My response to Ireland’s referendum

My sincere prayer is that Australians will look again at the institution we call marriage and think carefully about what it means. When something you care about is challenged, you value it much more. So what will it be for us here in this country? Either we will decide marriage is not worth keeping OR, we will realise that it is invaluable and we will fight to keep it. Those advocating to change the definition of marriage are not seeking to join the institution, rather they are seeking to change what the institution is. Marriage is being cast aside at whim, and children are the victims. I believe to say “it’s inevitable” is lazy thinking, and that to be told, “we are on the wrong side of history” is arrogant, especially when, until the end of the 20th century, there never was a nation or a culture that recognised marriage between two people of the same sex. In changing the definition of marriage to delink the concept of binding children with their biological mother and father, we leave children feeling betrayed by a society that no longer has any loyalty to the family unit.

Reading bedtime stories to your children is so yesterday

Before it’s too late, Australians must face up to the intensity of the current attack on the family. For example, we need look no further than ‘our’ ABC for an example. In the month of May, ABC has presented to the Australian public two philosophers and their ideas. Q&A hosted and promoted controversial Australian philosopher and ethicist Peter Singer, who suggests a post-birth assessment period for new parents, during which time they should be legally allowed to kill disabled offspring.

If that is not disturbing enough, ABC also presented to us another philosopher, this time on Radio national – Adam Swift. Perhaps the most worrying concept promoted on ABC national (there were many) from Mr Swift was in regard to what he argues is a ‘magnitude of damage caused by the family unit’. In the light of this ‘damage’, he concedes we may end up being left with only one option: abolish family – “One way philosophers might think about solving the social justice problem would be by simply abolishing the family. If the family is this source of unfairness in society then it looks plausible to think that if we abolished the family there would be a more level playing field.”

How very Plato-esque of him! But how very un-Australian. This is propaganda at its worst. Ask any average Australian on the street what is the most important thing in their life and chances are the first word out of their mouth will be ‘family’. This is the ‘norm’. In no way do I want to downplay the seriousness of domestic violence or the tragedy of broken families, but if we are talking about ‘common good’, then stable families are what we should be working towards.

Adam Swift believes that the importance people place on their biological origins is largely a social and cultural construct. He says that nothing in his theory assumes two parents: “there might be two, there might be three, and there might be four”.

Adam Swift wants equality and he preaches the dangerous message that the family unit is the true cause of growing inequality in society. To the extent that he says parents should consider the inequity of the situation if they read their children bedtime stories – in doing so they are actually unfairly disadvantaging their children over other children.

Australia is still an amazing land of opportunity; the lucky country. It’s a place where parents are still encouraged to give their children every possible advantage to grow up to contribute to the well-being of the common good of society. We owe much to our Judeo-Christian heritage which has traditionally placed a strong focus on the nuclear family being a foundational pillar of society.

When I was growing up, the ABC was informative and educational. It is still educational, but what exactly are they teaching? And what are we learning from it? It matters.

You can read ABC’s report on the program here : http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/philosopherszone/new-family-values/6437058

 

Norrie is loved and valued.

Norrie is loved and valued. That’s my message to Norrie, who has won the right to be registered as neither a man nor a woman in the High Court.

But this is a decision with far-reaching implications across Australia and what I want to ask the high court is what it actually means? And where does it end? This is an artificial category that we have created to satisfy people’s preference. It’s not a category based on reality, but rather it is based on a person’s preference. This case came about because Norrie was born a male but decided to have a sex change to become female, but now doesn’t wish to identify as either. As reported, the court’s ruling only applies to someone, like Norrie, who had sex reassignment surgery to become a woman, and now has decided they wish to be non-specific.

Norrie’s lawyers argued that forcing Norrie to choose male or female was to maintain a fiction. To put in law that Norrie is gender neutral is what is maintaining a fiction.

As I write I can’t even shift in my comment to refer to ‘he’ or ‘she’. There is no gender neutral pronoun in English to refer to a person apart from the usually plural ‘they’. Online suggestions include ‘it’, which I refuse to use as it implies that Norrie is not human. Norrie IS human – made in the image of God and loved by God and loved by humanity. But Norrie is very confused. And the High Court has cemented that confusion. Not only for Norrie, but for our society as a whole. We are sowing seeds of great confusion for our future generations.

