Skip

The debate that dare not speak its name
September 11, 2012 3:02 AM   Subscribe

Earlier this month Australian Christian Lobby head Jim Wallace suggested a homosexual lifestyle was more hazardous to health than smoking, but he was not was not comparing homosexuality with smoking. Smokers were offended. Last night, on the ABC's Q&A program (Transcript) the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, backed the comments, claiming ''It's very hard to get to the facts here because we don't want to talk about it, and in this country censorship is alive and well.". But Wallace's claims were based on a 25-year-old study by a discredited researcher.

The same claims had earlier led gay marriage agnostic Prime Minister Julia Gillard to pull out of a speaking engagement at the ACL's National Conference in October.
The ACL claims it's "a win for aggressive gay", some wonder why this is Gillard's tipping point at a time when the Parliament is poised to consider a bill for gay marriage for the fourth time.
With World Suicide Prevention Day approaching, depression activist and former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennet offered to take her place, but was turned down.
Tasmania recently legalised same sex marriage.
posted by Mezentian (49 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Not to thread sit, but as this veers into the realm of editorialisng, an audience member responded to Jensen with the following:

There's so much going on here that I don't even quite know where to start. For starters the rates of HIV among the heterosexual community is actually raising faster than the rates of HIV within the homosexual community. Also, your statements about the death rates among the homosexual community that we have a lower life expectancy of some I just don't even comprehend. Our Indigenous population, unfortunately, also has a lower life expectancy so is then a correlation there that perhaps there's something wrong with them and not non-Indigenous people? And just a final I just - my mind is absolutely blown. I'm really sorry about that but I'm also a youth worker that works with tremendous same-sex attracted and gender diverse young people and if you would like to have a conversation with me, I'm more than happy to sit down with you and have a beer and give you the research and give you the quotes and give you the comments of the pain and suffering that does occur because of things like what you and what the ACL say. I can say it from the bottom of my heart: really, are you serious?

She then offered to discuss the matter over a beer. I believe the offer was not taken up.
posted by Mezentian at 3:05 AM on September 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is what's technically known as blowing smoke up the ass of right wing Christians.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:08 AM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can anyone illuminate me as to the constitutional status of same sex marriage? If Tasmania 'legalised' it, isn't it a State matter? I don't recall it being enumerated.
posted by pompomtom at 3:14 AM on September 11, 2012


It's difficult when you have to decide whether to take up a homosexual lifestyle or smoking. Which is healthier? So much to say for both options. I guess we've all been there.
posted by Segundus at 3:16 AM on September 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


Fag or fags?
posted by Segundus at 3:19 AM on September 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


IIRC (and I am not an expert), there is the potential for a High Court constitutional challenge that could over-ride laws made in Tasmania.

I believe the argument is that the Constitution's division of rights between the Commonwealth and the States is a little fuzzy on the Marriage Act, and there is is the potential that the State laws could be over-turned should the Commonweath so desire to mount a challenge.

Which may be likely under the next PM.
posted by Mezentian at 3:20 AM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


what do you know, something fun is bad for you
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 3:24 AM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Gay marriage isn't a health issue, it's a rights issue. Even if you believe that being gay is harmful, allowing gays to marry doesn't seem to be extra harmful, and you need a truly compelling argument to take someone's rights away.

I'd be very surprised if gay marriage improved suicide rates, but even if it did, that's not the fundamental reason to approve it. The real reason is because it's nobody's business how other adults arrange their lives and relationships. As long as everyone involved is adult and consents, butt out.
posted by Malor at 3:24 AM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wait, wait, of course it's a health issue! Married men live longer than single men. If you don't let gay men marry, they won't live as long. (or something something it'll just feel like it's that long or something).
posted by b33j at 3:29 AM on September 11, 2012


Jim Wallace is an absolute joke. Despite the fact that his position regarding homosexuality is untenable and ignorant in a modern, democratic society, he completely discredited himself a few months ago on Sunrise in this interview.

The gold moment comes at about the 1 minute 30 second mark when Wallace totally Godwins (pun intended) and draws the ire of Sunrise host David Koch, himself not exactly a champion of the left. As if Godwinning less than 2 minutes into the interview wasn't enough to destroy his credibility, he refers to his opponent, openly gay Kerryn Phelps, as "you people" and overlooks the fact that Phelps is, in fact, Jewish.

