Monday, March 29, 2010

Who's REALLY got those 'special rights'?

A common argument against gay rights is that it amounts to 'special rights.' That is, if G-BITs have the same rights as their straight counterparts, they will in fact end up with more rights-hence 'special rights.' The argument goes roughly that gays already have equal rights-the right to marry a person of the opposite sex, the right to serve in the military, the right to a job, etc. And if anti-discrimination and same-sex marriage legislations are passed, this amounts to extra rights.

This argument is wrong for one reason, and entirely hypocritical for another reason. To begin with; the wrong argument. The conservative argument is wrong because it assumes that gays will somehow have more rights than straights. For example, a common line of attack is that anti-discrimination laws are 'special rights' because they protect gays from straight persecution, but not the other way round. This is, to put bluntly, bullshit. If a straight person were to be fired because of their sexual orientation (a borderline non-existent example, but bare with me), under current legislation they would simply have to suck it up. With proper anti-discrimination laws, however, this hypothetical straight person would not be allowed to be fired. Pro G-BIT laws don't give anybody 'special rights'-they enhance the rights of everybody. It's just that some people will benefit from anti-discrimination laws more than others.

The coup de grace, however, is the inherent hypocrisy of 'special rights.' Religious organisations claim that gays will be receiving 'special rights' when it is in fact those same religious organisations that possess rights that nobody else has.

From The Age:

ATTORNEY-GENERAL Rob Hulls will today announce a controversial compromise struck with the state's religious groups that will allow them to continue to discriminate against gays and lesbians, single mothers and people who hold different spiritual beliefs.

In a move that has delighted religious groups but angered gay activists and discrimination experts, Mr Hulls will protect the right of hundreds of church-run organisations - including schools, hospitals and welfare services - to refuse to employ or provide services to people who they believe may undermine their beliefs.

Quick translation: if you are religious, you are endowed with rights not granted to others. Nobody has the right to discriminate based on a person's personal beliefs-except for religious organisations. The same religious groups that rail against some people possessing 'special rights' (despite, as shown above, to be a lie) are the ones to seek special rights for themselves.

It is entirely correct to say that some people have more rights than others. True to form, those with special rights are those who have the most political power.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lindsey Tanner throws a hissy fit because our political system isn't locked between two major parties like in the US

Resident ALP whiner Tanner doesn't like the Greens. Last election, he ran a few Fieldingesque home movies attacking the Greens and this election, apparently stripped of his video playthings, has been forced to go for a more low-budget response: the opinion page.
Green voters typically either have or are getting a tertiary education. Support is concentrated among tertiary disciplines focused on more than making money. Their viewpoint is increasingly at odds with that of Labor voters who aren't tertiary educated. On issues like asylum seekers, forests and civil liberties, differences can be stark. The Greens seek to exploit them.
No, the Greens aren't 'exploiting' any factions. We're just representing environmentalism and human rights. By adopting Howard's policies, the ALP has abandoned its left faction. That more lefties and not just environmentalists are supporting the Greens is your doing, not ours.
Whatever Labor does, it is never good enough for the Greens. Even when we're repealing WorkChoices, apologising to indigenous Australians, or tackling climate change, they attack Labor for their own cynical purposes. If the Greens had voted with Labor, the Senate would have passed the climate change legislation.
No, that wouldn't have happened at all. You're conveniently forgetting Steve "Thank for the ALP Right is so cynical in its preferences" Fielding. The guy who your party got elected in 2004, and has adopted the Abbott policy of flat out denialism. Even if the Greens had supported your total sellout of a policy, which had been so watered down by working with Turnbull it was in every way worse than useless, the bill would've never gotten past Fielding. That you couldn't pass it is your doing, not ours.
We now have no legislation at all. The Greens' political posturing took precedence over action. Their policy would have no chance of passing the Senate, even if Labor supported it.
Of course not. We don't yet have the balance of power. This election will (hopefully) change that. And stop with this 'obstructionist' meme you're running. The Greens didn't support it because the bill would've locked in failure. Australia would have unable to reduce its emissions by any more than a pitiful amount. The Greens were right in opposing it, and were supported by the overwhelming majority of greens.
The Greens are not some benign group loosely allied with Labor. They're not a middle-ground party. They're not idealistic activists changing the world. They're just another political party, no less cynical or manipulative than the others.
No, we are less manipulative and cynical. That's seen every election. The ALP routinely lies about, and demonises the Greens in the constant hope that throwing every smear it has will keep its dwindling progressive supporters on board. The Greens advocate three simple things: public services, civil rights and liberties, and protecting the environment. Those three objectives are far less extreme than you'd like to think.
It might seem like a good idea to support those who yell the loudest, but it's unlikely to produce good outcomes. Labor is the only worthwhile option for achieving progressive change through parliamentary politics. It might be a bit piecemeal and gradual, but it beats the hell out of doing nothing.
No, the ALP doesn't represent "progressive change." It abandoned progressive values when it sought to out-Howard Howard. The ALP support the internet filter, the draconian anti-terror laws, an inhumane refugee policy, tax cuts over public services, the forestry industry over forests, keeping gays from expressing their love, and I would imagine a whole host of other anti-progressive policies. Because Labor is a 'big tent' party, as a progressive voter I have no idea if you will represent my left-libertarian views in parliament (actually, I do have an idea. It's a big fat 'no, you'll keep treating me as a chump while remaining a fundamentally rightwing party'). But when I vote for the Greens, I actually know what I'm voting for. I know that they will represent my views in parliament (not precisely, of course, but they're by far the closest to my beliefs).

