Rip and Roll – the continuation

I wasn’t going to blog about this, I really wasn’t.  Of the three topics I had handed to me on Friday (swearing fines, Penny Wong being miaowed at, and Rip Roll), I decided to focus my efforts somewhere other than this topic – as it had been covered very nicely in the media as well as elsewhere.  But then the ACL stuck their head up again today, and I can’t not smack them for it.

Lyle Shelton, an apologist for the ACL it seems, had a piece published on ABC’s The Drum, today called, “Abusive labels and slurs no substitute for real debate” (user comments afterwards really good).  Excuse me while I take this apart.

Without passing or implying judgement on homosexuals, ACL has been the subject of a vitriolic backlash in the online and social media in the past week.

Homophobe, bigot and f***ing idiot are some of the labels and titles of Facebook pages set up against ACL and our Queensland Director, 50-year-old grandmother Wendy Francis.

Just recently, Jim Wallace suggested that the ANZACs didn’t fight for an Australia which was gay marriage or Islamic, and claimed that a Labour Party election promise (in Victoria) to fund a “gay rights advisory body” was “pandering to a small minority” and a “disgraceful act”.  So, based on very recent history, I would suggest that the ACL has implied judgement on the LBGTIQ community (thanks ACL for making the LBTIQ part of the community), and that as you’ve got form for doing so, the leap of the general community to the ACL being homo-, bi-, and trans- phobic wasn’t too hard.

And oddly enough, people are allowed to suggest that the ACL are homophobic, bigoted and perhaps fucking idiots.  They have a right to voice your opinion, as the ACL does, and given that actions lead to reactions, perhaps being surprised that the ACL’s action in having an ad removed actually upset people shouldn’t come as too much of a shock, by now.

Over-sensitive homosexual activists and their uncivil friends on Twitter and Facebook are quick to jump from a great height with moral huffiness and personal abuse on anyone they perceive to step on their toes.

Mainstream media quickly followed their lead and before we knew it politicians such as the Queensland Premier Anna Bligh joined in, also labelling us ‘homophobes’.

Ah yes, because when someone complains that they have been sporked in their eyes (so many links to this post) yet again by a privileged organisation/group, they’re certainly “over-sensitive”.  Just like when women complain of sexism, or people complain of racism, etc etc… it’s a familiar shut up tactic by a bigger and more powerful group.  The entire first paragraph is full of emotive language suggesting that those who complained are being over sensitive – and not exercising their right to not be sporked in their eyes.

And mainstream media followed a story?  And published comments and opinion on said story?  OMG, quick call superman… or someone.  And OMG, Anna Bligh has an opinion that the ACL doesn’t like so they’re going to complain about that as well – how dare Anna Bligh form an opinion against the ACL.  Oh that’s right it’s a free society and we’re all able to form judgements based on people and organisation’s behaviour.

So what led to us gaining this pariah status in the land of the fair go?

Oh FSM where do I start?  I’ve blogged on the ACL before, as have many before and after me.  A fair go does not mean an unlimited number of goes – something that the ACL seems to have forgotten.  Any individual or organisation that repeatedly serves to alienate a part of the population (particularly a part that includes those with a fair bit of privilege and money), tends to end up being disliked if not actively hated by that part, and by those who are sympathetic or aligned to that part (but who are not part of that part – well that was complicated).  ACL has used up their limited number of fair goes.  It does have the potential to regain some fair goes if they started apologising perhaps, or just not saying anything publicly for several years.

ACL is a contributor to the long-running debate about the sexualisation of children and the well-acknowledged failures of the Advertising Standards Board and the classification system to protect children.

And before joining ACL in January, Wendy was a campaigner on this in her own right, setting up a popular Facebook group calling for outdoor advertising to be G-rated.

She represented ACL at a parliamentary inquiry in March into outdoor advertising.

The systematic failure to protect children from inappropriate content has sparked no less than seven government, senate and parliamentary inquiries in the past three years – so great has the public pressure been for change. ACL has lodged submissions with every public inquiry on classification issues.

Recognising the problem, the Gillard Government tasked the Australian Law Reform Commission with coming up with a new classification system for protecting children across all media, including billboard and outdoor advertising.

Well lovely. The ACL are doing stuff that I don’t object overly to.

So when a larger-than-life, in-your-face condom advertisement featuring two men in a provocative pose began eye-balling children in bus shelters as they waited to be picked up for school, Wendy swung into action as she has done in the past.

Except for this bit… Two men hugging is not provocative unless of course you object to any same-sex display of affection.  If the couple had been of opposite genders would it have been called “provocative”?  Is it provocative when parents hug or hold each other in front of their children?  Is it provocative to see people in the street being publicly affectionate with each other?  Really, two men holding each other is just another display of affection, which you can see anywhere.  It’s hardly not G-Rated, unless I completely fail to get the classification standards (which is possible as I’m not a censor).

