During briefings as a patrol officer, I scanned the crime reports from the prior week, looking for patterns, trends and changes. If, for example, I discovered an increase in car burglaries on the west side of town, I would ask the simple question: What shifted in the past few weeks to account for the additional crimes? More robberies on the east side? What’s changed? Did someone new move into the area? Did some group of offenders decide to target our city?
Now, as a cold-case detective and author, I apply the same approach to a new crime phenomenon: the increase in mass school shootings. What’s changed in the past twenty years that might account for this? What cultural shifts lie behind the shootings?
An Increase in Social Media Use
Young people are more influenced by social media than any other generation. In a recent survey, teenagers reported that they often feel bad about themselves (or their lives) when viewing the social media posts of their friends. More importantly, teenagers said they are often bulliedon-line. That’s important, because the killers in each school shooting were also said to have been criticized or ostracized prior to the crime. While bullying is not new, the way young people bully each other has shifted. Social media intensifies bullying because it increases its severity, proximity and consistency. We are far harsher when criticizing others on social media. Worse yet, in a smart phone culture, the bully is as near as your phone. Those of us who were bullied in the past could at least find solace and protection in our own homes; bullying stopped as soon as we left the school grounds. Not so today. Bullies follow their victims home every night and sleep next to them on their nightstands. The way people interact has changed, and this shift is seen in the lives of school shooters. Many have been harboring growing animosity stoked by social media.
An Increased Dependency on Prescription Medicine
Parents are medicating their children today more than ever before. While it’s true that many of the school shooters were using (or had recently stopped using) prescription drugs, I’m not suggesting that this form of drug use is contributing directly to the increase in shootings. In fact, I have seen many families incorporate ADHD/depression/anxiety medications with great success. But, in a recent PBS special, Medicating Kids, Dr. Lawrence Diller made two important and insightful observations. First, he observed that we “as a culture – more than any other culture – seem to have accepted biology and the brain as the reason for maladaptive or poor behavior.” In addition, Dr. Diller observed, “we have a continuing erosion of parental discipline…” Some parents have now shifted toward prescription drugs that target the physical brain and away from traditional, time-consuming approaches that address behaviors. As a result, fewer children – including shooters – have extended interaction with their parents.
An Increase in Single Parent Households As a Gang Detail Officer in Los Angeles County, I had the opportunity to spend time with young Hispanic, African-American, Caucasian and Korean gang members. They came from different socio-economic and racial backgrounds but had one thing in common: lack of dad. Some never knew their fathers. Others had dads who were in jail. Some had fathers who were disinterested alcoholics. Others had dads who were workaholics who rarely ever came home. The percentage of children under the age of 18 in the United States living in single parent households has increased dramatically – during the same time that school shootings have multiplied. In addition, many young men are being raised in what is effectively (if not statistically) a single parent household. Men have a responsibility to raise up their boys, and when they shirk this responsibility we see tragic results. Family structures have changed; several of the high school shooters simply didn’t have an effective male role model who could help them navigate their teenage years.
Every cultural change holds both a promise and a threat. We either shift toward something worthy or worthless. The sooner we recognize what’s changed in America (and admit where the change is leading us), the sooner we’ll be able to address the increase in school shootings.
Too many Australians today do not appreciate how their country has been shaped by the Bible in myriad indelible ways
Roy Williams The Australian 31 March 2018
It’s worth recalling this Easter that the Bible is by far the most consequential book in Australian history. One hundred copies arrived on the First Fleet, and every subsequent vessel brought lots more.
Serious Bible-reading probably peaked here in about 1880, but there was a still a well-thumbed copy in nearly every home until the 1970s. That decade saw the start of a steep decline in Australia of Christianity’s heft and influence, at least measured in terms of churchgoing believers as a proportion of the population.
Even so, in 1976-77, The Good News Bible sold a quarter of a million copies, a record at the time for any new title. Kel Richards’s The Aussie Bible sold 100,000 copies as recently as the early 2000s.
There remains a strong market in Australia not only for the Bible but Christian books in general. The flourishing Koorong chain of stores, and equivalent Catholic outlets, are proof enough.
Yet most of our “mainstream” bookshops offer a woefully thin selection of religious titles. Why?
The underlying reason seems to be a perception that the Good Book and its offshoots are irrelevant nowadays to anyone bar “people of faith”.
Sydney-based historian Meredith Lake challenges this canard in her superbly engaging book The Bible in Australia.
Put aside — if you dare — ultimate metaphysical truth.
There are, Lake contends, several other reasons why any thinking citizen should take the Bible seriously. For a start, “the world in general remains highly religious”, and Christianity is the most practised faith across the globe.
As far as Australian public-policy discourse is concerned, most would also agree with Lake that “a confident, robust pluralism requires tolerance of religious voices, including Christian ones in all their diversity”.
But she insists there is more at stake than mere tolerance, for “an intelligent pluralism requires good historical memory”.
Too many Australians today do not appreciate how their country has been shaped by the Bible in myriad indelible ways. As Lake observes, “it has a history here that, while complicated, is difficult to outrun”. She posits three main ways of regarding the Bible — each for good and ill — and provides convincing, engrossing examples.
First, it has been a “globalising” force.
“European imperialism introduced the Bible to Australia” with traumatic consequences for the indigenous population, she observes. The legal fiction of terra nullius was based on a quasi-Christian idea of John Locke’s. Genesis 1:28 (King James Version) enjoined human beings to “replenish the earth, and subdue it”. In the eyes of most British colonists, non-agrarian indigenous peoples had not done so, so the land they occupied was ripe for the taking.
It was not until the High Court’s Mabo decision in 1992 — based, in significant part, on Thomist notions of natural law (cf. Romans 2:14-15), to say nothing of Jesus’s Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12) — that a better, more authentically Christian view held sway.
Indigenous Christians had long pointed to verses such as Proverbs 22:28 (“Do not move an everlasting boundary stone”).
Lake reminds us that the Bible has also been a globalising force in Australia as a basis for encouraging immigration on a large scale. As far back as the 1830s, powerful figures such as John Dunmore Lang invoked the story of Israel as a model for populating the antipodean “land of milk and honey” (cf. Deuteronomy 31:20, Genesis 12:1-2). Catholic historians including Edmund Campion have shown that the church facilitated the nation-changing waves of European and Southeast Asian immigration after World War II.
Lake’s second way of assessing the Bible’s influence is as a “cultural” force.
Aside from its ubiquitous presence in everyday speech (“lamb to the slaughter”, “writing on the wall” and so on), she emphasises its role as an inspiration to local artists in all genres. Henry Handel Richardson, Arthur Boyd, Paul Kelly, Helen Garner, Christos Tsiolkas — these and many other creative giants, a lot of them unbelievers, could recognise a masterpiece when they encountered it.
But it is in the Bible’s third guise, as a “theological” force, that its influence has been most profound. For almost two centuries after 1788, a good number of our key opinion-makers — in politics, business, science, journalism, education, you name it — believed the Bible to be nothing less than the self-revelatory Word of God, a text “alive and active” (Hebrews 4:12). Accordingly, in Lake’s expression, “it was the unrivalled starting point for knowledge, the framework for understanding the world and its workings”.
Ranging widely, Lake demonstrates that the theological Bible has been, as often as not, a force of “dynamic altruism”. (The phrase is historian Alan Atkinson’s.)
The NSW Church Act of 1836, for instance, later copied in other colonies, established the principle of equal treatment for all Christian denominations. This reflected governor Richard Bourke’s vision of a people “united in one bond of peace” (see Ephesians 4:3).
In the longer term, despite outbreaks of sectarianism, religious equality helped foster a much greater degree of socio-economic equality here than in Britain.
Likewise, the movements in the late 19th century towards votes for women and Federation were energised disproportionately by devout Christians. A favourite verse among champions of both causes was Proverbs 14:34: “Righteousness exalteth a nation.”
It is to be remembered, too, that in those days leadership of the trade unions and the Australian Labor Party was dominated by earnest Protestant men.
Perhaps Lake’s best historical examples are in the field of race relations, a strength of her work. From the earliest decades of frontier violence against the indigenous, through the citizenship and land rights campaigns of the 20th century, to recent debates over refugees, the most rigorous pleas for generous treatment of darker-skinned people have been made by conscientious Christians.
Typically their arguments have been based on scripture, one passage in particular.
According to Acts 17:26, “[God] hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth” (KJV).
Secular Australian bookshops should give this book the prominence it deserves.
Roy Williams’s books include God, Actually.
The Bible in Australia: A Cultural History By Meredith Lake NewSouth, 439pp, $39.99
A New Story for an Old Land: 200 Years of the Bible Society in Australia
John Harris ABC Religion and Ethics 7 Mar 2017
As the Bible seemingly drifts into irrelevance in our increasingly secular society, the Bible Society remains convinced of the need to put more Bibles into people’s hands, minds and hearts.CREDIT: MIKDAM / GETTY IMAGES
Kathleen Cormier is trying to instil a sense of gratitude in her sons, aged 12 and 17. But sometimes she wonders if other parents have given up.
Some of her sons’ peers, she says, are lacking in the basics of gratitude, such as looking adults in the eye to thank them. The saddest part, she says, is that many parents don’t even expect their children to be grateful any more. They are accustomed to getting no acknowledgment for, say, devoting their weekend to driving them from activity to activity. There is “such a lack of respect”, she says.
Every generation seems to complain that children “these days” are so much more entitled and ungrateful than in years past. This time, they may be right. In today’s selfie culture, which often rewards bragging and arrogance over kindness and humility, many people are noticing a drop-off in everyday expressions of gratitude.
In a 2012 national online poll of 2000 adults, commissioned by the John Templeton Foundation, 59 per cent of those surveyed thought that most people today were “less likely to have an attitude of gratitude than 10 or 20 years ago”. The youngest group, 18 to 24-year-olds, were the least likely of any age group to report expressing gratitude regularly (35 per cent) and the likeliest to express gratitude for self-serving reasons (“it will encourage people to be kind or generous to me”).
“In some communities, specifically among the white middle and upper-middle class, there’s good reason to believe that kids are less grateful than in the past,” says psychologist Richard Weissbourd, faculty director of the Making Caring Common initiative at Harvard’s graduate school of education. He places much of the blame on the self-esteem movement.
