27 February 2009

Vote 1: Slap

Time for another Weekly Slap that doubles as a long service smacking. Without any further ado, strike up the banjo for this week's recipient...

Pauline Hanson.

International readers will probably, blessedly, be unaware of Ms Hanson's place in the Australian political landscape - down the back, under the septic tank. First coming to national attention in 1996, after a procedural glitch saw her elected to Federal parliament, Hanson was spun as a champion of the ordinary person. The fact that she didn't talk like a career politician, and spoke her mind, attracted a degree of following, and the existence of the One Nation party. Over time, it became apparent that speaking her mind was a quick process, for the same reason that it doesn't take two hours to recite a limerick. Simplicity was revealed to be ignorance, and while people started to get an idea of what she and hers stood against, such as immigration, standing for something didn't seem to be part of the equation. The same way a renter will put furniture over a stain in the carpet, Hanson and her handlers would cover lack of ideas and knowledge with an Australian flag.

Before Pauline settled into her rightful position as punchline, she provided camouflage for then-Prime Minister John Howard. As the Liberals seemed determined to divide the country on racial lines, they could always point at the Ugly Stepsister and say "well at least we're not that!". The house of straw eventually blew away, but not before cementing Hanson in the public consciousness. She has made several tilts at regaining a place in Federal, NSW and Queensland parliaments, all without success. Or, at least, without actually gaining a seat...

In the past week, Pauline announced that on Monday, she'll announce her return to the political arena, running in the Queensland state election for the seat of Beaudesert. She can't win, but such are the Australian electoral laws that any candidate who achieves over four percent of the vote gets paid. In her last run for the Federal senate, she pocketed up to $170 000 (the gap between her expenditure and the funding from the Electoral Commission for getting above the magic 4%). She's not running to bring exposure to a particular issue; she has nothing to say. It's not about representing the electorate, as she keeps trying to find different people in different areas to represent, showing a Shane Warne-esque degree of commitment. She's simply hoping enough MENSA candidates vote for her because they remember seeing her off of the talking picture box for another payday.

And so, Mr Speaker, I move that for being a drain on the public purse and the national IQ, that the candidate for Beaudesert hereby be Slapped.

Motion carried.

Link - Pauline Hanson to stand in Beaudesert against Big Brother gatecrasher Aidan McLindon

20 February 2009


Ah, one of my favourite topics... and a Slap that was bound to occur at some point.

People who know me, and many who've seen me perform, know that I'm not a fan of censorship. If I may wrest the term "adult entertainment" from the sex flick industry for a second, my top three favourite TV shows of all time - The Sopranos, Deadwood and Dexter - are all clearly made for an adult audience, and would never have seen the light of day if some of the more delicate of media commentators had their way. So, it is with a certain degree of inevitability that I welcome today's Face to be Flattened...

Australian Family Association spokesman Joe Lopez.

Confession time - I have not seen an episode of "Underbelly: A Tale Of Two Cities" (it was the highest of times, it was the come-downest of times...). So, to give Joe the benefit of the doubt for a second, perhaps it is indeed "pornography". The M rating attached to the show would say otherwise, however, unless it is particularly tame porn, in the same way that the skateboard I owned at age ten was a particularly tame monster truck. So, once again, a show that contains sex and violence and is broadcast in the later stages of prime time induces the cry of "dear GOD will SOMEone THINK of the CHILDREN!!". At least, that's part of what was being said... can someone translate this for me?

"They are trying to put a dramatic representation of how crime was in relation to the illicit drug trade in that time by glamorising it with sex."

See, they are trying to put a dramatic representation of how crime was in relation to the illicit drug trade in that time by having actors read scripts in front of a camera. This goes by the common name of "making a TV show". And that may have included sex. Oddly enough, a lot of human interaction does. But semantics aside, I am a fully subscribing member of the "if you don't like it, don't watch" school. This edition of Underbelly has pulled off an unusual double - critical acclaim, and high ratings. So, a lot of people are willing to call it "good", many even throwing in the word "very". So, let these people have a quality adult drama, and still get to bed at a reasonable hour.

The decision about what should be shown on a household's TV should be made... ready?... within the household. By throwing words like "pornography" around to describe an apparently well-made TV series that happens to include sex scenes, all Joe and the Australian Family Association do is paint themselves as the chihuahua in the car that yaps at passers-by. Sure, the chihuahua may think it's acting as an effective watchdog, but it remains an irrelevant noise while life goes on around it.

I'd better get this one in quickly, as apparently the next episode of Underbelly features a graphic male shower scene, and Joe's head may explode. So, before it gets messier:

The following action is rated PG for low-level violence.


Link - Underbelly is just 'pornography', says the Australian Family Association

13 February 2009

Slap 3:16 - "And lo, he did send his hand flying..."