She complained to the company, Adshel, and phoned a few friends who did the same. She didn’t activate the ACL data base or orchestrate a campaign because she didn’t need to. Adshel did the right thing and removed the ads overnight.

Good job Adshel.

No, bad job Adshel, as they have now admitted.  I don’t think that Wendy phoned a few friends, she claimed that she held a campaign – so that’s more than phoning a few friends.  Try and be a little more honest here about what was and what was not done.

Incensed at the success of this advocacy on behalf of children, homosexual activists started mobilising, as is their right in a democratic society.

I honestly cannot believe that this sentence was even allowed to be printed.  Why won’t anyone else think of the children?  Clearly the “homosexual activists” aren’t.  Clearly they want their own way at the expense of the children.  Oh, and we’ll just throw in a line about the fact that people are allowed to hold opposing opinions and even act on them because we’re in a democracy – but that doesn’t make the “homosexual activists” any less evil.

Seemingly not knowing of the long-running public and parliamentary concern about exposing children to inappropriate images in outdoor advertising, the homosexual activists cried ‘homophobia’ and some in the mainstream media jumped.

Oh please, the LBGTIQ community are parents, know people with children and have been children themselves.  I think that they are as aware as anyone else about concerns about the sexualisation of children in advertising and the media.  And I think that the ACL is confusing the sexualisation of children with sexuality – two different concepts.  I also would argue that two men being affectionate with each other – whether they are holding a condom or not – is hardly inappropriate.  I can understand some parents potentially being uncomfortable with questions that the ad may raise with their children – but seriously that isn’t the issue of the LGBTIQ community who deserve to be represented in advertising as much as anyone else.

Our campaign against the Rip and Roll condom bus shelter ads had nothing to do with the fact that it featured a homosexual couple.

Our submission to the House of Representatives inquiry into outdoor advertising featured, among many images we submitted, a photograph we had taken of a heterosexual couple in a sexual pose advertising condoms.

Before joining ACL, Wendy was successful in causing Adshel to remove a sexualised bus shelter ad for Twilight featuring two men apparently ravishing the neck of a vulnerable young woman.

I’m sure that ACL’s action had everything to do with the couple being gay.  I’m sure an equivalent ad with a heterosexual couple would not have even raised eyebrows.  It’s not a sexualised ad.

I notice that the ACL’s description of the photo of the heterosexual couple does not in any way describe the couple, what pose they were in, how dressed they were, or any other context.  I see this as a sham attempt to demonstrate that they’d treat exactly the same ad with a straight couple the same way.

“Vulnerable young woman”?  I haven’t read or watched any of the Twilight series and have paid next to no attention to any ad campaign featuring the movie or books.  I do think it’s an interesting judgement that she was vulnerable – was she tied up?

But after an impressive mobilisation of people on Facebook, Adshel reversed its decision and is putting the condom ads back in the faces of children.

Nobody cares about the children except us!  Woe… waily waily waily.  Seriously, I’ve seen sexualised ads which are problematic.  The chiko ads are a good start, as are recent Lee jeans ads.  Those men being affectionate?  Not even remotely sexualised for me.  Safe sex messages and information about the diversity of relationships is a positive thing for children.  Especially children who are queer.  Nothing is as good as knowing that you are not alone, and that in fact you can have role models such as those two men who were brave enough to put their faces and bodies on a safe-sex advert.

Rejoicing in his victory, one of the gay men featured in the ad, Michael O’Brien, told David Koch on Sunrise that ‘you are not seeing anything that is sexualised’.

Not many parents would agree that an image of two people sharing an intimate moment while holding a condom with the words ‘Rip and Roll’ is not sexual. Fewer grandmothers would buy this.

I’m with Michael here.  Two people being affectionate with a safe-sex message.  Sure the ad is for condoms, but we’re all grown up enough now to not avoid the aisle with condoms in it when we shop aren’t we?

“An intimate moment”?  I’ll remember to carefully check to make sure there aren’t any children around next time my husband hugs me, or when I kiss my girlfriend, or when my husband kisses his boyfriend… we don’t want these intimate moments to scar the children and suddenly make them think that anything beyond heterosexual monogamy is ok.

Who cares how many grandmothers would buy this?  This isn’t about the grandmothers, this is about a large portion of Australia being outraged that a minority of Christians were so offended at the sight of a committed couple hugging each other that they campaigned to have the ads taken down.  This is about a large proportion of Australians being outraged that a safe-sex message was deemed offensive because of the children – who should be educated about safe sex so that they can remain safe.

