Take My Seat initiative

Check this out. I’ve ordered one – it should come soon. What a great kid and great idea.

http://carlyfindlay.blogspot.com.au/2016/11/offer-your-seat-badge-commuters-wear-to.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed:+TuneIntoRadioCarly+(Tune+into+Radio+Carly)

Find out more here.

Intersectionality

Hi everyone.

As some of you may know, a few weeks back I wrote a guest post for Carla. She was focusing on different experiences of women, personal experiences. I’d meant to post it here as soon as it was posted there, but other stuff got in the way. I needed to gee myself up a bit, because it’s personal and posting it here is different to posting it to Carla’s blog. (It’s like that whole idea of degrees of separation…Carla’s is one more level removed than here…) Then I realised I needed to edit it, as I had forgot to talk about some things I ought to talk about. Finally, though, it’s here. Ta-da.

 My #YesAllWomen Story
I’ll just say the obvious – the following are musings from my own thinking, influenced by others. I have no formal training in theology, save what I’ve learned in school, at Mass and elsewhere. What I do have is a sense of discernment which has been nurtured in various ways.

I’m a young Australian woman who is both Catholic and feminist. Some would think those two don’t fit. I’m here to tell you that they do – if you reach out with understanding rather than judgement.
I’ve always been Catholic (my parents baptised me into the faith as a young baby). I’ve seen the good side of things thanks to a few well-informed priests (one in particular) and parents, other relatives and friends who have been good examples as well as being willing to discuss things with me and my siblings. I’ve heard and been sickened by the “bad side” of things, the child abuse scandals rocking the Church and stuff. How anyone could do that is beyond me. I’ve also become more aware of the inequalities and hypocrisy in the “institutional Church” (including the flaws which led to the above problem, the handling of which is institutional in many areas).
As I’ve grown up I’ve become more aware of feminism. This has led to an interesting…conflict, you could say, in some matters.
After all, there are certain stereotypes for Catholics and feminism (separately I mean):
* Catholics are (among other things) all totally immovable about rights to life, anti-marriage equality, transpeople and (in certain extremes/ various ways) the role and empowerment (sexually, especially) of women, etc.;
* Feminists are all pro-choice “no exceptions” in many things, including women’s empowerment (sexual and otherwise)…
Total opposites, it seems!
Over time, I learnt that like life, it wasn’t nearly so clear-cut as that. I’m still learning about the different nuances. It doesn’t have to be either/or. Everyone is individual, so we all have slightly different viewpoints about things. I’ve realised that each of us has to decide what we believe in.
Personally, I’m a feminist – an intersectional feminist.
That means that I think that the Church does need to, ah, grow up a bit regarding some things, like sex and women and LGBTI people. However, the Church’s teachings do resonate with me in other matters. I wish to outline a few examples below. It gets a bit wordy, as I like thinking about these things to “get them straight” in my head.
My Catholicism guides me in many ways. I believe that Jesus’ teachings and the teachings of those who follow Him are still important in many ways to our lives today. Like the message of inclusion, non-violence and forgiveness outlasting exclusion, violence and the bitterness that comes from holding onto hurt. Some great theologians (lay and religious), steeped in the Catholic tradition, have said things which resonate with me about authenticity, self-belief and finding one’s path – emotionally and spiritually in particular. I hold onto all of that. Regular readers of my blog will know that by now, given that I do write posts around that reasonably often.
However…
There has been an institutional blindness within the Church caused by an inflexible hierarchical structure of “top-down” solutions. Recent efforts do offer encouragement that this is slowly changing, in the form of baby-steps. I hope that those baby-steps turn into adult steps – soon! If they don’t, then I think it’s highly likely that change will be forced upon them, or else the Church will become increasingly irrelevant.
For starters, the Church has a “women problem”. A lot of Church life is closed off to women, through structures which are still geared towards men. Change is being ‘forced’ upon some parishes already. As more priests retire and no traditional replacements are available, there are more stories of (religiously-trained and lay, married or not) women (and men) leading through necessity. You’ll notice, I also mentioned married men there – I think that there needs to be a rethink on the matter of how they contribute too. We are all people of God – it’d be nice if that was better reflected in what we’re “allowed” to do.
That leads me nicely into discussing LGBTI people. I’ve addressed the “marriage equality” question previously (An Exploration of Equality and Religion and Related Matters). My view is that we should be striving for authenticity as people in all aspects of our lives – including gender and sexual preference. Also, I don’t think Jesus would be that fussed, so long as we “love our neighbour” by practising compassion and mercy. As I say in the linked post above, Jesus was more clearly harsh on those who discriminated and judged others and were hypocrites than he was about their sex lives. The authenticity idea informs other examples, too.
On Carla’s blog, Jenna wrote in defence of her wardrobe. I, too, have had experiences where I’ve been told to dress a certain way. But there was never really that big of an emphasis and it wasn’t because of my gender/sex but because of the occasion (smart casual = Mass clothes usually). I used to not question the general idea. Then, some time ago, I started to. Jenna covered that area pretty well – I dress the way I like to, others’ sense of propriety (and fashion!) doesn’t factor in.
I view the issue of sexual choice and “morality” in a similar way. I’ve grown up with a certain idea thanks to the Catholic faith teachings. I’ve heard some interesting ideas about why it’s “better” to have fewer or none sexual partners before marriage. For example, an idea that previous sexual encounters “colour” the current one, affecting it in ways you don’t want it to be affected if it’s going to last. The problem, as I see it, with the Catholic view (purity and chastity) is that it can lead to shame if the “rules” are broken. This is despite many religious people then saying that we women don’t have to be ashamed – just go to confession and bam! problem solved. That may be nice to hear and feel, but in practice it isn’t always that simple. It still takes time and working through matters.
