Episode 179 – An ill-tempered mule that kicks innocent children

The Ruddock Report is morally and ethically flawed from beginning to end. It was conceived the bastard offspring of two different animals, the father being the Right Wing horse of the Liberal Party and which forced itself on the weakened mother, the moderate donkey in the same herd. It was then nurtured on a steady diet of religious freedom propaganda by a panel stacked with theists. The result is an ill-tempered mule that kicks innocent children. With any luck, the Ruddock Report will prove to be a sterile beast and end up in a knackery after an election in May 2019.

We will get on to the Ruddock Report later but first …

2:10  Suppression Orders

Here at the IFVG podcast, we are ahead of the game.

Last week we spoke about juries and the benefits of judge-only trials for complicated trials and the discussion segued across to discuss judge-only trials in cases where wide publicity may bias a jury against a defendant.

Lo and behold, a few days later, a judge in a high profile Victoria case ordered the media not to report any details about the case.

A good idea, or not?

From The New York Times

But the global nature of the internet has blurred the lines, giving local judges the power to threaten any website accessible to local residents, regardless of where the site or its journalists are based.

That includes The Times: The Times is not publishing the latest news of the case online, and it blocked delivery of the Friday print edition to Australia, to comply with the judge’s order. The Times’s lawyers in Australia have advised the organization that it is subject to local law because it maintains a bureau in the country.

Two Times journalists who have been covering the case would be at risk. The judge in the case has threatened journalists with contempt of court charges, which can bring up to five years in prison.

Some publications that have published the news have no full-time staff in Australia and face no such risk. Even naming them appears to be illegal.

Andrews government considers ‘judge-only’ trials for criminal cases

The Andrews Government will consider introducing judge-only trials in Victoria in a move that some lawyers believe could enhance the right to a fairer court hearing.

Despite a number of high profile cases over the years, Victoria remains one of the few places where well-known defendants do not have the option of requesting that a judge alone oversee their criminal trial – unlike their counterparts in NSW, Queensland and Western Australia.

However, this could soon change, with Ms Hennessy telling The Age: “I have asked the Department of Justice and Community Safety for advice on the need for judge-alone trials in Victoria, given their availability in other states and territories.”

8:38 Andrew Broad resigns from Morrison ministry over bombshell sex scandal allegations

Assistant minister Andrew Broad has quit the frontbench in the wake of a sex scandal that could rock the Morrison government, amid claims he met a “sugar baby” in overseas hotels on a trip funded by taxpayers.

Mr Broad has been named in a New Idea magazine feature that says he spent time in Hong Kong with a “blonde beauty” who used the online alias “Sweet Sophia Rose” on a website to connect young women with wealthier older men.

Mr Broad was the first Coalition MP to call for former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce to resign in February after details of an affair with staffer Vikki Campion became public.

From the IFVG secular index where he rates a 3

Mr Broad considered going into youth work when he finished year 12 and is still a strong Christian.

“I’m a member of Parliament who’s got a belief and that belief does stem from the basic principles that the human race has fallen, that we can be redeemed,” he says.

Christopher Hitchens said it best: I always take it for granted that sexual moralizing by public figures is a sign of hypocrisy or worse, and most usually a desire to perform the very act that is most being condemned … This is why, whenever I hear some bigmouth in Washington or the Christian heartland banging on about the evils of sodomy or whatever, I mentally enter his name in my notebook and contentedly set my watch. Sooner rather than later, he will be discovered down on his weary and well-worn old knees in some dreary motel or latrine, with an expired Visa card, having tried to pay well over the odds to be peed upon by some Apache transvestite.

12:20 A Woman Drowned Her Daughter, Then Set Her on Fire, In Order to Make God Happy

Carly Ann Harris, a mother from Wales, is currently on trial for the murder of her 4-year-old daughter Amelia

The court heard Ms Harris described herself in police interviews as “a fallen angel and had to prove her strength”, adding that Amelia would have to be “cold-washed and burned”.

Jurors heard she told Amelia: “You’re going to see the angels. See you in heaven.”

Prosecutor Michael Jones QC said: “On that day, Carly Ann Harris placed Amelia in a bath full of water and deliberately drowned her.”

He said the defendant then took the body out of the bath and outside wrapped in toilet paper and covered in a sheet.