If you're so afraid of the Greens taking your precious votes because people are beginning to realise that the Greens actually represent the mainstream left, then you can start by actively trying to represent the mainstream left yourself. You could start by lobbying the ALP to legalise same-sex marriage. Then, you could adopt Latham's Tasmanian forestry policies and support treated pine plantations rather than logging and wood-chipping native forests.

Above all else, if you want lefties to keep voting for you, than you have to actually represent them in parliament. Instead, you've just taken the easy route-pushing further to the right, whilst assuming lefties are too brain dead to recognise just how Liberal you've become. But this isn't America. Australia actually has a proper, representative democracy where minority views can be expressed. I know just how much you hate that.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Old rice and monkey nuts*, religion and atheism.

The latest from Andrew "Manlier than Teddy" Bolt:
Another example of how atheists seem to be walking, ranting evidence of the need for Christianity’s civilising influence.
His evidence?
That's it. Catherine used a naughty word, which makes her "uncivilised." I don't see how Christianity is a necessarily 'civilising' influence: christianity has been a justification for countless atrocities-from the Inquisition, the KKK, the American Taliban, and just about every abortion bombing in the history of the US.

However, ol' Rusty isn't finished yet. For his next column:
...if the Christian God really is dead, then there’s not much to stop people here from being barbarians.

I’d have hoped that the Atheists Convention’s speakers would have reassured me not just by fine words but finer example that a godless society will nevertheless be a good one.
How about the obvious: that despite the US being one of the most outspokenly Christian countries (certainly in the Western world), on every parameter it fails in its Christian teachings? The US has an infant mortality rate worse than Cuba. It's the only developed country without universal health care. It's education is worse than most other developed countries.

Compare this with the Scandinavian countries, all of which are amongst the least religious countries of the world. Sweden and Norway are among the best in preventing infant mortality. They are ahead in literacy. They have among the best public services while in comparison, while the US's infrastructure is on the verge of collapse.

I'm not saying that there's an inverse causation between religion and the of a country (ie, that the more religious a country is, the more it fails on actually meeting its religious convictions in protecting its citizens). What I'm saying is that religion is irrelevant to morality in services. A country can be highly religious and deliver health-care that would shame the Scandinavia countries. It may be entirely atheistic and be reminiscent of Zimbabwe. Either way the concept that Christianity is somehow 'civilising' by itself is nothing short of crock.

To go even further, there is evidence of non-human moral behaviour; that the ideas of justice and ethics aren't exclusive to humanity. This, more than anything else, would put to rest the notion that atheists are inherently less moral than theists.

I have no idea what Bolt's religious convictions are. Given how he so intensely defends Christianity, I'm inclined to believe that he has some sort of spiritual belief. Perhaps he doesn't, I don't care. However, before he starts with the classic 'if we become atheists we won't have any skydaddy to tell us what's right and wrong so we'll all go back to the caves and smash each others' heads in with clubs and crowbars' meme, he may want to see how the smear holds up to reality.

*Hattip to the original Pure Poison.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Now *that's* embarrasing.

Either that, or it shows just how much of a mercenary Rupert Murdoch really is. From the Australian:

Reminds me distinctly of the shenanigans between Rupert and Andrew "If Sarah Palin can get a gig at Fox News, why can't I?" Bolt.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Songs for a Sunday

Because everybody else is doing it, because I'm lazy, and because there is almost no new blogging material. Therefore, I present: Michael Jackson: The Orchestra!