An overwhelming focus on the sexual (im)morality of certain situations means that miscommunication can result. One person can become guilty over perceived immorality, when the real worry and call for “patience/ abstinence” was actually about emotional maturity. The end result of that is a decrease of communication, followed by feelings of guilt over lying and then hurt from a lack of support/acknowledgement when that guilt prompts the admission of the fact – I’d call that the real sin of the situation, not the sex itself. Thus, the cycle of hurt continues, unless we make the conscious decision to stop and forgive.
Not to mention the issue of shame creates stigma around the survivors of sexual assault and other such trauma, because they’re blamed for “asking for it”. Even when that is also accompanied by blaming the perpetrator, the fact that we blame the survivor continues the cycle of judgement which discourages people from speaking up. It also confuses the issue because in blaming the survivor, we miss the message: no. means. no.
It would be much, much easier if there was less emphasis on the sexual and more focus on the emotional (where the emphasis is/ should be anyway). Then perhaps there might be less confusion and hurt around it. Again – less judgement and more compassion, the way it’s meant to be.
One thing that the Church and some feminists agree on about relationships however: the subject of porn and how it is not good for relationships. It creates unrealistic standards and is demeaning, involving the physical side of things without any context. On the other hand, other feminists disagree. I’m a bit of a fence-sitter on this one.
These ideas and conflicts were reinforced a few months ago, when I went to a Catholic Youth Festival. That Festival was amazing, in many ways. There were so many talks which I gained something from and made me think deeply about myself and my faith. One such talk was by a motivational speaker-type guy, talking about chastity/purity and “love vs. lust” and Catholicism more broadly. Some of the things he talked about were relevant – the emotional content, for example, about “real” love and knowing yourself. There was, however, a lot of “I don’t mean to judge, but girls – stop doing this and start doing this,” and “girls are like this and guys are like that” stuff. Blargh. There were other talks there about faith and love and authenticity which I perhaps enjoyed more – because they were freer of the judgmental talk. There was still a bit of it, but less so. Women – anyone really – should not be dictated to or shamed about their dress or habits, including from other women. It is about personal tastes.
Moving on to another contentious issue: the whole pro-life/ pro-choice thing. This has been an evolving issue for me, as it’s one of those points which many feminists (though not all – see my references) and religious people clash visibly.
Again, I think it is a matter of personal preference and understanding. I believe that by narrowing the debate down to pro-/ anti-abortion (which it often seems to be), we all lose. I believe that contraception and abortion (along with education, healthcare, childcare support, housing assistance and other forms of social welfare…etc.) should be safe and legal. I do not think they should be treated lightly. It’s a delicate balance in my mind. Some have referred to abortion as an “abhorrent form of birth control”. I believe that in the majority it’s more complex than that.
Contraception should be an informed personal choice. Some people have issues about introducing hormones and things into their body, or worry about side-effects and that’s okay. It’s also okay to choose to take them to prevent pregnancy or for other reasons. What is not okay is shaming or pressuring someone else about their choice. I believe that IVF and other supported-fertility treatments have benefits that outweigh the potential “playing with life” label that some religious people might attach, provided appropriate support and protections are given. I’m less sanguine about so-called “designer babies”, where characteristics could be chosen. I accept it on life-saving medical grounds, but I’m leery about other options.
I believe that everyone has a right to life, including the unborn, as I believe life starts at conception. I also believe that “God does not make junk” so to speak, so aborting a foetus just because of a disability, or the circumstances of its conception (and/or designing a foetus specifically to edit out a disability “just because”), is wrong. Of course, there are always exceptions based on individual circumstances. We want all people to have the best start in life. I think we need to talk about these things. My main view is that we should be working on the social reforms which “prevent” abortion by giving better options (like the ones mentioned above), while keeping it safe and legal. I think that it should be the woman’s choice but we need to (in a non-judgemental way) be sure that all lives are valued and that personal conversations are able to happen…not just “you should/not have an abortion because of x”.
Personally, I wouldn’t have an abortion myself. However, if a friend of mine became pregnant and wasn’t sure about keeping the baby for whatever reason, I’d hope that I could help by listening and for her to know that there are options. But if she did choose abortion, it wouldn’t cause a rift. (Things might be a little awkward maybe, but I wouldn’t abandon the friendship just because she made a different choice to my hypothetical one.)
I hope you’re sensing a theme. In all these distinctions and similarities between my Catholic and feminist principles, there’s a common goal: sensitivity, respect for difference and non-judgement.
There are plenty of things where it’s easy (for me) to say that Catholics and feminists agree: care of and empowerment of the poor and disadvantaged communities and care of the environment for future generations among them. Both groups just have slightly different angles.
I gain a lot of emotional support and spiritual guidance from my faith. I support and am empowered by my feminism.
The way I see it, each of us is on a journey, where we have to find our own path. Like I said earlier on, we all have to make our own choices. Just, please, think about using a little less judgement and a bit more understanding.
Below are some links to sites which have informed my views:

Christian feminism: http://godspace-msa.com/2016/03/08/international-womens-day-forging-a-positive-sisterhood/

Baby-steps in Catholicism from the recent Amoris Laetitia document, putting the focus back on dialogue, even if there are still some awkward passages –
Download the actual document here: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20160319_amoris-laetitia.html
Some reactions to it:
http://www.ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/part-3-reactions-popes-reflections-family-life
https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/unity-growth-love-church
One Catholic-feminist mother’s reflection on the document: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/suspendedinherjar/2016/04/reading-amoris-laetitia-as-a-catholic-feminist-mom/
Why it’s only a baby-step (written by a woman who writes a lot of thought-provoking pieces):

we need a theology of the body broken and violated

Dumping the phrase “love the sinner, hate the sin”: http://bethwoolsey.com/2013/10/3-reasons-i-quit-loving-the-sinner-and-hating-the-sin/

