The Dissemination of Thought

Just because it's in print doesn't mean it's intelligent…

Posts Tagged ‘marriage equality

It’s time to call game, set and match on airtime for Margaret Court

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Sexual abuse can cause innumerable physical and psychological problems to those subjected to it, including homosexuality, if you subscribe to the views of tennis racquet-waving representative of God, Margaret Court.

In her interview in today’s The Sunday Mail, the three-time Wimbledon winner suggests that one of the things that causes gays and lesbians to be as such is sexual abuse, because, from her experience, “many, many of them have been abused.” Them? They’re people, Margaret, not carnivorous plants intent on overtaking the planet. As well as sharing this nugget of genius, Pastor Court has previously alluded to a belief that homosexuality can be cured, as if it was some influenza-like affliction.

As twisted and ludicrous as her views are, we shouldn’t be surprised: after all, this is the woman who tells us that the Bible “is our TV guide to life”. Really, a television guide? Can it tell me what’s on at 8:30pm on Monday? It is The Simpsons or Dexter?

I recently published a piece called ”When should free speech and personal beliefs take a back seat to the greater good?”, in which I defended Margaret Court’s right to free speech. That post was about freedom of expression and when the line should be drawn, not what she actually said. This article is about her opinions and what she’s said. Game on, my serve.

Television guide, or bible in disguise? Does the Bible show cleavage and have a crossword? Source: adrants.com

Why are the mainstream newspapers continuing to devote so much column space to this woman and her skewed views? Not only are they continually reinterviewing her and getting updated comments (Author’s note to media: her views will never waver, even in the face of evidence and common sense), the Herald Sun published her 975-word rant that’s about as balanced as me attempting a handstand. It isn’t an insightful, engaging piece. It’s nothing more than a sermon: a one-dimensional, religious vociferation that should have been trapped inside the walls of her church, and serves no benefit to the wider audience than to demonstrate just how unaccepting and uncompromising Margaret Court is. To the editors: are the increased sales and website hits generated by the controversy that she spews forth worth making your publications look like the personal journal of a bigoted, Bible-wielding sexagenarian? That’s right, Margaret, I said sex. While I’m not married. I also masturbate and count several of them homo folks as my friends. Strike me down.

In her article, she affirms that “a person’s sexuality is a choice”, and that the Bible states “homosexuality is among sins that are works of the flesh”. Is that the same Bible that says women shouldn’t speak in the church? I guess one way around that little doozy is to start your own church. Is there a chance I’ve misinterpreted the scripture? Yeah, the Bible’s funny when it comes to interpretation and ignoring the parts that don’t align with your personal agenda.

Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

1 Corinthians 14:34-35 (New International Version)

My favourite part of the piece is where she suggests that, if Australian society continues on its wicked path (a path that apparently includes wanting to treat people equally, regardless of their sexual preference) into damnation, “God will take his hand off our nation and the lights will go out”. No, Pastor Court. The Almighty doesn’t make your lights go out: that’s the lovely people at Synergy when you fail to pay your electricity bill.

With this publication in the Herald Sun, Margaret Court has gone beyond expressing herself freely. She’s now publicly preaching to the masses, aided by newspapers that seem happy to print narrow-minded, prejudicial and discriminatory opinions in the guise of newsworthy stories.

Here’s the thing, Margaret: you aren’t the self-appointed beacon of light for humanity. Those of us who believe that someone’s sexual orientation or lack of religious conviction doesn’t make them less of a human being are sick of you using your public profile pulpit* to continually tell us we’re all damned. Sure, we recognise your right to voice your opinion, but please use your inside voice. Inside your church, where people want to hear your views. Hell, I’ll even throw $10 at the Victory Life Centre if you just shut the fuck up.

* Author’s note: try saying that five times quickly while drinking vodka and juggling kittens.

Yeah, that's the face of someone with a rational perspective. Source: Herald Sun

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When should free speech and personal beliefs take a back seat to the greater good?

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In 2012 Australia, you can affirm anything you like, even if it’s unjust, narrow-minded or based on a belief that may be less than sound. Unfortunately, there’s no rule that dictates free speech needs to be well thought out and factual. When this is considered in the context of the free speech of a private citizen versus that of an elected official, it raises a pertinent question: should the personal beliefs of politicians take a back seat in order to champion the causes of the people who elected them, even if the causes don’t align with their individual faith or opinions? Should free speech apply to politicians while they are acting on behalf of the greater population?

