Can we let Syrians speak for themselves?

A year ago, the refugee issue took on an extra emotional charge because of the iconic image of three-year-old Alan Kurdi, a boy whose drowned body washed up on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. I won’t reproduce that photo but this year’s comparable image is of six-year-old Omran Daqneesh sitting in an ambulance after surviving a Russian airstrike on Aleppo (his brother Ali Daqneesh died from his injuries): You might have also seen a letter that a 6 year old boy wrote to President Obama about how he wants to help Omran (which Obama read at the UN):

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Dalai Lama defines religious violence out of existence

This week, the Dalai Lama engaged in more mealy-mouthed bullshit that went viral because it’s telling many people what they want to hear. In condemning religious violence (yay DL?) he said that anyone partaking in violent activities is not a genuine practitioner of their religion. Here’s a quick quote from This Independent article: Buddhist terrorist. Muslim terrorist. That wording is wrong, Any person who wants to indulge in violence is no longer a genuine Buddhist or genuine Muslim, because it is a Muslim teaching that once you are involved in bloodshed, actually you are no longer a genuine practitioner of […]

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If you compare marriage equality to interracial marriage, put your money where your mouth is

Stuff is happening with marriage equality and the plebiscite clusterfuck, some of which might have changed by the time you read this post. If you’re not up to speed: a strong majority of MPs support marriage equality but due to the right wing faction of the Coalition, the current issue is still the (probably dead) plebiscite which is opposed by 85% of LGBT people and will be a disaster for these very scientific reasons as well as the inevitable (already happening!) hateful propaganda of a No campaign plus the problem (already happening!) of someone’s rights being up for an opinion […]

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Rape of sex workers and “theft of services”

So I’m a bit late to the party but in 2015, the Chicago Sun Times published what is officially the douchiest editorial ever. By Mary Mitchell, it took exception to the rape of a sex worker being characterised as such and prosecuted because it’s “making a mockery of rape victims”. Here are some choice excerpts so you don’t have to read the original charmingly entitled Rape Case Sends Mixed Messages on Prostitution. I don’t have one iota of sympathy for Akins’ [the alleged perp’s] plight. But I’m grateful he isn’t being accused of snatching an innocent woman off the street. […]

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Segregated seating on planes: is a non-bigoted compromise possible?

The behaviour of Chareidi (more commonly known as “Ultra-Orthodox”) flight passengers has hit international news a few times, mostly around them not wanting to sit next to women who have at times been asked to switch seats, something El Al is being sued over. There have been some other stories too, eg. Chareidi men who have smashed a flight screen showing an “immodest” movie or flying in plastic bags (such as the ones pictured) which protect their Kohanic selves from the ritual impurity of flying over a cemetery (more info here). The issue of El Al and segregated seating is […]

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The Rabbits is not that anti-racist after all

Photo credit: Jon Green Earlier this year my partner got us tickets to the opera production of The Rabbits because a lot of people recommended it to her. Now, I live in a massive ivory tower when it comes to children’s literature. Before that I’ve never heard of John Marsden and Shaun Tan’s acclaimed book from the 1990s. My only context was that it was an allegorical opera about colonialism that featured rabbits. The place was packed, being part of the Sydney Festival. At least half in the audience were children, which makes sense given that it described itself as […]

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You are entitled to a job, but not to any particular job

A prior post talked about the genuine cost of the upcoming NSW ban on greyhound racing. This got me thinking about public discussion of what job someone’s “entitled” to. Usually I’ve seen opinions about this fall closely towards one of these 3 (arranged from most to least utopian): You are entitled to the livelihood you want You are entitled to a livelihood You are entitled to the pursuit of livelihood I’m firmly with #2 but to explain why it’s easiest to first look at both ends of the spectrum: You are entitled to the pursuit of livelihood This one’s the […]

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We must acknowledge the social cost of NSW’s greyhound racing ban

Last week there was a rare bit of good news in Australian politics. After a review of the greyhound racing industry, the current (right wing) NSW government unexpectedly banned greyhound racing. Of course the industry will fight this big-time, but within my bubble-of-a-circle-of-friends the reaction was unanimously positive. To me the decision is clearly correct since the industry’s an ethical clusterfuck. But it’s important not to make policy questions too one-sided. I can’t endorse this entire post from Less Wrong (or the website as a whole) but it has an important bit: A policy may legitimately have lopsided costs or […]

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Blackface, Jewface, any-face

Lately I’ve been thinking about how hard it is to take something seriously enough when you’re not the target. How knowing that something is wrong is important but doesn’t get you all the way. The distinction between blackface and Jewface has highlighted this. I’m not black. I’m very much against blackface (whether in Australia, the US, the Netherlands etc). But I know I’m not equipped to treat blackface as seriously as someone who’s the target of the blackface. For example, the last (maybe only?) time I saw blackface in real life was at Camelot, a world music venue in Sydney. […]

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It’s time to ditch politically correct right wing euphemisms

While reading through volumes and volumes on Brexit I checked out the Wikipedia page for UKIP to find out a bit more about them. The intro paragraph described it as a “Euroskeptic” party. What a great euphemism for a party who aren’t far from being actual Nazis, hey? Political correctness is usually an accusation wielded by right wingers against basically trying to be decent. Recently though, there’s been an increased awareness that right wingers engage in plenty of political correctness themselves — in ways that can have much more impact than the standard (urban legend) usage. Euroskeptic is a perfect […]

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The thinly-veiled identity of lives and rants in Sydney. Views not his own, provided by hivemind. All my original work on this blog is licensed under a CC BY-NC License. Click here for the privacy policy

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