But with the activists crying ‘homophobia’, Adshel caved in.

No, with Adshel realising that it had been an orchestrated campaign they reversed their decision.

Does Michael think Adshel should also put the Twilight ads back up? Is the Government wasting its time with the ALRC review? Is there anything from which a civil society should protect children?

I don’t think Michael has been asked anything more than his opinions on the campaign in which he is featured.  And in relation to protecting the children, what have the ACL done about the Chiko and Lee ads I linked to above?  I’m sure that they’re all over it, given that I’ve not heard of those ads being taken down.

Labels and slurs are being used too often to shut down legitimate debate.

Pot meet kettle… I believe that you’ll get along famously.  Just remember “over-sensitive” and you’ll get along fine.

Yes it’s true that ACL does not support homosexual marriage, but neither do many Australians, including the Prime Minister. That doesn’t make us homophobic, bigoted or f***ing idiots.

Recently Labor Senator Doug Cameron said anyone who did not support gay marriage had the moral equivalence of someone who supported the racist apartheid regime. Really?

Does that mean those of us who do not believe marriage should be redefined don’t belong in modern Australia?

Actually it does, well the homophobic and bigoted bits, I don’t necessarily believe that those who do not support equal marriage (the preferred terminology) are “fucking idiots” without actually getting a chance to know them and then make that assessment.  The majority of Australians do support equal marriage though, so perhaps it’s time to move on.

I’m of the belief that anyone who does not believe in the rights of everyone who wants to marry to marry needs to ask themselves serious questions as to why.  If they’re Christian then they need to consult their bibles and ask why verses about same sex relationships are still touted out and why slavery, status of women, and the status of those who are not-white are ignored.  If you’re going to pick and choose from the bible, then you have no logical leg to stand on regarding same-sex relationships and equal marriage.

Those of you who do not believe in equal marriage need to get with the times.

Where has tolerance and freedom of speech gone?

I don’t know ACL, why don’t you tell me?  The joys of freedom of speech (which is an implied right in Australia) includes the joys that people can disagree with you and disagree with you publicly.  Your right to speak freely invokes an equal right of response – including calling out bullshit when it appears.

Tolerance?  From the ACL?  Oh that’s rich.

ACL is disappointed with the abuse directed at our organisation and our staff member Wendy Francis.

I’m sure you are, and personal attacks are not fun.  I don’t know what level of abuse she’s had directed at her other than being called a “fucking idiot”, “bigot”, and “homophobe” (which I am in partial agreement with), but it’s not a fun thing.

ACL has a track record of supporting the removal of discrimination against same-sex couples and backed all of the Rudd government’s 85 law reforms in 2008 which delivered equality, not apartheid.

Really?  I never knew… it’s certainly not something you tout on your website, and not something I’ve ever heard of before.  The law reforms didn’t go all the way to deliver equality though, they were a start, not an end.  And did the ACL’s support of this be that they did not say anything against it?

But equality does not mean marriage should have to be redefined to suit an agenda that is intolerant of the cultural and even religious sensibilities of a great many Australians.

Why not?  And how many is a “great many”?  Are you standing with other faiths that are against equal marriage, or just with those Christians who haven’t read their bible recently?  Why can’t a government or a society tell a religion to move?  It wouldn’t be the first time – after all the abolition of slavery wasn’t popular but was the right thing to do.  Doing the right thing isn’t always popular, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done.

Given our track record of tolerance, I suspect the abusive language levelled at us had more to do with our dissent to the gay political agenda to redefine marriage.

But dissent is our right in a democracy. It does not make us bigots and it is time social policy debate was free of abuse and slurs.

I’m not convinced that the ACL has a track record of tolerance.  I’d like to hear a lot more about this supposed track record before I even begin to believe that what is written here is true.  I suspect that the abusive language levelled at the ACL had a lot more to do with people being annoyed that a religious group was yet again interfering and putting their morals and religious beliefs on them without being asked.

There isn’t that much of a “gay political agenda”.  And to suggest that there is obliterates the rest of the GLBTIQ community, and I don’t like being made invisible.

What did I say the other day? Oh yes

Is holding a moral view hateful?  That depends on the moral view.  If that moral view suggests that a group should be marginalised, stigmatised, and treated negatively for an attribute they possess, then yes, that moral view is hateful.

So yes, you can dissent to societal norms and current views, but that doesn’t mean that you are not suddenly bigotry free.  It’d be nice if abuse and slurs were not present in debates about anything, but when you preach intolerance, then it’s not surprising when it’s redirected back to you.


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2 thoughts on “Rip and Roll – the continuation”

  1. Absolutely brilliant! Eloquently sums up the feelings of everyone I’ve spoken to on the issue.

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