As Weissbourd sees it, parents were fed a myth that if children feel better about themselves — if parents praise them, cater to their every need and make them feel happy — it will help them to develop character. “But what we’re seeing in many cases is the opposite,’’ he says. “When parents organise their lives around their kids, those kids expect everyone else to as well, and that leads to entitlement.’’ And when children are raised to feel entitled to everything, they are left feeling grateful for nothing.
A growing body of research points to the many psychological and social benefits of regularly counting your blessings. The good news for parents: it also suggests that it’s never too late for their children to learn the subtle joys of appreciating the good in their lives. Gratitude can be cultivated at any age, whether it finds expression as a mood, a social emotion or a personality trait.
Researchers find that people with a grateful disposition are more thankful for a wider variety of things in their lives, such as their friends, their health, nature, their jobs or a higher power — and that they experience feelings of gratitude more intensely. For them, gratitude isn’t a one-off “thank you”. It’s a mindset, a way of seeing the world.
“Gratitude is also a spiritual emotion, whether it’s implicitly or explicitly expressed,” says David Rosmarin, director of the spirituality and mental health program at McLean Hospital and an assistant professor at Harvard medical school. Almost every religion includes gratitude as part of its value system, he says, citing familiar practices such as prayers of thanks or blessings over food.
In a study led by Rosmarin, published in 2011 in The Journal of Positive Psychology, researchers surveyed more than 400 adults online, assessing their religious and general gratitude, religious commitment, and mental and physical wellbeing. The researchers found, in keeping with past studies, that general gratitude was associated with less anxiety, less depression and greater wellbeing. They also found gratitude towards God was associated with further reductions in anxiety and depression and increases in wellbeing.
It can be difficult to remember to be grateful, for adults and children alike. Kristen Welch, a mother of three children between the ages of 11 and 18, lives outside Houston and is the author of Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World. She admits she was once “constantly comparing myself and my home to what others had”. If she visited a neighbour who was remodelling her kitchen, she would want to redo hers too, although it didn’t need it. She noticed a similar attitude in her children. “Whenever I’d give them something, it was never enough. They always wanted more,” she says.
Most of the research on the benefits of gratitude has been focused on adults, but researchers are turning their attention to how gratitude can better the lives of children, too. They’re finding that the experience of high levels of gratitude in the adolescent years can set up a child to thrive. Gratitude initiates what researchers call an “upward spiral of positive emotions”. Adolescents who rate higher in gratitude tend to be happier and more engaged at school, as compared with their less grateful peers, and to give and receive more social support from family and friends. They also tend to experience fewer depressive symptoms and less anxiety, and are less likely to exhibit anti-social behaviour, such as aggression.
Counting your blessings may provide a built-in coping strategy, as research among adults suggests. Grateful people experience daily hassles and annoyances just like everyone else, but they tend to view setbacks through a different lens, reframing challenges in a positive light.
Weissbourd gives the example of one of his students, who comes from a low-income community in South America. “We were talking about gratitude, and he said that whenever he gets frustrated about waiting for the bus, he reminds himself that where he’s from most people have to walk,” he says.
For a study published last year in The Journal of Positive Psychology, researchers tracked the role of gratitude in the lives of more than 500 adolescents from an affluent area of Long Island in New York across the course of four years, as they moved from middle school to high school. At four different points, students filled out questionnaires, rating on a scale of 1 to 7 how strongly they agreed with statements such as “I have so much to be thankful for”; “If I had to list everything that I felt grateful for, it would be a very long list”; and “I am grateful to a wide variety of people”.
The researchers also measured anti-social and pro-social behaviours. They asked the students to rate how often (never, sometimes, often) they “stuck up for another kid who was in trouble”, for example, or made “a kid upset because you were mean to them”. The researchers also looked at the students’ satisfaction with different aspects of their lives (school, self, family friends), how much support they received from family and friends, and their levels of empathy and self-regulation.
The study found that a growth in gratitude across the four years not only predicted a growth in pro-social behaviour, it also predicted a decrease in negative social behaviour compared with students whose gratitude levels stayed level or decreased. Being grateful may “undercut the motives for acting antisocially among adolescents”, the researchers suggest.
Students who were more grateful also were better at managing their lives and identifying important goals for the future, says lead researcher Giacomo Bono, an assistant professor of psychology at California State University, Dominguez Hills. “When adolescents regularly express gratitude,” he adds, “it’s a good litmus test that they’re thriving.”
Grateful adolescents enjoy stronger relationships with their peers, in part perhaps because their positive disposition makes them more attractive and likeable. In a 2015 study published in the journal Emotion, researchers conducted an experiment with 70 undergraduate students. They found that acquaintances were likelier to want to stay in touch with a student who expressed gratitude toward them (in writing) than students who didn’t show appreciation. Grateful students were perceived by peers as having a warmer personality and being more friendly and thoughtful.
As parents, we do our best to teach our children to be grateful, by doing things such as nagging them to writing thank-you notes. But experts warn that our best efforts can backfire and become a barrier to genuinely experiencing gratitude. Children need to learn how to think gratefully, they say, not just to mindlessly go through the motions of giving thanks.
Cormier says she has worked hard to make gratitude a family habit since her children were little — and now it has become the norm. She encourages finding gratitude in the “everyday stuff”, she says, not just in response to birthday and Christmas presents. She also tries to teach gratitude by example. When her children help out around the house, such as noticing when the bin is full and taking it out, she thanks them. And now, she says, “my kids thank me every single time I put fresh sheets on their bed”, chaperone a field trip or make them dinner.
In a paper published in 2014 in the journal School Psychology Review, researchers describe an educational program they developed to train primary school students, aged eight to 11, in gratitude. More than 200 students participated. Half were assigned to a control condition, while the other half were assigned to the gratitude intervention, which some received for one week and others for more than five. The program’s lessons included, for example, reading The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein and asking students to write down one thing they would do to show the generous tree in the story that they were grateful for what it had done.
Researchers found that students who received the training, even for just one week, were not only better at thinking gratefully, they also reported experiencing more grateful emotions and greater increases in positive social behaviour (such as writing thank-you notes) and emotional wellbeing than students in the control group. When researchers followed up five months later with students who had stayed in the program longer, these positive effects had continued to grow. With intentional practice, experts say, gratitude can move from a fleeting state to a habit and eventually can become a personality trait.
The research points to several ways that parents can help children to think gratefully. Parents can spur their children to appreciate and reflect on the time and thought behind the gifts and kindness they receive, as in: “Jack really knows how much you love football. How thoughtful that he gave you a jersey of your favourite team” or “Wow, Grandma just took a five-hour train ride to come and see you perform in that play!”.
For some parents, a good starting point is simply to set a better example themselves. In the Templeton poll, less than half of respondents said they expressed thanks or gratitude daily to their spouse or partner.
It’s also important for children — and adults — to notice and acknowledge the larger circle of people who benefit their lives, such as the school secretary or janitor, says Weissbourd. “In a society that has become so splintered and self-focused,” he says, “gratitude is a common bond and offers one of the best ways for us to connect with one another.”
Pauline Hanson insists addicts must cover the costs of their treatment
The West Australian 4 March 2017 PAUL MURRAY
Based on a recent opinion poll, more than half the West Australians who will vote for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation next weekend are driven by a dislike of both Islam and the major political parties.
So while those who will actually form government continue to spend like drunken sailors buying votes, One Nation gets the bulk of its support at no cost to the taxpayer.
As is usual with protest movements, Pauline Hanson’s is best known for what it opposes rather than for things it supports.
But many voters might be surprised that the fledgling WA arm of PHON has released a range of policies in recent weeks that have escaped widespread media scrutiny.
That’s despite the possibility Hanson could hold the balance of power in the Legislative Council in a week’s time and have an arm lock on the next government.
So even if PHON voters are not interested in policy detail — preferring Hanson’s broadbrush nationalism on things such as foreign ownership and immigration — everyone else should be concerned about the party’s platform.
That’s because the next Parliament might just be dancing on it to Pauline’s tune.
For example, PHON wants methamphetamine-addicted criminals to pay for their own compulsory — and indefinite — treatment. The cash will be taken by force if necessary.
“One Nation WA proposes a ‘two strikes and you’re out’ policy to help tackle the methamphetamine scourge in our community,” the policing and community safety policy says. “If a meth user is caught two times, they will be sent to a rehabilitation facility and kept there until their addiction is under control.
“Addicts must cover the costs of their treatment, either by having assets seized, or if on welfare, payments will be forfeited to the state. No debt will be wiped or worn by the taxpayer, even if the user is on welfare payments after release.
“Monies will be taken from their account until paid in full. If users hold a job, it will be taken from their wages on the same basis as maintenance payments.”
Juvenile criminals, too, are in for a shock, with a promise to introduce controversial “broken windows” laws in WA. They crack down on minor crimes to create an atmosphere of law and order but are criticised for being inherently unjust and not addressing the causes of disorder, which are often racial.
“A philosophy of coming down hard on minor offences with juveniles in particular in order to deter future offending,” is how the PHON policy describes the approach.
The party also promises to examine new laws making parents accountable for the criminal behaviour of their children. It also supports a “Fagin’s Law” approach which targets those procuring young people to commit offences.
PHON also wants to build more prisons, for punishment rather than rehabilitation, and to make life inside tougher.
“Prisons are no longer a deterrent to crime,” the party says. “Society as a whole needs to consider what role prisons play in punishment and rehabilitation.
“Prisons should not be the home prisoners never had. We believe sufficiently punitive measures should exist for lawbreakers.”
Tough-on-crime promises are standard at election time, but the One Nation policies released so far miss several hot-button issues such as debt reduction and WA’s GST share and strangely ignore health, the biggest spending part of the Budget. There’s nothing yet on electricity prices, other than keeping Western Power in State hands — which doesn’t stop costs rising and won’t cut debt — but it wants to drive down gas prices by reserving more for domestic use.
On affordable housing, PHON says the key is to cut immigration levels and deter foreign buyers with a 20 per cent penalty tax. Labor wants a 4 per cent surcharge which it says would raise $21 million.