I thought we were past listening to what Jim Wallace and the ACL have to say. Saying homosexuality is worse than smoking is just the latest insane statement in a series of utterly insane statements.
posted by Effigy2000 at 3:29 AM on September 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


I like an activity that relieves stress. It's good if it's one I can share with people, helping me build up friendships and network. And useful if it gives you something to do with your hands.
posted by Segundus at 3:37 AM on September 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


Just to expand on the constitutional issue re: gay marriage. The Marriage Act (which, being Federal law, takes precedent over State law) was amended by former PM John Howard (a conservative) to define marriage as between a man and a woman. The act makes no mention of gay marriage, as Howard’s intention was to avoid any possible provision of it whatsoever in legislation. The clever idea Tasmania has had here is that given that Federal law is silent on the matter of gay marriage, any State law allowing it would not contradict the Federal law. So Howard’s attempt to prevent the possibility of gay marriage has provided the states with the loophole for them to introduce it themselves.

• Disclaimer: First-year law student who hasn’t really looked at constitutional law yet
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 3:41 AM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


But Wallace's claims were based on a 25-year-old study by a discredited researcher.

Actually, I think Wallace's claims were based on the fact that he's a bigoted, homophobic arsehole.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:43 AM on September 11, 2012 [19 favorites]


I'm confused as to why the ACL and Wallace are being given this much airtime. Has anyone in the media identified who, exactly, they represent? Although I guess Jensen getting on-board lends them more credibility. Still, to quote @HelenRazer - "Wallace is to Christianity as Posh was to the Spice Girls. It's best to just ignore his off-key bleating and keep him down in the mix."

It's just best to remind people with his desperate attitude that they're on the wrong side of history.
posted by Jimbob at 4:07 AM on September 11, 2012


the wrong side of history.

history does not have a plot
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 4:20 AM on September 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm confused as to why the ACL and Wallace are being given this much airtime.

Outrage sells newspapers.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:23 AM on September 11, 2012


Or, you know, outrage attracts eyeballs, which generates clickthroughs, which sells advertising. Or something.

Media convergence is ruining all my figures of speech.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:34 AM on September 11, 2012


it might be just the cynic in me, but this is one way for the liberal press to draw attention away from a pretty shameful silence (in some parts) on the subject of the vicious and completely sexist villification of their PM.

I mean, some parts only seemed to wake up to how disgusting it was when they saw the totally outragous response to her father's death, see jimbob's link here
posted by Wilder at 4:37 AM on September 11, 2012


Outrage sells newspapers.

As my bank account will attest, nothing sells newspapers any more.
posted by Wolof at 4:41 AM on September 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


There's something at Crickey I saw which raises questions about who funds the ACL, but does it matter? Really? They get airtime for outrage! or balance! Or whatever.

Silencing their voice isn't such a great thing. The problem is the ACL seems to be a narrow-issues group.

One could, if one wanted, scour the ACL website for bright spots of hope and charity, specifically on the issue of asylum seekers as a way to judge how "Christian" said group is.
posted by Mezentian at 4:41 AM on September 11, 2012


I like an activity that relieves stress. It's good if it's one I can share with people, helping me build up friendships and network. And useful if it gives you something to do with your hands.

The Jehova's Witnesses would like you to stop doing that, even if you are deaf.
posted by Dr Dracator at 5:09 AM on September 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Being a nun was, for many years, a dangerous and unsanitary lifestyle choice that severely shortened your lifespan. Closed communities living in convents or monasteries were particularly prone to communicable diseases like tuberculosis.
posted by dontjumplarry at 5:25 AM on September 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Serial Killer Slumber Party it is very possible the State law will be struck down because the Commonwealth Marriage Act intends to 'cover the field' on marriage. (I'll let you read all that constitutional jive in your own good time.) Real question is whether Tasmania will insist on plain packaging for gay marriage...

Commercial media loves it some good pork choppery, but even if they didn't the ACL would get an extensive run on the Christian Media Network in Aus (for non Australians, Aus has a very extensive community radio and tv sector).
posted by Trivia Newton John at 6:21 AM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


The ACL recognizes that, sometimes, a cigarette /is/ a big throbbing cock you want between your lips.
posted by clvrmnky at 6:48 AM on September 11, 2012


The bright spot in all this hateful stupidity is that much of the public, and many government officials, are treating it as hateful stupidity.

There will always be David Duke's, Todd Akins, and Jim Wallaces. What changes is how many people follow them.

Yay us! Yay more of us!
posted by IAmBroom at 7:07 AM on September 11, 2012


But Wallace's claims were based on a 25-year-old study by a discredited researcher.

This is an assertion without evidence. Wallace reported that his claims were based on a 3-year-old human rights complaint to the Canadian government by an LGBT activist group seeking better funding for gay health care.

