Roxon and homophobes:

Michael Byrne writes: Re. “Roxon’s ambassadors: homophobic, sexist and totally inappropriate” (yesterday, item 1). Is there a word, or does it require a phrase, to harness those who cast the epithet of “homophobe” against anyone who holds traditional views that homosexuality is an aberration of the natural order of sexual practice, as life source, and relationship? I expect Bernard Keane would wear the new badge with pride.

Bernard appears to be a member of the legion of anger merchants who see the world having begun in the 18th Century and has become complete in their own life time. Anyone who furthers, or more to the point, upholds their social progressive cause in full view of the barrenness of their social outcomes, is praised as a person of conviction. This angry legion labels those with a reasoned contrary conviction as wearisome cultural warriors. The angry legion render tenets, tested in time, as untenable. They worship their social progressiveness in tribunals and courts to silence and punish the ignorant, stupid and their modern day breed of the detached individual, as racists, sexists and whatever other “ists” they define in their dogma.

But I do write in gratitude.

I would not usually journey to the web sites of Marsh and Williams. They too have an angry agenda. However Bernard’s reference to the document, 21 Reasons Why Gender Matter, has revealed an informative work with depth and indeed a reference to work with. I do hope there will be a solid rebuttal by Bernard, or other members of the legion, to add more depth to his summation of it as “vile and bigoted”. My quickened perusal saw that it covers fundamental issues concerning parenthood and the sense of rightness and unity parenthood brings in such an embrace with nature for couples across continents, cultures, religions and class/caste.

Thank you Bernard.

Alan Kennedy writes: Criticism of Julia Gillard’s partner Tim Mathieson displays a lamentable double standard. The spouses of politicians have, for many years taken on honourary roles in charities; it seems Mr Mathieson took up the unpaid position after being urged to do so by the PM’s wife Therese Rein. She is active in the support of charities for which she receives no criticisms. Indeed, questions would be asked if she was not out and about doing good works. Mrs Howard did her bit when her hubby was PM. Mathieson seems to be just the right sort of bloke to talk about the thing that scares most blokes their health and the need for regular check ups.

Clare Cappa writes: I think somebody who has to listen to blokes whinge while he cuts their hair is an ideal choice. I get all the good goss from my hairdresser.


Niall Clugston writes: Zachary King (yesterday, comments) takes Charles Richardson to task over his comparison of Obama and Latham. But Richardson’s key point was that Latham lost because he was at the wrong point in the electoral cycle, not that the two were “twins”. King pillories Latham with the benefit of hindsight, but few commentators foresaw his supposedly inevitable doom. As Latham said “One week I was the Colossus of Canberra, the next a Galapagos Duck”.

I do, however, agree that Richardson’s parallelogram pairing Rudd and Kerry, Latham and Obama is too neat. Yes, the latter were both divisive candidates — Latham because of his personality, Obama his ancestry — but equally Rudd and Obama could be paired as slick purveyors of “conservatism with a human face”. And Kerry, like Gore, was more reminiscent of Beazley with his apologetic equivocation that let him be painted as an ineffectual intellectual. In both countries, however, the electoral cycle was more powerful that the personalities.

The incumbents’ positions were crumbling and their unexpected victories shocked the opposing forces out of complacency.

Zachary King writes: Re. “Kruddiversary: The internet thanks you for 12 months of achieving nothing” (yesterday, item 17). Thank you Stilgherrian. Conroy’s rabbit proof firewall. Brilliant.

The Courier Mail:

A seasoned public affairs operator in Brisbane (who must remain nameless for obvious reasons) writes: Re. “Courier Mail journos can’t get the facts right” (Wednesday, item 23). It is no surprise that QLD Government spin doctors (and since then, non-government PR operators) are reluctant to allow face to face or phone interviews with the Courier Mail and are instead preferring to provide written statements. I have been doing this for some time for my organisation (one of the biggest infrastructure bodies in the state and a frequent target of Courier Mail campaigns). The Curious Snail has rapidly developed a reputation for the notorious practice of verballing or selectively quoting from interviews to support their cynical, sensationalist and biased approach to stories.

When I was a young journalist, my mentors always told me to avoid the cynical approach to stories that the C M takes — establish an early hypothesis, selectively build a case to support it, find a “human angle”, with pic, and then seek comment at the last minute from the accused, often too late in the news cycle for the accused to do anything about repudiating it. As others have said, the lazy next-day media (especially ABC Local Radio, whose morning show presenter Madonna King is the wife of the Courier Mail editor) rip and read these stories as fact, and the story then has, as they say, legs and it runs all day.

Another trend we have noted is the propensity of Brisbane’s only daily paper to run a strong line on a story, then invite readers to comment on line — usually with a loaded and very unscientific poll, e.g. “Should water cheats be punished during such an unprecedented drought?” This provides fodder for the next day’s headlines — “Community backlash over water cheats”.

In fact, I have recently experimented by breaking my own golden rule of always returning a journalist’s call, even to tell them you are not going to comment. I have found the outcome (“… was not available/did not return calls” is never worse than trying to reason with the journalist.

Media relations guy writes: It was mentioned that people are now seeking to use the several News Limited regional dailies in Queensland as an alternate to The Curious Snail. But as a regional media relations type, I can assure the rot has spread. Even previously solid mastheads like the Cairns Post and Townsville Bulletin have swapped journalism for sensational headline writing and paring stories down to absurdity. If this keeps up, the NT News will become the standard-bearer for journalistic integrity

Climate change:

Tony Kevin writes: Re. “Poznan climate talks: All eyes on Penny Wong” (yesterday, item 13). Paul Winn’s item is timely. No one much in broader Australian government or mainstream media circles seems to know or care much about Poznan — sadly, the economic crisis has made global warming third-order news in Australia, thereby showing again how short-sighted we are. Googling “Poznan climate change” shows a great deal of international interest building up, but not yet here. Let me guess Australia’s stance at Poznan:

  1. Refer proudly to an anaemic, timid Australian Government White Paper on carbon targets and trading, which may have just been released with great fanfare — if so, there will be no time for independent experts to study it and it will be unpatriotic to question it.
  2. Announce a big tied cash gift to Indonesia to plant forests as a claimed major carbon offset for Australia, further delaying when we might actually do something to reduce our own industry carbon emissions.
  3. Trumpet the Australian carbon sequestration paper that Rudd spruiked at APEC in Lima as some sort of solution — though everyone with any scientific or engineering knowledge knows that carbon dioxide sequestration is at best a fantasy solution, and at worst a cynical confidence trick.
  4. Continue to claim special dispensations for Australia to release more carbon dioxide per capita than anyone else, as a major resources miner and exporter to the world
  5. Generally stonewall as far as possible, wait for others to lead, out of deference for the views of the powerful Australian pro-coal lobby which continues to call the shots on what passes for Australian climate change policy.

In other words, pretty much what the brief for Poznan would have been under Howard as PM — except that we have signed Kyoto. Maybe I’ll be pleasantly proved wrong? Maybe we’ll be visibly out in front, tic tacking with Obama’s observer John Kerry? But I fear we will again be conspicuous for our timidity and conservatism and our short-term economic self-interest trumping everything else.

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Peter Fray

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