On dressing how we want to dress, without judgement and why that’s important: http://www.skirtcollective.com/why-my-self-expression-shouldnt-concern-you/
http:// http://www.patheos.com/blogs/suspendedinherjar/2016/04/the-immodest-consequences-of-modesty-policing/

Fixing traditional marriage: http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=45414#.Vvs5P_l942y

A website for Catholic women – I wish I’d discovered it earlier, it’s been running since 2014: http://www.catholicwomenspeak.com/
(and article describing their mission:) https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/place-table

A website hosting religious blogs & things – the Catholic section: http://www.patheos.com/Catholic-blogs – varies from traditionalist to more progressive-but-Catholic

A feminist-Catholic understanding of Mary, Mother of Jesus:
http: //www.patheos.com/blogs/suspendedinherjar/2016/04/how-feminism-strengthened-my-christianity/

Abortion is a complex thing: http://skinnyandsingle.ca/2015/08/22/abortion-no-its-not-for-everyone/
http:// http://www.patheos.com/blogs/suspendedinherjar/2016/02/abortion-collective-responsibility-and-the-s-word/

Why there needs to be less judgement around contraception:
https:// http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/03/22/i-was-a-devout-catholic-not-being-able-to-get-birth-control-shook-my-faith/

Transgender – not the same as transracial: http://www.upworthy.com/a-black-trans-woman-explains-changing-gender-vs-changing-race?c=reccon1

Sex-selection IVF: https://theconversation.com/choosing-childrens-sex-is-an-exercise-in-sexism-45836?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest+from+The+Conversation+for+August+24+2015+-+3294&utm_content=Latest+from+The+Conversation+for+August+24+2015+-+3294+CID_e93b54a12e12cf976f816d0ebf33c746&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=argues

A blog about faith & feminism: http://faithfullyfeminist.com/

Some catholic-trans perspectives:
http://magazine.catholicherald.co.uk/magazine-post/whats-the-truth-about-transsexuality/pugpig_index.html
https://rowanselah.wordpress.com/2013/11/17/god-made-me-this-way/
https://catholictrans.wordpress.com/2013/12/07/what-does-the-catholic-church-actually-say-about-transgenderism/

pro-life feminists: http://www.feministsforlife.org/herstory/

An LGBTI Catholic website tracking progress: https://newwaysministryblog.wordpress.com/

A website for young progressive Catholics: http://youngadultcatholics-blog.com/about/

There are many others. Take a look around the internet – you might be surprised!

 

WT&TT: Pros & Cons of Pro Cons (reblogged)

Hey look, it’s Tuesday. Chuck is talking about the benefits and downsides of conventions for authors.

The Pros And Cons Of Pro Cons (For Writers)

by terribleminds

SEE WHAT I DID THERE?

PROS CONS OF PRO CONS.

I tickle myself inappropriately.

Anyway, so, last week Authorbeing Marko Kloos wrote a post about the cost of his trip to Confusion, an SFF con in Michigan. His estimation of cost: $1880, though he notes with more frugal spending that cost could’ve easily been knocked down to under a thousand bucks.

Still, a thousand bucks is no small amount of cash. With that you could pay rent, make a car payment, buy a month’s worth of groceries, or finally afford a long relaxing weekend with your own personal SEX PONY. Is that an actual pony with whom you make love? Or a person dressed like a pony who just hangs around being sexy? I have no idea! I don’t want to know your peccadillos! I’m not here to judge!

The question, particularly for genre writers, becomes:

Is it worth it?

Is it worth going to a convention or festival not just as a fan but as a professional writer or a writer seeking professional connections? Are some conventions better than others? After all, a genre convention (SFF or mystery or YA) will be different from a more general writer convention (conference) and those will be different yet from a comic-con or book festival.

Do you need to go to one?

Let’s just get the tl;dr out of the way right now:

Nope, you don’t.

THERE I DID YOUR WORK FOR YOU NOW GO HOME.

Wait! I was kidding, don’t go away. Unless you’re going away to get me some French fries. You’re not? Then fine, plunk your BOTTOM REGION down on that CHAIR-SHAPED ENTITY and listen because I’m not done talking, goddamnit. No, you don’t need to go to any convention…

But you may still find value there. You are not required to go — meaning, at no point is your professional career hinging entirely on WHO YOU SCHMOOZED AT THE BAR THAT NIGHT AT WANGLE-DANGLECON. Your writing career hinges on writing good books that an editor likes and a publisher thinks they can sell and that readers want to read and also, there’s a hefty dumpster-load of luck at play, too.

Though, let’s talk a little bit about that luck factor, shall we? If we view luck through the lens of an RPG, your Luck Stat can (by most rules) be used to boost your chances at, say, finding more treasure or managing a critical hit while attacking a VILE DISPLACER GIRAFFE. If we view life as one big ongoing RPG, then your Luck Stat is there to boost your chances in various life arenas from the romantic to the financial to the professional. Very few things rely entirely on luck — but many things can be influenced by luck. Writing and publishing included.

You can not create luck, really. But you can maximize it.

Bringing this full circle, going to a convention or conference or festival can help maximize your luck in this space. Meaning, maybe you cross paths with an agent or editor who will remember you later when your book crosses their desk. Or maybe you’ll meet another author who is likelier to take a look at your book to blurb it when the time comes because they actually remember your face. Or maybe you attend a panel where four authors say a bunch of smart and dumb stuff that combines like IDEA VOLTRON in your head to form your next book. Again, none of this is essential, but a lot of it has the chance to give you a boost in a variety of ways.

That’s the upfront tl;dr —

No, conventions/conferences/festivals are explicitly not “required.”

But they can be worth it.

Let’s now hash out the actual pros and cons, yeah?

