PLEASE SPREAD THIS LIKE WILD FIRE

whyprofessorwhy:

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Shit happened to Ferguson is happening in Hong Kong right now!

Students were just protesting peacefully for genuine democracy around Admiralty and Central, yet the police forced used pepper spray, tear gas and violence to disperse the crowd. According to the protesters, the police even raided a first aid booth with pepper spray.

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Discrimination also lies at the heart of many injustices closer to home. The over-incarceration of Aboriginal peoples and widespread violence against women cannot be remedied if we refuse to recognise and respond to anything other than one-off violations of individual freedoms. Anti-discrimination laws are sometimes denounced as “social engineering”… Society is already engineered. Women earn less than men, people with disability are disrespected and disbelieved in criminal proceedings, and job applicants with foreign-sounding names are less likely to get interviews than equally qualified Smiths and McKenzies. If the goal is to rid society of the distorting effects of social engineering, then addressing discrimination is not a hindrance, it’s essential…

Recognition of the importance of non-discrimination is one of the great contributions of the modern international human rights framework. Unlike some of the legal, political and philosophical traditions that preceded it, you don’t have to be white, a man or a landowner to claim human rights protections.

Strip equality from human rights and we’re left with a world where all humans are free, but some humans are more free than others.  

- Rachel Ball, on proposed changes to Australia’s anti-discrimination law, specifically racial vilification in the media. Ball is the director of advocacy and campaigns at the Human Rights Law Centre, Australia. For an example of why racial vilification laws are necessary, read my discussion of Indigenous writer Anita Heiss’ case against media personality and bigot Andrew Bolt. Bolt, a White Australian man, used his media platform to question the authenticity of Indigenous leaders based on the fact that they were not “Black enough.” He did this to both discredit Indigenous leadership, but also to slur Indigenous Australian history of colonial violence, dispossession and removal of children from their communities.

Childs_13 by azherhameed on Flickr."Children study in a yard with scrap collected for recycling, in Hyderabad, India, Friday, Nov. 20, 2009. Twenty years after the U.N. adopted a treaty guaranteeing children’s rights, 1 billion children are still deprived of food, shelter or clean water, and nearly 200 million are chronically malnourished, UNICEF said Thursday. Some of the worst abuses play out every day on the dusty streets of India, where government and aid groups’ efforts to help children are overwhelmed by the staggering poverty and the dislocation of millions of rural villagers who flood the cities in search of jobs. (AP Photo/ Mahesh Kumar A.)" High-res

Childs_13 by azherhameed on Flickr.

"Children study in a yard with scrap collected for recycling, in Hyderabad, India, Friday, Nov. 20, 2009. Twenty years after the U.N. adopted a treaty guaranteeing children’s rights, 1 billion children are still deprived of food, shelter or clean water, and nearly 200 million are chronically malnourished, UNICEF said Thursday. Some of the worst abuses play out every day on the dusty streets of India, where government and aid groups’ efforts to help children are overwhelmed by the staggering poverty and the dislocation of millions of rural villagers who flood the cities in search of jobs. (AP Photo/ Mahesh Kumar A.)"

Students from Sydney’s Newtown High School of the Performing Arts give Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott a tough question time that he was evidently poorly prepared to answer with grace. The clip begins with Abbott giving weak environmental advice (“plant a tree… but don’t raise taxes”). He then faces questions about why he opposes gay marriage and his inhumane treatment of asylum seekers. Flustered and annoyed, he resorts to his infamous sexism: “Let’s have a bloke’s question, OK?”

Working off the cuff and under estimating Australia’s youth, the Prime Minister is clearly out of his depth.

A series of protests have been held around Australia today. The #MarchInMarch demonstrations are calling attention to a various policy issues that the Abbott Government is mishandling. Abbott is a climate change denier who is privileging the greed of Australia’s mining giants over environmental sustainability. He dismantled the Climate Commission within the first 24 hours of being elected. He’s a misogynist who is against pro-choice; who has made several sexist remarks about women’s public role in society; whose cabinet only has one woman, and yet he crowned himself Minister for Women’s Affairs. His election campaign focused on a platform denouncing Australia’s human rights obligations to asylum seekers (the so-called “stop the boats” campaign actually targets the most vulnerable minority of unauthorised entrants and which sociology research shows will not work). 

This great speech by Victoria Rollison hits on the common thread between these issues: fear. She calls for a return to community, defined as protecting the human rights of all Australians, not just our elites.

Australia turned inward when the majority of us voted for Tony Abbott. We rejected kind and compassionate when we chose to ‘stop the boats.’ We rejected common sense when we decided the money spent saving our economy, our livelihoods from the Global Financial Crisis, was wasteful. And we rejected science when we put our fear of an increase in electricity prices ahead of our determination to slow climate change.

Abbott promised these scared, threatened and oh so gullible people that he would fix everything. That it was a good idea to be selfish and mean and greedy. To forget that they lived in a community. Dog eat dog is back in vogue. So we need to fix this.

