On grubs, malice, malignancy and muttering on social media — and angel voices too…

An interruption to the COVID-19 and lockdown series, but definitely related.

It has in the past week been impossible not to have seen this here in Oz:

Covid-19 patients from Sydney’s Concord hospital have shared their experience of the Delta variant’s symptoms and pleaded for Sydneysiders to get vaccinated. Lung specialist Lucy Morgan shared the stories of 50-year-old construction worker Fawaz, 30-year-old pharmacy worker Ramona and 35-year-old tradie Osama in a video from Sydney Local Health District. Fawaz and Osama infected family members who have also been hospitalised, while single mother Ramona says she has been unable to see her children for weeks

But this has not escaped the malevolent attention of the nutters and bastards on social media, as last night’s excellent Media Watch on our ABC showed.

This is the whole show — a cracker it is too!

Transcript:

Footage of those patients, identified only by their first names, was recorded by Dr Lucy Morgan and released by New South Wales Health. And it made it onto all the major networks including ABC News, Ten News First and Seven News.

But soon people on social media were wondering if the New South Wales Health video was actually a fake. 

And among the sceptics was former One Nation senator Rod Culleton, whose post received thousands of likes, and another former senator, David Leyonhjelm.

And one intrepid TikToker who went digging was able to reveal:

I found all 3 actors. Now how can this be coincidental?

– TikTok, @loiannecapone, 27 August, 2021

Yes, all three, including Ramona, were supposedly paid crisis actors, who did not have COVID at all.

And another internet sleuth then set out to prove it, ringing Concord Hospital to show that Ramona Khoury was not a patient there…

So, is Ramona a crisis actor pretending to have COVID for New South Wales Health? No, of course she’s not.

As New South Wales Health made clear, the patient’s name is not Ramona Khoury but Ramona El-Nachar, who is a pharmacy worker. 

And as you can clearly see they are two different people, despite the fact that both are women and both have dark hair.

And as for the two male patients, well, we’re happy to tell you they are not crisis actors either.

As actor and comedian Mitch Garling — who was ‘outed’ online as COVID patient Osama Ahmad — said on Instagram: 

MITCH GARLING: … turns out that people are using my photo and my StarNow profile saying that I am an actor sitting in a hospital pretending to have COVID. Look, I am an actor …

But not pretending to have COVID. Not that. Just, doesn’t even look like me. Has a beard. That’s it.

– Instagram, @mitchgarling, 27 August, 2021

It is amazing what people will believe, isn’t it?…

But it’s not just fun and games for the COVID conspiracists. Because the hospital told Media Watch:

It has been highly distressing for Dr Morgan and the patients to see their powerful messages undermined by these baseless and dangerous accusations, and to have their credibility questioned. Staff in Concord Hospital’s intensive care unit have also received multiple intimidating phone calls from members of the public over this matter. 

– Email, Dr Teresa Anderson, Chief Executive, Sydney Local Health District, 3 September, 2021

It is the last thing our exhausted health workers need.

And it’s not much better for the rest of us, relying on people to take COVID seriously and get the jab if we’re ever to win back our freedoms.

And now a disgusting local example that has been playing out here in Wollongong in the past 24 hours. But first, meet an angel — or a family of angels…

Who is that masked man? Why all the toys?

In July I rather cryptically noted — and I think I must have forgotten to include the video from WIN News! “But in fact it is from our local Wollongong news, and is a marvellous example of human kindness and also of Australian multiculturalism at its best.” That is Omar Nemer from Samaras Middle Eastern Restaurants in Fairy Meadow and Wollongong, also with a food truck that has been out and about during lockdown. And the toys?

Omar from Samaras Food Truck and Catering here. I have organised a massive collaboration for this coming week. The Samaras Food Truck pop-ups will be switching to drive thru for the remainder of the lockdown and do we have a suprise for you! Each drive thru next week we will have $200 worth of toys to give away!! Every kid that is in the car during the drive thru will get something from a BRAND NEW BIKE with helmet, Scooter with Helmet, Soccer Ball, Lego, a Foam Plane, Bubble Stick and much much more. It’s all thanks to these sponsors who have each Sponsored $200 worth of toys for each day.

