The Good Old Days

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook.

The Good Old Days

The Good Old Days

Back when I was a teenager I used to call kids “faggot” or “queer” as an insult. The intention was to be a bit more insulting, a bit more vicious than just calling them “dickhead” or “wanker”.

I haven’t used those words as insults in years – decades, really – and I’m now ashamed I ever did. I stopped because there was almost certainly a gay kid who heard me say that, even if I didn’t say it to them, and assumed that I thought being gay was the most disgusting, repulsive thing I could think of. The worst of the worst. Human shit. Probably should just kill themselves and get it over with.

I didn’t think that, by the way. If I’m being honest I wasn’t thinking at all much when I said those things. They were just words to me. But I said it, and I am now wishing there was some way I could find every gay or bi kid that ever heard me and apologise to them. I’d like to find every straight kid that heard me, and say that I was stupid and cruel and am now ashamed.

I don’t recall ever insulting anyone by calling them “wog” or “spic”. Somehow I knew that wasn’t OK. But I know others did, and I suspect some that did are now bemoaning the “good old days” when everyone wasn’t so god-damn sensitive.

The fact that those words were used without fear of offending anyone didn’t mean they didn’t offend.

So yes, I remember laughing at the gay kids, and the kids who weren’t gay but I said were. Possibly I helped push someone into suicide. Or maybe not. Maybe I just helped make them hate themselves a little more.

Either way. Hardly “good old days”.

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Three Questions for a Plebiscite

To be clear – I do not want a plebiscite on marriage equality in Australia. Among other problems it will give legitimacy to the ridiculous and repugnant notion that the basic civil rights of a persecuted minority should only be granted if the majority choose to allow it.

But in the event that a plebiscite is held on the issue, there are three questions that should be asked. Continue reading

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How To Address The Stupid Arguments Against Marriage Equality: a cut out and keep guide

How To Address The Stupid Arguments Against Marriage Equality: a cut out and keep guide.

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Classrooms aren’t full of “sinners” – they’re just kids. A reply to John Dickson

This is (I believe) in NSW or Victoria, not South Australia where I live, so it’s less immediate for me – but it’s still a problem wherever it is, when evangelists of any faith think it’s OK to make a child feel this shitty, just so they can offer their “solution” of believing you’re worthless without religion.


Recently, the Sydney Morning Herald ran an article about the ongoing issue of Special Religious Education (SRE) in Australian public schools, and the growing movement of parents and teachers who feel it is an inappropriate intervention into the curriculum. The article described Lucius, a 6 year-old boy who was found weeping on his bed by his father, exclaiming “I’m a sinner, Daddy, I’m a sinner.” Lucius claimed to have learnt this in his primary school Christian SRE class, run by volunteers from outside the school. The story of this student being traumatised by a seemingly innocuous scripture class should raise concerns for both supporters and opponents of SRE classes alike.

I tweeted the article to Centre for Public Christianity’s John Dickson, as it’s a topic that I’ve debated with him before. Prompted by my tweet, John penned a defence of the Christian doctrine of ‘original sin’ – the notion that…

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An email to the SA Education Minister

From: Brendan
Sent: Tuesday, 9 September 2014 1:37 PM
To: The Hon. Jennifer Rankine
Subject: Please stay strong and reject the exclusively religious chaplains

 Dear Ms Rankine

 I thank you for refusing to consider the chaplaincy programme while non-religious Pastoral Support Workers are allowed, and I urge you to stay strong in the face of pressure from some religious groups.

 I truly do not believe that the ACL and associated lobby groups control nearly the number of votes that they lay claim to. The vast majority of Christians I have spoken to are opposed to the right-wing conservative Christianity that these groups espouse. After all – have you been lobbied by the Uniting Church, the Anglican Church, the Catholic Church, or any other mainstream religious body to accept the scheme as it currently stands? If you have, I can find no mention of it in the press. The ACL even seems to think that the Uniting Church and Anglican Church are not “real” Christian organisations ( around 26min 30s).