PHON wants no “racial/ethnic preferences” in public housing allocations and promises a minimum of 15 per cent of all government land and home developments would be targeted at low-to-moderate income households.
The party also blames immigration for Perth’s congested roads and services.
So to “ease congestion, lift productivity, generate economic growth and jobs and keep our assets in Australian hands”, it is proposing to start its own bank.
“A WA Infrastructure Finance Corporation would be financed with seed funding and direct public funding and operate on a commercial basis,” the party says, clearly forgetting Brian Burke’s similar experiment with the WA Development Corporation.
“It would help finance infrastructure projects in our State, at concessional interest rates, thus spreading the costs across the generations who would benefit from these projects.
“This method would allow WA to finance and construct major projects while earning a return for the taxpayer. It would allow the government to cut its Budget expenditure, freeing up funds either to pay down debt or to invest in education, health, families, policing and other areas.”
Most of these policies are highly contentious — and in some cases deeply flawed — deserving scrutiny against the likelihood that One Nation will have enough influence in the coming Parliament to exert substantial pressure on whoever forms government.
One Nation believes that communities and governments must take a strong stance if we are ever to maintain control or stop this epidemic.
Solutions for Ice Addicts
One Nation proposes a three strikes and you’re out . If an ice user is caught three times, they will be sent to a rehabilitation facility and kept there until their addiction is under control.
Addicts must cover the costs of their treatment, either by having assets seized, or if on welfare, payments will be forfeited to the state. No debt will be wiped or worn by the taxpayer, even if the user is on welfare payments after release. Monies will be taken from their account until paid in full. If users hold a job, it will be taken from their wages on the same basis as maintenance payments.
Solutions for Dealers
Extremely harsh penalties should apply to anyone selling ice.
Each gram of ice sold, should equate to a mandatory year in prison.
Their assets will be sold to offset the costs and will be recoverable, even after time spent in prison.
If foreign nationals are convicted of drug crimes, a treaty will be sought for jail time to be done in their own country. Too many foreign nationals commit crimes within Australia because the rewards are far greater, and prison sentences are no deterrent.
It’s widely known as ICE, yet it’s also referred to as Crystal Meth or Methamphetamine. No matter how it’s referred to, the drug is with certainty, followed by misery.
Statistics now show there are 270,000 regular ‘ice’ users in Australia and the numbers are growing rapidly. Wherever I go throughout the country, the main issue raised by people is ice. Nurses and doctors are having to deal with ice users in our already overrun and understaffed hospitals, while other patients are forced to wait. A nurse informed me she was aware of a man losing his life due to a heart attack while waiting for doctors attending an ice user. This is simply unacceptable!
Our police and ambulance officers face regular abuse or attacks from overdosed ice users. Some of you might say this is a State Government issue, however this drug in particular is having national consequences and it’s about time the Federal Government encouraged the states to take a unified approach in combatting ice.
Two young mothers at Tweed Heads (NSW) told me the drug is out of control and ice can be purchased in a matter of 5 minutes in their community. They are in genuine fear for their children and themselves. It appears no place in Australia is free from ice and the devastation that comes with its use. Small country towns in the outback are also under attack. These once peaceful communities are being destroyed by crime, abuse and fear associated with ice. The Vulnerable and youth are being targeted, leaving parents and loved ones not knowing what to do, or where to go.
I have no sympathy for drug users. I do however for their families, friends and communities who deal with the destruction they cause. The ice users are ‘bloody idiots’ to say the least. Everyone has a choice in life. Being depressed, out of a job or feeling sorry for yourself is no reason to take ice. There are many people who can claim these ailments that turn to drugs. People have to start taking responsibility for their actions.
I am fed up with the innocent and taxpayers having to pick up the pieces for thugs and idiots, or irresponsible and selfish non-contributors in our society. I cannot understand the reasons why someone who is a hardworking, family person, wants to take ice?
Communities and governments must take a strong stance if we are ever to maintain control or stop this epidemic. I propose three strikes and you’re out. If an ice user is caught three times, they will be sent to a rehabilitation facility and kept there until their addiction is under control. They must cover the costs, either by having assets seized, or if on welfare, payments will be forfeited to the state. No debt will be wiped or worn by the taxpayer, even if the user is on welfare payments after release. Monies will be taken from their account until paid in full. If users hold a job, it will be taken from their wages on the same basis as maintenance payments.
Extremely harsh penalties should apply to anyone selling ice. Each gram of ice sold, should equate to a mandatory year in prison. Their assets will be sold to offset the costs and will be recoverable, even after time spent in prison.
If foreign nationals are convicted of drug crimes, a treaty will be sought for jail time to be done in their own country. Too many foreign nationals commit crimes within Australia because the rewards are far greater, and prison sentences are no deterrent.
I am not interested in do-gooders supporting the ‘rights’ of these criminals. When greed and disregard overshadows the impact on human life and society as a whole, they should forfeit all freedoms.
JUDGES will pocket up to $500 a week extra in plump pay rises next year after blaming ice addicts for worsening workloads and job stress.
Federal Circuit Court judges have demanded a bonus two weeks’ holiday and a doubling of superannuation contributions and service leave.
The Remuneration Tribunal yesterday gave federal judges a 4.8 per cent bonus from January 1, swelling the salary of Australia’s first female High Court chief justice, Susan Kiefel, to $573,046 next year.
Other High Court judges will pocket an extra $23,818 — bumping their pay to $520,028.
Family Court Chief Justice Diana Bryant told the tribunal cases had “increased in complexity”. Picture: Hollie Adams
Family Court Chief Justice Diana Bryant told the tribunal cases had “increased in complexity’’ due to an increase in drug use — especially methamphetamine — as well as mental illness and allegations of sexual abuse and family violence.
She said some litigants posed a “real/significant threat’’ to judges.
And she warned the “extraordinary number of cases’’ involving family violence “has put the courts under considerable pressure’’.
“The parenting cases … require difficult fact-finding about contested issues including sexual abuse of children, family violence … mental health issues and substance abuse,’’ Chief Justice Bryant states in her submission, kept secret for a year and made public yesterday after a Freedom of Information request by The Daily Telegraph.
The Chief Judge of the FCC, John Pascoe, told the tribunal that Federal Circuit Court judges receive only four weeks’ holiday a year, compared to eight weeks for Family Court judges and 10 weeks for Federal Court or NSW District court judges.
He called for at least six weeks holidays — as well as six months long service leave after five years in the job.
“Annual leave of four weeks a year is inadequate given the demands of trial judge work,’’ his submission states.
“Failure to deal with these issues to date has had a deleterious effect on the health and wellbeing of judges of the court.’’
Cartoonist Warren’s perspective.
Chief Judge Pascoe said the Federal Circuit Court — which hears family law cases, refugee and migration claims, consumer lawsuits and counter-terrorism issues — was the “primary face of federal justice’’ and its judges should be paid 90 per cent of a Federal Court judge’s salary.
“The average Australian experiencing difficulties in family life, at work, or in their business will appear before this court,’’ he said.
Chief Justice Pascoe said Federal Circuit Court judges’ superannuation contributions should double from 15.4 per cent to 30 per cent of salary, because they were missing out on the usual judicial pension of 60 per cent of their salary after 10 years’ service.
But the tribunal rejected the claim, handing Federal Circuit Court judges a $17,046 pay rise instead of the $23,599 they asked for, and ignoring the holiday and superannuation demands. The Remuneration Tribunal ruled that a 4.8 per cent pay rise “recognises the increased complexities faced by judges … in an environment of continued economic and wages restraint’’.
Federal Circuit Court Chief Judge John Pascoe said superannuation contributions should double from 15.4 per cent to 30 per cent of salary. Picture: Renee Nowytarger
The judges’ pay rise is double the 2.4 per cent awarded to Australia’s poorest workers this year, and comes on top of a 2 per cent pay rise for federal judges in 2016. The federal Attorney- General’s Department fought the proposed increase, noting that Federal Circuit Court judges’ salaries had doubled between 2002 to $355,130 this year, while the average wage had risen 71 per cent to $80,415.
“Given the large number of judicial officers and the generous level of remuneration they receive, any percentage increase in judicial remuneration will affect the government’s budget position,’’ it told the tribunal.
The NSW government complained that any federal pay rises will trigger “me too’’ pay claims from judges in this state. NSW Statutory and Other Offices Remuneration Tribunal head Richard Grellman warned if NSW failed to match federal pay packets, it “may have an adverse impact on the ability of … NSW … to attract and retain the best available people to the NSW courts’’.
NSW judges are paid more than judges interstate, with the Chief Justice of the NSW Supreme Court earning $482,470 this year.
You, me and the smartphone: Electronic devices can be as devastating to relationships as any stashed-away lover.
Weekend Financial Review 20 August 2016
by Hara Estroff Marano”You’re with your other husband, again,” Marilyn Suttle’s only husband would say every time she turned to her mobile phone while the two were driving to dinner. She thought he was just being his witty self. Then his words began getting under her skin.
Suttle, who runs a Detroit-based professional training company specialising in customer service, always asks clients to look at their business through the eyes of the customer: “What’s the experience like, and what could make it better?” It was just after she had given the keynote talk at a leadership conference when it hit her: “Maybe this applies to me.”
“I thought we were having ‘together time’ in the car,” she recalls, “but my husband didn’t see it that way. He felt disconnected and left out.” And that’s not what she wanted, not for herself, not for her 32-year marriage.
Actually she wanted two things: “I wanted a loving, close connection between us. And, as the owner of a business that is always with me, I wanted to check out Facebook to get that instant charge of discovering what’s happening and what people are saying about the company.”
Suttle isn’t the first to discover that the two goals are increasingly in conflict. Couples everywhere are stumbling over what research is now documenting: technology, and especially networked mobile technology, while expanding our cultural and social worlds, is crushing our private one.
Despite the huge boost smartphones give couples in co-ordinating their everyday activities, they’re delivering a double hit to romantic life – on one side from the intrusion of the outside world and on the other from the new possibilities for the exclusion of a partner.
As one researcher puts it, quoting the French philosopher Paul Virilio, “When you invent the ship, you also invent the shipwreck.”