We need to show people that when they turn their backs on their communities, they lose out, every time…

The path to prosperity for the nation and the path to healthy communities is not individual success. It’s success for all of us. It’s really that simple. Once you understand this, once you use this idea to frame how you see the world, suddenly Abbott looks like a horrible option.

Suddenly progressive policies aren’t scary, because they represent the common good. We should be helping our fellow Australians up the ladder of social mobility. Not kicking it down and burning it as Abbott is doing now. A stronger you makes our team stronger. And our team is all of us. We’re all part of the same team.

Read the speech script on Rollinson’s website.


Yes, the Pope influences millions of Catholics. And yes, he should be praised for making a change, if and when he actually makes that change.
This is not that time. He did not change the doctrine, he has not changed his stance on supporting the Church’s teachings, and he is excommunicating a pro-gay Australian priest for supporting women in becoming ordained. And now, since The Advocate award, it has been reported that he is ‘shocked’ by the thought of civil unions and gay adoption - news that isn’t shocking to me at all.
The Advocate and a lot of progressives have lauded Pope Francis for not following his predecessors by directly attacking queer people in speeches, and for two vague statements that sound suspiciously like a PR exercise to win over some more left-wing types (and it totally worked! Good plan Ocean’s eHeaven).
But this is setting the bar far too low. We deserve better. The leader of an organisation that has been responsible for generations of systemic homophobia and transphobia shouldn’t be showered with accolades simply for making a semi-humane comment about queer people. (My emphasis)

Australian writer-comedian Rebecca Shaw (who identifies as lesbian) argues we need to look at the actual changes of the Catholic Church rather than simply applauding empty platitudes by the Pope. So far, the Church remains negligent on upholding the human rights of LGBTQI people. The article is worth reading in full on SBS News. 
Photo: Perhaps Magazine via Flickr. High-res

Yes, the Pope influences millions of Catholics. And yes, he should be praised for making a change, if and when he actually makes that change.

This is not that time. He did not change the doctrine, he has not changed his stance on supporting the Church’s teachings, and he is excommunicating a pro-gay Australian priest for supporting women in becoming ordained. And now, since The Advocate award, it has been reported that he is ‘shocked’ by the thought of civil unions and gay adoption - news that isn’t shocking to me at all.

The Advocate and a lot of progressives have lauded Pope Francis for not following his predecessors by directly attacking queer people in speeches, and for two vague statements that sound suspiciously like a PR exercise to win over some more left-wing types (and it totally worked! Good plan Ocean’s eHeaven).

But this is setting the bar far too low. We deserve better. The leader of an organisation that has been responsible for generations of systemic homophobia and transphobia shouldn’t be showered with accolades simply for making a semi-humane comment about queer people. (My emphasis)

Australian writer-comedian Rebecca Shaw (who identifies as lesbian) argues we need to look at the actual changes of the Catholic Church rather than simply applauding empty platitudes by the Pope. So far, the Church remains negligent on upholding the human rights of LGBTQI people. The article is worth reading in full on SBS News. 

Photo: Perhaps Magazine via Flickr.

The Hon Michael Kirby speaks about the need for Australia to contribute towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) rights on a global scale. Kirby is now working with The Kaleidoscope Trust, a not-for-profit international organisation fighting against LGBTQI human rights abuses. Kirby will contribute to law reform on LGBTQI issues in the Asia-Pacific.

Commonwealth nations have some of the most oppressive and homophobic laws in the world. Kirby argues that Australia must be a leader in our region by improving our laws and by taking an active role to challenge injustice around the world.

Kirby is the former Justice of the High Court of Australia (1996 to 2009). He publicly identified himself as gay in 1999 and has campaigned actively about the human rights of LGBTQI Australians. He was awarded a human rights medal in 1991. In May this year, he was appointed to lead an United Nations inquiry into human rights abuses in North Korea.

Same sex marriages have been talking place in the Australian Capital Territory,  the first Australian state or territory to legalise non-heterosexual marriage. This new law had been contentious and it is being challenged by the federal Government led by the ultra  conservative Liberal Party. This coming Thursday The High Court of Australia will decide whether this new state law is constitutional so the law is currently precarious.

motherjones:

cognitivedissonance:

From Jezebel:

Back in August, during a Springfield City Council public hearing on amending the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance to include sexual orientation and gender identity protections, Rev. Phil Snider of the Brentwood Christian Church lashed out at the council for “inviting the judgement of God upon our land” by making “special rights for gays and lesbians.”

He goes on to invoke the bible and morality and the end of days a few more times before suddenly appearing to lose his train of thought.

And then something pretty amazing happens.

You HAVE to watch until about the two-minute mark. Let me put this in picture form for you:

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Seriously, watch the whole thing. Good payoff.

This entertaining video was really popular last year. Although seemingly clever, it draws on a problematic comparison between same-sex marriage discrimination in the present day and racial segregation laws that were firmly in place in the USA until the civil rights movement in the 1960s (as well as in South Africa, Australia and around the world). This comparison between gay marriage and racial segregation has become increasingly common amongst well-meaning activists in the USA, including in litigation cases before the courts.