Well, it looks like I started something last week - after I outlined my issues with organised religion, and delivered my first clerical Slap, I had no idea I'd be aiming the Five Fingers of Fate at another member of the clergy so soon. Then a friend sent me an email, presenting the kind of target that the Weekly Slap was designed for, and he happens to believe that he's one of God's Mouthpieces. Bear witness, brothers and sisters, to this week's Slapcatcher...

Pastor Danny Nalliah.

Thanks to the global nature of news, the world knows about the fires that began on Saturday February 7th, and their devastating effect. I will not go into the details here - there's no need. Danny has chosen to say that Victoria is burning because of the recent decriminalisation of abortion. Not arson, not natural disaster - divine retribution.

Now, my initial reaction is a wish to smack this gentleman in the side of the head with some form of furniture for such a gargantuan slice of offensive. With that option unavailable, I have to take solace somewhere, and have found my happy place with this statement. Let me outline how this appalling concept harms its inventor.

For the people who support a woman's right to consider abortion, combining Australia's greatest natural disaster with this anti-abortion stance could only be made more offensive if Danny was also simultaneously kicking a disabled puppy. However, these are people that the Pastor was never going to convince anyway. People who are anti-abortion are now looking embarrassed, and trying to find something else in the vicinity to find fascinating so that the subject can be changed, perhaps also using a faux cough to cover the words "Danny! Dickhead! Don't help!". Those who are wrestling with their moral stance have just seen a cheerleader for one team sound dumber than a concussed brick, and more revolting than a leprosy souffle.

Similarly on the religious side - the atheists will be patting themselves on the back for a job well done. The believers will be pondering the whole "God Is Love" idea, and grappling with how the Celestial Arsehole Danny seems to be backing fits with this concept. The agnostics will be taking in this festering view of the Christian god, and wondering what Krishna's up to these days.

Of course, there will be exceptions - namely, those who agree with Danny (who is a pastor in - and I'm only going to say this once - the Catch The Fire Ministries). This small - in number, stature, spirit and IQ - group is one that, frankly, he is welcome to. Their world is something that actual human people will leave to its own self-righteous devices. Pastor Danny, if googling your own name has brought you here, using the bushfires for any sort of religious, social and/or political point-scoring is despicable, and if this came from a face-to-face interview, whoever took down your statement showed great self control to not beat you around the head with whatever implement was used to record your irresponsible and disgusting words.

I won't claim to speak for anyone who has been effected by the fires, or for the thousands who have heard the call and helped out. This one is for me, and hopefully has enough velocity to dislocate Danny's jaw, and shut him up.


Link - Fire 'divine retribution', says minister

6 February 2009

Forgive me, Father, for I have Slapped.

Before this week's high-speed hand to head, in the interests of full disclosure, a bit of outlining of bias is required.

I have a bit of an allergy to organised religion. Throughout history, a lot of... interesting things have been done in the name of whichever god was relevant at the time. On occasion, the word "faith" gets used as a direct attack on critical thought, and that is possibly the mildest direct attack that has been done for religion. People draw strength from their beliefs, belief can unite communities, but a lot of hypocrisy has been hidden in robes.

So, with that on record, strike up the organ to usher down February's first Slap recipient -

Bishop Richard Williamson.

Bishop Williamson was excommunicated in 1988, as the man who made him a bishop didn't have the papal authority to do so. I love this idea - how many companies (and make no mistake, the Catholic Church is a company) allow promotions without the boss's say so? Next time you're at work, promote someone at random. Make whoever says "good morning" the cheeriest into a department head (or if they already are, give them Chief Financial Officer). Much fun will be had.

Twenty years later, Bishop Dick and the other three unauthorised promotees were welcomed back into the fold. However, an interview that Williamson gave last year has raised its head, and given him a deserving bite on the buttocks, as he announced his belief that there were no gas chambers used in World War II, and that somewhere between 200 000 and 300 000 Jews died, rather than six million.

Sure, an argument can be made that ignoring chunks of history is pretty much a prerequisite for Catholicism, but this takes it to an offensive degree. Following a couple of internet links digs up a bit more offensiveness, however. Try this quote on for size -

"A woman can do a good imitation of handling ideas, but then she will not be thinking properly as a woman. Did this lawyeress check her hairdo before coming into court? If she did, she is a distracted lawyer. If she did not, she is one distorted woman."

As a certain Vatican-based institution tries to find its place in the 21st century, isn't that a breath of fresh air? Church workings are almost entirely irrelevant to my life, but the fact that this puddle of ignorance is in a position that, as part of the job description, includes offering guidance to others offends me.

So - a solid Flick to all those involved in Dick's involvement in church hierarchy, and to Pope Benedict for including him back in the fold. And, for the man himself, with the slightest hope of knocking a wayward piece of brain back into place, I issue a slap of Biblical proportions.

Link - Profile: Bishop Richard Williamson