It also challenges couples to reclaim life’s lulls, the unstructured moments of reflection and openness to each other on which feelings of closeness are built and sustained – the ones most prone to digital intrusion.
“I’ve been in practice for 15 years,” says Chicago psychologist Nicole Martinez, “and technology has become a significant issue for couples only over the past five years.”
In one study of young married women, 70 per cent reported that face-to-face conversations were stopped in their tracks by a partner’s phone use or even active texting. “Technoference,” family researcher Brandon McDaniel calls it – “everyday intrusions or interruptions in couple interactions or time spent together that occur due to technology.”
McDaniel, a newly minted PhD in human development from Penn State, along with Sarah Coyne of Brigham Young University, found that the women who experienced technoference in their relationship also encountered more couple conflict over tech use and diminished relationship satisfaction. Such dissatisfaction affects young adults trying to form relationships as well as people of all ages in established relationships.
According to a 2014 Pew Research survey, 42 per cent of cellphone-owning 18- to 29-year-olds in serious relationships say their partner has been distracted by a mobile device while they were together, which is more than the 25 per cent of all couples reporting such problems. And 18 per cent of young adults argue over the amount of time spent online.
Mobile enemies of intimacy
It’s not just that we have only so much time and attention. Smartphones actually transform interpersonal processes. In a much-discussed 2014 study, Virginia Tech psychologist Shalini Misra and her team monitored the conversations of 100 couples in a coffee shop and identified “the iPhone Effect”: the mere presence of a smartphone, even if not in use – just as an object in the background – degrades private conversations, making partners less willing to disclose deep feelings and less understanding of each other, she and her colleagues reported in Environment and Behavior.
With people’s consciousness divided between what’s in front of them and the immense possibility symbolised by smartphones, face-to-face interactions lose the power to fulfil. Mobile phones are “undermining the character and depth” of the intimate exchanges we cherish most, says Misra. Partners are unable to engage each other in a meaningful way.
On or off, smartphones are also a barrier to establishing new relationships, observe Andrew Przybylski and Netta Weinstein of the University of Essex in England. When they assigned pairs of strangers to discuss either casual or meaningful events, the presence of a smartphone, even outside the visual field, derailed the formation of relationships – especially if the participants were asked to talk about something personally significant.
Smartphones “inhibited the development of interpersonal closeness and trust and reduced the extent to which individuals felt understanding and empathy from their partners”, the team reports in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. Subversion of the conditions of intimacy, they believe, happens outside of conscious awareness.
Misra argues that smartphones fragment human consciousness. The lower quality of conversation in the presence of smartphones and the diminished empathy come about through our habitual use of the devices. They come to embody distant relationships and networks – social nuclei, Misra calls them – and, acting as environmental cues, they make other relationships and interests more salient than those directly in front of us.
“In their presence, people have the constant urge to seek out information, check for communication, and direct their thoughts to other people and worlds,” she says. They divide consciousness between the immediate and the invisible. Feeling less connected to a face-to-face partner, we avoid self-disclosure.
In body but not in mind
The ability of a partner to be physically present but absorbed by “a world of elsewhere” was first described more than a decade ago, in 2002, by Swarthmore College psychologist Kenneth Gergen. He called it “absent presence“. That, however, was before smartphones multiplied the power of mobile phones to remove us from the local.
In the realm of relationships, smartphones turn conventional understanding of vulnerability on its head – for it is the best couples that seem to be hit the hardest. The closer partners start out, the more irked they become by the presence of devices, says Misra; they expect the attentiveness of their nearest and dearest.
If there is a soundtrack of the new plaint, it’s less the gentle prodding Marilyn Suttle got than “Put down that damn phone and talk to me”, which captures the pain and frustration of being ignored rather than engaged by a partner – at least in an established relationship, where time together is especially important and, usually, precious.
(Rarely would anyone dare to be so direct in the getting-to-know-you stages of dating, researchers find, without courting the label “needy” or “controlling”.) It’s the sound of expectations being violated.
No longer accessories, smartphones, by their very embeddedness in our lives, bring the expectation of constant availability to everyone in our social network. But we also generally expect a partner’s interest and involvement when we’re together. And so smartphones, ipso facto, set us up for a clash of expectations and outright conflict, especially during intimate moments. It’s less clear what expectations for accessibility are when partners are just hanging out together – riding in the car, relaxing in the living room.
Nevertheless, as relationship researcher John Gottman has documented, the unstructured moments that partners spend in each other’s company, occasionally offering observations that invite conversation or laughter or some other response, hold the most potential for building closeness and a sense of connection. Each of those deceptively minor interludes is an opportunity for couples to replenish a reservoir of positive feelings that dispose them kindly to each other when they hit problems.
“Clinically we hear a lot of partners complain, ‘I feel neglected. You’re always checking your email, or surfing the web, or checking the news, even during dinner,'” says Gottman.
Attention takes effort, and software capitalises on distractibility. “The real danger is that people are checking their devices so often they’re not noticing a partner’s bids for connection.”
Saboteurs of love
Missing bids for connection is not the only effect of absent presence. In a study of technology use in classrooms, Jesper Aagaard, a PhD candidate at Aarhus University in Denmark, observed men and women ages 16 to 20 and then interviewed 25 of them in depth about non-classroom tech use. Technoference misaligns partners emotionally, he reports in AI & Society.
Their communication is marked by delayed responses, mechanical intonation and lack of eye contact; all result in an unintentional misattunement. Gone are the rhythms of responsiveness and synchronicity of feelings that flow between partners, hallmarks of satisfying relationships. What comes across is indifference, says Aagaard.
In the face of perceived apathy, partners keep restricting their responses, setting in motion a downward spiral of interaction.
Love may lurk in the lulls, in the interstices of everyday life, but those are now the times we are most likely to turn not towards a partner but to our devices. No one such moment may be grand enough to finger as a culprit, but collectively “the microflights from intimacy land couples on an icy couch”, observes New York psychotherapist Ken Page. They are stealth saboteurs of intimacy.
Andrew Blazer* is a physician on the internal medicine faculty at a major medical centre and a digital health innovator. He plumbs big data to discover and develop better ways for doctors to practise medicine and for patients to safeguard their health. In other words, he’s tech-friendly. But he is wistful about the subtle moments of connection that technology tends to obliterate.
“The way my wife winds down before bed is to look at Facebook,” he says. “For me that’s such an important time for talking and sharing the moments of the day, and for intimacy, physical and otherwise. She says, ‘Just ask me and I’ll put it away’, but that doesn’t feel very satisfying.”
It carries little receptivity to the kinds of probing conversations they used to have when they were getting to know one another, the kind of talk that comes unbidden, bubbling up from the depths through comfortable, warm silence – too fragile to rise to the level of significance demanded by a declarative “Let’s talk”.
“Technology is like a third party in the relationship,” says Blazer. His only consolation is the suspicion that couples everywhere are wrangling with the same problem.
We have to talk about porn
There’s another problem that’s increasingly troubling in relationships, that of porn use: videos and images often delivered to a portable device and viewed by one partner in secret from the other.
Complaints about porn use constitute the number-one problem walking in the door of many, if not most, couple and sex therapists today – a direct measure of the power that privacy afforded by handheld devices has to disrupt intimate relationships. In 2015, more than half of porn users polled regularly accessed it via their phones, and the number of porn videos viewed worldwide was estimated at 88 billion – 10 billion more than the previous year, according to research conducted by Pornhub.
About 90 per cent of young men report using pornography with some regularity – as do 34 per cent of young women. But if there is a stereotypical situation, it’s this: a woman finds her boyfriend or husband accessing erotic images or videos on the internet. The images bear little resemblance to what she looks like or to what she and her husband do in bed, explains Michigan psychologist Joe Kort.
She feels hurt and betrayed, almost as if she had found him in bed with another woman. She is ashamed of his interests, afraid of what they imply about her, and, given the distorting lens of sexual secrecy, concludes that his desires are proof of perversity.
“I think he’s a sex addict,” she says. “Fix him.” Ashamed of his secret use, he often agrees.
It’s difficult to overstate the impact: discovering porn on a partner’s computer can be an unnerving way to learn about a spouse’s sexual fantasies. But it’s often the only way. Couples almost never discuss their sexual desires. And both sexual appetites and sexual interests tend to be highly divergent between heterosexual partners.
For a number of reasons, a man may not be able or willing to talk to his wife about his sexual needs, says David Ley, a clinical psychologist in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The tragedy is that a woman may not even know she’s not meeting her partner’s needs, because he’s not telling her what they are.
Symptom of sexual silence
Compounding a woman’s distress in discovering a partner’s secret porn use are the conclusions she is likely to draw about herself. Data on the universality of porn viewing by males across the globe suggest that its use is entirely impersonal, but a woman is apt to experience it as a personal reflection on her.
“I’ll never look like that.” “Why am I not enough?” Or “Why is he masturbating instead of having sex with me?”
A woman’s self-esteem and feelings about her body are often potent indices of her reactivity to porn, experts report.
“Porn is never really the issue,” says clinical sexologist Claudia Six of San Rafael, California. It’s usually erotic differences between the partners. Most often, couples are clueless about their sexual selves. “They think there is one certain way to be sexual. With sexuality there is more variation than people give themselves permission for.”
The secret use of porn is a symptom of the great sexual silence in many heterosexual relationships.
If viewing erotica is ubiquitous among males, why do so many men and women regard internet porn use as pathological? Being labelled “porn addict” by a partner, or even by oneself, has nothing to do with the amount of porn a man views, says Joshua Grubbs, assistant professor of psychology at Bowling Green University. He says, “It’s shame-motivated.”
In the face of guilt over pornography use, transgression becomes addiction, the team reports in the Archives of Sexual Behavior.
Grubbs calls it “perceived pornography addiction”. “It functions very differently from other addictions. If it were an actual addiction, one would expect to see some correlation between perceived self-control and porn use.”
Wired for Intimacy
Dr Bill Struthers – describes how pornography hijacks the male brain, using the latest brain science studies to show what takes place in the brain during sexual activity, whether licit or illicit. Video link here
But among those who designated themselves porn-addicted, actual rates of use were all over the map – from one or two views in six months to daily watching. “Perceived porn addiction is independent of actually being dysregulated,” says Grubbs.
