Horror movies right there on my TV…

Too much Cory Bernadi perhaps…

So here I am recuperating from casting my say in the Postal Survey.

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Actually, I was reading an ebook: Gone With the Wind in fact.

Last night I felt a bit gone with the wind myself as I watched Classic Countdown on ABC. It was very good. Lots of uninterrupted acts.

But was it all really over 40 years ago? And did I look like this back then?

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More from the world of the Postal Survey

First, just to make it plain, I do not believe that every opponent of same-sex marriage is a homophobe. Indeed there are examples of same-sex couples who will themselves choose NO in the current Postal Survey. Nor do I think that Israel Folau has no right to his views compared with David Pocock, to confine ourselves to Rugby players for the moment. Naturally, though, I do hope that there are many more David Pococks in the Postal Survey!

Second, I commend careful reading of Legal Eagle’s thoroughly thoughtful post.

But when it comes to the NO case as it now so often appears, I still cannot but see it as other than rampant Chicken Little. Or slippery slope-ism. That the question is essentially a simple one seems to get lost. See my previous post for more.

I particularly can’t get – though John Howard can – the argument on religious liberty. Legal Eagle helps.

It’s true to say (as some of my Yes vote advocate friends have said) that religious freedom and freedom of speech are different questions from the question that is being asked in the survey. Part of the problem stems from the fact that we don’t even know what we’re voting on – they won’t prepare a Bill until we vote on whether we want the law or not. But I think that any provision for same-sex marriage should make it clear that it will not force religious groups to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies. Some of my religious friends are worried about what the position may become if a Yes vote stands, and cite the example of the Tasmanian pastor and preacher who have been the subject of complaints to the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner. They fear this is the beginning of a greater trend. They are concerned that the acceptance of same-sex marriage will mean anti-discrimination legislation can be used to make religious people suppress their views, and to have to conduct same-sex marriages against their will. And then, of course, there’s the services cases (involving flowers or cakes for same-sex marriages).

As an aside, I have never understood why a person would wish to force a reluctant florist or baker to provide for a same-sex wedding. If I were in that position, I would rather not give the service provider money, nor have them anywhere near my wedding. But this may be something to do with my private law background – as a general principle of law, courts are usually unwilling to specifically enforce contracts for services because of the coercive nature of such relief (see eg, JC Williamson Ltd v Lukey (1931) 45 CLR 282, 293 (Starke J), 297–98 (Dixon J); Byrne v Australian Airlines Ltd (1995) 185 CLR 410, 428 (Brennan CJ, Dawson and Toohey JJ)). The rationale for the rule with regard to contracts for services is that it’s inappropriate to force parties who don’t get along any more to work together. And I guess that’s a greater point. As my co-blogger Skepticlawyer has pointed out, you can’t use the law to force people to like you or accept you.

In today’s news we read Church cancels wedding because bride and groom supported gay marriage on Facebook.

Presbyterian ministers and churchgoers are under clear directions to oppose same-sex marriage. Mr Wilson, who is also moderator-general of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, published a blog post committing the church to the “no” case and calling on attendees to campaign actively.

“There are many powerful voices clamouring to tear down what God declares to be holy. The church must not be silent on this,” Mr Wilson wrote.

However, other church sources suggested the Ballarat experience was uncommon. Darren Middleton, convenor of the Church and Nation committee and a Geelong minister, said it was the first such case he had encountered.

“This is a decision for individual ministers to make. My guess is most probably would have let the wedding go ahead,” he told Fairfax Media. “It’s not normally a requirement to get married that you subscribe to particular views. I would want to talk to them about their views … but that wouldn’t be a bar to them getting married. That’s a separate issue in my mind.”…

On Facebook Trevor Khan MLC NSW (National Party) has commented:

So, let’s be clear:
1) This demonstrates that churches, now, have an absolute discretion (enshrined in the Marriage Act) as to who they chose to marry, and
2) Neither side has a mortgage on “crazy”.

My background, by the way, is Presbyterian.

And here is something else we can well do without.

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That is  former prime minister Kevin Rudd’s godson, bashed during an argument about same-sex marriage.

Now some personal notes. I am not TELLING people how to answer the survey. VOTE is apparently not the right word, by the way. But I am hoping that the majority do choose YES because, as I keep saying, it is the right thing to do. First there are all those same-sex couples I have known, not all of whom would have opted for marriage personally, though I suspect all would have supported the right of those who did so choose to have that option. Second there is my own relationship commencing in 1990 — yes, 27 years ago — with M. We did live together for over ten years, and still mean a great deal to one another. M was at my side at my mother’s funeral in 1996. One memory is of M sitting ensconced with my Aunt Beth at Kay and Roy’s place in Sutherland after that funeral. M’s own mother and younger sister have passed away this year.