He added: “She placed her body on a coffee table situated in the garden and then set fire to Amelia’s body.”

Why is the biblical myth of Abraham and Isaac so disturbing?

Because it suggests that if a person truly loves God, he should be willing to sacrifice his own child in order to show his loyalty.

According to the Hebrew Bible (Genisis 22), God commands Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. After Isaac is bound to an altar, a messenger from God stops Abraham at the last minute, saying “now I know you fear God.” Abraham looks up and sees a ram and sacrifices it instead of Isaac.

Germans will now be able to choose “diverse” as an option for gender on birth certificates and other legal records, after the country’s Parliament passed a measure introducing the third category on Friday

Under the new law, adults must produce a doctor’s statement or other medical certification confirming their gender fluidity in order to change their existing designation to the new option.

That condition met with criticism from groups representing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Germans. They argued against relying on medical certification to establish gender, saying physical indicators are not the sole determinant.

According to Lambda Legal, an American organization, Argentina set an international standard in 2012 with a comprehensive transgender rights law that allows a person to fill out a form to change an official name and gender designation without approval from a judge or doctor. It is one of at least eight countries that recognize more than two genders on legal documents, Lambda said.

24:42 Sam Harris Closes Patreon Account

Dear Patreon Supporters—

As many of you know, the crowdfunding site Patreon has banned several prominent content creators from its platform. While the company insists that each was in violation of its terms of service, these recent expulsions seem more readily explained by political bias. Although I don’t share the politics of the banned members, I consider it no longer tenable to expose any part of my podcast funding to the whims of Patreon’s “Trust and Safety” committee.

I will be deleting my Patreon account tomorrow. If you want to continue sponsoring my work, I encourage you to open a subscription at samharris.org/subscribe.

As always, I remain deeply grateful for your support.

Wishing you all a very happy New Year….

Sam Harris

26:37 My name is Titania McGrath. I am a radical intersectionalist poet committed to feminism, social justice, and armed peaceful protest.

This is a fun satirical piece.
In April of this year, I decided to become more industrious on social media. I was inspired by other activists who had made use of their online platforms in order to spread their message and explain to people why they are wrong about everything.
Her twitter account was suspended and she goes on …
Unfortunately, those who fight for the progressive cause are continually bombarded by alt-right trolls who like to engage in a form of harassment known as “debate.” Only a few days before my suspension, a misogynist referred to me as “shrill and humourless.”  As I was quick to point out, humour is a patriarchal construct. This is why it has been so gratifying to see the success of our current wave of feminist comedians, those brave women who are subverting the genre by ensuring that it doesn’t make anyone laugh.
Do not pity me. As a woman in a heteronormative patriarchal world I am accustomed to males like Jack Dorsey attempting to keep me silent. In my absence from Twitter, I took the opportunity to spend some time at a resort in Val d’Isère, (val diz air) where I could relax and contemplate my oppression.
Having just bashed the left, let’s now bash the right.

28:07 One-third of large Australian companies paid no tax, ATO data show

We have put the tax data on our website.

About one-third of large companies have failed to pay tax, even though they made a gross profit, but the Tax Office says most have good reasons, according to the latest corporate tax transparency report released today.

Ten companies pay 45% of all corporate tax in Australia

Let’s look at Apple, Samsung, the banks, Newscorp Vs Fairfax, Aldi, Woolworths, Glencore,

42:10 Company directors to be targeted at Labor national conference

National Australia Bank chairman Ken Henry told the banking royal commission in November that boards should also be answerable to the community, not just shareholders.

“The consequences of corporate activity go well beyond impacts on shareholders, and, yet it’s only shareholders to whom, at law, the directors are accountable,” he said. “In my view, the public tolerance of that model of accountability has been pretty well eroded to zero.”

44:38 Dark Emu

A challenge from Brett
Is “Stone Age” an appropriate description of Indigenous culture?