 I am convinced you will be more likely to win votes by announcing that you support schools being able to choose the best Pastoral Support Workers they can find, regardless of which religion he or she happens to profess (if any). Even better, some schools might prefer to be able to choose a qualified counselor (even though the same money would buy fewer hours from a qualified counselor), or a community liaison officer, or some other person who might be more needed at a given school. These are options that Abbott are simply not offering – but he should.

 But looking beyond votes – I urge you to continue to reject the notion because it is unfair and un-Australian. The Schools Ministry Group are requiring taxpayer-funded Pastoral Support Workers to be celibate if unmarried ( which immediately excludes the thousands of gay Christian Australians. (Surely that would illegal discrimination in anything other than a religious organisation.) And that’s over and above the exclusion of millions of good, caring, decent Australians of other faiths, or no faith. They even exclude Christians who happen not to go to church regularly.

 I wholeheartedly support the continuation of Pastoral Support Workers in schools, provided the teachers of that school like their PSW and want them to continue. The PSW in my local school is a delightful human being, who has done a lot of good for the students in the school (without, I may add, pushing her religion on them). The principal wants her to continue and I hope he gets his wish. However it is unconscionable that taxpayer-funded PSWs in a pluralistic society are required to be from one specific religion.

 So thankyou for your stand, and please, stay strong.




 PS – while I am a member of the Fairness in Religions in School (SA) group, I am writing as a concerned parent and angry taxpayer and not in any official capacity from that group.

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Green Pastoral Support Workers

I’d like to propose sending Green Pastoral Support Workers (GPSWs) in to our high schools, to encourage good values within our schools. Because members of other political parties, or no political parties, have no good values.

Only members of the Greens party would be eligible to apply for these taxpayer-funded jobs, of course. You’d need to prove that you’re a signed-up member of the Greens party, and you’d need to attend regular party meetings before you’d be eligible. Anyone from any other political party (or no party) would be ineligible to apply. We only want dyed-in-the-wool, whole-hearted Greens supporters to become Green Pastoral Support Workers. There’s nothing wrong with that, because they’ll be Greens Pastoral Support Workers.

But of course there’s no need for supporters of the Labor, Liberal, National, or any other political party to worry about GPSWs being politically skewed, and having unfettered access to the minds of our budding young voters, because the GPSWs would operate in a purely non-political manner within the schools. There would be guidelines that the Greens Pastoral Support Workers would follow, saying that they’re to remain non-political, and not even talk to students about politics. Unless the student brings it up, of course, in which case it’s then fine for them to talk about politics.

And anyway, if there are any hints that the GPSWs are not being perfectly non-political, then you still don’t need to worry because the Greens will write guidelines to ensure that it will never happen. And if someone does think it’s happening, then the Greens will take whatever steps they think are necessary to fix any problem that can’t possibly happen because their guidelines ensure that problems will never happen. Don’t worry, it’s in the guidelines.

We will send GPSWs in to our high schools to help young Australians who have questions about their country, the political situation, or any other part of life. Their GPSW could then help them understand better, or if necessary refer them to an outside group. These outside groups could be a local council, or a political party, perhaps – whichever group the card-carrying Greens Party member thinks is appropriate for that student. In their totally unbiased opinion.

Oh – and in case you’re wondering, I’m not yet entirely sure whether I’m writing this as satire, or as a serious suggestion. I’ll let you know when I work it out.

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Make chaplaincy secular? No! Abolish it!


Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear

wolf-in-sheeps-clothingFollowing the reversal of the decision to allow the employment of secular welfare workers under the umbrella of the National School Chaplaincy program, there has been much chatter on social networks about how outrageous it is to deprive schools of this option.

Increasingly, attention seems to be turning away from the idea that the National School Chaplaincy Program is an ideological and political pork-barrel program based on no research and with no performance indicators. Instead, there is nostalgia for those halcyon days when the NSCP (renamed the NSCSWP) included secular welfare workers.

“If only the government would allow schools to ‘choose‘,” go the online arguments, “all would be well …”

Well, excuse me for being blunt, but this is absolute, unadulterated bullshit. And, frankly, I’m sick to death of hearing this ill-informed, wishy-washy argument from people who should know better.

The National School Chaplaincy Program was initiated by John Howard…

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