Saturday, August 15, 2009

Christopher Pearson, fierce militant secularist Rob Hulls, and a little Groucho Marx to lighten the sludge

I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members.
Groucho Marx

To which we can now add Christopher Pearson with Hulls unholy ... and is Mr Adam still here?:

Amending the equal opportunity legislation to force the Melbourne Club or the Athenaeum to admit women is old-fashioned class war and the cheapest form of moral grandstanding. Hulls says: "In this day and age, it's hard to imagine the value of a men's club too exclusive for the current Governor-General, the Deputy Prime Minister and Victoria's Chief Justice." That the clubs' members think otherwise is neither here nor there, as far as the AG is concerned. He sees his role as remaking the social order in line with the values of his party.

However, from an anthropological point of view, it's obvious that every society has its all-male and all-female bastions because they answer deeply felt needs. On a personal note, I must say the main reason I'd contemplate joining such a club would be the blameless pleasure of not being forced to associate with any of the three ladies in

I have a sneaking feeling the women might feel just the same about Pearson, as he started to bore them silly with some arcane treatise on the state of the Holy Roman Church in Tuam in the twelfth century. Even his leather chair might groan at the tedium.

But whatever, it's charming, from a deeply anthropological view, that Pearson is feeling very indigenous about the issue, shouting for the right to preserve traditions developed over forty thousand years, involving the sacred notion of secret men's business and secret women's business. (Perhaps we should hand the country back to the blacks so they can carry on, but more of that anon).

Of course, if you're a supporter of institutionalized men's business, like the Holy Roman Church, and the special insights and relationships men have with god, thanks to the ordained teachings of the good book and the institutions of men, it's natural for you to want to cling to such shared pagan superstitions.

But the notion of equality does get sticky at times:

Some of Hulls's critics have charged him with hypocrisy because it's envisaged that some women's and gay clubs may be able to keep excluding would-be members on the basis that they're men and-or heterosexual. But no matter how dodgy the rationale for exemption from the iron principle of equality, I suppose that we should be grateful that common sense has guaranteed at least some enclaves will continue to exist.

Grateful for enclaves? Come to think of it, I go to sleep at night so much more happy that bikies have the right to keep women and coppers out of their clubs. It helps keep them so much more civilized, to be able to let their hair down in a male domain where women do what they're told. Ah the blameless pleasure. Can't see why there's such a fuss about their freedom to associate.

But what about the right of churches to hire or fire on the frankly discriminatory basis that - if you don't believe in creationism in science classes -you're out of here, or if you think the Exclusive Brethren schools might be loopy, or as for teaching on scientological principles, there might be a better way? Hit the road Jack and don't you come around here no more.

But surely that profound right to discriminate on the basis of religious loonacy can't be under threat?

Well it is in Victoria it seems, thanks to that fiendish secularist Rob Hulls;

When it comes to winding back the longstanding rights of religious bodies to hire and fire on a discriminatory basis, the equal opportunity bureaucrats have thrown common sense and caution to the winds. It is as though the Victorian ALP were hell-bent on trying to prove that it was indeed, as Lindsay Tanner put it, the party of modern secularism. That the Presbyterian Church last week threatened a campaign of civil disobedience if the final legislation enforced "an intolerant secular agenda" suggests how far the party has strayed from its origins.

What? The ALP came from the Presbyterian Church, that ill-begotten assembly of wowsers, prudish Scots based, Calvinist influenced elder-led loons, who in the end in Australia were so withered on the vine that in 1977 two thirds of them upped tents and in 1977 joined with the Congregationalists and the Methodists to form the Uniting Church? That splinter group?

Oh I see, Pearson thinks its something to do with the Labor party being a Christian party, with its roots in the White Australia policy and protectionism. Or perhaps he's talking about the good old days when the ALP strayed so far from its origins that the Catholics broke away and formed their own variant, the DLP. But golly that was in the nineteen fifties, so the Labor party has been straying from its origins for a heck of a long time.

No matter. It seems the special interest groups and defenders of their patch of religious turf have put turf wars aside to take on the evil secularist Hulls. And they've taken the ultimate step in civil disobedience. They've organized a committee. And the committee has prepared a response to Hulls' paper! Uh oh, next there'll be riots in the streets:

Victoria's Interfaith Committee represents various branches of Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism. Its response to the government's options paper, signed by 53 religious leaders, is a trenchant analysis of the public service brand of secularism.

That should teach the evil secularist Hulls! Trenchant. Especially if it's a pious moan about how taxpayers should keep funneling cash down the throat of religious schools and religious charities to deliver "services" without taking any interest in how they operate, without any overriding supervision and without any suggestion they should end discriminating employment practices. Not that I'd personally want to teach in a religious school which is the kind of school that would allow me to be a teacher. 