Whether imposed by a partner or oneself, the label of porn addict reflects an impoverished understanding of human sexuality, says David Ley. People who believe themselves to be porn addicts need help understanding what their use of porn means.
“They need help unpacking the conflicts between their own sexual desires and the moral/religious society around them,” he adds. Men as well as women need to be educated about their own sexuality and explore why they respond to particular visual images.
Pornography is a scapegoat for all the conversations couples aren’t having, and it’s an easy target, says Ogi Ogas, a computational neuroscientist and co-author of A Billion Wicked Thoughts, a groundbreaking study of sexual interests revealed through internet usage.
Labelling porn use as pathological all comes down to one thing, Ogas insists: men and women have very different sexual tastes, sexual preferences, sexual interests, sexual fantasies. They are aroused by different things, prefer different kinds of sexual stimulation.
“But we each look at our partner and want his or her behaviour to be more like our own. When it is not, we get upset, and that leads to accusations of ‘porn problems’. We are not properly educated about the nature of sexual taste and sexual preference.”
The male brain is particularly responsive to and stimulated by visual imagery, first and foremost by pictures of anatomy that cut directly to the sex act. Women prefer dialogue and seduction – everything leading up to the sex act.
Dominance and submission: it’s mammalian
Men and women do share one big sexual calling, reports Ogas, now a visiting scholar at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education – an interest in dominance, submission and power themes.
“In fact,” he says, “it is the only universal sex interest shared not only by men and women but by gay and straight, young and old. Everyone is turned on by one person being dominant, the other submissive.”
It’s also the primary theme of “romantopia” – the hundreds of thousands of romance novels that constitute women’s erotica, which our culture deems healthier than male erotica, or “pornutopia”.
All mammals have very specific parts of the brain devoted to the physical postures of dominance and submission during sex, and along with the physical patterns come psychological responses. We may live less in hormonal thrall than rats and rabbits, but we’re all likely to tap into a preference for dominance or submission.
A third of straight men and two-thirds of gay men prefer to be sexually submissive, while a small minority of straight women prefer to be dominant.
Porn is not about a relationship. “It’s not about his wife or his partner,” says Kort. “It’s about the freedom to be self-centred. Porn never says ‘no’, carries no opportunity for rejection. And no negotiation is needed.”
Men choose to watch porn because it is easy and quick – and they can escape the burden of pleasing a partner.”It’s a way for a man to relax,” adds Ley. “That is one of the main reasons a man can get an erection more easily with porn than with a partner. He doesn’t have to focus on her needs. You have to relax in order to get an erection.”
An end to secrecy
Joe Kort invites couples to talk openly about the differences between their erotic identities. Once partners take the mystery out of their sexual interests, they open the door to understanding and compassion for each other.
Either scenario calls for a willingness of both partners to be open about their sexual fantasies and drop the secrecy that now drives so many to their own devices.
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
No matter if you’re an established couple or not, it’s wise to consider whether you and your partner have the same view of what is, and isn’t, fair game for posting about your life together.
Technology changes the boundaries of couple life in new ways, says Katherine Hertlein, associate professor of psychology at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and co-author of The Couple and Family Technology Framework. But most couples don’t realise it until one person feels there is a transgression – say, the other adds an old flame as a Facebook friend.
She urges couples to have an explicit conversation about how to manage tech use. The ideal time to do it is when two people become serious about their relationship. Since technology is always changing, however, it’s necessary for all couples. Here are discussion points: What are your expectations about tech use by your partner and by you? Exactly what kind of contact does each partner regard as cheating? What is appropriate to disclose about the relationship; about your spouse? Do you exchange passwords or not? Do you tell your partner whom you are texting? When is it OK to be anonymous online? What, if any, places in the home are off-limits to electronic devices?What are rules for use in the car? When is it OK to post photos of your children? How much checking on each other is OK?
When you need support, Hertlein advises, it’s best to text. But if you’re having a fight or otherwise trying to solve a problem, better to do it via email. (Or even face to face by voice.) Technology facilitates frequent but brief communication – not enough to get at core issues. Set aside time at the end of the day for old-fashioned face-to-face talking.
Dylan Voller had more than 50 criminal offences to his name when he sat in a dock two years ago and was told by a judge “your counsel informed the court you spit at people when you get upset with them’’.
The image of the 18-year-old confined in a “spit hood” and tied to a prison chair has gained world attention this week but it was the end point of anger management issues which first surfaced when Voller was a child.
His bad behaviour emerged during a childhood marred, according to the Northern Territory Department of Children and Families, by intergenerational abuse combined with “family transience, neglect, family violence, physical abuse, parental mental health issues and parental substance abuse’’.
Sister Kirra Voller yesterday said her brother’s behaviour had been reasonably well controlled when he was a student at a Lutheran school in Adelaide but the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder sufferer deteriorated after the family moved to Alice Springs when he was eight.
Government workers provided respite care but Dylan was lavished with weekends spent in hotels, at bowling alleys and at movie theatres. Her brother was being rewarded for his bad behaviour, Ms Voller says.
“He was never a dumb kid, he knew the carers didn’t care and knew they’d give him all this free stuff for being naughty,” she says.
His relationship with his mother deteriorated and Voller was placed under the guardianship of the state when he was 11, but Ms Voller says he would escape curfew in residential care houses, do the wrong thing with friends and then go back to his mother, where police would look for him.
“Mum’s broken because everyone has said she failed and all she’s done is try,’’ Ms Voller says.
Her brother was offered counselling each time he came out, but she said he dealt with his problems, including his early years of abuse, by going out and trying to get his hands on alcohol and later drugs.
His criminal career began at 11. By 16 he had graduated to terrifying attacks, the worst of which was attempting to run down a policeman in Alice Springs who feared he would be “killed or paralysed for life” and who suffered “unpleasant intrusive thoughts and even violent dreams”.
When police arrested Voller, who was high on methamphetamines at the time of the offence on February 8, 2014, he abused them.
The officer has since moved to Darwin. Some of Voller’s victims have considered leaving Alice Springs out of fear of him and other violent teenagers roaming the streets late at night. Earlier on the night the officer was targeted, Voller was in a car with two others when they picked a random victim walking along Todd St.
“You took off your shirt and ran with your co-offenders towards the victim,” Justice Peter Barr told Voller at his sentencing hearing two years ago.
“When you got to the victim, you confronted the victim and yelled out at him, and I quote, ‘You fat, white racist dog, you fat prick, you yelled out at us.’ The victim replied, ‘I didn’t say anything’.
“You and your co-offenders then surrounded the victim on the footpath near Rocky’s Pizza and backed him into the building, The victim feared for his wellbeing.
“You then called out to the victim, ‘I’m going to smash you, you f. king dog! The victim replied, ‘What for? I haven’t done anything to you. I’m just wanting to walk’.’’
Voller then demanded his wallet while his co-accused punched the victim and while he lay in pain on the footpath Voller and the others kicked him in the ribs.
Ms Voller says her brother has lived a tough life and struggled to overcome horrific abuse suffered in the first two years of his life and the family battled to find people who could adequately deal with his ADHD or try and help him improve his behaviour.
“He has always had behaviour issues, (which) probably started when people didn’t know how to deal with his ADHD,” Ms Voller says.
He often failed to attend school, when at school he had “a history of inappropriate, aggressive and disruptive behaviour”, according to court documents.
He would refuse to take his ADHD medication and his mother, Joanne, would sometimes crush up the tablets and put them in his drink before calling the school to tell them he was OK to attend that day, only for Voller to get upset with her and accuse her of tricking him. Joanne Voller was regularly called to pick him up and take him home.
Voller was the subject of a care and protection order, issued by a magistrate, from November 2009 until 2013.
He needed a father figure, his sister says, someone who could give him guidance other than the revolving door of paid carers who could not prevent him from leaving residential care at night.
Many shop owners and residents in Alice Springs all said Voller was no angel, and he had been known on the streets as aggressive and verbally abusive.
Well-known Alice Springs councillor Steve Brown says youths should not be locked up, but they should be held accountable for their crimes. “I’m appalled by (the assaults) but I also understand that some of these kids are vile and they’re in there for a very good reason,” Mr Brownsays.
“You can’t have these centres destroying people’s lives either, they should be put in a facility like a Bush Mob, where they given direction.”
When not in juvenile detention — where his court records show he spent at least three periods of up to nine months between 2011 and 2014 — Kirra Voller said her brother was regularly on the streets roaming in small gangs, often with youths he befriended while inside.
A youth advocacy group asked to provide a report to the Supreme Court two years ago said Voller was “not capable of monitoring” his own behaviour which had, at times, “spiralled out of control while in detention’’.
The report referred to anger management problems and a “propensity to spitting.”
Before finally sending him to detention, where his case would become one of the drivers for the royal commission called this week, Justice Barr told Voller his type of criminal offending had made Alice Springs residents fearful.
“That kind of crime is disturbing. It unsettles the community,’’ Justice Barr said. “It makes the residents of Alice Springs afraid to leave their homes at night. They do not feel free to enjoy the amenities of their town. Community morale and community spirit are at risk. The affected residents are left wondering if they should look elsewhere for a safer place to live.”
Original article here
Northern Territory government counter-suing Don Dale youths
The Northern Territory government says two boys from Darwin’s Don Dale juvenile detention centre caused $89,000 damage in an escape attempt.
12:50PM July 29, 2016
The Northern Territory government is counter-suing two boys who appeared in footage shown on an ABC program about abuse at Darwin’s Don Dale juvenile detention centre.
The ABC says the CLP government is suing two former inmates for $160,000 worth of damage after they escaped from juvenile detention in June last year, allegedly stole a car and then rammed it back through the front roller door of the centre.
The pair were part of the group of six boys being held in the behaviour management unit at the Don Dale facility who were tear-gassed when another boy managed to get out of his cell. The footage was shown on the Four Corners program on Monday night.
Darwin lawyer Peter O’Brien earlier this week announced he would sue the NT government on behalf of Dylan Voller, now 18, and a 16-year-old boy.
Guards were show stripping, tear gassing, hog-tying and assaulting Mr Voller.
The other boy was also tear gassed.