A great many words have been, and will be, written about tennis champion Margaret Court’s views on homosexuality, especially in the lead-up to the Australian Open. Gay rights activists are planning on using the arena that bears her name as a quasi protest site during the event, and have called for it to be renamed because of her outspoken opinion. I’m sorry ladies and gentlemen of the protesting persuasion, but she’s entitled to express her views, however ludicrous and bigoted they may be.

I’m an advocate for equality and same-sex marriage. I’ve written numerous pieces centering on the subjects, but I think Margaret Court should be allowed to speak. I believe her opinions are that of a narrowed-minded zealot and based on irrational religious beliefs, but I also assert that she is entitled to have and air them. Does hearing her purport that same-sex marriage would “legitimise what God calls abominable sexual practices” anger me and make me want to smack my head against a wall? Absolutely, but it’s her individual point of view. I’ve got mine. You’ve got yours. While I’d relish the opportunity to debate our differences of opinion, I learnt a long time ago that arguing with any sort of fanatic is futile: trying to have a rational, intellectual discussion with someone who isn’t flexible in their beliefs or accepting of facts and new ideas is never going to work. That said, providing we don’t incite hatred or endanger public safety with our opinions, we should be free to express them, whether privately or publicly, without fear of condemnation or reprisal.

There has been limited media coverage about the annual neo-Nazi Hammered Music Festival, most of which has focused on why this hate-filled, disgusting celebration of white pride is allowed to take place. As abhorrent as this event may be, it’s being held on private property, presumably out of sight and earshot of those who don’t want to hear it. Whether you wish you acknowledge the fact or not, attendees and performers are just as entitled as the rest of us to think and believe what they want. They aren’t spewing propaganda or spouting their preposterous views to the masses, and they aren’t airing their personal opinions publicly, unlike many who use the spotlight to constantly reiterate their beliefs.

Margaret Court has used her celebrity to broadcast her beliefs and faith, as well as raise the profile of her church, but is there really a problem with this? While some of her statements, including the affirmation that homosexuality is a choice, may be insensitive and not based on fact, she is free to say it. She’s not provoking violence or abuse against the gay community, and she is not acting on behalf of a group, nor is she an elected official.

What if Margaret Court was in a public position of power? What if she was a Member of Parliament? What about Premier of Western Australia? If she was Prime Minister, should she be free to express her deepest and most closely held beliefs while in that position? In my opinion, no. Someone who has been entrusted to act on behalf of a large, diverse group needs to be able to forgo their personal agenda and take their narrow-minded views, be they religious or not, out of the equation when making decisions that impact the community as a whole.

Source: tracker.org.au

In Australian politics, there are currently several high-profile elected individuals with very strong religious views who have no qualms about letting these beliefs guide them while acting in their official capacities on behalf of the Australian people. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, a practising Catholic, was quoted in December 2009 in the Herald Sun as saying, “I think it would be impossible to have a good general education without at least some serious familiarity with the Bible and with the teachings of Christianity.” While he has, on several occasions, suggested that politicians should not rely on religion to justify decisions or a specific point of view, his comments make it clear that his faith plays a very strong part in his thought process and rationale. Independent MP Bob Katter is on the record as stating that marriage equality is a stupid idea that “deserves to be laughed at and ridiculed”. I’m not disputing that they have the right to harbour these beliefs, where’s the line at which the personal views of politicians are required to take a back seat to a more broad-minded, progressive and socially acceptable perspective that’s representative of the views of their constituents?

Tony Abbott and Bob Katter are not alone in expressing their dogmatic views while acting on behalf of the people. In 2011, John Murphy, Labor MP for the seat of Reid in western Sydney, kicked the political hornet’s nest when he advised members of the Australian Labor Party who support same-sex marriage to ”join the Greens”. Is this petulant “my way or the highway” approach reflective of the attitude of his electorate? I think not. One person’s obstinate, black or white view should not be allowed to take precedence over the collective view of the almost 90,000 constituents in the electorate of Reid.

It may sound ridiculous and incredibly hypocritical to promote free speech in one paragraph and then suggest in the next that elected officials need to look past their own personal views in order to take a stance that, while not aligning with their own beliefs, fairly reflects what the community stands for and wishes to see achieved. Perhaps there is an element of hypocrisy to it, but politicians need to recognise that we have entrusted them to be our collective voice, and for this voice to be clearly heard, they have to look at the big picture, which often falls outside the line of sight that their bigoted or conservative blinkers allow.