48:03 The John Menadue Blog

49:05 Our Embassy in Israel

From The Blot Report: Morrison’s dilemma was that, given the strong reaction to his thought bubble by Indonesia, he could not back down for fear that the RWNJs in his own party and in One Notion would think he had caved in to Muslims, who they all know are terrorists. Yet if he did not back down it would cost the Australian economy billions, and may well make travel to Muslim countries like Indonesia and Malaysia more dangerous for Australian citizens. So what did the Morrison brains-trust come up with? A backdown that doesn’t look like a backdown, at least to the RWNJs in his party and the crazies in One Notion. The government has stated it will formally recognise West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but the embassy will not be moved from Tel Aviv until Jerusalem’s status is finalised under a peace settlement7.
It’s impossible to overemphasize the effects of this framework on those within the circles of evangelicalism where it is popular. A growing number of young people who have left evangelicalism point to end-times theology as a key component of the subculture they left. They call themselves “exvangelicals” and label teachings like this as abusive.
54:17   From The Shovel:

“What mums and dads are talking about around the kitchen table right across the country right now is the relative merits of a nation in Oceania shifting its nominal recognition of Israel’s capital from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” he said.

He said the issue tapped into the core concerns of working Australia. “Regular Aussies on the streets tell me about their cost of living pressures, and I say to them – don’t worry, Australia is moving its embassy in from Tel Aviv”.

55:13  Medicare and Private Health Insurance

Let’s take part of the health budget, give it to private companies to provide health services and let competition drive down prices and improve service. But whereas doctors fees are controlled in the public system we will let them charge what they like in the private system and we will have multiple private service providers who have no market power or motivation to rein in expensive doctors. They simply provide x amount and don’t care about the gap.

JOHN MENADUE. Medicare – the Labor Party does not understand its own creation.

What drove Gough Whitlam to introduce Medibank/Medicare was the inefficiency and unfairness of numerous private health funds. Conservative governments had subsidised these private funds by allowing policy holders to make tax deductions on premiums paid. This meant that higher income people got more of a taxation saving than low-income people. Gough Whitlam often pointed out that he got a greater taxation subsidy for his private health insurance than his driver. In 1975 when introducing Medicare, subsidies to benefit private health funds were abolished.

When the Hawke government reintroduced an improved Medicare in 1983, subsidies for private health insurance introduced by the Fraser Government were abolished.

The Howard government reintroduced the subsidies for PHI which have now grown to $11b p.a . The ALP has been running away from the problem for years. The problem is that the $11 billion subsidy p.a. is promoting the development of a two-tier health system. The ALP just does not understand or is refusing to face what is at stake.

The ALP in government does not have a good record in defending Medicare. In the period 2007-2013, the Rudd and Gillard governments muddled through on health. The National Hospitals and Health Reform Commission that it appointed did not really take us anywhere. The Commission was stacked with health insiders and even put forward the suggestion of ‘Medicare Select ‘which would have crippled Medicare in its entirety. The Chair of the Commission was a senior executive of BUPA.

Abolishing the $11 billion subsidy for PHI would be a significant contribution to budget repair. It would also be a great step forward in restoring Medicare to the universal and single public funded institution that the Whitlam and Hawke governments set up.

If individuals want to take out private health insurance, that is their right. But there is no reason why the Commonwealth government should pay a $11 billion p.a. subsidy that is undermining Medicare.

At the last election, the ALP showed that it was prepared to do more to undermine and privatise Medicare than the Coalition.

The modern day ALP does not understand one of its most famous achievements

IAN McAULEY. Problems of Private Health Insurance.

The PHI industry continues to make two invalid assumptions about private health care. 

The first is that governments are intrinsically high cost and bureaucratic and that the private sector is unquestionably more efficient. This is patently not true. The least efficient health service in the world, the US, is based on private health insurance and the private sector. The most efficient health service in the world is the National Health Service in Britain which is based on a single public funder. In 2014, Ramsey Health, the principal beneficiary of subsidised PHI paid its CEO $31 m, the highest remuneration in the country and much higher even than the CEOs of the banks. Further, Gap Insurance offered by PHI companies has underwritten record increases in specialist remuneration. PHI drives high health care costs.

The administrative costs of PHI are three times the costs of Medicare. These costs may be off the Commonwealth budget, but the inefficiency of PHI is still borne by policy holders. PHI companies impose their own private tax. It is called ‘premiums’.

PHI premium increases have been at double the CPI rate for the last 15 years. The community pays for this inefficiency of PHI.

The second assumption is that the PHI industry assumes that public health services are for the poor. This is an implicit rejection of the principle that we need a quality and universal health system which is available for all. The PHI sector wants to push us into a two-tiered health system – one for the rich and the other for the poor. 