(Disclaimer: this post is just my opinion, and does not comprise anything resembling fact.)

Read more by clicking on the title.

WT&TT: Your 2016 Authorial Mandate (reblogged)

Another one of Chuck Wendig’s great posts about writing. Simply? You call the shots – no-one else. Warning for language. Read on:

Your 2016 Authorial Mandate Is Here: Be The Writer That You Are, Not The Writer Other People Want You To Be

by terribleminds

That blog title is way too long, but fuck it.

A handful of weeks ago, some presumably well-meaning tickledick posted a comment here at the blog. It was a comment that I chose not to approve because, really, I don’t need your shit, Rando Calrissian. This blog is my digital house, and I don’t let strangers inside just so they can take a dump on my kitchen table, especially so we can all sit around, smelling it and discussing it. But the comment was a splinter under my nail, working its way up into the finger-meat. And then reading George R. R. Martin’s end-of-the-year message about not finishing the newest SOIAF also was something that crawled inside me and starting having thought-babies.

Being here on the Internet is a bit like hanging out on a clothesline — some days are sunny and warm, other days are cool and breezy. Some days it pisses rain and the wind tries to take you, and other days it’s daggers of ice or a rime of snow or smoke from a wildfire or some pervert streaking across the lawn and stropping up against you with his unwanted nasty bits.

Being on the Internet means being exposed.

You’re just out there. A squirming nerve without the tooth surrounding it.

That’s good in some ways because you’re exposed to new people, new ideas, new ways of doing things. You’re not an isolated creature here. You are an experiment being observed and are in turn an observer of countless other experiments, and that makes a subtle-not-subtle push-and-pull. But can also be erosive or corrosive — it can wear off your paint a little bit.

As a writer in particular, it has its ups and downs, too. Here, you’ll find yourself surrounded by a gaggle of ink-fingered cohorts who know what it is to do what you do. You’ll have a herd, a cult, a clan, a tribe. You’ll have smaller communities who know what it is you write or want to write, too, whether it’s young adult or epic fantasy or erotic sci-fi cookbooks. And here on the Digital Tubes, everybody is has an opinion, everybody is an expert. And that’s extra-true with writing. Other writers have their processes and their hang-ups and their wins and their losses, and they share it all. Which is, on a whole, a good thing. Information is good. Camaraderie is good.

That, though, can muddy the waters at the same time. This Person is doing This Person’s thing, and That Person is doing That Person’s thing, and Other Person is really loud about what WILL SURELY WORK FOR EVERYBODY (translation, will probably only work for people who are or are like Other Person). And advice gurgles up around your feet like rising floodwaters. Do this, do that, don’t do this, don’t say that, don’t write this, this isn’t selling, that is a no-no, publish this way, sell that way, don’t publish that other way, drink this, wear houndstooth jackets with elbow patches, drink that, snark here, snark there, with a fox, in a box, wearing socks, eating rocks, with a bear, without hair, anywhere. We have a whole lot of writers trying to figure out who they really are, and in the process, do a very good job at also telling you who you should be in order to conform to their notions of who they want to be. To confirm who they are, it’s easy for them to also confirm who youshould be, too. That’s not sinister. That’s just human nature. It’s easier to become something when others are along for the ride. And it’s also the joy of confirmation bias — what worked for me confirms that I WAS RIGHT AND SO YOU ARE A HEINOUS DIPSHIT IF YOU DO NOT FOLLOW PRECISELY IN MY FOOTSTEPS. I do it. You do it. Most of us do, I think.

Read more by clicking on the title above.

REBLOG: Togs or Swimmers?

I love language…..

Togs or swimmers? Why Australians use different words to describe the same things

Is Australia about to descend into civil war over whether a deep-fried potato snack is rightfully called a “potato cake” or a “potato scallop”? From some recent headlines, you might be forgiven for thinking so.

A series of maps showing differences in words used across Australia sparked fierce debates online over the virtues of calling a barbecued sausage served in a single slice of bread a “sausage in bread” or a “sausage sandwich”.

Given that these maps were put together as part of an educational activity for students participating in the Linguistics Roadshow, the huge interest in the way Australian English is used across the country took us by surprise. But, perhaps it shouldn’t have.

It’s often said that Australian English doesn’t vary much geographically – and it’s true that we don’t find the same striking linguistic differences across the country as in some other corners of the English-speaking world.

However, past and ongoing research has shown that there are some regional differences. Among the most obvious are the words people use for the same thing, such as swimwear – preferences for “togs”, “swimmers”, “cossie” or “bathers” vary markedly across the states and territories.

A very interesting article from The Conversation. Read the rest here.

Musings on Tolerance (A few links)

The blog post partially reblogged below is written from an Indian perspective – but most if not all can be applied elsewhere (hence the star). Including in Australia.

It’s especially important, perhaps, in light of recent events.

 (from a google image search)

The original link, with the rest of the blog post, is here.
Some further links on this topic:
http://winstonclose.me/2015/10/26/whats-in-a-name-a-right-wing-terrorist-by-any-other-name-would-smell-as-rancid-written-by-john-passant/ – very insightful. The colour of a person’s political stripes doesn’t mean they can’t be a terrorist.
http://theaimn.com/against-radicalisation/ – radicals come in many forms, but are mainly characterised (according to this article) by fervent belief without much critical thought.

What is intolerance and identify its forms? How best to come out of it all?