I have mentioned Omar and his family business often, not least in this post: Munching against the fear of “the other”…

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Restaurant owner Omar Nemer and community leader Grahame Gould

In the past 24 hours on Facebook Omar has made two major posts. This is the first:

Our community & staff are our number 1 priority which is why, for the first time in 13 years effective immediately Samaras Woonona, Wollongong & Food Truck are closing its doors for 2 weeks.

One of our Food Truck staff members has tested positive to Covid. The staff member worked Thursday 2nd & Friday 3rd in the evening at the Food Truck Drive thru.

The staff member fell symptomatic on Saturday 4th & was not symptomatic previous to this date. The staff member was directed to get tested and self isolate immediately by the Samaras management team. The staff member was not aware of any direct contact with anyone that was Covid Positive. We followed NSW Health regualtions which states the individual has to isolate until results come back and no further action is required up until that point.

All Samaras staff have conducted a covid test and are now in isolation until results come out as a precaution taken by the Samaras Management Team. All direct contacts (which are very minimal) are now in quarantine as directed by NSW Health.

NSW health has advised us that due to the fact that it is a drive thru, they are not concerned about the risk of community transmission and therefore this is not being listed as a hotspot. Please do get tested if you have any concern. They are also not concerned of any community transmission at any of the Samaras Woonona or Wollongong venues.

We have been advised that we have to close until our staff test negative (approx 24-48hrs) & to deep clean our shops & then reopen. We ourselves have decided to close as a precaution for 2 weeks as you can get covid & not have any symptoms or test positive up to 12 days after any possible transmission date.

The health & safety of our staff & customers is our number one priority & we feel it is best for our community. We look forward to seeing you all soon.

This can happen to anyone at any time. Wishing our staff member a speedy recovery. Take care out there people.

Thank you,
Much love,
Samaras team

Of course that was accompanied by many comments expressing concern and goodwill.

But then the grubs and bastards started, just as they did with the Concord Hospital patients.

It has come to our attention that there have been several people writing comments, spreading rumours that the Samaras family hosted a party in Berkeley with members from Bankstown attending, and we would like to address these harmful allegations.

The Samaras family have NEVER held or attended a party in lockdown.

This is false information and the Samaras family have nothing to do with these hurtful rumours. We do not live in Berkeley, nor do we have kids in a Mangerton daycare. If spiteful members of the community continue to make defamatory claims against Samaras, we will have no choice but to pursue legal action.

The people of the Illawarra that truly know who we are as a family know that we would never do such a thing. We pride our selves in being a core part of the Illawarra trying to bring unity.

We have always worked very hard to support our community and this is very upsetting and distressing for us to hear. We have never failed our community and this is no time to be divided. We have dedicated the last 13 years to the Wollongong community and have always been on the front line when the community needs us. Let’s stay united during these troubling times.

Kind regards,
Samaras family

So far over 250 people have indicated love and concern, and 22 have commented. One example is typical:

Cant believe one of our community pillars is being attacked again. Just gonna say it, the not so subtle racism that Samaras is and has experienced is disgusting.

Gonna save up my poverty dolleriedoos for a mezze plate with a side of dolmades to support ya’ll when you reopen

I commented last night:

I am utterly disgusted by this. Whoever is responsible is an absolute grub and can never be on the same human level as you and your family, whose generosity is well known and whose service is exemplary. Not to mention the food!

Let me share another story of angels in our Gong community — the local mosque:

JAB TIME: Wollongong man Muhammad Rafique gets his AstraZeneca vaccine shot at Omar Mosque from Helen Calvert from the Illawarra Public Health Unit. Picture: Robert Peet — Illawarra Mercury

Staff from NSW Health along with medical practitioners were at the mosque in Gwynneville to administer the vaccination.

An Arabic interpreter was also on hand to assist those who could not speak English.

Muhammad Rafique, one of the first people to get jabbed at the mosque, welcomed the experience.

“I’m so glad the mosque has chosen to run a vaccination clinic. It definitely played a major part in me deciding to get the jab,” the 24-year-old said.

“I had reservations about getting the AstraZeneca because of all of the misinformation around but my fears were allayed by the wonderful medical staff.”

Mr Rafique, who owns Bams, Burgers and Wraps in Gwynneville, urged his fellow Muslims to get jabbed as a matter of urgency.

“Do not delay, this is too important,” he said.

“I’m so glad the mosque opened this clinic because I’m sure a lot of people in the Muslim community have some reservations about getting vaccinated.

