So, a review into the much-maligned Safe Schools programme has just returned the verdict of “No, actually, don’t scrap it just because a few wailing homophobes think it’ll bring – or, worse, delay – the End Times” [my interpretation – H].
Of course people like those walking political caricatures, Cory “anti-bullying programmes actually bully the straight kids” Bernardi & Eric “homophobes will get all depressed if the gayers can marry!” Abetz, would say it’s a stitch-up. Like any decent, homo-hating, far-right authoritarian Christian conservatives, they’d already decided what was “true” ahead of time (or, likely had it decided for them and suppositoried into their brains) and are now calling divine wrath upon any dare contradict their revelations.
Too bad for them that Australia is, for the moment at least, a) still a country where facts & evidence are valued by some people and b) still a secular democracy where theocrats don’t get to have their obsessive hangups about other people’s genitals enshrined into public policy.
It’s one thing to complain about marriage equality and how that would lead, somehow, to bestiality or me marrying my bicycle or some other bizarre non-sequitur; it’s quite another to openly target vulnerable children at a time when they need the support of those around them – including their government.
The disconnect between the values of charity and tolerance, sold to us constantly as uniquely Christian, and the wrathful, paranoid hatred displayed by those who proudly identify as devout servants of Christ, isn’t surprising when you realise that these men-in-a-personal-relationship-with-Jesus are taking their social cues on LGBT people from the previous instalment of the Jehovah franchise. After all, while Jesus says to turn the other cheek, love thy neighbour and to eschew public expressions of piety in favour of private worship, the God of the prequel commanded the death sentence for homosexuals, as well as for people who worked on weekends and for kids who backchatted their parents. And, as there’s no Official Bible Walkthrough available to help believers decide whether to emulate a hippie surfer-dude Jesus or a heavenly Megatron, Abetz and Bernardi and their scared, weird, little-minded sociopathic ilk can play Christianity like a role-playing game, choosing their actions according to the character sheet they were given in their youth by their particular brand of regressive, misanthropic cultism.
Regardless of their motivations, it should shame representatives – employees – of the public like Abetz and Bernardi that they’re going out of their way, in full view of us all, to hew and cry and rend their garments and do their level best to demonise and remove a school programme that may well save lives. All they can see when they look through their God-goggles at a gay kid is the phantasm of sin, instead of the very real & very vulnerable people that their lies and hysteria have harmed, do harm and will continue to harm. But shame, sadly, is in short supply in modern Australian conservative politics. After all, to experience shame at your treatment of another, you first have to acknowledge the harm you caused them; you also require empathy to recognise that you would also be harmed by that treatment. However, part of empathy is the realisation that the person you harmed is your equal, and today’s brand of moralising Thatcherite wowserism is class, race and faith-based. If you’re not one of Them, you’re one of the Other, and regardless of who the Other happens to be at a particular moment (asylum seekers, students, the poor, the sick, the unemployed, artists, scientists, environmentalists, teachers), it’s always Open Season.
Cory Bernardi, seen here practicing his “totally not gay” face