The link between racial segregation and gay marriage has also been evoked elsewhere, such as in the UK, with activists and academics arguing that not allowing gay marriage is similar to racist policies of the 1960s. This race-sexual discrimination argument is usually made by White activists who aim to illuminate the similar struggles of inequality faced by all minority groups.

Racial segregation and gay marriage might be similarly categorised within the rubric of human rights issues that everyone should be invested in protecting. The problem with drawing a direct link between both issues is that this ignores the distinct historical relations that different minority groups have faced over time, and it also obliterates the legal intricacies of racial, sexual and gender discriminations. Equating racial segregation to gay marriage also ignores the complex interconnections of discrimination as they are lived by different subgroups.

Segregation can be imposed by governments through formal policies and institutional practices or it can be the outcome of of informal processes. Formal segregation is enshrined in exclusionary laws that force some groups to be socially and economically separate from the majority. It is also enforced by powerful socio-economic agents, such as banks that won’t give loans or credit to racial minorities or workplaces that exclusively hire people from dominant groups. Segregation can occur through everyday “unconscious” choices, such as by having close friendships with people from the same group at school and at work, or by living in neighbourhoods with people who are from the same socio-economic background. Racial segregation is one of the most pervasive forms of segregation, as its continued effects amongst Black people and other racial minority groups is pervasive.

The legal oppression of LGBTQI limits their legal rights explicitly in the realm of family life and through social processes that reproduce the otherness of LGBTQI people. I’ve written previously that the issue of gay marriage is a violation of human rights, but making an unqualified connection to racial segregation does no cause justice. Nevertheless, this comparison is worth exploring because it is becoming so commonplace.

Racial segregation laws excluded Black Americans from all spheres of public life by physically, economically and legally separating them from White people, including everything from drinking areas, official buildings, pools, and public transport. These laws prevented Blacks from attending certain schools and from holding particular jobs and from fully participating in civil life. In short, racial segregation made it legal to formally discriminate against Black people in every social institution.

The effects of racial segregation continue today. Urban areas where Black people are residentially concentrated are overpopulated, poorly serviced and high taxes are redistributed in socially dysfunctional ways. Social disadvantage impacts on violence experienced by Black Americans in a way that is not the case for White people. In short, state policies that discriminated against Black people have resulted in an underclass that is pervasively disadvantaged economically, socially and residentially. The social effects of racial segregation has resulted in higher welfare dependence by single-parent Black families, poor educational facilities in neighbourhoods with a high proportion of Black people  poor access to quality housing and higher rates of unemployment. Black people who lived through racial segregation face significant health problems.

In Australia, Indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families, because the State saw that Indigenous women were sexual savages incapable of looking after children. These children were raised in isolated institutions, deprived of their cultural heritage and forced to forget their spirituality and convert to Christianity. Policies enforced racial segregation with the explicit aim of cultural genocide.

Gay marriage is one of the most visible issues that show how LGBTQI communities are excluded from the rest of society. LGBTQI people continue to face hatred, violence and social disadvantages that heterosexual people as a group do not have to worry about. Marriage is constructed as normal, biologically functional and “right” between heterosexual men and women; gay marriage is positioned as a threat to the institution of family and therefore the established social order.

Aren’t all forms of discrimination equally negative? Isn’t it important to draw comparisons in solidarity of minority rights? Yes, of course, but not at the expense of recognising that the effects of different forms of discrimination have different outcomes for different groups. 

Racial segregation exemplifies a system of discrimination that legally marked Black Americans as second-class citizens. Exclusionary present-day marriage laws discriminate against LGBTQI by not recognising that non-heterosexual people have the same legal right to fully participate in marriage and family. Nevertheless anti-gay marriage laws do not prevent LGBTQI people from participating in all spheres of public life. discriminating against people because of their sexuality is now against the law. The law does, however, discriminate against LGBTQI people in marriage, adoption. Informal processes of sexual discrimination are pervasive and require social activism and further policy intervention, but the law has not formally enforced gay-only spaces that physically segregates their inclusion in public life. This is an important distinction to understand. There are other important distinctions to understand with the gay rights movement. 

The concept of intersectionality is used to highlight how racial, sexual and gender discrimination historically affect minorities in different ways.

The video above is clever in showing the similarities in the discourses used to justify racial and sexual inequalities; that is, how do patterns of speech normalise the balance of power to some groups over others? I see that it the video is even better when considered as a way to explore the concept of intersectionality and social activism.

Here’s a quick look at a new American documentary on Facebook’s privacy and ethics, Terms and Conditions May Apply. The Huffington Post reports that the film makers continued to secretly film Mark Zuckerberg during an encounter even after he’d explicitly asked them to stop filming him. You can’t make an important point about privacy by violating privacy, even if you’re seeking to condemn that same person for breaking privacy. This very huge point aside, check out the promo, it looks like a good one to watch for the sociology of social media.