Another highlight was the following year, when M, who is from Shanghai, gained his Australian citizenship. William Yang recorded it.

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Fast forward to 2012 here in Wollongong:

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Please! Ignore the Chicken Littles on “freedom of speech”, “freedom of religion”, and weirdness like the Revenant of Oz and her nonsense about not being able to call your Mum and Dad Mum and Dad! Choose a kinder Australia when you mark your survey form!

27 years since M and I moved into Redfern

Shared with Philip Costello and his then partner. Philip is now married to Timothy Klinger and they live in New York.

Here’s a recycle. While M and I no longer live together, much remains of what we began 27 years ago!

Redfern Visions 11: George Street

This is the second-last of the set from my walk yesterday. I mentioned I lived in George Street for a year. It has changed, especially on the other side of the road, with quite a bit of new development and some more in train, but what I have concentrated on are the things that have not changed much since 1990-1991 when M and I lived here.

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And here are some more related memories.

Redfern Visions 26: East Redfern 4

Now we are back near Cleveland and Elizabeth Streets, going towards the Surry Hills Shopping Village (aka Redfern Mall) through the back streets.

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This is Morehead Street, which I first got to know way back in 1985 when two of my first gay friends from The Britannia Hotel lived there – Philip and Dean. They were much younger than I was – 21 and 19 respectively — but took me, a neophyte, under their wing, as it were. Later, in 1990, M and I were to take a room at Philip’s place in George St Redfern, our first joint address.

Facebook does it for me again…

A couple of times in the past I have mentioned the Britannia Hotel and especially two friends I met there.

… Facebook has delivered both as “friends” in the past few days! Smile One lives in New York, and the other in East Timor – and bemedalled as well though I am not sure what that is about. And here they are as I first knew them, pretty much.

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Both have stories to tell and both I greatly admire and recall with real warmth. Good to see that they have got on so well these days.

Twenty and more years ago

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M in China pre-1989

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M in Sydney 1990

Vote “Yes” for sure!

So, the weird postal survey is go!  I waited until the High Court gave the nod before posting on this, but let me be clear from the outset. As far as I am concerned there are no good reasons to vote NO to a proposition that does not alter the status of any existing marriage or make compulsory any particular views about marriage. All voting YES will do is enable a sizeable minority, if they so choose, to have their relationhips recognised by the state as marriages. Churches within their own communions will be free to do what they think best. No doubt there will be many same-sex couples who don’t want to be married according to law, just as a substantial number of man-woman couples these days choose not to be married. But they can be if they want, and all the YES will do is extend that to same-sex couples. There are indeed conservatives who are voting YES because they want to encourage all couples to enter into legally binding committed relationships.

Eric Abetz, to take just one example, encapsulated everything wrong with the NO case brilliantly on the 7.30 Report last night. See also Same-sex marriage postal survey: the five worst arguments for voting No. I may have more to say — politely of course — about such piffle later on.

Meantime, let me replay Random Friday memory 20 – July 1990.

…And today in 1990 in a pub that is no more, in a century that is no more, I met M…

A year or two on from 1990:

memorabilia 13: 1993-4

Posted on January 24, 2009 by Neil

Clearly this is Christmas, and it is here in Elizabeth Street, but I am guessing which year*. Oh my, have I ever aged! But fifteen years or so is a long time…

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George, me, M

* It may well be Christmas 1992, the first in Elizabeth Street Surry Hills.

And the pub of course (12 July 1990) was The Albury: mais où est l’Albury d’antan?

And someone comments on Bruce’s album:

Such an beautiful original old pub destroyed! I was saddened when I finally moved to Syd and it was gone. I met a lovely guy there on my first visit around 1996 and didn’t leave empty handed….a big deal for a country boy!!!

“Such an beautiful original old pub destroyed!” indeed. I hope Bruce finds a few more to share in that “boot box full of photo memories.”

I have cropped a couple and given them the art makeover treatment.

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Here is a 2007 post:

M’s 18th 19th Australian Christmas

16  DEC 2007

Even if he will be spending it on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.

M arrived in Australia from Shanghai in December 1989. He has told me how disappointed he was that year in Christmas, thinking it would be something like Chinese New Year back in Shanghai, only to find the streets of Auburn were less than vibrant on Christmas Day! (I met him around six months later.)

Christmas 1999 – New Year 2000 he was in Bodh Gaya being taught by the Dalai Lama.

Gets around, does M.

Finally, from 2009:

I too was offered a free trip to China…

28 MAR 2009

… and M was once thought to be a Chinese spy.