But as a means of sharing health care costs, private insurance is a high-cost and inequitable mechanism to achieve what the tax system and a single insurer can do far better.

1:04:46 The “better half” is now the “lesser half”

1:05:19 The Ruddock Report has been released and the government has responded.

Ding Ding … another round …  the shit fight continues.

Ok, I’m going all lawyerly on this and it will take a while and will be quite technical. My audience is the public advocates who need ammunition. The NSL, The Rationalists, The Secular Party, Reason Party, The Labor Party, The Greens and anyone else who might be advocating the secular side in this debate. My apologies to those who want a fun-filled dip into miscellaneous political and social news but hey, this is fucking important. Check out the time stamps and fast forward if it is all too much. Normal programming will resume next week. There are extensive show notes which you might want to refer to.

1:07:04 But first a brief diversion into Snowclones

“It’s the economy, stupid” is a phrase which James Carville had coined as a campaign strategist of Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 presidential campaign against sitting president George H. W. Bush.

The phrase has become a snowclone repeated often in American political culture, usually starting with the word “it’s” and with commentators sometimes using a different word in place of “economy.” Examples include “It’s the deficit, stupid!” “It’s the corporation, stupid!” “It’s the math, stupid!” and “It’s the voters, stupid!”.

snowclone is a cliché and phrasal template that can be used and recognized in multiple variants. The term was coined as a neologism in 2004, derived from journalistic clichés that referred to the number of Eskimo words for snow

neologism is a relatively recent or isolated term, word, or phrase that may be in the process of entering common use, but that has not yet been fully accepted into mainstream language.

So, let me use that snowclone.

1:08:25 It’s an ideology, stupid.

FFS. There are two simple concepts.

Firstly, religious belief is just an ideology. Being a Christian is like being a communist, a libertarian, a monarchist, a republican or a neo-liberal. It is about subscribing to a set of ideas. On the other hand, race, gender, disability and sexual preference are inherent characteristics with no ideological content. In the battle of competing rights and in the battle of protection from discrimination, inherent characteristics must trump ideological identities. To give a simple example, you could criticise Margaret Thatcher for being a neo-liberal but you could not criticise her for being a woman.

Secondly, holding a belief is different to manifesting a belief. No-one should (or could) be stopped from holding a belief but manifesting a belief involves acting out that belief and those actions could conflict with general laws. If we excuse people from general laws simply because they hold a religious belief then this would make religious doctrine superior to the law of the land. If religious doctrine supercedes general laws then there is no point having laws. If we say religious people can ignore anti-discrimination laws then we must say there is no point in having any anti-discrimination laws. Antonin Scalia, the most pro-religious Supreme Court judge in the history of the US Supreme Court made this very point in the case of Employment Division Vs Smith.

Nobody except the IFVG podcast is saying this.

So, with that in mind, what do we make of clause 1.37 of the Ruddock Report?

1.37 Importantly, there is no hierarchy of rights: one right does not take precedence over another. Rights, in this sense, are indivisible.[1] This understanding was absent from some of the submissions and representations the Panel received. Australia does not get to choose, for example, between protecting religious freedom and providing for equality before the law. It must do both under its international obligations. Sometimes this will mean one right will ‘give way’ to another, but this must occur within the framework provided by international law.

[1] See Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, adopted by the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna, UN Doc A/CONF.157/23 (25 June 1993) [5].

Clause 5 of the Vienna Declaration says: “All human rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent and interrelated. The international community must treat human rights globally in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing, and with the same emphasis …”

For the reasons outlined above, I say … Bullshit

But then, clause 1.38 of the Ruddock report walks that back a bit:

Some rights, including for example the freedom to have or adopt a religion or belief, are non-derogable, that is, they cannot be departed from even in times of national emergency. Some rights are also absolute. They cannot be limited or confined by the need to protect other interests. Other rights may be limited but only in defined circumstances. For example, the freedom to have or adopt a religion or belief is absolute, while limitations may be placed on the freedom to manifest religion or belief in specified circumstances.

This is the problem with BS motherhood statements from bodies like the UNHCR.