04 NOV
Intolerance is supposed to have taken place when we do not accept others’ point of view or belief, are not in sync with others’ sensitivities or habits which are different to that of ours, etc. This intolerance could be due to our incapacity to put up with others beliefs and practices. These beliefs and practices could be ritualistic or religious in nature or could be in conflict with our own persisting beliefs and its consequence / spin-off may produce harmful effects on the country as a whole. It should never be forgotten that any over-indulgence in our beliefs and stark disregard or denigrate differing perceptions produces hostility between the communities. Also, the allowable deviation in beliefs, if at all, could be ironed out by sitting of differing communities and reach to a conclusive result by an approach of give and take otherwise intolerance between could result in bad blood and ill-feeling and could prove to be counterproductive to inclusive growth of a country. Divisiveness could spell doom for unity and integrity of a country as well.

Intolerance in any form has disastrous consequences and if not controlled with iron hand can prove ruinous to the inclusive growth first and then shake the very foundation of the state. We should never forget that India* is a pluralistic society and every community has its role to play in its growth and development.

 

Conversations…. (REBLOGGED)

Hi again.

Reblogging a couple of posts which make good points about the need for dialogue when talking about “contentious” things. Finding the common ground should be the important thing. Unfortunately it’s much easier to use what I’ve heard called “wedge politics”, where the two sides try to stay as far apart as possible and ‘wedge’ the other side into a tight spot over the issue. It might get them more supporters in the short term, but in the long term…we all really just want solutions. These bloggers (below) are both American and are talking about gun control. However, their ideas about dialogue over argument can be applied to many things.

Pragmatists, perhaps, get more things done faster than idealists. It’s a hard lesson I myself had to learn earlier in the year relating to asylum seekers. :/
If we find common ground, then solutions should follow. Even if that common ground is at first hard to find. We can be set in our views. All it takes, though, is a willingness to listen and attempt to see things from the other’s viewpoint. Letting go of preconceptions is hard, but we need to try if we’re to get anywhere at all on so many issues.

First, another piece from Kerri (whose post on gun control I posted this morning).

If only…

If only there could be a conversation, rather than a debate about gun control. Let’s take the politics out of the conversation. Instead of having talking points designed to “stir up the base” what if both sides just took a moment and created a dialogue. If only we took out the extremes and found the middle ground. Imagine instead of reading this:

Pro-Gun Control: The NRA is killing your children and we must ban all guns
Anti-Gun Control: The Liberals are taking your guns and your children will be killed

Neither statement is true, in my opinion.  The Pro/Anti monikers could be interchangeable with Anti-Gun and Pro-Gun ownership.  Let’s take off the labels and consider instead the conversation went like this:

Person: I’m concerned about the amount of gun violence in our country. I feel there must be something we can do, as a society, to make our homes/schools/towns safer.
Person: I’m concerned about that as well (aside–who wouldn’t be?).

Imagine how the conversation would progress if we started as common stakeholders in our community’s safety?

Read the rest here.
___________________________________________________________________

Second, here’s Laurie Works, a gun violence survivor.

LET’S TALK… ABOUT GUN CONTROL

For the last couple of weeks since I wrote my letter to Congress, I’ve been trying to foster dialogue with the people of the Internet and the people of my city (hello, Colorado Springs!).

This has not been easy.

A lot of the replies that I’ve received via my blog or Twitter account have been painful. Painful is a strange word to use, but that is what comes up when I transcend the flash of anger that appears when I first hear certain things: pain.

When people ask me, “What do you think about the armed citizen that stopped the shooter in your shooting?” As if I didn’t realize she was a part of my story.
When people assert that people are the problems, not guns. As if it were not bullets that killed my sisters.
When people say that laws don’t dissuade criminals. As if they don’t set norms in society of what violence equates to, as if they didn’t set the norm that the shooter adhered to.

The list goes on. Each of these replies first pierces my heart and honestly? I want to lash out.

I want to be the same exact person I see all over Twitter. Insulting, and raging, and cursing at people I disagree with. Sometimes, I admit it, I degrade to being that exact person because it hurts so damn much.

But if I can take a step back and look at it for a second, if I get curious, something happens that changes everything.

I meet people.

I’ve heard so many stories in the past 2 weeks. Stories that I am honored to carry, and that you can go read in the comments of my blog. I’ve had amazing conversations with people I would have called “the enemy”, had I continued to react out of pain.

At this point, that means much more to me than being right. I don’t want to be on the “right” side of this discussion. I want to truly meet people and hear their heart.

So while I’m now going to tell you about some of my personal beliefs about gun violence, I want to ask that you do the same. Tell me your stories. And tell me WHY you have them. What beliefs are behind your stories? I’ll trade you, okay? But let’s be people first, and issues secondary to that. Meet me here – I promise to hold your story in a safe place in my heart.

Read the rest here.
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P.S. Don’t get used to twice-daily posts…my blog schedule happens as it happens. Today, I forgot to include the above links and words in this morning’s post, so here it is in the evening. Most of the next few days have scheduled posts – I’m in the middle of exam revision. (Two weeks until it’s over for the year.)

REBLOGGED: It’s Not Funny If It Has No Insightful Truth. ‘Free Speech, I Mean’.

Author’s Note:I am reposting this piece because the conservative right wing of the Coalition have an ambush waiting for the PM on Thursday. It looks like he will face pressure to reinstate the Coalition’s policy to repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act after he previously backed a compromise bill up for debate in the Senate this week.

The so-called Day amendment would make it no longer an offence to offend or insult a person on the basis of their race. It would remain unlawful to humiliate or intimidate a person or group of people based on their race or ethnicity.

The bill defies Malcolm Turnbull’s commitment to adopting more inclusive government rhetoric. He can’t have it both ways.

The difference between insult, offend, humiliate and intimidate is a mystery to me.

Free Speech and an Enlightened Society

I have written about free speech, hate, racial discrimination and the state of our democracy on many occasions and this question will not leave me.

Why is it, in ‘the name of free speech’, that we need to enshrine the right to abuse each other in law?

You would think that an enlightened progressive free thinking society would want to eliminate it not legislate it.