“Hopefully getting a jab in the mosque, where they feel comfortable, will encourage them to bite the bullet and book in to get vaccinated.

“I was always going to get a jab but the fact the mosque was offering jabs definitely sped things up for me.

“I’m now pleading with my fellow Muslims to do the same and get vaccinated sooner rather than later.”

That story you can believe, people! But do be very critical about what you believe on social media There are so many loose cannons, dingbats and just plain skunks tapping away on keyboards out there…. So much disinformation and just plain lies. Be very careful what you share.

On that see this great article in the New Yorker: Ivermectin, the Crate Challenge, and the Danger of Runaway Memes.

It’s common sense by now that social media allows us to exist in bubbles of perception. If you see many people doing something online, clogging up your social-media feeds with videos and messages, it’s easy to assume that the behavior is happening everywhere—and is therefore O.K. to do. What the Milk Crate Challenge and ivermectin have in common is that they are hazardous undertakings given more credence by their online ubiquity. In a slower, more cautious digital-media environment, perhaps the F.D.A.’s own warnings would supersede viral videos or misinformation on these platforms. But, when platforms are made up mostly of user-generated content and that content is served to viewers as quickly and as often as possible in order to drive engagement and advertising sales, content moderation is always playing a Sisyphean game of catch-up. As with the pandemic itself, problems are only identified and confronted after they have already spread.

Tao

UPDATE: Will leave this post in place until the Inauguration is done and dusted!

Yesterday I posted on Facebook: I have long loved this from the Tao Te Ching, especially this translation:

Tao Te Ching – Verse 67

Some say that my teaching is nonsense.
Others call it lofty but impractical.
But to those who have looked inside themselves,
this nonsense makes perfect sense.
And to those who put it into practice,
this loftiness has roots that go deep.

I have just three things to teach:
simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.

Simple in actions and in thoughts,
you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.

(translation by Stephen Mitchell, 1995)

Statue — Fujian Province, China

There is a good online translation of the Tao Te Ching by Derek Liu:

The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named is not the eternal name
The nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth
The named is the mother of myriad things
Thus, constantly without desire, one observes its essence
Constantly with desire, one observes its manifestations
These two emerge together but differ in name
The unity is said to be the mystery
Mystery of mysteries, the door to all wonders

I would that all religions, perhaps most especially the three great religions of The Book, would modify their belief with that opening statement. If they did there would be much less bigotry in the world.

See also Wikipedia and The Ancient History Encyclopedia.

Finally, this article is worth looking at: The Tao Te Ching by Laozi: ancient wisdom for modern times.

Two thousand four hundred years after it was composed, we need the Tao Te Ching’s lessons in self-awareness more than ever. Little can be said with absolute certainty about the origins of the Tao Te Ching. Consensus suggests it was written around 400BC by one Laozi. Laozi translates simply as “old master” – a hint that the author’s (or authors’) true name has been lost for ever.

Tao Te Ching translates very roughly as “the way of integrity”. In its 81 verses it delivers a treatise on how to live in the world with goodness and integrity: an important kind of wisdom in a world where many people believe such a thing to be impossible….

Dad — would have been 109 today

Started life in Shellharbour NSW 25 November 1911. The place has changed so much in recent years, but I can remember it as not all that different from the place my father knew. There was a photo perhaps from the 50s or 60s posted on Facebook recently. I have colourised it. I am sure Dad would have recognised it.

Mid 20th century Shellharbour — South Beach

He passed away during the Christmas holiday period in 1989. I recall being at my mother’s place (then in Glebe) on the phone to the Undertakers when the Newcastle Earthquake shook the place — even in Glebe!

He served in the RAAF in World War 2.

dadww2

Things my father did/didn’t tell me

Posted on November 27, 2015 by Neil

Let’s think about 1925, when my father was 13/14 years old. There was, he told me more than once, a group of artists that used to come down to Shellharbour – from Sydney, one imagines. My father spent time with them, and they encouraged his artistic talent, evidence of which I have seen in works he drew during World War 2, none of which survive.

My grandfather T D Whitfield didn’t encourage this artiness. My father told me that he therefore hid his art gear and paintings in a rock shelter on what was then Native Dog Hill, Mount Warrigal today.

museumShellImagesAerial

See Shellharbour – a double post

Perhaps my grandfather also had in mind the influences my dad as a very handsome boy who had just left school at 13 may have been subjected to.