For Australia to transform into a genuinely modern and forward-thinking society, we need to be led by free thinkers who can accept that personal religious views have don’t have a place in 21st century politics. We need strong leaders who make decisions based on fact and community sentiment, and who don’t feel compelled to constantly promulgate their individual beliefs and agendas; they need to remember that as a politician, they are the mouthpiece for twenty-two million voices, not just one. If our current politicians are unable to separate state from the church, mosque or synagogue, they need to step aside and make room for people who can.

When it comes to a group of individuals who have been empowered to represent the people and make untainted, logical choices based on fact for benefit of the collective group, there are occasions where free speech and faith are going to have to ride shotgun.

The Link and my discreetly placed ink

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The Dissemination of Thought has won a Grammy! Well, not quite. But considering my total lack of musical ability, this fabrication is probably as close as I’ll ever come to acquiring a little gilded gramophone. Unless I steal one from Eminem.

Heather from HeatherChristenaSchmidt.com has bestowed upon me the 7 x 7 Link Award, which means that in addition to thanking her profusely for referring people to my blog, I need to revisit 7 TDoT posts and offer them for critiquing by other readers; also, I’m meant to divulge a fact about myself that isn’t common knowledge. While I self-flagellate and determine which of my previous posts I want you to read, I suggest you go and check out Heather’s blog. It’s called The B(itch)Log. Clever, isn’t it? Go on, I’ll wait here for you.

A purposeless fact about me that readers of The Dissemination of Thought may not know:

I have a tattoo. I came up with the concept myself, and the artist made the necessary changes to make it work in the transition from paper to pale skin. It took four hours from start to finish, which is a painfully long time to sit in one place, especially when your attention span is as short as mine.

If you’re in Brisbane and looking to have work done, I suggest you give Bernie at Wild at Heart Tattoo a call.

Most Beautiful

I don’t really do beautiful per se, but I wrote this piece as a tribute to my grandmother, following her passing in November.

Most Helpful

”Petworking: a paw-ly written piece about why felines don’t need Facebook…” helped people understand the pet owners who think that every feline should have a Facebook profile. And play FarmVille.

Most Popular

Based on the number of comments, ”Diamond Rings and perplexing things” gets this gong. Who would have thought that a five minute bus ride would generate so much interest?

Most Controversial

It was one of my earliest posts, but in ”Creationists get on the floor, everybody Walk the Dinosaur”, I questioned why school children were being taught that Adam and Eve weren’t eaten by dinosaurs because they were under a protective spell. I shit you not.

Most Surprisingly Successful

This one goes to “Why I wanted to throw an Oompa-Loompa off a moving ferry: blogging from the BlackBerry”. It would appear that I’m not the only one who finds screaming munchkins and poor parenting irritating.

Most Underrated

I’ve given this one to ”Strippers, beer and Germaine Greer: why the sex industry gets a bad wrap”, which looks at the narrow-minded personal views that people form about strippers and others sex industry workers. I thought it would be more popular than it was, but maybe it just proves that no one ever types “Germaine Greer” and “sex” in the same Google search.

Most Pride-Worthy

I can sum up ”They say any sex is good sex, so why doesn’t it apply to marriage?” in one word: equality.

I could give you my abridged thoughts on the 7 blogs that I’m nominating for the 7 x 7 Link Award, but checking them out on your own will be more fun. And involve less work for me. What’s the risk? I personally think these blogs are awesome. So should you.

Author’s note: I can’t be responsible if you don’t find things awesome. Blame your parents. Or that gap on the shelf where your sense of humour should be.

That’s Just Ridiculous
Impassioned Rantings of an Unbalanced Mind
healthytakeover
The Sonia Show
Pasta for One
frugalistablog
Solomonian

For those readers who haven’t yet done so, please follow me at The Dissemination of Thought Facebook page. It’s ridiculously easy to do. Just click this link. Then click on the Like button. It’s as simple as boiling an egg, without the scalding. And the egg.

Finally, it’s starting to look more and more like the 21st century in the Sunshine State

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I hadn’t planned a TDoT post for today, but it would be remiss of me to not congratulate the Queensland Parliament for passing the bill that will allow same-sex civil unions to be recognised in the Sunshine State. It’s finally a step in the right direction, but between the amount of media coverage that the decision is receiving and some of the comments that it has provoked, I have to ask the question about where we really are with equality, tolerance and genuine open-mindedness. In my current sleep-deprived, emotionally drained condition, the most succinct way I can phrase it is this: why does there have to be so much speculation and debate about whether people deserve to be treated equally in the first place?