But speak on in that paper about the paper:

"The main assumption that the options paper makes is that religious activity can be divided into core activities, which are restricted to matters of worship and private devotion, and peripheral activities, such as the delivery of health, welfare and education services. In fact, no such distinction is made by religious organisations. The distinction is a fabrication and does not correspond to the reality of religious activity. Particularly for religious people, the delivery of services is integral to faith activity."

And the funding of the delivery of services by religious groups by the taxpayer is integral to the activities of the faithful, who've found lately that tithing doesn't quite work as well as it used to. 

But back to Pearson, who usually hates government funding anything, such is his insatiable desire for small government:

St Paul provides the maxim: faith without good works is meaningless. The two have been understood as inseparable since the beginnings of Christianity and the connection goes back even further in the case of Judaism. What the authors of the options paper are trying to do is to reinvent religion by legerdemain. As the Interfaith Committee puts it: "The attempt by the options paper to distinguish so-called core activities from so-called peripheral activities amounts to a massive rejection of historical reality. Religious bodies in earlier times were often the only ones delivering health care, employment, social security and education to ordinary members of society. It is to use the ideology of secularism to revise standard accounts of human history."

Um, guys, the Victorian age is dead. The fight over the public school system is over, at least for the moment, though the more you keep trying to claw away funding, the more precarious its situation gets. We're not talking about earlier times, we're talking about rampant militant secularists who want a bit of help without having gobbets from the bible rammed down their throats. And we're on the march. Militant, atheistic, proud, determined to bring down churches and institute the rule of Satan in this fair land.


What is at stake here? According to the Interfaith Committee, their worship activities contribute about $1.3 billion to the economy and their health, education and welfare operations amount to $15bn. What we're seeing are the preliminary skirmishes in a battle to ensure that people in overt de facto relationships and the out-and-proud gays, bisexuals and lesbians -- not to mention the transgendered -- will have the same rights to employment in that $15bn sector as adherents of the relevant creeds.

Oh dear, fornicators and adulterers and idolators and gays - who should just stay in their own clubs with the bi's and the refugees from the isle of Lesbos, not to mention TG types with their gruff voices - all happy to work for the Christians, while the Christians - generous, sharing, community and social minded - just want the caring sharing right to tell them to fuck off. And keep on pocketing taxpayer dollars for their good discriminatory deeds.

After all, the Catholic church already has plenty of pederasts and pedophiles at work, along with devious ways to hide the truth about them, so it's hardly as if they should offer the same rights of employment to people who've come out about their sexual preferences. 

Wouldn't it be so much better if these people who want to flaunt their sexuality in everyone's faces hid it in a discreet way? Then they could join the church and molest children or indulge in fornication and adultery and homosexual intercourse in tried and true ways long established by Republican governors, fundamentalist preachers, missionaries and nuns. Sometimes in Argentina, but otherwise in the local parish hall.

It goes without saying that most mainstream faiths are prepared to employ people in most of those categories, provided that they are discreet about their non-observance of the sexual ethics code of the employing institution and provided they don't proselytise. What's proposed is a proselytisers' charter, in a society that is officially embracing militant secularism rather than pluralism.

Yes, yes. It's so much better when it's don't ask, don't tell, and as second class citizens, having learned their place, then keep to their place. No proselytizing please. Christians only to do the preaching.

Instead we get this militant offensiveness. Outrageous! Sure you can die for your country, but please don't mention that you might be a poofter. That's just too disturbing to genteel caring and sharing Christians. As for sex, please only in the staff room after hours, or over the headmaster's desk, and make sure no one notices.

As the committee puts it: "The options paper seems to indicate that a secular society is based on the new ideology of secularism, which seeks to ban religious activities from the public square, and religious bodies from their democratic rights and religious obligations to provide services to the poor, the sick and the indigent. Secularism is but one of many different cultural contexts that make up our society, with the majority of contexts having a religious dimension. The assumptions made by the options paper are invented to facilitate use of the proposed changes to the law to enforce a uniformly secularist view on the delivery of services. This is both undemocratic and anti-democratic and represents a significant danger to civil society because of its totalitarian pretensions. Not only does it not fit the pluralism of Australian society, it is a fundamental denial of it."

Poor victimized Christians. Nasty gays and deviants, always picking on them. How on earth are Christians going to be able to go on picking on people in their misery and shoving their Christian bible based charity down the throats of the recipients if they have to acknowledge that they're actually spending taxpayers' dollars, and in that secular act are forced to act like any other equal opportunity anti-discriminatory employer. 

When all they want to do is shut up the gays, not to mention those weirdo TG folk (like that person who works at our local Vinnies and seems to have an encompassing stretching of the understanding of gender air about her).