However, the ABC says the boys in this case, whose names have been suppressed by the NT Supreme Court, filed papers in June seeking damages for alleged mistreatment by Don Dale staff.
In its response, filed on July 4, the government is seeking damages with interest and legal costs following the boys’ May 31, 2015 escape attempt.
The government says the pair caused $89,000 in damage during their escape, and caused another $74,025.60 in damage when they rammed the prison roller door upon their return two days later. AAP
This morning as I was getting ready for work, I took my phone into the bathroom to play music as I showered. I put the phone on shuffle and the first song up was Justin Timberlake’s Spaceship Coupe off of his latest, 20/20 Experience. I’ve been playing the 20/20 Experience a lot. I don’t think there’s a track on there that I don’t like. My favorite songs are Pusher Love Girl and Mirrors. His album is a breath of fresh air as far as R&B is concerned. Singers like Usher and Chris Brown seem to be moving more towards R&B/techno mashups.
No sooner did Spaceship Coupe finish playing, the next song started, which was I Luve Dem Strippers by 2Chainz ft Nikki Minaj. To say there was a glaring difference in the two songs would be an understatement. Not to say that I don’t enjoy ratchet songs because it was in fact on my phone but I started to think, “Why don’t rappers rap more about love?”
In my opinion (and I’m assuming the opinion of many others), it seems that the topic that rappers rap most about are sleeping with lots of women and not caring about them, how much money they make and freely dispense, and their propensity towards violence. What rappers are selling are fantasies. Rappers like T.I., 2Chainz, Jeezy and Pusha T are all above 30 years of age. I’m pretty sure they have either wives or long time girlfriends (I’ve considered the possibility that they may or may not cheat with reckless abandon). Rappers also don’t stay rich by spending their money thoughtlessly. Those bottles they’re popping in the club? I guarantee the owner provided them free of charge for making an appearance to draw customers to their establishment. Most likely they have an accountant and/or a financial advisor.
When I asked my timeline why the majority of rappers discussed the subject matter that they did, I was told that it was because talking about committing to one woman and financial responsibility isn’t cool. I thought that most rappers took pride in being trendsetters and setting themselves apart from the crowd. Rapping about jewelry and liquor accomplishes neither. You want to really win my respect? Rap about something more powerful and uplifting and don’t fall for the trap of discussing subject matter that do nothing but sell false dreams and false bravado.
So why don’t rappers talk about love? Hypermasculinity and need for approval from other men. Have you ever heard that women don’t get dressed up when they go out to attract men, but to compete with other women? This is the same theory when it comes to rappers. Rappers do their best to one up each other to prove who can be the most virile and macho. The longing for acceptance by other males makes the act of loving a woman not acceptable. It’s seen as a weak emotion that only weak people fall victim to. Love isn’t for the weak. Love is for the strong. It’s not an easy emotion to deal with.
What about what hip-hop consumers want want? Arguments could be made that rappers are just giving listeners what they want. Outside of rap music, our society has a fascination with violence, easy money and sex so I can’t realistically put this all on hip-hop but that is a different conversation for a different day.
Have you noticed that monotony that is rap music? Why do you think rappers don’t rap about more diverse topics?
Michelangelo and Picasso, so often celebrated for their contributions to art history, now have something else in common. Kanye West likened himself to both artists in a circuitous two-hour interview that saw the Chicago rapper and fashion designer speak candidly about social class, race, misogyny in rap and the pressures of fame.
“All of my aspirations are things that currently only 60-year-old white people do,” West said, in the video interview live-streamed by fashion site Showstudio. When asked why he referred to himself as a creative genius and visionary, West said: “Because otherwise I’m called celebrity. I’m called nigger. I’m called rapper. And when they use the word celebrity, nigger or rapper, it’s not in a positive way. So I have to define who I am.”
During a conversation with journalist Lou Stoppard that veered from personal anecdotes about struggling to break into fashion – “me sitting here, trying my hardest, and everyone laughing at me” – to family memories, West outlined his positive vision of a society that overcame class hierarchy.
“I want everyone to win. I don’t even want to be in competition with everyone,” he said. “I just want people to be the best thems and live the happiest lives possible. If you keep information and opportunity away from a certain group of people, then it’s destiny that they’ll stay part of a lower class.” West’s comments on class echoed views he’d shared during an interview in March, when he’d talked about class holding people back from success more than race.
West’s optimistic outlook didn’t keep him from frankly addressing questions about racial politics in America. He spoke about the legacy of slavery contributing to African American people’s reluctance to speak with confidence and carve out their own space in public life. “Blacks, especially in America, have been raised with a slave mentality – they don’t feel that they have the right to speak as loud as possible,” he said. “And every time you hear a black person speaking as loud as possible, somebody’s going to say: ‘Look at those niggers over there’.”
Over the course of the inteview, Stoppard asked West questions submitted by his friends, peers and fans. Most focused on race, fame and when West’s forthcoming album would be released – still unconfirmed, for those wanting to know. “You want to deliver genius, you want to prove people wrong and prove people right that are fighting for you,” West said, before likening the pressure of expectation around the album to being pulled apart by horses in all directions.
Lighter moments arrived elsewhere. London mayor Boris Johnson asked what West would do to make London better – “widen the streets” – while West’s wife Kim Kardashian West asked what he would choose for his last meal. He opted, diplomatically, for some of her home-cooked fried chicken. But a fan-submitted question about the portrayal of black women in rap lyrics saw West offer one of his more hesitant and convoluted responses. “I definitely think generally rap is misogynistic,” he said, after a pause. “Not that that’s justifying the culture.”
West spoke about rap music responding to trends, and communicating the current zeitgeist at the time that its lyrics are written. “There was a time when we had Afrocentric rap, and everybody was more like how Common is – ‘my queen’ and all that,” he said. He described misogynistic lyrics as an outlet for men who’ve found themselves belittled, turning towards the women in their lives and lashing out at them in order to feel validated.
“So let’s take that to the idea of a black male in America, not getting a job, or getting f*ed with at his job, or getting f*ed with by the cops or being looked down upon by this lady at Starbucks. And he goes home to his girl … and this guy is like … you just scream at the person that’s the closest to you.” West linked the use of misogynistic and violent language in rap to a “lack of opportunities” before switching tack and discussing hatred and racism.
Between sharing his pride about his wife’s former stepfather Caitlyn Jenner’s gender transition and labelling himself a humanist rather than feminist, West maintained that he understands his privilege as a celebrity. “Do I worry about being in the public eye and raising kids? Yeah. Any situation you’re in you’re gonna worry about raising kids. But it’s champagne problems, too. There are people who can’t feed their kids. I’m not gonna sit here and complain about these issues.”
London riots: Is rap music to blame for encouraging this culture of violence?
UPDATED 24 FEB 2012
BY PAUL ROUTLEDGE
A teenager standing near a burning car in Hackney
WATCHING London’s Self-Blitz on live television was a horrifying experience. I’ve lived in these riot-hit places and know them well.
The mayhem erupted overnight, but it has been building for years. And putting more police on the streets – while vital to end the threat to life and property – will not solve the crisis.
I blame the pernicious culture of hatred around rap music, which glorifies violence and loathing of authority (especially the police but including parents), exalts trashy materialism and raves about drugs.
The important things in life are the latest smart phone, fashionable trainers and jeans and idiot computer games. No wonder stores selling them were priority looting targets.
Stir into this lethal mixture the fostering of irrational anger against the world and disrespect for others and the end result is self-absorbed young people living at boiling point.
Tension is always there. You see it in their eyes, hear it in their voices and it can break out over the most trivial issues. I’ve been on the receiving end, threatened on a Number 12 bus to Peckham for no apparent reason.
In the short run, the civil authorities have to restore order on the streets, using whatever means are available. Society cannot function if marauding gangs of young men are free to terrorise neighbourhoods.
I don’t care how “angry” these kids are. It’s simply not on for ordinary people to be cowering in their homes, too scared to go to work or out to the shops. Or, even worse, petrified of the petrol bomb that could take their lives.
For the medium term, Cameron’s government must rethink their security, employment and education policies. And fast. It is too glib to blame all this violence on ConDem policies, but they have undoubtedly contributed to it.
Cutting police numbers by 2,000 in the capital is unwise. Ending education maintenance allowances that prepare thousands of young people for work was a mistake. And half-hearted measures to bring down the appalling toll of youth unemployment are not enough.
But in the end only a change of culture, and the way these kids see the world about them, will work. I would ban the broadcasting of poisonous rap, and urge – require, even – schools to teach that the world is a much better place without pointless rage.
“I ain’t gonna change nothing I do, cause I aint doin’ nothing wrong,” rap legend Ice Cube said when asked whether he would cut “F*k Tha Police” from his future sets in light of the recent Dallas shootings.
The protest song, originally released on N.W.A.’s Straight Outta Compton in 1988, echoes the anger and frustration expressed by supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement, but its perceived call to violence has many critics clamoring to censor the song for fear that it will incite listeners to act out in kind. Conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly said it was “very disturbing” that the song was still being distributed, and Bernard McGuirk called Ice Cube’s refusal to stop performing the song “beyond disgusting.”
But James M. Jasper, Ph.D., a CUNY sociologist specializing in the emotions of protest, stands by Ice Cube’s refusal to self-censor. “Anger is a totally appropriate emotion for protesters,” he tells Inverse. “You want people to go out in the streets and shout. You want people to go out protesting.”
Music has played such a large part in protests throughout history because it creates a sense of solidarity by inciting strong emotion. “It makes you feel like you’re part of a bigger whole, or larger cause,” Jasper says. The emotional bond shared by people exposed to the same song — whether on the streets or online — can spur collective activities — dancing, marching, and chanting — all of which create a feeling of cohesion. In the Black Lives Matter movement, which has fought to gain recognition on the national level, this sort of mobilization is crucial. And using anger to fuel it is “totally appropriate,” Jasper says.
“You go to a protest to feel angry. You’re already angry. In some way you go to a protest to know you’re going to feel even angrier,” he explains. “F*k Tha Police” is not a trigger; it’s an echo chamber. But what’s most crucial to realize is that it’s not, in itself, a call to violence.