Australia is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (the ICCPR or Covenant), which recognises the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion in article 18. Article 18 is the main international legal provision protecting freedom of religion or belief. It states as follows:

  1. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.
  2. No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.
  3. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.

Note 18(3). Even the ICCPR discounts the right to “manifest”

1:15:22 A solution in search of a problem

What do we have? Essentially an admission that religious Australians are not discriminated against. From the report:

1.13 The Panel also heard that, as a whole, Australians generally enjoy religious freedom. Most stakeholders of faith acknowledged that, by and large, they have been free to observe their religious beliefs. Those from faiths that face persecution overseas were particularly vocal in acknowledging the relative safety that Australia affords people of different faiths.

1.20 While debate of the Marriage Amendment Act provided the immediate context for the work of the Panel, the Panel received limited evidence that the fears of religious groups expressed during that debate had come to pass in Australia.

Philip Ruddock said the review spoke to a wide range of people and received thousands of submissions but was unable to widely substantiate concerns about religious freedom … “We found there was far less contest that you might expect. We didn’t find a lot of evidence of actual material discrimination that would be of concern but where we did we brought forward some recommendations to help deal with it,” he told the ABC.

There is nothing going on in Australia which would prevent anyone from being a Communist, a Marxist, a Neo-liberal, a Republican, a Monarchist, a Capitalist, a Vegan or, for that matter, a  Christian, a Muslim, a Jew or a Satanist.

Freedom of religion is the least important and most concocted freedom in the human rights handbook. This is because once you have a strong defence of freedom of association, freedom of assembly, and
freedom of speech, then all ideologies are protected and a separate head of freedom of religion is unnecessary.

The fallout from the Ruddock Inquiry has exposed that it is non-believers who need protection, not the other way around.

1:17:43 The word “Intersex” is important.

The different treatment of “intersex” as opposed to “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” exposes the deepest flaw in this report.

Recommendation 7: The Commonwealth should amend the Sex Discrimination Act to provide that religious schools may discriminate in relation to students on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status provided that …

Recommendation 8: Jurisdictions should abolish any exceptions to anti-discrimination laws that provide for discrimination by religious schools with respect to students on the basis of race, disability, pregnancy or intersex status.

Intersex is protected for students and teachers but the others are not. Why?

“Intersex” is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male.

The different treatment of intersex and sexual orientation illustrates that the panel do not consider the later to be inherent. It seems that the panel swallowed the Lyle Shelton coolade when it comes to notions of gender fluidity in that he thinks these dispositions are taught and encouraged rather than inherent.

This proves yet again that the debate needs to address inherent characteristics as opposed to ideologically based identities.

1:22:14 These rights are so important but sometimes it depends where you live.

A panel which recommends against discrimination in some states but recommends allowing unfair discrimination in other states “because it is already happening” is not worthy of respect. Either these rights are important to all Australians or they are not. Elsewhere the panel argues for uniform Commonwealth laws to tidy things up but is not prepared to grasp the nettle on this issue. The result will be a uniform law that does not apply uniformly.

1.273 To the extent that some jurisdictions do not currently allow religious schools to discriminate against students on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender characteristics, the Panel sees no need to introduce such provisions. Very few religious schools or organisations submitted that this was necessary. To the extent, however, that certain jurisdictions, including the Commonwealth, do allow this type of discrimination, the Panel believes the exceptions should be limited by the requirement that the discrimination be in accordance with a published policy which is grounded in the religious doctrines of the school.

1:24:03 What about the other recommendations?

Recommendation 1: Religious groups won’t like the protection of “pregnancy”. From the Law and Religion blog “agree generally with the suggestion to remove exemptions re race, disability and intersex. … But I am not convinced about the “pregnancy” ground being removed.  In most cases, a woman does not become pregnant without sexual intercourse. If she is single, that will usually be against Biblical norms.”

Recommendation 2: In this context, the Siracusa principles would call for interpreting very narrowly the limitations on religious privilege. The secular world needs a broad interpretation. We should not concede this method of interpretation.

Recommendation 3: The recommendation is to acknowledge that religious freedom has equal status with other human rights. For reasons outlined above, it doesn’t and shouldn’t.

Recommendation 4: This ignores the bigger issue that mere religious worship should not be a qualifying purpose for status as a charity.