Back in 1990 when I first met M, then very recently arrived in Australia, I was living in Paddington at PK’s place – and a nice place it was too. The first morning M appeared at breakfast PK was quite nonplussed – being of Lithuanian background he had fairly strong Cold War views in some respects, though not in others. He did indeed suggest soon after that M may be a Chinese spy. He later changed his mind and may even deny the story today. 😉

No doubt among the very large influx of Chinese students at that post-Tiananmen time there would have been some spies, mostly there to monitor the other students. Chinese were used to being monitored. M solved the problem back home in China by joining the neighbourhood spooks – hiding in plain sight, you could say. The neighbourhood committee of spooks also had a benign role; as well as reporting suspicious activity they were agents too of social welfare. M claimed he was particularly lax on the reporting side, especially given his own association with quite a few westerners.

My students at the language college I then worked in more or less assumed someone could be a spy, or “a boss” as they tended to say, and sussed one another out before they started opening up about certain topics.

About a decade later I was offered a free trip to Shanghai by the parents of one of my SBHS students – and not to influence me, as it was offered after the exams. As M said, they were just being Chinese and were grateful I had helped their son. I found a face-saving way of refusing the gift…

25 years ago, July 1990! I can’t believe it!

I’m really a conservative…

But hardly anyone else is, least of all the creatures that infest the Murdoch press so much. I say that after almost spoiling my lunch here at City Diggers (appropriately conservative venue) by reading the latest column by Andrew Bolt in which to me the great mystery is whether he is in any genuine sense any kind of Christian, deeply and intellectually that is — apart from using it as a chess-piece in a cliched rant directed against clearly sane people like Waleed Aly and annoying but misunderstood folk like Yasmin Abdel-Magied. (Best comment on her, by the way, comes from fellow ex-SBHS alumnus and well-known writer of letters to the editor Burt Candy on Facebook the other day: “My father died on the Thai-Burma railway as a Japanese POW and I know he wouldn’t have been offended by Yasmin using the ‘Lest We Forget’ to remind us that there are still wars across the world that are killing innocents. However he would have condemned her being forced out of Australia for it. He didn’t die to support cruel bigotry”). But it’s part of Bolt’s schtick to throw into his tired argument her name, Waleed’s, and the ABC, which apparently spends all its resources on vilifying Christians — on Compass for example, or by broadcasting Songs of Praise every Sunday. Meantime, I wonder just how much of the Nicene Creed Mr Bolt actually subscribes to hand-on-heart. I would guess not much.

But back to my being a conservative. All my genuinely Left friends over the last 50 years or so have known what a sceptic I am when it comes to The Revolution! When it comes to the classic locus of conservatism I am rather more Edmund Burke than Tom Paine, and always have been, despite my views on individual issues often producing a profile like So I tried ABC’s “Vote Compass”.

The overview of my political leanings came out thus:

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Not too surprising.

But then I subscribed to Quadrant back in the 60s, when it was half-way decent. I ever rejected the siren-call of Marxism. If from anywhere, my political core came from my parents and especially from my maternal grandfather Roy Christison, who if anything was a Dickensian and judging from many a thing he told me something of an agnostic in his later years. As am I really. Have a look at these posts from November 2008 and this one from the year before:

I began life as a resident of The Shire and continued as such for my first quarter-century. I was, so far as I was political at all, a supporter of the Liberal Party in early adulthood. I was a religious conservative. I even subscribed to Quadrant, though I would venture to suggest the Quadrant of the 1960s bore small resemblance to the Quadrant of today. I supported, at first, the Vietnam War.

In due course I changed my mind about the Vietnam War, but always felt the extreme left’s take on it was hyperbolic and in its own way bigoted. The treatment of soldiers returning from that war in the early 70s was disgraceful. As I went into my teaching career I began to see through the conservative religion to the pit of absurdity at its heart, leading to a considerable (but useful) period in the wilderness in that regard. I became involved, in a small way, in the Teachers’ Federation and came to see the value and necessity of the trade union movement.

In 1972 I voted for Whitlam. Since then I have tended to favour Labor, the sadly dying Democrats, or The Greens, or, on occasion, Independents.

