortunately still way too healthy misogynist tendency in Australian culture.

But now that women outnumber men in Aus, shouldn’t we be the norm? Shouldn’t we be considered human?

Of course it wasn’t long before the next question came up, why bother getting married at all? And the way fundamentalists portray marriage, that by marrying a woman consents to sex and therefore can’t claim she was ever raped, well, why indeed would you ever get married?

Happy Friday

After another big dummy spit about patriarchal pedophilia, as you do, I’ve decided to remember inner peace rather than remaining apoplectic with rage over pinheaded religious males who insist that it’s their god given right to treat women like toilets. Obviously having been there, the mere mention of such situations can be massively triggering… However… The corporate catchphrase of the milisecond is “moving forward” so lets wipe the foam off the mouth and take a deep breath or three.

Peter Garrett is being soundly criticised for his own lack of criticism of the Gunns paper mill “trash the Tamar for fun and profit” development. What a shame. Yanno, it really seemed that Peter was keeping his powder dry, waiting till the ALP got elected to Government so he could come out with both barrels and take a stand for the environment and, well, something resembling common sense that we haven’t seen in Australian politics in, oh, about ten years. That may still be the case, since it increases the sense of desperation that many are feeling. How on earth do we overcome corporate greed when the results are so clearly coming home to bite us on the collective bum? How many more years of drought do you want?

Personally I’d still prefer Garrett to be PM over Rudd or Howard any day. But those are the options we’re given. The ALP party machine fortunately offers some representation, as distinct from the Libs who are entirely authoritarian. And stupid. And short-sighted. Etc.

With voter registration having fallen neatly through the cracks, I was off the hook from having to worry about going through the motions contributing to a system that see-saws back and forth between Conservative and marginally less conservative… developed over the centuries to select for spinelessness, greed and treachery… with the two alternatives being both Sydney Anglicans… Actually doing something about reducing personal participation in consumer society seemed a much more constructive option. But the Greens.

But… the Greens. If there’d been more Greens in Senate over the last four years, we’d be living in a very different country right now. Not that they’d have been able to completely turn our “rape the planet for Jesus” mentality around in that time, but at least there’d have been some vestige of self-control or limit to the abuses. Of course that’s also providing that corporate media conglomerates paid any attention whatsoever to anything resembling sanity or reasonable forward-thinking political ideology.

It’s beginning to look like de Bono was more right than anyone realised. At least, no one’s tried to act on any of his observations that the current political system in Australia is pathetic, outdated, idiotic and serves the interests of career politicians at the expense of the country and its people.

So it was pleasantly surprising to see what some clever people are doing with Facebook. Some of the groups forming there are funny, some are potentially quite useful. “I bet I can find 1,000,000 people who don’t like George Bush” for example. Support the monks’ protest in Burma is another.

Now, a whole lot of people signing up for an online laugh is not going to have a whole lot of effect on the military regime over there… however it does serve as a basis for connecting people of like mind to organise protests in sympathy and the single most effective protest in consumer society, not buying things from companies that are in bed with abusers. Not that I buy anything from religious freaks anyways, but you get the idea.

What this also does is support people who are critical of abuses. Twenty five years ago when I was going through all manner of trauma over the treatment of the environment, finding very little in the way of outlet for creating change, it was extremely frustrating. These days kids who are aware of the state of things and the need for change can attend concerts, join groups and talk to others who share their concerns. It’s a massive difference when you’re alone and feeling like you would rather be dead than live in a world where pedophilia, misogyny or child mutilation can be “excused” by religious or economic claims. At least you know that there are many, many others out there who know it’s bullshit and that at least provides some hope.

At least Burmese people living in Australia know that someone can hear them and would like to help.

Dunno what the wildlife in the Tamar sense about all this, that’s a little more zen than I’m up to… but it’s marginally easier to feel less overwhelmed by the collective stupidity of humanity if you know that others share your frustration.

Message for Kevin….

dfiu1.jpg Reasons you will hate me provides a timely reminder.

Actually, Ms Fitz has a great blog going there, which includes this little gem:

‘A British reverend has likened Prime Minister John Howard to the man who ordered the execution of Jesus. The Reverend Canon Peter Macleod-Miller has vented fury of biblical proportions at Mr. Howard, claiming his leprous soul should be exorcised out of office to allow compassion back into Australia.’

ROTFLMFAO

Though I must admit, in our household we’re looking at the two options and shaking our heads. Is this the best we can do? Really, in a nation of 21 million people in the 21st century, is this really our best choice?