DH Souter, who supervised the decorations for the 1923 artists’ ball, described it as a ‘jazz fantasy’. It was at this ball that the famous poet, writer and Queen of Bohemia, Dulcie Deamer, wore her cavewoman outfit. The photograph of Deamer dressed in a wrap-around leopard skin hide complete with a dogtooth necklace has come to symbolize the joi de vivre of the decade, despite Deamer’s own protest regarding its relevance.

Perhaps the most notorious of the artists’ balls of this decade was held at the Sydney Town Hall in 1924. The ball turned, if not into an orgy, then into a veritable bacchanalia: alcohol flowed freely and spirits were smuggled in in great numbers. Deamer called it the ‘Night of the Great Scandal’. The theme of this ball was ‘Back to Childhood’, so George Finey hid a bottle of rum in his nappy, secured with a safety pin, and Jack Lindsay hid whisky flasks in the habit of his friend who had dressed as Friar John. In the basement of the Town Hall the floor was covered in beer. Fights erupted after gatecrashers climbed through the basement windows, and extra police and the fire brigade were eventually called to clear the overcrowded basement which was littered with drunken semi-naked women, broken crockery and high spirited revellers. The Lord Mayor’s orderly, Martin Carrick, reported that ‘in one place I saw a helpless man and woman vomiting into each other’s laps’, and in the Ladies Rest Rooms ‘men were entering with women and locking themselves in the compartments’.

Certainly sometime around 1925 my father encountered the poetry of Swinburne. In the 1960s I found that rather sad, seeing Swinburne through Leavisite eyes – not a great figure in the pantheon of Sydney University English in those days.

A land that is lonelier than ruin
A sea that is stranger than death
Far fields that a rose never blew in,
Wan waste where the winds lack breath;
Waste endless and boundless and flowerless
But of marsh-blossoms fruitless as free
Where earth lies exhausted, as powerless
To strive with the sea.

2

Far flickers the flight of the swallows,
Far flutters the weft of the grass            10
Spun dense over desolate hollows
More pale than the clouds as they pass
Thick woven as the weft of a witch is
Round the heart of a thrall that hath sinned,
Whose youth and the wrecks of its riches
Are waifs on the wind.

Actually it is rather dreadful, isn’t it? Not so this painting in the Art Gallery of NSW, which my father loved, as do I still.

Artist : Douglas Watson (Australia, b.1920, d.1972) Title : Date : -1948 Medium Description: pen and ink, wash Dimensions : Credit Line : Purchased 1952 Image Credit Line : Accession Number : 865

W Lister Lister “The ever restless sea” 1892

My father also encountered in the 1920s the writings of Robert Ingersoll.

I do not say, and I do not believe, that Christians are as bad as their creeds. In spite of church and dogma, there have been millions and millions of men and women true to the loftiest and most generous promptings of the human heart. They have been true to their convictions, and, with a self-denial and fortitude excelled by none, have labored and suffered for the salvation of men. Imbued with the spirit of self-sacrifice, believing that by personal effort they could rescue at least a few souls from the infinite shadow of hell, they have cheerfully endured every hardship and scorned every danger. And yet, notwithstanding all this, they believed that honest error was a crime. They knew that the Bible so declared, and they believed that all unbelievers would be eternally lost. They believed that religion was of God, and all heresy of the devil. They killed heretics in defence of their own souls and the souls of their children. They killed them because, according to their idea, they were the enemies of God, and because the Bible teaches that the blood of the unbeliever is a most acceptable sacrifice to heaven.

My father was fond of Omar Khayam:

His creed was “moderation in all things”. Since I became a dedicated Calvinist in the mid 1960s I found that disappointing; I am sure Dad was however trying to tell me something. It was around this time he mentioned Colonel Ingersoll.

Fragments from Auburn Street 60–70 years ago — 4

Posted on  by Neil

Coming back from the war my father (right) determined to build up his own

dadraaf

business as a builder and developer, partly in response to the post-war housing shortage and related policies.

In the 1930s, Sutherland, like everywhere else in Sydney, suffered the Depression, with many families in trouble and in need of assistance. It was not uncommon to see unemployed people selling flowers along the road to the cemetery. Despite this, Sutherland was the first township to have a baby health centre. The work of Father Thomas Dunlea, Roman Catholic parish priest at Sutherland, was notable at this time. He took in homeless boys and later rented a small cottage in the centre of town to accommodate the growing number. Due to overcrowding and insufficient space, it later moved to Engadine and became the well-known Boys’ Town.

