Human beings can be offended in a myriad weird and wonderful ways. I recently learned that to describe someone morbidly obese as fat is ‘fattist’ and that it’s a no-no to describe someone as suffering from HIV, instead of as someone living with HIV, for example.
We’ve all heard examples of political correctness gone MAD; the phrase itself is so hackneyed that some may find it a bit offensive. And actually we probably shouldn’t use the word ‘mad’, that’s quite likely to offend people with mental health issues. Problems. Disorders. People living with mental health challenges. Consumers of mental health services.
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It was only a matter of time before they found the teddy bear.
They were professionals, after all. As the other passengers on my flight to Warsaw filed past, a team of Belurussian customs officers methodically picked apart my luggage, pulling out cameras, phone, computer, hard drives, memory cards and (goddammit) Season 5 of The Wire. As they put each item aside, they offered it for inspection to a man in plainclothes – KGB.
Their faces lit up with satisfaction as they gingerly removed the teddy bear from my dirty laundry. It was about 15cm tall, wearing a handmade frock, attached to a black parachute and carrying a sign declaring “Teddy Bears Support Human Rights” in English and Belarussian. It was also a prize catch.
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The concurrent parliamentary inquiries on gay marriage mark a new low point in what has been the constant manipulation of truth and democratic process by gay activists in the pursuit of same-sex marriage.
As the inquiries closed it was evident that they had been reduced to the status of cheap public polls instead of what they should be - our highest forums for review for public policy.
The manipulation of truth over this issue has had a long precedent and we should question why it is necessary.
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Everyone has the human right to freedom of religion and belief. But often religion and belief can be used as grounds for discrimination and as weapons of division and hate. As a nation, we need to make sure that this does not happen.
Over the next three weeks there are two very different religious conferences being held in Australia. One is the Parliament of the World’s Religions conference in Melbourne, with the theme, ‘Making a world of difference: Hearing each other, Healing the Earth’. The other, this weekend, is the National Conference for all Concerned Christians in Sydney, themed ‘Australia’s Future and Global Jihad’.
Australia is a nation of many religions and beliefs. Some people say we are a Christian nation. More often than not, we are described as a secular nation. But which is true? And why, if at all, does it matter?
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I was reading Annabel Crabb’s exquisitely written essay on Malcolm Turnbull this week and was struck by two things.
Firstly, it’s remarkable how much of Turnbull’s personality as described by Crabb was at play in his handling of the so-called Utegate affair. The parallels between Turnbull’s precipitate attack on the Prime Minister and his muscling up to Douglas Meagher QC (the Counsel assisting the Costigan Royal Commission) are telling. I was more provoked, however, by suggestions about what motivates Turnbull to participate in parliamentary politics.
The suspicion, of course, has always been that it’s more about Malcolm himself than about a big policy reform that’s been eating away at him over the years. Not that he’d be the first person to come to politics with Messianic motivations; Bob Hawke had more than a bit of that about him too, but he also had a clearly articulated program of reform he was able to put before the people as icing on the cake of having him as Australia’s PM.
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