What critics fail to understand is that the strong emotions aroused during a social movement or protest don’t necessarily translate into shootings, Jasper says. While MC Ren’s line on the original N.W.A. track — “I’m a sniper with a hell of a scope/Taking out a cop or two, they can’t cope with me” — is pointedly aggressive and especially uncomfortable to hear in light of recent events, it remains a vehicle for anger, not violence. “Music is neither necessary or sufficient for violence,” he says.
He does concede that music can make it easier for people with violent intent to actually act, explaining that putting on loud music could get the adrenaline flowing and make it easier to actually do something. But there is no evidence to says that violent music directly begets violence in a social movement. “It’s a powerful song,” he says. “But 99.999 percent of people who listen to it will not get a gun and start shooting at cops.”
It’s funny that the people who have their foot on our neck are telling us, ‘Get up. What’s wrong with you?’
One thing to keep in mind, he points out, is that the lyrics of a song are much less important than its musical elements — its beat, tempo, and melody — and shouldn’t be given too much weight. Even a song like “F*k Tha Police”, in which Ice Cube declares there’ll be a “bloodbath of cops/Dying in L.A.”? “I wouldn’t worry about the lyrics so much as people do, especially for outsiders,” he says. “All they learn, all they see are the lyrics. They don’t experience the music. They aren’t there feeling the feelings of the music.”
That’s the point that Ice Cube’s critics are so blatantly missing. Yes, “F*k Tha Police” is a shocking title for a song. Yes, its lyrics depict and defend alarming acts of violence. But focusing on what the song says is less important than asking why people want to listen to it. And perhaps understanding why is impossible to grasp unless you know how it feels to be compelled to do so. N.W.A.’s classic anthem is a song of protest, indignation, and outrage, feelings that are entirely appropriate given the frustration experienced by supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement — and feelings that are largely, consistently misunderstood by those watching from the outside.
During a recent march commemorating the brutal shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile one sweltering evening in New York city, protestors marched on Times Square, tirelessly chanting “Hands up, don’t shoot,” and “Whose streets? Our streets.” But the crowd’s tone changed sharply as police forces started lining the sidewalks. Cries of “F*k the police” began to surface above the din, echoing in waves throughout the crowd. Were people violent? Not at all. Were people angry? Of course they were. But they had every right to be. [not]
Rap Music, Brainwashed Youth, and the Power of Hip Hop Culture
As a Hip Hop purist, I’ve always hated the fact that most commercial rap music promotes negative images and messages.
Having used Hip Hop culture as a medium to empower youth for the last 15 years, I’ve seen first hand how mainstream rap impacts young impressionable minds. It is disturbing. Having also worked with incarcerated youth, I’ve seen how rap that glorifies irresponsible and criminal behavior has become the soundtrack to their daily lives.
The music industry’s role in promoting negative music has been a hot topic for many years. I’ve personally written about it extensively. What is too often under reported is how young people, including incarcerated youth, are directly impacted by the music. Although the overall effect is easy to imagine, specific details are extremely revealing. Here are some of my personal observations gathered from years of work with teens in traditional schools and juvenile detention centers.
When asked to explain what Hip Hop consists of, the majority of kids list violence and gangs as being elements of Hip Hop.
When asked to list what their favorite artists rap about, the overwhelming majority list guns, sex, violence, cars, thugs, jewelry, and money as popular topics.
When asked to name rappers with positive lyrics, most kids name Drake, Tupac, and Kendrick Lamar (within the last year) but seem unaware of any others.
When asked to name female rappers, the overwhelming majority can only think of Nicki Minaj.
When asked if rap music influences them, the majority say yes.
When asked if they know anyone who tries to emulate what rappers do, 99% say they know one or more people who do.
The majority of girls say that most boys seem to learn how to treat girls from their favorite rappers.
The majority of boys say that rap music has taught them that girls cannot be trusted.
Over half of kids use slang they picked up from the newest songs in their everyday conversations.
99% of kids get all of their music for free. Most have never even owned a CD.
The majority of kids only know commercial rappers and aren’t very familiar with the underground scene.
Most kids don’t realize that they can use the internet to discover new artists and end up only acknowledging rappers who top the charts.
Half of all youth state that they’ve never heard rappers use big words.
The overwhelming majority of incarcerated youth say they listen to “gangsta shit” to pump them up to get high or commit a crime.
Over half of incarcerated youth refer to rappers who glorify negativity (ex: Chief Keef, Gucci Mane, Lil’ Boosie, 2 Chainz, etc) as “real shit” while rappers whose content is more progressive are labeled “weak” or “corny”.
Over half of incarcerated youth dream of becoming rap stars when they get out of jail.
During rap writing sessions, most kids write about the same topics commercial artists rap about. 99% of incarcerated youth have an extremely difficult time writing about anything else besides the streets.
Half of incarcerated youth say that slow and bass heavy instrumentals (trap music) inspire them to do negative things. They say “something” in the beat has an effect on them.
The previous data is usually gathered within the first few days of working with youth. After I’ve had enough time to teach kids about Hip Hop culture, the music industry, and the “Commercial Rap to Prison Pipeline”, I expose them to pioneers and iconic Hip Hop artists as well as new underground and independent rappers, of whom most of them have never heard before. Some of these artists include:
The overwhelming majority of kids say that the artists I’ve introduced them to sound better than commercial rappers.
Most kids wonder why radio doesn’t play these artists in heavy rotation.
Most say that they didn’t know rappers could speak intelligently and still sound good.
About half of the kids state that mainstream rappers sound stupid in comparison to these newly discovered artists.
Many of the kids who are aspiring rappers ask me what they can do to become better lyricist.
The majority of them are mad at the mainstream music industry once they’re exposed to alternatives and conclude that the industry is intentionally promoting music to “brainwash” them.
These findings are both disturbing and hopeful. As I’ve stated in previous articles, mainstream rap music can’t be blamed for all of today’s social ills as unemployment, poverty, gangs, drugs, failing school system, and institutionalized racism are the real culprits.
However, mainstream rap’s impact on youth cannot be ignored and has undoubtedly contributed to an already troubled society. Still, when seeking solutions and innovative ways to effectively reach our youth, it’s good to know that Hip Hop culture, in the right hands, can have the kind of impact on young people that may help to save their lives.
Envy demands that there is always a winner and a loser
July 09, 2014 Tim Challies challies.com
I have written about envy before and have referred to it as “the lost sin.”
Envy is a sin I am prone to, though I feel like it is one of those sins I have battled hard against and, as I’ve battled, experienced a lot of God’s grace.
It is not nearly as prevalent in my life as it once was.
Recently, though, I felt it threatening to rear its ugly head again and spent a bit of time reflecting on it.
Here are three brief observations about envy.
ENVY IS COMPETITIVE
I am a competitive person and I believe it is this competitive streak that allows envy to make its presence felt in my life. Envy is a sin that makes me feel resentment or anger or sadness because another person has something or another person is something that I want for myself. Envy makes me aware that another person has some advantage, some good thing, that I want for myself. And there’s more: Envy makes me want that other person not to have it. This means that there are at least three evil components to envy: the deep discontent that comes when I see that another person has what I want; the desire to have it for myself; and the desire for it to be taken from him.
Do you see it? Envy always competes. Envy demands that there is always a winner and a loser. And envy almost always suggests that I, the envious person, am the loser.
ENVY ALWAYS WINS
Envy always wins, and if envy wins, I lose. Here’s the thing about envy: If I get that thing I want, I lose, because it will only generate pride and idolatry within me. I will win that competition I have created, and become proud of myself. Envy promises that if I only get that thing I want, I will finally be satisfied, I will finally be content. But that is a lie. If I get that thing, I will only grow proud. I lose.
On the other hand, if I do not get what I want, if I lose that competition, I am prone to sink into depression or despair. Envy promises that if I do not get that thing I want, my life is not worth living because I am a failure. Again, I lose.
In both cases, I lose and envy wins. Envy always wins, unless I put that sin to death.
Envy divides people who ought to be allies. Envy drives people apart who ought to be able to work closely together. Envy is clever in that it will cause me to compare myself to people who are a lot like me, not people who are unlike me. I am unlikely to envy the sports superstar or the famous musician because the distance between them and me is too great. Instead, I am likely to envy the pastor who is right down the street from me but who has a bigger congregation or nicer building; I am likely to envy the writer whose books or blog are more popular than mine. Where I should be able to work with these people based on similar interests and similar desires, envy will instead drive me away from them. Envy will make them my competitors and my enemies rather than my allies and co-laborers.
What’s the cure for envy? I can’t say it better than Charles Spurgeon: “The cure for envy lies in living under a constant sense of the divine presence, worshiping God and communing with Him all the day long, however long the day may seem. True religion lifts the soul into a higher region, where the judgment becomes more clear and the desires are more elevated. The more of heaven there is in our lives, the less of earth we shall covet. The fear of God casts out envy of men.”
BACK in 1993, the misanthropic art critic Robert Hughes published a grumpy, entertaining book called “Culture of Complaint,” in which he predicted that America was doomed to become increasingly an “infantilized culture” of victimhood. It was a rant against what he saw as a grievance industry appearing all across the political spectrum.
I enjoyed the book, but as a lifelong optimist about America, was unpersuaded by Mr. Hughes’s argument. I dismissed it as just another apocalyptic prediction about our culture.
Unfortunately, the intervening two decades have made Mr. Hughes look prophetic and me look naïve.
“Victimhood culture” has now been identified as a widening phenomenon by mainstream sociologists. And it is impossible to miss the obvious examples all around us. We can laugh off some of them, for example, the argument that the design of a Starbucks cup is evidence of a secularist war on Christmas. Others, however, are more ominous.
On campuses, activists interpret ordinary interactions as “microaggressions” and set up “safe spaces” to protect students from certain forms of speech. And presidential candidates on both the left and the right routinely motivate supporters by declaring that they are under attack by immigrants or wealthy people.
So who cares if we are becoming a culture of victimhood? We all should.
To begin with, victimhood makes it more and more difficult for us to resolve political and social conflicts. The culture feeds a mentality that crowds out a necessary give and take — the very concept of good-faith disagreement — turning every policy difference into a pitched battle between good (us) and evil (them).