In 1939 a railway line from Sutherland to Cronulla was opened and completed the network of links between the shire suburbs with Sutherland as a hub.

Postwar Sutherland

As Sutherland was so close to the national park, residents used parts of the park closest to the township for recreational purposes. With permission of the Park Trust, an area had been used as a rifle range from 1915, set up primarily by councillors and local businessmen. Over the years other sporting and recreational activities had also been held there. In 1950 due to the housing crisis the rifle range area was used to temporarily house low-income families in a camping ground that operated until 1958. By then housing was more easily obtainable, so the remaining people were moved. The area then became playing fields, known as Waratah Memorial Playing Grounds.

— Dictionary of Sydney….

dadad3
dadad51
I remember the houses he built on that land, and that my brother Ian worked on them as an apprentice carpenter.

Comfort Homes eh! I had forgotten that business name, but the front room at 61 Auburn Street was the office and Mum the receptionist. It was a mixed success, as by 1951 dad was back working with C S Boyne, a Real Estate Agent in Beverly Hills and a relative of my mother’s mother’s family. In due course in the 50s he had a semi-independent enclave in another Beverly Hills agency, Sproule’s.  By the later 1950s he was independent again at Jannali and Sutherland.

Sometimes the business prospered mightily, sometimes it didn’t.  I’m afraid I took as little interest in it as possible!

baker

Bread delivery, Sutherland in the 1920s. Same thing and maybe same cart was in Auburn Street in the 1940s – along with the milko and the ice man.

Back to Shellharbour — 1947:

Back row: me, Mum, Dad. Cousin Betty. Front: my sister Jeanette, two random girls….

Real people, real concerns, really scared by Donald Trump — and that’s the Republicans!

Before I get into that, I am happy that yesterday’s blog post has done rather well. If you are one of the few people allowed to read my Facebook, you will know that the post was revised during the day. The reason? I quoted someone I shouldn’t have, even though the quote and the source were disguised. So I revised. Which leads to this thought: is a blog “social media” in the same way that FB, Twitter, TikTok and so on are? Blogging preceded all those, is in fact an old-fashioned activity which I have been doing, on various platforms, for twenty years now! At first I called it “journalling”, something I was already familiar with from my days with Bob Walshe’s wonderful English Teachers’ Writing Group back in the 70s.

On FB after the last revision I said: “Today’s blog post has been edited since first posting. BTW, is a blog ‘social media’? I like to think blogging can and should involve more reflection and offers at least the possibility of some nuance, compared with FB, Twitter etc. For example, I am now going back into that post to change ONE WORD! But the word choice matters. (And ended up changing a few more and adjusting a paragraph split.)”

Now to the US and Donald Trump, who is seeking, and please God will fail to get, a second term “burning down the house” — as the evangelical Christian Sean says in one of the videos below.

These videos are part of a growing series on YouTube called Republican Voters Against Trump. Let me quote their About in full:

Republican Voters Against Trump is a coalition of Republicans, former Republicans, conservatives, and former Trump voters who can’t support Trump for president this fall. Visit us at rvat.org

The RVAT project is aimed at amplifying the voices of this critical voting block in the 2020 election. Despite the president’s claims that he has the total support of the party, there are millions of voters who used to be reliable Republicans but are disgusted by the Trump administration.

Some are upset about the skyrocketing debt. Others about how he has debased the office. No matter the reason, they are united in wanting the country to move on from this deeply un-American presidency.

These are their stories. Together their voices are powerful. And if they are heard, next January we will inaugurate Joe Biden as the next president, and the Republican Party can begin a post-Trump future. RVAT is a project of Defending Democracy Together.

I am far more impressed by these than by the Lincoln Project, for example, because the way these have been created is quite transparent and the voices are quite clearly authentic. I will share three. The first one is very distinctive and earthy. He does drop a few F-bombs!

The next one is much gentler:

And now an extremely thoughtful evangelical Christian from Georgia, whose views should not come as a shock given that rather famous editorial in Christianity Today.

Blogging the 2010s — 88 — September 2014

My 15th September as a blogger, and my fourth in Wollongong!