Isn’t this the 21st century? The question about same-sex unions shouldn’t even be an issue: it should be a basic right as human beings.

There won’t be any new TDoT posts until early next week, as I’m heading away at the weekend for my 31st birthday. Yes, I’m getting old.

A ridiculous spat by The Kat in the Hat

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There are things that genuinely deserve to be ridiculed. Ten gallon hats in Canberra, for example. After reading this article today, I’m going to add anything that comes out of Bob Katter’s mouth to the list. As far as the Independent MP is concerned, the push for marriage equality in Australia is a stupid idea, and “deserves to be laughed at and ridiculed”.

I find it concerning that an elected member of parliament is laughing off a change that will give all Australians equal opportunity to marry, thus removing the discrimination that currently surrounds the act of marriage in this country. After reading Bob’s comments and observing the make up of the crowd, I’m surprised that someone at the pro-marriage rally didn’t have a banner saying “Discrimination’s okay, if you’re gay!”

During his speech, he alluded to the fact that gay, one of “the most beautiful words in the English language” has lost its original meaning in modern society, and homosexuality is to blame. Bob seems to have forgotten that as languages develop, words often gain new meanings, both official and colloquial. I’m currently rereading The War of the Worlds. In it, H.G. Wells frequently uses the word ejaculate. When he penned the story in 1898, the word was used in a totally different context, and while it’s amusing to read “his landlady came to the door, loosely wrapped in dressing gown and shawl; her husband followed ejaculating” with a 2011 mindset, it demonstrates how easily the meaning of words can evolve.

On what was apparently the day for it, Barnaby Joyce also jumped on the ludicrous statement bandwagon when he suggested that same-sex marriage would be detrimental to his four daughters. According to Senator Joyce, “we know that the best protection for those girls is that they get themselves into a secure relationship with a loving husband…”. What the fuck? While it would probably be pertinent to point out to him that a Y chromosome doesn’t necessarily signal a protected, secure relationship, he’s missing the big picture. Legislating same-sex marriage will mean equality for all, so while his daughters would still be able to marry men, they would also have the freedom and right to marry women, if that was their choice. I find his comment about not wanting any legislators “to take that right” away from him – yes, his right – archaic and somewhat disturbing, but it’s a discussion for another day.

I’ve said it once, and I have no doubt that I’ll say it again: there is no room in politics or the public education system for religion. These battlefields need to be the domain of clear, free thinkers, who are prepared to take an open mind into investigating changes to benefit us all, representative of the views of majority Australia. It has again been demonstrated that when people are asked to make decisions, on behalf of every Australian, that clash with their singular personal beliefs, emotion and bias come to out to play, while rational argument is relegated to the corner, wearing the dunce’s cap.

500 views, puppets and boobs…

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At some stage this morning, someone clicked on The Dissemination of Thought for the 500th time. While it may not seem like an astronomical number in the overall scheme of things, it surprised me a little bit. When I originally began TDoT, it was meant to serve no other purpose than to record random – and often incredibly abstract – musings for my own benefit. But people began to read it, and the evidence would suggest that some of you actually enjoy doing so. Personally, I’m a little disappointed that we’ve reached five-hundred views without any hate mail or death threats. Given that we’ve come this far, I should probably celebrate by writing something worthy of a Walkley, but I’m not going to. Instead, we are going to discuss Sesame Street and breasts.

The argument about marriage equality reached a ridiculous new level this week, with the launch of an online petition, the main objective of which is to convince the powers that be at Sesame Street that Bert and Ernie have been living in sin for far too long, and that wedding bells should be heard in the not too distant future. While I strongly advocate same-sex marriage, this is farcical, and I’ve identified two main issues that stand in the way of a union between Bert and Ernie.

Issue 1: Bert and Ernie aren’t actually gay.

While everyone seems to assume that they are partners, it’s not actually the case. Sesame Workshop released a statement saying “Bert and Ernie are best friends” and that they were “created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves.” Essentially, people have seen two characters of the same sex who are great friends, and decided that the gay label fits. Why? For some, it helps to promote a cause. For others, it’s just easier to throw an ignorant, blanket label on something, without determining whether or not the label is justified. People can infer what they want from how Bert and Ernie interact, but they haven’t been developed as gay characters, so in my book, they aren’t. Yeah, they share a bedroom, and at times, a bed, but that proves nothing. Hell, they don’t seem to have jobs, so sharing a small apartment with one bedroom is obviously going to be the most cost-effective way to live.