It looks to me that both sides in the debate are less concerned about what the truth of the matter is than what political use can be made of the evidence for or against the proposition.
posted by layceepee at 7:13 AM on September 11, 2012


This is an assertion without evidence. Wallace reported that his claims were based on a 3-year-old human rights complaint to the Canadian government by an LGBT activist group seeking better funding for gay health care.

It looks to me that both sides in the debate are less concerned about what the truth of the matter is than what political use can be made of the evidence for or against the proposition.


Reading over the report I get the feeling the logic behind homosexuality being dangerous goes like this:

Homosexuality is more dangerous because bigoted assholes cause mental issues by denigrating and disparaging homosexuality which is more dangerous because...
posted by Talez at 7:23 AM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


...his bizarre method of research (counting obituaries in gay newspapers)...

I just counted the number of obituaries in MeFi. Fewer than 150. OMG, PEOPLE HAVE STOPPED DYING!!! ALERT THE MEDIA!!!
posted by ubiquity at 7:26 AM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought everyone now knew that security through obscurity doesn't work. I strongly suspect immortality through obscurity will prove the be similar.
posted by gilrain at 7:29 AM on September 11, 2012


The last news story I saw out of Australia was about the country's top DJ suggesting that women in positions of authority were ruining the country. That was two days ago.

Australia! In the enduring words of William T. Riker, what the hell is going on down there?
posted by bicyclefish at 7:46 AM on September 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Pretty much the same all over.
posted by h00py at 7:57 AM on September 11, 2012


the wrong side of history.

history does not have a plot


I know, and it's killing book sales. Everyone knows that the plot is really the heart of the story, and that's where you need to start.
posted by jb at 9:02 AM on September 11, 2012


It struck me a while ago that of the four peers I knew who had successfully suicided, three were gay men. I tried to find out whether this was data or plural anecdotage, but the field is more politicised than Israeli archaeology.

One of the three was, alas, not a surprise. The other two were, although I didn't know them nearly as well. But all of them were openly gay and living in a society where being openly gay is - as far as I can observe - not an issue at all, and working at jobs where such things are unremarkable and commonplace.

But I can find no reliable data on the significance of this. I'm not used to being unable to find data like this, and it remains perplexing and miserable. Suicide is so often perplexing and miserable, but there is work to be done here by people with no axes to grind.
posted by Devonian at 9:36 AM on September 11, 2012


Sounds like Wallace is just another closeted lustful cockmonster.
posted by Ber at 9:52 AM on September 11, 2012


what do you know, something fun is bad for you

Being gay is "fun" the same way liking the color blue is "fun."
posted by dirigibleman at 10:47 AM on September 11, 2012


Of course, being gay is more fun than being straight! Why else would homophobes be afraid of gay recruiting, if being gay weren't super-awesome-wonderful?
posted by jb at 11:07 AM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


dirigibleman: what do you know, something fun is bad for you

Being gay is "fun" the same way liking the color blue is "fun."
Blueophobe.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:25 AM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Being gay is "fun" the same way liking the color blue is "fun."

Well I blue myself and it was incredibly fun.
posted by Talez at 11:37 AM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


"history does not have a plot"

The art of storytelling is central to the essense of what history is, even the academic discipline is little more that the practice of telling the most accurate stories possible, and told well they do indeed have a plot.
posted by Blasdelb at 11:52 AM on September 11, 2012


Last night, on the ABC's Q&A program (Transcript) the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, backed the comments, claiming ''It's very hard to get to the facts here because we don't want to talk about it, and in this country censorship is alive and well."

I was watching that, and it felt really uncomfortable. To me, it was a great reminder for the fact that Evil isn't always cartoonish evil (though Ms. Rinehart tries). Evil, sometimes, comes in very polite, grandfatherly forms. You could have tea and cookies with Evil without ever suspecting.
posted by vidur at 1:01 PM on September 11, 2012


Even if you believe that being gay is harmful, allowing gays to marry doesn't seem to be extra harmful, and you need a truly compelling argument to take someone's rights away

The answer is obvious: we have a moral imperative to ban smokers from getting married. Obviously if you disagree you hate children and want them all to die of emphysema.
posted by aspo at 1:29 PM on September 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I liked Hal Duncans tweet about the Bishops comments: "In other news, Emperor Nero asserts that "the life expectancy of Christians may be up to 20 years lower than for non-Christians.""
posted by ts;dr at 2:05 PM on September 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Just to expand on the constitutional issue re: gay marriage. The Marriage Act (which, being Federal law, takes precedent over State law) was amended by former PM John Howard (a conservative) to define marriage as between a man and a woman. The act makes no mention of gay marriage, as Howard’s intention was to avoid any possible provision of it whatsoever in legislation. The clever idea Tasmania has had here is that given that Federal law is silent on the matter of gay marriage, any State law allowing it would not contradict the Federal law. So Howard’s attempt to prevent the possibility of gay marriage has provided the states with the loophole for them to introduce it themselves.