Terror down under – and the Sichuan lunch

Yesterday I posted on Facebook:

Wonderful lunch (Sichuan food) at Steelers with Chris T and friends from Iran, Bangladesh and Cambodia (in part). How Australia REALLY is, should be, and will be if we are wise enough to resist the tides of panic and xenophobia…

4

Good food

uow180011

Smart company: the two on the left were at our table

We did eschew pork…

In conversation last Wednesday’s episode of SBS’s excellent Living with the Enemy came up:

immigration-episode-3_living-with-the-enemy

When Abraham arrived in Australia he knew two words in English, ‘yes’ and ‘no’, and he consistently confused the two of them.  He is now the Slam Poet Champion of Victoria and recently came third in the national titles.  He is also about to have his second book published and perform at the Glastonbury festival.  However, he still can’t get a job, is subjected to daily racism and won’t travel on the train after dark.

Nick is the founder of a fledgling political party who says allowing Africans like Abraham into Australia is asking for trouble.  He believes they can’t assimilate, are a welfare drain on the economy and have nothing to contribute to a society built on Anglo-Celtic foundations. This is one of the most explosive and moving episodes in the series.

Well, it sure was. Sad too, because you couldn’t really hate either of them and they ALMOST reached some empathy/understanding at one point – but it failed. Ironic that Nick turned out not to be Anglo-Celtic himself, but of Russian descent – but that’s Australia for you.

We did get to meet Nick’s guru, someone who was born in Canada, educated at Harvard, had a professorship at Macquarie University, and had his fifteen minutes of fame about ten years back. No, his name isn’t Tom Buchanan, though it could be. You know The Great Gatsby, of course, and Tom’s rant:

Civilization’s going to pieces. I’ve gotten to be a terrible pessimist about things… The idea is if we don’t look out the white race will be–will be utterly submerged… It’s up to us, who are the dominant race, to watch out or these other races will have control of things.

Yeah, well…

The abolition of the White Australia policy has had similar consequences. Australians have been stripped of the ethnic monopoly over their antipodean homeland that the federation of the colonies in 1901 was designed to secure. The resultant damage to their genetic interests can also be understood as an attack on the foundation of their constitutional freedom. The word “freedom” is derived from an Indo-European root meaning “dear” or “beloved.” In its primordial sense, then, freedom is the right to belong to a community of dearly beloved people, the family being the first and most important model for every such form of association. (Significantly, slaves were denied the right to marry or to raise a family within the walls of their own household.) Every ethny is an extended family with a genetic interest in its own survival and enhanced vitality. Just as parents have a duty to care for their children, it might be said that every free person has a moral obligation to defend his own ethny.

Unfortunately, over the past half-century, governments throughout the Anglosphere have encouraged us to ignore the genetic interests of our ethnic kin through systematic campaigns of indoctrination and legal coercion….

That’s Professor Boofhead in full flight in a piece entitled Monarchs and Miracles: Australia’s Need for a Patriot King. I think you get the picture.

Next week’s episode of  Living with the Enemy looks most topical.

Almost half the Muslims in Australia live in south-western Sydney. The majority in just five suburbs centred around Bankstown.  Ben was born and bred in Bankstown, he’s seen his world change as Arab Muslims have stamped their identity on his home suburb, and he doesn’t like what he sees.

Ahmed and Lydia are a devout Muslim couple living in western Sydney. Ahmed is from Egypt, Lydia is a convert who grew up in a country pub. Lydia converted in the wake of the September 11 attacks after enrolling in a course on Islam to better understand the religion and the motivation for the terror attacks. She wanted to find out why they had happened, and what motivated the hijackers. Instead of discovering a religion of hate and war, she says, she discovered a religion of peace and justice.

Ben believes there is no such thing as a moderate Muslim.  Can Lydia and Ahmed convince him otherwise?

A must see, I’d say.

Finally:

September 19, 2014: Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek join TODAY to discuss Australia’s largest ever terrorism raids yesterday when 15 people were detained by counter terrorism police.

9NEWS

The Federal Government and Opposition have seen eye to eye after Australia’s largest ever terrorism raids, agreeing it is a time to be “determined not frightened”.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek appeared on TODAY after anti-terrorism police foiled an ISIL plot to allegedly abduct and behead members of the public.

“We’ve got to make it very, very clear that we are not going to be intimidated by terrorists,” Mr Turnbull said.