It is not a question that requires great philosophical, ideological or even theological debate. It is a black and white question.

Supposedly we live in an age of enlightenment, a period where the world has made enormous technological advances, but at the same time our intellects have not advanced the capacity to understand simple tolerance.

Indeed, if we were truly enlightened we would treat our fellow human beings, with respect love and faithfulness. We would do unto them as we would expect them to do unto us and we would strive to do no harm. We would love life and live it with a sense of joy and wonderment.

We would form our own independent opinions on the basis of our own reason and experience; and not allow ourselves to be led blindly by others. And we would Test all things; always checking our ideas against our facts, and be ready to discard even a cherished belief if it did not conform to them. We would readily admit it when we are wrong in the knowledge that humility is the basis of intellectual advancement and that it is truth that enables human progress.

And of course we would enjoy our own sex life (so long as it damages nobody) and leaves others to enjoy theirs in private whatever their inclinations, which are none or your business.

We would uphold the principle that no one individual or group has an ownership of righteousness. We would seek not to judge but to understand. We would seek dialogue ahead of confrontation.

We would place internationalism before nationalism acknowledging that the planet earth does not have infinite resources and needs care and attention if we are to survive on it. In doing so we would value the future on a timescale longer than our own. We would recognise that the individual has rights but no man is an island and can only exist, and have his rights fulfilled, only by the determination of a collective.

We would insist on equality of opportunity in education acknowledging that it is knowledge that gives understanding. We would seek not to indoctrinate our children in any way but instead teach them how to think for themselves, evaluate evidence, and how to disagree with us. We would, in our schools open their minds to an understanding of ethics instead of proselytizing religion.

We would never seek to cut ourselves off from dissent, and always respect the right of others to disagree with us.

Importantly we not overlook evil or shrink from administering justice, but always be ready to forgive wrongdoing freely admitted and honestly regretted.

Lastly we would question everything. What we see, what we feel, what we hear, what we read and what we are told until we understand the truth of it because thoughtlessness is the residue of things not understood and can never be a replacement for fact.

If these things truly are the embodiment of enlightenment. How do we stack up? It is fair to say that some societies and individuals could lay claim to attaining a measure of it. For example in some countries gender equality is more readily accepted and there has been advances in education. Overall though I think the reader would conclude that in most instances our enlightenment has not progressed much.

This is no more empathised than in our understanding of what free speech is. Are we honestly enlightened if we think we need to ‘’enshrine in legislation’’ an emotion people already have and use, to express hatred? There is something fundamentally and humanely wrong with the proposition. There is an intolerable indecency that suggests that we have made no advancement in our discernment of free speech. If free speeches only purpose is to denigrate, insult and humiliate then we need to reappraise its purpose. There are those who say it identifies those perpetrating wrong doing but if it creates more evil than good it’s a strange freedom for a so called enlightened society to bequeath its citizens.

To quote Jonathan Holmes:

Let’s be clear: Charlie Hebdo set out, every week, with the greatest deliberation, to offend and insult all kinds of people, and especially in recent years the followers of Islam, whether fundamentalist or not.

Look at some of the magazine’s recent covers: An Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood protester in a hail of gunfire crying “The Koran is shit – it doesn’t stop bullets”; a full-on homosexual kiss between a Charlie cartoonist and a Muslim sheik with the ironic headline “Love is stronger than hate”; a naked woman with a niqab thrust up her backside.

The Charlie Hebdo massacre as vile and as unjust as it was, gave no excuse for repressive world leaders to lecture anyone on freedom of expression. The sheer hypocrisy of it was breathtaking. Some of the world leaders locked arm in arm in the Paris March were from countries with the world’s worst suppression of press freedom. To see the Foreign Minister of Egypt marching arm in arm with world leaders was two faced-ness in the extreme given that Peter Creste has now been in jail for more than a year.

It’s all in the name of satirical free speech but it’s not funny if has no insightful truth.

Is this really what an enlightened society means by free speech? Does it demonstrate our cognitive advancement? Is this what well educated men and women want as free speech or should  we see free speech as being nothing more or nothing less than the right to tell the truth in whatever medium we so choose.

One has to wonder why the so called defenders of free speech feel they are inhibited by what they have now. I don’t. I have never felt constrained in my thoughts or my ability to express them. I’m doing it now. But then I don’t feel a need to go beyond my own moral values of what is decent to illuminate my thoughts.

Why is it then that the likes of Abbott, Bolt, Jones, Brandis, Bernardi and others need to go beyond common decency, and defend others who cannot express themselves without degenerating into hate speech? The answer has nothing to do with an honourably noble sort of democratic free speech.

Why does this demand for open slather free speech always come from the right of politics and society? They seem to have an insensitivity to common decency that goes beyond any thoughtful examination.

They simply want the right to inflict hate, defame with impunity, insult, and promote bigotry if it suits their purpose. And behind that purpose can be found two words. Power and control.

The way we presently view free speech simply perpetuates the right to express all those things that make us lesser than what we should be. Debate, in whatever form, should not include the right to vilify. It is not of necessity about winning or taking down ones opponent. It is about an exchange of facts ideas and principles. Or in its purest form it is simply about the art of persuasion” The argument that bigots are entitled to be bigots or that unencumbered free speech exposes people for what they are, doesn’t wear with me. It simply says that society has not advanced. That our cultural ethical intellect has not progressed at the same rate as our technological understanding.

The fact that so many people agree with the free speech argument highlights the tolerance we have for the unacceptable right to hate each other, which to me is the sauce of everything that is wrong with human behaviour.

And we want to make it acceptable by legislating to condone it!

Are we really saying that in a supposed enlightened society that should value, love, decorum, moderation, truth, fact, balance, reason, tolerance, civility and respect for the others point of view that we need to enshrine in law a person’s right to be the opposite of all these things?