I have learned much from some left-wing, even Marxist or neo-Marxist, writers without ever being or even wanting to be a Marxist. Like Bruce I read Karl Popper’s The Open Society and its Enemies (or some of it), and Orwell, and S I Hayakawa’s Language in Thought and Action. Take just one quote from Popper:

Liberalism and state-interference are not opposed to each other. On the contrary, any kind of freedom is clearly impossible unless it is guaranteed by the state. A certain amount of state control in education, for instance, is necessary, if the young are to be protected from a neglect which would make them unable to defend their freedom, and the state should see that all education facilities are available to everybody. But too much state control in educational matters is a fatal danger to freedom, since it must lead to indoctrination. As already indicated, the important and difficult question of the limitations of freedom cannot be solved by a cut and dried formula. And the fact that there will always be borderline cases must be welcomed, for without the stimulus of political problems and political struggles of this kind, the citizen’s readiness to fight for their freedom would soon disappear, and with it, their freedom. (Viewed in this light, the alleged clash between freedom and security, that is, a security guaranteed by the state, turns out to be a chimera. For there is no freedom if it is not secured by the state; and conversely, only a state which is controlled by free citizens can offer them any reasonable security at all.)

I have, partly through linguistics and English Studies, taken on since then much from postmodern and postcolonial sources — generally speaking so long as they can write like human beings, which many of them cannot. So my thinking may even be described by some as conservative. It is certainly not terribly profound or original. However, given all the above I found myself increasing alienated by what has in the past decade or two masqueraded as conservatism, a set of increasingly fevered and unreasonable right-wing fetishes starting with the kiss of that spider woman Thatcher — though it has to be said of her that she was a very progressive figure in her day on the subject of global warming, but then she was after all really a scientist.

In 1984-5 I found myself working full time for the then Liberal Party candidate for Sydney, not that I ever voted for him. That was when the Howard career really began with his first stint as leader, stalling soon after, but reviving to take him to power in 1996. I saw at that time the forces at work, viewed from my desk in a Glebe bookshop, or fielded by telephone. I saw, met, spoke to, or at least heard of many of the players at that time. I saw the beginning of the trajectory that has delivered the Liberal Party now in the wilderness. At the centre of it all has been John Howard. (Yes, I had taken time out of teaching.)

That potted background leads to an excellent letter in today’s Sydney Morning Herald.

Liberals must return to tradition of decency, diversity and tolerance

It’s hard to see the Liberal Party re-establishing itself as a credible force without it reconnecting with a significant part of its one-time base: the small-l, compassionate tradition that was for so long such an important part of the party’s make-up, allowing it to operate as a “broad church” of anti-Labor tendencies. They used to call it the Whig tradition.

It was a tendency that recognised an obligation on government to look after those less able to deal with the world than others more fortunate; a tendency that saw people as people, rather than as economic units.

It used to be in the Liberal Party, too, that members were able to vote against their party if it came to a matter of real conscience. It was tolerated, and the party was proud of it as one of the most important distinctions between it and the ALP. It was a key reason for them naming themselves Liberals.

These days, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission would do well to have a look at the Liberals for misleading advertising, for liberal they ain’t.

One of the most poisonous trends throughout the Howard era has been the crushing of the small-l tradition in the party with the at-times systematic elimination of MPs and strains through the organisational wing.

Even with a handful of moderates surviving idiosyncratically, they are nothing like the force they were supposed to be in the Menzian Liberal Party. And when they do survive, they are there more often as numbers manipulators than as forces for altruism.

The Howard Liberal Party, fashioned by him and for him by the likes of Michael Kroger and Peter Costello, made people such as Petro Georgiou, Judi Moylan and Bruce Baird nothing more than an accidental ginger group.

It became, with them, a matter of note when this ginger group took stands against the party and the leader, when it should be something almost normal: an important check and balance within the party.

The Liberals used to be proud that they tolerated dissent. Now, they punish it as vindictively as the ALP, except that vengeance within the Liberals is often behind the back, not up front.

The Liberals’ liberal tendency should be an indispensable component of the party. That’s where the party’s compassion is: its humanity. Without it, they will forever recede into more of an intolerant right-wing rump undeserving of broad support from the electorate.

Paul Ellercamp Gymea

Also from The Shire, you may note.

The worst thing they could do would be to elect Tony Abbott as leader; when I saw him extolling his “people skills” on TV last night I almost fell off my chair!…

But the problem with Abbott is deeper than that; in fact he is part of the problem being a product of the rot that set in after 1985. I can’t help thinking Paul Keating was being mischievous in proposing Julie Bishop; let’s face it, he hardly wishes the Liberal Party well. I would also reject Brendan Nelson who has displayed an amazing talent for following all the worst advice he can find, in my opinion….

So. The trouble is there are virtually none of the loudmouth conservatives here or overseas that I can take seriously. After all, I find the case for human-influenced climate change compelling, which makes me a warmist! If I were still teaching I would gladly avail myself of the resources offered by Safe Schools! I plan to vote YES, assuming that silly postal survey turns out to be even legal. (We don’t know that yet.) And so on…

I am a conservative out of sorts with almost all the fetishes that pass for conservatism in today’s world! I suspect I am far from alone.