Already in 2013, the Qld Government has been legally challenged to provide separate toilet facilities for students who identify as transgender and gay. Schools are now assessed on a case by case basis to assess the need.

A person choosing to identify as having no gender at all is another category altogether.

Our culture has largely rejected God and what it means to be male and female in the image of God. But it will never succeed in obliterating gender differences between men and women. I pray that God will enable me to be a woman who bears his image for his glory.

Dismissal of “Boobs” campaign complaints’ undermines women’s worth

Last month the Advertising Standards Board dismissed complaints from the public about Bond’s “Boobs” campaign. The ASB’s decision to dismiss all complaints regarding the campaign was unsurprising given that in the past year the self-regulated body has dismissed most complaints it’s received from the public. Of the 3,640 complaints made to the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) the board looked at 473 and only 68 were found to have breached its Code of Ethics. There is an obvious difference of standards between the ASB and the community – the Advertising Standards Bureau is not in line with community expectations and one of many reasons why the ACL believes government should regulate outdoor advertising to make sure it’s G-Rated.

However, what was surprising though, was the title of their website report on the dismissal of all Bonds “Boobs” complaints, “Storm in a B cup”. The campaign should not have been labelled in such dismissive terms; the concerns regarding this advertising campaign were serious and worthy of respect. The advertiser, Bonds underwear, was certainly treated seriously. In fact, Bonds was quoted in this report as intending to change their name to “Boobs” during their campaign to demonstrate how seriously they take the product of bras.

This is not the first time Bonds has had to defend its product and marketing. In 2010, after public outcry, Bonds withdrew their range of bra-like products for girls from 6 years old. In this current case, the common complaint from women was to do with objectification; women are tired of marketers promoting them as body parts. The fact that Bonds then linked this campaign to breast cancer is poor taste. Breast cancer survivors are outraged. The last thing a woman who has just had a mastectomy needs is for billboards to be highlighting the body part they’ve just lost. Women are more than body parts. Marketers need to start seeing each woman in the context of being a whole unique person.

This blog post was first published at http://www.acl.org.au/2013/11/dismissal-of-boobs-campaign-complaints-undermines-womens-worth/

Every freedom has a form

In an opinion piece in the Daily Telegraph this week www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/opinion/standing-up-to-the-politciallycorrect-bully-boys/story-fni0cwl5-1226757595694 author Ross Fitzgerald said that “freedom of speech has never been more threatened in Australia”.
He drew attention to the current Queensland government inquiry into sexualised outdoor advertising: “If you’re trying to get a message out in Queensland via outdoor advertising, don’t say anything even vaguely sexual. As a result of pressure from the Australian Christian Lobby, the Queensland government has ordered an enquiry into whether there is too much sex on advertising billboards. If our democratic system is to survive, the right to speak the unvarnished truth needs to be nurtured, even protected.

He is referring to my campaign to make outdoor advertising G Rated in Queensland and the current inquiry on this topic. Whilst I agree that freedom of speech is an important value in a democratic society, it is not an absolute right. It carries with it responsibility and boundaries. Children deserve to be protected from material in public that is likely to harm or disturb them. Freedom of speech should not override the freedom of the community not to be confronted by sexualised imagery or advertising that demeans others – mostly women.
The Australian Medical Association (AMA), The Australia Institute and even the Advertising Standards Board all agree that sexualised advertising is on the rise. The Australian Medical Association has identified that increasing numbers of children are focusing on an inappropriate sexualised concept of body image and that this impacts on their growth and physical functioning, including a reduced ability to think and learn. The AMA affirms that marketing and advertising contribute to this problem. The Australia Institute research found that this sexualisation contributes to an increased risk of sexualised and attention seeking behaviours at an earlier age. They conclude that “the sexualisation of Australian children in advertising and marketing is increasing and involves a wide range of risks to children”. It is clear that the welfare of children should take precedence over absolute freedom of speech in this context.
And if it’s the unvarnished truth that Ross Fitzgerald is after, then I would think he should join my campaign to remove the photo-shopped images of unrealistic women from our outdoor advertising.