If that is the case then we are not educating. We are not creating a better social order and we are not enlightened at all.

The fact is that free speech in any democratic system should be so valued, so profoundly salient, that any decent enlightened government should legislate to see that it is not abused. That it carries with it sacrosanct principles of decency that are beyond law and ingrained in the conscience of a collective common good.

After all the dignity of the individual (or individuals) within the collective is more important than some fools right to use freedom of speech to vilify another.

It says something about the moral sickness in our society when the right to abuse each other, in the name of free speech, needs to be enshrined in law.

REBLOGGED: Political Realities, Leadership Change and Why Democracy Won

Continuing yesterday’s theme. This time it’s John Lord laying out the reasoning.

Political Realities, Leadership Change and why Democracy won

There are those on the left who desperately wanted Tony Abbott to be Prime Minister at the next election. They rightly saw his unpopularity as Labor’s best asset. I thought that there was a greater imperative. As a believer in representative democracy first and foremost I felt that our political system would be better served if he was given the boot.

There is no individual in Australian political history who has done more to damage the conventions and institutions of our democracy, and indeed the Parliament itself, than the former Prime Minister. Personally, I hope he leaves politics altogether and takes the stench of his confrontational politics with him.

Abbott in both his tenure as Opposition Leader and Prime Minister had a breathtaking, pungent absurdity about him. A Christian man of unchristian demeanor.

Australia has never elected a person more unsuited to the highest office. He was a Luddite with little appreciation of science, the needs of women, and was out of touch with a modern pluralist society.

In hindsight the Australian people have learnt a valuable lesson. In future they should check out the credentials and character of the leader of the party they support. It was an experiment we cannot afford to have again.

The election of Malcolm Turnbull provides an opportunity to wipe the plate of democracy clean. Debate will now be able to take place without the negative pugilistic dog eat dog style of Abbott. It can still be assertive and robust but at the same time conducted with intellect and decorum. Given his sense of superiority (already displayed during question time) and ego don’t inhibit him perhaps his panache and wit might insinuate itself on the house and generally raise the standard of discourse.

Whatever you think of Turnbull’s policies, and he has many detractors in his own ranks, there is no doubt that he is a tough competitor with a formidable mind. One who can debate with true elasticity of intelligence and skill.

He will be a daunting opponent for Shorten and Labor. It is, however, an opportunity for Shorten to rise to the occasion and Labor supporters should challenge the party to also rise above itself.

Already the early polls are suggesting a resurgence of Coalition support. If Turnbull plays his cards correctly he will take many advantages into the next election campaign.

A ministerial reshuffle that rids itself of ministers with a perception of nastiness like Dutton should go over well with the public. As will a more refined and decent political language that no longer reflects Abbott’s crassness and sneering sloganeering.

Unlike Abbott who thought he was above the independent senators and the Greens, I believe Turnbull will seek to take them into his confidence to get legislation passed.

A major advantage he has is that the public are sick and tired of revolving door leadership. If my calculations or indeed my memory serve me correctly we haven’t elected a PM who has served a full term since 2004. That’s about a decade ago.

Unless he stuffs up in a major way the electorate will be reluctant to change again. Continuity of governance with the pursuit of ideology for the sake of it is not what the people want. Added to that is the fact that Turnbull is not beholding to the media. He has in the past told Murdoch, Bolt and Jones where to go.

During the Republic Referendum I worked assiduously for the Australian Republic Movement. I came to admire Turnbull’s capacity to present his case in the face of Howard’s rat pack that included Tony Abbott and Nick Minchen. Turnbull’s account of the The Reluctant Republic still resonates with me.

But if there is much to like about Turnbull there is equally as much to dislike. There can be no doubt that he has prostituted himself to gain power. All of those things that set him apart from the conservative wing of his party he seems to have been willing to capitulate on, and in so doing displayed an hypocrisy unworthy of him. He has spent the first week defending Abbott’s policies.

“No more Captains calls” he said. Then without even swearing a new Cabinet, he prostitutes himself (again) by reneging on his previously respected and long held beliefs on climate change. He then does a deal worth $4 billion with the Nationals and at the same time outrageously sells out the Murray Darling Scheme.

In his initial comments after becoming PM he made a big pitch about the future of innovation, science and technology. He would therefore know that a large part of our future is tied up in renewable energy. That the jobs of the future are in the technology sector, as is our economic future which makes his decision to stick with Abbott’s policy on climate change all the more disappointing. Conservatives around the world acknowledge these points, why can’t ours.

He has at this early stage left himself open to the charge that he is not his own man but rather a captive of the conservative right. It can arguably be said that the policies remain the same and an abrasive Prime Minister has been replaced with an eloquent but no less deceptive one. How he will prosecute the case for a Republic is unknown. It will be odd that we have a Monarchist Government led by a Republican Prime Minister.

Even the hypocrisy he shows on same-sex marriage has the smell of betrayal.

It is of course far too early to judge him but based on his immediate decisions it is obvious that he had to do deals to get the job.

For me his willingness to betray long held beliefs and principles has been nothing short of pathetic. I predict however that the general public will overlook it for what they will perceive as better attention to the economy.

As for the Leader of the Opposition. well according to the polls Bill Shorten is about as popular as Abbott was. He carts a lot of baggage that he will carry into the next election.

There is now no point in holding back on policies and allowing Turnbull to make all the running. He should in some way adopt the Whitlam approach, create a narrative, and release policy showing an innovative futuristic approach to economic issues and government. But above all Labor must attract the younger generations. It is the under 50s that will determine who governs.

Having said all that, if the polls continue in an upward trajectory Turnbull would be well justified in going to an early election. The next month will see Turnbull stamping his authority on the party and his leadership. He has the charisma to sell them and the public is in a buying mood. I can only hope that Bill also has something to sell.