Issue 2: Has anyone noticed that they are puppets?

This is an important point, so pay attention. Bert and Ernie are fucking puppets. They spend their days with someone’s hand up their asses. While I’m sure that there’s an incredibly inappropriate joke in there somewhere, everyone seems to have lost sight of the fact that Bert and Ernie are basically nothing more than foam, felt and other puppety materials. Yes, I am aware that puppety isn’t a real word. No, I don’t care – it sounds cool. A puppet is a tool of entertainment, and more importantly, an inanimate object. As such, it doesn’t have a sexual orientation, unless it has been developed as part of its character. Had the creators of Sesame Street cultivated Bert and Ernie as being gay, I couldn’t wait to see Elmo be the ring bearer at their wedding.

Lisa: Dad, what’s a Muppet?
Homer: Well, it’s not quite a mop and it’s not quite a puppet…

When I’m wrong, I’m usually really wrong. When I wrote about the perils of amateur tattooing back in October, I naturally assumed that ”penis” and “tattoo” were going to be the strangest words that I ever got to use in the same sentence. And they probably would have remained so, had The New York Times decided not to publish a story about the octogenarian who got a boob job. Stop the press, we have a new winner. Apparently cosmetic surgery is all the rage amongst those enjoying their golden years, including Californian great-grandmother, Marie Kolstad.

In all seriousness, this shouldn’t be a newsworthy story. Apart from the shock value of picturing breasts from the era of penicillin discovery, who fucking cares what someone decides to do with their own body? How many breast augmentations are done daily without global media coverage? A twenty-something friend of mine had one performed years ago, and when she came out of surgery, there wasn’t a solitary journalist to be seen. So what’s different? Age. We can’t seem to embrace the notion that people of the same vintage as our parents and grandparents want to look good and feel great about themselves. If these older individuals want to seize – or possibly rediscover – their sexuality, more power to them – I’d just prefer not to read about or imagine it. Regardless of age, people have the ability to be viewed as sexual beings, with clearly defined sexual orientations, unlike puppets.

So here we are, at the conclusion of this inane post. You made it. One can only hope that when The Dissemination of Thought pushes past 1,000 views, we won’t be philosophising about puppet nuptials or repressing the thought of 83-year-old nipples. Speaking of the latter, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go and assume foetal position in the bathroom with a bottle of vodka.

They say any sex is good sex, so why doesn’t it apply to marriage?

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There are several reasons that I’m pro-gay marriage. Most of the reasons are based on common sense, and the belief that the free choice and the option to make important life decisions shouldn’t be restricted by the fact that you are a boy who likes other boys, or a girl who likes girls. One of the other reasons is that this is the twenty-first century, and we tend not to burn people at the stake for appearing to be different anymore. If you believe what you read in the media, it would appear that I’m not alone, and that the public voice in support of marriage equality is gradually getting louder. One would hope that those whom we have elected to act on our behalf would genuinely hear this voice, but it seems that a lot of them only hear what they want to hear. Exhibit A in support of this argument is John Murphy, the Labor MP who doesn’t believe that there is a strong public backing for change, and whom suggested last week that ALP members who advocate same-sex marriage should “join the Greens”. Really, John? Perhaps you should take a look at the ALP’s values, which include fairness, as well as democracy and freedom.

Labor believes that all people are created equal in their entitlement to dignity and respect.

Labor values the freedom of all people to hold whatever beliefs they choose while respecting those of others, and the freedom to express those beliefs without fear or favour.

I’m lucky to be surrounded by a lot of amazing people in my life. Some of them are straight, and some of them aren’t. Some of them are married, and some of them are aren’t legally able to be. A few of my close friends are in long-term, committed same-sex relationships, but the option to take the next step in their commitment isn’t afforded to them. There’s every chance that they may not want to get married, but it’s a moot point – shouldn’t they have the right to choose for themselves? They work. They pay taxes. They contribute to society as much as anyone else, yet on the face of it, our elected law makers seem to believe that they shouldn’t have the same rights as other Australians bestowed upon them. When you remove all of the emotion and bullshit excuses from the equation, all the current laws do are prohibit people in same-sex couples an option that is unchallenged and freely available to heterosexual Australians.

Australia purports itself to be one of the most developed, culturally forward-thinking countries on the planet. If this is to truly be the case, we can’t continue to deprive individuals of the free choice to make the same life decisions as everyone else, based purely on that individual’s sexual orientation.