Recommendation 10: We should be saying to religious groups that if you cannot comply with our general anti-discrimination laws then your marriage ceremonies will not be legally binding. Normally, when a government outsources a government function it requires the contractor to abide by generally applicable laws. Marriage ceremonies should be no different.

Recommendation 15: An act cannot be drafted until recommendations 5-8 are dealt with. On a positive note, this recommendation would prohibit the current requirement that school chaplains be part of a religious group.

1:24:12 The Government’s Response to the Ruddock Report

The government kicks the can down the road again.

Crispin Hull of the SMH: After sitting on the Ruddock report on religious freedom for six months the best the government can come up with is to refer all five of the contentious matters to the Australian Law Reform Commission and agree to the other 15 totally innocuous ones.

But, IMHO, the other 15 are not necessarily innocuous.

The manner in which the Government will implement the recommendations of the Religious Freedom Review falls into three categories:

  1. Fourteen recommendations to be implemented as soon as practicable (being recommendations 2 to 4, 9 to 14 and 16 to 20);
  2. One recommendation to be implemented following consultation to seek bipartisan support for the Religious Discrimination Bill (being recommendation 15 but such a bill will be impossible without resolving recommendations 1,5,6,7 and 8); and
  3. Five recommendations which require further consideration (being recommendation 1 and recommendations 5 to 8) and have been referred to The Australian Law Reform Commission. I don’t think they will get much joy there.

Also, even though the panel did not recommend it, the government will establish a standalone position of Freedom of Religion Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission (this comes from the Freedom for Faith submission as did the Siracusa reference in Recommendation 2)

The government says:

First, religion is not covered as a protected attribute in the four current federal anti‑discrimination Acts. It is, however, the subject of several exemptions …

Second, freedom of religion is one right among many others and so, in practice, this right co‑exists with a broad suite of other human rights. Importantly though, freedom of religion is not subordinate or secondary to the other rights which it will necessarily be balanced with.

Therefore, as recommended by the Expert Panel that conducted the Religious Freedom Review, the Australian Government will introduce a Religious Discrimination Bill into the Parliament. This Bill will ensure people’s right to freedom of religion is adequately protected in our community by the establishment of legislation that adopts the same framework that exists in other Commonwealth anti-discrimination legislation. The Bill will provide substantive protection against discrimination by rendering it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of a person’s religious belief or activity, including on the basis that a person does not hold a religious belief or participate in a religious activity; and will include a framework of appropriate exemptions as exists in other anti-discrimination legislation.

There is nothing wrong with a bill to prevent discrimination against religious people. While you are at it, protect communists and monarchists and squash players. In fact, protect anyone who is discriminated against just because they are a member of a group. But BUT BUT … don’t allow exceptions unless they are clearly in the public interest. Don’t allow mere membership of those groups to be a free pass allowing them to discriminate. If their ideology promotes unfair discrimination then too bad. Group doctrine must not supercede generally applicable laws.

Note there was no overarching anti-discrimination bill recommended or agreed to. It would have made sense to have one bill dealing with discrimination based on gender, race, disability and religion but the special treatment afforded religion would have been obvious. Freedom for Faith didn’t want it so it didn’t happen.

More on The Ruddock Report

The Guardian: …so far, every time somebody has proposed an expansion of “religious freedom”, the Australian public has been horrified by what religious institutions are already legally permitted to do … A further review is not a necessary preparatory step before bold legislative action – it is a stopgap because the best deal religious institutions are likely to get is the status quo.

The ABC: Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s decision to take a proposal for a religious discrimination act to the next election is quietly dividing his colleagues, with some fearing it could further alienate small “l” liberal voters who are fatigued by this debate … There is despair from some MPs who say with the federal election so close and the Government so on the nose with voters, the last thing they need is a polarising and divisive debate about religious freedom.

1:27:46  Scomo (or Scumo): “If you support a multicultural Australia, you’ll be a supporter of religious freedoms. You’ll understand that religious faith is synonymous with so many different ethnic cultures in Australia,” Mr Morrison said … The protection of religious freedoms is therefore synonymous with our identity… (The multicultural pitch is key here.)

NB Remember how Morrison would not remove the right for religious schools to expel gay kids without an extra provision that the schools have a right to enforce an ethos? Amanda Stocker argued about the need for a school to be able to prohibit activist gay clubs in schools? It probably also applies to teaching creationism. Morrison’s kids are probably taught creationism and he probably wants to reserve the right for religious schools to teach it.