Ms Plibersek said it’s important we remember extremists are in the minority.

“This group of people yesterday are nut-jobs for sure, but are a very small section of the community,” she said.

Mr Turnbull agreed, saying “we must recognise that the vast bulk of the Muslims in Australia are good, patriotic Australians”.

“We have to get our arms around them because they are our best allies in the fight against extremism,” Mr Turnbull said…

And stop reading or even looking at the Daily Telegraph!

Brother

I posted on Facebook yesterday:

I spoke to my brother in Burnie Hospital this afternoon. He is feeling better and is positive, but there is no hiding from the fact this is very grave. We share seven decades. I assured him I would be thinking of him every minute and I am.

His daughter, who lives in The Shire, had told me of Ian’s condition yesterday morning. Ian is eight years older than I. He lives in Devonport, Tasmania.

bro

Ian in Surry Hills, April 2010

Thirty years on: my coming out, among other things

Actually I don’t have an exact date for my coming out, a torturous process that in fact took decades and cost me dearly psychologically and in other ways. But when around 1985 I actually ventured, having been out for less than a year, into a gay venue – the Britannia Hotel, then Beau’s, in Chippendale – this is one of the young men I met. With him I attended my first Mardi Gras Parade. For a while we saw a lot of one another.

Screenshot - 4_09_2014 , 8_07_59 AM

That is from a (linked to image) posting on YouTube which appeared in the Lost Gay Sydney Facebook Page. It is 1984 on a TV current affairs show which seems to have considerably more gravitas than the genre later developed. The people interviewed are very articulate. The occasion? Commemorated in NSW Hansard in March 2014 thus:

The Hon. PENNY SHARPE [7.19 p.m.]: On Saturday night I was proud to march in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras with over 100 Labor members and supporters to commemorate 30 years since homosexuality was decriminalised in New South Wales. I want to thank the hardworking Rainbow Labor Team, without whom there would have been no float. Thirty years ago this year, Labor Premier Neville Wran introduced the Crimes (Amendment) Bill 1984 as a private member’s bill, removing the criminalisation of homosexual activity from New South Wales law. Premier Wran’s bill was subject to a conscience vote for Labor members of Parliament and was passed with the support of a majority of Labor members and a number of Liberal members of the New South Wales Parliament. This was a monumental law reform from which so many other reforms have been made possible in the last 30 years. The significance of this reform cannot be overstated especially at a time where we are seeing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex [LGBTI] people in Nigeria, Russia, Uganda, and closer to home, in the Pacific, becoming criminalised simply because of who they love. Premier Wran’s bill drew strong opposition at the time, with a conservative member stating:

    • What a pathetic and smutty epitaph this bill will be to a failing Premier.

Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile spoke of his concern that decriminalisation could mean that:

    • Those potential homosexuals, the confused teenagers or young people in our society, will assume that as this bill is passed by our Parliament it is lawful, normal and acceptable to engage in acts of sodomy in New South Wales.

But as the Australian newspaper wrote at the time:

    • Mr Wran took the bill into the House after virtually browbeating his troops into accepting that homosexual law reform was needed in New South Wales if the State was to be able to claim the title of most progressive in the country.

I pay tribute to Neville Wran for his courage as leader to bring this bill to the Parliament. I pay tribute to former Labor members such as George Petersen, Frank Walker and Jack Ferguson who had to fight within Labor and the Parliament to see this reform made a reality, yet were unsuccessful the first time. But I especially pay tribute to the gay and lesbian community members who showed true courage by campaigning against the criminalisation of homosexuality—at great risk and great threat to themselves and those they loved. Since the establishment of the Campaign Against Moral Persecution—better known as CAMP in 1970—gay men, lesbians and transgender activists had raised the profile of the issues faced by gay men and lesbians. In 1978 these same people, joined by many others, marched in what was a visibly gay rights protest to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York. This protest saw the birth of Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. People like me as individuals, and indeed all of the LGBTI community organisations who followed, owe these elders a great debt. During the debate in 1984 Premier Wran said:

    • I feel that New South Wales and the New South Wales Parliament will be completely out of touch with current community standards if some substantial reform of the law is not achieved. This approach seems to me to involve not only a recognition of the reality of contemporary social circumstances, but the implication of such important concepts as the freedom of choice, and the rights of the individual and freedom from discrimination.