As the tone of committee's submission makes clear, Hulls and the Brumby government have a real fight on their hands, a problem all of their own making. There are few gestures likelier to antagonise swinging voters than an attack on religious liberty. Then again, there is the cost to taxpayers if some of the faith bodies were to decide to vacate the field in some areas of service. The legislation, when it is eventually unveiled and goes through parliament, may compromise fundamental principles and leave them little or no choice. The committee says: "The social and economic cost to the Victorian community of compulsorily secularising service delivery and thus effectively barring religious bodies from engagement in service activities would be enormous."

Huh, there's nothing like an attack on religious voters to antagonize swinging voters? Well I personally can think of a few real issues that might antagonize me if I were living in Victoria at the moment, but for the love of the lord, I can't see an attack on the Melbourne club and Christian loons as the things to set me swinging. But then I guess I'm just a rampant militant secularist determined to do enormous damage to the Victorian economy.

My personal feeling is that since Pearson is writing about it, it's probably mainly of interest to Cardinal Pell, Tony Abbott and a couple of hundred Victorian Christians tucked away in their ghettos fearing an attack by militant secularists on a moment by moment basis.

Now my guess is you're sated with Pearsonisms by now, but hang in there for this gem, which conclusively establishes that it's not just the secularists who are doing in the religionistas. There's also a civil war going on, and it's Pearson's duty to stand firm agains the dangers of Christianity to decent right thinking Australians.

Yep, he saves a last couple of pars for Peter Adam's lecture on aborigines and restitution, which you can find summarized by Barney Zwartz here and got readers of The Age excited (here).

Pearson is naturally on the side of the angels, Adam on the side of the devils who let down the side. He should be dropped to twelfth man, or at least made to join a club full of secularists:

It is unfortunate, when organised religion in Victoria needed to speak out with all the authority and coherence it could muster, that a leading light of Melbourne's Anglican Church should have let down the side so comprehensively. The head of Ridley Theological College, Peter Adam, gave a lecture last week so full of sound and fury, signifying nothing, that overnight he made himself a national laughing-stock. Forgetting just about everything the Old Testament has to tell us about the 12 tribes of Israel's tides of territorial warfare, migration and settlement, he announced that all non-Aboriginal Australians should be prepared to leave the country forthwith, if that's what indigenous people say they want. Even that would be inadequate restitution for the vile sin of genocide. If they stayed, they were obliged to provide whatever recompense indigenous people thought appropriate.

Shocking. I mean it's one thing to say the Melbourne Club should be open to men and women, but a Christian telling us to pack our bags and head back to the clubs in the mother or fatherland? Yep, that's what it seems he said:

"It would in fact be possible, even if very difficult and complicated, for Europeans and others to leave Australia. I am not sure where we would go, but that would be our problem. No recompense could ever be satisfactory because what was done was so vile, so immense, so universal, so pervasive, so destructive, so devastating and so irreparable. The prosperity of our churches has come from the proceeds of our crime. Our houses, our churches, our colleges, our shops, our sport grounds, our parks, our courts, our parliaments, our prisons, our hospitals, our roads are stolen property."

Oh dear, talk about getting Pearson agitated. He's so speechless, he just leaves Adam's words dangling there, like a lost participle. It seems there are some things worse than women in the Melbourne Club. Christians!

Hmm, will no one rid us of these squabbling, disagreeing, disagreeable Christians, and their prattling priests, and their discriminatory ways and their squawking for taxpayers' money to be shoved down their shrieking throats without let or hindrance. 

Roll on Rob Hulls, all I ask is that you make a special exemption which allows Christoher Pearson to set up and become an exclusive member of his own club, and bars anyone else from joining. I think that's only fair, at least until Chairman Rupert's pay wall kicks in and snatches his words away from us miserly, tight assed secularists.

And since we started with Groucho, why not end with him, as a sexist who knew how to do it with style. Now I'd join a club that had him as a member. Any man that so believes in marriage he tries it three times can't be all bad:

Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?

Those are my principles. If you don't like them I have others.

He may look like an idiot and talk like an idiot but don't let that fool you. He really is an idiot.

A child of five could understand this. Fetch me a child of five.

From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down I was convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend reading it.

You've got the brain of a four-year-old boy, and I'll bet he was glad to get rid of it.

A man's only as old as the woman he feels.

Why should I care about posterity? What's posterity ever done for me?

Why, I'd horse-whip you if I had a horse.

Military justice is to justice what military music is to music.

Remember men, we're fighting for this woman's honour; which is probably more than she ever did.

Behind every successful man is a woman, behind her is his wife.

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.

Quote me as saying I was mis-quoted.

(Below: Groucho Marx as the shiva of big business, by Salvador Dali. Time for a new religion so it can be repressed by fierce secularist Rob Hulls?)

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