Consider a 2014 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which examined why opposing groups, including Democrats and Republicans, found compromise so difficult. The researchers concluded that there was a widespread political “motive attribution asymmetry,” in which both sides attributed their own group’s aggressive behavior to love, but the opposite side’s to hatred. Today, millions of Americans believe that their side is basically benevolent while the other side is evil and out to get them.
Second, victimhood culture makes for worse citizens — people who are less helpful, more entitled, and more selfish. In 2010, four social psychologists from Stanford University published an article titled “Victim Entitlement to Behave Selfishly” in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. The researchers randomly assigned 104 human subjects to two groups.
Members of one group were prompted to write a short essay about a time when they felt bored; the other to write about “a time when your life seemed unfair. Perhaps you felt wronged or slighted by someone.” After writing the essay, the participants were interviewed and asked if they wanted to help the scholars in a simple, easy task.
The results were stark. Those who wrote the essays about being wronged were 26 percent less likely to help the researchers, and were rated by the researchers as feeling 13 percent more entitled.
In a separate experiment, the researchers found that members of the unfairness group were 11 percent more likely to express selfish attitudes. In a comical and telling aside, the researchers noted that the victims were more likely than the non-victims to leave trash behind on the desks and to steal the experimenters’ pens.
Does this mean that we should reject all claims that people are victims? Of course not. Some people are indeed victims in America — of crime, discrimination or deprivation. They deserve our empathy and require justice.
The problem is that the line is fuzzy between fighting for victimized people and promoting a victimhood culture. Where does the former stop and the latter start? I offer two signposts for your consideration.
First, look at the role of free speech in the debate. Victims and their advocates always rely on free speech and open dialogue to articulate unpopular truths. They rely on free speech to assert their right to speak.
Victimhood culture, by contrast, generally seeks to restrict expression in order to protect the sensibilities of its advocates. Victimhood claims the right to say who is and is not allowed to speak.
What about speech that endangers others? Fair-minded people can discriminate between expression that puts people at risk and that which merely rubs some the wrong way. Speaking up for the powerless is often “offensive” to conventional ears.
Second, look at a movement’s leadership. The fight for victims is led by aspirational leaders who challenge us to cultivate higher values. They insist that everyone is capable of — and has a right to — earned success. They articulate visions of human dignity.
But the organizations and people who ascend in a victimhood culture are very different. Some set themselves up as saviors; others focus on a common enemy. In all cases, they treat people less as individuals and more as aggrieved masses.
Robert Hughes turned out to be pretty accurate in his vision, I’m afraid. It is still in our hands to prove him wrong, however, and cultivate a nation of strong individuals motivated by hope and opportunity, not one dominated by victimhood. But we have a long way to go. Until then, I suggest keeping a close eye on your pen.
Arthur C. Brooks is the president of the American Enterprise Institute and a contributing opinion writer.
The Hon Tony Abbott MP
Canberra ACT 2600
Dear Prime Minister
Re: Bills to redefine marriage so as to allow ‘same-sex marriage’
As leaders of Australia’s major religions we write to express the grave concerns that we, and those who share our various faiths, share regarding Bills that have or will be introduced into the Federal Parliament to change the definition of marriage in Australian law. The definition of marriage enshrined in the Commonwealth Marriage Act 1961 – “the union of a man and a woman, to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life” – reflects a truth deeply embedded across diverse communities, faiths and cultures.
To uphold marriage as the mutual love of a man and a woman, open to the gift of children, is not bigotry or prejudice. At many times throughout history, and sadly still today in some places, people with same-sex attraction have suffered injustice. This is to be deplored. We should do more to ensure that our brothers and sisters who are same-sex attracted are treated with the dignity and respect owed to every human being. But this does not require the further deconstruction of marriage as traditionally understood.
Vast majority of nations and cultures share our understanding of marriage
Because of the crucial role marriage plays as the nursery for the future of the community, and its responsibility always to act in the best interests of children, governments everywhere recognise and regulate marriage. Far from being unusual in the international community for not supporting ‘same-sex marriage’, Australia’s definition of marriage as a union of a man and a woman is consistent with that of the vast majority of world nations, who represent over 91 per cent of the global population.1 To date, only 21 of the 193 member states of the United Nations have changed their legal definition of marriage to incorporate same-sex unions.2 International courts continue to recognise the truth that marriage is a union of a man and a woman oriented to the begetting and nurturing of children. 3
As the United Nations Human Rights Committee has affirmed, the “right to marry and found a family”, expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and elsewhere, “implies, in principle, the possibility to procreate”.4 This highlights a crucial way in which marriage between a man and a woman is different from a relationship between two men or two women. Stating this belief publicly and upholding it in law is not bigotry, but an acknowledgment of legitimate difference.
The link to children is essential to what marriage means
For the sake of children and to encourage men and women to commit to one another and to their offspring, marriage between a man and a woman has always been given the special recognition and support of the state. This proposed legislation undermines that shared understanding of marriage and places the wishes of adults above the interests of children. It fails to acknowledge the truth that children constitute the very basis for the state’s recognition and regulation of marriage.
We acknowledge that, sadly, some marriages and families break down. But a stable, loving marriage provides the best conditions for raising children. Marriage between a man and a woman gives children the best chance of being loved and raised by their biological mother and father. This is the family structure most consistent with a child’s right to know who they are and where they have come from. It is the family structure associated most strongly with positive child outcomes.5
Any adult person can love and care for a child. But, as a couple, two persons of the same sex are not able to provide a child with the experience of both mothering and fathering.6 Only the institution of marriage between a man and a woman has this inherent capacity to provide children with both of these relationships that are so foundational to our human identity and development.
The proposed legislation would send confusing messages to the community about marriage. At a time when marriage is already under significant strains and pressures, we urge you to do all that you can to support marriage – not undermine its meaning and importance, most of all, for children.
Consequences of redefining marriage
As overseas experience shows us, redefining marriage will have consequences for everyone, as the truth about marriage becomes increasingly a truth which cannot be spoken. It will create legal vulnerabilities for the millions of Australians who will always believe that marriage is between one man and one woman, and who entered into marriage on that basis.
In overseas jurisdictions where the definition of marriage has been changed, the public manifestation of this belief has resulted in vilification and legal punishment of individuals and institutions.7 This violates not only freedom of religion, but also the rights of conscience, belief and association, and the right of parents to educate their children according to their own beliefs.
The experience of these countries which have redefined marriage demonstrates that attempts to address these concerns through legislative “exemptions” have proven to be worthless.8
We urge you and your fellow Members of Parliament to uphold the law of the Commonwealth of Australia regarding marriage as the union of a man and a woman and to continue to support the common good of our community by supporting true marriage.
We would be happy to meet with you and other MPs to discuss this matter further in person.
Pastor Ross Abraham
National Chairman of the Movement
International Network of Churches
Rev Fr Youssef Akladeos
Coptic Catholic Church
Pastor Wayne Alcorn
Australian Christian Churches
Rev Dr Andrew Ball
Executive Ministry Director
Churches of Christ NSW
Mar Yakoob Daniel Bolis
The Ancient Church of the East
Rt Rev David Cook
Presbyterian Church of Australia
Elder Jeffrey D Cummings
Quorum of the Seventy – Australia
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
His Grace Dr Bishop Daniel
Coptic Orthodox Church – Diocese of Sydney & Affiliated Regions
Most Rev Dr Glenn N Davies
Anglican Diocese of Sydney
Rev Fr Rahal Dergham
Syrian Catholic Church
His Grace Bishop Mihail Filimon
The Romanian Orthodox Bishop of Australia and New Zealand
Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP
Catholic Archbishop of Sydney
Chair, Bishops Commission for Family, Youth and Life
Bishop George of Canberra
Vicar Bishop for Metropolitan Hilarion
Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
Rev Ken Graham
Christian and Missionary Alliance of Australia
Rabbi Mordechai Gutnick
President Rabbinical Council of Victoria
Senior Dayan – Melbourne Beth Din (Jewish Ecclesiastical Court)
Rabbi Moshe D Gutnick
Senior Dayan – Sydney Beth Din
The Serbian Orthodox Metropolitanate of Australia and New Zealand
Rev Keith Jobberns
National Ministries Director
Australian Baptist Ministries (Baptist Union of Australia)
Mr Hafez Kassem
Muslims Australia – Australian Federation of Islamic Councils Inc
Sheikh Shafiq Abdullah Khan
Chairman of Australian Islamic Cultural Centre
Chairman, Auburn, Liverpool and Wollongong Mosques
Rev Mark Lieschke
Lutheran Church of Australia, NSW District
His Eminence Mor Malatius Malki Malki
Syrian Orthodox Church in Australia and New Zealand
Sheikh Kamal Mousselmani
Supreme Islamic Shiite Council of Australia
Pastor Phillip Mutzelburg
Acts 2 Alliance, Qld
His Grace Bishop Haigazoun Najarian
Diocese of the Armenian Church of Australia and New Zealand
Most Rev Amel Shamon Nona
St. Thomas Chaldean Catholic Diocese of Australia and New Zealand
Rt Rev Mark Powell
Presbyterian Church of NSW and ACT
Dr Phil Pringle
Founder and President
C3 Church Global
Most Rev Robert Rabbat
Melkite Catholic Eparchy of Australia and New Zealand
Rev Rex Rigby
National Superintendent & South Qld District Superintendent
Wesleyan Methodist Church of Australia
Metropolitan Archbishop Paul Saliba
Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines
Mr Lyle Shelton
Australian Christian Lobby
Rev Mgr Basil Sousanian
Armenian Catholic Church
Pastor Chester Stanley
Seventh-day Adventist Church – Australia
His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos
Greek Orthodox Church of Australia
His Grace Anba Suriel
Coptic Orthodox Church – Diocese of Melbourne & its Affiliated Regions
Pastor Wayne Swift
Apostolic Church Australia
Most Rev Antoine-Charbel Tarabay
Maronite Diocese of Australia
Rabbi Yehoram Ulman
President Rabbinical Council of NSW
Senior Dayan – Sydney Beth Din
Pastor Bill Vasilakis
Senior Minister, Christian Family Centre
National Chairman, CRC Churches International
Mar Meelis Zaia AM
Assyrian Church of the East