I often wish we had more debates that put these freedoms at the centre of our laws…

Fred Nile has not evolved at all since then…

I recall exactly where I was when that hit the news in 1984: Boyce Street, Glebe. And I recall who I was with, but there is another anniversary this month, this time 25 years – more on the day. See my post In 1983 I learned more than I knew I was learning….

Last night I forewent the delightful ABC political satire Utopia in order to watch SBS Living With the Enemy.

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The first episode in a series of documentaries, Living With the Enemy, produced by Shine and SBS, will focus on a gay couple that spends ten days living with a conservative Anglican minister who opposes gay marriage.

Gregory and Michael are gay activists and atheists and David is a father of three and an Anglican minister.

The film documents what happens when they become immersed in each other’s lives. The couple go to live in the minister’s world for five days then they swap and go to stay in the gay couple’s home.

“Living with the Enemy confronts major issues by bringing together a provocative clash of beliefs, ideologies and personalities that will have audiences shouting at the television”, Tony Iffland, SBS Director of Television, said. – Cec Busby, GNN/SX

Interesting that gay marriage was not the major topic among gay people thirty years ago, but in recent years it really has become a living area of change where we lag behind New Zealand, among other places. On that and other related matters see posts on this blogon my previous blog, and on the one before that!

I have to say that David on last night’s show – respectable reality TV – was not a total idiot like this guy. He was warm and loving, could listen, and modified his attitudes if not his beliefs – those fairly typical of evangelical Sydney Anglicans. The perils of proof texting became apparent when he cited Leviticus 20: 13.

If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

Stoning such people to death was quite OK back whenever this was written, probably not by Moses but several centuries later. That text and similar ones are explored in The Bible and Homosexuality.

Most Christians do not apply commands in Leviticus to their lives. They believe these laws are not binding on Christians. They do not believe they are under obligation to perform ritual hand washing, to refrain from eating pork or to abstain from sex during a woman’s period.

Christian churches do not make much of an attempt to apply the commands in Leviticus to corporate life. The requirements in Leviticus was that no priest serve the Lord, unless he was physically perfect. That is no longer the case. Pastors and priests are not required to marry virgins, as commanded in Leviticus 21:13. Churches do not check potential pastors for blemishes, eye defects, physical disabilities and inspect a potential pastor’s testicles to ensure they are perfect before the pastor is hired (requirement in Leviticus 21:16 to 21). For Christians who feel Calvary wipes away the need to keep the laws in Leviticus, enforcing Levitical laws on homosexuals is grossly inconsistent theology. Those Christians who wish to enforce the laws of Leviticus upon gay people need to admit their theology is very inconsistent and is potentially flawed.

One question that comes to mind regarding Leviticus relates to the word abomination. Leviticus 11:7 talks about pork as being unclean meat. Most Christians do not take the numerous texts in Leviticus seriously where the word abomination is used. Leviticus 11:10 is one of a passages where unclean food is called an abmomination. Christians generally do not consider eating pork an abomination, but Leviticus (11:11) considers even the carcases of unclean animals to be an abomination. Clean and unclean meat laws are not something most Christians feel any obligation to keep, yet many Christians insist that being gay is an abomination, when eating they feel eating pork is not an abomination.

Leviticus 18:21 -22 And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through [the fire] to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I [am] the LORD. Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it [is] abomination.

According to the respected Keil and Delitzsch Biblical commentary, Moloch was a Canaanite idol. These commentators believe going through the fire was a ceremony in which children were dedicated to the god Moloch. Immediately after a prohibition has been given to worshipping a pagan idol, by dedicating children to a pagan god, we see the what appears to be a prohibition of men having sexual intercourse with other men. The immediate context of this verse is worshipping other gods. Because the immediate context is worshipping pagan gods, one cannot be sure if this is a prohibition against gay relationships. This could be a prohibition against having sex with a man as a form of worshipping another god…

OK, some fair points and others that I find rather less persuasive, when the real point, I now believe, is that God has not written or caused to be written ANY books – Bible or Koran – that are in any way infallible, inerrant, and binding in all times and places. That is right: NONE. Though when considered as aspirations to be read respectfully, tentatively, and with scrupulous scholarship about origins and context, these products of earlier civilisations still have much to tell us.

Jesus himself said ZERO about homosexuality. Mind you he didn’t say much about computers, radios or ballpoint pens either.