• Disclaimer: First-year law student who hasn’t really looked at constitutional law yet


That's very close, as I understand it. s109 of the Constitution says that if there's an inconsistency between Federal & State law, the Federal law prevails over the inconsistent area.

However, I think that aside from this conflict of laws issue, there's a broader issue of what the Federal jurisdiction is in the first place.

Under the Constitution, the Federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over a specific list of things (in s.51) and everything else falls to the States. This was basically because when a bunch of separate colonies were being jammed together into a single new federal whole, they were worried about losing too much autonomy, and so the cautious approach was taken: the Federal government could only rule over an enumerated list of the kinds of things thought to be necessary for the smooth running of the country as a whole, allowing for the individuality of its disparate states to be preserved. No doubt they had other federal models to learn from, like the relatively recently formed (at the time) German & Italian federations, or the older United States.

But I digress. Obviously foreign affairs falls into the Federal bucket, and other nation-like things such as defence, immigration, taxation, currency, intellectual property, banking, insurance...all the kinds of things that help the economy tick over & preserve the borders. For some reason marriage & divorce were allocated to the feds. It's hard to imagine why, when births & deaths are left to the states, but perhaps bigamy was a hot topic in those days.

Anyway, the feds rule the roost on marriage. So when former PM Howard came along & altered the Marriage Act specifically to say that it's only between men & women, the argument is that this effectively defined the boundary of what the Federal jurisdiction over marriage is, meaning that the States can (potentially, subject to an inevitable High Court challenge) make laws on anything marriage-like that isn't between a man and a woman.

The issue might come down to whether the Federal government can use a piece of legislation (which is always by definition less authoritative than the Constitution itself) to modify the scope of its own constitutional power. It would never be possible to extend Federal powers that way*, but to limit them might be kosher. However, this would not be a permanent handover of that slice of power to the States, because the Feds could always repeal or change the legislation, as they didn't touch the Constitution itself (and nor can they, except by referendum).

The upshot of all this is the possible irony that if the Federal government wants to wrest control over gay marriage back from the States, they might have to remove the "only between a man and a woman" definition from the Marriage Act, opening the door for gay marriage to be legal under existing Federal law. It's a cute little Catch-22.

* except by signing an international treaty & enacting legislation to comply with the treaty, as in the Tasmanian Dams case, but let's just leave that aside for now because it's not really relevant here.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:18 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Afterthought: here's the TL;DR version:

- Constitution says only Federal Govt can make laws about marriage
- Federal Govt (Howard) defines marriage = man + woman
- Tasmanian Govt says "Woot, that means we can make laws about man + man or woman + woman because that isn't 'marriage'"
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:57 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


The last news story I saw out of Australia was ...

We can't help that you ignore all the normal stuff.
posted by jacalata at 6:52 PM on September 11, 2012


The last news story I saw out of Australia was about the country's top DJ suggesting that women in positions of authority were ruining the country. That was two days ago.

Objection! Alan Jones is not "the country's top DJ".
That's akin to saying Rush Limbaugh* is Canada's** most insightful political commentator.

Australia! In the enduring words of William T. Riker, what the hell is going on down there?

Same as up there, really. But with a bit more misogyny.


[*I was actually going to go with the other dude, with the tears and the gold and the blackboard, but I cannot recall his name. And I am okay with that.
[** Canada is like America.]
posted by Mezentian at 8:42 PM on September 11, 2012


But with a bit more misogyny.

I don't know about that. Jim Wallace hasn't come out as a believer in legitimate rape. But the day is young, I suppose.
posted by Jimbob at 9:12 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Jim Wallace hasn't come out as a believer in legitimate rape.

Good point. But we do have the whole "Submission" in marriage vows debate (in 2012 FFS!).
posted by Mezentian at 9:25 PM on September 11, 2012


Australia's top DJ is apparently a fraternal duo known as the Stafford brothers. Alan Jones doesn't even appear in the list.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:42 PM on September 11, 2012


« Older But who is this singular other?   |   Future Bling of England Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post