Law Council of Australia President, Morry Bailes said while the right to freedom of religious belief was absolute, the manifestation of religion should not be protected at the expense of other rights and freedoms.

Dr Meredith Doig OAM, the President of the Rationalist Society of Australia, says, “Religions may need a shield, but they don’t deserve a sword. There is no compelling evidence that religious freedom is even under threat … Our government should not interfere with religion; and religion should not be privileged by the government,” she adds. “Religions should not be given a positive right to manifest whatever outdated and unscientific beliefs they may cling to, just because they were written into ancient text.”

Lyle Shelton: The Australian Conservative says the Morrison government should bring in more encompassing laws to protect religious freedom and freedom of speech, describing Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s plan for a religious freedom anti-discrimination act as “flawed”. The aspiring politician said a religious freedom act that allowed religious people to be insulted and offended but not other identity groups was nonsensical. “All provisions in anti-discrimination law that make it an offence to insult or offend should be repealed or overridden. Same-sex marriage has weaponised anti-discrimination laws and today’s attempts to restore freedom are just creating a camel. Freedom needs to be protected – including and especially the right to dissent from the rainbow gender-fluid world view.” Shelton said Conservative Party Senators would push for a Protected Freedoms Act but if that was rejected the party would obviously support any government measures to better protect freedom of religion.

The National Secular Lobby is calling on secular Australians to vote ‘no’ to a proposed religious discrimination act, when the Coalition takes that promise to the next federal election.

The Archbishop of Sydney has cited the threat of state laws to force priests to disclose child abuse revealed under the seal of the confessional as an example of an attack on religious freedoms, welcoming the Morrison Government’s new discrimination laws. “We used to be live and let live on religious matters,” he said. “We gave each other space to be different, but lately there has been a hard-edged secularism that wants to stamp out religion from public life,” he said. “There have been attempts in some states to legislate on the Seal of Confession. “People of faith must be able to freely practise their religion without fear.” In a letter to priests this year, Archbishop Fischer warned they must “resign themselves to punishment, even martyrdom, rather than break the seal of the confession; the faithful likewise expect this of them.”

A.C. Grayling from 2006: It is time to refuse to tip-toe around people who claim respect, consideration, special treatment, or any other kind of immunity, on the grounds that they have a religious faith, as if having faith were a privilege-endowing virtue, as if it were noble to believe in unsupported claims and ancient superstitions. It is neither.

1:29:43  The Fist: The Ruddock Report is morally and ethically flawed from beginning to end. It was conceived the bastard offspring of two different animals, the father being the Right Wing horse of the Liberal Party and which forced itself on the weakened mother, the moderate donkey in the same herd. It was then nurtured on a steady diet of religious freedom propaganda by a panel stacked with theists. The result is an ill-tempered mule that kicks innocent children. With any luck, the Ruddock Report will prove to be a sterile beast and end up in a knackery after an election in May 2019.

Fairytale of New York: the story behind the Pogues’ classic Christmas anthem

Twenty-five years after its release, the duet about a couple who have fallen on hard times is still considered by many to be the greatest Christmas song ever.

But every year, for the last decade, some humourless sourpuss or other has defaced this classic Christmas number from The Pogues by either bleeping out the word “faggot” in one of the verses or, worse, banned the song altogether from the airwaves.

It is an act of cultural vandalism we must resist.

You’re a bum
You’re a punk
You’re an old slut on junk
Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed
You scumbag, you maggot
You cheap lousy faggot
Happy Christmas your arse
I pray God it’s our last

As told by The Guardian, the story behind the song is very interesting.

Also checkout Dirty Old Town.

Other Christmas Tunes

Drinking White Wine in The Sun

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One comment on “Episode 179 – An ill-tempered mule that kicks innocent children
  1. Brett Jones says:

    Fantastic guys. Thanks for taking me up on the challenge. No rush, the beer offer is open indefinitely.

    BTW, I’m not saying a garden of Eden. They had their fair share of problems and there is no evidence that the Indigenous Australians had the same technology as The Europeans. However, there may be evidence of a more complex culture and technology than traditionally acknowledged in Australia. Fun reading!

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