REBLOGGED from The AIMN: I love Tony Abbott


I agree with what Victoria Rollison says at least in part. I came into my political understanding from the Gillard years onward. A lot of that understanding (of what I didn’t like, especially) came from watching Abbott doing what he did best: be the most negative attacker possible.  I’ll certainly keep up that momentum of disliking the policies and negativity. After all, if something is said with a smile but still stinks, it doesn’t make it better than something said with a sneer. On that note, it might be better to ensure that the ability to ‘smell the bull—-‘, even when it’s wrapped up in shiny packaging, is bottled and dispersed.

There is of course the old saying about ‘uniting against a common enemy’ as Rollison alludes to below. However, I think we have to be a little careful. I mean, can you really ‘bottle hate’ and then turn it into ‘something positive’? We must protest and protect our rights of course. But now, with the emergence of silver-tongues, providing a smokescreen for the ugly side which thrived openly before, we cannot afford not to explain why and then give alternatives. Otherwise, we’ll go nowhere fast. 

I love Tony Abbott

As I watched Abbott, my nemesis, get torn down by his own side I was literally clapping. I slept better than I had in a long time on Monday night knowing that I would wake up living in a country without Abbott as Prime Minister. Knowing that I would never have to hear the words ‘Prime Minister Tony Abbott’ ever again still makes me grin. But I must admit, as much as I hated Abbott, I also loved him too. I’m not claiming to some masochist love-hate fixation with the man who I literally hated in 200 blog posts over the last four years. The hate bit is obvious. But the love bit is more complex. I love Tony Abbott because he did what progressive have never been able to do for ourselves: he united us. I’m now hoping we can bottle that unity.

We know what we’re against: we’re against everything Tony Abbott is for. Let’s hold onto that. Let’s bottle that and never let someone like Tony Abbott run this country ever again. If we can do that, Tony Abbott’s legacy will be a gift to progressive Australians. Because a united progressive movement in Australia will never elect a conservative government ever again. We will never lose another election. What’s not to love about that?

The key to seeing the importance of the hatred of Tony Abbott in every pocket and corner of Australia is understanding that people like me and probably you, think far more deeply and regularly about politics than 99% of voters. When Abbott was elected Prime Minister, we knew him far better than the rest of the country. I remember the sense of dread at what was in store for us when I saw Abbott’s first cabinet assembled together for a photograph. Every one of the team was a wrecker. It wasn’t just Abbott of course. Turnbull was there too. Each and every Liberal and National MP elected to govern our country is equally responsible, and to blame, for every single thing the Abbott government did, or tried and failed to do. The rest of the country, who hadn’t been paying attention like we had, thankfully didn’t take long to catch up and to recognise who the Abbott government really was.

Abbott’s first budget, to politically informed progressives, was a predictable nightmare. To those who share progressive values, but who perhaps don’t think enough about politics to even realise they have progressive values, only had to look at the policies presented in their stark reality to understand that Abbott’s government didn’t fit with their sense of what was ‘right’. It didn’t fit with Australian values. Their policies just weren’t fair. To put it simply, Abbott’s government has done progressives the favour of widening our movement to voters who never realised they were progressives until they hated Abbott.

I’ve seen many commentators talking about all the mistakes Abbott made which led him to losing his job after becoming a national joke and the most hated Prime Minister in Australia’s history. A two year blip. Sure, it was humiliating and frustrating when Abbott gave Prince Philip a knighthood, when he promised to shirt-front Putin, when he ate an onion and pretty much made everyone cringe on a daily basis with his obvious stupidity and awkward sloganeering. But those things on their own didn’t make him hated. If he was a positive, inspirational leader who hadn’t wrecked the economy, who hadn’t lied about his plans and then went about stripping funding from education, health and welfare, who wasn’t an obvious misogynist, who hadn’t waged culture wars on the Human Rights Commission, on wind farms, on the ABC and SBS, who hadn’t shut down the car manufacturing industry and spent most of his energy trying to scare voters into believing there were ISIS bogey-men under the bed through an ever growing collection of flags, all the awkward, sometimes creepy stuff would be an aside. It might even be weirdly endearing, if Abbott was a good PM. What Abbott did, which progressives need to acknowledge as a good thing, is to reveal what politicians with conservative values will do to the country given half the chance. Every single policy that Abbott produced in his first budget was a policy that he, and everyone else in his government, including Turnbull, have spent their entire political careers waiting to introduce and would introduce again given the opportunity.

Many commentators also say Abbott’s problems were bad communication skills, a lack of a narrative, an over-reliance on slogans. But they are wrong about this. It’s far simpler than that. Abbott’s policies were rejected because Australians in the majority did not like them. Abbott might have done a great job of covering up his conservative, neoliberal values whilst in opposition and the lazy, inept mainstream media was his accomplice in this game. But the blunt, uncharismatic, unintelligent, unsubtle Abbott couldn’t keep the game up for even a day once in power and that’s why everything unravelled for him so quickly. He showed who he and his colleagues really were, and then there was nowhere to hide.

So by loving Abbott for this outcome, what can progressives learn? We can learn that Australia doesn’t want a conservative government, even if it comes dressed up in a shiny, expensive Malcolm Turnbull suit. We can learn that progressives can unite and make things happen. Whether they vote Labor, Green or even accidentally voted for Abbott, if they hated Abbott, they have progressive values and so they need to be reminded they will hate Turnbull too. We Marched in March, we ranted on Twitter, we shared on Facebook, we wrote and liked Open Letters, we grew the Independent Media, and we collectively hated Abbott. So let’s bottle this hatred and make it something positive. Let’s make sure Australia never elects a conservative neoliberal wrecker of a government ever again.